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Steel Tip vs Soft Tip Darts




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Key Takeaways:

  • Steel tip darts are traditional, with a steel or tungsten point, used on bristle dartboards.
  • Soft tip darts gained traction in North America and Asia, often used in bars and arcades.
  • Steel tips produce a satisfying “thud” sound on bristle boards but can cause more damage over time.
  • Beginners might find soft tips more forgiving, while professionals prefer the precision of steel tips.


Are you interested in darts or planning to start playing? You’ll need to make a choice between steel tip vs soft tip darts right from the get. There are many distinct types of darts, each with its own unique set of rules, required equipment, and playing grounds. But how can you determine which one is best? So that you may make an educated choice, let’s compare and contrast steel-tipped and soft-tipped darts.

Whether you play with steel-tipped or soft-tipped darts depends on the rules of the game and your degree of expertise. You may improve your game and your enjoyment of the game by taking the time to learn the distinctions between these two dart kinds.

Steel tip darts have a sharp point and are for sisal dartboards. Soft tip darts have a plastic tip and are for electronic boards. Steel is more traditional; soft is for modern games. Choose based on your board and game style!

In this article, I will look into the following:

    What are Steel Tip and Soft Tip Darts?

    Steel Tip Darts

    Such darts have been used for centuries and are the classic kind. Darts are so called because the point is composed of steel. Most often, they are used with bristle dartboards, which are constructed from sisal strands. Since their steel points are sharp enough to pierce the fibers without tearing them, the board may eventually mend itself. Steel-tipped darts are widely used in competitive settings and across international borders.

    What are Steel Tip and Soft Tip Darts?

    Soft Tip Darts

    Soft Tip Darts

    These darts have tips made of plastic or nylon. They are designed to be used on electronic dartboards. The board’s surface has many small holes, and the soft tips can enter these holes to

    register a score electronically. Since the tips are softer and won’t damage the board, it’s possible to automate scoring. Soft tip darts and electronic boards are especially popular in places like bars or arcades because of the automated scoring and interactive features.

    Steel tip vs Soft tip darts The basic differences

    Steel tip and soft tip are the two main types of darts used in dart games and competitions. Here’s a quick overview of their differences:

    AspectSteel Tip DartsSoft Tip Darts
    Tip Material  Metal tips (steel/tungsten)Plastic tips with foam filling
    Dartboards     Bristle dartboards with holes Electronic dartboards with surface
    ScoringManual scoringAutomatic scoring on landing
    WeightHeavier (18-50 grams)Lighter (12-20 grams)
    DamageCan damage bristle boardsReduces damage to electronic boards
    UseProfessional matches/tournamentsBars/recreational play
    Steel Tip vs Soft Tip Darts

    Steel tip darts remain more popular globally than soft tip darts. Some key points on their popularity:

    • Professional play: Steel tip dominates. All major worldwide tours and tournaments, including the BDO and PDC, are played with steel tip darts and bristle boards. Soft tip has limited professional events.
    • Britain and Europe: Steel tip darts are vastly more popular in places like the UK, Netherlands, Germany, where darts is most established. Bristle and steel tip boards are ubiquitous in pubs and bars.
    • North America: Soft tip gained popularity in the US and Canada through electronic boards in bars. But steel tip has been growing rapidly in the last decade. The American Darts Organization now has over 15,000 steel tip players.
    • Asia: Soft tip darts became popular in places like Japan, Philippines and other Asian countries first. But steel tip darts have been catching up more recently.
    • Accessibility: Electronic soft tip boards are more affordable and easier to find than traditional bristle boards initially. But bristle boards are becoming more widespread.

    While soft tip darts have their strongholds, steel tip darts remain the most global and historical form of darts, especially at the professional level. However, both varieties continue growing in popularity worldwide.

    The advantages and disadvantages of steel tip darts

    Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using steel tip darts:


    • More variety in dart weights and styles. Steel tips come in a wide range of weights from 18-50 grams to suit different player preferences.
    • Allow use of either plastic or feather flights. Feather gives a smoother, more natural flight.
    • Can be used on bristle boards which have a classic look and feel. Bristle boards withstand frequent use.
    • Suitable for all dart games and match formats, including professional tournaments.
    • Make manual scoring and “calling out” scores part of the traditional experience.
    • High quality barrels allow for better grip and balance.
    • Produce a satisfying “thud” sound when they hit the bristle board.


    • Require a separate scoreboard for scoring and tracking scores/stats. Manual scoring can be tedious.
    • Cause more wear and tear damage to bristle boards over time.
    • Bounce-outs from the wire frame are common. Can disrupt throws.
    • Metal tips can seriously damage electronic dartboards if accidentally used.
    • Sharper points pose a minor safety risk for kids and pets compared to soft tips.
    • Noisy on bristle boards may not be suitable for some settings like offices.

    So, steel tips provide a classic dart feel and wide flexibility, they do require more scoring effort and maintenance of bristle boards. The advantages tend to outweigh disadvantages for serious dart players.

    The advantages and disadvantages of soft tip darts

    Here are some advantages and disadvantages of using soft tip darts:


    • Automatically score and track statistics on electronic dartboards. More convenient than manual scoring.
    • Soft plastic tips avoid bounce-outs and damage to the electronic board’s surface.
    • Lighter weight allows for tighter shot groupings and slightly higher scoring potential.
    • Useful safety feature for kids and beginners with the plastic tips.
    • Generally cheaper to purchase soft tip darts than high-end steel tips.
    • Enable games not possible with steel tips like online multiplayer competitions.
    • Quieter and more home-friendly since they don’t stick and rattle on the board.


    • Limited choice of weights, usually 12-20 grams only. Less ability to customize weight.
    • Plastic flights are required. Many players prefer classic feathers.
    • Can only be used on electronic dartboards. Bristle boards will be damaged.
    • Lower quality and less durable barrels than steel tip darts.
    • Require AC power source and periodic battery replacement in the dartboard.
    • No use of chalk scoreboards reduces the traditional pub feel.
    • Not allowed in any major professional dart tournament.

    Overall, soft tip darts provide good convenience and options for amateurs and casual players. But the lack of customization, feather flights, and professional use are disadvantages for more serious dart enthusiasts.

    Factors to consider when choosing between steel tip and soft tip darts

    Here are some factors to consider when choosing between steel tip and soft tip darts:

    • Type of dartboard: Steel tip requires a bristle board; soft tip requires an electronic board. Choose dart type based on the board you own or have access to.
    • Weight and feel: Steel tips have more weight options. Soft tips are lighter. Choose based on personal preference for barrel weight/balance.
    • Cost: Steel tip darts are generally more expensive. Soft tips are cheaper for casual players.
    • Games/scoring: Soft tip boards allow for electronic scoring of games like cricket that are not possible on bristle.
    • Noise: Steel tips on bristle boards make a louder, more satisfying “thud”. Soft tips are quieter.
    • Bounce-outs: Soft tips significantly reduce bounce outs due to lighter weight. Good for beginners.
    • Durability: Steel tips are more durable. Soft tips get compressed and damaged over time.
    • Tournament play: Steel tips are required for most competitive tournaments.
    • Availability: Soft tip boards are widely available in many bars. Bristle boards take more effort to find.

    Considering these factors in terms of your needs and preferences can help determine which type of dart makes the most sense for you.

    Skill level and playing style: Steel tip vs soft tip

    The choice between steel tip and soft tip darts can come down to factors like skill level and playing style. Here’s a comparison:


    • Soft tip darts are often better for beginners. The lighter weight makes throwing easier to learn. The tips reduce bounce-outs that frustrate new players. Automatic scoring removes concentration on calculations.

    Intermediate Players

    • At this level, players may start migrating to steel tip darts to improve technique. The heavier weight builds strength and stamina. Dealing with bounce-outs improves aim. Manual scoring improves concentration.

    Advanced/Professional Players

    • Nearly all professionals use steel tip darts. The variety in weights and shapes allows optimizing balance and grip. Professionals have the skills to mitigate bounce-outs and score accurately. The steel tip circuits have the prestige.

    Playing Style

    • Customization – Steel tips allow players to find the perfect weight and barrel shape.
    • Tradition – Those who like classic games, chalk scoring like the social culture of steel tips.
    • Competition – Serious competitors focus on steel tips for tournaments.
    • Casual Play – Soft tips and electronic boards appeal more for recreation and fun.
    • Accuracy – The thin wires on bristle boards demand good aim. Soft tips are more forgiving.

    So, as skill improves, steel tip darts tend to offer more benefits for technique, customization and competitive play. But soft tips have an enduring appeal for more casual dart enthusiasts.

    FAQ: How should I maintain and care for steel tip vs. soft tip darts?

    Both types of darts require regular maintenance. For steel tips, it’s essential to keep the point sharp and free from rust. Soft tips may need replacement after extended use, as they can wear out or break. In both cases, regularly check the tightness of shafts and flights and replace worn-out components as needed.

    FAQ: Why would someone choose a soft tip dart over a steel tip dart?

    Some of the reasons include: playing on electronic dartboards, preferring a lighter dart, seeking a safer option for home play, or simply personal preference. The electronic boards often offer various games and automated scoring, which can enhance the experience for some players.

    Final Thoughts

    In the realm of darts, the debate between Steel Tip vs Soft Tip Darts has fueled countless discussions among players of all levels. Both variations of the game offer unique advantages and cater to different preferences, making the choice between them ultimately a matter of personal style and circumstance.

    Steel Tip or Soft Tip Darts with their origins deeply rooted in traditional pub games, exude a sense of authenticity and nostalgia. They are often associated with a more serious and competitive atmosphere, appealing to purists who appreciate the precision required to excel in the game.

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