Golfstead is reader-supported. When you buy through links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Our affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network and Amazon Associates.
This is a comprehensive review of the Callaway Apex CF 16 iron, one of two new upgrades to the Apex line of irons.
Full reviews of the previous Apex and Apex Pro models can be found here and here respectively, and if you’re interested in the new Apex 19 model, check out this review.
Although the Apex CF 16 iron is forged and considered to be in the better-player class, it has characteristics of both a players and a game-improvement iron.
Callaway is certainly one of the top golf equipment brands out there today. Does the Apex CF 16 iron live up to that reputation? Is it worth the buy? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
Read on to find out what you need to know to make an informed purchase.
Rating: 4.9/5 (outstanding)
Classification: Better-player (with game-improvement traits)
- distance is tremendous thanks to a hot face with a high COR
- forgiveness is very impressive for a forged iron
- easy to hit and easy to get the ball up in the air with long irons
- workability is excellent
- sound/feel is buttery smooth, soft and satisfying
- beautifully blends the best better-player and game-improvement qualities into a great-looking package
- expensive (now less so)
Whether it’s forgiveness, quality feel, distance or workability, there’s something in the Apex CF 16 irons for everyone.
Any golfer — professional, scratch or double-digit handicap — can have great success with them.
Best Places To Buy Online
These irons used to be readily available at many different stores, but because they’re now a few years old, there’s less availability. However, they are also a lot cheaper, which is awesome.
You should look for used Apex CF16 irons at Callaway Golf Pre-Owned, a certified reseller.
You can look at the prices on Amazon and Global Golf (Global Golf has a great return policy).
But the best place now to get Apex CF16 irons at the lowest prices is probably eBay, where you can sometimes find them at over $500 off the original price.
Want a high-resolution look at the Apex CF 16 irons? Click on the composite image at the top of the page and navigate the photos on the left-hand side of the screen.
What are the reviews like?
The Apex CF 16 irons, perhaps not surprisingly, have received fantastic ratings from customers and critics.
They have an average customer rating of 4.9/5 (96% recommended with hundreds of reviews) on the Callaway Golf Pre-Owned website, a 4.9/5 rating on Global Golf, and a 5/5 average rating on Golfsmith, among other places.
What People Like
- excellent forgiveness (considering their forged quality)
- incredible distance (thanks in part to a very hot face, discussed in the features section below)
- great workability and control
- sharp look
- smooth buttery feel
- extensive shaft selection
What People Don’t Like
- expensive (but less so now)
Many people have reported clear and substantial distance gains (sometimes 10-20 yards and upwards) over their previous irons, including the previous Apex model.
Although the Apex CF 16 irons are pricey, they’re super high-quality and most people find them to be worth every penny.
What are the features?
The Apex CF 16 iron is the first forged iron to feature Callaway’s “industry-leading” Face Cup 360 technology previously found in their fairway woods and hybrids.
This “precision-engineered” face cup is found in the longer irons (3-7) and delivers increased ball speeds, more consistent ball speeds and improved ball speed preservation across the entire face.
The coefficient of restitution (COR) of a Cup 360 Apex face, which is a measure of the efficiency of momentum transfer between the clubface and ball, lies at about 0.82 — about 0.02 higher than the COR of the original Apex iron and the highest of any forged iron currently on the market.
The result of this is unprecedented ball speeds with the Apex CF 16 iron that can translate into huge distances.
The sole widths, offset and center of gravity (CG) of the Apex CF 16 irons are all progressive. The longer irons have wider soles, more offset and a lower CG (through a tungsten insert) for higher launch and more forgiveness.
The shorter irons and wedges, on the other hand, have less offset, are more compact and have a higher CG for a more penetrating ball flight, improved feel and workability.
The Apex CF 16 irons features a multi-piece construction that provides the golfer with the performance they need all throughout the set.
The longer irons utilize the Cup 360 technology (as mentioned above) while the shorter irons utilize what Callaway calls a “unique engineered face plate” that enhances feel and distance control.
The 1025 mild carbon steel head of the Apex CF 16 iron has undergone an advanced forging process (very precise quadruple net forging) with precision milling. This results in an ultra-soft, smooth and satisfying feel at impact that is rivaled by few other competitors.
The stock shafts offered are the True Temper XP 95 in steel and the UST Mamiya Recoil 760/780 in graphite.
A wide selection of additional shaft options are available at no upcharge for those who are not satisfied with the stock offerings. More information on the shafts and their specs can be found on CGPO.
The specs of the Apex CF 16 irons can be found in the table below:
|Name||Loft||Availability||Length||Lie||Offset||Graphite Swing Weight||Steel Swing Weight|
How do these irons perform?
I will say that I think Callaway really did an amazing job with the Apex CF 16 irons combining the best traits of players irons and game-improvement irons into one beautiful “Superman” package.
Plenty is offered to golfers of just about all skill levels and handicaps.
The Apex CF 16 irons are long. In fact, I’m comfortable saying that you’re very likely to hit them at least a full club longer (10-15 yards or even more) than your previous irons, especially when you use a suitable shaft.
When you couple the strong lofts with the super-hot Cup 360 face, the result is a piercing explosive shot that truly goes a long way. Even mild and moderate mis-hits still retain a very good ball speed and hence distance.
With the shorter irons you can also expect penetrating shots, but with added precision and workability as well.
The fact that Callaway was able to make a forged iron this forgiving is truly impressive. The Cup 360 technology in the face of the Apex CF 16 iron increases ball speeds across the entire face, which means that mild and moderate mis-hits still retain a very good distance.
Directional forgiveness is also very good — while all bets are off when you hit a terrible shot, typical mis-hits for a mid-handicapper should not stray too far off target.
Normal trajectories with the Apex CF 16 irons are long, straight and penetrating.
This penetrating flight holds up well in the wind even with the scoring clubs.
Despite the strong lofts, players should have no trouble getting the ball up in the air with the Apex CF 16 irons, particularly the longer irons which are easy to hit.
Workability is great; competent golfers should be able to shape draws, fades, low or high shots with relative ease.
What about look, sound & feel?
True to its performance, the Apex CF 16 iron almost looks like a hybrid between a players iron and a game-improvement iron both in terms of offset (not excessive) and top line thickness (not as thick as some of the chunkiest game-improvement irons but not razor-thin either).
The iron has a brushed chrome finish and a simple effective silver/black design on the sole.
Overall, it’s a look that will probably appeal the most to double-digit handicappers. Low-handicap/scratch golfers who want an even more compact look should look to its sibling, the Apex Pro 16.
The Sound & Feel
With a forged iron comes premium sound and feel, and the Apex CF 16 iron doesn’t disappoint in this regard. Sound and feel are very consistent throughout the entire set, similar to the previous Apex model but arguably even better.
They can be described in many words: quiet, soft, muted, smooth, crisp and explosive are just some. It’s certainly one of the best-feeling and best-sounding irons you’ll ever play.
Mis-hits are not harsh on the hands and feedback is plentiful for troubleshooting purposes.
The Apex CF 16 irons are outstanding, a definite step up from the previous Apex model and must-try for those willing to shell out a little extra for something that’s top quality.
There’s something in them for everyone: a confidence-inspiring head with great forgiveness and distance for mid to high handicappers, and excellent feel, workability and playability for skilled golfers.
They can be counted on in just about any situation on the golf course to deliver the performance you need.
If you have any thoughts or opinions about Callaway’s Apex CF 16 irons, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
These look like sweet irons. I changed out my driver, hybrids and wedges last year. And this year I need to replace my Ping irons. It is embarrassing how old they are. W was president when I bought them.
I have heard that a lot of the new distance that is being advertised for irons really come from loft changes and shaft length. What is the key to these Apex irons in terms of distance? Is it the face or just more aggressive lofts?
I would say the main key is Callaway’s Face Cup technology. As I talked about in the review, it essentially increases the COR of the clubface, making it really “hot” and increasing ball speeds for every impact location and clubhead speed. When you combine this with the strong (low) lofts and a low center of gravity in the long irons, you get a ball flight that is conducive to huge distance. If you’re thinking about getting the Apex CF 16s, do feel free to ask me any other questions you might have and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Thanks, I will definitely take a look at them. My hybrids are Callaway, so at least there would appear to be some consistency in my bag!
Great information on the Callaway Irons, I bought Ping irons (knockoffs) in China last year and really regretted it. I owned a set of Callaway’s before that but thought it was time for a change. I am going to try out the new Apex irons as my game can use the distance.
Yeah, you should never do that. A few hundred dollars more for quality and authenticity is the only way to go if you want great value that will last you for many years. Any irons that are being sold for unusually low prices ($300 or more) compared to what is on the official manufacturer’s website or sites like Amazon are almost always counterfeit. When it comes to eBay, however, this isn’t the case. You can get brand new irons of virtually any model for unbeatable prices on eBay; this is often because sellers are trying to get rid of their surplus stock. If you found my review helpful and you’re looking to buy online, I would appreciate you (and recommend) checking out the links I placed in my review. Thanks for the comment!
As someone who has tried to get into golf more, I found this post to be very interesting.
One of the things that got in the way of me actively pursuing golf more aggressively was the sheer overwhelm that came over me when trying to make the decision which clubs to purchase.
Wedges, woods, irons are often advertised as the ultimate key to improving a golfers handicap but it can be a very confusing for a new aspiring golfer.
Your review introduces the Callaway Apex CF 16 iron as an effective tool to assist golfer in improving their game. It’s detailed and well written and I think that anyone reading it will be able to full evaluate the benefits of this tool as a viable addition to their golfing arsenal.
It doesn’t have to be difficult to settle on a good set of clubs. Often times it’s good for beginners to just pick out some solid game-improvement clubs that they like (maybe from a preferred brand) given a particular budget and just run with it. I think the Apex CF16s are excellent starting irons for those willing to make a wise investment in quality clubs for the long term — they do pretty much everything well and have excellent distance and forgiveness to accommodate beginners. If I had specific information and specific questions to work with, I’d be able to better help you.
Just was fitted for the Apex CF 16. I was initially looking at some more pure game improvement clubs, but with the club Pro, and Trackman, they were a bit better than my current clubs. The Pro suggested to try the Apex irons and immediately there was a significant increase in club head speed and in carry distance. The best combination for me seemed to be with the graphite stiff shaft. I ended up paying more than I had planned, but the difference in performance, the appearance, feel and quality convinced me.
I have being checking the web since and all articles reinforced the choice. Your article is the best I have read in style and content, and relates well to my experience. Looking forward to getting the clubs in a few weeks. I had thought to buy online, but was also happy to have the club Pro involved and look forward to his support as I try to get my return on investment on the course.
Any thoughts on the MD3 wedges?
Glad you found a fit that works for you. Local fittings are certainly a viable option, especially for those who don’t mind spending a little more to eek out max performance.
As for the review, my goal is to run through the whole gamut every time in a structured fashion — I find that many other club reviews either are thin on content, disorganized and/or leave out some review elements important to making an informed judgement on worth.
I haven’t looked at the MD3 wedges enough to offer that much in the way of value, but since you’ve asked, I’ll mark that down right now for one of my next reviews — be sure to check back over the next few weeks for that. I’d also be interested to hear how the CF 16 irons treat you on the course. Thanks for coming to the site and reading the review.
I purchased the CF16’s with recoil 760 shafts. Was playing vintage Mizuno MX-23’s with graphite shafts. The CF16’s are a great club, excellent feel but maybe a little crisper feel than a true forged. I am seeing about 10 to 15 yard gain in the PW thru 7 iron. After that the distance seems to level out with the 4 iron the same distance as my Mizuno’s. Can’t quite explain this but not put off by it. I also added the Apex 3 hybrid and changed the Apex AW for a MD3 50 degree with the recoil shaft. Both the hybrid and the wedge are great to hit and blend very well with the progression of the set.
Thanks for sharing your experience. The Mizuno MX-23s are very old indeed; I myself haven’t ever played them, but back then I wasn’t in the business of trying different equipment brands. Even the old stuff can still hold up quite well against more modern technology. Speaking of the Apex hybrids, you should expect a full review of them very soon. Glad things have worked out for you.
Nice review. Do you recommend upgrade from previous year’s Apex irons to Apex CF16? why ?
Thanks. As I mentioned in the review, the Apex CF 16 irons generally produce more distance (could be around 10 yards longer with the longer irons thanks to a new Face Cup not found in the previous Apex irons) all across the face and perform just as good if not better in every other category. In that sense I would recommend an upgrade; however, assuming you already own the previous Apex irons, things really depend on whether or not you’re willing to pay the steep price tag. Note that do you have the option of trading in your previous irons to help bring the cost of the CF 16s down substantially (here, for example). If you’re trying to decide between the two models, a typical set of new Apex CF 16s runs around $400-$500 more than the older Apex irons at the moment; it’s up to you whether you value the improvements enough (more distance primarily) to drop the extra amount. How you’re planning on purchasing can also factor into the decision. Hope this helps.
What is the bounce on the CF 16 sand wedge? I can’t find that spec anywhere. Thanks.
I have a set 4-PW of the CF 16’s with recoil shafts and your review is absolutely on the money.
Thanks, and sorry for the delay in responding. I think I may have marked down the bounce figures for the wedges, but I haven’t been able to find them unfortunately. I’m sure if you contacted Callaway they would be happy to give you that info.