What Is The Difference Between Soft Tip Darts And Steel Tip Darts?
An important decision when starting out playing darts is whether you shall be playing with steel tip darts or soft tip darts. As a beginner, you might not understand the difference between the two or how it will impact your playing style, so we'll do our best to point you in the right direction and help you make a decision based on your own requirements.
What are the differences between soft tip darts and steel tip darts?
In a nutshell, steel tip darts are made using metal points, and are made to be used on bristle based dart boards, whereas soft tip darts are made out of soft plastic. While soft tip darts can actually also be used on a bristle dart board, they are much more commonly used on both electronic dart boards and plastic based dart boards.
Steel Tip Darts
Steel tip darts have essentially been used for as long as dart boards have been around (think spear heads/arrow heads!) and are what you would typically picture when you think of how a dart would look, and the materials it would be made from.
At an average weight of 20 - 30 grams (heavier weights available), steel tip darts are typically heavier than their soft tip counterparts, allowing for a more accurate throw.
They are also known to be much more durable, and a well made dart shall rarely break when used in the proper environment.
Soft Tip Darts
Soft tip darts are a fairly modern addition to the game of darts if you were to take into consideration how far back steel tip darts date, but that's not to say they haven't increased in popularity over the years.
The clue is in the name, with soft tip darts being made of a soft plastic, and while care should still be taken, are generally a safer option for darts players.
The main selling point of a soft tip dart is the ability for them to be used on electronic dart boards. Electronic dart boards are a much more modern way of playing, and often come with many built in games and features such as the ability to automatically keep score.
With that said, they do have their down sides. Soft tip darts are damaged much easier than steel tips, so it would be wise to keep some spare tips on hand at all times to avoid any unnecessary interruptions during your playing time.
Being made of a much lighter material, they can also take some getting used to if you have previously been playing with steel tip darts.
Due to the nature of the darts and also the dart boards that they are used on, soft tip darts can also have an increased bounce-out rate.
Which dart should I use, or can I use both?
It is not necessarily a good idea to keep switching between soft and steel tip darts, as due to the weight and overall differences when playing, you could find yourself being much more less accurate than if you were to play with one or the other.
The official throwing line is also approx. 2.75 inches further when playing with soft tip darts, and plastic boards also have a tendency to have a slightly larger scoring area. Needless to say the lack of consistency between the two makes it very difficult due to the amount of re-adjusting required when switching.
As to an answer for which dart you should use - this is entirely down your own personal preference.
Are you just planning on playing with friends in a party environment within your own home? If so then it is worth considering the pros and cons of both dart types and making a decision based on what really meets your own requirements.
If you are planning on playing in regular tournaments and leagues down your local pub, then it is probably worth matching your own play style to their tournament standard.
Being the more traditional option, this often happens to be steel tip darts on a bristle dart board.
If you are in need of a suitable dart board but aren't sure what to purchase, we have also put together this handy guide on some of the best selling boards to help you make a decision.