Everyone has drooled over a set muscleback blades. When you see Adam Scott or Tiger hitting their irons with ease, shaping the ball left and right, you want that too.
Then reality bites - or STINGS and anyone who has mis-hit a blade will tell you. Traditionally, muscleback irons have never been the easiest clubs to hit and were therefore reserved for the best ball strikers. But things are changeding. Forged clubs with thin top lines and minimal offset are now found in the bags of mid and high handicappers thanks to revolutions in club technology. So let's look at the most forgiving muscleback irons on the market today and see if you want to take on the challenge of striking it better.
Most Forgiving Muscleback Irons
- Ping i500 Iron (best for slower swing speeds)
- Srixon Z-Forged Iron (best value to performance ratio)
- Callaway Apex 21 (best for accuracy and consistency)
- PXG 0311P (most head turning iron)
- Mizuno MP20 MB (best for feel)
Impossible to hit a bad shot with these irons
Ping have always made forgiving game improvement irons, but their blades are usually reserved for only the best ball strikers. The i500 range changed that, giving all players the chance to get success from a bladed Ping club.
These hollow bodied irons are very forgiving and the face is super hot. The 17-4 stainless steel body has a Forged Maraging C330 steel face that is plasma welded on to it in order to maximise ball speeds. The lofts of these clubs are 1.5-2 stronger than traditional lofts meaning they create less spin and hopefully more distance. This will help golfers with slower swings get the most out of their shots.
Nothing feels like a Srixon
*DISCLAIMER* I play these clubs. I love these clubs. They have given me a level of joy I didn’t think was possible from a set of clubs.
I tried many many muscleback irons, from Mizuno to Taylormade to Ping to Cobra to Itobori. I like them all but the Srixon Z Forged appealed to every fiber of my being.
Now that is out of the way, let’s talk specifics. These irons are the best looking blade on the market and feel like butter melting on a hot griddle. To me, nothing feels like a Srixon.
These are one of the most forgiving muscleback irons I’ve played and it's because they use superior metals to any other big manufacturer. The metal is soft, the sweet spot feels like a tuning fork ringing in your loins.
The Z-Forged irons have a signature 'double curve' design which helps these clubs provide maximum workability. The forged construction delivers a fantastic soft feel and the V sole promotes optimized turf interaction and stability.
An approachable blade from Callaway
The Apex is Callaway’s premium player’s club and this 2021 version includes a few updates from the 2019 version.
These irons feature improved tungsten weighting a semi cavity to give you maximum forgiveness with a precision strike you're used to from Ben Hogan irons. Callaway bought the Apex range off Hogan and this is the result.
I play quite a bit with very low handicappers and pros and these feature in the bag quite often. I've hit them plenty but for me the look of a Callaway iron just doesn't feel 100% right to my eye which is the most important part of your clubs. You MUST love them.
Callaway have created a very forgiving iron with the Apex series.
From elite only moving into everyday golfers bags
PXG made a name for themselves as only for the elite with eye watering prices.
The prices have come down and that is great news for every day golfer because these clubs are superb. The weighting, the design and the feel are right up there with some of the best in the game.
Yond from the channel, and Joe who contributes from England on this site both play these PXG irons and have fallen back in love with the game. What is important from both Yond and Joe's experiences is that you should be fitted for these clubs to understand your specs.
Lofts are slightly stronger in the PXG 0311P but the ball flight is high and handsome with a soft face for buttery contact. While the price is high, it's because you get the best of the best. PXG won't release new clubs unless they are confident their new model is much superior to their prior models.
"Nothing feels like a Mizuno"
Mizuno clubs have to be included in any muscleback list - they pretty much invented the term almost.
They are seen as the players iron and when you buy a set of the MP range of Mizunos, you keep them for years and years because NOTHING ever compares and the new models of any other iron never impress you enough to give up your 8 year old set.
I know, because I had 2 different model of Mizunos from 2001 to 2019. Steve on the channel only plays the MP range and has had his set for 18 years. He loves them so much, he has a backup set with the identical specs in case his current set goes missing.
The Mizuno MP20 MB has a thin layer of copper in the face to enhance feel. Where these clubs offer forgiveness is in their stability. They are very accurate and even mishits won’t go wildly off line. You will sacrifice some distance but you will be rewarded with supreme feel and feedback.
The differences between these and the Srixon Z Forged are minimal. If I weren't playing Z Forged I would have a long hard look at purchasing a third set of MP Mizuno irons. I tried the JPX 919 Tours and if you're in the air about which to purchase, I would say go for the MP range every time.
Best blade irons for high handicappers
I wouldn't recommend playing a blade if your a high handicapper as they will make the game more difficult. BUT if you must play a blade, the best blade irons for high handicappers are the Ping i500 irons.
Best blade irons for the money
I'm very biased because I play these clubs, but I think the best blade irons for the money are the Srixon Z-Forged. Truly nothing feels like a Srixon and these clubs are made by some of the finest forging houses in Japan. Much cheaper than "artisan" blades like Miura but in my opinion just as sexy.
Musclebacks are not really the most forgiving clubs in the world, but with modern technology, they can be as forgiving as they will ever get.
Gone are the days of the old 1980 butter knife blades with amputated toes. The new era of big faces and more forgiving rears of the club have made musclebacks accessible to everyone.
My personal bias is toward anything Srixon. Next I would say Mizuno take the cake and then Ping for forgiveness. If you have the money, the PXG is really a good purchase, but remember to be fitted and get your specs before finding those specs online.