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The game of darts has been around for over 150 years and is a staple at bars and pubs across North America and Europe. It’s one of the few leisure games that anyone can pick up and enjoy without a lot of practice.
You’ll see dartboards in offices, college dorms, apartments, and rec rooms. It’s a fun game to play as you pass the time.
If you’re looking to add a dartboard to your home or business, you’ll want to make sure you get a quality board that’s easy to use and doesn’t cause any problems (beyond trying to hit the bullseye, that is).
That’s where we come in. At BestReviews, we research current product offerings in order to separate the awesome from the not-so-great. We speak with experts, consult owners, and buy and test products in our lab. Our mission is to provide you with the information you need to make an informed purchase.
If you’re ready to buy a new dartboard, please see the product matrix above for our top five recommendations. If you’d like to learn more about dartboards and how to find a good one, please read on.
Modern dartboards are often made from sisal, a plant fiber found in rope and twine. Sisal is also used in paper, cloth, hats, carpets, and other items.
Manufacturers of today’s top-quality dartboards use sisal because the fiber is self-healing. You can puncture a board with darts hundreds of times, and the fiber will mend itself after you remove the dart. That doesn’t mean the board won’t degrade over time; the fiber is still a textile product with a finite lifespan. However, a good sisal dartboard will hold up for years, possibly decades, without requiring replacement.
Four of the five dartboards on our shortlist are made of sisal. These include the Winmau Blade 4, the Nodor SupaBull2, the Viper Razorback, and the Franklin Sports board. Only the TG Champion isn’t made of this material. Instead, the manufacturer uses a bristle design to accommodate both metal and soft-tipped darts.
Many budget dart boards on the market are made of cork or coiled paper. These wear out easily and can fail to secure darts when they land.
Some boards include a raised metal wiring display that separates the different scoring sections of the board. These sections measure between 1/8 and 1/16 of an inch.
The wires form three inner rings on the board. As you play, it’s possible to hit these wires — or the staples that hold them in place — with your darts. The darts could feasibly bounce off of the wires or staples and create a safety hazard.
Some high-end dartboards are designed minimize this chance of “bounceback” in the following ways:
When a dart hits a piece of metal on the board, it could bounce back unpredictably. Be sure to keep breakable items away from the vicinity of your board and the wall on which you mount it.
Each board features a number scheme along the outer border. This makes it easier to read the score.
In addition to the metal wires mentioned above, some boards incorporate a metal frame design to make the numbers stand out. This is purely an aesthetic choice, and some people won’t like it, since stand-out numbers could cause the darts to bounce off of them.
The Franklin Sports dartboard is the only product on our shortlist with painted-on numbers. The rest are designed with the numbers as part of the outer wire frame.
A dartboard is secured to the wall either by hanging or mounting.
There are many third-party mounting brackets to hold your board in place, if the packaged one is not sufficient.
Most dartboards come with two sets of three darts, for a total of six. Each dart set has its own flair so you can see which player’s darts are hitting the board.
Metal-tipped darts are usually made of tungsten or nickel-steel so they don’t snap off or break on the board. Nickel-steel darts are lighter and easier to throw at the target, whereas tungsten darts are heavier but last longer. The weight tends to range between 20 and 30 grams, depending on what they’re made of.
There are heavier darts made by the companies who make these boards. However, we recommend these heavier darts only if you wish to add an extra degree of challenge to your game. Compensating for the added mass makes things trickier, but for some people, it also makes the game more exhilarating.
A great feature of the game of darts is that if you ever lose or break a dart, you can easily replace it with another dart from another company.
Plastic-tipped darts have the same design as metal darts. However, repeated use can eventually crack a plastic dart or cause the tip to snap off.
There are two kinds of players when it comes to darts: those who play for fun and those who play for points. If you’re looking for a bit of harmless fun, just about any dartboard will do. But if you’re looking to compete with others, you want a tournament board that meets competitive play regulations.
A standard tournament board is 18 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches thick.
The way you calculate points in darts is quite simple. Each area of the board is worth the number of points stated. So if you hit 17, you have 17 points.
Notably, there are three rings on the board that affect point values:
As the owner of a dartboard, you should be prepared to fix small holes in your wall from time to time. It’s the nature of the game.
Dartboards range in price from about $30 to $60.
The Winmau is a top-of-the-line board. Here are some highlights that account for its greater cost.
The frame has 50% less wire than some other boards, resulting in fewer bouncouts.
The wiring is triangulated (shaped into a triangle point) so that if a dart does hit the wire, it has a greater chance of hitting a scoring area (rather than bouncing to the ground).
The best budget board on our list is the TG. It’s designed almost exactly to the letter for competitive play, yet it’s one of the most inexpensive brands — ideal for dart players who are watching their expenses. Both Nodor and TG boards are frequently seen at professional dart tournaments.
Q: What is a staple-free dartboard?
A: Once upon a time, it was common for the cork side of a dartboard to be stapled to the wood side. Some boards are still made this way today, but others are “staple-free.” Players appreciate a staple-free design because there are no metal staples in the board that could cause bounceback.
Q: Do I need any special eyewear to play the game?
A: Not really. If you’re worried about a dart flying back at you, consider wearing a pair of safety goggles.
Q: Why do darts have plastic pieces on the end?
A: The back end of the dart is called the flight. It enables the dart to cut through the air with less drag so you have a better chance of hitting your target.
Q: I’m a newbie. What are the rules for darts?
A: Many variations of the game exist, but the most common is called “301.” The objective is to lower your score all the way down to one. Your final shot must be the bullseye.
You can browse online to find variations of these rules, as well as a complete set of other games you could play.