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Ultimate Guide To Dart Barrels

Dart Barrels and Material

Steve Reed |

The Ultimate Guide to Dart Barrels

The barrel is one of the most important parts of a dart. It is the main part to hold and carries most of the weight of a dart, so players of all levels should carefully consider the barrels they use. Dart barrels can be made from different materials and in various styles, shapes and grip types. Typically, the barrels are made from tungsten, nickel-silver or brass.

In this blog, Darts Corner will walk you through all the various dart barrels to help you gain a better understanding of choosing the one that works best for you.

The Anatomy Of A Dart

Read our ‘The Anatomy Of A Dart’ guide for a closer look at all of the components that make up a dart.

Factors to consider when choosing a dart barrel

There are several factors to consider when choosing a dart barrel to use, which we will talk through below. Ultimately your choice comes down to your own personal preference as there are lots of dart barrel types, and one size does not fit all. For example, smooth dart barrels might work well for some players, whereas other players might find it is not the right style for them.

Where do you hold your darts?

The way you hold a dart will have an impact on which barrel will suit your game the best. A front-weighted dart tends to work better for players who hold the dart near the front (closer to the point), whereas a rear-weighted dart is often the preferred choice for players holding the dart closer to the back (nearer to the stem).

The graphic below illustrates the different positions where you can hold the dart. Our ‘The Best Darts For All Grip Types’ blog has some useful pointers on the various dart grips and some suggestions for what darts to use based on where you hold your darts.

Where Do You Hold The Dart?

Which weight do you prefer?

Darts come in a wide variety of weights and are measured in grams, with Darts Corner stocking darts from as light as 12g and as heavy as 48g. The most popular steel tip dart weights range between 21g and 26g with hundreds of options to choose from in these weights on our well-stocked site.

It is up to personal preference when it comes to players choosing their darts weight, with some players preferring a heavier dart (around 28g) and others favouring a lighter dart (around 18g). Read our ‘How To Choose The Best Darts Weight’ blog for a closer look at the different dart weights on the market.

How much grip?

There are various dart barrel grip types to choose from and it is a personal choice as to which one you opt for with your own darts. Finding the one that works best for you might come with experience and trying out the different dart barrel grips to discover your preferred style.

Do you like a lot of grip on your darts or do you prefer them to be smoother? A smooth darts barrel will suit players who do not like any grip on their darts, whilst a razor grip barrel is more likely to favour players who want plenty of grip.

What is your budget?

Another factor to consider when choosing your darts is what budget you have. The three most common dart barrel types are tungsten, nickel-silver and brass, and all three materials will differ in price. A brass or nickel-silver dart will be more affordable, but is less durable than tungsten, so would be the recommended option for beginners or people who might not play very often.

Tungsten is the most popular choice but will be more expensive because it is a more premium material and a lot denser than brass and nickel-silver. Tungsten dart barrels come in different percentages, to illustrate the percentage of tungsten that makes up the barrel. A 97% tungsten dart will tend to be at the higher end of the price scale, but will offer you the most durability and will last longer than other barrel types.


Dart Barrel Materials

The type of material your dart barrel is made of will make a difference and all have their own benefits. It is worth weighing up what is most important for your game to work out which material you should go for.

For example, tungsten is a dense metal and will be more durable than nickel-silver or brass. As the diagram below shows, a tungsten dart will be slimmer and smaller in diameter than brass, which means it will cover less of the target if you are trying to group several darts in the same segment of the board.

Darts Materials

Tungsten Dart Barrels

These days the most common material players use for dart barrels is tungsten. This is a very heavy and dense material, and as a result the barrels can be made very thin whilst still being the required weight.

Tungsten darts barrels are not 100% tungsten but are in fact a tungsten alloy with other materials, such as nickel and copper, also used alongside the tungsten to make the barrel. The reason tungsten is combined with other materials is that current manufacturing techniques are unable to make a 100% pure tungsten barrel, without sacrificing the strength of the barrel.

A 90% tungsten barrel is the most popular darts barrel, but for players looking for a thinner barrel then there are plenty of options including 95% tungsten and 97% tungsten. In most cases, the higher the tungsten content you have the more expensive the darts tend to be. An 80% tungsten barrel will be slightly thicker and is likely to be a more affordable option for players. 

Brass Dart Barrels

Many years ago, when darts was still in its adolescence, most players would use brass dart barrels. The release of barrels made from nickel-silver, followed by tungsten, led to fewer and fewer players opting to use brass for their darts.

The main reason for this is that brass is a very light and cheap material, so the darts themselves are larger, which makes high scoring more difficult. Brass is also not as durable as other materials, so the grip on the darts would wear off more quickly too.

Brass darts are still used today in pubs, clubs and at home because they are less expensive than tungsten darts, making them the ideal choice for non-serious social players who do not play very often.

Nickel-Silver Dart Barrels

A nickel-silver dart barrel is another more affordable option for players. These darts are made from an alloy consisting of nickel, copper and zinc which provides players with a durable and corrosion-resistant barrel that can be used for a long time.

The high nickel content of the barrels also gives off a shiny silver appearance, for a sleek and professional look. Many of the darts will include grooves or knurling to provide extra grip during play, which is ideal for players looking for a grippier dart but still at a less experience price than a tungsten dart.

The Different Dart Barrel Shapes

There is a range of different dart barrel shapes to choose from and all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. It will depend on what each player wants from their own darts, as some barrel shapes will suit certain playing styles better than others. It is worth experimenting with different dart shapes to see what works best for you.

Straight Dart Barrels

When used in the right way, straight dart barrels can be used for any style of play. Whether it is the Phil Taylor ‘stacking’ method, the Eric Bristow style of sliding each dart past one another, or even the Adrian Lewis technique of having the darts stick up in the board and hitting the darts against each other. The straight barrel is certainly the most universal dart barrel on the market and is used by the likes of Gary Anderson and Eric Bristow.

Bomb Dart Barrels

Bomb barrel darts have been used by the very best players in the business to win multiple World Championship titles. The legendary John Lowe used this type of dart to throw the very first televised nine-dart finish in 1984 (see video below). Also used in the past by Phil Taylor, the bomb dart barrel is most effective when being used in the ‘stacking’ method. This is because this type of dart tends to be short and fat, so it is not a dart that would be renowned for hitting 180 after 180 but is still very efficient at hitting 100 after 100.

Torpedo Dart Barrels

Similar to the bomb shape, a torpedo dart barrel tends to be short and fat, so if you want to hit 180 after 180 then this is probably not the barrel for you. The weight in a torpedo dart tends to be centred in the front of the barrel, which means if you are having trouble keeping the darts sticking in the board, these shape barrels will often go into the board with more force to help stop them falling out.

Scallop Dart Barrels

Scallop darts can actually come in a few different shapes, as you can have a straight barrel or a bomb barrel that includes a scallop. This is the part of a barrel which will be used by players more to help with the grip and is meant to encourage a consistent grip and release. This is because you are always trying to put either your finger or thumb in the same spot, where the scallop is, every time. Former Players Championship finalist Connor Scutt is an example of a professional player that uses a scallop dart.

Tapered Dart Barrels

A tapered dart barrel will start out reasonably straight and thick at the front (near the point), and then suddenly taper down towards the stem. A barrel like this, depending on how thick it is, can be used in different ways. Some players will try to slide these darts past one another, while others will look to attack the board and group the darts more closely together. This style can be perfect for players who grip the dart with their thumb at the rear of the barrel and where it tapers to the stem.

Stealth Dart Barrels

Stealth dart barrels are good for ‘cheating’ points out of a dartboard. By this we mean because of their shape (thin at the front and thick at the back), they are very good at squeezing into a space that does not seem to be there. Darryl Fitton is a great example of a player who can do this, as he can hit 180 after 180 on a pin head, whereas he would not be able to achieve this when using a bomber or torpedo shaped dart.

The Different Dart Barrel Grips

The grip on a dart barrel is also very important, but as with everything else it is all down to player preference. Some players will prefer a lot of grip while others may only need a barrel itself with no grip at all. Even though the difference between grips might not look like much, it can still be noticeable when you throw them. We have ranked the various grip levels in the graphic below, with 0 having no grip whatsoever and 5 meaning a dart that almost does not want to come off the end of your fingers!

Darts Grip Levels

Smooth Grip – Grip Level: 1

A smooth dart comes in at 1 on our grip level system and offers almost no grip at all. In our smooth darts collection you will find barrels that are completely smooth. This type of barrel is a popular choice for players who prefer the effortless and smooth release that a dart with no grip can provide.

Knurled Grip – Grip Level: 1.5-2

A knurled dart features at around 1.5 to 2 on our grip level scale. The knurled darts range will mostly feature horizontal or crossing lines on the surface of the barrels, which offers players a modest amount of grip. The quality of knurling can vary between the darts you choose, but you will find there is not a huge amount of difference between them.

Ringed Grip – Grip Level: 2-3

A ringed grip dart comes in at 2 to 3 on our grip level system and offers plenty of grip for players. The exact grip level will depend on how deep and wide the rings are cut on the barrels. For example, a standard ring grip on an Eric Bristow dart would be a level 2, whilst a James Wade dart would be higher at a level 3.

Micro Grip – Grip Level: 3-4

A micro grip dart will feature at 3-4 on our grip level scale. From a distance, this barrel type can look almost smooth, but do not let it fool you. A micro grip can offer players with the most hard-wearing of grips, and when it is brand new it is a seriously grippy dart.

Razor Grip – Grip Level: 5

A razor grip dart comes in at 5 on our grip level system and offers the optimum grip for players. A thick cut razor grip barrel provides one of the best grips on offer and is longer lasting than a micro grip dart. This type of barrel is ideal for a player who is looking for that little bit of extra grip.


Explore our collection and find the perfect barrel

We hope this ultimate guide to dart barrels will help you find the right style for your game. Finding the perfect dart barrel can take some time, so make sure you consider all of the factors mentioned in this blog. It is worth considering where you hold the dart, what your budget is and the weight and grip that most meets your own personal preferences.

Where possible you should try and experiment with different barrel types. If your friends or family members already play, why not ask them if you can try out their darts to see if they fit with your own style? Darts Corner stocks a wide range of steel tip darts and there is sure to be a dart for you in this collection.

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