If you’ve ever gone to a pub/bar or bought a cheap generic dartboard then you’ll be familiar with the brass dart sets that can be found with these as standard. When you see these brass darts but then watch the PDC and see players using darts that are smaller, lighter, thinner, have better grip, and have unique designs it’s easy to wonder what the difference in quality really is.
The modern game of darts mostly uses tungsten as the material of choice but why are tungsten darts better, if they are at all?
Tungsten darts are denser than other dart materials like brass and nickel. This means tungsten darts can be manufactured to the same weight as brass/nickel but can be done so with around 50% less material. This allows tungsten darts to be thinner for better grouping and also makes them more durable.
The vast majority of professional players now use a high-quality tungsten dart and the simple reason is that they are just the best material to use. In this article, I’ll cover why tungsten darts are better and what to take into consideration when looking for a new set.
Considerations For A Good Dart
Darts is probably one of the oldest games still going strong (and increasing in popularity) to this day. It was first developed in England during the 1300s and still one of the most played games today. From its wooden form comes brass darts, which had been the standard for centuries. However, it’s not the best darts material out there in the modern age.
Compared to its earlier forms, darts and dart components had come a long way. There are different customizations, materials, designs, and even shapes. One of the best materials commonly in use right now is tungsten darts. Before we discuss tungsten properties, let’s talk about properties that make a good dart.
The darts weight is an essential consideration in deciding on your darts purchase. It affects the dart’s flight, stability, and force needed for better accuracy. Players have different play styles. Some would prefer heavier dart weight for lower bounce-outs or lighter ones for the least power required (for electronic boards.)
Even with optimal weight, this factor would be useless without proper weight distribution. An even distribution among four dart parts makes sure that it would not curve or drag. This configuration is changeable based on the player’s preference (some darts are heavier in front, middle, or the rear). But for beginners, even distribution is recommended.
With new technology though, you can get tungsten darts that are manufactured with different density tungsten throughout different parts of the barrel. The front could be made with a higher percentage of tungsten (95%) while the rear could be made with a lesser percentage of tungsten (65%).
This allows for a front-weighted dart without compromising on dart shape or dart size. As an example, my first set was a teardrop barrel that was front weighted and thick at the front, this made it hard to group darts and made them more prone to bounce-outs.
With a more even distribution (or a hybrid variant), the slimmer tungsten darts allow for better grouping, better scoring, and fewer bounce-outs.
Dart Flights And Tips
Dart flights help keep the dart stable during its travel towards the board. The different shapes can provide various speeds and trajectory that is more suited to each player’s ideal wants/needs (faster throws, slower throws, etc.). Standard flights were always needed to keep brass flights stable due to their size but tungsten can now allow for much more varied customization including slim, pear, and kite-shaped flights for different trajectories.
Meanwhile, a dart with a good tip can prevent bounce-outs and will stick better to the dartboard. A stronger metal dart tip can make the dart stick better on sisal fiber. This effect is beneficial, especially when you need to aim towards a tight grouping. However, these tips would also provide additional weight to your darts.
Regardless of whether you use a steel tip or a soft tip, a tungsten barrel is still going to be the best option when it comes to material and can be used with both tips.
Shaft Quality And Length
The shaft is the part that connects the barrel and the flights. This part can either be long (for balanced gravity) or short (for barrel center.) Carbon-fiber shafts are preferred due to their durability and lightness. If you want a heavier barrel, the short shaft is preferable to use.
Dart Barrel Materials
Considered the most important factor, the dart barrel is the middle part. It is the area wherein the player grips the dart before throwing. For beginners, deciding on dart barrel material should be based on your budget and skill level. Brass serves as the cheapest but also largest (and least aesthetic) option, while nickel serves as a middle ground.
However, the pros prefer using Tungsten due to its two properties: denseness and thin body. Tungsten darts tend to be heavy, yet thin, which is quite useful in tournaments and pro games. Let’s find out more about Tungsten’s best properties.
Why Are Tungsten Darts Better?
Brass was the typical dart material through the ages because of its durability and affordability. However, the advancements in metal refining have greatly improved metal manufacturing, including dart products. Tungsten (or Wolfram) is considered the best (and most expensive) dart barrel material right now due to the following reasons.
- Stable Flight – Heavier darts tend to offer more control because it is denser, heavier, and more stable. It will fly towards the target in a straight line in trade of more force requirements. Think of tungsten darts as speeding jet slashing in the air with great force and speed. Yet, it stays in a straight line direction with great accuracy and control.
- Smaller Size – Good darts are products that are both durable and thin. Even though the smaller size can make the dart difficult to grip, pros still use smaller darts. Thinner darts are less likely to hit other darts on the board so grouping is better with less chance of bounce-outs.
- High-Density Material – Did you know that Tungsten is the only metal on Earth that can withstand up to 3,422 °C? This heat-resistance property is due to its high density. If mixed with other metals, the resulting alloy would often be dense and durable without an additional increase in the metal’s size. These high-quality tungsten darts can pass through groupings in the board without sacrificing their density.
- Durability – Unlike brass and nickel, tungsten darts can withstand the impact of hitting the board (or floor) better due to their density. That’s why it is also more resistant to wear and tear. If you want to use the same set for years, getting a tungsten dart set is a no-brainer.
- Budget Flexibility – And lastly, tungsten darts can still offer value. There are tungsten dart sets that have a lower percentage of tungsten in their body, making them more budget-friendly and accessible. Although the darts have less tungsten in them, the quality is still greater than sets made with other materials. However, you might need to sacrifice its slim appearance. High-end tungsten darts often range from 60% to 97%.
Overall, tungsten darts are great for any player level. The benefits mentioned above are enough to get the pro players’ attention.
Should You Buy Tungsten Darts?
Tungsten darts are not for everyone; almost all casual players can keep playing on brass and nickel with a great experience. You might want to consider these options before upgrading to a set of tungsten.
For Competitive Play
For most casual players, the brass sets are durable enough to serve as their first main dart sets. But if you’re in for a long haul, getting tungsten darts is necessary. This is especially true if you plan to level up your skills and play competitively.
Brass darts can be used to learn the game, grip, and throwing technique but once you start to play darts with the intention of becoming a good player, an upgrade to a tungsten set is almost essential and should improve every aspect of your game.
Tungsten darts can possibly last for years, even for as long as you play. These darts are incredibly dense and packed, making them very resistant to wear and tear. If players would face a problem with it, the problem is likely due to lost grip life.
Take note: tungsten darts can trigger allergic reactions in some people. This allergic reaction is due to the nickel content, which makes the dart stronger. Look for tungsten dart sets with copper or silver instead if you’re sensitive to nickel
It’s rare that you can say something is “the best” when it comes to sport and darts in particular. Throw style, grip, and individual preferences are all incredibly varied from person to person but something that is true for most, especially at a highly competitive standard, is that tungsten darts are better.
They can match any other material in terms of weight but do so with a much smaller/thinner dart.
When it comes to grouping darts and scoring heavily, a thinner dart will always be an advantage. While other factors also make tungsten darts generally better, the option to manufacture them with other metals (giving a tungsten %) means they are the most versatile and best option for dart material.