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Choosing the Right Dart

All darts have four basic parts, and understanding their function will help you pick the right kind.
The point is also known as the tip or the business end of the dart … the pokey part if you will. There are two types of points, steel-tip (used for classic bristle dart boards made of cork or sisal fibers) and soft-tip (used for plastic dart boards that are normally electronic). You can also find convertible darts that allow the use of steel or soft tips. Of course the style of tip you need depends on your dart board. If you have children in the house, looking into a plastic or electronic dart board for soft-tip darts might be a safer option. If you want the classic look and play of the cork bristle dart boards, then you’ll need steel-tipped darts. However, if you’re going to get serious about steel-tipped dart throwing, it might not be a bad idea to pick up a dart tool to help tighten tips, metal shafts, and spread the shaft to easily insert a flight.

The barrel is the weighted portion of the dart that you grip when throwing. Barrels are available in all kinds of materials and weights with several different grips, also called the “knurl”. Barrel weights commonly range from 16 to 30 grams for different throwing styles. The heavier the barrel, the more the dart will overcome wind resistance (which also means your throw must be more accurate). Lighter barrels will allow for slower throws and tend to produce more air resistance. When choosing the right barrel – like most dart customization – it all comes down to throwing style.

Great White Steel Tip Darts - 1/4 in. Barrel

Great White Steel Tip Darts

Like the shaft of an arrow, the dart shaft provides stability when flying and, more importantly, it holds the dart flight (we’ll get to the flight shortly). Shafts are threaded for optional customization and come in 3 different sizes: medium (2 inch), short (1.5 inch), and micro (.5 inch). Shafts also come with differently sized threading (6ba, 2ba, and .25 inch) so be sure you have the right size for your barrel. Spinning shafts are also available to reduce bounce outs when flights hit each other on the board.

Dark Flight
Think of the flight as the wings of the dart. The lighter the dart the smaller the flight, and larger, heavier darts will of course need a larger flight. Lightweight darts (14 to 20 grams) typically use slim flights, and standard flights are used for medium to heavy darts (20 to 26 grams). Both slim and standard flights come in several different shapes and materials for even more dart customization. Flights slip into the back of any barrel and help stabilize the dart during its flight to the board.

Dart Barrel Graphic
Dart Barrel Graphic
Dart Anatomy Diagram
Dart Anatomy Diagram
Dart Shafts and Threads Diagram
Dart Shafts and Threads Diagram

Now that you know the parts of a dart, let’s talk dart specifics.
Less expensive darts are typically made of plastic. Once players get serious about hitting their targets they’ll want to look into metal darts. Because of their weight differences, metals like brass, copper, and tungsten are used in barrels and shafts. Brass and copper are less expensive, and because of their light weight, make for a longer dart. Tungsten is more expensive and typically used in shorter, heavier darts.

The occasional dart player probably isn’t going to notice a difference in dart weight, but for more serious players, weight is very important. Soft-tipped darts are typically lighter than steel-tipped, but there are kits to add weight to any dart. The weight of the dart you need really depends on your throwing style and what feels most comfortable.

Flight Shape
Again, the flight shape really depends on your style of throwing. A faster throw will require a speed flight while a slower throw might be better suited to a standard flight. The flights themselves can be smooth, dimpled, or ribbed, but they all serve the purpose of keeping the dart from tracking off the tail by creating drag during flight. As far as design, create your own look. Flights are available in just about every shape and design you can think of.