I'm struggling to hit my 5 iron and it seems to be the most inconsistent club in my bag since I ditched the 3 and 4.
Is the 5 also considered to be a long iron?
Back in the day, most players carried 2-PW, a SW, driver, and a couple of fairway woods. With a bag like that, 2-4 were considered long irons, 5-7 were your mid-irons, and 8-PW were the short irons.
These days things are all goofed up. Now a lot of long irons have been replaced by hybrids, and a lot of us are carrying a bunch of wedges too. I guess it's relative. When it's longest iron you're carrying, it sure feels like a long iron. Call it whatever, but however you refer to it, the truth remains. The longer the iron, the lower the loft and longer the shaft, the more difficult it is to hit for the less skilled golfer. FWIW.....they make higher lofted hybrids too if you're more comfortable with them.
What qualifies as a long iron has shifted through the years.
After World War II, the long irons were 1, 2 and 3, medium irons were 4, 5, and 6, and short irons were 7, 8, and 9.
(The 1 iron had about 17* loft, and was used by stronger players like Hogan and Nicklaus. Some players with 1 irons used it strictly as a driving iron, and occasionally dropped out the 2i to make room for it). 1i was a challenging specialty club, and most players didn't carry one.
When the 2 iron fell out of most non-player iron sets - due in part to ever-stronger iron lofts - long became 3 and 4, medium 5, 6 and 7, and short irons 8, 9 and P.
If you're having trouble with your 5 iron, you might softstep the shaft. This involves replacing the 5i shaft with one tipped for 4i (slightly more flexible) and then butt-cutting it to length. This will soften the feel and help a little getting the ball launched.
If you go by name alone, then a 5 iron in 1960 was a mid iron, so it would be a mid iron today.
If you consider loft and even length, then a 5 iron in 1960 was a mid iron, today by loft your 5 iron is close to being a 3 iron. The 7 iron of today is the 5 iron of 1960 when it comes to loft.
The 2013 lofts are even stronger, for instance the more recent 5 irons have a loft of 23 degrees. Tour models and forged have a bit weaker loft by 1 to 2 degrees.
The 5 iron should be the best club in your bag, a "go to club" for playing a variety of shots under various circumstances.
If your having troubles, check your ball position at address, you probably have it a little too far back in your stance or behind center causing the swing to be too steep into the ball.
Or it could be "the dread slide" which will cause complications with contact/swing path.
All of the other options mentioned above are also great suggestions as well.
Take a lesson, or have someone look at a few swings on the range, or video and post it.
My advice, "swing hard in case you hit it!"