The type of dart shaft you use will impact the way the dart travels in the air, and how you hold it. In this article, I’ll take you through all the different types of dart shafts (also known as stems) including the different materials and lengths, so you can decide which stems to buy next.
Dart Shaft Types and Material
There are 4 main types of dart shafts: plastic/ nylon, aluminium, carbon fiber and titanium. Plastic shafts are the cheapest but most prone to damage, aluminium shafts are stronger but are prone to bending and carbon fiber and titanium shafts are the most durable.
Here are some images of the different types. All 4 images below link to Amazon.
Dart Shaft Materials
Dart shafts can be made from 4 main types of material:
- Plastic/ nylon
- Carbon Fiber/ Composite
Plastic dart shafts are the cheapest but least durable. Aluminium dart shafts are more durable than plastic but can bend over-time. Carbon fiber and titanium shafts are the most expensive but least likely to bend or break, the difference between the two being that carbon fiber is a much lighter material.
Plastic/ nylon dart shafts are very popular because the are inexpensive which allows players to try different lengths and experiment to find the ideal shape. However, the disadvantage of plastic shafts is that they are quite brittle and break easily. This usually occurs when you throw the darts closely together.
Professionals and experienced darts players will usually break a set of plastic shafts more quickly because they are better at grouping darts in tight areas (e.g. trebles). More casual players who are less accurate will likely get better longevity out of plastic shafts.
Aluminium dart shafts are more expensive than plastic shafts, but a lot more durable. They are much stronger and less likely to break if they are struck by another dart.
The only other disadvantage of aluminium shafts excluding the price, is that they have a tendency to bend. However, they can be re-straightened so you can continue to use them.
Carbon Fiber/ Composite
Carbon fiber dart shafts are expensive but very strong and durable. They are not prone to bending like aluminium shafts, nor are they likely to break like plastic shafts. They are also lightweight which is useful for players who want to keep the overall weight of their darts quite low.
Titanium dart shafts are quite expensive, but they are similar to carbon fiber darts in terms of their strength as they are not prone to breaking or bending. The issue with titanium shafts is that they are quite heavy.
This isn’t too much of a problem if you want a heavy dart overall, and are using a heavy barrel, but if you are using a lighter barrel then the balance point is likely to be shifted too far back and will cause the darts to droop downwards in the board.
Which is the Best Dart Shaft Material?
Here is a table showing the pros and cons of the 4 main materials used to make dart shafts.
|Prone to breaking||Prone to bending||Very durable||Very durable|
Most carbon fiber and titanium shafts come in packs of 3, whereas you can find plastic and aluminium shafts in either packs of 3 or larger quantities (usually around 30) making them a much cheaper option. Here’s how much each type of dart shaft costs on average.
|Shaft Material Type||Price Range||Approx. Price per Shaft|
|Plastic/ Nylon||$5-$10 for 30||$0.25|
|Aluminium||$8-$12 for 30||$0.50|
|Carbon Fiber||$12-$15 for 3||$4.50|
|Titanium||$15-$25 for 3||$6.60|
Locked vs Spinning Dart Shafts
There are two main types of dart shaft mechanisms for holding the flight: locked and spinning. Spinning shafts allow the flight to spin around when it is hit by another dart, hence reducing the amount of damage that may occur to the flight.
Both spinning and locked dart shafts can be made from plastic/ nylon, aluminium, titanium or carbon fiber. Spinning flights are usually 2-3x more expensive compared to standard locked dart shafts where the flight will not spin if it is hit by another dart.
Some players do not like spinning dart shafts because they can rattle and introduce instability during the flight path. Some shafts are rattle more than others though so it really depends on the quality of the individual shaft. You can also use cling film or other materials to reduce the amount of movement. Also some players like to replace their flights often anyway, so spinning shafts don’t really offer much benefit.
Like with most things related to darts equipment, it’s really down to personal preference.
|Fixed Shafts||Spinning Shafts|
|Less expensive||More expensive|
|Flights will need replacing more frequently||Flights will last longer before they need replacing|
|No issues with rattling or instability||Can introduce rattling and reduce stability|
Check out my complete guide to spinning stems to learn more about the pros and cons.
Dart Shaft Lengths
Dart shafts can also be separated into different types according to their length. There are 6 types of dart shaft lengths:
- Extra short
- Intermediate/ In-Between
Shorter shafts are suited to players who prefer to grip the dart at the front of the barrel (closer to the point) whereas longer shafts often feel better to players who grip the dart further towards the back of the barrel.
I’ve written a complete guide to dart shaft length and the different factors of your throw that it impacts so make sure you check it out if you don’t know which is the best option for you.