Steel Tip Darts vs. Soft Tip Darts: What is the Difference?

Darts is a game enjoyed by millions around the world, providing both a social and competitive outlet. When diving into the world of darts, one of the first decisions players must make is whether to play with steel tip darts or soft tip darts. Understanding the differences between these two types can enhance your game experience, ensuring you choose the right equipment for your needs.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the distinctions between steel tip darts and soft tip darts, covering everything from their construction to their gameplay.

What are Steel Tip Darts?


Steel tip darts, as the name suggests, feature a pointed steel tip designed to penetrate traditional bristle dartboards. These darts are typically made from durable materials like tungsten, nickel-silver, or brass, with tungsten being the preferred choice for serious players due to its high density and durability. The body of the dart, known as the barrel, can vary in shape and texture to provide a comfortable grip.


Steel tip darts are primarily used in traditional dart games, and they are the standard in professional and competitive play. The sharp steel tip ensures a secure grip on the dartboard, reducing bounce-outs and enhancing scoring consistency. Players often prefer steel tip darts for their precision and stability, making them ideal for honing skills and competing at higher levels.


Steel tip darts are used with bristle dartboards, usually made from sisal fibers. These boards are self-healing, meaning the holes left by the darts close up, maintaining the board’s longevity. The durability of bristle boards combined with the reliability of steel tip darts makes this pairing the gold standard in the dart-playing community.

What are Soft Tip Darts?


Soft tip darts, on the other hand, feature a flexible, plastic tip designed to be used with electronic dartboards. These darts are often lighter than their steel tip counterparts, typically made from similar materials like tungsten or brass but with a lighter overall weight to accommodate the electronic board’s requirements. The barrels of soft tip darts also come in various designs to suit different throwing styles.


Soft tip darts are commonly associated with electronic dartboards, which offer a variety of games and automated scoring systems. These darts are popular in casual and recreational settings, including bars and arcades. The flexibility of the plastic tip reduces the risk of injury, making soft tip darts a safer choice for younger players and social environments.


Electronic dartboards used with soft tip darts are made from plastic and contain numerous small holes that catch the dart tips. These boards can feature automatic scoring, a wide range of game options, and other interactive features. While they are less durable than bristle boards, electronic dartboards provide a fun and engaging experience for casual players.

Key Differences Between Steel Tip and Soft Tip Darts

1. Tip Material and Safety

  • Steel Tip Darts: Sharp, metal tips designed for precision. Best for serious players but require careful handling to avoid injury.
  • Soft Tip Darts: Flexible, plastic tips designed for safety. Ideal for casual play and safer for use around children.

2. Dartboard Compatibility

  • Steel Tip Darts: Used with bristle dartboards. Preferred for professional and competitive play.
  • Soft Tip Darts: Used with electronic dartboards. Popular in social and recreational settings.

3. Weight and Balance

  • Steel Tip Darts: Heavier, offering better stability and precision. The weight contributes to a more consistent throw.
  • Soft Tip Darts: Lighter, easier to throw for extended periods. Suitable for casual players who prioritize ease of use.

4. Gameplay Experience

  • Steel Tip Darts: Provides a traditional dart-playing experience. Preferred for skill development and serious competition.
  • Soft Tip Darts: Offers a modern, interactive experience with features like automatic scoring and multiple game options. Great for entertainment and social gatherings.

5. Durability

  • Steel Tip Darts and Bristle Boards: Highly durable and self-healing. Ideal for frequent use and long-term investment.
  • Soft Tip Darts and Electronic Boards: Less durable, with the potential for electronic malfunctions. Better suited for occasional play.

Choosing the Right Darts for You

The choice between steel tip and soft tip darts ultimately depends on your playing environment, skill level, and personal preferences.

  • For Competitive Players: Steel tip darts with bristle boards are the best choice, offering durability, precision, and the traditional feel of the game.
  • For Casual Players: Soft tip darts with electronic boards provide a fun, safe, and versatile gaming experience, perfect for social settings and casual play.


Understanding the differences between steel and soft tip darts is crucial for choosing the right equipment. Whether you’re aiming to compete at a high level or simply enjoy a game with friends, selecting the appropriate type of darts and dartboard can significantly enhance your dart-playing experience. Explore both options and find the setup that suits your style and needs, ensuring countless hours of enjoyment in the world of darts.


Are steel tip darts more accurate than soft tip darts?

Steel tip darts are generally more accurate due to their weight and stability, making them preferred by serious and competitive players.

Can you use steel tip darts on an electronic dartboard?

No, steel tip darts can damage electronic dartboards. Soft tip darts are specifically designed for use with these boards.

What materials are best for dart barrels?

Tungsten is the most popular material for dart barrels due to its density and durability, providing a balanced and long-lasting dart.

How do I maintain my dartboard?

For bristle boards, rotate the board regularly to ensure even wear. For electronic boards, keep the surface clean and handle with care to avoid damage.

Are soft tip darts safer than steel tip darts?

Yes, soft tip darts are safer due to their flexible plastic tips, reducing the risk of injury, making them ideal for casual play and younger players.

By understanding the nuances between steel tip and soft tip darts, you can make an informed decision that will enhance your enjoyment and performance in the game of darts. Happy playing!

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