Best Golf Irons 2018 – Expert Review Of The Best Irons On The Market

Welcome to our Best Golf Irons 2018 review!

In this comprehensive guide we have sifted through the absolute best golf irons currently available on the market. The guide separates irons by category, price and features to help you find the best golf irons for your game.

We have tried to keep our selection pretty broad in terms of handicap suitability, but admittedly, most of the irons featured below are for low single figure to mid-teen handicaps.

If you are just beginning golf or are a high handicapper we recommend you check out our review of the Best Golf Clubs for Beginners, or better still check out our selection of Best Irons For Beginners.

Let’s jump into our Best Golf Irons review and find out which is best for you and why!

Best Golf Irons

Use the quicklinks to navigate our Best Golf Irons Review.

  1. Editor’s Choice: Mizuno MP18
  2. Pro’s Choice: Titleist 718 AP2, Callaway Epic Pro and PXG 0311
  3. Best Value: Callaway Steelhead XR
  4. Best Irons for Mid-Handicapper: Taylormade M1 and Callaway Epic
  5. Worthy Competitors: Srixon Z 765, Ping iBlade, Mizuno MP5, Callaway Apex Pro 16, Titleist 716 AP2 and Taylormade P770
  6. Other Reviewed Irons: Taylormade PSi Tour, Titleist 718 AP3, Mizuno JPX900 Forged and Titleist C16

Best Golf Irons by Category

Editor’s Choice: Mizuno MP18 Irons

Undoubtedly aimed at the better player, but boy oh boy are these MP18 irons just spectacular. Not just in terms of appearance either.

Three and a half sets to choose from in order to maximize playability and improve or enhance certain areas of your iron game that will result in better scoring. Massive amounts of workability and versatility on offer and pin point accuracy if iron play is a strong point in your game.

If you’re a 5 handicap or lower and are passionate about this beautiful game then give these a go – you are sure to be wowed!

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PROS:
  • Option of combining aspects of three and a half sets maximizing your iron play potential
  • Control and workability some of the best we’ve ever tested and experienced
  • More cushioning available in the SC’s and MMC’s
  • Beautiful overall design with just one step across the rear of the blade
CONS:
  • Only the best ball strikers should give the true MP18 blades a go. The other variations are more suitable if not

Pro’s Choice: Titleist 718 AP2 Irons

The primary aim of the 718 AP2s was to make them slightly more forgiving than their 716 equivalents. And Titleist have definitely done this. Thinner clubfaces, sturdy inserts and clever weight redistribution has done wonders for ball speeds off the clubface at impact.

The feel and playability have been improved on making the 718 AP2’s just brilliant. Not to mention just how classy they look too.

The AP2’s are absolutely world class irons and provide ample distance, playability, forgiveness and feel. If in doubt regarding price – just know these are going to be in it for the long haul and will hold their longevity in terms of design and performance.

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PROS:
  • Considerable improvement in terms of forgiveness from the 716’s to the 718’s
  • Feel beautiful through impact particularly the 5, 6 & 7 irons for some reason
  • The steel face inserts have added a few yards to each and every iron – always handy!
  • Thumbs up all round in terms of appearance – just classy and clean
CONS:
  • You need to be a good ball striker in order to get the most out of the AP2’s

Pro’s Choice #2: Callaway Epic Pro Irons

callaway-epic-irons-review-1
The Epic Pros cost a small fortune, but wow are they impressive if you are in the suitable player niche.

Exceptional feel and particularly control. You can work the ball either way at the drop of a hat and control trajectory with no difficulty whatsoever.

Not to mention just how consistent they are too in terms of distance control. Fantastic job by Callaway.

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PROS:
  • Wonderful feel – certainly as playable as any cavity back we’ve ever tested
  • Despite the small design they’re still more than forgiving enough
  • Looks good at address and the Epic Pros are well engineered
  • Guaranteed results and consistency, world class performance if suited
CONS:
  • They really are pricey, just have to mention it unfortunately

Best Value: Callaway Steelhead XR Irons

At first glance there doesn’t really seem to be much difference between these and the good-old X-14s. But there are actually a ton of enhancements here, and these clubs really do set the bar at a whole new level in terms of forgiveness, launch, and, to a lesser extent, distance.

Is this going to be the set of choice for low single-figure players? Doubtful. But in terms of game improvement, these irons are right up there, and we think there’s a good chance the Steelhead XRs could float your boat – and at an affordable price too.

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PROS:
  • Callaway’s Face Cup technology enhances distance and feel
  • Variable CG from long to short irons works effectively
  • Forgiveness in the extreme
  • A wallet-friendly price tag
CONS:
  • The lowest of low single-figure players won’t be interested

Best Irons for Mid-Handicapper: Taylormade M1 Irons

The M1 irons impressed us tremendously. The Face Slot paired with Speed Pocket technologies have a profound impact on forgiveness, but the small, stylish look is retained through a reasonable amount of offset. A thin top line along with shorter heads from heel to toe provide an all around good look.

Not to mention just how good these irons feel through impact – fantastic! The M1s have a unique design which is going to appeal to a wide range of golfer and at the price they are certainly going to become a fan favorite in next to no time. Great set of irons by Taylormade.

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PROS:
  • The Face Slot/Speed Pocket combo has delivered accuracy, distance and forgiveness all in one
  • The lower center of gravity has delivered even more forgiveness than previous player’s irons
  • The M1’s are compact and look the part – will definitely appeal to a wide range of players
  • Good value for money
CONS:
  • Not the easiest irons to work in terms of shot shape – if this doesn’t bother you then no problems here!

Best Irons for Mid-Handicapper # 2: Callaway Epic Irons

epic-irons-review
The Epic irons are world class iron that will appeal to a wide facet of golfer. A reasonably thick topline paired up with a compact face screams playability and will aid confidence especially with long irons.

Very long and also consistent in terms of dispersion left and right of target. They are slightly expensive, but man are these going to turn your iron play around. You may not notice it at first, but give them a handful of rounds and you’ll see just what we’re talking about.

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PROS:
  • Low spinning off the clubface providing superb ball flight with plenty of distance
  • Perfect combination between a generous topline and compact clubface
  • Forgiving and consistent in terms of distance and dispersion
  • Suited to a wide range of player despite being termed more of a ‘game improvement’ iron
CONS:
  • A bit on the pricey side of things
  • Sounds a bit dull on off center mishits, but generally still more than acceptable

Worthy Competitors #1: Srixon Z 765 Irons

We don’t like reinvention of the wheel for the sake of it, and it’s clear that Srixon have built on the strengths of the Z 745 range; in particular, the Z 765s. That means you’re effectively guaranteeing yourself extra consistency, and a good deal of precision and control with these. That’s amplified by the Tour V.T. Sole, which minimizes friction with the turf at impact.

The Z 765s are undoubtedly targeted at better players, but, that said, the muscle cavity provides a decent amount of forgiveness, and that extra bit of cushion will open the door to the average weekly golfer too. And then there’s the design… just, wow!

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PROS:
  • Very clean look: thin top line, thin sole, minimal offset and understated design
  • 1020 carbon steel makes for a delightfully soft feel, but with good feedback on bad shots too
  • The price is reasonable
  • A quality player’s club with well-disguised forgiveness
CONS:
  • The only reason not to go down this road is if you already have a set of Z 745s. Not quite enough differentiation to warrant an upgrade

Worthy Competitor #2: Ping iBlade Irons

ping-iblade-irons-review
For us, we felt the most notable improvement in the iBlade when compared with the S55 irons was forgiveness. Not in the sense that they are dramatically easier to hit, but with the slenderer ‘bladey’ look, at first glance you might think your bad shot could sting a little. Not so – the ball gets away beautifully.

These are surely the most stylish irons Ping have produced to date too, and it’s a good modern blade. But does $1,200 represent good value here? We’re not so sure…

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PROS:
  • Forgiveness enhanced by extra tungsten plug in the toe
  • Clean, compact design with minimal offset
  • Very easy to hit, with excellent sound and feel
  • Good feedback on mishits, despite impressive levels of forgiveness
CONS:
  • Lower spin and less penetration in ball flights
  • On the pricey side of average

Worthy Competitor #3: Mizuno MP5 Irons

The Mizuno MP5 Irons were our Editor’s Choice for Irons back in 2016 and we still love them today.

Mizuno and the word ‘irons’ go hand in hand. The MP5’s are quite simply beautiful in terms of both look and feel.

Mizuno have always been known for their blade irons and the MP5’s are another perfect example. What really appealed to us was the excellent flow of the set which provided the same level of performance, feel and forgiveness. The MP5’s generally provide a low trajectory that helps keep it on target especially with short iron approaches.

Grain Flow Forged from a single billet of 1025E Pure Select Mild Carbon steel for exceptional feel. If you’re a low handicapper then these are a fantastic set of irons that will check just about every box – cut, draw, slice, hook, low stinger. You will definitely be taken aback at the versatility. If you’re a mid to high handicapper though, stay away from the MP5’s not because they’re bad. But because they are exceptionally demanding in terms of ball striking.

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PROS:
  • Absolutely beautiful blade design
  • Pure strikes provide exceptional feedback and feel beautifully soft
  • Mizuno engineers have fine-tuned acoustics and vibration at impact
  • Thin top-line and minimal offset that provide the purest ball flight for the better player
CONS:
  • If you are not a pure ball striker, these babies are not for you

Worthy Competitor #4: Callaway Apex Pro 16 Irons

The Apex Pro 16’s scream distance and ease of use. Callaway have taken all players opinions into account and established that their preferred look was the original X-Forged 13 irons some years back. Engineers have subsequently done what they could in order to mimic that set, but add a modern spin to it.

The forged slightly bulky appearance provide superb feel on both center and off-center strikes minimizing that important distance gap. The graded COG provides optimal trajectory for each and every club although we still thought they’re a touch on the low side. Slightly higher in terms of retail price than competitors , but they are superb value for money!

If you’re in the low to mid handicap bracket the Apex Pro’s will add that fun factor back into your game and add confidence at the same time.

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PROS:
  • More than long enough and almost certainly going to add yards to your current set of irons
  • Forgiving set of players’ irons – particularly in the longer irons such as 3 & 4
  • High launch angle which really aids your long iron play and being able to attack tighter targets
CONS:
  • It is somewhat of an effort to hit them with a low ball flight when need be
  • The appearance is slightly chunkier than some other manufacturers although still not over the top by any means

Worthy Competitor #5: Titleist 716 AP2 Irons

Titleist are definitely a sought after brand in golf and that is not likely to change even in the next two decades. Quality in a nutshell.

Rated as best value due to a number of factors, but primarily the dispersion in both distance and direction is superb. No other forged irons can meet the technical advancements of the 716 AP2’s and that says a lot.

What is most appealing though is that even though they are aimed at the better player, the forgiveness is excellent. So you don’t have to stress when standing over a long iron having to carry water – the 716 AP2’s help your confidence big time.

Really good value for money option and these will hold their style and character well for a few years to come.

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PROS:
  • Solid attractive appearance to the clubhead
  • 25% more tungsten to improve off center strikes and forgiveness
  • Compact club-head with little offset
  • Exceptionally consistent in both shot dispersion and distance, which is a huge plus
CONS:
  • Not as long as competitors
  • No ‘spring’ like effect from center strikes providing added distance

Worthy Competitor #6: Taylormade P770 Irons

The Taylormade P770s provide a great mix of forgiveness in the longer irons together with performance and precision in the shorter irons.

The short irons feel great and overall the set provides ample distance due to the lighter steel shafts and slightly aggressive lofts. A sexy set that offers consistency, playability as well as forgiveness.

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PROS:
  • A lot more forgiving than the P750 Proto irons whilst still holding the slim line appearance
  • Lighter shafts provide a boost in swing speed and most notably distance
  • Even though there is a progressive offset the heads are still relatively small
CONS:
  • Short irons could feel slightly better when struck out the center
  • Fairly pricey when comparing to other competitors

Other Irons #1: Taylormade PSI Tour Irons

Taylormade have definitely come to the fore in the last 15 years and provide exciting equipment for every golfer.

The PSI Tour’s feel and sound beautiful on reasonable to good strikes and are long enough to keep up with the long hitting ‘Jones’.

Workability is fantastic and will provide the confidence to attack the riskier targets. At the slightly higher price than competitors the PSI Tour’s still of good value if you are a low handicap player.

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PROS:
  • Relatively long, more than enough under the hood to keep you happy in this department
  • Inspired by the help of leading professionals
  • Attractive intermediate top line and little offset
  • Incredibly soft feel on center strikes at impact
CONS:
  • Not exceptionally forgiving
  • If you are a poor ball striker or handicapped over 5, then forget these puppies. They are only targeted at the best amateurs and professionals

Other Irons #2: Titleist 718 AP3 Irons

Titleist have blended the gap beautifully between the AP1’s and AP2’s. The AP3’s are a better player’s club with a bit more forgiveness in the longer irons.

Exceptionally forgiving and long at that too providing huge confidence when holding a 4 iron and needing to carry water to the intended target. What we were most impressed with is the consistency the AP3’s offer in both distance and dispersion. Some of the tightest packed bunch of golf balls we’ve had when testing sets of irons.

Despite the retail price being $1149 and a little on the high side, they are still competitive and offer immense value particularly for the lower handicap player who doesn’t play as regularly as they wish. Or if you’re a mid handicap player that is still on the up and play regularly enough to build confidence as you go.

Great set of irons.

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PROS:
  • Superb forgiveness and launch, particularly when you strike it thin
  • So much is similar to the AP2’s such as feel, control but just far easier to hit
  • Really long especially with the longer irons
  • Despite the bigger offset than the AP2’s they still have a fairly thin top line
CONS:
  • A slightly dull blunt sound when hitting the 3, 4 and 5 irons

Other Irons #3: Mizuno JPX 900 Forged Irons

We wouldn’t say that Mizuno have reinvented the wheel when you compare the JPX-900 Forged with their JPX-850 predecessors.

But out of all the tweaks and improvements that have been made, the most impressive is the variable face thickness design, which encompasses the benefits of weight redistribution you associate more with top-of-the-range drivers.

All in all, it’s a truly world-class product, guaranteed to improve distance and forgiveness. Well worth giving these puppies a test drive.

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PROS:
  • Variable face thickness underpins cutting-edge design
  • Tangible differences in ball speeds and distance when compared with JPX-850s, and excellent flight/trajectory
  • Unmistakable forged feel, and sound is very pleasing
  • Redistribution of weight as a result of thinner face to corners of the PowerFrame noticeably enhances forgiveness
CONS:
  • A step in the right direction for reaching out to beginners/high handicappers, but not quite the silver bullet

Other Irons #4: Titleist C16 Irons

titleist-c16-irons-review
The C16 Concept irons are state of the art in every way, and the mix of high-quality materials is almost futuristic. Where to even begin? The slim, but immensely robust K301 Cup Face in the longer irons which produce unrivalled carry and distance? The precision of the short irons, underpinned by the 1RK95 High-Strength Steel Face insert? Or how about their sleek design?

Perhaps these irons aren’t geared towards the lowest of low handicappers, but, if you don’t fall into that category, we can assure you that they’re simply out of this world. It’s just the price tag you need to contend with.

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PROS:
  • It’s an eclectic mix of everything cutting edge in iron technology
  • Steel (K301) Cup Face yields tremendous carry and distance in long irons
  • 1RK95 High-Strength Steel Face in the shorter irons gives you plenty of control
  • Forgiveness to the nth degree from 4 to PW
CONS:
  • It’s eye-wateringly expensive. This one’s for the big dogs
  • These are game improvement technologies at work, so probably won’t appeal to low handicappers

Assessment Criteria

In general irons have the most stability in terms of the golf market as new models are only released every year to two years. Some manufacturers like Taylormade are a lot more regular, but if you purchase a brand new set of irons that have just been released you can be fairly sure that you’ll be current for at least 15 – 18 months.

With the huge variety of offerings on the market, the most challenging aspect we had was choosing a comprehensive set of irons to review.

We initially cast the net wide, but quickly whittled the list down to our view of the best golf irons available on the market at the moment.

Below you can find a side-by-side comparison of our list of best golf irons.

All irons were put to the test against our standard assessment model, where we looked at 4 key aspects: Design and Appearance, Build Quality, Control & Performance, Design & Appearance and Value for Money. Individual scores of each of these aspects was then aggregated to give an overall assessment score, as follows:

Overall Mark Score Description
Outstanding A+ 9.6 – 10 Stop the clock and buy now. This piece of equipment will change your game.
Excellent A 9.0 – 9.5 Superb piece of gear. Amazing quality, performance and value for money.
Great B+ 8.6 – 8.9 Great offering. This piece of gear won’t let you down.
Good B 8.0 – 8.5 Solid piece of gear with only minor issues to criticise.
Average C+ 7.6 – 7.9 Adequate offering, but not the best value for money.
Average C 7.0 – 7.5 Not the most exciting piece of gear, seek alternatives.
Weak D+ 6.6 – 6.9 Leaves lots to be desired. You can do a lot better.
Weak D 6.0 – 6.5 Steer well clear of this gear. Not worth the money!

Best Golf Irons Buying Guide

Build Quality

You don’t have to be an equipment nerd to appreciate how the bar is being raised in terms of manufacturing quality. We’re seeing all sorts of experimentation with materials: everything from tungsten to lighter forms of carbon are being thrown into the melting pot.

Different face inserts and designs are findings ways to add strength to the clubhead in the absence of bulk, and it’s releasing the shackles in terms of both distance and consistency as a result.

Whether forged or cast iron, blade or cavity back is your bag, there is much to contemplate (and admire) when it comes to quality control. Luckily, you’re in good hands with us.

Control and Performance

It’s pretty safe to say that there is a dividing line when it comes to golfers of different abilities. Leisure golfers seek forgiveness (and more forgiveness) in their irons, whereas better players, generally speaking, thrive on blades which could cut diamonds, and which provide ample feedback on bad shots.

For manufacturers, this has often resulted in a trade-off, depending on which type of golfer they seek to target. But this once mutually-exclusive relationship between forgiveness and slimness is diminishing, and we golfers really are starting to get the best of both worlds.

The question is, which brand marries these two elements best?

Design and Appearance

There is nothing quite like putting an iron down on the ground, and having a top line that suits your eye. It just gives you that priceless extra bit of confidence at address, and I firmly believe that a set of irons you’re proud to own takes shots off your score. But there’s a lot more to it than just the top line.

Offset, badging and thickness of the blade are just a few of the aesthetics which matter, while the type of material used will play a crucial role in the look and feel.

Ultimately, these are fairly subjective things to assess, but there’s no doubting that when you come across a club which looks the part, you’ll just know it.

Value for Money

Within the world of golf equipment, you’re probably not going to find greater scope for variance in terms of price than with irons. True, that’s partly because you’re going to be purchasing eight separate clubs – or more! But it’s also because the difference in quality between the best and the worst is so vastly polarized.

So a lot of it depends on what you’re after, and your ability isn’t necessarily a determinant in this regard either. There is cutting-edge stuff out there for those hunting down game-improvement irons; in much the same way that paying for the finest of fine blades comes at a price.

But, as ever, if you are being asked to pay a lot of money for something, you need to understand why. Only with this in hand can you make meaningful comparisons with cheaper – or pricier – alternatives.

Have Your Say!

We put this article together to help players, like yourself, find a set of golf irons that suits their specific game, level and budget. By keeping this guide updated and via feedback from the GA community, we hope this article becomes a great resource for anyone looking to get a new set of irons. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Mike fell in love with the game from a very early age – a passion that hasn’t diminished ever since. He earned provincial colors throughout his junior years, but by the time he reached Varsity, the realization set in (thanks largely to some cold ales) that it was time to favor the pen rather than his clubs. He now writes for GA along with a few other sources.

6 Comments
  1. Currently I am a 28 hcp and am looking for new irons with senior shafts. I went to a PGA store and after doing the club speed analysis, they recommended the Cleveland Launcher HB irons. In looking at sever web pages that review clubs I do not see anyone recommending these clubs. Have you reviewed them and or can you enlighten me on this purchasing decision.
    Thanks,
    Lee Berry

    • Hi Lee, thanks for getting in touch. The Cleveland Launcher HB irons are a great shout. They were only released last quarter of 2017 and a few review sites have actually reviewed them giving them thumbs up and so do we. Golf digest is another that has given them a gold star. In our opinion they would be perfect for your game! All the best.

  2. hi there im looking for new irons im about a 14 handicap but starting to play more use ping zing now what you think i should get in your opinion thanks tyler

    • Hi Ty, I recommend you look at game improvement irons like the Taylormade M4 irons or the Mizuno JPX900 Hot Metal. All the best!

  3. I’m about a 12 handicap. I hit my old Ping Zing 7 iron 175 yds. Tried hitting the Epics and hit the Epic Pro 7 iron 195 yds. I’m ready to buy but someone suggested the Taylormade 760 or the PXG gen 2. Not sure I’m ready for that PXG expense, but would like to know the ranking of these 3 clubs. I have a very fast swing. Should I get a X-Stiff 6.0 flex?

    • Hi Scott, definitely go with the Epic Pros (if you are comfortable with the slightly smaller head), otherwise the Epics. Perhaps even hold out another month or two when the new Epic irons are released and you can take advantage of a discounted price on the original model. Hitting it 195 yards with a 7 iron is deep so you should be better suited to 6.0s and it’ll also straighten out shot shape and lower the ball flight a touch.

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