Long vs Short Dart Shafts: Does Stem Length Matter?

Each component of a dart affects how it flies through the air, and the shaft (also known as the stem) is an important component to consider. In this article, I’ll explain how the length of the dart’s shaft affects how you throw the dart and where it lands in the board so you can decide which is the best one to try.

The Quick Answer

The length of a dart shaft affects the speed, stability and angle of entry of the dart into the board. Shorter dart shafts suit players who grip the dart towards the front of the barrel. Longer dart shafts provide more stability when throwing the dart slowly, whilst shorter shafts travel more quickly.

Dart Shaft Length

Dart shafts vary in size from 12.5 mm to over 65 mm, with the average being roughly 35-48 mm. There are 6 types of dart shaft lengths: micro, extra short, short, intermediate (in-between), medium and long. Here are the approximate sizes.

  • Micro: 12.5-15 mm
  • Extra short: 27-32 mm
  • Short: 34-37 mm
  • Intermediate/ In-Between: 39-41 mm
  • Medium: 42-49 mm
  • Long: 50-65 mm

Some brands use slightly different ranges for each type, but these are the most common. You may also notice that some brands have slightly different names for each type, for example the intermediate type is also called “in-between” or “tweenies” depending on who makes them.

The most popular types are short, in-between, medium and long. You’ll rarely see players using extra short and especially micro dart shafts as these can make it quite difficult to hold the dart.

Long vs Short Dart Shafts

So why does the length of a dart shaft actually matter?

The length of a dart shaft affects the center of gravity (balance point) of the dart. Short dart shafts will shift the balance point towards the front of the barrel, whereas long dart shafts will shift the balance point towards the flight. This affects how you grip the dart and the flight path.

  • Short dart shafts suit players who grip the dart towards the front of the barrel
  • In-between and medium shafts suit players who grip the dart in the center of the barrel
  • Long shafts suit players who grip the dart towards the back of the barrel

Not only do different stem lengths suit different grip types, but they also impact the flight of the dart.

Dart Speed

Shorter dart stems cause the dart to travel more quickly through the air. Whether you want your dart to travel more quickly or slowly will depend on how you throw the dart. Typically, looping style throws will suit a slower dart whereas harder throws will suit a faster dart. The speed of the dart will also depend heavily on the barrel, point and flight as well.


As a general rule, the longer the shaft of the dart, the more stable the flight path will be. Players who throw the dart more slowly with a “floating” style, then a longer shaft will add some more stability to the flight path. However, players who throw the dart harder and faster, will not find this to be of much benefit.

Angle of Entry

This refers to how flat or tilted the dart sits when it enters the board. Short dart stems cause the dart to tilt upwards as the flight when it enters the board compared to longer stems which sit flatter in the board.

Other factors such as the barrel weight and the flight type also impact the angle of entry massively, so it’s important to consider all the components holistically to figure out if you will be better off with a longer or shorter shaft.

Check out my article explaining why the angle of entry is so important and what influences it.

What is the Best Stem Length?

This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many variables involved in selecting the different components of a dart. What’s the best stem length for you, might be a disaster for another player.

For beginners, a medium or in-between dart shaft with a length between 40-45 mm is recommended as this will suit most players. This dart shaft length allows you to grip the barrel in most positions, has a stable flight path and travels at an average speed through the air making it comfortable to learn with.

If you’re a more experienced player and you’re looking to tweak your darts then consider trying a short or long dart stem if you’re currently using a medium or in-between length. If you want to add more speed, try a shorter stem, and if you want to add some more stability, choose a longer stem.

How to Choose Dart Shafts?

The best way to choose a dart shaft length is to consider where you hold the dart. If you prefer to grip the dart closer to the front of the barrel, then try a shaft length of 34-36 mm. However, if you prefer to grip the dart towards the back of the barrel then try a shaft which has a length of at least 45 mm. For players who grip the dart in the middle of the barrel, a shaft length of 40-42 mm is likely to be ideal.

As with any component of the dart, trying different shaft lengths is important. You never really know what the ideal one is until you’ve tried it. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to consider your dart holistically, and see the stem length as a “tweak” to make adjustments to your darts overall flight path.

The material the dart stem is made of is also important to consider. Check out my article comparing the 4 different types of dart shafts to learn more.

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Game and Entertain

Hey, I'm Heather, the owner and creator of gameandentertain.com. I made this website to help you learn more about setting up a home entertainment and games room. My favourite games are ping pong, darts and pool, but I also have experience in other games which I aim to share using this website.

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