Table of Contents
Best Soft Tip and Steel Tip Darts – Our Recommendations
Last update on 2023-09-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What are Steel Tip Darts?
Steel tip darts are also known as regular darts or traditional darts are what you would see at most bars or pubs/clubs in the UK. The game is steeped in history and has been played since 15th century England. It is a big part of the pub culture in the UK. Until the introduction of electronic dartboards steel tip darts were just known as ‘darts’ as they are the original type.
They adopted the name “steel tip” to differentiate between the two types of darts and come from the steel tips of the darts which pierce the dartboard. Steel is extremely strong and is unlikely to be damaged unless deliberately thrown with power at a hard surface.
Steel tip darts weigh more than soft tip darts but are not as popular in the US with casual players because the electronic dartboards have proved extremely popular in bars and pubs. Electronic boards allow groups of people to play together easily and remove the hassle of keeping score.
This makes it easy to run tournaments and competitions.
The steel tip on the barrel of the dart is designed to pierce a dartboard and score points and generally, they will have much fewer bounce-outs than soft tip darts. Quality steel tip darts are made of at least 80% tungsten; this gives them the weight needed but allows the barrel of the dart to be slim.
Steel tip darts come in many weight variations though usually average between 22g and 26g. The steel tips are usually one piece with the barrel of the dart – unlike soft tips that need to be replaceable as they are often damaged.
What are Soft Tip Darts?
Soft tip darts are what you see at most bars or events in the US. They are lighter and safer so they are the “default” option for casual players. Soft tip points are made of a plastic called polyethylene (although other materials such as carbon fiber are starting to emerge now).
The polyethylene tips will not damage the dartboard so they can be reused thousands of times. They are also preferred in a commercial setting and any bar, whether electronic or regular – as they reduce the risk of someone getting injured due to a rogue dart.
Soft tip darts usually weigh 18g and 24g which is great for casual gameplay. Heavy ones are available if you prefer.
The Main Differences Between Soft Tip and Steel Tip Darts
- Steel tips have sharp points made of steel, soft tips have slightly rounded points and are made of plastic.
- Soft tip darts are lighter.
- Soft tip boards triple and double areas are usually slightly larger.
- Steel tip darts are played on sisal bristle boards and soft tip darts are played on plastic, usually electronic boards.
- Soft tip darts the score is kept by the board.
- With soft tip darts, you can play against the computer.
- With soft tip darts, you can play against friends remotely.
- The whole of the bullseye in soft tip darts counts as 50 points.
- The throw line is slightly further away.
As suggested by their title, steel tip darts are made of steel. They are sharp and pointy so they can stick in sisal bristle board easily. When you drop them, they are usually not damaged.
Can I use Soft Tip Darts on a Regular (Bristle) Dartboard?
Yes, soft tip darts can be used on bristle boards. However, you may want to rotate your board more often as they will deteriorate your bristle board faster.
Steel tips should not be used with an electronic dartboard (unless it specifically states that this is ok). They will damage your dartboard both with the sharp points and the extra weight.
Why Are Soft Tip Darts Lighter?
Soft tip darts are lighter than steel tip darts because otherwise, they would damage the plastic, electronic boards. However, soft tip boards have become a lot more durable in recent years and hence the weight of soft tip darts has increased.
It is unusual to have soft tip darts over 20g as a heavier weight will likely damage the delicate electronics that register hits. When these break down,
You might also like our article on Best Replacement Soft Tips for Darts.
Can you Put Steel Tips on Soft Tip Darts?
Yes, soft tip darts all have removable tips because they are likely to need to be replaced. You can buy screw-on replacement steel tips to transform your soft tip darts into steel tips. However, due to the weight differences, we recommend you get a separate set of darts for both games.
Advantages of Soft Tip Darts
- No complicated math to figure out
- Can play against a computer
- Tripe and double areas are larger
- Can easily play in groups – perfect for parties
- Kid-friendly as soft tips will not puncture the skin
- Less likely to damage walls
- Score counts regardless of bounce-outs
- Darts are cheaper to purchase
Disadvantages of Soft Tip Darts
- They don’t feel the same
- No satisfying noise when darts hit the dartboard
- Can only use lighter darts
- Dartboards are more likely to break and need maintenance
- Electronic Dartboards can be expensive
Advantages of Steel Tip Darts
- They feel great
- Satisfying noise when darts hit the board
- Can use heavier darts
- Fewer bounce-outs
- Game steeped in history
- Can rotate the dartboard to minimize damage
- Less likely to break
Disadvantages of Steel Tip Darts
- You have to keep score
- Can’t play remotely
- Not child safe
- Stray darts may damage walls or floors
Both soft tip darts and steel tip darts have their place now and it’s really up to you which one is best. If you play at your local pub or bar frequently, it is likely that they already have an electronic board so you should consider getting soft tip darts. Likewise, if you play in a family environment where there are children, you should also opt for soft tip darts.
However, we recommend that every darts player try steel tips at least once. Only by playing can you get a sense of why this version has survived through centuries without the bells and whistles of voice commands and LCD scoring.
The way the darts fly. The wonderful thudding sound they make on the board and the challenge of competing in a game that is simple enough in principle to allow anyone to play but a tricky game to master will get you hooked in no time!
Regardless, both games are lots of fun and are really challenging skills to learn. They both can bring a taste of social competition and make parties lots of fun.
We hope that this article answered all your questions on the differences between soft tip and steel tip darts. If you have any comments, do not hesitate to let us know below. Happy darting!
Check out our article on What do Pro Darts Players Have in Their Case?
Sue has been playing darts since her 20’s when she played in weekly tournaments and she enjoys writing about darts. She’s also a great teacher, and she enjoys helping others learn how to play the game well. When Sue isn’t throwing darts, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
The easy way to keep track of your score is with our printable darts scoresheets. Easy to download and keep on your phone or computer or print straight off from our website. Pop your email address into the box and we'll send them straight to you.