Mizuno MP-20 Irons Review - Our verdict on the new Mizuno MP-20 MB, MMC and HMB irons
With the new MP-20 irons, Mizuno has focused on improving the feel through adopting a former technique of adding a layer of copper to the head underneath the brushed satin outer finish and protective nickel chrome layers.
You can read more about the technology here.
Mizuno has also adopted a slightly different approach in terms of the construction of the models that sit within the range.
The muscleback (MB) continues and we like the changes that have been made. It’s got a shinier finish on the back and a deeper channel while the topline has been narrowed slightly, closer to what we saw on the MP-4 model.
The overall blade length has increased although the actual hitting area looks to have been shorter than on the outgoing MP-18 model. Perhaps the most significant change is a narrower sole with more camber. It’s a pleasing combination that allows the head to move quickly through the turf with minimal interference.
The MP-20 MMC is now the middle model, taking over from the MP-18 SC. It’s a little bit larger than the blade in terms of sole width and topline and has tungsten weights to stabilize the face on off-centre hits. It’s also stronger in loft down at 32° at the 7-iron compared to 34° in the MB.
Finally there’s the MP-20 HMB, a ‘hybrid muscleback’ that has a hollow construction and twin 12g tungsten weights to increase forgiveness. A strong, thin chromoly face is welded onto the stainless steel body to increase ball speed. The 7-iron loft of the HMB model is also 32°.
Testing all three in various scenarios, including on the Foresight Sports GCQuad was a joyous and eye-opening experience. Interestingly, the stock shaft length has increased by a quarter of an inch, so that had an impact on the performance when we compared the MP-18 MB to the MP-20 MB.
You can see our ball speed increased by over 3mph but the club speed was also 1mph higher with the new model. Efficiency was also higher, so either the strikes were more centred or off-centre hits weren’t punished as much. Either way, it led to an increase in carry distance of five yards on average, from 163 to 168 yards.
This is a significant jump, considering spin stayed relatively consistent around the 6600 rpm mark. The MP-20 did also launch and flight the ball higher, which will certainly contribute to the extra distance. It also felt a little bit softer thanks to what appeared to be a quieter sound, while also feeling stable and pure on centred hits. You’ve still got to be on your game to make use of these irons – bad swings are punished, especially in the longer irons, through a fairly big drop in both carry distance and accuracy.
The MP-20 MMC was arguably our favourite of the three irons. It gave us more distance, as expected given the lower loft, but was just as consistent and it seemed to provide a better overall balance. It felt a little more lively off the face and provided extra assistance on off-centre hits while still feeling soft, stable and maintaining a decent level of workability.
Given the hollow head design, we were expecting the MP-20 HMB to feel hotter off the face. Perhaps Mizuno deliberately wanted it to produce a more controllable feel and manageable distances – it only flew two yards further than the MP-20 MMC model despite a faster clubhead speed.
It’s look will appeal to a slightly different audience, golfers that want a little more meat behind the ball but still looking like a blade in the bag. In fact, at a glance, there is very little between the MP-20 MB and HMB models visually.
Out on the course, it hit the ball noticeably higher, with the slightly lower spin helping it penetrate into the wind. The turf interaction could have been better, it took surprisingly large divots, but certainly provided the off-centre forgiveness that controlled left-to-right dispersion better than the other models. It’s certainly a good long-iron option within a mixed set – it goes right down to the 2-iron – along with either the MMC or MB making up the rest of the set.
The MP-20 range delivers everything you expect and more. Varying handicaps are catered for and those with faster swing speeds will be able to get the most out of them. The MP-20 MB, with its even smaller profile, isn’t for the faint hearted. Out of the middle, it’s arguably the best feeling iron you can buy, but you need to be precise with your ball striking to see the benefits of the distance consistency it can provide. The MP-20 MMC model is where many low handicaps will go simply because of it’s all round playability while the HMB model provides a little more firepower for those who need it.