Best Callaway Irons 2024

Which Callaway irons are best for your game? This is your guide to each iron in Callaway’s line-up, who they are aimed at, and how they performed when tested by our pro.

JUMP TO: Best Callaway Irons | How we tested | The data | Buying advice & FAQs

Callaway, like most of the biggest manufacturers, have multiple irons in their line-up. But which Callaway iron is best for your game? To answer that question, we tested them all so we could compare the data and identify which Callaway iron will be best for different types of golfers with different handicap levels.

If you’re not sure which manufacturer you want to invest in, check out our pick of the overall best golf irons.

Some Callaway irons are aimed squarely at tour pros and truly elite golfers, while other models are a lot more forgiving, with high-handicap golfers or slow swing speeds in mind. Let us explain how to choose which best suits you.

Best Callaway muscleback blade iron: Callaway Apex 24 MB – View Offer UK

Best Callaway tour iron: Callaway Apex 21 TCB

Best forged Callaway players iron: Callaway Apex 24 CB – View Offer UK

Best Callaway iron for good players wanting distance: Callaway Apex 24 Pro – View Offer UK

Fastest ball speed of any Callaway iron: Callaway Paradym AI Smoke Irons – View Offer UK

Best Callaway iron for forgiveness: Callaway Paradym AI Smoke HL Irons – View Offer UK

Best Callaway iron for slow swings: Callaway Paradym AI Smoke Max Fast Irons – View Offer UK

Best Callaway Irons

Who are they for?
As lovely as the Apex MB is, and let's not beat around the bush the straight topline and leading edge shaping are absolutely beautiful, you only need to take a peak in top player's bags to see who believes this is the best iron choice for their own game. Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, and Sam Burns all choose the Apex TCB (Tour Cavity Back) instead which has to say even if the MB is one of the best blades of 2024, it is for a very small audience indeed.       
From the joint weakest loft in the Callaway iron family, it should come as no surprise that the MB produced the least amount of ball speed and carry distance for our consistent hitting test pro.

Don’t fall into thinking that higher lofted players’ irons and blades flight shots higher with steeper descent angles either, as our test data shows both are below average for the Callaway family. The reasoning comes down to the center of gravity being further forward with blades (thanks to less offset), less weight being below the sweetspot, and heavier, lower launch shafts coming as standard.         

In my opinion with 7 yards of 7-iron carry distance difference between the MB and the cracking hollow body Apex 24 Pro, the vast majority of decent golfers don't need to look this far down the line-up to find their happy place with Callaway irons.
Read our full Callaway Apex 24 MB iron review.

TG Test Pro Data:
Ball Speed: 115.9 MPH / Launch Angle: 17° / Backspin: 6029 RPM / Peak Height: 29 YDS / Descent Angle: 43.8° / Carry Distance: 167 YDS / Shot Area: 433.8 SQ YDS


  • A beautiful-looking iron
  • Very workable
  • Consistent performance on pure strikes
  • Exceptional feel


  • Unforgiving
  • Shorter distances than any other model
  • Forgiveness rating:
Category: Muscleback blade
Handicap range: Four and below
Construction: Forged from a single piece of 1025 carbon steel
7-Iron loft: 34º
Price: Used from £369.98
Who are they for?
The ‘TCB’ in Callaway Apex 21 TCB stands for Tour Cavity Back. Make no mistake, this is a tour-level iron for elite players only. We say that because the TCB has very little offset, which is a look tour players tend to love, but it also means the center of gravity is further forward. This keeps shots lower and more controlled but also makes them tougher to launch at anything but above-average swing speeds, especially in the mid and long irons.

Our data shows from the same 7-iron loft the Callaway Apex 24 MB, TCB, and CB are all pretty evenly matched for carry distance, but don't neglect to notice how the very slightly more backward CG of the TCB and CB fly higher and hit the green at a stepper angle than the muscleback MB.

From what I've seen during testing the Callaway Apex 24 Pro iron will definitely be a more friendly and enjoyable set for most club golfers to live with on the golf course.  
Read our full Callaway Apex 21 TCB iron review.

TG Test Pro Data:
Ball Speed: 121.9 MPH / Launch Angle: 16.6° / Backspin: 5189 RPM / Peak Height: 32 YDS / Descent Angle: 46.1° / Carry Distance: 174 YDS / Shot Area: 46 SQ YDS


  • Used by some of the world’s best golfers
  • Looks at address will suit good golfers
  • Good speed and distance from a weak loft


  • Other models offer more forgiveness
  • No good for average swing speeds
  • Forgiveness rating:
Category: Tour Level Players’ Iron
Handicap range: Four and below
Construction:  Forged from a single piece of 1025 carbon steel
7-Iron loft: 34º
Who are they for?
The players’ iron category is incredibly crowded with tons of very good models, and the CB is right up there alongside the best players' irons of 2024. This is the model our test pro chooses for his own game as it gives him great shot-to-shot consistency and added confidence when it comes to distance control.
Like the Apex MB, I’d say only very strong ball strikers need to look at this model as it’s not designed for forgiveness, distance, or maximum playability. This means very few sets should find their way into the hands of club golfers.
If you are lucky enough to have the game to use a set at this level I’d recommend exploring combining the CB short irons with the slightly more forgiving and powerful hollow body Apex Pro mid and long irons. As launching the four-iron from the turf will be demanding no what your ability.
If you’re drawn to the set make sure you try the Apex 24 Pro at the same time. Our test data shows it’s faster (1.8mph), longer (4 yards), and will offer up a little more forgiveness if you’re intention is hitting more straighter shots rather than trying to ‘shape’ your way around the golf course.

TG Test Pro Data:
Ball Speed: 120.6 MPH / Launch Angle: 16.7° / Backspin: 6235 RPM / Peak Height: 31 YDS / Descent Angle: 46.2° / Carry Distance: 170 YDS / Shot Area: 151.2 SQ YDS    


  • A beautiful compact profile
  • Can be weighted up or down without changing the CG location
  • Expect good shot height and steep landing angles so long as you have speed


  • Custom order only
  • An unforgiving players' iron option
  • Forgiveness rating:
Category: Players' Iron
Handicap range: Four and below
Construction: Forged from a single piece of 1025 carbon steel
7-Iron loft: 34º
Who are they for?
Callaway pretty much invented the Players’ Distance Iron category back in 2014 when they introduced the first Apex iron models that teamed a players’ iron chassis with stronger lofts and a forged feel. A decade on the Apex Pro is right at the cutting edge of establishing hollow body models as the modern-day players’ iron, for golfers who aren't just focused on distance.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the Apex 24 Pro is a TaylorMade P790 alternative, it’s not and the weaker loft should tell you that. With its 33° 7-iron make no mistake this model is very much an alternative to the hollow body TaylorMade P770 or PXG 0317 T.
With such a big difference in loft, ball speed, and carry distance if you’re considering this model, you really shouldn’t find yourself choosing between it and the Ai Smoke, as the pair were worlds apart (8.2mph of ball and 23 yards of carry distance with a 7-iron) for our test pro.

I’d be choosing this model if my handicap is in single figures, and I was looking for a lovely classy, and compact modern-day players’ iron. Even though the body is hollow, the forged feel is excellent where from here on down Callaway irons are cast. 
Read our full Callaway Apex 24 Pro iron review.

TG Test Pro Data:
Ball Speed: 122.4 MPH / Launch Angle: 16.2° / Backspin: 6026 RPM / Peak Height: 27 YDS / Descent Angle: 43.4° / Carry Distance: 174 YDS / Shot Area: 128.1 SQ YDS


  • Our favourite Callaway iron for looks
  • Hugely consistent performance
  • Reasonable forgiveness for a players' iron


  • At £217 a pop they are expensive
  • Forgiveness rating:
Category: Modern Players’ Iron
Handicap range: Eight and below
Construction: Forged hollow 1025 body
7-Iron loft: 33º
Who are they for?
The Ai Smoke iron is unusual in that its hollow body construction targets the Mid-Handicap Iron category, an area where lots of brands usually deploy cavity or cap-back designs.

So long as you have decent levels of club speed (78+ MPH with the 7-iron) our Best Mid-Handicap Iron test highlighted the AI, thanks to generating the fastest ball speed and 3rd longest carry distance in the category, as an absolute beast this year.   
Beware out in the marketplace as some unscrupulous retailers are likely to put this model in your hands if you’ve expressed an interest in the TaylorMade P790. The Ai Smoke thanks to being cast and not forged is less expensive (at full retail prices you’ll save £305), and thanks to its stronger loft the Smoke will be the favourite to win hands down in any launch monitor battle for ball speed or distance.       
If you’ve been put off Callaway game improver irons over the last few generations as the top edges were particularly chunky and the heads came with shiny finishes that scuff up quickly the AI Smoke is a whole different proposition. This head shape is much more pleasing, hence why it could be attractive to golfers also looking at players’ distance iron models.
See the AI Smoke as a cracking blend of modern hollow body technology, for golfers happy with their speed but with a tendency to spray shots across the face on a regular basis, and you’ll be thinking exactly along the right lines.

If speed or launch are your issue, the new AI Smoke HL or Max Fast will be better options.        
Read our full Callaway Paradym AI Smoke irons review.

TG Test Pro Data:
Ball Speed: 130.6 MPH / Launch Angle: 14.5° / Backspin: 5311 RPM / Peak Height: 32 YDS / Descent Angle: 43.4° / Carry Distance: 197 YDS / Shot Area: 552.6 SQ YDS


  • Strong distances
  • The best-looking game improver iron Callaway has made for a while
  • Decent sound and feel


  • Quite a low launch
  • Tend to have a short shelf-life
  • Forgiveness rating:
Category: Mid-Handicap Iron
Handicap range: Eight and above
Construction: Cast hollow body
7-Iron loft: 28°
Who are they for?
High Launch irons have become a huge trend over the last two years, with most brands now selling at least one weaker lofted iron to those who don’t have club speed in abundance. Where High-Handicap irons used to be big cumbersome beasts thanks to now focusing on easy launch rather than just forgiveness at all costs there are some really attractive High Launch irons on the market this year. I definitely count the AI Smoke as one of them. 

For our test pro this weaker lofted model was never going to be his fastest and longest Callaway model, but at more average club golfer paces things will be a much tighter call (especially when your 7-iron speed dips below 78 mph). The HL upped launch, spin, and descent angle over the standard AI Smoke iron which will be hugely beneficial in helping average speed players flight shots to fly hazards and stop on the dancefloor, which over the course of a season will knock shots off your game.
Expect a slightly larger head (but nothing so big and distracting as recent Callaway super game improver irons like the Rogue ST Max OS), more hosel offset, and a wider sole than the hollow body AI Smoke iron, all traits that will aid forgiveness when shots don’t impact the center of the bat.   

Read our full Callaway Paradym AI Smoke HL iron review.

TG Test Pro Data:
Ball Speed: 127.4 MPH / Launch Angle: 14.8° / Backspin: 5654 RPM / Peak Height: 32 YDS / Descent Angle: 45.2° / Carry Distance: 185 YDS / Shot Area: 103.8 SQ YDS


  • Good distance at average speed
  • Good stopping power at average speed
  • Attractively shaped in this market


  • Likely to be old hat in 2025
  • Forgiveness rating:
Category: High-Handicap / Moderate Speed
Handicap range: 28 and below
Construction: Cast cavity back
7-Iron loft: 30º
Who are they for?
If you’re the type of golfer who’s lost some speed over the years but still want to enjoy the game the Max Fast is just the sort of iron you’ll be willing to give your right arm for. Where brands have been accused of loft-jacking for years the Max Fast is very much an anti-loft jacking option.
With a 7-iron loft of 31° super game improver irons have never been so easy to launch. Throw in 40g graphite shafts and lightweight grips as stock components and you have a model that’s decked out to seriously up enjoyment of the game for slower speed players.
To get the best out of this model it’s likely you will have a 7-iron speed less than 70mph, so we’ve not tested it with our test pro. But remember even though the Max Fast is very forgiving the choice to buy into it comes down to a lack of speed, not because the model is the most forgiving in the Callaway line-up.  

Read our full Callaway Paradym AI Smoke Max Fast iron review.       


  • Expect a lightweight and lively feel
  • The extra loft is a god-send for slower-speed players
  • You won't find an easier-to-launch iron


  • Doesn't have the attractive head profile of a Mizuno JPX923 Hot Metal HL
  • Forgiveness rating:
Category: Moderate Speed Players
Handicap range: Any slower-speed golfer
Construction: Cast cavity back
7-Iron loft: 31º

Data comparison: How the best Callaway irons perform in numbers

7-Iron LoftBall SpeedLaunch AngleBackspinPeak HeightDescent AngleCarry DistanceShot Area
Callaway Apex 24 MB34°115.9 MPH17°6029 RPM29 YDS43.8°167 YDS433.8 SQ YDS
Callaway Apex TCB34°121.9 MPH16.6°5189 RPM32 YDS46.1°174 YDS46 SQ YDS
Callaway Apex 24 CB34°120.6 MPH16.7°6235 RPM31 YDS46.2°170 YDS151.2 SQ YDS
Callaway Apex 24 Pro33°122.4 MPH16.2°6026 RPM27 YDS43.3°174 YDS128.1 SQ YDS
Callaway Paradym AI Smoke28°130.6 MPH14.5°5311 RPM32 YDS43.4°197 YDS552.6 SQ YDS
Callaway Paradym AI Smoke HL30°127.4 MPH14.8°5654 RPM32 YDS45.2°185 YDS103.8 SQ YDS

How we tested the best Callaway irons

To test golf equipment, we create a controlled indoor environment at Keele Golf Centre and use a premium tour-level golf ball (the Titleist Pro V1x). We collect all the data from every shot hit, using a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor.   

The Foresight GC Quad launch monitor and Titleist Pro V1x golf balls used for testing

Why do we use a Titleist Pro V1x golf ball?

It would be easy to use just one test golf ball brand every year, but that inevitably leads to criticism for being too closely aligned to one manufacturer, especially if that brand’s equipment performs particularly well. To ensure fairness we like to switch manufacturers for the Top Gear test ball each year. For 2024 we’ve used the Titleist Pro V1x.

The brand revealed the latest Pro V1x model in 2023, and Titleist’s Senior Director of Golf Ball Research and Engineering, Mike Madson says “Consistency means when a golfer tees up a Pro V1 or Pro V1x, every properly executed shot they make is going to deliver the performance they expect and the performance they trust.”

Thanks to the Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x mopping up mountains of tour wins across all global tours we know the model is trusted by the world’s very best.

Neil Wain is the Today's Golfer golf test professional.

Why do we use a pro tester?

Speak to any golf club engineer about product testing and they all talk about needing a repeatable, reliable strike to offer any sort of valuable comparison. So, whilst we accept not all of the equipment included within our tests was designed for our test pro, what our data shows is a great comparison of how clubs in each particular category differ, which is hugely valuable in helping you narrow your choice as a consumer.

In 2024 we’ve tested 83 different 7-irons, during which our test pro missed a target green at 170 to 200 yards no more than a dozen times. He got a hole-in-one, lipped out, and hit the flag several times, he also loves hitting golf balls all day long. In short, Neil Wain is the perfect club tester due to his consistency in delivering accurate and reliable comparative data.

We would of course always recommend attending a proper fitting session, to ensure any purchase is tailored to your game.

Buying advice & FAQs

What are the most forgiving Callaway irons?

The Callaway Paradym AI Smoke HL are the most forgiving model in Callaway’s 2024 line-up. The 2023 Big Bertha (not part of our 2024 test) is also worth considering if ultimate forgiveness is a key factor for you.

Which Callaway clubs are best for high handicappers?

When it comes to irons, the Callaway Paradym AI Smoke HL will be a good fit for most high handicappers, while those with slower swing speeds should look at the AI Smoke Max Fast.

What handicap range do the Apex 24 irons suit?

Callaway repositioned the Apex family in 2023 to target more elite golfers, the move means there is no longer an Apex iron pitched in at Mid-Handicappers like the old Apex DCB. In 2204 I wouldn’t even look at the Apex models unless you’re a single-figure handicapper, and if you’re considering the CB, TCB, or MB you really have to be less than five and a consistent ball striker.

Does Callaway make a TaylorMade P790 alternative?

In 2024 there isn’t really a direct competitor to the very popular P790, some Callaway fitters would say the hollow body AI Smoke, but if you test them head-to-head you have to appreciate the AI Smoke has stronger lofts, and the whole club is cast not forged. So in reality it’s not a fair comparison

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About the author

Simon Daddow

Simon Daddow – Today’s Golfer Equipment Editor

Simon Daddow is the Equipment Editor for Today’s Golfer. Having tested and played more than 10,000 clubs in his life, what he doesn’t know about golf clubs isn’t worth knowing.

He joined EMAP Active (now Bauer Media) as Equipment Editor in 2006 and has worked for both Today’s Golfer and Golf World. Working alongside our test pro Neil Wain, Simon has made the most reliable source for golf club testing.

Despite his youthful looks, Simon has played golf for more than 40 years and plays to a handicap of 10. A lack of club speed means he’s short off the tee, but very handy from 125 yards and in.

Simon’s job means he plays regularly around the world, and rates Kingsbarns as his favorite course. He uses a PXG 0311 GEN6 XF driverTaylorMade Stealth 2 HL (15º), Ping G400 (20.5º), PXG 0317 X Gen2 hybridPXG 0311 GEN6 P irons (6–PW), Cleveland CBX2 wedges (52°, 58°), Ping 21 Fetch putter and a TaylorMade Tour Response golf ball.

You can contact Simon via email and follow him on Twitter for loads more golf equipment insight.

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