Blades and muscle-back irons are a thing of beauty. Many want to play them, but few will actually reap the benefits. As unforgiving as they come, you better not dare play them unless you truly just want to or unless you can hit the center of the club face 99% of the time.
Golf isn’t all about shooting the lowest scores possible. Some golfers just love the look and feel of blades, and that is perfectly fine! After two years of playing golf (nearly every single day, that is), I switched to a set of Titleist 690MB irons, which are my personal favorite blades to this day. Are they forgiving? No. Should I really be using them? No. Do I love playing with them 10x more than my other irons? Umm, yeah. And I actually shot my lowest scores with the blades surprisingly, but I’m sure my average score is better with my more forgiving Mizuno JPX 825 Pros.
Alright, let’s (very briefly) talk about the features of muscle backs and blades compared to a more forgiving set:
- super compact: blades are very compact, as they have thin toplines and hardly any weighting behind the club face. Personally, I find compact clubs much more appealing at address, as other clubs seem too bulky for me.
- made for low handicappers & better ball strikers: blades are not forgiving in any way. If you mishit a ball (by not hitting it on the center of the club face), you will be penalized pretty greatly. The shot won’t feel/sound good, and you won’t be happy with the result. The sweet spots, on average, are MUCH smaller than on the sweet spots on game improvement irons.
- great for distance control, feedback, and workability: while other irons are focused more on distance and forgiveness, blades focus more on distance control, feedback, and workability. Game improvement irons are made to go as straight as possible, while blades allow you to work the ball left and right more easily. Blades provide more feedback about where on the face you are hitting the ball. Lastly, blades are focused more on distance control, rather than distance. Blade’s lofts are typically weaker than game improvement iron’s lofts.
- typically forged: most blades are forged, as opposed to cast. This is simply a different way to make an iron, and it typically results in better feel and improved distance control.
Depending on your budget, let’s find the best set of muscleback & blade irons for you! I’m just going to go ahead and say that most blades perform very similarly. They don’t vary much when it comes to distance, control, forgiveness, etc.
Please be aware that all links & pictures will take you to the respective eBay listings!
Best Blades/MuscleBacks on a Tight Budget: Titleist MB Older Models
If you want a great set of irons that won’t hurt your wallet too much, check out an older model of Titleist MB blades. I would suggest the 710, 712, and 714 models, but don’t be afraid to go even further back if you want to save the most money possible. There is not a big difference in performance among these different models, so just try to find a set in good condition that you’ll be able to play for many years.
Like all blades and muscleback irons, these are very unforgiving. If you want a more forgiving set without comprising the compact appearance at address, check out the next two blades that I list in this article. But if you are focused more on have a great set of irons on a tight budget, this is definitely the set for you.
I tried the 712 MB irons a couple of years back, and was very pleased with the feel and feedback on my iron shots. If I didn’t already have a set of blades that I really liked, I likely would have picked up a set of these at the time.
Like I mentioned earlier in the article, I often play with my Titleist 690 MB irons. They don’t hit the ball as long as today’s blades, but that’s mostly because the lofts are not as strong.
Best Value Blade Irons: Ping iBlades
Ping iBlades are a great option if you are searching for the best value blades that you can buy in 2018. For a cast iron (as all Ping clubs are), this is the best feeling set that you can buy. You’ll get plenty of feedback on your shots so that you know exactly where on the face you are hitting it.
For a set of blades, this is a pretty forgiving set of irons. The pocket cavity and weighting on the back of the sole of the club help make sure your mishits don’t end up in horrible spots. The Custom Tuning Port (CTP) also makes sure the clubs feels/sounds well, which most better players look for in a set of irons.
Because these clubs are a couple of years old as of 2018, these clubs sell at a pretty good price now. The demand has slowly decreased as newer sets are released, so you can pick up a good quality set at a heavily reduced price now.
The Overall Best Blades: Titleist 718 T-MB
If you want the best of the best when it comes to blades, check out the Titleist 718 T-MB irons. They look great at address and feel incredible at impact, yet they offer a good but of forgiveness (tough to find in a blade). Titleist puts it well when they said: “New Titleist 718 T-MB irons deliver high launch and more distance in a technical, muscle-back shape”.
That sums it up quite nicely to be honest. High launch. More distance. Great compact look at address. What more do you want? Well, you probably want to know that you’ll be able to work the ball. Yep, this set is definitely workable. You want some feedback too, right? Perfect, off center strikes will make you very aware of where you are hitting it on the club face. Anything else you need? Distance control? Yep, great distance control too, as should be expected with a compact blade.
If you hit the center of the club face and put the exact swing that you wanted to on the ball, you’ll be pleased with the result. That’s for sure!