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Cavity Back vs. Muscle Back vs. Blades

Golfers know the importance of having the right equipment for their game, and that includes your choice of irons.

Whether you’re a first-time golfer or an experienced veteran, it’s essential to understand the differences between cavity back, muscle back and bladed golf irons.

These three types of iron provide varying levels of accuracy and control in different situations – picking the right one for you can mean hitting more greens in regulation and shaving a few strokes off your scorecard.

In this blog post we’ll deep dive into each type of iron, as well as the pros and cons and who should use them.

Table of Contents

What is a bladed iron?

Callawat Rogue ST Pro Iron Clubhead
The Callaway Rogue ST Pro irons are a great example of a bladed iron. They offer a lot of shot shaping ability, but lack any forgiveness.

A bladed iron, also known as a forged iron, is by far the most difficult iron to hit. They are the oldest type of iron and have a classic look to them when compared to a cavity back.

The bladed iron is great if you need control of your golf club. They make it much easier to hit a draw or a fade, which can be so important in various scenarios on the course.

They have a very small sweet spot, along with a very thin and compact clubhead.

Blades also have a significant amount of feedback over cavity and muscle back irons. As soon as you hit the golf ball, it’ll either feel like the purest shot of your life, or quite possibly the worst. A bladed iron will be sure to let you know whether you made solid contact or not.

As great as all this might sound, they come with great consequences. While you are able to shape the ball much easier with blades, it can also lead to more mishits.

Bladed irons are not in the slightest bit forgiving, and if you can’t make consistent contact you’ll have a miserable time on the course. They are commonly used by Tour Pros since their accuracy is so high, but they are becoming less popular.

Blades might not fly as far as cavity back irons or have as high of a launch, but they are sure to give you honest feedback after every hit and great shot-shaping ability.

What is a muscle back iron?

Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal Pro irons are great muscle backs that allow for diverse ball flights while increasing distance and forgiveness.

A muscle back iron is essentially a blade, except with a little more forgiveness and distance.

At the bottom of the club you’ll notice a thicker sole, and this is where the forgiveness and extra yards are created. However, they are still quite thin and won’t be very helpful with mishits.

The sweet spot on muscle back irons is slightly larger than blades, but are still much smaller relative to cavity back irons.

Using a muscle back iron still requires a decent amount of skill, and you’ll struggle with these as well is you fail to make consistent contact.

The thicker sole also helps to launch the ball higher than a blade, giving you a better apex and potentially softer landings on the green.

Holding greens can be a huge issue for so many golfers, and being able to get a high launch angle can help fix this.

What is a cavity back iron?

The Callaway Rogue ST Max irons are great for high handicappers. They offer major forgiveness as well as distance.

Cavity back irons are the most used irons of recent times, especially by average golfers. They have tons of forgiveness and are also able to increase your distance a great amount.

The name quite literally comes from the cavity in the back of the club head, and this pocket is able to create faster swing speeds.

Cavity back irons also have a massive sweet spot, and on some clubs it can even stretch entirely from heel-to-toe. These iron sets are also able to create the highest launch angles, helping improve distance.

This means that you can have very inconsistent contact, but still generate shots that launch high and travel far.

By achieving the added distance and forgiveness, shot shaping became a lot more difficult.

Cavity back irons have been designed to be so forgiving that you can’t truly hit the ball anything but straight. While this can make a large percentage of your shots more accurate, it’ll give you a harder time in some situations.

Many pros have decided to start using cavity back irons due to the added distance they get. This can be extra beneficial with long irons especially as not only your distance, but also your accuracy increases.

Some have decided to stay away from these irons though due to their lack of feedback and control. The level they play at is so advanced that they need to know when their shot wasn’t perfect, and they also need to be able to draw or fade the ball more than the average golfer.

Difference between cavity back irons and blades

Cavity back

  • Very forgiving
  • Higher launch
  • More distance


  • Minimal forgiveness
  • More control
  • Less distance

The biggest differences between Cavity back and blades is their distance, forgiveness, and control.

With Cavity back irons, you are able to achieve a little more distance than blades. This is due to the hollow back of the clubhead, which not only provides more distance but also more forgiveness.

Cavity back irons are designed to provide maximum forgiveness for your average golfer, whereas bladed irons target skilled player who don’t need nearly as much forgiveness.

The final difference between blades and cavity backs is the control you have over your shots. Cavity back irons are made to launch high and straight every time.

This makes it difficult to shape your shots for a draw or fade. On the other hand, blades were created to provide the low handicap player with complete control.

Difference between cavity back irons and muscle back irons

As for cavity back vs. muscle back irons, it is quite similar to cavity back vs. blades. However, muscle back irons are slightly different than bladed irons.

A muscle back iron is slightly more forgiving than a blade and can help you gain a few more yards. They still allow for a fair amount of control, but not as much as blades.

Therefore, the difference between cavity back irons and muscle back irons is almost parallel to blades.

Cavity backs will have more forgiveness, distance, and higher launch while muscle backs will provide more control with less forgiveness and distance.

Difference between muscle back irons and bladed irons

Muscle back

  • Slightly more forgiving/distance


  • More control

A muscle back iron has a thicker sole than blades, which is how it generates more forgiveness and distance.

It must be noted that the difference is nowhere near as great as it is for cavity backs, but it is noticeable.

As we’ve stated before, though, more forgiveness and distance require sacrificing some of your control.

Bladed irons allow for ultimate shot shaping, while muscle back irons will still give you some control, just not to the same extent.

Who should use blades?

With pros being a given, blades should be reserved for very low-handicap players and scratch golfers.

It takes a lot of skill to be able to use forged irons, and even if you have a very consistent swing it can have pitfalls.

You should only use a blade if you achieve perfect contact 99/100 times and are looking to be able to control the shape of your shots easier.

Who should use muscle backs?

Muscle backs should still be used primarily by low handicappers, however, mid-handicappers could try to venture with them. If you are serious about your game and already have a decent swing, muscle back irons might be for you.

They are still very difficult to use, but if you already have a great understanding of the fundamentals and are constantly trying to become better, muscle back irons would be a great bridge from a mid to a low handicap.

Who should use cavity backs?

Cavity backs irons are going to be used by a large percentage of golfers, and any handicap could use these clubs.

It must be said, though, that high handicap and average golfers will find the most use out of cavity back irons.

The high forgiveness and increased distance can help beginners and higher handicaps alike improve their game and drop their scores.

If you’re at this stage in the game and are just looking to create consistent shots that fly straight, using cavity back irons is definitely the choice for you.

Wrapping it up

Using the right type of iron is very important for your performance on the course and can help you shave strokes off your score.

While cavity back iron sets can be used by any golfer looking to increase their distance with maximum forgiveness, blades are a different story.

Bladed irons should only be used by professionals or very advanced golfers who are looking to be able to add a fade or draw to their shot at the snap of a finger.

Muscle backs fall between cavity backs and blades, but are still more similar to blades. They have slightly more forgiveness and distance, as well as some shot-shaping ability.

If you have any questions that you would like to ask, feel free to contact us or leave a comment!

Thanks for reading and I hope you are able to find the right iron set for you!


Are blades better than cavity backs?

Blades are better than cavity backs for control over your ball flight, however they don’t have as much forgiveness or distance as cavity backs.

So if you’re an average golfer who simply desires straight and consistent shots, cavity backs irons are better for you.

On the other hand, if you’re a low handicap who is seeking the ability to draw/fade the ball at your command, a bladed iron set would be great for you.

Are blades harder to hit than cavity back?

Blades are much harder to hit than cavity back irons. They have a very compact club head with a tiny sweet spot, making the error for margin thin.

Cavity back irons have a large clubface with a sweet spot that sweeps from heel-to-toe, making it much easier to hit than blades.

Do pro golfers use blades or cavity backs?

Pro golfers use both blades and cavity backs. Those looking for complete control of their clubs use blades, and players seeking greater distance will use cavity backs.

It is even possible for them to use some of both. For their scoring irons, they may choose blades so that they can get creative closer to the greens.

For their long irons they may decided to use cavity backs so that they can increase their distance, and achieve better accuracy from farther yardages.

When should I switch from cavity backs to blades?

The answer to this question depends on your desires. First off, there is no need to switch if you are happy with your performance with cavity back irons.

However, if you are wanting to switch over to blades to get more control over your ball flight, you should wait until you have a very consistent swing with perfect contact on nearly every shot.

Are cavity backs easier to hit?

Cavity backs are the easiest iron design to hit due to their large club face and sweet spot.This leads to incredible forgiveness on every shot, and it will help you hit straighter and longer.

Do blades go less distance?

Blades generally have less distance than cavity back irons due to the design of the clubs. Bladed irons are thin from top to bottom, while cavity backs are hollowed out, leading to more distance.

Should a high handicapper play blades?

Under no circumstance is it recommended for high handicappers to play blades.

They are extremely difficult to hit and offer no forgiveness. This will only cause your performance to deteriorate, and unnecessary strokes will be added to your scorecard.

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