Cobra KING Tour Irons – Key Takeaways
- Cobra’s new KING Tour irons are the first Cobra irons made from Metal Injection Molding (MIM).
- Cobra says the process creates an iron that feels softer than premium forgings.
- KING Tour is a player’s cavity-back iron set with what can be considered “traditional” lofts.
Golf innovation goes by many names. The new Cobra KING Tour irons won’t give you anything fancy-sounding like Thru Slot Speed Pockets or Super Metal L-Face Inserts. But then again, Cobra isn’t promising explosive distance, either.
And when you’re the kid brother in Golf’s Big Five, innovation wears different clothes, too. With the Cobra KING Tour irons, innovation wears work clothes – specifically, a factory worker’s clothes. The innovation is more in how the KING Tours are made, which Cobra says impacts how they perform.
The new Cobra KING irons aren’t forged nor are they cast. In fact, they are Cobra’s first full iron set manufactured using Metal Injection Molding – or MIM – technology.
So when it comes to innovation, MIM’s the word.
The MIM King
Cobra may be the baby of the Big Five family but it takes a backseat to no one when it comes to manufacturing innovation. Whether it’s Metal Injection Molding or 3D Metal Jet printing, Cobra seems intent on reinventing golf club manufacturing. Cobra broke new ground early last year with its KING MIM wedges. But a full set of MIM’d irons? That, dear reader, requires a deeper dive.
What is MIM and why should you care when it comes to your golf clubs?
MIM has its roots in the 1950s as a way to mold ceramics. But it was commercialized in the 1970s by Ray Wiech, the founder of Parmatech. Wiech ultimately patented his process and by the 1980s, MIM was in widespread use in manufacturing. Traditionally, MIM has been used to create small parts for various industrial and commercial applications, including medical and dental equipment, firearms and automotive and aerospace applications. If you’re wearing glasses while reading this on a laptop, chances are the hinges on both were made by MIM.
The MIM industry has grown from around $9 million in the mid-’80s to roughly $2 billion today.
The Parmatech angle is relevant here, as Cobra and Parmatech have already worked together on the KING MIM wedges. The two companies are also collaborating on Cobra’s soon to be released – but as yet unspecified – golf club actually mass-produced using 3D Metal Jet Printing.
MIMming the KING
So, how do you MIM irons? First, you start with a very fine (10-20 microns) 304 stainless steel powder and mix it with a polymer binder. This forms a paste known in the MIM biz as “feedstock.” The feedstock is then heated and injected into a mold to create the rough iron head part.
The raw head is heated again to melt out most of the polymer, leaving only the metal. This is called the “green” part and is still roughly 20 percent larger than the finished product. Finally, the heads go through a high-temperature furnace to remove any remaining binders and fuse the powder particles together. This step is called sintering and heats the metal back up to just below the melting point at 1,340 C° (2,444 F°), which is actually higher than what’s used in traditional forging. This creates a material density of up to 98 percent and shrinks the head to its finished size.
That high density is key when it comes to feel. Any potential voids in the stainless-steel grains are literally cooked out. What’s left is similar in concept to Mizuno’s Grain Flow Forged HD 1025E steel used in the MP-20 irons.
The MIM process is also consistent and repeatable. It creates dimensional tolerance controls difficult to duplicate with traditional manufacturing techniques.
Why Does This Matter?
What does this mean for the Cobra KING Tour irons?
Well, according to Cobra, there’s buddah soft and then there’s MIM soft.
“These irons are softer than any forged offerings on the market,” says Cobra R&D VP Tom Olsavsky. “While soft feel and consistency are important in the short-game, optimizing these attributes throughout an entire iron set will give golfers better performance across a wider range of shot selections.”
The new Cobra KING Tour irons aren’t a one-string MIM banjo, either. The KING Tour is a player’s cavity-back iron, so there are other features better players might find useful.
First is a chunk of tungsten in the toe to reposition each iron’s center of gravity closer to the center of the club, a.k.a. the “hitting zone” (Cobra’s words, not mine). There’s also a TPU (thermoplastic urethane) insert behind the hitting zone to help dampen vibrations and further soften the feel.
And there’s the now-standard COBRA CONNECT with Arccos sensors built into the grips of each club. You get a 90-day free trial of Arccos Caddie when you buy a set of Cobra KING Tour irons.
Specs, Price and Availability
We have yet to try to new KING TOUR irons. But based on how often the word soft was used in the press release, you should be able to use these as a pillow as well as a pin-seeker.
We’ll let you know.
The lofts of the KING TOUR are borderline traditional, whatever that means. There’s a 27-degree 5-iron, a 34-degree 7-iron, and a 46-degree pitching wedge. The standard set is 4-PW, with an optional 3-iron and gap wedge available via custom order.
The KBS $-Taper 120 is the stock, as is the Lamkin Crossline Connect grip in black. A wide selection of shaft and grip options are available through Cobra’s custom department.
Members of the Left-Handed Brigade of Torch and Pitchfork Nation may light your torches and sharpen your pitchforks. The KING TOUR is available in right-handed models only.
KING TOUR irons will be available starting Oct. 30 at retail and on Cobra’s website. The stock set will set for $1,299.
For more info, visit cobragolf.com