Just like nearly everything around us, dart throwing has undergone some serious transformations. It wasn’t so long ago when elm blocks were used as dartboards, and darts only had steel tips. Now, it’s common to find darts with either steel or soft tips. A dart board could be bristle or electronic, though there are variations.

If you are wondering about the differences between electronic darts and real darts (or steel tip darts as they are commonly referred to) then read the post below. But before we look at the differences between available darts and dart boards, we will need to consider the properties of a dart and a dartboard.

1. Dart Attributes

A dart has four parts, regardless of the nature of its tip. These include:

The Flight

As you might have deduced from its name, this part of a dart makes it airborne for the short duration it spends in the air. The pattern of the flight of a dart could determine its level of fluidity in the air. While it comes in different colors, this adds little value to the efficiency of a throw.

The Shaft

This segment of a dart can be made of either material such as plastic or metal. Dimensions vary based on what the user wants as there are no real benefits of any variation in this part of the dart.

The Barrel

If there is a part of the dart affected the most by the choice of material this is it. The barrel of a dart affects the accuracy of your throw. It could be made of tungsten, or alloys such as brass. A tungsten-based barrel increases the cost of a dart. This isn’t a surprise considering the benefits associated with it. A tungsten-based barrel can have narrower girth compared to those of other metallic alloys. A narrow barrel translates to lower resistance when the dart is in the air. The barrel is the part of a dart the most weight. You will need to go with a weight you are comfortable with.

The Point

This is the part which differentiates darts. It also determines the type of dart board to be used. This isn’t far-fetched since it’s the part of the dart which makes contact with the dart board. There are two types of darts based on the point.

Steel-tip dart – A steel-tip dart is compatible with most types of dart boards. The tip of this kind of dart can be fixed or movable. A fixed tip is quite commonplace. The only advantage of the movable tip can be seen when the dart makes contact with the wire on a dart board it still penetrates the board. This isn’t the case with the fixed steel tip

Soft tip dart – The soft tip dart is usually made of plastic. A soft tip can only be used on an electronic dart board. The visible difference between darts of this kind is the width of the barrel connecting to the tip. While some soft tip darts have a wider barrel end connecting to the tip, others are relatively smaller. There are no special benefits for either barrel width, but the smaller can easily be replaced since it’s more popular.

2. Dart Boards

Dart boards come in different types based mainly on the component(s). The types of dart boards include:

Bristle Dartboards

This is the most popular type of dartboard. It is produced using sisal fibers. Bristle dart boards come with metal rings which hold the edges together. When purchasing a metal ring ensure it is removable. The fibers ensure a steel tip dart thrown at the dart board can penetrate it.


  • It last longer than any other dart board
  • Requires little maintenance
  • The openings made by a dart are quickly closed by the fibers in the board
  • Compatible with steel tip darts which are relatively commonplace


  • It fades with time due to the fiber content
  • Elements such as moisture and sunlight greatly affect the durability of this dart board

Electronic Dart Boards

The electronic dart board has enjoyed a substantial amount of popularity, second to only the bristle type. This type of dart board has a lot of small openings which a dart can enter. This is a glaring departure from what’s obtainable with the bristle dartboard.

Like all things electronic, this type of dart board has gimmicks which could be beneficial to a beginner. You can keep track of your progress and view your score with ease on a display section. You also get a variety of dart games incorporated into this type. The electronic dart board was previously only used with a soft-tip dart, though this seems to have changed with advances in technology.


  • Designed with beginners in mind
  • Numerous gimmicks which could make it quite an entertaining choice


  • If you’re interested in going pro, this isn’t the dart board for you
  • Its durability falls short of what you get with a bristle dart board

Coiled Paper Dart Boards

This is a fun piece; it’s a dart board you should get if you have only a passing interest in darts and want to save money. It’s extremely cheap, especially when compared to the electronic and bristle dart boards.

However, it isn’t very durable.

Wooden Dart Boards

This is a type of dart board which used to be popular decades ago. This has changed with the introduction of bristle and electronic dart boards. However, the form used in the early models has been retained in the modern-day dart boards. Wooden dart boards were replaced due to their need for high maintenance.

Cork Dart Boards

A popular misconception is that cork dart boards are the same as the bristle dart boards. This isn’t true. Cork, like its wooden counterpart, was a popular component in dart boards. This transition from cork to bristle and electronic came about due to the poor durability of the cork dart boards.

Wrap Up

As you can see there are obvious differences to using electronic darts vs real darts. What you use will often depend on where you are playing and there are obviously advantages and disadvantages to both. Personally we prefer to use steel tip darts when we can, but don’t shy away from electronic darts when we those are the only things around.

No matter which type of board you end up going with – make sure to check out our dart board maintenance guide to ensure your investment pays off for the long-term.