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!
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.
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.
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.