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This is my review of the TaylorMade M4 iron, a gold-medal winner on the 2018 Golf Digest Hot List.
The M4 is the sister iron to the M3. It features RibCOR technology for increased ball speed, as well as a larger head, thinner face, and enhanced forgiveness for higher handicaps.
So, how does the M4 iron perform at the end of the day? How does it compare to the M2 and M3 models? 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?
Barring complaints many customers have had regarding defects and physical issues, the performance of the M4 iron receives high praise.
What People Like
- high ball speed and lower spin is a big help for those struggling to get distance with their irons
- easy to swing
- superb forgiveness in the heel and toe
- high-quality, consistent sound & feel
What People Don’t Like
- many have issues with the clubhead detaching, usually as a result of aggressive handling
- prone to various physical issues
What are the features?
The M4 iron has many of the same features as the M3, namely:
- RibCOR Technology: marked by two bars placed outside the Face Slots on either side, RibCOR increases ball speed, particularly on the top part of the face. The technology stiffens the perimeter of the head, allowing the face to rebound and transfer more energy to the ball at impact.
- Face Slots: large grooves on the clubface on either side of the hitting area (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.
The M4 also features a 360° Undercut, 1.5mm face thickness, and Fluted Hosel. These allow for discretionary weight savings that are moved to the bottom of the clubhead, increasing launch and forgiveness.
The main difference between the M4 and M3 iron is that the M4 has a larger profile and stronger lofts for added distance and forgiveness.
The 4-iron all the way to the sand wedge (with a custom lob wedge option) are available.
The stock steel shaft is the KBS MAX 85, and the stock graphite shaft is the Fujikura ATMOS Red. The stock grip is the TaylorMade Dual Feel.
Below are the specs of the M4 irons. Click or zoom to enlarge.
How do the M4 irons perform?
It’s longer than the M2 because of the addition of RibCOR. It’s longer than the M3 because of the larger, thinner face, stronger lofts, and lower spin. However, with this distance comes a slightly lower launch angle and hence less stopping power into the greens.
Distance is nice and all, but I think the only time this gain might be useful is on longer holes when you’re hitting a long iron into the green on your second shot. Otherwise, angle of descent is what’s most important.
At the same time the M4 brings the spin rate down a little, it’s also very forgiving.
I find that all but the worst misses at the extreme heel and toe of the club go long and straight, nearly resembling a strike in the sweet spot. In fact, the M4 has some of the best heel/toe performance I’ve seen in an iron.
Like the M3, the M4 produces impressive results low on the face. Shots struck thin still yield an impressive launch angle (within 1.6° of optimal) and carry. For some golfers who tend to miss in this area, it can make a huge difference.
The M4 irons have stronger lofts than the M3 irons, but they’re exactly the same as the M2 irons. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise then that the trajectory is very similar to the M2.
However, during my testing, I did feel that the M4 had a weak tendency towards a draw bias. This is no doubt due to the considerable offset designed to help out higher handicaps.
Workability is weaker than the M3, but no worse than you would expect from a game-improvement iron like this.
The M4 is a powerhouse out of thick lies, easy to hit in just about any situation. In this way, the longer irons may even be able to replace your hybrids if you hit them well enough.
What about look, sound & feel?
The M4 iron has the classic game-improvement look: big head, thick sole and top line.
The top line is actually not that much thicker than the M3, but the biggest difference you’ll likely notice is in the offset. The offset is considerable, and some golfers may not like this.
The red, blue and white M4 logo is contained within a carbon fiber crown; the problem with this is that the logo has a hard time standing out when brought into sunlight. I would have appreciated some more contrast.
For those who like a chunkier iron look, the M4 is ideal. It doesn’t have an outrageous thickness, nor does it look too much like a players iron.
The Sound & Feel
Compared with its M2 predecessor, the M4 irons do a better job managing vibrations at impact, owing to the RibCOR bars and greater amount of carbon fiber.
With that said, the feel & sound at impact can be described as a little hollow, fairly muted, yet very springy and satisfying when hit in the sweet spot. The super-thin face produces a strong trampoline effect.
Mis-hits produce similar results to sweet-spot strikes, but feel more dead and sound more dull. It’s not necessarily harsh like you would experience with a players iron, but you can still discern the general area of your mis-hit at impact. In that regard, feedback is quite good.
The M4 makes improvements in feel over previous TM models, so I can’t really complain.
Where should you buy these irons online?
The M4 iron is a couple years old now, and that means you can get it at a pretty sizable discount.
Alternatively, 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.
The M4 irons are an extremely solid game-improvement offering from TaylorMade.
They have superb distance, forgiveness and feel, along with a strong offset that should help most high handicappers hit it straighter. While the strong lofts don’t really do the short irons any favours, they can help you reach the green with long irons on longer holes.
Add to that an improved sound over the M2 and a reasonable price, and the M4 becomes a competitive option not just for mid-high handicaps, but also for skilled players. Tour pros like Dustin Johnson have added the M4 to their bag in the past.
Are you interested in the M4 irons? Have you played them? What’s your experience? Tell us about it in the comments below.