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Today I’ll be reviewing the TaylorMade M3 iron, a gold-medal winner on the 2018 Golf Digest Hot List.
In addition to key performance technologies found in previous entries such as the Speed Pocket and Face Slots, the M3 introduces new RibCOR technology. RibCOR concentrates face flexion into a smaller area, increasing ball speed, trajectory, and distance.
So, how does the M3 iron perform at the end of the day? How does it compare to the previous M1 model? Is it worth putting a set in the bag?
Here’s what I’m going to be covering in the review:
- Features & Technologies
- Look, Sound & Feel
- Where To Buy These Irons Online
Read on to find out what you need to know to make an informed decision.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, stock shafts and stock grips are used when evaluating this club. In most cases, the golf clubs reviewed on Golfstead are acquired temporarily for testing purposes and are not purchased. The review that follows is based on the personal experience and research of the author. Because everyone’s swing and body are different, results with a particular club may differ from person to person.
What are the reviews like?
The M3 irons have very solid customer ratings overall, although the average score varies based on the source.
What People Like
- many report distance gains of 10-25 yards over their previous gamers, while still retaining nearly the same trajectory
- smooth feel at impact
- offer an excellent balance between forgiveness and workability
- easy to hit out of a variety of lies
What People Don’t Like
- a bit expensive
- prone to structural failures such as face caving and hosel breaks
What are the features?
The M3 is designed to be a “distance players” iron. Its features are similar to the M1, with a couple of key differences.
The main addition that sets the M3 irons apart is RibCOR. This technology essentially consists of two sturdy bars positioned outside the Face Slots on either side.
This serves to stiffen the outside area of the head, which means that the face transfers more energy to the ball at impact. This results in more ball speed and hence more distance at any given loft.
RibCOR works particularly well on the top half of the face. It effectively enhances the “rebound effect” of the face, also leading to improved forgiveness.
The M3 irons also feature the latest iterations of many of TaylorMade’s more longstanding technologies:
- Face Slots: large grooves on either side of the hitting area on the clubface (one towards the heel, one towards the toe) that are designed to increase flexibility and ball speeds on either side of the sweet spot.
- Speed Pocket: a slot at the bottom of the sole designed to increase flexibility, ball speed and forgiveness on shots hit low on the clubface, which is a common mis-hit area.
- Tungsten Weighting: a 15-gram tungsten toe weight in the 3-7 irons shifts the center of gravity (CG) lower, improving launch and increasing MOI.
The M3 also has a slimmer shape than the M1, which I’ll talk more about in a later section of the review.
The 3-iron all the way to the sand wedge are available. The stock steel shaft is the True Temper XP100, and the stock graphite shaft is the Mitsubishi Chemical TENSEI Blue. The stock grip is the Lamkin UTx.
Below are the specs of the M3 irons. Click or zoom to enlarge.
How do the M3 irons perform?
Distance results with the M3 are very good. How good? In my experience, it’s slightly longer than the M1, a bit shorter than the M4 (although with weaker lofts), and comparable to the P790.
Basically, the M3 squeezes out as much distance as it can (thanks largely to the tungsten weighting that keeps the CG very low) while enjoying a launch and descent angle that is slightly higher than the M4. This allows for a little more precision coming into the greens.
For golfers looking for length, spin, controllability and workability all rolled into one, the M3 iron is a perfect fit.
Forgiveness certainly isn’t a focus of the M3. It’s just not in the marketing.
Still, it’s decently forgiving, but not as much as the M4. This is mainly because the M3 has a smaller, shallower cavity back, and hence a smaller ball-speed maximizing face area.
During my testing, I tended to lose roughly 8 yards of distance on my off-center strikes. Directional forgiveness was even less generous.
Forgiveness is most impressive low on the face, so in this respect, the Speed Pocket makes a big difference. Just don’t expect the M3 to save you if you struggle to make proper ball contact.
The lofts of the M3 are exactly the same as the M1 throughout the set. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise then that the trajectory is very similar: high-launching and straight.
At the same time, the M3 is marginally more workable than the M1, leading to more shot shape flexibility. I found the general ball flight to be slightly higher than the M4 for each given loft, although not by much.
Despite the thinner profile, playability remains very good out of even the toughest lies. The new leading edge ski makes makes for very pleasant turf interaction.
What about look, sound & feel?
The M3 may be a distance iron, but you might have some trouble figuring that out just by looking at it.
Compared to the M1, the top line and sole are thinner and the profile is slightly smaller. On a classification spectrum, I would say that this puts the M3 over the line of “players iron” but fairly close to the GI boundary.
The offset is minimal, which is appropriate since the M3 is supposed to appeal to better players. Nonetheless, it’s a look that can appeal to higher handicaps as well.
The badge on the back of the face has a sharp design with concise branding. The new RibCOR bars are visible on the edges. The grey/black/white colour scheme of the M3 is something that will age very well.
I really dig the look, but it mostly comes down to personal taste.
The Sound & Feel
I mentioned in my review of the M1 that I didn’t really like its sound & feel. I’m happy to say that I don’t feel this way with the M3.
The feel, in my opinion, is drastically improved — fairly muted at impact, but very smooth and explosive. You can tell that you’re hitting a cavity-back as opposed to a muscleback, but some might even consider the feel to be just as good off the sweet spot.
Similarly, feedback isn’t quite as distinct as it would be with a typical dedicated players iron, but it should be sufficient for most golfers to have a decent idea of where their mis-hits are located.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that the M3 has some of the best feedback I’ve seen considering the slimness of the profile.
Where should you buy these irons online?
This iron model is a couple years old now, and that means you can get it at a pretty sizable discount.
You can find some fantastic deals from trustworthy and reputable sellers on eBay, but just be aware of their policies. If you look through the search results, you can find plenty of listings for both new and used irons.
Alternatively, Global Golf, which is the main partner for used TaylorMade clubs, still has some M3 irons in stock. You’d best grab some before they’re gone. Check and see what coupon codes they’re running here.
The M3 irons are a difficult one for me. On the one hand, they perform extremely well with excellent distance, a good high launch, solid forgiveness, and a pleasantly surprising slimmer profile.
On the other hand, the main selling point of the M3 irons is distance, yet distance alone doesn’t make a good iron. You also need a high launch so you can stop the ball on the green, especially with the longer irons.
This is why I think the M3 irons won’t have a terribly wide appeal. Skilled golfers are more likely to go for even slimmer players irons, and mid-high handicaps will likely go for game-improvement irons with a stronger focus on forgiveness.
Having said that, a lot of people have tried the M3 irons and found tremendous success with them. If you like what you see and are looking for an iron somewhere in between GI and players, definitely give it a shot.
Are you interested in the M3 irons? Have you played them? What’s your experience? Tell us about it in the comments below.