In this review we’re going to look at the most forgiving irons currently on the market. We all love looking at a set of blades, but at the end of the day golf isn’t about looks, it is about getting the golf ball into the hole.
Every iron set featured in this review offers maximum levels of forgiveness. Some pair forgiveness with distance, others provide a blend of distance and control. I’ve tried to find the best option for every golfer (and their budget).
Scroll down to find out the best option for your golf game.
The most forgiving irons are:
- TaylorMade Stealth Irons (Overall winner)
- TaylorMade Sim 2 Max irons (Runner-up)
- Ping G425 irons (Great all-rounder)
- Cleveland Golf Men’s Launcher HB Iron Set (Best for distance)
- Mizuno JPX 921 (Best forged)
- Cobra F-Max Irons (Best value – beginner)
- Tour Edge Hot Launch C521 Irons (Great value – high handicapper)
- Wilson D7 (Great value – mid handicapper)
- Callaway Mavrik (Worth considering)
- TaylorMade SIM Max Irons (Great value, worth considering)
- Ping G410 (Great all-rounder, worth considering)
- Callaway Big Bertha Irons (Worth considering)
You can also jump to our frequently asked questions when buying irons. If your question isn’t there leave a comment at the bottom and I’ll get back to you.
TaylorMade Stealth Irons
A quick skim through this article will let you know TaylorMade have no shortage in experience or skill when it comes to building forgiving irons. However, previous versions, have always had a trade-off in looks and control. The new Stealth irons are set to put that right, offering golfers the best of both worlds.
The Stealth irons still provide a thick topline, combined with a longer clubhead toe to heel. Both features install confidence as you look down at these irons behind the golf ball.
However, unlike the previous SIM 2 irons, these have a far sleeker look and feel. The Carbon cap-back design finishes these off as a set of irons any golfer would be happy to have in their golf bag.
There are many ways in which forgiveness can be defined, what we love is how refined the concept is in these irons, really benefitting performance.
Thanks to the clever perimeter weighting, toe and heel strike lose little ball speed and still fly pretty straight. This technology has been further advanced in the Stealth irons where the carbon toe cap and fluted hosel has allowed even more weight to be distributed lower down.
The result is a lower centre of gravity and sweet spot, good news for most club players, as data suggests 70% of irons shots are struck too low on the clubface by these golfers.
Thanks to this new lower centre of gravity, the ball launches higher. TaylorMade has combined the new design with very strong lofts (24º 6-iron, yes I’ve triple checked that number!). The result is incredible ball speed and distance on iron shots and an extra yard or two carry on the previous SIM 2 irons.
The Stealth irons also feature heel weighting to create a draw bias, which should further help square the clubface and produce longer iron shots for golfers who struggle with a fade.
Finally, the less obvious, but important point is that ball speed drop off is lower than ever as the ball strikes towards the toe or heel. This maximises your chances of hitting the green, even on your off days. Is there a downside? Yes, but one that can be managed, we’ll cover this in our final verdict below.
TaylorMade proudly state the new Stealth irons with their Eco-dampener across the face made this feel like a forged iron. Here I disagree, these irons feel miles sweeter and sound better than the previous SIM 2 and similar large forgiving irons, but they are no replacement for a Mizuno MP 225 when it comes to feel.
As mentioned previously, these forgiving irons have a draw-bias, not a bad thing for many golfers, but worth noting if you hook the golf ball. Secondly, the strong lofts reduce backspin levels across the set. Again, this isn’t a big issue, thanks to their higher launch, but you’ll find less stopping power on firm greens compared to traditionally lofted irons.
Golf Insider verdict
These irons are super forgiving, but more importantly, forgiving in the right way for club golfers. They look great and feel superb compared to most irons in this market.
Distance is exceptional, but based on the lofting I would urge players to buy a 5-iron upwards, as the 4-iron is 18º (a traditional 2-iron loft). You’ll also benefit from the AW and SW at the top end to ensure you’re not left with a large gap in clubbing as you get closer to the green.
I had my doubts about putting TaylorMade irons both one and two in this review, but I just can’t argue with the sheer levels of forgiveness offered by these irons. Furthermore, you can find them at a great price now the new Stealth irons are out.
Head size and perimeter weighting equal forgiveness. When you look down at the SIM 2 irons you’ll be made clear that’s the aim of the game here. The standard SIM 2 irons are chunky and feature a thick top line. This increases further with the SIM 2 OS (oversized), where you can also see the wider sole peek into view as you look down.
Half golf clubs, half shovels. They’re not my personal cup of tea, but who wants a pretty set of irons they can’t use?
These irons are almost comparable with the Stealth irons when it comes to forgiveness. Large, chunky soles mean these still have a low centre of gravity compared to most irons on the market. Expect a high launch and very good forgiveness for heel and toe strikes.
The lofts are seriously strong on these, and the new cap, replacing the original SIM’s speed bridge means face flexion has been increased across the face. The result is high ball speed across the face and great distance.
For context, these are some of the longest irons on the market and within 1-2 yards of the new Stealth irons.
Feel & control
Here is where the biggest differences lie between the Stealth and SIM 2 irons. The SIM 2 irons excel in distance and forgiveness. However, they do feel tinny and fly off the clubface, even with shorter irons. The strong draw-bias also makes them great for slicers, but they aren’t the best option if you have a neutral or hooking ball flight.
Golf Insider verdict
There is no such thing as the perfect golf club, and if distance and forgiveness are what you crave then these are a great choice, just be aware of the powerful shorter irons. Our top tip would be to buy up to an AW (49º loft), then find one or two custom wedges (54º and 58º) to get you more control around the green.
Ping G425 irons
If you’re the golfer wanting great forgiveness, but you still want a refined-looking clubhead, then the Ping G425 is the club you should be setting in your sight. I won’t lie, it doesn’t match the SIM 2 irons for brute size and forgiveness, but its forgiveness given its sleek design is why we’ve placed it here.
So how have Ping created this magic? Smaller head, but more forgiveness? Well, the answer lies in the hollowing out of the iron head and additional tungsten weights placed in the heel and toe.
This design increased MOI (resistance to twisting) and means toe and heel strikes will fly straighter and lose less distance. This tech works well and if you want to dig in deeper, check out our full Ping G425 irons review.
The Centre of gravity in the G425 irons is higher than in the TaylorMade options featured here. Great news if you want to lower your ball flight. Not such great news if you suffer from thins or bladed iron shots.
The Ping G425 irons have more traditional lofts than the TaylorMade SIM and Stealth irons, resulting in lower ball speed and less distance. Don’t let that put you off, just remember when testing irons that you’re really testing a TaylorMade 6-iron, against a Ping 7-iron, when you’re hitting both 7-irons on the range.
This being said, when accounting for loft these irons are above average for distance in the iron market, but still 2-3 yards behind the SIM 2 irons.
Remember that the distance an iron can fly will also be dependent on the shaft that is placed in the clubhead; golfers using the G425 iron have access to a wide range of custom and stock shaft options to squeeze out a few more yards if needed.
Feel & Control
Ping state these irons have ‘an enhanced vibration dampener’ in the form of their redesigned multi-material badge plate that sits inside the cavity on the back of the head. A well-struck shot gives a satisfying sensation, but one we’d describe as solid and powerful, rather than soft.
Nonetheless, in the market of forgiving irons, these are some of the best feeling forgiving irons out there. Another differential is that these irons promote a neutral ball flight, not the usual draw bias, making them a great choice if you’re after forgiveness but struggle with a hook.
Golf Insider Verdict
The Ping G425 irons offer great forgiveness considering the size of the clubhead. Not the top choice for all-out forgiveness, but if you want a great looking iron, with great control and above average forgiveness these are a great pick. Also a great option for golfers who tend to pull or hook their iron shots but still want forgiving irons.
The Cobra F-Max range has been around for many years. I’ve been delighted to offer the F-max clubs to many golfers I’ve coached over the years, the F-Max irons are not the newest on the market but they are at a great price for any beginner on the search for the most forgiving irons on a budget.
These irons fill you with confidence – the big face and thick topline let you know you’ve got a lot of golf club in your hands. The F-Max irons also feature a wide sole and large cavity back, to further push the levels of forgiveness across the clubface.
The F-Max irons have a progressive design running through their set. Meaning the long irons have the most offset and the amount of offset is reduced as you move towards the short irons – offering more control where it is needed.
Each F-Max iron has a deep cavity back design allowing weight to be pushed to the perimeter of the clubhead and low down. The result is a very forgiving set of irons, with a big sweet spot and a high launch.
The F-Max irons also have more mass towards the heel and toe to further minimise club twisting for off-centre strikes. This design further increases forgiveness across all the irons in this set.
The Cobra F-Max irons are not the longest clubs in this review, but they do still provide great distance. Unlike other brands, Cobra have traditional lofts on each iron, which has created a great blend of distance and control. The higher loft on the longer irons also makes them easier to hit and creates a better spread of yardages between each iron.
Feel & control
These irons feel great and offer superb forgiveness even when you miss the sweet spot. If you struggle with a fade/slice you will love the high, draw-bias flight these irons produce.
Golf Insider verdict
If you’re looking for the most forgiving irons and are shopping on a budget the Cobra F-Max irons are a great choice. They will give you a great set of irons to begin your golfing journey and plenty of spare cash to invest elsewhere in your golf game.
Next, in our roundup of the most forgiving irons we have the Cleveland Launcher HB Irons. The Cleveland HB irons are made entirely of hybrid heads. The hybrid head size does get progressively smaller as you move towards the short irons and wedges, but every iron has a hybrid clubhead look and feel.
Why you ask? Well as the video below describes, this hybrid design allows the club head centre of mass to be pushed low down and further back away from the face, leading to maximum forgiveness.
The wide sole on all of the Launcher HB irons stops the club from digging into the turf and provides great forgiveness if you tend to fat or thin your iron shots.
In terms of overall forgiveness these irons rank the best out of all of the irons reviewed in this article – the reason they didn’t finish in first place is that they sacrifice some control and precision for full-out forgiveness.
This is not a negative, however, in my humble opinion, most golfers would be better off with the middle-ground of the TaylorMade Stealth Irons or the Cobra F-Max irons rather than the full-out projectile forgiveness offered by these irons.
That being said, these irons hit the ball seriously high – if you struggle to get enough height with your iron shots and you want a lot of forgiveness these are ideal.
The Cleveland Launcher HB irons offer serious distance, with no other irons matching this blend of forgiveness and distance. If this is what you are after, check out the set options using the buttons below.
If this review was about the best-looking irons on the market in the game improvement range there is little doubt that the Mizuno JPX 921‘s would rank top. The 921’s are the only forged irons to make this review and are probably the most forgiving forged iron currently on the market.
The clubhead features a large cavity behind the face that allows the designer to add more perimeter weighting behind the toe and heel. The result is great stability for off-centre hits.
The strength of the forged metal has allowed Mizuno to make the clubface thinner than any other forged iron they have made before. The result is a higher max and average ball speed off the face compared to other models.
Most manufacturers like to discuss max ball speed, but Mizuno also mentions an increase in average ball speed off the face, indicating great distance even for off-centre strikes – another key feature for game improvement irons.
The Mizuno JPX 921’s have a progressive design. The longer irons have a wider top line and more perimeter weighting, with the irons progressively getting thinner and more blade-like as you move towards the shorter irons and wedges.
Check out this review to learn more about the Mizuno JPX Hot Metal irons
This creates a set of irons with easy to hit long irons, great control with the mid-irons and a great feel with the shorter irons. With all of this praise, why are they not higher up the list? Well in our opinion they don’t meet the exceptional levels of forgiveness seen in the TaylorMade Stealth irons or SIM 2 Max irons.
However, they aren’t designed to, this iron will suit you if you are looking for a brilliant set of forged irons with great feel and good to very good levels of forgiveness.
I’ve long been a fan of Tour Edge equipment. The Tour Edge Hot Launch C521 Irons are the latest release in their Hot Launch range catering for players wanting great forgiveness.
With their large face, chunky top line and slight offset these irons will prove a firm favourite for many golfers looking for max forgiveness. Despite the large clubhead size, these irons still look stylish.
The deep cavity in the C521 Irons pushes the centre of gravity low down, preventing the club from twisting and creating great forgiveness across the face. The sole on the C521 Irons is 15% wider than previous versions which shift the centre of gravity further away from the face and creates a high launch.
This wider sole also creates a more forgiving club-turf interaction for players – great news if you have a tendency to catch the ground before the ball. The C521 irons also feature additional toe weighting to increase the forgiveness across the clubface.
The Tour Edge C521 Irons produce excellent distance, whilst maintaining sensible lofts. The low centre of gravity in the club heads, along with the shaft options available in these irons will make these a great option for golfers with slower swing speeds looking to optimise distance and carry.
Feel & control
The C521 Irons have a slight draw bias which is great news if you do suffer with a fade/slice. The Tour Edge C521 Irons are made from an extremely soft 431 stainless steel, providing the optimal feel. The feel is further enhanced by the polymer insert behind the clubface which dampens vibrations from off-centre hits.
These irons feel powerful and solid when struck well and do a great job of softening the vibrations when you don’t catch the sweet spot.
These clubs provide great forgiveness and superb value. The design is particularly well suited to golfers with slower swing speeds looking to maximise distance and carry. Even better news – all Tour Edge irons come with a lifetime warranty.
If you’re looking for great forgiveness on a budget then check out the Wilson D7 irons. The large cavity back design and additional weighting inside the clubhead push the centre of mass low down, creating great forgiveness for miss-hit golf shots.
The D7 irons also feature a progressive design – the longer irons are a little larger and have wider soles for maximum forgiveness. The iron heads become a little smaller in the mid-irons and most compact in the 9-iron and wedges.
The result is a set of irons that provide great forgiveness where needed but still offer great control for shorter shots around the green. The lofts of the Wilson D7’s are quite strong, similar to other irons featured in this review. This means you’ll be hitting half a club less into most holes.
With this in mind, try to purchase a set of 5-iron upwards, as most golfers will be better off with a hybrid or fairway wood rather than a low lofted 4 and 3 irons.
These irons are now 3 generations old, but if you’re shopping for forgiveness on a budget you can still find a set online at some great prices.
The large cavity back and steel bridge at the back of the club pushes the centre of mass back away from the face and low down. The effect is long, powerful iron shots where ever you strike the clubface. TaylorMade also tweaked the face design to try to maximise ball speed across the face. The result is better distance and forgiveness for toe, heel and thinned shots.
The Sim Max irons are available in standard and oversized (OS) options. Both are great – we’re featuring the OS version here as they offer even greater levels of forgiveness. The OS version has a little more perimeter weighting, meaning the club head will twist less during heel and toe strikes. The OS also feature more offset and encourage a soft draw.
If you’re looking for a forgiving set of clubs that feel great and offer great distance then check out the TaylorMade Sim Max OS irons.
If you’re wanting to tick all of these boxes, but struggle with a hook I’d recommend the standard TaylorMade Sim Max irons. As these are still very forgiving but have slightly less draw bias.
The G410 is Ping’s previous creation before the G425’s for golfers looking for great forgiveness. The G410 featured some revolutionary design allowing Ping to make a really forgiving iron that still looks sleek and refined.
Ping placed additional weights in the hosel and toe creating all of the forgiveness of their old G-max iron in a much smaller club head. The G410 also features a large cavity back which further increases forgiveness by pushing the centre of mass low down in the head and creates a high launch off the face.
The rolling sole has been created to maximise the ability of the clubhead to brush rather than dig into the ground in instances where you catch the ground before the ball. This provides even more room for error as you move into the longer irons and attempt to strike the ball off the fairway.
The Ping G410s are a great option for golfers wanting great forgiveness, all-round performance and prefer a more classical clubhead design. You can read a full review of the Ping G410s here, or use the button below to check out the pricing options.
The Callaway Mavrik Max are next up on our most forgiving irons review. The Mavrik range is Callaway’s latest offering of game improvement irons. We’re featuring their Mavrik Max irons here which Callaway have designed for 15 – 36 handicappers.
The Marvik max irons have a strong focus on pushing as much of the weight to the edge of the club head and low down. Making these irons highly forgiving where ever you strike on the clubface.
The low centre of mass will also help launch your iron shots high into the air, which is particularly useful as you hit the longer irons (5 and 4-iron). This new design has allowed Callaway to reduce the loft of each iron by 1º, which means your iron shots will launch high, but will also benefit from additional ball speed and distance.
Along with the lower loft, the Callaway Mavrik Max irons feature a variable clubface design that aims to maximise distance where ever you strike on the clubface. This should result in the best possible chance of your iron shots reaching the putting surface for toe and heel strikes.
The Callaway Mavrik Max irons have been finished off with a multi-layer dampening system that sits behind the clubface and creates a soft but solid feel for your iron shots.
The Callaway Marvik max irons are another great option for golfers looking for a forgiving set of irons offering great distance. Click the links below to check the pricing – Global Golf also offers a range of buying options (including a 5-iron and 6-iron upwards) if you prefer to use more fairway woods and hybrids with your iron sets.
Frequently asked questions when buying irons
Below we have some frequently asked questions when golfers are looking to buy forgiving or game improvement irons. If you can’t find the question and answer you’re looking for in this section just leave a comment below. I’ll get back to you and update the article.
What are the most forgiving irons?
The most forgiving irons are the Cleaveland Launch HB irons. However, these are not the best buys for most golfers. In our review, we factor in other factors, such as control, distance and feel. Golfers should look for highly forgiving irons that best suit their entire game.
Are the clubs in this review suitable for high handicappers?
Yes, the irons featured here are great options for high handicappers. Forgiveness is a key attribute that will help your game as a high handicapper. We do have a separate review for the best irons for high handicap golfers that you can check out here.
Are blades or cavity back irons most forgiving?
Cavity backs are more forgiving than blades. To make an iron forgiving designers place the centre of mass low down and far away from the clubface. This increases the moment of inertia of the club head and reduces how much the golf club twists on off-centre strikes.
Irons that have a cavity back (pictured above) allow the designers to move more weight to the edge of the clubhead and low down, keeping the middle of the club low in mass. This makes designing forgiving cavity backs a far easier than designing forgiving blades – hence why there are few game improvement irons that do not have a large cavity back.
What are muscle back irons?
Muscle back irons are a halfway house between blades and cavity backs. Some of the mass is removed and placed towards the edge of the iron head. The result is a slim, bladed looking iron with far more forgiveness than a traditional bladed iron. The Ping G425 irons are a great option for golfers looking for a forgiving iron in a sleek design.
What is the most forgiving golf club brand?
All of the main manufacturers offer at least one or two great options for golfers looking for forgiving game improvement irons. The make has less to do with it, instead, it is about finding the right club to suit that individual.
What is the difference between a game improvement iron and a forgiving iron?
There is considerable overlap between these two categories. Both are aimed at golfers who have a handicap of 15 or all the way up to 36 and want great forgiveness. However, a game improvement iron may sacrifice a little forgiveness for increased control and feel. Both control and feel are qualities that are in demand from players who are quickly improving.
You could also consider a game improvement iron better suited to you if you already have a handicap of 15 to 20. The TaylorMade Stealth irons are a good example of a club that would feature in this review and also in the game improvement category.
What is the difference between cast and forged irons?
‘Cast’ and ‘forged’ relate to the processes used to make the iron head. Cast irons are created by pouring molten metal into a cast mould. The irons are then cooled and removed.
Forged irons are created by hitting (forging) one piece of metal into the shape of the clubhead. For this reason, forged clubs are generally more time consuming to make and come at a higher price.
Traditionally better golfers wanted to play with forged irons. They were deemed to have a more solid feel and offer better control. However, advances in the alloys used in cast irons and the dampening systems installed in the clubhead mean there are now very few differences between cast and forged irons.
Forged club manufacturers will still advocate that forged irons produce a better feel, but there are few noticeable performance benefits associated with them.
What is the most forgiving forged iron?
One of the most forgiving forged irons are the Mizuno Pro 225 irons, the Mizuno JPX 921 irons are also a great option. There are fewer forged irons in the game improvement category, partly due to cost, but also because a cast production allows for more flexibility in moving mass around within the clubhead.
Are these irons suitable for a beginner?
Yes, all of the irons featured here are great options for beginners. If you would like to check out the best golf clubs for beginners we have this guide, where we cover full sets and irons.
What are super game improvement irons?
Super game improvement irons are a new category of clubs that are designed to create a giant sweet spot. The tradeoff of the large sweet spot is that these clubs often have far less control than traditional irons.
The Cleveland Launcher HB Irons are an example of super game improvement irons or hybrid irons. If you do really struggle super game improvement irons / hybrid irons can be an option, but I would prefer for most golfers to opt for a more traditional iron and invest in some golf lessons.
How will these irons affect my ball flight?
Most forgiving irons place the centre of gravity low down in the club head and away from the face. This helps with off-centre hit and increases the size of the sweet spot, but does lead to a higher ball flight with your irons.
For most golfers a higher ball flight is a good thing, however, there will be some golfers looking for irons that offer great forgiveness but still produce a low ball flight.
If this sounds like you I would suggest you opt for the Ping G425 irons or the Mizuno JPX 921 irons. Both of these irons have great heel-toe weighting systems and have less mass distributed in the sole. This leads to a higher centre of gravity in the clubhead and a lower ball flight.
There will always be a trade-off between an iron that is easy to use and a lower ball flight. It is up to you to decide what is more important to you, in my opinion, a great set of irons that are easy to use are worth a slightly higher ball flight that might cost you 2 to 3 yards.
I have a high / low swing speed which irons will suit me best?
All of the irons will be suitable for players with a high or low swing speed. These clubs are available in a range of shaft options that can be customised to best suit your swing speed.
The design of the TaylorMade Sim Max irons and the Tour Edge C521 Irons make both very well suited to players with a lower swing speed, as both promote a high launch, maximising carry distance.
What are the best golf irons on the market?
These days all of the top manufacturers provide great golf irons. Part of this relates to personal preference, however, if you would like to check out our picks, we cover them in this best golf irons review which we update every few months.
For more on the best irons for low and mid handicappers, check out this review.
Summary – Most forgiving irons
There is the rundown of the most forgiving irons, you can also check out our review of the most forgiving drivers here. If you would like a free article like this one emailed to you every Monday, come join the Golf Insider weekly post.
Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider
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