To the uninitiated, getting started with the game of darts as a hobby might seem like an easy task; after all, you only need a couple of items to get a game going. However, the game of darts is multifaceted, with the result of a match being determined equally by skill, luck, and physics.

One of the most impactful decisions you will make is choosing the type of dart with which to play. Steel tip darts or soft tip darts, what is the difference?

Steel tip darts have metal points and are designed to be used when playing on bristle dartboards. Soft tip darts have flexible tips manufactured out of soft plastic, and while they can be used on a bristle board, they are generally more often used on plastic or electronic dartboard.

Newcomers can be left perplexed when they realize that what at first seemed like a no-brainer of a sport is actually packed with an abundance of choices to be made.

Deciding on each and every variable of a dart can be a daunting task for a beginner, mainly because not one of them is inconsequential. Whether you need a steel tip dart or soft tip dart is the first step in the dart selection process. Let’s take a closer look at the differences.

Steel Tip Darts

Set of steel tip darts

Since the early days of the sport, the game has been played with steel tip darts. In fact, the precursor game to darts was a military past time that involved soldiers throwing metal spearheads or arrowheads.

Therefore, steel tips are deeply ingrained in the psyche of dart players everywhere. To some players, even considering playing with soft tip darts is akin to blasphemy. But is there more to steel tip darts than tradition?

The answer is most definitely yes. Playing with steel tip darts provide a multitude of benefits that make them the right choice.

Steel tip darts are heavier (usually between 20-30 grams) and allow for weightier, more precise throws.

Steel, being an alloy of iron and carbon, gives dart tips an increased strength while keeping fabrication costs down. Hard steel tips will rarely ever snap and almost never bend unless purposefully thrown at hard surfaces.

This strength will add to the longevity of your dart. Durability will ensure you get your money’s worth of your investment.

Finally, we come back to the aspect of tradition. If you are a stickler for tradition, then you will want to opt for old-school hard steel tip darts. Some dart players, especially hardened veterans will even go so far as to imply that unless you are throwing steel-tips, you are not really playing darts.

You can check out our recommendation for best beginner darts here or read our full buyers guide for steel tip darts

Soft Tip Darts

Soft tip darts

Plastic soft tip darts are a relatively recent addition to the sport; however, they have attained a significant degree of adoption and popularity amongst many circles within some dart playing communities.

Under the right circumstances, plastic tip darts can offer, an unrivaled convenience which makes them the perfect choice for some people.

Soft tip darts, as the name implies, are manufactured using molded soft plastic which makes them the obvious choice when it comes to player safety.

Unless you hit somebody directly in the eye, there is very little chance that soft-tips will cause any harm. This cannot be said about the steel tip variety. More than a few dart players have had unpleasant trips to the emergency room to get stitches for injuries caused by off-target dart throws.

If you are planning on playing in a household with young children or pets, plastic soft-tips may be ideal for your specific situation and will provide you with peace of mind.

The same applies if you play with friends who are not particularly accurate throwers. By playing with soft plastic tip darts, you will significantly minimize the risk of injury.

Electronic dartboard

The most significant advantage of soft tip darts is they are commonly used on digital dartboards. These electronic dartboards offer a variety of games and will even keep score for you.

The price for entry for an at-home setup is a little steeper, but if your math skills aren’t quite up to par, an automatic scoring system is ideal.

When playing darts at home, inaccuracy could destroy your walls or surroundings. Microwave, computer monitor, lights are all on the list of things that have been hit in my house. So, unless you are fond of hole-riddled walls, your best bet may be to go with soft plastic tips.

These benefits come at a price (literally). Soft plastic tip darts are more prone to wear and tear from regular play. The soft plastic material is known to easily break and snap on occasion. You will need to replace them often.

In fact, when you purchase soft tip darts, you are going to need to buy additional tips right from the start and make sure to keep a healthy supply on hand at all times.

Because they are used on a plastic dartboard, the darts themselves are made of lighter material. This can take some getting used to if you are accustomed to throwing hard steel tips.

While the lighter dart and design of the board make soft tip darts more prone to more bounce outs, most digital dart boards will still record your score if this happens.

If You Use Both?

Switching back and forward between steel-tip to soft-tip can wreak havoc on your accuracy. For a few different reasons.

  • Usually, you are going to be throwing a much heavier steel tip dart as opposed to soft.
  • Plastic boards often have larger scoring areas, making bristle boards a little more challenging.
  • The throw line for soft tip darts is 2.75 inches further away from the board.
  • The holes in a plastic board force a more limited angle of penetration.

So if you are planning on playing with both, expect to spend some serious time re-adjusting your throwing techniques.

The Answer To A Pointed Question

For most choosing between hard steel tip darts and soft plastic tip darts is an easy task. You can ask yourself one pointed question.

Where are you going to play, and who are you going to be playing with? This will determine which option is best suited to your particular situation. If you are in a league or play in pubs throughout the town, you will need to use the dart suitable for the venue.

If you are just playing at home for fun with a few mates, you can use the information above to make an educated decision.