Lamkin Grips

KBS C-Taper Iron Shaft Review

| July 26, 2011 | 46 Comments

When it comes to the shaft industry, one area where consumers have always had limited brand options, is in iron shafts. For as long as I can remember there were always two big players, True Temper and Royal Precision. Well, things have changed! True Temper acquired Royal Precision and another player entered the iron shaft fray…… FST (FEMCO Steel Technology)! However, there remains one constant that links all of the previously mentioned companies, and that is a gentleman by the name of Kim Braly.

Before embarking on a journey into the greatness of the C-Taper shafts, I feel like it’s necessary to discuss the man behind these shafts. Kim Braly has been specializing in iron shaft technology and development since the 1970’s. He learned under the guidance of his father and their “learning center” was on the PGA Tour. Kim’s experience, design, and engineering capabilities led to the development of some of the most impactful iron shaft technologies over the past couple of decades. Kim was responsible for developing the Rifle and Project X Series of iron shafts that so many have come to know, experience and love. However, it was in shaft technology where Kim was wise beyond his years. He is responsible for developing Frequency Measure and Planar Oscillation in iron shafts and it was this development that made Kim’s shafts superior to the competition.

Frequency Measure and Planar Oscillation, developed while at Precision FM, introduced a whole new concept for precision matching shaft sets according to their relative stiffness and developing a rate of
flex increase appropriated through the club set. Today, Frequency Measure is widely accepted by the industry and commonly used by the best clubmakers worldwide.

In 2007, Kim partnered with FST to develop a steel shaft line that would be the child of combining his experience and knowledge in the industry with the advanced manufacturing of FST’s facilities. Kim’s first child, KBS Tour Series, hit the market a year later and was received with rave reviews. His KBS Tour’s combined Weight and Frequency Measure matching within the shaft set, thus resulting in the “most precise steel shaft design in the industry.” The KBS Tour Series flooded the golf industry with positive reviews and high demand. Immediately Tour players and internet golfers everywhere recognized an unparalleled feel and an improved performance that only the KBS Tour Series could offer.

Here we are, 3 years later, and Mr. Braly and the folks at FST have brought another product to the masses that are creating an incredible amount of buzz, as well as a win on Tour, in the KBS C-Tapers!

TECHNOLOGY
The first thing that popped out to me, and I would assume to anyone else, is the 5% claim. KBS claims that the C-Tapers will provide 5% less spin, 5% lower trajectory, and 5% more distance. Talk about coming out of the gates screaming; I love this! Nothing excites me more than a company who makes these kinds of guarantees because it tells me that they can do one thing: prove it.

From KBS’ website:
Inspired from Tour player feedback, the KBS C-Taper is designed to complement the the KBS Tour shaft’s exceptional shot control with performance targeting players with a fast swing tempo. Designed to impart a low piercing trajectory and less ball spin, the C-Taper borrows technology from the KBS Tour optimized for an all-new player demographic.

I believe that quote says a lot. To me, this is KBS saying “we now have a complete catalog”. Fans of KBS, the devout, don’t have to look elsewhere, especially those high spin, high swing speed golfers, who tended to shy away from KBS in the past. Or better yet, KBS now has a catalog that is on par with True Temper when it comes to selection.

The C-Tapers also feature a couple of other technological advancements that help them achieve their 5% claim: Stiff Tip and the Advanced Constant Taper (hence the name C-Taper). The C-Taper’s accomplish the 5% claim due to the unique blend of the Stiff Tip design and the Constant Taper. The Stiff Tip design adds stability near the club head to do one thing well, and that’s deliver a piercing ball flight. The Constant Taper assists in adding distance and that unparalleled KBS feel to the piercing ball flight. According to KBS’ website, this is achieved by “modifying the formula for outer diameter and wall thickness proportionality, increasing the OD nearer the tip. This unique balance of mass and taper maintains optimal energy transfer for feel and distance with a low piercing trajectory.”

On paper, the C-Tapers definitely sound like they can live up to the claims they’ve set forth. At this point, I was not only intrigued, but somewhat obsessed with what I might be able to gain from these shafts on the golf course. However, before I get to that, I have to address an area where the C-Tapers most certainly shine.

LOOKS
First off, I have never seen a shaft that quite looks like the C-Taper. Seriously! I love the fact that they are stepless shafts, it’s one of the things that I always loved about the FST shafts. There’s something visually appealing about a shaft with no steps in it, almost like they are truly an engineered piece of steel. But KBS takes it a step further with the C-Taper’s, they offer them in a Satin finish. If you thought KBS’ black nickel finish was sharp, you have to see the C-Taper’s Satin finish in person to truly appreciate how gorgeous they are. They almost look subtle, like they don’t want attention but you can’t ignore them. In my checklist of what makes an iron shaft sexy, the KBS C-Taper’s get full marks in the looks, finish and design categories. Personally, KBS has hit a home run with these shafts in the looks department, and no matter how much some of us (me included) do not like to admit it, golfers are vain when it comes to their equipment.

TESTING
The C-Tapers are packed with some phenomenal technology, are making some serious claims, were designed by a legend and might be some of the best looking steel iron shafts I’ve ever seen. All of that means nothing if they do not perform as advertised. For the sake of this testing, I had the C-Taper’s installed in the Nike Pro Cavity irons. I logged 8 range sessions and 5 rounds of golf under my belt for this testing.

I can honestly say that with my first ball strike, I knew these shafts were legit. I’m a natural high ball hitter, and it’s well documented on the THP forum that, for some time now, I have been looking for an iron shaft that provides me with a ball flight that I feel is penetrating and offers a mid-launch. At this point, I believe the search is over. Even with the naked eye, it was pretty easy to see the difference between the C-Taper’s and the KBS Tours, which I have in my Callaway Razr X Tour irons. Was it a “scary” difference? Not really, but it was fairly easy to distinguish between the two.

What was even better was that even with the lower ball flight, I did not appear to lose distance whatsoever, in fact, I may have actually picked up a little distance. This intrigues me, a lot. Here I have an iron shaft that is not as stiff as my KBS Tours, is a bit lighter in weight, and it’s giving me a slightly lower flight and offering slightly more distance. SOLD! It should be noted that the Nike Pro Cavities are 1* stronger in loft from the 4 iron thru the 9 iron. I still felt like they were perhaps ½ a club longer, even in the scoring irons, where both irons are identical in loft. The feel from the C-Taper’s is great, it’s not as good as the KBS Tours in my opinion, but they still offer a smooth feel. If you are a fan of the feel of the Tours, you will not be disappointed in the C-Taper’s. I am also of belief that feel is highly equated to many other sensory factors such as sound at impact and feel of turf interaction.

Testing on the range and on the golf course, and measuring results by eye is fine and dandy but for this testing, I had to get the C-Taper’s on a Vector launch monitor. I wanted to get some hard data comparing results from the C-Taper’s vs. the KBS Tours (x flex). After a good 15 minute warm up, I decided to hit 12 golf balls (Bridgestone Tour B330RX), throw out the worst two shots, and then get an average from each iron shaft. The results were astonishing and simply cannot be ignored. The following results were based off of the Razr X Tour 6 iron and the Nike Pro Cavity 6 iron.

KBS TOUR (X Flex)
Ball speed – 124 mph
Clubhead speed – 89 mph
Launch Angle – 24.6*
Backspin – 4400 rpms
Carry Distance – 184 yards

KBS TOUR C-TAPER (S Flex)
Ball speed – 127 mph
Clubhead speed – 93 mph
Launch Angle – 23.2*
Backspin – 4150 rpms
Carry Distance – 193 yards

What does all this mean? Well, the C-Tapers gave me a 5.7% decrease in launch angle, a 6.7% decrease in backspin, and a 4.7% increase in carry distance. Based on my testing, KBS has every right to make the 5% claim!

Kim Braly is a legend. He has designed something truly special in the KBS Tour C-Taper iron shaft. The shaft hit a homerun in the looks department, the shaft offers a feel that is synonymous with KBS, and best of all, it actually lives up to the hype. I tip my hat to Mr. Braly and would like to thank him for what will be my iron shaft for a very long time. You can read more about this iron shaft at the KBS website here.

Shaft Expert
-Lucas C-

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Comments (46)

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  1. Johnboy12.5 says:

    Nice review TC……the numbers really back up KBS’s claim!

  2. royalwulff says:

    Great write up there TC! Lots of good information. the part I find most telling about how good these shaft are is that they lived up to their claims on the numbers, by your own testing. Now I have a few more questions that I will be asking in the thread for these shafts. Thanks for the work and effort you put into this TC.

  3. Hanks says:

    Good review TC. Way to bring the ‘proof in the pudding’ to the reader with the shaft comparison!

  4. dirtydawg67 says:

    That was an awesome review TC. Nothing better than hard numbers to back up the claims. I can’t wait to game these shafts. Great job buddy.

  5. Ryan H. says:

    Excellent job on this, Lucas. I love the history lesson on Mr. Braly. The launch monitor data really added some credibility to the claims made by KBS. Amazing how similar the numbers were the 5% they advertise. Not sure that these would be the right shaft for me, but I’ve been more and more interested in KBS as of late.

  6. adwillingham says:

    Great write up TC…nice to have so much technology in a steel shaft.

  7. One-T says:

    excellent writeup TC. I love how you gave us numbers to back your review.

  8. Doug the Lefty says:

    Great review, TC. Time for me to try these out. I think we will see KBS continue to gain market share both on tour and with amateurs as they are really putting out great products.

  9. Spank818 says:

    Great writeup TC. Very detailed. These shafts intrigue me as well.

  10. mhuelsman131 says:

    Awesome review TC! These shafts are definitely on the short list to replace my DG S300′s. The lower spin rate sounds like it is exaclty what I need!

  11. arydolphin says:

    TC, the numbers don’t lie! Sounds like you really like those shafts. I’m not one that needs lower launch and spin from my irons, but I love the KBS Tour shafts in my irons now, and these shafts sounds like a great option for people that like the KBS feel and need those characteristics.

  12. Yoccos says:

    Great review TC! I’m going to definitely look into these shafts. Well done.

  13. ole gray says:

    Well done TC and the part that I found interesting was the lower ball flight this shaft provided three things that to me make a shaft. 5% less spin, 5% lower trajectory, and 5% more distance are three things that most any golfer would lust after. No doubt KBS has touched all the bases with their product!

  14. 9-Iron Man says:

    Excellent review TC! I know you fell in love with these shafts right from the beginning. It was a great touch to add the info on Kim Braly. I like reading behind-the-scenes info like that. Well done!

  15. McRock says:

    Great review, love that you tested the shafts against the claims. When I get fitted with my next set of irons, this will be a shaft that gets tried out.

  16. Paulo says:

    Great review TC, you really did a job on these shafts! It’s ok to say you really like them, but you’ve backed it up here with hard figures and a lot of good info. Really enjoyed reading this.

  17. SW says:

    Dude great review, it answered every question I had about these shafts! It’s great to get some insight to the tech side of these. Will they be in the RXT’s come August?

  18. Dr. Teeth says:

    I have been looking forward to this review for a while and you hit it out of the park! Great review! I am so intrigued by these. I am playing the X100s in my irons and the only negative thing I can say about them is that I have lost 5-10 yards with them. I may have to put one of these in my 6 iron and see how I like it. I think KBS has a fantastic product on their hands!

  19. wcueb923 says:

    Great Review .Liked Comparisons …..

  20. Jed B says:

    I had those shafts on my Nike VR Pro Combos and felt great than S300. I am planning to switch my irons to Ping s56 with KBS. Does anyone experience with s56 and C-Taper yet?

  21. Roliver says:

    Nice review, TC.

  22. golf4life says:

    Nicely done TC, very informative and I loved the launch monitor statistics to back it up. I too hit a high ball and these really have me intrigued.

  23. Sucker Pin says:

    Keen analysis, helpful commentary, and another job well done by TC. Thank you.

    For his passion, knowledge, and attention to detail, there’s no one on the internet that I’d trust more for my information about shaft comparisons than TC.

    With this C-Taper review, as with all others you’ve done so far, it’s as good as it gets.

    You’re more than a “Shaft Expert” TC. You’ve moved into “Shaft Superhero” territory. Keep up the great job.

  24. rrpruett says:

    Great write up TC. I have to give these a shot. I am looking for lower ball flight as well and an increase of 5% would be great.

  25. Coolbreeze says:

    TC, I finally had a chance to read this review and it was fantastic. You made all the Tech really easy to understand, but what really made the review great were the final numbers on the launch monitor. No kidding they can make the 5% claim, those were some great numbers! I’m not sure this shaft is for me, but I would love to give it a shot soon.

  26. FreeSwinger says:

    Wait.. so you compared an X-flex to an S-flex with two different heads and were surprised that the launch angle varied?

    Then you compare the distance of the two using swings that are 4mph apart and act like that has nothing whatsoever to do with the extra 9 yards of distance?

  27. One-T says:

    Free swinger is a douche!

  28. BeanieAZ says:

    FreeSwinger, have you tested them? I haven’t seen your findings anywhere…why is that?

  29. yoccos says:

    Hey freeswinger I have a feeling everything you’re saying is with a bias. Easy to see through you.

  30. cloggedartery says:

    I hate to say it, but I agree with FreeSwinger on this one. The numbers in this review are completely arbitrary. That part of the review shouldn’t have been included as its not an apples to apples comparison.

  31. TC says:

    All I can test is what I’m given. If I had been sent a set of Xstiff C-Tapers and if I would happen to have an extra set of RXT’s laying around, I’m sure the data would’ve been “more conclusive”. What I find astonishing is that a stiff flex set of iron shafts flat out, out performed an xstiff set (which was fit to me). Freeswinger has an agenda and that’s to be a guy who works in the shaft industry (for a competitive company no less) who likes to publically mock a regular old golfer like me. Dude, I am what I am and I have what I have. I just shared some data that I thought was pretty fascinating.

  32. biggsy says:

    TC, I’ve been anticipating your test on these shafts for quite some time.

    I have a set of these shafts ordered for my Morgan Cup irons to counteract the offset of the new irons. Being as I have no issue getting the ball in the air, I look for these to provide me a perfect blend of looks and performance. The C-Tapers seem like they will fit that criteria perfectly. I’ll have some test results of my own with these over the next few weeks.

    I met Mr. Braly in person at the 2010 PGA Show and he was incredibly nice and generous with the time he spent with me and two of my friends explaining the KBS Tour shafts at the time. I was fit for a set of KBS Tours and have played them for a year and I’ve been thrilled with their performance. I look forward to spending some time with the C-Tapers.

    It’s easy to see through what FreeSwinger is saying and that insightful little knowledge about his affiliation is not very surprising. Haters be hatin’.

    Thanks for work on this test and I really appreciate the knowledge you shared. I don’t think people realize how much work goes into these tests and then you have to translate it to a story and then keep our attention and it’s a difficult thing to accomplish. You always deliver.

  33. Michael Cook says:

    Enjoyed reading the write-up TC and expanding my limited knowledge of shafts; keep up the great work man!!

  34. Chunkylover77 says:

    Great review TC. I thought the C-Tapers would be perfect for you.

  35. Kmac™ says:

    Excellent review Lucas C. You brought the facts with what you had to work with and did it quite well. Despite what some with an agenda might say. Well done once again.

  36. tomahawk18 says:

    Great review TC. Pretty much exactly what I thought was going to happen with you and these shafts. We have similar stats across the board and I really want these. Thanks for your hard work!

  37. Troy says:

    Nice review. Thanks.
    However, it would be nice to see the data from the same flex and heads.

  38. Hongman says:

    Thanks for a Very nice in-depth and most helpful review Lucas! Despite Freeswinger’s transparent gripes, the hard data (based on averages using both clubheads) was very insightful, and gives me hope that one of these 2 shafts will be a perfect fit for me for my next set of clubs! The data showing the new C tapers helped your swing, on average, acheive a measureably higher swing & ball speed was indeed eye opening, especially taking into account its supposedly softer flex stiffness rating! I find it interesting that today’s article about the new TaylorMade R11 irons indicated that the KBS Tour Shafts will be their stock offering! KBS Stock is most certainly rising fast!

  39. Brian T says:

    Fantastic write up TC. Very thorough and informative.

  40. rbelbin says:

    Wicked review bro – I need to get me a set of these for my new MCs :)

  41. Skip says:

    Great review. Checkout my youtube (theMANxGOLFER). I will review these shafts from a 3 handicap standpoint. I got the Stiff+ with 118 mph off the 6 iron. Really excited to try them out on the MP59 mizuno irons. Keep updating the golfing world. Thanks.

  42. Michael says:

    Just installed c-taper stiff in Callaway Diablo Forged Irons….absolutely wonderful. I’m a 1.1 index player and according to fitters should have installed the stiff plus. I chose to go with the stiff as I would like to be able to have confidence late round w/ the mid irons. Although I will say that the ball height is more than I anticipated (probably due to flex)…the pattern is true and my flight is money (higher than I thought but consistent across all irons PW-4 Iron) I play 1/2″ over standard and 2 deg upright. It took me 2 hours on the range tonight to finally trust the swing path, thought and flight of the ball….I’ve got it now and truly feel like I can wait on the club to deliver a consistent strike.

  43. Robbie says:

    I absolutely agree with freeswinger. Although this writeup is very informative and explains the technology quite well. There is a bit of gray area here, first he used two different irons of 2 different flexes ….This does taint the result a bit. It is also surprising that the swing speed is 4mph faster with the ctaper ? Is this due to the weight combo ? I can certainly understand a ball speed difference but a 4mph difference between a pair of irons is surprising. The ctaper certainly went further with improved spin characteristics but im sure the other iron would perform better if it was swung 4mph faster. Also the MOI of the irons are different and i doubt that if they both had the exact shafts, that they would perform the same. An interesting experiment would be to swap the shafts and see how the numbers come out. Put the ctaper in the Razr and the KBS in the Nike and see what a cross test produces in terms of results.

  44. iain says:

    i dont look at these studies much, im a amateur player turning pro next year right and i have tested the c tapers aswell and to me on the range the c tapers are better felt really good gave me a good ball flight that i could control better but on course the c tapers i coudnt shape or hit high low easily and thats why i think people like tiger woods luke donald and most pro players still play with dgx100 or tour issue and i honestly think dg x100 are better than c tapers as in you can trust them, you know your getting a shaft that has won hundreds of times and still played by best players. remember when the buzz was black diamond and so many have come and gone but whats stayed is dg.

  45. brian blanchfield says:

    Saw these shafts today, they almost look like a graphite shaft which worries me , do they scratch and mark in time or even fade in colour as some graphite shafts do ? they felt great to swing with but i think i would prefer a traditional looking shaft

  46. Dunn says:

    I agree…… 2 totally different heads and totally different types of heads

    That’s fine and all but the butt kissing like he is god of testing is a bit over the top

    This test has no accuracy and a bit shocked that you TC responded so astonished by the difference knowing it wasn’t a fair comparison and didn’t mention it in your test……. Saying that I tested with 2 different heads so take it for what it’s worth type thing…….

    But I guess common sense and the fact were not the majority gets a frown from the groupies….. Lol

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