Gabor filters are widely utilized to detect iris texture information in several state-of-the-art iris recognition systems. However, the proper Gabor kernels and the generative pattern of iris Gabor features need to be predetermined in application. The traditional empirical Gabor filters and shallow iris encoding ways are incapable of dealing with such complex variations in iris imaging including illumination, aging, deformation, and device variations. Thereby, an adaptive Gabor filter selection strategy and deep learning architecture are presented. We first employ particle swarm optimization approach and its binary version to define a set of data-driven Gabor kernels for fitting the most informative filtering bands, and then capture complex pattern from the optimal Gabor filtered coefficients by a trained deep belief network. A succession of comparative experiments validate that our optimal Gabor filters may produce more distinctive Gabor coefficients and our iris deep representations be more robust and stable than traditional iris Gabor codes. Furthermore, the depth and scales of the deep learning architecture are also discussed.