You have quite a few decisions to make when you're ready to buy a set of darts but there are two types out there, steel-tip and soft. The difference between the two is obvious in the points. Steel-tips are sharp and intended for use on sisal fiber or hard surface boards. Soft-tips on the other hand are made of nylon or plastic, and used primarily on electronic/bristle dartboards. You can't use one for the other; steel-tips will damage a board intended for soft-tips, and soft-tips will likely bounce out easily on a densely-woven fiber board. Add in factors like barrels, grips, weights, and flights, well you have a lot to think about when looking for the ideal dart set. Fortunately, we’ve provided a buyer’s guide below which will help you in your search.
Winmau Stratos Dual Core 24g Steel Tip Darts
Harrows 59204 Voodoo Brass Steel Tip Darts
Piranha Razor Grip Steel Tip Darts
Powercore Competizione Mugello Steel Tip Dart
Cuesoul Archer 20 Grams Steel Tip Brass Barrels Grid Nickle Planting Darts
Target Carrera C11 Soft Tip Darts
Harrows Black I.C.E Arctic Soft Tip Darts
Viper Black Magic 6-Ringed Soft Tip Darts
Cuesoul 18 Grams Tungsten Soft Tip Darts Set 85% Tungsten
Elkadart Turbo Soft Tip Darts
The Dual Core name refers to the billet that goes into every Stratos barrel. The billet is the skeletal rod around which the barrel is built and each one is made of tungstem heavy alloy, a dense material often used to replace brass. In the case of the Stratos, Winmau employs a combination billet that uses a combination of 95 percent alloy at the front half of the barrel and 85 percent at the back. That mix of the two densities creates a dart with more weight at the front which improves the center of gravity of the dart and allows it to fly with better trajectory. The Stratos is available in 21, 22, 23, and 24 grams and every one of them features tough onyx coating, nylon shafts, and Rhino flights for one of the best steel tips you can buy at the moment.
Accuracy is the key objective with the Voodoo, a steel tip dart Harrows has built from the ground up using a collection of materials to make it evenly weighted and aerodynamic. They've given it an ebonite brass barrel for a lighter dart, one that might be well suited more for beginners. Combining that with their slim plastic speedline shaft and Marathon Gold flight, the Voodoo finds that happy medium for heaviness so every player can get the best possible scores in their game. But not every player may want the knurled grip Harrows has added to the Voodoo, as some might find it offers an excessive grip on the barrel. Even though it's been added for precision, there may just be too much texture for some fingers to negotiate with any real success.
These darts are 90 percent tungsten, and come in 24 or 26 gram weights. The shaft is aluminum, and comes with spinners to keep the flights from wearing down too quickly, making these some seriously durable darts. They're also equipped with a non-slip "razor grip" which uses a cross-cut texture pattern to keep your fingertips from slipping as you throw. The Piranhas are incredibly accurate and well-balanced to help improve almost anyone's game, as the shaft thickness and the weight combine to give excellent control. Best of all, the price won't set you back too much, coming in at around $60. These darts get high marks in almost every possible category, landing them comfortably on this list.
Powercore Competizione Mugello Steel Tip Dart
Powercore's Competizione line uses 90 percent tungsten alloy barrels and in the case of this, the Mugello dart, utilize a dual grip so it can accommodate many types of shooters. The front of the barrel tapers just slightly which affords a good finger point along a wide grooved grip that sort of resembles the sharkfin grip on the Lumina, but without the severe edges of the angles. Here you get thick rings that are smooth and not as rigid.
The back half of the barrel uses triple ridge grooves that provide more edge to hook your finger on as you shoot. Obviously, every player throws differently and some people will prefer one grip style over the other to match their style of play. Beyond the barrel are Laro shafts, among the lightest and most resilient you can buy today and designed to hold the flight firmly in place while protecting it from contact with other darts on the board. The Mugello may look intimidating but it's a dart that throws very smoothly and evenly each time you play. Once you discover which of the two grips you like the best, this will be a valuable tool in your arsenal.
Cuesoul has built a consumer-friendly dart that emphasizes resilience and balance for a product suitable for all players. These are 20 gram brass barrels that have nickel plate for extra durability yet lightweight enough to keep some modicum of control while maintaining enough velocity to hit the mark. They come with aluminum shafts and flights that won't get knocked loose if and when they hit the wall or the floor. The points are sharp enough and stay that way through consistent and heavy use. Best of all, the price can't be beat, making them perfect for the consumer market at just $15 through most major online retailers. For that price you get a good dart with enough accuracy and even weight distribution. There isn't much in the way of grip and the little amount that has been provided may not be in the most ideal place for some players to get the most use out of it.
Done up in jet black and silver, the Target Carrera C11looks good and flies even better. Although only available in an 18g weight, target has taken a 90 percent tungsten barrel and given it a unique bi-directional grip with rings of axial and radial precision-milled pixels, resulting in an aggressive feel that some players might find just a bit sticky at first. The front-loaded barrel is bullet-shaped with a center of gravity towards the back, near where the barrel and shaft meet. Target has added Laro shafts to the C11 which is one of the best shaft brands in the business. They're made of resin instead of plastic or nylon which keeps them lightweight and avoids some of the curvature issues that aluminum shafts can pose. The Laro is unbreakable and will always remain straight so your throw is unaffected by the performance of your equipment. L-Style's Lippoint tip is at the front of the dart, designed to penetrate the board completely without hanging down and jeopardizing your next throw; while the finished tip helps lessen the amount of bounce backs and still remains easy to yank from the board.
The thinking behind these darts appears to have been all about function and control. Each one has been machined to create a barrel with reverse edging that results in excellent grip at your fingertips. Adding to that is Harrows' Vapor Deposition Process which layers a non-slip coating to the surface. The darts are 90 percent tungsten and have been infused with a mix of iron, nickel, and zinc, making them sturdy and resilient without the bulkiness. It's a simple-looking dart with simple black and white flights, making it look like a Stealth bomber and delivering with similar precision. Available in 18 gram weight, give these a try and you may find yourself with a new favorite dart.
The Black Magic set is distinctive because of its sleek black coated, lightweight brass barrel and the six rings of knurled texture placed strategically for an abundance of grip options to afford total control. Those rings come in the form of two thick loops at the forefront and end of the barrel with four thinner rings bunched together directly in the middle. So no matter how you like to hold the dart, there is a lot of grip for you to use. Despite the low price (around $12 with most online retailers), these still feel like high quality darts that should cost three times as much. They're resilient enough to withstand the indelicate treatment that might come from players of all ages and the standard 2BA tips will ensure every throw hits the board with confidence and without those bounce-outs we all hate so much.
The Cuesoul set of 18 gram weight darts are comprised of 85-percent tungsten barrels; the higher the tungsten amount, the higher the dart quality, and Cuesoul has certainly crafted each of their darts to meet your exacting standards. They're equipped with 2BA soft tip points but come with an optional set of steel tip conversions, allowing you to swap the tips out at any time. This set also comes with an extra set of aluminum shafts for additional customization while there are even an extra set of flights in the event the ones you have on the darts get bent or damaged for whatever reason. There is just a minimum amount of grip, sort of a cross between wave and shark fin but not very aggressive, so these are well suited for just about anyone in that department.
The Turbo is a soft point that you can find in 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18 gram weights making it a great choice across the board. Whether you like a lightweight dart or something with a little extra heft to it, Elkadart has got you covered. They've been built with electro-plated brass barrels for a little extra resilience and a dull finish that emulates the look of an old-school dart you'd find in some smoky, dark pub. The texturized knurled grip along the length of the barrel comes in different shapes and forms depending upon which weight you choose. Some have rings of grip, others are fully textured with just some smooth areas in between, you'll have to find the right mixture of weight and grip that is right for your style of play. Aluminum shafts are pretty standard on darts at this price point and Elkadart's custom 100 micron flights will keep the dart flying straight and true every time you throw.
Darts Buyer's Guide
Some believe the dart originated in the 14th century as eighteen inch long arrows that were trimmed to the length and size of which we are more accustomed to now. Others believe the true origins of the dart lie within the 16th century with a game called Puff and Dart in which small, sharpened projectiles were launched through a tube-like device at a target. Yet it wasn't until the 1800's the game we’re most familiar with today gained popularity. The modern dart offers a myriad of options for players of all skill levels. Though you can sometimes find darts packaged with the purchase of a dartboard, this is not always the case and some consumers may even find those stock options woefully insufficient for playing the game effectively.
Steel Tip Darts
Steel tip darts are best suited for consumers without young children. These darts can be dangerous in small hands because they’re sharp and unyielding. Steel tips work best on sisal fiber or bristle dartboards and come with either fixed or moveable points. Most of these types of darts have fixed tips, but you can find them with moveable points which are most effective with older or harder surface boards. The moveable point is flexible so it prevents the dreaded bounce-out in case the tip hits a wire or just doesn't penetrate the dartboards hard surface.
Soft Tip Darts
Soft tip darts have a plastic or nylon rounded point which isn't as sharp or damaging as their steel counterparts. These darts are primarily for use with electronic or bristle dartboards where the tip doesn't need to penetrate the surface as it does on a standard board. They have two different width measurements related to the size of the dart barrel, having little to do with how they impact the board. 1/4" and 2ba offer varying degrees of width, and one will be better suited than the other to the specific dart you've chosen to purchase. 2ba is the most common (and narrower) of the two. These tips can still injure if thrown at someone so always use caution, especially around young children.
Steel tip darts made of three types of metal: brass, nickel/silver, and tungsten. Each of these metals will affect the weight of the dart, with brass making them lighter and tungsten making them heavier. Tungsten is the most preferred for by professional players, but don't let that affect your decision. Brass barrels tend to run thicker, while tungsten affords you a much slimmer dart, allowing you to crowd the darts much more effectively. The higher the percentage of tungsten in your barrel, the narrower it gets. You might want something lighter to start with, especially if you're still learning how to play the game effectively.
The typical weight of a standard steel tip dart is usually 18-32 grams, but you can definitely find heavier options if you prefer. Lighter darts require more force behind your throw, while a dart with more weight offers improved power. Beginners will want to stick to something in the 20-25 grams range, so the dart isn't too light or too heavy as to lack control or accuracy.
Keep balance in mind as well, as different darts keep the majority of their weight in different areas of the barrel. A front-loaded dart throws differently than a barrel which keeps most of the weight towards the back. Soft-tip darts are most commonly offered in 14, 16, 18, or 20 gram weights. You can find 25 grams as well, but if you're just starting out, you'll want to stay between 14 and 20.
You have plenty of choices here. This one comes down to personal preference as to how it feels in your fingers. Examples of exterior textures include a ringed surface, knurled grip, and shark fins to name a few. Each type of grip provides increased control and accuracy on your throw. The more texture you have, the easier it is to hold the dart in position. However, too much grip can be detrimental to a clean throw as your fingers may stick to the barrel.
Different shaft materials offer assorted levels of consistency and resilience with respect to strength. Nylon or plastic are your entry level substance, usually found in mass produced darts and suitable for use by beginners; they’re the most susceptible to breakage. From there, you'll find shafts made of resin, aluminum, carbon fiber, and carbon-composite materials, each more reliable than the last. Prices, of course, increase with the additional durability and the amount of weight inherent with said material.
There are also considerations beyond comparing the shaft materials. The length of the shaft will go a long way to influencing how the dart flies. Much in the same way that the position of weight plays a role in the barrel, the center of gravity of the dart is affected by the length of the shaft. Some players may opt for a spinning shaft which utilizes a mechanism which turns the flight and minimize deflections in the event your dart comes in contact with another already on the board.
If you thought you had loads of options so far, then just wait until it comes time to pick a flight. These are the little fins at the tail-end of the dart and there are hundreds of styles and sizes to consider. They're available in six overall shapes: standard, teardrop, kite, lantern, slim, and number six.
Much like the other previous components, each has certain advantages affecting speed and lift. They also come with textured surfaces to improve accuracy. Just like all the other factors, this is based on personal preference and skill level.