Mizuno JPX 850 Forged Irons (Complete Review + Alternatives)
Modern golf club technology is all about blurring the lines. I mean, take a look at the traditional concept of forged irons. The mere mention of "forged" brings up images of high-quality blades, with those merciless, unforgiving muscle backs. Clubs that require a single digit handicap and deeper than average pockets. But how the world has changed. The Mizuno JPX 850 is neither an exclusively better player iron set, nor is it a bladed-muscle back. And yet it is a high quality forged iron set that can be well worth premium price but only to the right kind of golfer. Are you that golfer? Read on to find out more in our Mizuno JPX 850 Forged Irons Review.
Mizuno JPX 850: Pros and Cons
- Combines increased ball speed with a soft feel and nuanced feedback.
- Has oodles of accuracy and decent amounts of forgiveness.
- Looks like proper player irons.
- Soft and muted sound on impact will appeal to a broad section of players.
- Generates consistent height and distance with the long irons.
- Not for the high handicappers.
- But the lack of higher levels of feel/feedback will still put off some of the better players.
- They are expensive, as forged irons are wont to be.
Key Features of the JPX 850 Forged IronsUnveiled in 2014, the JPX 850 was an upgrade to the Mizuno JPX 825 Pro Irons. Its predecessor was a cavity back iron released in 2012 that straddled the line between better player and game improvement irons. While taking this same route as the Mizuno JPX 825 Pro Irons, the JPX 850 Forged added a bevy of much-lauded improvements. They include:
1. Forged Boron SteelThe definitive feature of the JPX 850 has to be the composition of the metal used in the forging of this set of irons. The Grain Flow Forging Process employed by Mizuno to make their irons (in Japan) is already responsible for creating a very precise clubhead from a single piece of steel. By adding Boron to this steel, Mizuno created an alloy that is 30% stronger and lighter. The use of this alloy shaved 5 grams off the clubhead on the JPX 850 and created a clubface thinner than ever before. That translated into a drastic and palpable increase in ball speed on all shots.
2. Power FrameThe cavity back design takes off 21 grams from the back of the still compact clubhead and distributes that weight equally to the extreme corners of the clubface. This has increased the overall Moment of Inertia (MOI) for better distance and forgiveness. Slightly mishit shots will still get good launch assistance.
3. Dual Relief Zone SoleDespite the cavity back design, the JPX 850 still manages to look and feel a little like a blade iron with offset, thin topline and narrow sole grinds on the leading and trailing edge of the sole. This triple cut design on the sole improves the overall workability of the irons, especially in tougher lies.
4. Ultra CNC Milled PocketThese precision-cut lines on the clubface of the 4-7 irons improves the launch angle on shots, leading to an average increase of yardage by up to 7 yards or more. Pocket milled long irons also provide decent launch heights and increased distance.
5. True Temper XP115 ShaftThe default Steel shaft is available in two variants, the regular (R) and stiff (S) flex levels. This lightweight stepped shaft enhances the overall performance of the clubs, increasing swing speed and compounding the effect of that thin and fast face.
Review of the Mizuno JPX 850 Forged Irons
Looks and AestheticsThe full chrome treatment should appeal to a broad segment of golfers. The clean design is not too ostentatious and feeds into the whole "better player irons" look. If you want your irons to look like they mean business, the small blade-like heads on these irons will do that with gusto. This the closest that you can get a cavity back design to look like a blade.
Feel and FeedbackThis is where your impression of the JPX 850 will vary depending on your skill level and handicap. Single digit handicappers will experience a below par experience, not soft enough for what is, after all, a forged iron. But mid handicappers trying out their first forged irons will find the feel and feedback to be quite satisfactory if not worlds better than cast cavity backs. The sound is still like the real deal, as soft as can be expected from a high quality forged steel iron.
ForgivenessHere again, the JPX 850 is playing to the masses with mid handicaps while leaving out the segments on either side. The better players will not find the level of assistance and forgiveness on offer from the cavity back; perimeter weighted design much to their liking. The folks with higher handicaps, on the other hand, will find the clubs a tad too unforgiving, with off-center shots heading more towards bunkers and traps than to the greens. Forgiveness is decidedly average, but still considerably better than what can be expected from true muscle backs.
Flight and DistanceThe combination of those five key features creates a nicely balanced club that surprises with its distance game. Despite having slight changes in club design from the long irons to the mid and short irons, the distance performance is uniformly impressive across the range. The longer irons will get you onto the green from the fairway with their flatter launch trajectories, while the scoring irons get the ball to drop onto the green without climbing too high. With their superior sole design, the irons clear the turf effortlessly, even from tricky lies. The workability is quite high on these forged irons.
Overall ImpressionThere is no identity crisis as far as the JPX 850 irons are concerned. Every aspect of the design and technology is aimed at one particular demographic. According to Mizuno, it is those golfers who have their handicaps in the range of 6-16, and these JPX 850 Forged irons effortlessly deliver enough goods to satisfy this particular crowd. If you are a mid-handicapper, who has been playing with cavity backs while longing for a set of accessible blades this set ticks all the boxes. Sure, compromises have been made, but the result is a nicely balanced set of irons for the mid to low handicapper. They straddle the best of these two worlds, the better player looks, excellent ball speed and distance, combined with decent levels of forgiveness and adequate feedback. Throw in near perfect launch angles and extreme workability, and you have a package that delivers on almost all counts.
There is some overlap between the target players for both of these forged iron sets.
Both are forged irons with cavity back designs, and both retain some semblance to blades.
While the JPX 850 forged is a game improvement iron which could even appeal to single digit handicappers, the Titleist 716 AP2 is probably closer to being a straight better player iron set.
So, the Mizuno JPX 850 Forged vs. Titleist AP 2 comparison that is applicable mainly for players who have their handicaps closer to the 10 point mark.
For players closer to the mid handicap levels, the JPX 850 Forged might be better, due to more forgiveness and stronger lofts. But for better players, Titleist AP 2 is probably the best option.
What we like
- Best in class playability, with the ability to be worked in all kinds of lies.
- Very consistent irons with top accuracy and control.
- Perfect feel typical of forged irons, smooth and soft, some claim to be the best in class.
- Classy good looks that ooze a premium, elite player appearance.
What we dislike
- Not enough forgiveness for most players above 13-14 handicap.
- Longer irons lack distance while the set overall has less launch.
This is another comparison quite similar to the JPX 850 Forged vs. AP2 above.
The Callaway Apex 16 also belongs to the elite/better player category, while the JPX 850 Forged slots one step below in the game improvement category mainly by its improved forgiveness.
It is one of top contenders for the top spot in the better player irons category and feature regularly on the Pro Tour.
Callaway Apex may be more suited for better players with single digit handicaps, primarily due to the way these irons can punish mishits.
What we like
- The glossy chrome finish looks classy and stands out in the sun.
- Forged irons with pockets and weighted heads for improved CG and launch.
- Excellent workability on all kinds of lies.
- Razor sharp accuracy, much like a scalpel.
What we dislike
- Very low forgiveness, the irons will punish mishits severely.
- The Glossy finish doesn’t last for too long.
Unlike the JPX 850 forged vs AP2 or the JPX 850 vs. Callaway Apex 16, this is an in-house comparison between two siblings who both carry the Mizuno JPX name.
Both are forged using the same Boron steel, and both have cavity back designs and CNC milled features.
The JPX EZ Forged is one of the three series from Mizuno that uses boron steel, the others being JPX 850 Forged and the MP-25.
Regarding forgiveness, the JPX 850 sits somewhere between the more generous JPX EZ Forged and the less forgiving MP-25.
So the JPX EZ may be more suitable for mid-handicap players who need more forgiveness and speed from their irons.
The JPX 850 Forged vs. JPX EZ Forged is not a fair fight, since the latest EZ Forged clubs came out a good two years after the 850.
What we like
- Improved speed when compared to JPX 850 Forged.
- Most forgiving irons from Mizuno with the boron steel.
- Larger clubheads make this one easier to play as well.
What we dislike
- The dark smoky finish is not comparable to the chrome finish on JPX 850.
The JPX 900 Forged is the 2017 update to its predecessor, the JPX 850 Forged which was released all the way back in 2014.
So this is a comparison not just within the same brand, but within the same series as well.
But as far as comparisons go, there is not too much that differentiates the 900 from the 850, barring a few minor cosmetic changes.
The strengths and weaknesses of the original 850 remained unchanged in the 900, and that is not a great thing when you consider that nearly three years have passed since the original was released.
Both have boron laced steel and virtually identical design. The only glaring difference seems to be the adoption of a matte finish instead of chrome on the 900.
There is precious little to choose between the two, save for maybe their prices.
The JPX 850 is a good three years older and will be available much cheaper should you be able to find it online.
The 900 can be a good choice if you like the Mizuno forged series and cannot get your hands on an 850 Forged.
What we like
- Identical in strengths to the JPX 850 Forged.
- Good long distance game, and above average forgiveness.
What we dislike
- No significant improvement on the JPX 850 Forged.
- Carries the same flaws as its predecessor and is more expensive as well.
Back when it was launched in 2014, the JPX 850 Forged was one of the best set of irons its class, which itself was a unique was that managed draw sections of players from both the low handicap and mid-handicap groups.
It remains a capable set of irons for players within the 6-16 handicap range.
There may be better irons in the better player category (Apex 16 and AP2), as well as the game improvement category (Mizuno’s own JPX EZ), but the 850 Forged is still a fine upgrade for mid-handicap players who want player grade looks and performance with game improvement forgiveness levels.
Its successor the 900 Forged is slightly worse off due to lack of significant improvements but remains a valid option if you don’t like the chrome finish of the 850, and don’t mind shelling out a few extra bucks just for a matte finish.