When trying to create the perfect dart combination, it can often be difficult knowing how to mix and match the different dart parts. Something that has a crucial impact on the performance of a dart is the dart shaft.
Have you ever thrown a dart and no matter what technique you use, the dart just won’t land in the dartboard at a favorable angle? I know I have…
Usually, this is because you are using an unsuitable dart shaft. The wrong shaft is a poor choice of word as there are many factors that impact darting performance and the type/length of dart shaft you use is just one of them.
Still, it’s something you want to get correct as soon as possible! Read on to learn how a dart shaft impacts a dart and also what type of dart shaft you should use to throw darts more accurately and consistently.
What Are Dart Shafts
Dart shafts or stems are an essential darts component. They connect the dart flight to the dart barrel and significantly alter the way a dart will travel towards the dartboard. Their main function is to distribute weight throughout the dart and make the dart more aerodynamic.
A dart flight helps the dart glide through the air but a shaft acts as the balance between the weight of the barrel and the type of flight used.
Different Types of Dart Shaft
There are countless dart shafts on the market. They are a relatively cheap dart part and for this reason, you’ll see dart shafts come in a range of sizes, designs, and materials. The most commonly used types of dart shaft include:
- Carbon Graphite
Below, we’ll cover each of these in more detail looking at some of the benefits and drawbacks, as well as who they are best suited for.
Aluminum dart shafts are a popular option among both professional and beginner players. They are a durable option making them great value for money. These can be bought in a multipack for further cost-saving and due to their durability, you’ll find one purchase will last you a very long time (3-4 months per stem).
I use aluminum shafts as a preference. I bought a 2 x set of 9 shafts over two years ago and I’m only down to my last set now.
The drawbacks of an aluminum dart shaft are that they are heavier meaning they add quite a bit of weight to your darts and they also have a habit of coming loose during a throw. This is mainly because of the metal-on-metal contact with the barrel but there are some solutions to this – check out our guide on how to stop dart shafts coming loose here.
By far the most popular option when it comes to dart shafts is a plastic or nylon set. These are the cheapest option as well as being the lightest. You can buy them in bulk to save money and they are a good option for beginners because they don’t keep coming loose during a throw and it’s also easy to put the dart flights in once they pop out.
The cons of a plastic shaft are that the material is not solid. These shafts break easily due to bounce-outs or collision with another dart which means you need to replace them much more frequently than any other dart type. This is the main reason why they are sold in bulk.
One final benefit to a plastic shaft is that they are more easily customizable so you can really customize the visual look of your darts quite easily when using plastic shafts.
Carbon Graphite (Carbon Fiber)
Carbon graphite or carbon fiber shafts are a more expensive and sturdier type of dart shaft. These are typically considered to be an upgrade on aluminum shafts because they are just as durable but the carbon material means they are also lighter (definitely a preference for pro players).
Titanium shafts are a premium option and come with a much more expensive price as a result. The key benefit to titanium dart shafts is that they are very durable and can be knurled or etched in order to give a more enhanced grip – especially useful for rear-grippers.
A composite shaft is a type growing in popularity, especially on the professional PDC Tour circuit. These are a two-part shaft that makes use of a nylon material for the first part of the shaft (which screws into the barrel) and aluminum material for the top section of the shaft (which holds the flight).
The key benefit of these shafts is that the nylon lower part means the shaft is less likely to come loose during a throw and the aluminum top makes the shaft more durable, especially against dart collisions through careful grouping.
Again, these are slightly more expensive but if you get a set from a company that also does spare composite shaft parts, they can definitely prove to be a great option, regardless of your playing standard.
If anyone is old enough to think back to early dart designs, a plastic molded shaft would come with an integrated flight for a 2-in-1 component. Fast forward and these shafts were favored for use on kids’ darts (primarily magnetic darts) as they break far less frequently.
Fast forward further still and integrated dart shafts have now emerged as a good option once again due to advancements in dart technology. These integrated flights are made to be lighter, flexible, and more durable than the cheaper plastic “kid” shafts and are designed to reduce bounce-outs and minimize damaged parts.
Dart Shaft Sizes
Dart shafts come in a variety of sizes, or lengths to be more specific. The reason for this is that they will distribute weight more evenly and create a better link between your dart barrel and flight.
Not all brands or manufacturers will produce every size shaft but as a general guide, dart shafts are made with the following lengths:
X-Short – 32mm (1-¼ inch)
Short – 38mm (1-½ inch)
In-Between – 44mm (1-¾ inch)
Medium – 51mm (2 inch)
Long – 64mm (2-½ inch)
To give a few examples, a front-gripper would benefit from a short shaft, a rear-gripper would benefit from a longer shaft and a balanced dart with a neutral grip would benefit from a medium-length shaft.
A long shaft with a slim flight would see the dart ‘sag’ and hit the board with the tip pointing up whereas an x-short shaft with a standard flight would be quite rear heavy and dip down very quickly.
The length of the dart shaft will also affect the dart speed when traveling towards the board. The shorter the dart shaft (especially when combined with a smaller flight light a slim or kite shape) the quicker the dart will move through the air.
The longer the shaft, the more weight, and drag you’ll find with the dart and the longer the dart will take to travel through the air.
Everyone can adapt their throw but it’s best to experiment and see what combination of shaft works with your dart, throwing technique, and preference for flight.
It’s all about preference when getting comfortable with your dart equipment so I’d give it 3-6 months of testing to find a few combos that work for you. For this reason, it’s good to get a value pack or nylon or aluminum shafts that you can test different lengths with.
Two budget options include:
Dart Shafts FAQ
For anything we’ve not covered above, you can check out this useful FAQ below with reader questions which we’ll continue to add to overtime.
Are Dart Shafts Universal
All dart shafts come with a 2BA threaded, 6mm end which will universally fit the majority of dart barrels. There might be some exceptions with specialist dart models but in general, dart shafts are universal and will fit most barrels.
Aluminum vs Plastic Dart Shafts
Aluminum dart shafts are better for players that want a more durable and long-lasting dart shaft, especially if you are playing regularly. Plastic dart shafts are better for players that want to use a lighter dart and also have a much stricter budget.
Long vs Short Dart Shafts
Long dart shafts are better for players that use a heavier weight dart (30g+). This is so that you can balance the weight of the dart against the flight and ensure that your darts still hit the board at a preferential angle which should be relatively flat with the tip slightly pointing downward.
Short dart shafts are better for players that use a lighter dart (16g-24g) to ensure the dart travels quickly when thrown and doesn’t have too much drag which will result in the dart dropping slightly before it hits the board.
You might not be interested in learning about dart shafts but they are an integral part of any dart setup and knowing how the different materials and lengths will affect your throw or individual preference is key to getting better at darts.
Now that you’ve got a general idea of the types of dart shafts, we’d recommend checking out our guide on the best dart shafts here.
This roundup covers the best options for all materials and we have covered both budget, premium, and even professional options so this should be your next step.