The Darts buying guide simplified – by Racketlon SA
Consider your budget, playing style, level of play, brand preference, what you would like to achieve in your game ie; more social, more league standard and extreme accuracy?. Once you’ve answered these questions you will be closer to choosing your ideal dart set.
Budget: Prices vary, not only with brands and various models but also different shops. Shop around as you are bound to see that not all are created equal. Choose a store that specialises in darts and are able to give you the best advice. Service during and after your purchase is also vital. More expensive doesn’t always mean better, we are all individuals and have different needs. You should be able to feel and test a set of darts before purchase.
Level of play: Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced, do you play once a week or everyday. Do you play socially or competitively?. If you just starting out don't get the most expensive set but get something the most suitable at your current time. Bear in mind that your style will evolve as you get better or prefer trying different things. Darts are not so expensive so most people get extra few sets during their playing career. An extra set of darts will always be useful, especially when guests come around.
Brand preference: A good store tend to stock quality items. We only stock the best Target, Red Dragon, Harrows, Shot, Winmau and Unicorn so you will be sure of a quality brand.
What are you looking for: Something that's relatively easy to throw and stable through the air?. Something that offers very close grouping?. Thicker, heavier darts with longer stems and larger flights are easier to throw than lighter, thinner darts with smaller flights which require a steady and precise throw every time.
We have standardised the categories for each dart model with:
The barrel is divided into 2 main categories with the 1 being divided further into %.
Brass - beginner, chunky cheaper darts made purely from either brass or nickel.
Tungsten - the heavy material used to mix with steel to create a thinner, versatile dart. Generally the more tungsten level in the dart the more expensive. These can also be made super thin and the grip can be enhanced with a multitude of styles. Tungsten comes in 70%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95% and 97%.
With 90% being the most popular composition for both amateur and professional dart players. 100% tungsten does not exist.
The point of the dart is only steel and is replaceable with a tool. This also comes in various lengths being 26, 28, 30, 32, 36, 38, 41, 45, 48mm. 36mm being the standard. The modern points also now come with various grooves, rings etc for improved grip on the fingers and in the board.
Unit of measurement is in grams. Starting at 10grams and going as heavy as 50grams. Average weights being between 20g and 30g with 24g and 26g being the most popular weight to go for. Heavier darts are little easier to throw with and offer more stability through the air. Heavier darts are also generally thicker as more material needs to be used. Lighter darts can be much thinner and hence the grouping can be very close. But lighter darts need more consistency. The norm but not the rule is the harder you throw the lighter dart you go with and the softer you throw the heavier dart you can use as the dart weight travels further. But this is just a very rough guideline.
Michael van Gerwyn uses 23grams, Phil Taylor used 26grams and Peter Wright uses 21grams.
Length of dart is personal and can vary from 30mm to 60mm with 50mm being the norm. Longer darts tend to also be centre weighted and more stable through the air.
Diameter or thickness of the dart is also personal with thin darts being as thin as 4.6mm to 8mm. The thicker "stubby" darts are common with brass/nickel darts. Average thickness is around 6mm.
These days grip styles have become more and more complex. Before we had a choice of smooth, ringed or knurled. Now with modern engineering technology we have a myriad of grip styles to choose from. What is the advantage of some of these grips you ask?. More aggressive grip, longer lasting grip and aesthetically attractive. Examples but not limited are Pixel, Cortex, Axial, Shark, Reverse ringed, Trapezoidal, Precision Milled, Groove and many more. Again, these are personal and depending on the type of grip you want this can be a deciding factor to getting your ideal set.
This continues on from what we said about grip style. Grip style gives you the grip level you desire. We divided that into 1 to 6. 1 being none and 6 being aggressive. With level 1 you risk dart slipping while you throw and with 6 sticking in your hand and not releasing when you need it to. Hence grips 3,4 and 5 are most popular. Workers who have rough hands tend to prefer grippier darts.
There are various accessories like grip powder, wax etc to help with grip should your favourite dart have lost its grip or for hot evenings when fingers tend to get clammy.
PRO hint: don't use your throwing arm to drink your beverage, keep your throwing hand fingers dry and warm for your darts.
There are quite a few different barrel shapes to choose from. Parallel, Torpedo, Missile, Scallop. Parallel are the most popular. Torpedo are narrow in front and back with middle being thicker. Missile are parallel but taper alot in front. Scallop have various indentations throughout the barrel perfectly placed for your fingers. But beware everyone holds the dart differently. Don't let the dart dictate how you hold the dart, find the dart that best compliments your hold.
Not to be confused with barrel shape. This refers to the point of contact of the barrel and the point in front. We have basically 2 choices being elliptical/rounded or tapered. Tapered seems to seamlessly combine the barrel and point while elliptical is a lot more obvious and can be used as a guide for holding the dart.
Some darts are front, center or rear weighted. Norm is center. What does balance do for the dart?. well it effects the way the dart lands into the board (also dependent on your throw/pitch). Do you want the dart going in straight, slight angle or more angle then this could be a deciding factor. Remember also that stem/shaft length and flights will also start effecting landing and flight angle. We will cover these in next section below.
There are various thicknesses, thinnest 75micron, standard 100 micron and then thicker 150 and 180microns. Micron is the unit of measurement for thickness. Then you also have the new style flights which are called solid. These are more robust and tend to hold shape and condition longer and very popular in Asian market and slowly getting used more and more in South Africa nd worldwide. These are L-style, 8 from Target, Robson, Click from Harrows and Stealth from Winmau.
Various shapes and surface areas are available. Each having its own characteristic. Shapes are as follows.
Standard shape Ten X
Standard No 2
Standard no 6
Vapor and Vapor S - smallest, best left for pro's
Other: Max Air, V-wing - hardly used
1) What effect does the shape of a flight have on your throw?.
Larger flights have more lift, in other words the rear of the dart will lift more and hence also downward angle into the board. Larger flights have a lot more stability too. The drawback comes in where the flights are quite large so grouping can be more difficult, hence smaller flights are better for grouping. The standard flight is generally Standard no6 flight.
Shafts: (also known as stems)
We have divided the shafts into the following materials. Each material has its own pro and con. Some being heavier or lighter and some more durable etc.
Nylon: The cheaper and lighter of the options and most common. Can break easily when falling on ground.
Polycarbonate: Most fragile but very attractive colour options.
Aluminium: Strong however tend to bend when falling on floor or getting hit by other darts.
Carbon: Similar to the nylon however re-enforced so much stronger.
Composite: This is a 2 piece combination of nylon and aluminium.
Titanium: The most expensive out of these due to it being virtually unbreakable, however it generally comes with a top piece which clasps the fligth and these need to be replaced. Also of the heavier shafts.
Spinning: Some of the above materials come in spinning version as well. This is where the top piece is able to rotate. This allows the flight to be pushed out the way when another dart comes in. Avoids being redirected.
Lengths available are:
23mm Ultra short
27mm extra short
37mm short plus
52mm long (almost no longer used)
All modern shafts comply to 2ba diameter, older darts used to use larger diameter shafts which are no longer available.
1) What effect does the length or weight of a shaft have on your throw?.
Shaft length will change the balance of the dart itself. Add a longer shaft and the balance will shift to the front. Shorter shaft balance to the center or back.
Shaft weight will change the way the dart enters into the board. Add a heavier shaft and the dart will go in flatter or even upward. Lighter shaft will allow dart to go in from a higher angle. Of course this also can depend a little on your pitch and release but that's the general idea.
Bear in mind the trajectory and angle that the dart penetrate the board at are effected by the following:
Shape and weight of the barrel
The players grip and location on the barrel
Speed of release/pitch
Shape of flight
Length and weight of shaft
Other goods to consider when starting darts or building your man-cave games room or clubhouse:
All bristle boards are made from various grade quality sisal from Kenya. Higher grade has more vibrant colour, smoother feel and quicker recovery hence durable. Proper maintenance and life extending of board includes rotating and keeping out of extreme cold or heat conditions. Main thing to look out for though is the wiring used to separate numbers. Staple/round wire board are the cheaper kind with wiring which can be intrusive. Hitting the wire will cause bounce outs. Bounce out means no score and risk of breaking shafts/points when falling on floor. Blade wire board however has minimum intrusion and a choice for most players. Double the price though.
These will protect stray darts. Cabinet generally can close and has scoreboards included. Surround does no close but offers added padding protection. Scoreboard will have to be purchased separately.
A spot light on the board could do the trick. These days we have LED surround lighting that does not cast any shadow, easy to put on and take off and does not add extra heat.
A scoreboard can come in the form of a blackboard with chalk or a whiteboard with non marking pens. Electronic scorers not only show your scores but also calculate everything for you.
A suitable carpet or rubber matting is used to further protect dart from damage as well as your floor be it wooden, tiling or concrete we highly suggest a mat. The mats come with your oche (throwing line)too.
You need somewhere to keep your 1 set or many sets of darts with extra accessories. We have cases to suit your needs and many color options.
A tripod is the ideal solution in taking your board with on your travels or if you do not have a permanent place to put your board up at the house.
JW rings, O-rings, Lock slot rings, punches, Referee tools, Shaft removers, point sharpeners, flight protectors, add-a-gram to add weight.