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Best darts 2023: Hit the bullseye, from £15

From professional-grade tungsten to soft-tip starters, the best darts will boost your confidence and help you throw a winning shot

When it comes to choosing the best darts, it’s a very personal decision. Each player will have their own distinctive grip and throwing technique, which will hopefully see them achieve a high score as a result. These differences in playing style impact the properties you should look for when making your purchase, and include things such as weight distribution, type of grip and choice of shaft.

Should you not yet know your winning technique, or simply want to know more about the properties that help different players, read our buying guide to determine how to choose the best darts for you. Covering the materials darts are made from, to weights, shapes and grips, you’ll be better informed to make a decision over which of our selection of the best darts are perfect for your game.

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Best darts: At a glance

How to choose the best darts for you

Dart anatomy: Components of a dart

There are four sections to a dart: the point/tip that goes into the board; the barrel, where you hold it; the shaft/stem that adjusts the overall weight and length of the dart; and the flight, which stabilises the dart during its flight.

What material should darts be made from?

The barrel’s material is one of the most important considerations, since this will inform other properties – namely, the weight, size, sturdiness, grip and price. The two most common choices are tungsten and brass.

Tungsten is generally considered the optimal material for dart barrels because it’s dense, creating darts that are smaller and thinner, with ample weight. It’s usually paired with nickel, which is similarly durable – although something to note if you are allergic. Pay attention to the amount of tungsten used; higher percentage options will tend to be thinner and smaller. If you’re just starting out, opt for darts with above 70% tungsten, while professionals will be better with up to 95%. You’ll need to spend increasingly more as the percentage of tungsten rises, though.

Brass is another common material choice, again because it’s durable but relatively cheap (although there is a risk of corrosion and a reduction in grip as a result). However, brass is two times less dense than tungsten, so the dart body will usually be made comparatively larger to compensate. Still, brass makes sense financially: you’ll get them for around ten times less than the most expensive tungsten models.

Is the weight of a dart important?

The majority of a dart’s weight is determined by the barrel material, with brass darts tending to fall between 18 and 23g and tungsten ones between 22 and 26g. The absolute legal limit is 50g, and most professionals will opt for darts around the 22g mark.

Depending on the barrel shape – more on that below – you have different weight distributions to consider, too. Front-weighted options are better for those who hold their arrows towards the point of the dart, while rear-weighted darts are ideal for those who hold them nearer the shaft. As would follow, those holding the dart in the middle will prefer a balanced weight throughout the barrel, with this being the most common option. Newbies may want to test out what position is most comfortable for them by purchasing a middle-balanced set first, before committing to darts weighted toward either end of the barrel, should it be preferred.

Which shape of the barrel is best?

Besides the material and weight of your barrel, you can also pick from a few distinctive barrel shapes including straight, bomb (wide middle with semi-tapered ends, used by ex-world champions like Phil Taylor), torpedo (similar to bomb, but less wide at the rear) and tapered (thick at the front and tapers towards the stem).

Even if barrels are similar styles, they may have different thicknesses and lengths.

Thicker barrels tend to be shorter, giving you a smaller distribution of weight and therefore a more compact centre of mass. Larger darts will have a greater surface area to hold onto, with this usually leading to better stability and regularity when throwing. This makes them a solid starting point for new darts players, who can then reduce (or increase) the diameter of their barrels according to preference. Professional players generally use a barrel diameter closer to 6mm than 8mm, since this allows for tighter groupings on the dart board.

As with weight, the preferred length of the dart barrel will be dictated by your individual grip; in other words, how many fingers you use when throwing. Your physiology plays a part, too: if you have larger-than-average fingers, you’ll need more real estate on your barrel.

What about grip?

Depending on the shape of the barrel, you might also get a degree of grip. That grip can be smooth, with knurling (cross-hatching), ringed grooves, Dimplex (little nubbles), razor (small cuts into the barrel), shark fin (wide grooves angled towards the shaft), unidirectional (combination of razor and shark fin) or further brand-patented options. In general, the greater the number of nodules and cross-hatching, the more secure your grip will be.

Tell me about flight and shaft options

The best dart flight for you will depend on your technique and the other components of your darts. Those with softer throwing styles, heavier weights and longer shafts will prefer a larger or wider flight, while those with harder throws, lighter darts and shorter shafts will be better suited to smaller or thinner flights.

Different types of shafts can impact your accuracy and precision, since changes in length and material can alter how your dart travels through the air. Shorter shafts push the dart’s centre of gravity to the front, while longer shafts push it to the back, making the latter ideal for those who hold their darts at the back.

What the shaft is made out of tends to have a negligible difference in weight, although how prone to snapping or bending they are can drastically alter the flight path. Plastic shafts are the cheapest and most easily broken, while nylon is also low cost but less prone to breaking. Aluminium shafts are more durable still, but tend to be more expensive. The most luxurious option is a carbon fibre shaft, which is the most durable.

Which type of darts are best for beginners?

Generally, it’s thought that beginners should start with a mid-point of all the factors listed above. That means a relatively straight barrel with knurling or a ringed grip, weighing around 22-23g and being 50mm in length should comprise the best darts for a beginner. From there, as your throwing technique and confidence develop, you can pick a dart that suits your style of grip and action.

How much should I be paying?

As mentioned above, darts made with the highest percentages of tungsten tend to cost the greatest amount of money. However, there are tungsten sets that can be found relatively cheaply, for less than £25 for a set.

All in all, the best advice would be to start off with a set of darts you can afford. If you’re keen to continue playing, you can always upgrade your tools.

How we test darts

There’s really only one way to put a set of darts through their paces: step up to the oche and play a few rounds with them. Should the distribution of barrel weight and shape, as well as the on-barrel grip, be set up for a particular type of grip position, we’ll look to use that rather than the individual thrower’s preference. That way, we can assess the darts for the audience for whom they were intended. If multiple grips can be applied, we’ll throw in a variety of different holds.

Next, we look at how each dart plays. This means assessing features such as how they feel in hand, as well as in motion when you release your grip. We’ll also look at how they move through the air, how they land on the board, and the regularity with which those landings stick; we also consider how hard a throw is required to achieve a firm hit.

However, those throws will only be as good as the board on which they’re landing, so we use a professional regulation Winmau Blade 6 for all our dart testing. For any plastic darts, we use a board that fits their tip.

The best darts to buy in 2023

1. Winmau Navigator 3: Best budget darts

Price: £22 | Buy now from Argos

Winmau is an excellent manufacturer of darts at any price point, but the Navigator 3s prove professional-grade equipment for less isn’t such a pie-in-the-sky proposition.

This set is made from 90% tungsten, match weighted, and uses a grippy knurling on its relatively straight barrel for assured grip, no matter your technique. Since many darts of a similar build usually cost at least double this amount, you can rest assured that this set is a true bargain.

In fact, for a set that gets its shape, grip and weight distribution just right for the average player, it’s a perfect buy at just over £20. We’ve occasionally seen this set on sale, too, which would make it an even better find.

Key specs – Weight: 23g; Barrel length: 50.8mm; Barrel diameter: 6.4mm; Barrel material: 90% tungsten; Tip material: Steel

Buy now from Argos

2. Red Dragon Pegasus: Best tungsten darts for beginners

Price: £20 | Buy now from Amazon

After playing darts for a little while, you may want to make the leap to the tungsten darts used by professionals. The Red Dragon Pegasus are a great starting point because of their straight and middle-balanced barrel, which means any grip type will be able to enjoy them – although note that the grooves in the ringed grips here aren’t particularly deep. Nevertheless, it will be enough for most people, and the design is sufficiently stylish to boot.

At under £25, you’re getting some of the best-value darts around – which is ideal if you’re yet to make a decision about whether darts is the hobby for you.

Key specs – Weight: 21g, 22g, 23g, 24g, 25g, 26g, 28g, 30g; Barrel length: 50.8mm; Barrel diameter: 6.4mm; Barrel material: 90% tungsten; Tip material: Steel

3. S540 Tri-pack: Best soft-tip darts

Price: £15 | Buy now from Decathlon

Soft-tip darts make a lot of sense for those who wish to protect surfaces and spend as little as possible, as well as for darts newbies in general. While many sets don’t accurately replicate the steel-tipped alternatives used by professionals, the S540 darts do their best to get as close as possible.

The brass-aluminium body offers a decent weight of 16g, while keeping costs down over their tungsten, steel-tipped alternatives. In addition, the plastic tips mean these darts are safe for youngsters. At £5 per dart, the S540 soft-tip darts offer excellent value – and for an ultra-budget soft-tip pick, try out the steel-bodied S100 tri-pack for just £5.

Key specs – Weight: 16g; Barrel length: 50.8mm; Barrel diameter: 6.3mm; Barrel material: Brass (50%), aluminium (50%); Tip material: Soft (plastic)

Buy now from Decathlon

4. Winmau MvG Vantage darts: Best professional-backed darts

Price: £85 | Buy now from Home Leisure Direct

Winmau is already well known for producing professional-quality darts, so add in the endorsement of a three-time world champion and you have some stellar equipment on your hands. The Michael van Gerwin Vantage darts are fairly thin at 6.3mm diameter – and so may be best suited to more experienced players looking to post 180-scores – but feel excellent in the hand with a solid, middle-weighting provided by their 90% tungsten body. The MvG logo adorns Winmau’s Prism Delta flights, alongside special touches to the barrel, where shiny green rings represent the “Green Machine”.

The barrel shape is fairly similar to Winmau’s very popular Aspria darts, which cost around the same, and both use the brand’s “Axis” grip – composed of triangles fitted among one another – across two grip zones. The whole thing is covered in Winmau’s signature Onyx coating for extra traction, too.

Price-wise, they come in at the higher end of the spectrum, but for precision-perfect darts backed by a professional player, this is par for the course.

Key specs – Weight: 22g, 23g, 24g; Barrel length: 50.8mm; Barrel diameter: 6.3mm; Barrel material: 90% tungsten; Tip material: Steel

Buy now from Home Leisure Direct

5. Harrows Wolfram Infinity darts: Highest percentage tungsten darts

Price: £59 | Buy now from Amazon

If you have a penchant for purity and believe in the power of a tungsten dart, the Harrows Wolfram Infinity darts will be perfect for you. With a 97% tungsten barrel, you won’t find any higher percentage buys around – this is the pinnacle purchase in that regard.

These darts aren’t just about top-grade materials, though: the Wolfram Infinity set performs well, with consistent, stable flight. The front is squarish in shape, but you’ll still be able to get tight groupings on the board, while they also offer a solid, middlish balance at the 26g weight. In terms of weight distribution, it’s set marginally back from the middle, which might suit middle to rear grippers better, but those who hold at the front will still enjoy the balance.

Considering most tungsten darts at the 95% and above mark cost closer to £100, the Harrows also offer excellent value at their price.

Key specs – Weight: 26g; Barrel length: 50mm; Barrel diameter: 7mm; Barrel material: 97% tungsten; Tip material: Steel

6. Shot! Roman Empire darts: Best-looking luxury darts

Price: £117 | Buy now from Amazon

The sport of darts has twisted many aspects of pop culture, with professionals donning outlandish hairstyles and making their entrance to personalised walk-on songs. When it comes to the actual darts, there are few more distinctive designs than those produced by Shot! – and we adore this Roman Empire set.

Not only does it display intricate detail across its flight and barrel, each dart is built to extremely high standards, with the pencil-shaped, front-weighted barrel comprising 95% tungsten to ensure a light flight and long lifespan. Beautiful purple and gold accents are accentuated by the three varieties of grip found on the barrel, which should aid the accuracy of both beginners and professionals alike, and is further helped by the ultra-sleek carbon shafts.

You’re paying a premium here for this New Zealand-based brand with over 50 years experience, as well as the high-quality materials from which the darts themselves are made. Nevertheless, for those who truly value aesthetics and quality, they will be worth the money.

Key specs – Weight: 18g; Barrel length: 40mm; Barrel diameter: 7.3mm; Tungsten? 95%; Tip material: Steel

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