The Mizuno MP-18 irons are here - and we've played with them
Our initial Mizuno MP-18 irons review took place very much on a ‘first hit’ basis after testing them out at a launch event at Heythrop Park.
We are now conducting more in-depth analysis of the performance, using launch monitor data, back at the Golf Shack, which you’ll hear about very soon.
But this is a very exciting launch from Mizuno as it has been two years since the last MP launch. And with the new MP-18 line we effectively have FOUR new models to talk about.
Mizuno MP-18 irons review – first impressions
It has been pretty hard to ignore these with plenty of teaser material being released by Mizuno over the past few weeks.
I saw them in the flesh for the first time at the Open where Jordan Smith had just had a set built for him. He would go on to win in his next event.
— Jordan Smith (@Jsmithgolf) July 20, 2017
So the hero model which has had people drooling is the classic muscleback model – the MP-18. From a looks point of view it is as pure as it gets…
It was created by Mizuno’s top master craftsmen – including a chap called Turbo who worked closely with Nick Faldo in the early 1990s – and is all about creating the perfect look that blade enthusiasts crave.
There is also an SC (split cavity) model which has a slightly wider sole and thicker top-line but designed to be blended seamlessly with the classic muscleback model.
How to blend these irons together is key as there are also the MP-18 MMC (multi-material construction) models.
These have a little bit more tech for stability and also have Fli-Hi models available in 2-5 for those who prefer a long-iron to a hybrid.
All these irons are aimed at the more consistent ball strikers among us but Mizuno say they all offer surprising levels of playability with added forgiveness in the MMC models.
They all look absolutely stunning – good enough to make any mid-handicapper strive to become a better player…
So where do they all sit compared to the JPX900 range? Well it seems to me there is a bit of a crossover with the JPX900 Tour and the new MP-18 line.
But whereas the JPX900 are all about using clever technology to improve ball speed, the MP-18 are about aesthetics and feel.
Even the MP-18 MMC model – which may appeal to mid-handicappers – is actually more compact than the JPX900 Tour which Brooks Koepka used to win the US Open.
Mizuno MP-18 irons review – The technology
There’s not a huge amount of technology that can be added to a forged muscleback iron. It’s effectively a just lump of metal right?
The clever stuff comes in the forging process. The MP-18s are grain flow forged from a single billet of 1025 E pure select mild carbon steel. But that’s nothing new.
What is new is a high density process which concentrates the grain in those billets – and right behind the impact location – more tightly for improved feel and feedback.
So the new technology in these clubs is all about feel rather than helping players hit it higher or further or better on their mis-hits.
All the MP-18 irons use this new HD forging process but the SC model should offer a touch more playability through the cavity-back design.
And the MMC models uses lightweight Titanium (8g) and heavier Tungsten (20g) to improve off-centre performance through more stability and higher moment of inertia (MOI/resistance to twisting).
Mizuno MP-18 irons review – The results
As a mid-handicapper and fairly inconsistent ball-striker, these irons are not really aimed at me. But please hear me out.
I’m capable of finding the middle of the clubface so know how good each of these irons feel when hit properly.
They feel crisp and pure with a wonderful soft sound. The feedback on offer is remarkable. And I thinned enough shots to get the full experience.
I could only really entertain the idea of using the muscleback in 9 and PW, maybe the 8 at a push. You do have to be very precise to get the best out of these clubs.
There wasn’t a huge amount of difference to me in the split cavity model. Maybe a touch more confidence at address. There’s a very similar feel and not really any noticeable added forgiveness.
A bit more stability and confidence was gained from the MMC so I’d definitely be leaning towards these from 7-iron upwards.
I don’t really have the swing speed to get the best out of the Fli-Hi models when hitting off the deck but could happily game a 4-iron to use off the tee. In all honesty, I’d be happier moving into hybrids after the 5-iron…
We haven’t put these clubs on launch monitors yet so can’t see how they compare to the JPX900 range in terms of distance.
But I did notice a lower ball flight than what I am used to with my current JPX900 Hot Metal. It seemed like a strong and penetrating flight which was working well in a stiff left to right wind on the day.
Mizuno MP-18 irons review – NCG verdict
I do think it is a little bit confusing to the consumer that there is a JPX900 model used by tour players and now we have the MP-18 which are aimed at the very best ball strikers.
If you’re a decent single-figure player you may be left wondering which model is going to suit you the best?
As previously stated, the MP-18s are for players after a very particular look. They are for the blade enthusiasts. The players who have always played MPs and don’t want to change.
The JPX900 Tour are for players who want an iron with blade-like characteristics with a bit more helpful technology.
But the other main difference is the feel. If you want an iron that feels heavenly when you strike it out of the middle then you really shouldn’t be considering anything else.
Another thing that struck me is how hitting irons that are a little bit more compact, with less visible helpful technology, can help focus your mind a bit more.
I’m used to hitting the JPX900 Hot Metal which are large and confidence-inspiring. It almost gives you a sense that the iron is going to do much of the work for you and you place less emphasis on a centred strike.
The MP-18s actually demand that you hit better shots and make better swings which can only be a good thing if you’re actually looking to improve.
These are an absolute joy to hit – and look at -so will make you look forward to playing golf that little bit more.
MP-18: £135 per iron
Available: 3-PW, right hand only
MP-18 SC: £135 per iron
Available: 3-PW, left and right hand
MP-18 MMC: £150 per iron
Available: 4-PW, right hand only
MP18 MMC Fli-Hi: £150 per iron
Available: 2, 3, 4, 5, right hand only
More information can be found on the Mizuno website.