Top Five Tips for Buying Darts

If you're looking for tips on how to buy darts, you've come to the right place. What's the difference in a steel-tip and soft-tip dart? What's the best flight to buy? If you're just getting started in the gentlemanly game of darts, you'll benefit from a little research before investing in your first set of darts.

Darts is a true game of skill, and as your skill improves you'll probably want to purchase a high quality set of darts. But newcomers should feel free to buy on a budget and understand their strengths and weaknesses before spending the big money.

By the way, if you're invited to a game of electronic darts, bring your soft tips; the steel tips are the ones meant for piercing the thick sisal fibers that traditional boards are made of.

1: Test drive

There's simply no way to select a great set of darts for your game without trying them first. Other than the type of metal a dart's made from, the variances are subjective. Don't base your selection on what throws well for another player. Darts are like golf clubs—if there was one perfect style, everyone would be swinging it. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

2. Select a metal

Darts are typically available in brass, nickel and tungsten. Brass darts may be the most commonly seen type because their low cost makes them popular in taverns and home games. However, the soft nature of brass means the grip wears down quickly. Darts made from nickel are also inexpensive, but nickel is more durable than brass. Nickel darts are a good choice for beginners who plan on frequent play. Tungsten is the choice for serious dart players. The barrel diameter of tungsten darts is smaller, meaning it's possible to group darts more tightly on the board. Don't purchase darts that simply say "Tungsten" on the package. The percentage of tungsten used in the manufacturing is directly related to the quality of the dart; the higher the amount of tungsten, the better quality the dart.

3. Know your flight

The flight is the removable "feather" at the end of the dart. The size, shape and texture of the flight all influence the trajectory of the missile. Large or dimpled flights create more drag, and smooth, small flights create less. There's no "best" flight, but you can determine which type is best for your throw. If your dart tends to hit the board with the flight pointing down use a larger one to create more air mass, which will push the end up. If it angles up, you need less mass and a smaller flight.

4. Don't get shafted

The length of the shaft affects how the weight is distributed. The weight shifts forward with a shorter shaft and back with a long shaft. Weight distribution affects how the dart enters the board. As with choosing the right flight, you can choose the best type of shaft for your game by the angle of the dart in the board. Flight up: longer/heavier shaft; flight down—shorter/lighter shaft.

Planning on league play? Be aware of the regulations regarding weight limits when selecting a shaft.

5: Buy multiple sets

If you're buying darts for a home game, it's best to have more than one set for players to use. Knowing that you need multiple sets might influence what type of darts you ultimately decide on. Besides the fact that making all the players share darts slows down the game, having a few different styles for players to choose from is the sportsmanlike thing to do—darts aren't a "one size fits all" piece of equipment.


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Updated Friday, Oct 28, 2011