Cleveland Launcher XL vs Cobra Air-X Irons: Read Our Head-To-Head Verdict

We compare two of the most forgiving irons on the market and find out which one might be best for your game

Cleveland Launcher XL vs Cobra Air-X Irons
(Image credit: Future)

Cleveland Launcher XL vs Cobra Air-X Irons: Read Our Head-To-Head Verdict

When it comes to irons, there are a number of factors that will affect performance. Arguably, they are going to be the clubs that stay in your bag the longest, with aspects like forgiveness, feel and performance all playing a part in what you eventually decide upon for your game.

Here, we compare two of the most forgiving irons on the market, as the Cleveland Launcher XL and Cobra Air-X irons have been designed to inspire confidence and produce a consistently draw-biased ball flight while being effortless to swing fast through a lightweight design. In the case of the Launcher XL, an 8g weight placed inside the end of the grip delivers better balance for more control without extra effort.

Cleveland is a brand synonymous for creating some of the best golf wedges on the market. However, it's Launcher XL range includes irons and a driver designed to help higher handicappers get closer to the green more easily and on a budget. Cobra has made some of the best golf drivers of recent times in terms of performance and value for money but its irons, like the new King Forged Tec, continue to impress. 

We test them both side by side to help you understand which model might be best for your needs and budget.


The Cleveland Launcher XL is noticeably longer from heel to toe than the Cobra and pretty much all other irons on the market. Some might view this as somewhat unwieldy, but for inconsistent golfers that utilise a lot of the face, it should bolster confidence levels over the ball.

It's a different story for the Cobra as, from the back, this iron really pops off the shelf, while at address the generous topline and wide sole makes it look extremely inviting to hit. There’s also a healthy amount of offset in the seven iron to combat a slice, which is progressive through the set.


In the feel and sound department the Cobra edges the Cleveland once again, as the lighter feel is immediately obvious and, while it takes some getting used to, faster swings soon become easier to achieve as well as higher ball flights. Off the face, it feels consistently fast and reassuringly stable, a very pleasant feeling.

Although the Cobra slightly edges the Cleveland, the Launcher XL still feels solid and lively but with a fairly firm feel off the face and a slightly louder than average sound at impact to match. Some may want something that sounds a little more subtle, but it undoubtedly instils feelings of power at the point of strike, helped by the stability of the clubhead and a well-balanced feel. 

Ball Flight

It's now the Cleveland's turn to get one over on the Cobra, with the ball flight produced by the Launcher XL a slightly lower and more penetrating flight without sacrificing stopping power upon landing. What's more, given the stronger lofts (7-iron is 29° versus 31.5° in the Cobra Air-X), it also carried the ball around five yards further on average.

Cleveland Launcher XL iron testing

The Cleveland Launcher XL has a V-Shaped sole, similar to what we’ve seen from its sister brand, Srixon, in its ZX5 iron

(Image credit: Future)

In testing, we found our ball flight with the Air-X was a little higher and had more draw bias to it. In time though, it felt easy to control and, whilst it fell a few yards shorter than the Cleveland, this was partly offset by the fact we were able to swing it a little faster due to the weight and slightly longer stock shaft length.


Unsurprisingly, the Cleveland offers more forgiveness than that of the Cobra, with the forgiveness here coming from the sheer size of the clubhead, but also from the V-shaped sole which elevates the leading edge. This feature encourages you to strike the ball correctly with forward shaft lean and also increases the margin for error in terms of where you contact the ground, helping reduce the effect of heavy strikes. 

That's not to say there is no forgiveness in the Cobra, you just need to look at the clubhead to notice the perimeter weighting, for example. This helps reduce the effect of poor swings, while the wide sole certainly helps prevent the club from digging into the turf on heavy contacts. Arguably, it's not quite as consistent as the Cleveland, but there wasn’t much in it. 

cobra air-x iron testing

The Cobra Air-X head has lots of design elements and flashes of red that will pop off the shelf 

(Image credit: Future)

Overall Appeal

Both are fantastic performers for casual golfers looking for easy distance that won't break the bank. Not only are they extremely forgiving, but they are significantly cheaper than the best Mizuno irons or best Titleist irons.

If we had to pick which one is best it would be extremely tight. However, our preference leans just towards the Cobra Air-X, as it is a really easy iron to hit with a lightweight, solid feel and competitive distance. The control of direction also comes naturally and, at this price point, the value for money is exceptional.

For around $120 less than the Cobra set (5-PW), the Cleveland Launcher XL irons also offer incredible value for money and, despite not being as long as we were hoping them to be, they were consistent and provided plenty of assistance on mishits. For golfers seeking a new set (5-PW) on a budget, it’s a compelling option for mid-to-high handicappers. 

Which one should you choose?

Choose the Cleveland Launcher XL if…
- You are want to look down on a large profile at address
- You have the speed to handle strong lofts
- A counterbalanced feel works well for you

Choose the Cobra Air-X if...
- You need help launching the ball higher
- You tend to slice or push the golf ball
- You are looking to increase your swing speed with minimal effort

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Joel Tadman
Technical Editor

Joel has worked in the golf industry for over 12 years covering both instruction and more recently equipment. He now oversees all product content here at Golf Monthly, managing a team of talented and passionate writers and presenters in delivering the most thorough and accurate reviews, buying advice, comparisons and deals to help the reader find exactly what they are looking for. So whether it's the latest driver, irons, putter or laser rangefinder, Joel has his finger on the pulse keeping up to date with the latest releases in golf. He is also responsible for all content on irons and golf tech, including distance measuring devices and launch monitors.

One of his career highlights came when covering the 2012 Masters he got to play the sacred Augusta National course on the Monday after the tournament concluded, shooting a respectable 86 with just one par and four birdies. To date, his best ever round of golf is a 5-under 67 back in 2011. He currently plays his golf at Burghley Park Golf Club in Stamford, Lincs, with a handicap index of 3.2.

Joel's current What's In The Bag? 

Driver: Titleist TSR3, 9° 

Fairway wood: Titleist TSR3, 15° 

Hybrid: Titleist TSi2, 18° 

Irons: Ping i230 4-UW

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8, 54°. Titleist Vokey SM9 60° lob wedge, K Grind

Putter: Evnroll ER2V 

Ball: 2023 Titleist Pro V1x

With contributions from