Bristle dartboards are the most traditional type of dartboard and as such, steel tip darts are also the most commonly used type of dart. As darts technology has improved though, the popularity of electronic dartboards and soft tip darts has equally grown as a result.
For those that have a soft tip set of darts and have started to use them as a preference, you might be wondering can soft tip darts be used on a bristle board?
As the only thing that’s different on a modern set of darts is the tip itself, it’s easy to assume that a soft tip dart should work just as well in a bristle dartboard as a steel tip dart. To test this theory yourself could result in damage to equipment though…
Therefore, we’ll answer this simple question because we’ve already tested this ourselves to ensure you don’t break any of your dart equipment by having to try this out yourself!
What are Soft Tip Darts
Modern soft tip darts share many of the same components that you’d expect to find on a steel tip set of darts. They have a dart barrel (tungsten, brass, or nickel silver), shaft, flights, and other accessories. The key difference with soft tip darts is that they have a hard and durable plastic tip instead of a steel tip.
This plastic tip is where the name “soft tip” dart originates. The plastic point is flexible and durable and is mainly designed to be used on plastic webbing that you find on electronic dartboards.
The plastic tip slots into the plastic webbing on the dartboard and this is what holds the dart in place after a throw. Bristle dartboards work differently though and have a compacted bristle fiber that a steel dart needs to penetrate.
Bristle dartboards are compacted to hold a dart in place but it does mean they are often much harder than an electronic dartboard and this is something that often leads to dart bounce outs, even when using steel tip darts.
Can Soft Tip Darts Be Used on a Bristle Board
Soft tip darts can be used on a bristle dartboard but it’s not an effective method and will lead to a number of bounce outs. Most soft tip darts do not have a hard enough tip to penetrate a bristle dartboard which leads to bounce-outs or broken tips. Soft tip darts should instead be used on an electronic dartboard.
This is a bit of a two-part answer because a soft tip dart can be used on a bristle dartboard. The video below shows me testing this with a set of Sanfeng soft tip darts on a Winmau SFB bristle dartboard.
As you can see, the bristle dartboard will hold a soft tip dart but nowhere near as firmly as if you were using a set of steel tip darts. The video below shows just how noticeable the difference is when it comes to a soft tip dart and a steel tip dart hitting a bristle dartboard.
The main reason for this is due to the way a bristle dartboard is made. Bristle dartboards are made from tightly compacted sisal fiber and need to be hit by a sharp steel tip dart to be penetrated. Not only is a soft tip too flexible to always part these fibers upon contact, but these tips are also not as pointed, meaning that a blunt end will make a more forceful contact point leading to bounce-outs.
The thicker tip will also cause significantly more damage to your dartboard. One of our keys to proper dartboard maintenance is to not leave darts in the board when not in use and to also keep your steel tip points sharpened as blunt tips will damage sisal fibers.
The reason why soft tips will still sometimes stay in a bristle board is that the dart itself still has weight behind the throw and the pointed tip is still relatively angled. Therefore you can throw soft tip darts at a bristle dartboard but the number of bounce-outs and damage to your darts, as a result, means it’s not recommended.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Soft Tip Darts on a Bristle Dartboard
There are three main reasons why you shouldn’t throw soft tip darts at a bristle dartboard which are:
- A soft tip dart is not designed to penetrate a bristle dartboard. This will lead to a significantly increased number of bounce-outs.
- More bounce-outs mean that you increase the risk of damaging your darts on contact with the floor (even if you have a dedicated darts mat).
- It’s not efficient or fun.
The first two points were covered earlier but the real reason you shouldn’t use soft tip darts on a bristle dartboard is mainly that it just doesn’t work very well. The darts don’t make clean contact with the board and either bounce out frequently, bend the tips or damage the board.
Just look at the image below to see how deeply the tip goes into the dartboard, this drastically spreads the fibers and makes it much harder for the dartboard to recover (causing more long-term damage to the board).
This just isn’t fun for anyone and if you only have soft tip darts, it’s a better option to buy a cheaper set of steel tip darts if you really want to use a bristle dartboard. Soft tip darts and a bristle dartboard are just not compatible and even though you can make it work if you really want to, it won’t make for enjoyable practice or games.
Alternative Solution to Use Soft Tip Darts on a Bristle Dartboard
Ok, there is one solution to using soft tip darts on a bristle dartboard and that is to use a darts conversion point. These relatively inexpensive yet very useful products convert a soft tip dart into a steel tip dart.
These tips come with a standard 2BA thread the same as the plastic soft tip points you’ll already be using but instead of being plastic, they are steel. These screw into your barrel and come in two different sizes at 26mm or 30mm options.
The great thing is that these conversion tips are also relatively inexpensive and can turn your favorite dart set into a completely versatile set capable of being used on a bristle or electronic dartboard.
Our recommendation for the best conversion tips would be the Shot! Darts Dart Overlock Conversion Point
While soft tip darts have increasingly grown in popularity over the years, it doesn’t mean that darts have evolved to be multi-use as a result. For anyone looking into the game, you’ll find that traditional darts are played with steel tip darts on a bristle dartboard.
Soft tip darts in contrast are played on a plastic soft tip dartboard – usually an electronic dartboard. The reason both types of darts and dartboards are commonly used together is that they are designed for this purpose.
While soft tip darts do have a competitive aspect and a few leagues globally, the main reason for using them is that they are more fun when played on an electronic dartboard, are more beginner-friendly, and are even better for use with kids.
Therefore, as they are designed for a soft tip dartboard, this is really the only time you should use them. While you can use soft tip darts on a bristle dartboard, with so many bounce-outs and the increased damage to your darts and dartboard, it’s really just not worth it!
If you’re using soft tip darts, we’d recommend checking out our reviews on the best soft tip darts next.