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This is a review of the Callaway Apex DCB 21 iron.
The Apex DCB 21 is considered the “game-improvement” entry in the forged Apex 21 line, built for the higher handicap. It has a wider sole, deeper cavity, more offset, and a higher launch compared to the standard Apex 21.
Along with the Apex 21 and Apex Pro 21, the DCB 21 is the first forged iron to feature Callaway’s Flash Face technology, and the first Apex iron to utilize a Tungsten Energy Core.
How does the Apex DCB 21 iron perform out on the course? How viable is it for golfers who need more forgiveness than what the Apex traditionally offers? Is it worth putting a set in the bag?
Read on to find out what you need to know to make an informed decision.
What are the reviews like?
The Apex DCB 21 irons have been received extremely well by consumers. It has a 4.8/5 (96% recommended) average rating on the Callaway store.
The professional critic reviews that exist are highly positive, describing an iron that produces both high launch and high ball speeds, more forgiveness than the standard Apex, and an excellent feel that stays true to the “forged” label.
Generally speaking, people are impressed at how well Callaway was able to create a “game-improvement” twist on the Apex without throwing away what makes Apex irons great.
What People Like
- the slight draw bias suits many high-handicaps
- ball speeds and distance are at the top of its class
- superb forgiveness resulting from a higher launch and more perimeter stability than the standard Apex
- excellent feel and sound, with a head that powers through the turf and resists digging
What People Don’t Like
- slightly lower spin rate may make it tough to hold some greens
- very deep cavity doesn’t appeal to some
- quite pricey
What are the features?
The Apex DCB 21 irons have basically the same features as the Apex 21 Standard:
- A.I. Flash Face Cup: designed by artificial intelligence, this consists of a complex face architecture that is unique for every iron in the set. It results in even higher ball speeds, distance control, and spin robustness.
- Tungsten Energy Core: up to 50 grams of tungsten are contained in the mid and long irons, allowing the center of gravity (CG) to be precisely positioned for high launch and added forgiveness.
- Premium Forged Feel: the body is made from 1025 mild carbon steel, while proprietary urethane microspheres help absorb mis-hit vibrations without sacrificing feel or sound.
The key differences lie in shape and weighting. The DCB 21 has a larger body, wider sole, deeper cavity, and greater offset, with a high-MOI weight distribution.
This beefier design is meant not only to interact with turf more easily, but also to move the CG deeper for a higher launch. Increased perimeter weighting further helps improve mis-hit performance.
There are many set configurations to choose from, from the 4-iron all the way to the approach wedge and everything in between. The 4-PW set is a common choice. Individual irons are, of course, available.
The stock steel shaft is the True Temper Elevate ETS (85g), and the stock graphite shaft is the UST Recoil DART (65g). The stock grip is the Golf Pride ZGRIP Soft.
There are a ton of different grips and custom shafts to choose from. You can also customize your lie angles and lofts.
If you’re interested, full information on shafts, grips and other customizations can be found on the Callaway website.
Below are the specs of the Apex DCB 21 irons. Click or zoom to enlarge. Note the slightly stronger 4-9 iron lofts compared to the standard Apex 21.
How do the irons perform?
While the standard Apex 21 generates fairly low spin as it is, I find the Apex DCB 21 to produce even lower spin. This was my experience, but I suspect that golfers may see different spin numbers depending on their individual swing and how they impact the ball.
Low spin isn’t strictly a good thing (manufacturers are even starting to move away from “ultra low-spin” drivers based on Tour feedback), because you need high enough trajectories to control shots into greens.
However, compensating for this is a naturally higher ball flight, which is a little surprising considering the stronger lofts. But in this case, the deeper CG position really helps to compensate.
All in all, this adds up to distance that is roughly the same as the standard Apex, if not longer owing to the slight draw bias. The lower spin does make touch and controllability a little clunkier, though, particularly with the short irons.
As for distance control, I found that my shots had enough stopping power to hold greens to my satisfaction, but not by much. I imagine that ball rollout on greens could get problematic for certain golfers, but there’s no way to be sure until you try them.
In my experience, performance on off-center hits sees a distinct improvement over the standard Apex 21. This is in contrast to the MAVRIK MAX iron, which was at best only marginally more forgiving than the MAVRIK Standard.
In my tests, ball speed numbers around the perimeter of the face were, on average, 5.6 mph greater, with a six-yard tighter dispersion resulting from a higher MOI.
If you’re really good at hitting your irons solidly in the sweet spot, this might not be a big deal to you. But if you frequently impact mis-hit areas, it can make a huge difference in your rounds.
Moreover, if you normally struggle to get the ball up in the air, you’ll most likely see better results with the DCB than the Standard.
Playability & Trajectory
As I’ve alluded to previously, the Apex DCB 21 produces a higher launch and slightly higher trajectory than the standard Apex 21, with a touch of draw bias resulting from the increased offset.
Playability is excellent because the wide sole is forgiving and reduces the chances of digging into the turf at impact. In addition, the meatier head has little to no trouble powering through most lies.
In general, I’ve gotten fantastic results hitting the longer irons; the ball travels far enough to reach the green, but not with so much roll that it races through. I reckon the short irons and wedges will be hit-and-miss depending on the golfer.
The Apex DCB 21 irons can be shaped to an extent, but it’s certainly not their specialty. For that, you should look at the Pro or Standard Apex.
What about look, sound & feel?
The Apex DCB 21 irons predictably look very similar to the standard Apex 21s; the overall shape is basically the same, as is the badge design (with some altered geometry to make room for the DCB labeling) and vertical orientation of the branding.
There are some key differences, as I’ve gone over previously: a deeper cavity, more offset, a wider sole, and a slightly thicker top line. This inspires plenty of confidence at address. You also can’t really see any part of the iron behind the top line when looking down at address, which minimizes distractions.
I would say that this is about the upper limit when it comes to the “GI-players hybrid” in an Apex iron. Anything beefier wouldn’t really be an Apex iron in my view.
The Sound & Feel
Compared to the standard Apex 21 irons, the Apex DCB 21 irons feel a touch more “bottom-heavy”, no doubt due to the deeper center of gravity.
Strikes in the sweet spot feel soft, crisp, and even a little “springy”, which is actually quite common in more forgiving heads. Unless you make contact around the edges of the face, you’re still going to get a decent feel in mis-hit areas that doesn’t come off “dead” as it might in more unforgiving irons.
This is great for those who don’t want to feel the pain of a bad strike, but it means that the feedback isn’t nearly as helpful. In fact, I find that the sound, which is muffled in the center and louder as you move into the mis-hit zone, provides the most distinct feedback.
When you have enough experience to know how larger, more forgiving iron profiles tend to feel, there should be no surprises with the Apex DCB 21 irons.
Where should you buy these irons online?
If you want a brand new set of (or individual) Apex DCB 21 irons with custom shafts, grips, lengths, lofts, etc, definitely head over to this page on the official Callaway website before it gets removed.
You can also get the Apex DCB 21 irons in “Sweet Spot” or “Triple Play” combo sets that may include Apex 21 or Apex Pro 21 irons. Low or mid-handicappers may do well with the Sweet Spot combo set, which consists of the DCB 21 (4-5) and Apex 21 (6-AW).
Although the Apex DCB 21 irons are cheaper than previous Apex irons were at release, they’re still expensive. If you want to find good savings, definitely look on eBay.
Alternatively, look at what’s available on Global Golf, which is arguably the best dedicated online golf equipment store.
In a nutshell, the Apex DCB 21 iron is a great fit for golfers who like the feel and slimmer look of an Apex iron but appreciate more forgiveness with a easier launch.
It delivers top ball speeds, very good mis-hit performance, and a crisp forged feel, with a wider sole that powers through the turf with ease. How high your trajectories will be and how much stopping power you will have into greens will depend on your natural swing tendencies.
The long irons are a very viable choice for not just mid-high handicaps, but also even some skilled golfers who have previously had success with the standard Apex.
If you own an older Apex model, it’s much easier to justify making the jump to the Apex DCB 21s because of their unique forgiveness profile.
Thanks for reading this review. Have you played the Apex DCB 21 irons yet? What do you think about them? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Callaway Apex DCB 21 Iron
Sound & Feel9.8/10
- Mid-high launch, low spin & high ball speed is a recipe for distance
- More forgiving than the standard Apex 21
- Retains the premium feel the Apex is known for
- Has some of the best turf interaction out there
- Lower spin can be problematic in certain situations
- Has many of the drawbacks that come from more forgiving irons including reduced workability and shot feedback
- Fairly pricey