Since the validation of “distance irons” by PGA Tour players in the late 1980s, golfers have had two choices when choosing irons.

Did they want to play forged irons that offered more consistency and feel, or did they want to play oversized cast irons that hit the ball higher and farther, but didn’t feel quite as good at impact.

Callaway’s new Apex irons are a serious contender in both categories, combining a forged framework with the company’s extremely hot 455 Carpenter forged steel faces to deliver explosive distance and a solid forged feel.

Click here to read about Callaway’s more compact Apex Pro irons.

The Apex isn’t Callaway’s first attempt to blur the line between distance and forged irons. In 2010, the company released its Diablo Forged irons, which featured a similar construction. And Callaway isn’t the only company that’s claiming to have bridged the gap between distance irons and forged irons, either.

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Titleist has had tremendous success on the PGA Tour with its version of a forged distance iron, the AP2, which uses high-density tungsten weighting and a 1025-forged construction to create an iron that offers increased distance, feel and forgiveness. Ping has attempted the same feat with its Ping Anser Forged irons, as has Nike, with its VR_S Forged irons.

But Callaway Manager of Performance Analysis Evan Gibbs said that Callaway has a leg up on its competitors because of its experience with its specially processed and treated 455 Carpenter steel faces.

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Above: Callaway’s 455 Carpenter Steel faces were the focal point of the company’s award-winning X Hot fairway woods.

Gibbs said that since the release of Callaway’s Diablo Forged irons, which received rave reviews from consumers and are played by several members of Callaway’s Tour Staff, the company has gained a new level of expertise on how to get the most from 455 Carpenter Steel.

“We’ve treated the material to get the most ball speed possible,” Gibbs said. “And the geometry of the forged cavity that holds the face was designed with ball speed in mind as well.”

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Above: Apex irons have a deep undercut that improves forgiveness and ball speed.

To create the Apex irons, Callaway welded 455 Carpenter steel faces to the irons’ 1020 carbon steel frames. Each iron goes through a 40-minute milling process to position weight low and deep in the iron head, as well as around the perimeter. Rubber material was also added in the cavity, along with the Apex’s badging to further reduce vibrations, which helps replicate the one-piece forged iron feel that many golfers prefer.

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Above: The Apex irons have a “rolled leading edge” sole grind, which helps improve turf interaction from tight lies. 

According to Gibbs, the long irons, which also feature tungsten weights in their soles to further lower the CG of the irons and help golfers launch them higher, offer 2-to-3 mph more ball speed than the Diablo Forged irons, which equates to about 4 to 6 yards of extra distance.

Despite the improved performance of the irons, which Gibbs said will have the lowest center of gravity of any 2014 Callaway iron model, he doesn’t expect that all of Callaway’s Staff Players will flock to them.

He said that several tour players might switch to the Apex irons to replace a hybrid or their one-piece forged long irons. That would be similar to the trend set by many Nike Staff players, who have switched to the company’s VR_S Forged irons for their 2, 3 and 4 irons but have been hesitant to switch in their mid and short irons.

Gibbs also confirmed the existence of a smaller iron slated for release by Callaway in early 2014, the Apex Pro, which he said many tour players would feel comfortable using throughout the set. He would not reveal any more specifics about the Apex Pro irons, however.

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The Apex irons have a head size that is between the company’s current X Hot and X Hot Pro irons. They also have progressive face thicknesses through the set to help with distance control and lofts similar to the company’s 2013 X Hot Pro irons: the 3 iron is 19 degrees, the 6 iron is 27 degrees and the pitching wedge is 45 degrees.

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The iron’s medium blade lengths and top lines, as well as their moderate amount of offset gives them a look and set composition that is much different than the Ben Hogan Apex irons for which they are named. But they are “the ultimate in forged performance” according to Gibbs, which he said makes them worthy of carrying the legendary Apex name.

“I think this iron, more than any iron in our [2014 lineup] is going to appeal to the broadest consumer base,” Gibbs said.

The Apex irons have Callaway’s wide-spaced 30-degree grooves, which Gibbs said maximizes spin for golfers from the rough.

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They’ll be available in stores on Dec. 6 and cost $1099 with True Temper’s XP95 steel shafts (R and S flexes), and $1299 with UST Mamiya’s Recoil graphite shafts, which are available in UST’s 660 (regular flex) and 680 (stiff flex) models.

Click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the irons in the forums.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond, and competes in tournaments as a professional. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

88 COMMENTS

  1. I just got these to replace my 714 AP2s. I’m feeling good after one range session. First round on them will be at this year’s US Open site, so here goes the trial by fire! I”ll update with comparisons after the round.

    • Super impressed so far; so much so that I sold my AP2s. I’m still getting used to different shafts, but I love the look and set up of the Apex irons. I’m about 5ish yards longer, with much higher ball flight. I wasn’t really looking for higher flight, but the ball isn’t ballooning so it’s not bothering me. I’m confident that these will cover my bad days better and still let the good days excel.

  2. I just tested the Apex against the AP2 and nike covert. I found the Apex had a more solid feel which most likely come from the rubber dampeners on the backside of the club. I tested the Apex with the graphite shafts and the AP2’s with the Ameritech 110 shafts. I have a three handicap do I would like to work the ball from time to time. All three if these clubs still allow for this.
    Ultimately I like the added yards and feel of the Apex irons. I can picture the added confidence with a shorter 4 iron in my hands hitting it 215 on the fly compared to my current hybrid.
    I carried the wedge 132 yards and I could hit it high or low with ease similar to my Mizuno forged irons. The difference from my Mizuno irons was drastic. My current 6 iron flies 165 and the Apex 6 iron flies 185.
    Only thing I’m not looking forward to is the invoice when the arrive.
    Have a great year on the links!

    • “I carried the wedge 132 yards and I could hit it high or low with ease similar to my Mizuno forged irons. The difference from my Mizuno irons was drastic. My current 6 iron flies 165 and the Apex 6 iron flies 185.”

      That’s because the clubs are lofted very strong.
      Comparing the spec’s of these with my Cleveland 588 CBs the Apex 7 iron is 31 degree’s which is the exact loft of my 6 iron.

    • I just recently purchased a set of the Apex forged irons. Prior to, I had purchased a set of AP2s. After a few rounds and time on the range, I realized the AP2s were not the right fit for me. My cap varied from 9 to 12 this year due to the equip changes. I am back on track after only a few rounds with my Apex irons. I have played irons from many manufactures, cast vs forged, and can say that the Apex are the real deal!! They are workable, long and have an incredible soft feel. I strongly encourage any one shopping for new irons to try these, from a low to mid capper. You will not be disappointed.

  3. Extra distance is great, but with extra distance comes inconsistency and wider shot dispersion. No technology will ever solve that problem. If you are short knocker with your irons then the extra distance may be worth the loss of accuracy, but longer players will look for consistancy in direction and carry distance. Big complaint tour players have with these “hot” iron faces is that they struggle with consistent yardages.
    Only club in the bag that you want to hit as far as you can is your driver, the WOW factor on these “Apex” irons is ‘Meh’ at best

    • you couldn’t be more inaccurate about your comments on tour players. these are forged irons and can be shaped as well as every tour players lofts are higher than the standards on both models of the apex. It is all relevant to the individual, their skill level and ability!!!

      • I have thoroughly tested the big three this year being theAPEX, AP2 and the new TM CB tour preferred. They all produce a a similar sound and feel but the Apex feels slightly softer I’m guessing due to its vibration dampening. What I have discovered is that the apex blows away the competition if you are looking for max ball speed. I was able to get 5 mph more out of the apex 6 iron. The problem was that the difference between a small mishit and a perfect strike had a ballspeed difference that was twice as much as the other two irons. The Taylormade was the most consistent maybe because of the slot I don’t know and the Ap2 wasn’t far behind. Both 6 irons were between 190 and 200 yds but the Apex was 185 to 220 yards. I’m still intrigued by the apex and will continue to test them I need to try different shafts.