Best Forged Golf Irons 2024: The best in feel and performance

The best forged golf irons offer unrivaled feel, but are they right for your game, and which model should you go for? Our head-to-head test will help you pick the best forged golf irons for your game.

Forged irons have historically been seen as the players’ choice among the best golf irons available.

Forged irons were typically aimed at better players, as they tended to lack the distance and forgiveness-boosting technologies that could be packed into a cast head. Things have changed, though, with some of the best forged golf irons now aimed at mid and high-handicappers who want all the help they can get but don’t want to compromise on feel.

Be aware there are two types of forged irons these days: the more traditional fully forged irons, and irons that have forged faces but multi-material construction where some parts of the head aren’t forged. The former will be preferred by purists and may offer marginally nicer feel, while the latter will typically offer greater distance and forgiveness, without much compromise on feel.

If you want the ultimate feel and feedback from your irons, a forged set is likely to be the way to go. Just be aware that forged golf irons tend to be softer than cast irons, which means they can wear out a little quicker.

Best forged golf irons – our top picks:

Best forged golf iron: Cobra King Tour | VIEW UK OFFER | VIEW US OFFER

Best forged golf iron for elite players: Mizuno Pro 221 | VIEW UK OFFER | VIEW US OFFER

Best forged golf iron for distance: TaylorMade P790 | VIEW UK OFFER | VIEW US OFFER

Best forged iron for mid-handicappers: Srixon ZX4 | VIEW UK OFFER | VIEW US OFFER

Let’s look at the best forged golf irons you can buy…

A fantastic iron that can also be used as part of an excellent combo set

Price: £1,099 / $1,199 RRP
The forged heads of the Cobra King Tour irons feel super soft. There’s a tiny bit of tech built in, with variable depth milled pockets in the shallow cavity back, which add a fraction more playability on the long irons and increased flight control on the scoring clubs.

Like any of the best players’ irons, the head shape is really attractive. Data tends to be less important within this category, but the Cobra King Tour iron does itself no harm by producing our joint-fastest ball speed and joint 2nd longest carry distance of any players’ iron.

Read our full Cobra King Tour iron review.

Pros

  • Very soft feel
  • Great looks
  • Good distance for a players' iron

Cons

  • Cavity can collect dirt and debris
Stock shaft KBS $-Taper
7-Iron loft 32°
Forgiveness rating 2/5

Looks and feel just don't come any better than this

The Mizuno Pro 221 was our best blade golf club of the year in 2022 and anyone considering playing muscle backs should consider this model as there aren’t many that can compete for looks or feel.

Mizuno say it’s a thin layer of copper coating underneath the chrome finish that gives it such a good feel upon impact, a production process from the 1980s that they have revisited in modern designs.

Somewhat surprisingly, our test showed the 221 as being a close match for the Mizuno Pro 223 when it came to ball speed and carry distance, despite having 2° weaker loft. The cavity-back 223 will offer a little more forgiveness on off-center hits, however. You can get a nice combo set, with the 221s in the shorter irons and then the 223 or even the 225 in the longer clubs.

Read our full Mizuno Pro 221 review.

Pros

  • Just look at them
  • Fantastic feel
  • Timeless
  • Decent distance for traditional lofts

Cons

  • Little forgiveness
  • Need good speed and strike to use them
  • Forgiveness rating:
    1.0
Category: Muscleback Blade
Handicap range: Four and below
Construction: Forged from a single piece of 1025E HD Mild Carbon Steel
7-Iron loft: 34°

The P790 takes some beating in the player's distance category, but you may want to wait for a new model later this year

Rrp: $1499.99

Price: $999.98
Alternative Retailers
DICK'S Sporting Goods
$1299.99
The TaylorMade P790 has a forged face but isn't fully forged like the irons above. For golfers who want the feel of a forged face with the distance and forgiveness of a multi-material construction, the P790 takes some beating.

The P790 has performed brilliantly for us before, so it’s absolutely no surprise it did so again. At 188 yards, the P790 was our 3rd longest (3 yards back from the Mizuno JPX923 Hot Metal Pro) and 2nd fastest Players’ Distance Iron of 2023. The current model was first released in 2021, so if you like owning the latest equipment, we’d probably put off buying a set, as there’s likely to be a new model announced later this summer. 

As has been the case since the first P790s in 2017, this is a cracking hollow body forged face iron, the shaping, profile and attractiveness at address will inspire confidence in reasonable ball strikers, while sat in the bag they’re just plain gorgeous.

Read our full TaylorMade P790 iron review.

Pros

  • Great for distance
  • Good looks

Cons

  • Current model is a few years old
Stock shaft Dynamic Gold 95/105 VSS (s) Mitsubishi Chemical MMT (g)
7-Iron loft 30.5
Forgiveness rating 2.5/5

Plenty of distance and forgiveness but with a topline that looks anything but chunky

Price: £999 (s) £1,099 (g) RRP
Like TaylorMade's P790, only the face is forged here, but the feel is so good you'd be hard-pushed to distinguish it from a fully forged golf iron.

We love the head’s elegant straight lines, which are similar to the brilliant ZX5/ZX7 MkII. Although the ZX4 MkII heads are a little longer and bigger, there’s still a super attractive look at address, thanks to not being overly offset. Srixon say the topline thickness across the family are closely linked, which actively encourages golfers to create their own personal combo set of two or more models.

The ZX4 is our joint longest mid-handicap iron of the year, producing the fastest ball speed, plus a top-three performance for protecting both ball speed and carry distance.

Read our full Srixon ZX4 MkII irons review.

Pros

  • Looks great at address
  • Fast ball speeds
  • Excellent forgiveness

Cons

  • Less offset may harm mid-handicap slicers
Stock shaft KBS Tour Lite (s) Diamana ZX (g)
7-Iron loft 28.5
Forgiveness rating 3 - 3.5/5

Plenty of distance and forgiveness packed into a good-looking head

Price: £180 (S) £190 (G) per club
Ping aren't the first brand you think of when it comes to the best forged irons, but decent players who want some added distance will love the Ping i525, which generates an extra 6mph of ball speed and 14 yards of carry distance over the Ping i230.

The blade length is longer and the soles are wider, but the hosel offset from 7-iron to PW is exactly the same as the Ping i59, so good golfers should find nothing to dislike at address. A little extra offset in the long irons helps launch shots from distance and at lesser swing speeds.

A lot of golfers will be choosing between the Ping i525 and G430 as the distances are pretty evenly matched. If you are an improving player, the i525 might be the best option of the two, whereas golfers whose game needs shoring up may find more comfort in the G430 with its bigger heads, wider soles, and extra offset.

Read our full Ping i525 review.

Pros

  • Lots of performance packed into a neat-looking head
  • Great speed and distance
  • Minimal offset in short irons

Cons

  • Not as forgiving as the G430
  • Forgiveness rating:
    2.5
Category: Players’ distance
Handicap range: 12 and below
Construction: Hollow body with cast 17-4 stainless steel chassis and forged maraging steel face
7-Iron loft: 30.5º

A few years old but still a fantastic option for good players

Rrp: $1294.99

Price: $999.98
Alternative Retailers
DICK'S Sporting Goods
$1294.99
One of the benefits golf club engineers tout when explaining thin, fast-face, hollow body irons is how these designs provide an increase in launch angle. The big win here is that the extra launch also often translates into increased shot height and a steeper descent angle, which means stronger lofted irons can perform like their weaker lofted counterparts. That means golfers gain ball speed and distance but also get shots to stop upon hitting the green.

Our data for the Apex 21 Pro completely supports that theory, but what really impresses us about this cracking hollow body design (which some golfers feel can give less shot-to-shot consistency) is how over the several times we’ve tested it, the model has given our test pro a tight and consistent carry distance drop-off and shot dispersion area, which many wouldn’t expect from a hollow body model.

See the Apex 21 Pro as one of the most forgiving players’ irons available and you won’t be far off the mark.
         
Read our full Callaway Apex 21 Pro iron review.

Pros

  • Our favourite Callaway iron for looks
  • Hugely consistent performance
  • Decent forgiveness

Cons

  • Fairly weak loft means other models generate more distance
  • Likely to be replaced soon
  • Forgiveness rating
    2.5
Category: Players’ distance
Handicap range: Eight and below
Construction: Forged 1025 hollow body
7-Iron loft: 33º

Best Forged Golf Irons: Buying Guide & FAQs

How hard is it to hit forged irons?

Traditional forged irons tended to be classic blades with little to no help in terms of launch, distance, or forgiveness. Many modern forged irons, however, manage to pack in design features that make them a little easier to hit. It’s still the case, though, that the most forgiving and easiest-to-hit irons will be cast models, rather than forged.

What defines a forged golf iron?

Iron heads are produced in one of two ways: by being cast, or being forged.

Forged: A forged head involves taking a single piece of metal and hammering it into the desired shape. It typically involves softer materials and a more labor-intensive process, which can push up prices. Typically, forged clubs were seen as offering the ultimate in feel, although manufacturers have become increasingly adept at making cast clubs feel almost as good as their forged counterparts.

Cast: Casting is a more commonly used process and involves pouring molten metal into a mould to harden into the required shape as it sets. This process allows more versatility in design and is therefore used in the majority of non-bladed irons.

How we tested the best forged golf irons of 2023

We invited major equipment manufacturers to submit their entire 2023 ranges for testing. Across seven weeks of testing, we created a controlled environment indoors at Keele Golf Centre and used a premium tour-level golf ball (the Srixon Z-Star). We collected a ton of data from every shot hit, using a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor.     

The Srixon Z-Star is our test ball for 2023

Why did we use a Srixon Z-Star golf ball?

It would be easy to use the same 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 each year. For 2023 we’ve used the Srizon Z-Star.

Thanks to the previous Z-Star mopping up 31 wins across all tour global tours last year (that’s 15.5% of the wins available) 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, our data shows a great comparison of how clubs in each particular category differ, which is hugely valuable in helping you narrow your choice.

Neil Wain is the perfect club tester due to his consistency in delivering accurate and reliable comparative data.

See more about how TG tests golf clubs and other equipment.

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