We Tried It: Callaway RAZR & Diablo Octane Drivers

TESTED: $399 (MSRP) RAZR Hawk (standard) Loft: 9.5 Shaft: Aldila RIP graphite, S-flex

RAZR Hawk Tour Loft: 9.5 Shaft: Aldila RIP graphite, S-Flex

When Ely Callaway first introduced his Big Bertha Driver 20 years ago, the golfing world changed forever. It was the entrance of the oversized metalwood that defied convention in terms of shape, materials and volume. Virtually overnight, what once was golf's most difficult club to hit (the driver) quickly became the easiest and most coveted (not to mention most marketed) club in the bag. Hard to believe the original Big Bertha was only 190cc.

Fast-forward two decades, and the Callaway Golf Company continues to build upon Ely's legacy with its new grouping of big bombers. The Diablo Octane and RAZR Hawk drivers both introduce what Callaway calls "Forged Composite"–a new carbon composite material that was developed in partnership with Automobili Lamborghini. The material features a whopping 500,000 turbostatic carbon fibers per square inch, making it the lightest strongest and most precise composite the company has ever made. And that folks, is just the beginning"

RAZR Hawk Driver Looks and Feel: First of all, the RAZR Hawk comes in two 460cc models: The RAZR Hawk (we'll refer to it as "standard" in this review) and the RAZR Hawk Tour. The standard model has a more modern shape, with a thicker heel section of the clubhead and a triangular-ish shape. The Tour model is more traditionally shaped, with less distance from front to back and a streamlined heel region for a more pear-like shape. Both drivers are constructed of 67% Forged Composite–the Hyperbolic clubface and soleplate are high-strength titanium, and the rear weight is made of heavy nickel. Unlike the type of carbon fibers we're used to seeing that are weaved together, the Forged Composite material is actually mechanically liquefied, pressed and bonded together for better shape manipulation and also for greater strength. As for feel, our initial reaction with the standard model was a very good one: long gone are the days of muted, soft-feeling and -sounding, carbon-crowned drivers. That driver had some real pop! The Tour model also looked and felt great, with a little firmer sound and feel and more like what we expected from a Tour driver (thanks to more neutral weighting and a traditional hosel configuration). Our only gripe is a minor one: We wish the Tour version had Callaway's chevron logo on the crown like the standard model does. Any alignment aids on a black driver can really help.

Performance: Not only are both drivers designed with a Forged Composite crown for a greater control of weight placement (mostly lower and away from the face), but each driver has Streamlined Surface Technology that addresses aerodynamics of the clubhead as it swings, rotates and releases through the swing. The results are two drivers with no sharp edges and less drag for more clubhead speed–another trait we couldn't help but notice in our trial. We hit the ball a long way with both clubheads, with the standard model producing the expected higher ballflight than the Tour model. Our mis-hits with the standard model benefitted from more gear effects than we've seen from previous carbon-composite drivers–meaning heel and toe shots didn't produce the big hooks and slices we expected. But we will say that, for some reason, our mis-hits tended to fly more to the left than to the right. Could this be due to better aerodynamics making it easier to close the clubface through impact? Possibly. On another note, we will say it took a few swings to acclimate to the 46-inch shaft, since not only do you have to adjust your setup (especially if you normally play a 45-inch or less shaft), but you also have to flatten your swing a bit. The trade-off? For the average golfer, an extra inch on the driver can mean up to 3 mph increases–equating to a possible increase of up to approximately 8 yards in total distance. Sure, there are some detractors who prefer a shorter driver, since it's easier to make solid contact, but with such a forgiving clubhead as the RAZR Hawk, the 46-inch shaft becomes even more compelling for those few extra yards. Finally, both drivers also are equipped with Aldila's RIP graphite shafts–a shaft that has soared in popularity among touring professionals for its stability and consistent performance. The standard also comes in a Draw model, and both the standard and Tour model come in a variety of loft and shaft flex configurations.

Bottom Line: The RAZR Hawk and RAZR Hawk Tour will appeal generally to better players who want more clubhead speed from a driver that has clean, conservative aesthetics. The Tour version is an excellent choice for golfers who desire to shape their shots, while the standard model also has some shotmaking maneuverability, but in our opinion, represents the straightest driver Callaway has ever made to date. Faster swingers will find that the RAZR Hawk drivers produce a more penetrating ballflight than many other 460cc driver models on the market today. Put it this way: Both RAZR Hawk drivers are supremely forgiving and represent the best in Callaway driver technology–how could you go wrong with that?

Pros: Great shaping; exceptional feel and control and distance

Cons: No alignment aid on the Tour model; longer shaft is awkward

TESTED: $299 (MSRP) Diablo Octane (standard) Loft: 9.5 Shaft: Project X graphite S-flex

Diable Octane Tour Loft: 9.5 Shaft: Project X graphite, S-flex

Diablo Octane Driver Looks and Feel: The Diablo also comes in two models: standard (which has a Draw option) and Diablo Octane Tour, both of which sport the same Forged Composite material in the crown as the RAZR Hawk drivers. Because of its strength and lightness, engineers could better manipulate the internal weighting for a higher MOI as well as lengthen the shaft to 46 inches–also like the RAZR Hawk drivers. But unlike the RAZR Hawk, the Diablo Octane driver has a bulkier, bigger-looking 460cc clubhead that's strategically designed for pure distance and forgiveness. With the standard model, the Diablo Octane had a larger toe region (a common spot where amateurs mis-hit) and a large alignment aid on the crown that shows the Forged Composite material. The Diablo Octane Tour is all black, again with no alignment aid. But its shape is considerably different than the standard model, with its more rounded, stout, deep-faced configuration that's 10cc smaller than the standard model. Regarding feel, both drivers felt light and easy to swing. Upon impact, both produced the clack, not clunk, sound we have grown to love with titanium drivers. In fact, the feel is so good that we could barely feel any difference between solid shots and the rare mis-hit shots.

Performance: Looks and feel are important, but if you're a distance-glutton, you likely care a lot more about how it performs. Luckily, with these drivers, there's no letdown. With the standard model, the ball launches high in a hurry to maximize carry–even if you don't have Phil Mickelson-like swing speed. The Hyperbolic face felt hot virtually everywhere, with mis-hits losing only a small amount of distance. In fact, we found the standard model to produce more backspin on off-center hits, which helped keep the ball in the air longer and fly straighter. Again, as with the RAZR Hawk drivers, the 46 inches took some getting used to, but no doubt, once we did, the ball flew a long way, and we didn't notice an increase in mis-hits. With the Diablo Octane Tour, however, we noticed a huge difference between it and the standard model. For starters, it shares a lot of the same technologies of the standard model, but does it in a very different set of parameters. The deep-face design and smaller overall size is more suited for the faster swinger who wants to hit bigger, more towering drives but doesn't want the added backspin and ballooning that sometimes comes with 460cc drivers. With the Diablo Octane Tour, the ball flew in a high but much more boring trajectory than the standard model–making it ideal for big hitters with faster-than-average swing speeds. It too was uncannily forgiving for a "Tour" driver, considering we found it difficult to discern what was a solid hit vs. a mis-hit! Both drivers came equipped with Project X graphite shafts for better stability and overall distance.

Bottom Line: The Diablo Octane drivers are made for golfers who want the most distance and forgiveness they can get out of a driver. The standard model performs very well for moderate swing speeds–faster swingers may find the ball to fly too high and with too much spin–although a properly fitted shaft might mitigate that. The Diablo Octane Tour however is primed to be a real long-drive competitor with its deep-face design and penetrating trajectory. Either way, both drivers have demonstrated that carbon-crowned clubheads are bona-fide long-drive clubs that, in our opinion, are among the most forgiving we've ever hit.

Pros: Outstanding distance and forgiveness; the alignment aid looks cool; nice price

Cons: Again, no alignment aid on the Tour version; 46-inch shaft is a little whippy

4 thoughts on “We Tried It: Callaway RAZR & Diablo Octane Drivers

  1. This started out as a comparative review of the Razr Hawk and Diablo Octane drivers, and ended with more information comparing the Standard RAZR Hawk vs the Tour RAZR Hawk models….what about the Diablo Octane. I read that the RAZR Hawk is the longest, straightest Callaway driver to date, but is it $100 worth better or can a lower budget get away with the Diablo Octane?

  2. I have the Octane and really wanted to purchase a Razor Fit because I am not crazy about the looks of the head on the Octane. In fact, I have taken the demo out and tested it several times. The Razor Fit is easy to swing, but I am still using the Octane because of the extra distance I get with it. On center hits, it is at least 5 yards longer and even more on off center hits. The Octane is the best driver ever made.

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