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The Callaway Apex DCB 21 irons are the largest, most forgiving Apex irons. Very long. Strong lofts can lead to shallow landing angles.
Previous Apex irons had been families of two – standard and Pro. For 2021, Callaway has introduced a third way to reach your peak – Apex DCB 21. DCB stands for “Deep Cavity Back” which means that this is the most forgiving Apex yet. I tested them to find out if this larger iron deserves to carry the vaunted Apex name.
If you guessed that “most forgiving” also means “biggest,” congratulations, you’re correct. The Apex DCB 21 irons are clearly the biggest Apex irons, and the difference is really noticeable when they’re next to each other. The top line is wider than the Apex 21 irons [review HERE], the offset is slightly greater, and the sole is wider. To Callaway’s credit, no part of the club sticks out behind the top line at address.
In the bag, the Apex DCB 21 is very similar in appearance to the Apex 21. Both have clean Callaway branding in the cavity and “Apex” along the sole. A closer look at the Deep Cavity Back model reveals the “DCB” tag below “Apex” and a slightly different shape near the sole. The DCB model has a notch that appears to push more weight to the heel and toe where the Apex 21’s shape is the inverse.
Sound & Feel
Callaway did a remarkable job keeping the feel similar throughout the Apex family. Even though the Apex DCB 21 irons are much larger than the Apex Pro 21 [review HERE], they deliver a similar crisp, snappy sound on center. Also like its smaller brothers, the Apex DCB 21 gets loud and cranky when you miss the center of the face. This clear audio feedback is important to improving your ball striking – you need to know there’s a problem to fix it.
The handy comparison chart on Callaway’s website gives us a good idea of what to expect from the Apex DCB 21 compared to its two smaller brothers. It has the same technology elements in the same clubs as the Apex 21, save the 3I, which doesn’t exist in the DCB model. The Apex DCB 21 also has a larger head, a wider sole, and lofts that are typically 0.5 degrees stronger than the Apex 21.
In terms of performance, the first thing that jumped out about the Apex DCB 21 irons is the ball speed. Callaway’s AI designed Flash Face Cup puts loads of go juice into the ball. Combine that with the strong lofts and you have the recipe for very long iron shots. The DCB is also quite good at preserving ball speed when you miss the center.
As with most strong lofted irons, there can be a concern about holding greens. In my testing, I found the DCB to be at or just below my lower limit for spin and landing angle, but it needs to be noted that I’m a low launching player. Those who hit the ball on average or high trajectories may find these to be ideal. As always, fitting is the key.
Callaway offers the Apex irons in a variety of combo sets, and I’d suggest that golfers take advantage of that. I didn’t find the Apex DCB 21 to be hugely more forgiving than the Apex 21, but for the mid handicap player, the look of the DCB may be more comforting. I could also see taking advantage of the “Triple Play” combo set to get maximum forgiveness in the long irons and Pro precision in the scoring clubs.
Whether you’re a mid-handicap player looking to take advantage of all the available forgiveness or a higher handicap player who wants Apex in the bag, the Callaway Apex DCB 21 irons will fit the bill. These irons are very long and provide plenty of forgiveness for the days your ball striking isn’t up to par.
Visit Callaway Golf HERE
Callaway Apex DCB 21 Irons Price & Specs
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How would you compare performance and feel of the Dcb vs the new pxg 0211?
I have a full review of the 0211 irons here: https://pluggedingolf.com/2021-pxg-0211-irons-review/
Whats the difference between these and the b21 bertha irons..they look the same
I have a full review of the B21 irons here: https://pluggedingolf.com/callaway-big-bertha-b21-irons-review/
I disagree about them looking the same.
I’m an older golfer with a slower swing speed. Which would be the better club for me? The B21 or Apex DCB.
The only way to know for sure is to get fit. There are slower swingers who will perform better with the B21 and others who will get more from the DCB.
Two questions: 1) you’ve noted noticeably lower launch and spin numbers, and attributed them perhaps to lofts. You also mention club head size as being very large. Wondering if head cg might not be close to or above ball cg. (?) Ping did that a few years ago (i3’s?), and it caused a lot of confusion over performance issues. With a good lie and strike, they went forever, with similar lower launch & spin, but on hardpan, or thin hits, couldn’t get them off the ground. 2) wonder if you tested both shafts. Seems like the stiffer of the two options might impart more backspin/higher loft. (?)
That’s an interesting thought. Most OEMs talk about “optimized” CG in their irons, and I usually find that to translate to lower CG, at least in GI irons.
Regarding shafts, I don’t think any shaft – stiffer or softer – will universally produce more or less spin. It’s all about fitting the specific golfer.
When you missed it thin, how was the performance?
Solid, it got the ball on a reasonable trajectory, which is what I’d expect for an iron this size.
Great review! I was wondering if you could provide some insight what iron would be more forgiving – the ZX5s or the Apex 21 DCBs or would they be similar when it comes to forgiveness?
I haven’t tested the ZX5, but my guess is that they’ll be similar.
I am a senior golfer with a slow swing speed. Among the many different brands and models I’ve used over the last ten to fifteen years, only two stand out. First were the Callaway Apex CF16’s which I should never have parted with. The other is the Callaway Apex DCB’s which I have played 3-4 days per week since early February. I will never let those go! They are very forgiving, and for a forged club, long. I was fitted for most all the clubs over the years. These current DCB’s have given me the confidence needed for good iron play. I even added a 6i, a club I haven’t been able to hit for a long time. I would also say I practice, and have an occasional lesson. Combined with an outstanding club, my scoring has improved substantially and golf has become far more enjoyable. Down side-with graphite shafts they are expensive, around $200/club.
How do they compare with the epic forged irons in terms of feel, forgiveness and aesthetics? Is it worth it to replace my epic forged irons with the apex or apex dcb? Thanks matt!
I have a full review of the Epic Forged here: https://pluggedingolf.com/callaway-epic-forged-irons-review/
I view the Apex not as an upgrade over the Epic Forged, just a distinct offering. The Epic Forged is pretty much a distance iron. The Apex line is geared toward the better player that wants forgiveness and some distance.
Interesting comments. I play and thoroughly enjoy the Titleist T400 irons which are Extremely Long. However, I am always interested in trying out new clubs from Callaway!
Hi Matt, thanks for the great review. I currently play the Apex CF16 regular ones (stiff shaft) and have a 13 handicap. I’m a decent but not great ball striker. Do you think an upgrade to the Apex DCB would be a significant change?
They’re going to be more forgiving. The difference will be measurable, noticeable is another question. I’d suggest taking your irons in to a fitting to compare.
Matt – any thoughts on how the Apex line compares to the Wilson Staff D7 irons which I currently play?
It’s been over two years since my review of the D7 Forged – https://pluggedingolf.com/wilson-d7-forged-irons-review/ – so I can’t offer a great comparison.
I was looking for the same answer but not the D7 forged, just the standard D7. I have hit both DCB and D7 and they are close but I think the D7 is just a little bit longer. I haven’t put them side by side to tell which is more forgiving.
Would these compete with the Callaway Mavrik in terms of forgiveness and distance?
Yes, they’re going to be in the same ballpark.
Was fitted at TXG in Toronto. Coming from Titliest AP2’s, and looking for some forgiveness. More distance was a bonus. These definitely gave me back some distance that age has taken away(I am now 60), and the club is a straightforward hitter. No shaping shots with the DCB. You aim at your target and hit it there. Love these irons!!
This is a question rather than a comment. How much does the DCB 21 head weigh? How much does the standard Apex 21 head weigh?
Unfortunately I do not have that information at hand.
I am looking to get the Apex DCB irons and can’t find the bounce angles anywhere. I am looking to adjust the lofts but would like to know the bounce to determine what to do. Do you know what the bounce angles are?
No, I do not.
How would you compare these irons to Titleist T400?
I have a full review of the T400 irons here: https://pluggedingolf.com/titleist-t400-irons-review/
As a 8 handicap who doesn’t hit the ball very high, which do you think would be best? What is the “triple play”?
My advice is always to get a fitting. Trajectory is a result of player + head + shaft, so I’d work with a fitter to find a combination that gave me the ball flight and other attributes I wanted.