2019 Irons: Ranked by forgiveness

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2019 Irons test: We've ranked 38 sets of golf clubs and rated every one by forgiveness so you can find the best irons for you

Most major brands have five, six or even seven irons in their 2019 line-ups, which shows the importance of having solutions for all golfers, irrespective of ability or personal preference. Choices range from slimline musclebacks to hollow heads and cavity backs, and while some are forged, others have springy faces just like a driver.  

So with such a huge amount of choice out there, we felt it was far too easy for golfers to get confused about which model best suits them. Even golfers who have a good idea of which iron suits them probably don’t realise what they put on the line in terms of ball speed, carry and forgiveness by choosing a set above their station.

So as 2019’s irons hit pro shop shelves, we felt the time was right to show how a brand’s whole iron range compares against each other.

As well as launch monitor data from our pro, we’ve given every iron a forgiveness rating and a handicap guide to spell out simply what sort of players should be considering what sort of models, and why.

ROBOT TESTED: Which golf ball suits my game?

Which irons suit me? 

If you're only interested in one particular brand and want to know which of their irons will suit your ability, needs and price point, click on one of these links to the brands we've tested so far. 

Callaway | Cobra | Mizuno | Ping | TaylorMade | Wilson 

 - Forgiveness Rating: Category 1 - 

Callaway Apex MB | Mizuno MP-18 MMC | TaylorMade P730 | Wilson Staff Model | Cobra King Forged CB/MB

Callaway Apex MB

RRP: £1,049 (s) | Handicap level: < 0

7-iron specs: Loft 34°; Offset 2.3mm; One-piece forged from 1025 carbon steel construction

Ball speed: 116mph | Launch angle: 21.2° | Backspin: 6,067rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 162 yards

Who are they for?

When Callaway first started out it took them an age to get a player to win a Major with their irons in the bag. They even changed founder Ely Callaway's original philosophy (of making new products demonstrably better) to make it happen with a forged iron. What's our point?

Well, it demonstrates how much Tour pros love their forged irons, and shows how the very best players appreciate what forged irons, in particular blades, bring to the party. To put it bluntly, unless your ball striking is like Sergio Garcia's, don't even think your game's good enough to live with the MBs - they're a serious piece of kit, with absolutely no game improving tech at all. Giving up more than 7mph of ball speed and 18 yards of carry with a seven iron to the brilliant forged Apex 19 isn't a worthwhile trade-o for virtually any club golfer.

callaway apex mb

Cobra Forged CB/MB 

RRP: £649 | Handicap level: <4

7-iron specs: Loft 34°; Offset 1.5mm; One-piece forged from 1025 carbon steel.

Ball speed: 116.3mph | Launch angle: 20.2° | Backspin: 7,119rpm | Peak height: 35 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 158 yards

Who are they for?

Our test pro baulked at how small the MB heads were, which for anybody thinking of paying for a set anytime soon should set alarm bells ringing. Like all the muscleback models in our test, the MBs are aimed at a very small group of demanding tour and elite players. As small – and trust us, they are tiny – as the MBs' heads are, they're beautifully shaped, and come decked out in a lovely glare-reducing black finish. Sensibly, they ow through to shallow cavity back 6, 5 and 4 irons for a degree of playability over most MB models. Essentially, unless you're the owner of a tour card or plan on getting one anytime soon, most club golfers would be advised to give them a wide berth

Cobra forged mb

Mizuno MP-18 MB

RRP: £135 per club | Handicap level: < 4

7-iron specs: Loft 34°; Offset 2.3mm; One-piece forged 1025E HD mild carbon steel construction.

Ball speed: 117.9mph | Launch angle: 20.8° | Backspin: 6,259rpm | Peak height: 37 yards | Descent angle: 50° | Carry: 164 yards

Who are they for?

MP irons are Mizuno's forte, they're what the company is famous for in golf. There can't be a serious player in the world that hasn't picked up an MP iron over the years and wished they were good enough to play them. Nick Faldo won six Majors with his; Sandy Lyle was a massive fan and Paul Casey and Luke Donald are still playing them today. What's the takeaway? All these players are brilliant ball strikers, and that's where the MP-18 irons belong. In the hands of golfers who genuinely do strike their irons amazingly well, and aren't afraid to pull a muscleback mid and long iron from their bag. If you really are good enough to play a set your game will demand shaping and working approaches on to ledges or shelves of greens, which really is less than 1% of golfers.

mizuno mp18 mb

TaylorMade P730

RRP: £1,049 (s) | Handicap level: < 0

7-iron specs: Loft 35°; Offset 1.7mm; Forged one-piece 1025 carbon steel construction.

Ball speed: 114.6mph | Launch angle: 21.5° | Backspin: 6,416rpm | Peak height: 35 yards | Descent angle: 50° | Carry: 158 yards

Who are they for?

Rory, DJ and Tiger have versions of the P730 in their bags, which speaks volumes about who should be using them; ie only Tour stars and the very best amateur ball strikers need apply. The P730s are beautiful to look at, with a clean blade shape. They have the weakest lofts of any TaylorMade iron on sale this year, the least amount of o set, the smallest heads and the lowest MOI (forgiveness rating). The very best players love the low MOI, as it means they can just think about hitting a fade or draw and it happens, without them needing to change their swing to manipulate shots into the tucked pin positions they find on Tour. The shortest irons here – because the likes of Rory McIlroy don't need any help at all to hit the ball further.

taylormade p730

Wilson Staff Model

RRP: £899 | Handicap level: < 0

7-iron specs: Loft 34°; Offset 1.8mm; One-piece forged from 8620 carbon steel construction

Who are they for?

Wilson weren't able to sort us a Staff Model blade sample, so we can't show data for how it compares to the rest of the range. But if history is anything to go by you can pretty much guarantee it's just as demanding as the other blades we hit. PGA Tour player Gary Woodland is using these, but it shows how tough the Staff Model is to live with when early season tour winner David Law, who's also a Wilson staff player, opts for a mix of FG Tour V6 and C300 instead for his own bag. Wilson irons have won more Majors (61) than any other brand, and predominantly they were won with irons just like these. Only trouble is that was back in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, when cavity backs hadn't even been invented. Only excellent ball strikers need apply.

staff model irons

 - Forgiveness Rating: Category 2 - 

Callaway X Forged | Mizuno JPX 919 Tour | Mizuno MP-18 SC | Ping iblade | PXG 0311 Gen 2 T | TaylorMade P760 | Wilson Staff FG Tour V6

Callaway X Forged

RRP: £1,049 (s) | Handicap level: < 4

7-iron specs: Loft 33°; Offset 2.8mm; One-piece forged from 1025 carbon steel construction.

Ball speed: 116.9mph | Launch angle: 20.7° | Backspin: 6,186rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 163 yards

Who are they for?

With Phil Mickelson having the X-Forged in his own bag, this really is as far as club golfers need to look down the Callaway iron line-up. The head has very straight lead and top edges which are specifically aimed at very good, clean ball strikers. There's no cup face, and the difference the tech makes is stark (4mph ball speed and six yards carry) comparing X-Forged to an Apex 19 Pro 7-iron (with cup face) of the same loft. As seductive as the X-Forged are, with their beautifully simple heads and satin finish, we reckon 90% of category two club golfers will be better served in terms of ball speed protection and playability by one of Callaway's Apex 19 models. Be warned.

callaway x forged

Mizuno JPX 919 Tour

RRP: £135 per club | Handicap level: < 4

7-iron specs: Loft 34°; Offset 2.9mm; One-piece forged 1025E HD mild carbon steel construction.

Ball speed: 120.8mph | Launch angle: 20.6° | Backspin: 6,6616rpm | Peak height: 38yards | Descent angle: 51° | Carry: 167 yards

Who are they for?

The JPX Tour irons (including last year’s 900s) have been a massive hit on Tour over the last few years – World No.2 Brooks Koepka even plays them unpaid, and he’s won three Majors with his. We see JPX919 Tour very much as THE modern blade. It combines a lovely, compact head shape which golfers expect from a traditional muscleback, with an added degree of stability and perimeter weighting thanks to a very small cavity back. It means tighter distance dispersion (over a muscleback), which makes for some accurate shot-making as long as you’re a well above average ball striker. For club golfers we’d say if distance or forgiveness comes onto your radar with irons, then like Sir Nick Faldo you really should be looking towards the JPX919 Forged or Hot Metal Pros instead.

mizuno jpx 919 tour

Mizuno MP-18 SC

RRP: £135 per club | Handicap level: < 6

7-iron specs: Loft 34°; Offset 2.3mm; One-piece forged 1025E HD mild carbon steel construction.

Ball speed: 120.4mph | Launch angle: 19.7° | Backspin: 6,480rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 167 yards

Who are they for?

At first glance Mizuno's iron line-up might appear at least a little confusing, with lots of overlaps between models. But you've got to understand the brains behind the range see the MP line-up being aimed at very different golfers to the JPX. Mizuno says MP are much more traditional (with shiny, polished finishes) and likely to suit the eyes of golfers who've grown up playing Mizuno irons. Whereas JPX have a much more modern look with satin finishes, more game enhancing technology and are likely to attract the attention of younger players who might not have played Mizuno before. See MP-18 SC as a players' cavity back and you won't go far wrong. Come August 2019 the SCs have been part of the Mizuno family for two years, which means it's highly likely they'll be replaced by a newer model.

mizuno mp18 sc

Ping iblade

RRP: £130 per club | Handicap level: < 4

7-iron specs: Loft 34°; Offset 2.3mm; One-piece cast, 431 stainless steel construction.

Ball speed: 118.6mph | Launch angle: 20.2° | Backspin: 8,019rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 51° | Carry: 159 yards

Who are they for?

Ping says less than 10% of their Tour pros put the iBlade in play, which shows just how specialised they are. There's a little more forgiveness compared to other forged muscleback irons as a tuning port in the back helps nudge up MOI and forgiveness. As you'd expect, iBlade has the least amount of hosel offset (it's a look great ball striker's demand), which along with the highest lofts and lack of fast face tech means they're Ping's shortest iron... not that anyone who plays them is overly worried about distance. iBlade launched three years ago and a handful of Ping players have been spotted recently with a new forged Ping "Blueprint" iron (including Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen) in their bag, so it's worth noting the iBlade might be replaced soon.

ping iblade

PXG 0311 Gen 2 T 

RRP: £400 per club | Handicap level: < 8

7-iron specs: Loft 32°; Offset 1.9mm; Forged carbon steel 8620 hollow body with ultra-thin HT1770 maraging steel face.

Ball speed: 120.3mph | Launch angle: 19.8° | Backspin: 6,205rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 168 yards

Who are they for?

T stands for "Tour" performance, but don't think all PXG pros use them. Zach Johnson does, but Pat Perez plays the bigger and more forgiving XF. PXG like to fit on attack angle so the narrow-sole T is well suited to those hitting down and engaging the turf, whereas wider soles can be a better match for shallower attack angles. We love how all PXG's iron models are forged and made in exactly the same way. It means no matter what your ability you get the same tech, sound and feel, something which no other brand's iron line-up can offer right now.

pxg 0311 t irons

TaylorMade P760

RRP: £1,299 (s) | Handicap level: < 6

7-iron specs: Loft 33°; Offset 2.3mm; Hollow body (3-7) with forged 1025 carbon steel bodies and light SUS630 faces. 8-PW are one-piece forged.

Ball speed: 119.5mph | Launch angle: 20° | Backspin: 6,637rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 50° | Carry: 165 yards

Who are they for?

TaylorMade retired both the P750s (favourites of Jon Rahm and Jason Day) and the P770s at the end of last year and replaced them with the ultimate combo set, the P760s. Hollow, forged bodies (3-7 iron) improve forgiveness over the P730 blade without compromising looks. With a 7-iron loft 2.5° weaker than the P790s, don't expect the P760s to compete on ball speed or carry. But the type of golfer who uses them won't be bothered about how far they go. P760 has won on tour (Adam Long), which shows their pedigree in the very best player's hands. Most Category 2 golfers will in our opinion be better suited to the P790 or M5.

taylormade p760

Wilson Staff FG Tour V6

RRP: £699 | Handicap level: <6

7-iron specs: Loft 35°; Off set 1.9mm; One-piece forged from 8620 carbon steel construction

Ball speed: 119.6mph | Launch angle: 20° | Backspin: 6,673rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 50° | Carry: 165 yards

Who are they for?

Padraig Harrington's iron of choice for several years now. For the right player V6 is a great blend of a compact forged head, traditional lofts and a degree of forgiveness thanks to progressive tungsten weighting throughout the set. We've heard lots of golfers who've picked them up comment on how good they look, but subsequently are put off by how small the heads really are, which is exactly why Wilson created the C300 Forged.

If you're a good player and are choosing between V6 and C300 Forged, the stock shafts give a clue as to who each is predominantly aimed at – V6 comes with heavier, lower flighting Dynamic Gold AMTs (better players), while C300 Forged have slightly lighter, higher launching KBS Tour 105s.

wilson staff fg tour v6

Forgiveness Rating: Category 2.5

Callaway Apex Pro 19 | Cobra King Forged Tec | Mizuno MP-18 MMC | Ping i210 | Ping i500 | PXG 0311 Gen 2 P | TaylorMade P790 | Wilson Staff C300 Forged

Callaway Apex Pro 19

RRP: £1,299 (s) £1,399 (g) | Handicap level: < 6

7-iron specs: Loft 33°; Offset 2.8mm; Forged 1025 mild carbon steel body, with cup face in the 8-AW construction.

Ball speed: 121.4mph | Launch angle: 20.1° | Backspin: 6,327rpm | Peak height: 38 yards | Descent angle: 50° | Carry: 169 yards

Who are they for?

Judging by our website traffic Apex irons were the most eagerly awaited iron launch of 2019. Apex Pro didn't waste any time getting down to business on tour, either, winning their first week out (Xander Schauffele). Unlike the previous model there's cup face technology in the long and mid irons (3-7 irons). In our opinion the tech adds some seriously needed zip which makes the Pro longer irons slightly more playable than some of the competition. If your game's on the fence between the Pro and Apex 19, think about what you want from your irons. If a few extra yards are on your radar, you have to be looking at Apex 19. The 2.5° 7-iron loft difference and 20g lighter shaft meant a shift of 4mph of ball speed and 11 yards more carry towards the standard model for our test pro.

callaway apex pro

Cobra King Forged Tec

RRP: £799 | Handicap level: < 15

7-iron specs: Loft 30°; Offset 3.1mm; One- piece cast body with forged 4140 chromoly steel face construction.

Ball speed: 122.7mph | Launch angle: 18.1° | Backspin: 6,291rpm | Peak height: 35 yards | Descent angle: 48° | Carry: 172 yards

Who are they for?

Cobra says anyone from tour players to 15 handicappers, but we'd urge you though to think very seriously about your decision if you're a 13, 14 or 15 handicapper. Primarily because weaker ball strikers or slower swing speed players might be better off with the super-powerful F9 Speedback. The Tec has the strongest loft (7-iron) of all the player irons (forgiveness rating 2 and 2.5) we tested, and it meant shots peaked out fractionally lower and descended slightly shallower than average. We'd say they are particularly well suited to players specifically chasing distance or those who generate above average backspin numbers

cobra king forged tec irons

Mizuno MP-18 MMC

RRP: £150 per club | Handicap level: < 12

7-iron specs: Loft 32°; Offset 3.3mm; One-piece forged 1025E HD mild carbon steel construction.

Ball speed: 121.8mph | Launch angle: 19° | Backspin: 5,624rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 48° | Carry: 174 yards

Who are they for?

A great MP iron that thanks to tungsten weighting and a titanium cavity badge is playable probably up to about a 12 handicap. MMC brings to the table a forged feel that golfers expect from Mizuno without chasing ball speed through ridiculously low lofts or any real fast face technology, and to some golfers that means more consistency. MMC has a 3mm shorter blade length than the JPX919 Forged and 4mm shorter than the Hot Metal Pro, which will be a factor for those insistent on using compact irons. Even with a loft 2° stronger than the JPX919 Tour and MP-18 MB, the MMC can still launch, spin, peak out and land shots at very similar rates, so don't feel approaches won't stop on a green.

mizuno mp18 mmc

Ping i210

RRP: £126 (s) £136 (g) per club | Handicap level: < 8

7-iron specs: Loft 33°; Offset 2.3mm; One- piece cast, 431 stainless steel construction

Ball speed: 122.2mph | Launch angle: 19.1° | Backspin: 7,227rpm | Peak height: 37 yards | Descent angle: 50° | Carry: 167 yards

Who are they for?

Ping's players' iron; Lee Westwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Wallace are all big fans. Similar off set to the iBlade and i500 means all three irons look alike at address, but a 7-iron loft 2.5° weaker than the i500 spells out how the pair are aimed at very different golfers. i500 is a players' distance iron whereas i210 is for golfers wanting a good degree of forgiveness in a compact shape. Ping say forgiveness levels are comparable between the i210 and i500; our test pro believes i210 can be more punishing on off-centre hits, which our data supports with a 5mph ball speed drop-o s compared to 3mph for i500. How do you choose between the pair? You've got to be a decent player to consider either first off. If you've got any desire to add or maximise distance from your irons, then you have to be looking at i500.

ping i210

Ping i500

RRP: £149 (s) £159 (g) per club | Handicap level: < 8

7-iron specs: Loft 30.5°; Offset 2.3mm; Hollow body (17-4 stainless steel) with forged C300 maraging steel face construction.

Ball speed: 122.2mph | Launch angle: 19.1° | Backspin: 7,227rpm | Peak height: 37 yards | Descent angle: 50° | Carry: 167 yards

Who are they for?

You won't find much that's forged in Ping's iron line-up, but the faces of the i500 are, and they're stamped from the same springy steel used for Ping fairway woods and hybrids. Hands-down it's an iron that has been designed for speed, with a wood-like hollow body construction. Strong lofts, when combined with the right shaft, deliver a towering flight, extra ball speed and carry as well as good stopping power. Sitting right on the fence between players' and game improvement irons, try them against the G410 to understand what you're giving up in terms of MOI and forgiveness

ping i500

PXG 0311 Gen 2 P

RRP: £400 per club | Handicap level: < 14

7-iron specs: Loft 31°; Offset 3.3mm; Forged carbon steel 8620 hollow body with ultra-thin HT1770 maraging steel face.

Ball speed: 123.9mph | Launch angle: 18° | Backspin: 5,969rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 48° | Carry: 176 yards

Who are they for?

Pulling a players' iron from the bag gives golfers a certain kudos, particularly when playing among those in the know. By putting "P" in play you get all that kudos, without putting your game under pressure by compromising forgiveness. When PXG started in 2015 owner Bob Parsons asked his designers to create an iron that looked like a blade, but played with the forgiveness of a cavity back, and the "P" delivers that in spades. It is an excellent blend of great shape and size, reasonably strong loft, forgiving hollow body construction and just the right amount of off set.

pxg 0311 p irons

TaylorMade P790

RRP: £1,049 (s) £1,299 (g) | Handicap level: < 12

7-iron specs: Loft 30.5°; Offset 2.7mm; Hollow body, with 4140 forged carbon steel faces and a 8620 cast body construction.

Ball speed: 125.7mph | Launch angle: 18.4° | Backspin: 5,856rpm | Peak height: 37 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 179 yards

Who are they for?

One of the first and very best "players distance" irons there's been, and one of TG's favourite iron models on sale right now. P790 sits right on the fence between players' irons and game improver models. They're a potent combination of great looks, strong lofts, fast, flexible faces and a decent degree of forgiveness, so they won't punish reasonably consistent ball strikers too harshly. A great set for golfers whose handicap has dropped close to single figures and are looking to take their game to the next level. P790s launched in August 2017, so after two years there's a good chance they will be updated at some point in 2019.

taylormade p790

Wilson Staff C300 Forged

RRP: £699 (s) £799 (g) | Handicap level: <12

7-iron specs: Loft 33°; Off set 2.54mm; Forged 8620 carbon steel construction

Ball speed: 121.7mph | Launch angle: 20° | Backspin: 6,627rpm | Peak height: 38 yards | Descent angle: 50° | Carry: 168 yards

Who are they for?

Anybody who loves the V6, but feels intimidated by the tiny head. C300 Forged are a lovely looking iron and we reckon they're a great option for anyone torn between player and game improver models, as they sit right on the fence between the two. FLX Face and a stronger loft than the V6 bring a bit of extra ball speed to the party over the FG Tours, and do so without cutting launch, backspin or descent angle. Considering most forged irons are now likely to set you back over £1k a set, we reckon C300 represent excellent all-round value, too.

wilson staff c300 forged irons

- Forgiveness Rating: Category 3 - 

Callaway Apex 19 | Mizuno JPX 919 Forged | Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal Pro | TaylorMade M5

Callaway Apex 19

RRP: £1,299 (s) £1,399 (g) | Handicap level: < 12

7-iron specs: Loft 30.5°; Offset: 3mm; Forged 1025 mild carbon steel body with cup face construction.

Ball speed: 124.7mph | Launch angle: 18.6° | Backspin: 5,263rpm | Peak height: 37 yards | Descent angle: 48° | Carry: 180 yards

Who are they for?

Apex 19 had a seriously tough act to follow as the previous Apex CF16 was one of our favourite irons over the last three years. We're not quite sure how Callaway has done it, but everything about the Apex is just as desirable – if not more so. This is Callaway's forged iron for the masses, so it ticks all the boxes for ball speed and forgiveness, while also scoring extremely well in terms of decent levels of launch, backspin and descent angle, which means you'll be able to get shots on to the green, and stop them there, too. If you're looking for a new set of forged irons in 2019, you'd be doing yourself a disservice not to put Apex 19 on your shortlist to try.

callaway apex 19

Mizuno JPX 919 Forged

RRP: £135 per club | Handicap level: < 16

7-iron specs: Loft 32°; Offset 3.4mm; One-piece forged 1025 HD (with boron trace) mild carbon steel construction.

Ball speed: 121.7mph | Launch angle: 19° | Backspin: 5,793rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 173 yards

Who are they for?

Sir Nick Faldo might have a set in his bag, but the Forged would be just as at home in a serious 14 handicapper's bag, too. Lots of golfers will find themselves faced with a choice between the JPX919 Forged, MP-18 MMC and JPX 919 Hot Metal Pro, as all three cover an area of the market where lots of golfers start thinking about buying Mizuno irons. If you need help deciding between them, let us offer some simple rules. MP-18 MMC are players' irons, and by that we mean reasonably consistent ball strikers. The JPX919 Forged are for a huge audience, especially golfers who welcome a dose of extra ball speed and carry, but don't want to give up a forged sound and feel to get it. Hot Metal Pro chases ball speed with a cup face and a slightly bigger head, and you give up a forged head to get it.

mizuno jpx 919 forged

Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal Pro

RRP: £120 per club | Handicap level: < 16

7-iron specs: Loft 30°; Offset 3.1mm; One-piece cast 4140M chromoly steel construction

Ball speed: 124.9mph | Launch angle: 18.9° | Backspin: 5,706rpm | Peak height: 38 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 178 yards

Who are they for?

Mizuno say they introduced the Hot Metal Pro because they saw a lot of decent golfers turning to the JPX919 Hot Metal iron, because of the extra performance benefits it brings to the table. Mizuno knew they could attract more eyes with a slimmed down profile and less hosel o set, as the model would become more attractive to better players. Hot Metal Pro was our test pro's strongest Mizuno performer, with a very solid spread of ball speed, backspin, peak height, descent angle and carry distance numbers, which for us makes it a brilliant all- rounder. Just remember it's not forged, hence why it costs less than Mizuno's forged models. In a blind test, though, we reckon many golfers at this ability level would struggle to hear or feel much difference.

mizuno jpx 919 hot metal pro

TaylorMade M5

RRP: £999 (s) £1,199 (g) | Handicap level: 5 > 

7-iron specs: Loft 30°; Offset 2.5mm; One-piece cast 450 stainless steel construction.

Ball speed: 125.1mph | Launch angle: 18.2° | Backspin: 5,642rpm | Peak height: 37 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 179 yards

Who are they for?

Golfers who know their game demands some sort of forgiveness, yet find themselves drawn to irons with a neat, tidy and compact look behind the ball. Before hollow body irons came along this was the style of iron that bridged the gap between player and game improvement irons. They're still a great option, especially as cavity backs tend to come in for less cash than hollow alternatives. Look at our ball speed, peak height and carry distance numbers compared to the P760s and they spell out perfectly how much is put on the line (6mph of ball speed and 14 yards of carry) by choosing a set that's above your ability. Drop-off consistency between on- and off-centre hits is also tighter with these larger and more forgiving heads.

taylormade m5

 - Forgiveness Rating: Category 3.5 - 

Callaway Rogue | Callaway Rogue X | Cobra King F9 Speedback | Ping G410 | PXG 0311 Gen 2 SGI | TaylorMade M6 | Wilson Staff C300 

Callaway Rogue

RRP: £849 (s) £1,049 (g) | Handicap level: < 18

7-iron specs: Loft 30°; Offset 5.8mm; Cast with cup face construction.

Ball speed: 127.4mph | Launch angle: 18.9° | Backspin: 4,404rpm | Peak height: 38 yards | Descent angle: 48° | Carry: 191 yards

Who are they for?

The vast majority of golfers who play the game need game improver irons, and that's the exact audience Callaway has targeted with the standard Rogue model. The beauty of Callaway's game improver irons is how the heads –compared to others – don't look massively oversized or stretched, yet thanks to a deep cavity and plenty of offset are really friendly to use. Our test pro's backspin numbers are, like the Rogue X, a bit low, but as long as you keep an eye on these, along with the peak height you generate on a launch monitor, you really can't go wrong with Rogue. If your iron swing speed is anywhere close to being average or below then the Big Berthas might well be a great shout

callaway rogue

Callaway Rogue X

RRP: £849 (s) £1,049 (g) | Handicap level: < 18

7-iron specs: Loft 27°; Offset 6.9mm; Cast with cup face construction.

Ball speed: 131mph | Launch angle: 16.6° | Backspin: 3,794rpm | Peak height: 35 yards | Descent angle: 44° | Carry: 205 yards

Who are they for?

The X's extremely fast ball speed and massive 7-iron carry distance both come from what in other sets is essentially a 6-iron loft. But our pro's data highlights beautifully an issue some golfers see with strong lofted irons. A low launch, little backspin and a shallow descent angle mean shots will struggle to stop on a green. That isn't what some golfers want. But here's the strange thing. TG gear editor Simon Daddow has used Rogue X irons for a year with absolutely no such difficulty. So how do you know if strong lofted irons suit you or not? Try them on a launch monitor. If launch, backspin, peak height and descent angle drop off  you really need to look at either the standard Rogue or Apex 19 instead.

callaway rogue x

Cobra King F9 Speedback

RRP: £699 (s) £799 (g) | Handicap level: 5 - 25

7-iron specs: Loft 29.5°; Offset 3.2mm; One-piece cast body with forged PWRshell face

Ball speed: 129.6mph | Launch angle: 17.8° | Backspin: 5,433rpm | Peak height: 39 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 187 yards

Who are they for?

We're not sure what Cobra has done to its F9 Speedback products in 2019, but the irons – like the driver – come with a supercharger attached! Not everyone will love the lower profile, wider sole and rounded leading edge, so if you're fussy about head shapes have a good look at F9 in person before investing. But if, like most golfers at this mid-handicap range you're more concerned about performance than looks, the F9 is powerful and consistent, too. A 4mph ball speed drop-off (between on and off  centre hits) and nine yards of carry distance deviation is tight by anybody's measure; that tells us the 33g of tungsten toe and heel weighting really does improve MOI performance.

cobra f9 speedback

Ping G410

RRP: £126 (s) £136 (g) per club | Handicap level: 8 > 

7-iron specs: Loft 30°; Offset 4.6mm; One piece cast, 17-4 stainless steel construction.

Ball speed: 125.2mph | Launch angle: 17.9° | Backspin: 6,799rpm | Peak height: 37 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 174 yards

Who are they for? 

Literally anyone. Thanks to 10% less off set (than the previous G400) G410 would be just as at home in the hands of an average ball striking five handicapper as they would be in an erratic 22 handicapper's bag. The lovely head has moved away from what used to be considered a traditional Ping "boxy" shape and become a super sleek, stand-out performer for us in 2019. If you can't decide whether to go i500 or G410, Ping told us they'd struggle to get a hollow-headed iron to offer anything like as much MOI performance as the G410, so if ball striking isn't your strength give serious thought to the G410s before choosing i500s

ping pg410

PXG 0311 Gen 2 XF

RRP: £400 per club | Handicap level: < 18

7-iron specs: Loft 30°; Offset 3.8mm; Forged carbon steel 8620 hollow body with ultra-thin HT1770 maraging steel face.

Ball speed: 124.1mph | Launch angle: 18.1° | Backspin: 5,536rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 48° | Carry: 178 yards

Who are they for?

The XF is exactly what wasn't available in the forged iron market before PXG came along. The head's oversized and stretched from toe to heel, but golfers who want forged iron forgiveness will love how good it looks at address. Our data across all four PXG models gives an excellent indication of the effect changing loft, head size and off-set have on performance. We reckon you might choose "XF" over the "P" iron if your game demands putting a premium on additional forgiveness over the necessity of using a more compact head design.

pxg xf irons

TaylorMade M6

RRP: £849 (s) £999 (g) | Handicap level: 10 > 

7-iron specs: Loft 28.5°; Offset 3.9mm; One-piece cast 450 stainless steel construction.

Ball speed: 127.4mph | Launch angle: 17.1° | Backspin: 5,567rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 48° | Carry: 183 yards

Who are they for?

Realistically, the majority of club golfers. We love how the combination of very strong lofts and lightweight high-launch shafts generate plenty of ball speed and carry, but also launch shots high enough, with decent levels of backspin, to stop them on the green. Extra off set, with a big deep cavity back and plenty of mass low, helps get shots airborne, increasing forgiveness and playability, too.

Modern game improver irons have come a long way in terms of tech, looks and sound, and M6 are right at the top of the pile for across-the- board performance. We love how they give the sensation of not needing your Sunday best swing or strike to get decent results, which is comforting, especially when facing approaches over hazards.

taylormade m6

Wilson Staff C300

RRP: £599 (s) £699 (g) | Handicap level: <16

7-iron specs: Loft 31°; Off set 3.3mm; Cast stainless steel

Ball speed: 121.5mph | Launch angle: 18.5° | Backspin: 5,611rpm | Peak height: 35 yards | Descent angle: 48° | Carry: 173 yards

Who are they for?

The "C" family bridges the gap between golfers who predominantly desire distance (D7) or feel (FG Tour V6). How do you know if you're a C300 player or not? Well, you're probably not too worried about a forged sound and feel; if you are, take a look at the C300 Forged.

Logic says you're probably not after forgiveness at all costs, either, as that means looking at the bigger and more off set head of the D7. The stock KBS Tour 90 shafts tell a story, too – they're lighter and higher launching than those in the C300 Forged, yet are a fraction heavier than the D7's Tour 80s.

wilson staff c300 irons

 - Forgiveness Rating: Category 4 - 

Callaway Big Bertha | Cobra F-Max Superlite | Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal | Ping G700 | PXG 0311 Gen 2 SGI | TaylorMade M CGB | Wilson Staff D7

Callaway Big Bertha

RRP: £1,140 (s) £1,399 (g) | Handicap level: < 28

7-iron specs: Loft 30°; Offset 5mm; Cast with cup face construction.

Ball speed: 124.2mph | Launch angle: 18° | Backspin: 5,839rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 48° | Carry: 177 yards

Who are they for?

Lightweight irons weren't even a thing a few years ago, but with the golfing population growing steadily older manufacturers now target golfers' decreasing swing speeds with specific models. Thanks to a hollow skeleton type construction, weight is focused in very precise locations to improve stability and MOI performance, which makes the Big Bertha one of the most forgiving irons we've tested in 2019. There's a lovely compact head shape (for a super game improver model), and because they target average swing speeds they're also lighter than Callaway's other men's models. How do you know if your swing speed needs Big Bertha or Rogue? Try both on a launch monitor and look very closely at the back spin, peak height and carry distance numbers between the pair (they both have the same loft). At slower swing speeds more spin generally helps get shots airborne, and keeps them in the air for longer, which naturally increases carry distance.

callaway big bertha

Cobra F-Max Superlite

RRP: £499 (s) £599 (g) | Handicap level: 14-28

7-iron specs: Loft 31.5°; Off set 3.6mm; One-piece cast construction.

Ball speed: 123.8mph | Launch angle: 19.9° | Backspin: 6,479rpm | Peak height: 39 yards | Descent angle: 50° | Carry: 172 yards

Who are they for?

It's never going to be easy to accept your swing speed might not be quite what it once was, but if you can you'll see some real benefits from a set like this. Lighter heads, shafts and grips and an extra little bit of loft to help flight shots higher to maximise carry distance at average club speeds. And because there's plenty of weight in the heel, there's also a draw bias which will help straighten up anyone prone to leaking shots down the right side of the golf course. Choose F-MAX much more based on your swing speed rather than your handicap or ability, and like us, you could be surprised at how much difference losing a bit of weight really can make to your game. 

cobra f-max

Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal

RRP: £120 per club | Handicap level: < 22

7-iron specs: Loft 30°; Offset 4.5mm; One-piece cast 4140M chromoly steel construction.

Ball speed: 123.4mph | Launch angle: 19.5° | Backspin: 6,005rpm | Peak height: 38 yards | Descent angle: 50° | Carry: 174 yards

Who are they for?

Mizuno's most game improver iron. A deep cavity back, with excellent perimeter weighting, offers good off-centre hit forgiveness, along with a decent sound and feel. Expect Mizuno's longest iron blade length and thickest top edge along with the most amount of hosel off set, but compared to some max game improvement irons, Hot Metal is a beauty to look at. If your decision for switching irons is based on gaining ball speed and distance, it's worth remembering that even as a distance iron the Hot Metal's 7-iron loft is three degrees weaker than Callaway's strongest Rogue X model. It's also 1.5° weaker than TaylorMade's M6 and 0.5° down on Ping's G700, which will obviously affect launch monitor numbers if you test them all head-to-head. Worth bearing in mind.

mizuno jpx 919 hot metal

Ping G700

RRP:  | Handicap level: < 28

7-iron specs: Loft 29.5°; Offset 5mm; Hollow body (17-4 stainless steel) construction with C300 maraging steel face.

Ball speed: 132.4mph | Launch angle: 18.6° | Backspin: 5,171rpm | Peak height: 42 yards | Descent angle: 50° | Carry: 193 yards

Who are they for?

Anyone looking to add ball speed, distance and a high degree of forgiveness to their iron game, but would like to do so without heads that look like shovels. The G700's larger head means extra face flex and ball speed, which can't be achieved in a smaller model. Ping says that because of how the head's leading edge hinges, G700 is their longest, highest-flying iron ever, which is incredible as it's also the strongest lofted iron in the 2019 line-up. As long as you don't take offence at the extra offset (if you do, try the G410) they're perfect for golfers looking to add yards to their game. For anyone who does take the plunge, you'll own one of the most forgiving irons on the market, too.

ping g700

PXG 0311 Gen 2 SGI

RRP: £400 per club | Handicap level: < 28

7-iron specs: Loft 29°; Offset 4.2mm; Forged carbon steel 8620 hollow body with ultra-thin HT1770 maraging steel face.

Ball speed: 125.9mph | Launch angle: 17.7° | Backspin: 5,402rpm | Peak height: 36 yards | Descent angle: 48° | Carry: 182 yards

Who are they for?

Anyone looking to have fun on the course. The SGIs have wide, low-profile heads which makes them really easy and fun to hit. For golfers who want a friendly premium forged iron (which has exactly the same forged feel, sound and technology as PXG's Tour irons), to hit towering shots, the SGI certainly delivers. On each occasion we've hit PXG irons the SGI, thanks to its powerful loft, has been consistently longest, but without launching, flying, and spinning shots at ridiculously low rates.

pxg sgi irons

TaylorMade M CGB

RRP: £849 (s) £1,099 (g) | Handicap level: 15 > 

7-iron specs: Loft 29.5°; Offset 4.7mm; One-piece cast 450 stainless steel construction.

Ball speed: 127.5mph | Launch angle: 18.5° | Backspin: 5,345rpm | Peak height: 38 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 185 yards

Who are they for?

Specifically designed for average-to-slower swing speed golfers, so lighter swing weights and shafts optimise launch, peak height, spin and carry. The heads are larger, the top edges and soles are wider and there's low and deep tungsten weighting as well as vertical face slots and a speed pocket sole. TaylorMade say every iron in the set has as much face flex as a driver, so average swing speeds will struggle to find a faster, longer or more forgiving iron. As you'd expect, these were the punchiest TaylorMade irons for our pro, a full 25 yards longer than the P730s. Like the P790s they've been in the range for two years, so they're likely to be updated this year.

taylormade m cgb irons

Wilson Staff D7

RRP: £469 (s) £599 (g) | Handicap level: < 28

7-iron specs: Loft 28°; Off set 5mm; Cast stainless steel

Ball speed: 130.1mph | Launch angle: 18° | Backspin: 5,374rpm | Peak height: 39 yards | Descent angle: 49° | Carry: 189 yards

Who are they for?

Any golfer who puts a high premium on distance and forgiveness, and isn't overly concerned about what they give up in terms of size and shape. The heads are over- sized with wide, rounded soles, and it's exactly these traits that allow Wilson's engineers to decrease loft (for more ball speed) without unduly affecting launch, spin and decent angle. And because Wilson's "D" family has always been about lightweight performance, the lightest steel shaft in Wilson's iron line-up means you not only get extra help rinsing club speed from your swing, but they're high launching to maximise carry, too.

wilson d7 irons

What we learned from our latest irons test

1. The truth about dispersion

Judging by the comments we see online, there's a real lack of understanding around shot dispersion, and it's particularly important when finding your best fitting iron. Dispersion is just a representation of how well you've hit a particular iron on a particular today. Look instead at the drop-offs (variation) in ball speed, spin and carry (of a single model); these show much better the results you'll get when hitting the iron next time. Being consistently within 10 yards of your intended distance is great control and ultimately will help lower your scores. Remember, a wide, narrow ellipse across the launch monitor screen is better than a long ellipse from 10 yards behind the green to 10 yards in front of it...

2. Don't base your choice on your longest shots

It's flattering to see an 8-iron carry 162. But it's not a fair reflection of how your new irons will perform on the course, as we all know we might only hit three shots in 10 like our best. Our tests, this year more than ever, have shown how closely the latest equipment is matched. Instead of pure yardage, think about how an iron makes you feel, how much confidence it gives you.

3. Give shafts your full attention

Our test showcases brilliantly how brands use different shafts to cater each model to different players. There's no point kitting out a very strong lofted iron with a heavy, low launching shaft, it's just not going to work for most. As a general rule, you'll find heavier shafts in players' models and lighter options the closer you get to super game improver designs.

4. Strong lofts don't always mean shots won't stop on greens

Lots of golfers have been told strong lofted irons don't stop shots on a green as the ball descends at too shallow an angle. For some, this may be true, but from what we've seen it absolutely isn't true for everyone. If you're after adding some distance to your game, strong lofts can be ideal if you don't struggle to launch and flight shots high.

5. Hollow IS worth exploring

Forgiving "player" irons weren't really a thing a few years ago, yet hollow heads have made them a reality. The tech also makes it possible to create a very desirable Ping G700 super game improvement iron, too. The hot faces their construction allow are great for lots of golfers who don't want to leave anything in terms of ball speed or carry distance behind.

6. Don't go above your station

We've always stressed it's important to find irons that don't hamper your ability. Yet fitters regularly tell us golfers insist on buying clubs well beyond their capability. With many game improver irons now looking every bit as good as "player" models there couldn't be a better time to choose a set which compliments your ball striking ability, rather than compromising it.

7. Fitting, fitting, fitting

Lots of 2019 sets will set you back £1k or more, so that surely means you must get fitted. We're not talking about exploring upgrade shafts or anything like that, but with the likes of Mizuno and Ping offering multiple shaft options at no charge now, you simply can't buy off the rack and expect a set to be your best fit.

8. Buy what you use

With several major brands now offering the chance to buy individual irons, you only need to buy what you use. In a market where prices are soaring you'll keep costs as low as possible, and not end up spending money on that 3-iron that has never come out of its cellophane wrapper...