For some time now Bridgestone has been producing some very classy looking irons that Uncle Sam has kept to himself. However for 2015, the Bridgestone J15 irons have made it across the pond for the first time and headed up to the Golfalot HQ so I could put them through their paces.
There are four models in the J15 range starting with the MB muscle backs which are out and out blades and aimed at elite players, so unless that is you, I would move along to the more forgiving options.
These are three cavity back models called the J15 DF, CB and DPF that all feature similar characteristics and this review will look at the differences between them.
All the J15 irons are made from premium forged Carbon Steel and this gives them all very good feel. They also feature Bridgestone's new Sure Contact Sole that is based around slightly different heel shapes that are part of the forging process and not ground on afterwards.
The widths of the sole varies on the three cavity back models, but the aim is the same to enable better turf interaction at impact and all off them performed well in this regard.
Each model comes with a True Temper Dynamic Golf DP Pro Shaft in S200, which is slightly lighter than the traditional S300 flex and I think it suits this club well, along with the red Golf Pride Tour Velvet grip.
Bridgestone J15DF Forged Iron Review
Starting with the smallest cavity back head we have the J15DF, or Driving Forged irons. This features a two piece forged head with a hidden cavity between the front and rear of the head to increase ball speeds and add some forgiveness.
The hidden cavity can be heard if not seen as the J15DF has a slight ringing sound at impact, which you may or may not find a little disconcerting.
What is not in doubt is the feel which is excellent, although it probably does not give as much overall feedback as the J15CB.
Of the three heads, this had the nicest top line at address, with a good balance of thickness and head length that offered a little more forgiveness than its size might indicate at first glance.
Bridgestone J15CB Forged Iron Review
The Bridgestone J15CB iron is more of a classic forged Cavity Back (CB) iron and with its no-nonsense looks and slightly wider sole, it is more of what you would expect from a forged cavity back iron.
Whilst the feel feedback was not as good as the J15DF, the sound feedback was better because without the zing you could hear the impact more clearly.
Whilst it was a solid performer, it was maybe lacking a little in that all round feel that you would expect from forged iron as it could have been livelier. That does not mean it is not a good iron, just relative to its siblings it did not stand out as much.
However, I liked the head shape and size as the top line was a little longer that the J15DF and just right for the head length, so it may give you a little extra confidence if that is what you need.
Bridgestone J15DPF Forged Iron Review
Finally the J15DPF name stands for Dual Pocket Forged and not surprisingly features a cavity you can see in a longer, thinner head.
The two cavities either side of the central muscle back are filled with something called Turbo Rubber Design that allows some weight to be saved and moved to the edges of the head to increase stability at impact.
This it needs to do, as the head is longer than the other two models, which I like, but is also thinner, which I am not sure about.
It does make it quite forgiving, but the top line looks a bit thin on such a long head and this affects the sound and feel, which is not as 'meaty' as the other two models.
Normally the more forgiving clubs have thicker top lines and heads to give that extra power and maybe some will like swinging with the bigger face, but this is probably the first iron I have looked at and thought that it could be better being a little chunkier.
Over the years I have drooled over the looks of Bridgestone irons and their forgings are very good. Now I have got my paws on these three J15 models I have to confess I am little confused. The product plays as good as it looks, but it just feels that they have made three sets of irons out of two, or maybe even one.
Maybe it’s a mix and match combo set nirvana I am missing, but even Bridgestone's own site says that all three models are for professionals to mid-amateur golfers, which is a large range.
If I had to pick a favourite then I am not sure I could because there are features of each of them that I like. I like the looks and feel of the DF and the sound and head shape of the CB and maybe that is a set where there could be some cross breeding.
The head size of the DPF is great for the longer irons, but if the top line was thicker with maybe a deeper cavity then you would have an excellent forgiving forged cavity back iron that would be a great set in its own right and an ideal long iron alternative to the DF/CB combo, provided they made the shaft length the same and matched up the lofts which are stronger in the DPF 7-iron downwards.
That said, I do like the J15 Forged irons so give them a hit and maybe one of the heads will work for you, as there is a great forged iron set in there somewhere waiting to get out.