Soft Tip Darts vs. Steel Tip Darts: Which One to Choose?

Darts is, without a doubt, one of the games that one can easily get hooked in. 

Sure, it seems like a simple enough game to begin playing. But as you make progress, it will become evident that your success as a player doesn’t rely on just one thing about the game.

Soon enough, you are likely to find yourself taking on new skills, discovering the physics behind the game, and even slowly upgrading your gears. 

This is where the discussion on the type of darts to use may enter the picture. So will you be better off using soft tip darts or steel tip ones?

I’ll walk you through the differences so you can choose the right one for you. 

Soft Tip Darts

Holding a Soft Tip Dart

The components involved in a game of darts have gone through an impressive evolution over the years. In the beginning, it was but a simple pursuit of leisure that was straightforward and perhaps even crude.

But as people became even more invested in the game, new gears and even more refined standards of scoring have been introduced. 

Of its recent additions: plastic soft tips. 

Although not quite a favorite among dart game purists, this type of dart tip has gained a steady and loyal following too. 

They are used mostly as a companion to digital or electronic dartboards. This means that soft tip darts come with the benefits of this type of dartboard: convenience and easy scoring. 

Aptly named, soft tip darts are made out of flexible plastic, fashioned to have a pointed tip. They are pretty popular among households with pets and children because they are safer to use. 

So unless you use it with the intention of causing bodily harm (e.g., hit someone in the eye with it), there’s little to no possibility of needing to go for a trip to the emergency room. 

This is also the top choice for beginners of the game. It allows them to play safely and freely without having to worry about the risk of injuries. 

Plus, because new players aren’t always as precise when throwing darts, they tend to cause damage to their surroundings too. 

So if you’re worried about hole-riddled walls and broken light fixtures, you’ll be glad to know that you can easily bypass the hazards of the game with the use of soft tip darts.  

Of course, there’s a downside to using soft tip darts too. Many users would recommend that you keep a couple of spare tips with you as these can easily get damaged. 

If you’re making the transition from steel tip darts, these can take some time to get used to as well. They’re much more lightweight owing to their nylon or plastic make and have a higher bounce-out rate. 

Learn More about Bounce-out: Here’s What To Do If Darts Not Sticking In Board

What about the price of these soft dart tips, you may ask? 

Setting up an electronic dartboard and buying soft dart tips may set you back quite a bit, but if you want convenience in terms of keeping tabs on the score (along with keeping the players and their surroundings safe), this can still be worth the investment.

PROS

  • Beginner Friendly: Soft tip darts are much easier to handle, making them a popular choice for beginners. These are much lighter and safer than steel tip darts, so you’d be more comfortable starting out with these.
  • Safety: Soft tips are unlikely to hurt someone unless they are hit directly in the eye. This isn’t true of the steel tip variant. Several dart players have had unpleasant journeys to the emergency room to receive stitches for injuries sustained as a result of off-target dart tosses. Most likely, lighter darts have less impact than their heavier counterparts.
  • Less Chances of Breaking Your Things: Inaccuracy might harm your walls or surroundings when playing darts at home. Microwaves, computer displays, and lighting are just a few of the items that are most likely to be damaged. So, unless you like your walls to be littered with holes, lighter soft plastic tips could be your best choice.
  • Can Be Used in Digital Dartboards: Soft tip darts have the most important benefit in that they are widely used on digital dartboards. These computerized dartboards come with a range of games and even keep track of your score.

CONS

  • Wear and Tear: Both lightweight and heavyweight soft plastic tip darts are more prone to wear and tear with continuous use. On rare occasions, the soft plastic material is known to shatter and snap. You’ll have to change them frequently. In fact, if you buy soft tip darts, you’ll need to buy more tips immediately and maintain a large supply on hand at all times.
  • Adaptability: The darts themselves are made of lighter material since they are used on a plastic dartboard. If you’re used to throwing hard steel tips, this may take some getting used to.
  • High Probability of Bounce-out: Since soft tip darts are lighter and more flexible, they tend to bounce out more often. You need to throw the dart at the correct angle and with enough speed to make sure it sticks in the dartboard.
  • Price: The cost for an at-home soft dart kits and digital arrangement is a little more than the standard steel tip dart kit and setup.

Steel Tip Darts

Holding a Steel Tip Darts

Steel tip darts have been in use since the advent of the game. At the start, spears or arrowheads have been used to play. Through time, these steel tip darts were eventually made to look more refined and modern, but they are all still essentially the same.

Weighing at around 30 grams, these hardier and heavier darts (at least in comparison to soft tip ones) give players a much more accurate throw.

They are made out of an alloy of both carbon and iron. This means that you’ll be hard-pressed to bend or snap these hardy tips unless you purposefully do so.

One might also assume that these are much difficult to make, considering the materials that they are made out of. However, the fabrication is actually quite affordable. This translates to affordable market prices for steel tip darts as well.

With their durability and affordability, it comes as no surprise that these are easily a favorite among many dartboard enthusiasts. Not to mention, they are the go-to darts for those who enjoy the game for its tradition and history too.

In terms of its downside, of course, I would be remiss not to mention the safety risks associated with steel tip darts. They’re sharper, can cause damage to the surrounding area, and can even result in injury.

PROS

  • Accuracy: Steel tip darts are usually heavier than soft tip darts, weighing 20-30 grams on average (there are also heavier weights available). This allows for a more precise throw.
  • Customization: There are two types of steel tip darts: ones with fixed points and ones with adjustable points, giving you a little more flexibility. These darts are intended for usage in professional settings when a game of darts is taken more seriously.
  • Less Bounce-out: The probability of a bounce-out when using a steel tip dart is low. The sharp and strong tip can pierce most dartboards with ease. Because a bounce out requires you to toss the dart again, this can result in better game flow and fewer pauses.
  • Durability: The material of steel tip darts makes them typically last longer than other types, and excessive use is unlikely to damage them. As long as you don’t throw them directly into drywall, they should last for months, if not years.

CONS

  • Risk of Injury: It is particularly dangerous for small children since the sharp points might injure them if they get to it and start playing with it. Besides, if it strikes someone while playing, the impact can be severe.
  • Minor Property Damage: If you toss a dart and miss the dartboard, you will damage your walls and leave scratches all over the nearby walls. Though, you can use a backboard to prevent that from happening.
  • Requires More Energy: Although it might sound absurd, if you throw heavy darts over and over again, you will quickly realize just how tiring they can be. Since steel tip darts are naturally heavier than their soft tip counterparts, they need more strength and energy to throw accurately.

Which One Should You Use?

Whether you’re a casual player, starting to get serious about the game, looking to gain a competitive edge, or are already a darts game veteran, your choice of darts tip matters. 

If you are looking to play darts recreationally, then an electronic dartboard with its soft tip darts might just be the best choice for you.

They are convenient and can help you keep track of the game, so you don’t have to spend your tallying scores for the players. They are best used by younger players who are just starting out. 

Shortly put, soft tip darts are safer and have little to no room for arguments in terms of tabulating scores.

Steel tip darts, on the other hand, are preferred by the more veteran players — and for good reasons. 

Thanks to its weight, they afford more accurate throws, and they’re more traditionally used in competitive dartboard games. 

So while manual scoring may seem tedious to those who are playing recreationally, it’s not so much a disadvantage when in a competitive setting where people are more likely to be more invested in the scoring of the game. 

Additionally, steel tip darts are more durable and can last longer. However, they can be quite a safety hazard. 

So, in terms of safety, steel tip darts may not be the best choice of darts for beginners and younger players. Using these can cause injury and even damage to the area wherein which the game is played too. 

Unless they’ve had time to hone their skills as players, this specific demographic is recommended to use soft tip ones instead. 

Soft Tip Darts and Steel Tip Darts: Can You Use Both? 

Choosing between soft tip darts and steel tip ones is ultimately up to your own preferences. However, the question remains — can you use both? 

Although I recommend that you give both a try to figure out which one you prefer, I don’t think that it’s a good idea to keep switching between these two options. 

See, their difference in weight alone is a big factor. If you use steel tip darts one day and then soft tip ones the next, your accuracy might suffer.

My suggestion is to master one type (and familiarize yourself with the nuances of each, especially their weight) instead of switching in between games.

This is especially important to those who are looking to play darts competitively. It’s better to master the use of a particular gear instead of putting off making a decision and using both at the same time. 

However, if you’re simply looking to up your family game nights and get-together with friends through dart games, then switching between these two types may not be too much of a big deal. 

Still, as you strive to become a better player, you might soon come to understand the significance of sticking to one type of dart tip at a time. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Still, need more information about steel dart tips and soft tip ones? I’ve put together these commonly asked questions to help you make a decision:

1. Why Do Soft Tip Darts Have a Different Throwing Line?

The standard throwing line for soft tip darts is typically 2.75 inches further from the board compared to the throwing line for steel tip darts, rounding the line to an 8-foot oche. The reason for this is still much debated among dartboard circles, but the prevailing speculation is that a rounded 8-foot oche is a lot easier to remember, considering that the target users for soft tip darts are beginners and recreational gamers.

2. Why Do Soft Tip Darts Players Go for Bulls in X01?

To answer this, let me first recount the scoring system that typically applies to steel tip darts. A T-20 is scored at about 60, the red bull at 25, and the black double bull at 50.

In a game using soft tip darts, the distinction between the red and black zones is not defined. This means that players using soft tip darts have a much bigger chance of scoring points for bulls in X01. So they might typically aim for this instead of using up their shots with T-20s.

3. Why Don’t Steel Tip Darts Use Threaded Points?

The answer to this is actually quite straightforward: it’s cheaper to fabricate without the threaded points. Not to mention, the lack of this feature allows makers to make much longer dart points.

4. Can You Convert Steel Tip Darts into Soft Tip Darts or Vice Versa?

Yes, you can convert the tip of your darts between steel and soft tip ones. You can do this with the help of conversion kits and rubber o-rings. If you’re looking to use both soft and steel tip darts, you may have considered using these kits instead of buying two separate sets of darts.

The conversion typically results in adding extra weight or making it lighter, whichever the case may be. All you need to do is to simply switch out the tip barrels to enjoy both types of darts.

To Conclude

There are pros and cons to each dart option. Some of the considerations you may have when choosing between the two include the level of your mastery of the game, your reason for playing (whether competitively or recreationally), your regard for safety, and if you are a stickler to tradition or a fan of dart game technology. 

Even so, your choice will still boil down to one thing: your personal preference. 

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Fred Corder - SportsDean
Fred Corder
Fred Corder found his love for darts later in life after graduating from college in 2012. Now, for almost ten years, he has been helping others learn the best methods and tricks for improving their focus and precision and is enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge with a broader audience here.

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