If you're eyeing for a new set of dart shafts (also known as stems), this means you are definitely not a casual dart player! You're getting serious or already are a pro. Maybe the default darts that came along with the dart board have given up, or perhaps you're looking for more of a customized setup based on your preference.
I will be frank here - there isn't anything like the best dart shaft cos it's more of a personal preference. Some like long, some prefer short, some prefer tungsten, and the list never ends. Material, weight, length, and shape, all influence the performance of your darts during a game. Understanding these factors will be crucial to finding the right dart shaft.
Having said that, we've gone ahead researched the best shafts and categorized them. Our list will highlight the best features we found across each one, and our buyer's guide will give you a break down on everything you need to know to make an informed buy. Check it out below!
Our Top Picks for Best Dart Shaft
- L-Style Carbon Dart Shaft - For the Pro's
- Art Attack Supergrip Dart Shafts - Editor's Pick [Best for Most]
- Dart World Top Spin Shaft - Best Spinning Shaft
- CUESOUL Spring Dart Shaft - Best Features
- Winmau Aluminum Dart Shafts - Best for beginners
1. L-Style Carbon Dart Shaft
- Length: 13 to 44 mm
- Material: Carbon Fiber
- Set: 3 shafts
The popular pro brand L-Style returns with their carbon dart shafts. These top tier shafts come in a wide variety of sizes to choose from - all the way down to 13mm, and up to 44mm. A good spread of options for any player looking to mix up their dart build. For most players, a 33mm shaft should more or less do the trick.
The shaft is all carbon fiber resulting in best-in-class aero-dynamic characteristics. However, the shaft is quite lightweight adhering to professional standards; as a result, these shafts can't handle the impact of a fall well. Choose this shaft if you intend to play on a softer flooring or with a dart mat. Also, it's recommended to use O-rings for a tighter fit and safeguarding the threads.
These shafts also feature built-in flight protectors to avoid any potential for ripping around the bottom of your flights. Also included are L-style's patented Champagne Rings that are compatible with their exclusive design for L-Style pro flights. The Champagne Ring system is designed to avoid any chance of "robin-hooding." The wide slots on the shafts also make inserting flights a breeze and help avoid any struggling that could potentially damage flights during insertion.
We found the carbon fiber shafts to be above average durability but still had a tendency to break when coming into contact with hard surfaces. It seems the shaft and overall dart performs best when paired with other L-style products. It's a bit of a shame that these don't pair as well with other options. The L-style line of parts is more expensive than average, so building a complete set will cost you more.
Overall these are reliable shafts that perform. The price is high for only a single set, but if you are already an L-style fan, you might as well pick these up also.
What we Liked
+ All carbon fiber construction
+ Built-in flight protectors
+ Multiple sizes
Watch out for
- Not suggested for hard flooring
2. Art Attack Supergrip Dart Shafts
Editor's Pick [Best for Most]
- Length: 40mm (+5mm thread)
- Material: Polycarbonate
- Set: 9 shafts
Our top pick goes to Art Attack for their superior quality dart shafts. The polycarbonate shafts are strong, durable, and perform to the top standards in every aspect. It will be a rare occurrence to see one of these shafts break, even on the hardest of impacts. These shafts are precision manufactured with the latest in factory technology. The machined rings won't open compared to traditional springs when inserting your flights. This way, you are guaranteed a tight grip around the dart, and the flights won't be falling off anytime soon.
There isn't too much else to say about these flights. They are a mid-range size and weight. They fly great, hold together well, and don't show any signs of wear. All that and they come in a pack of 3 sets, for a total of 9 shafts all together for just around $13. This isn't even the most expensive shaft you can find, but it feels like it should be! You really couldn't ask for more.
As far as we can tell, these will fit any barrel you need. Even if it doesn't, a full refund is offered if, for any reason, you don't like them. This choice feels like a no brainer and easily earned our top spot.
What we Liked
+ Durably built with precision construction
+ Holds the flight firmly
+ Reasonably priced
Watch out for
- Limited length options
3. Dart World Top Spin Shaft
Best Spinning Shaft
- Length: 30 to 45mm
- Material: Aluminium Spinning
- Set: 3 shafts
Dart World provides an affordable take on the popular spin shaft model. This set only costs around $5, for a set of three medium-sized shafts. The aluminum shafts are not anything fancy, but moderately sturdy enough to hold for many games.
The top-spin mechanism spins your flights around the shaft when thrown. This adds some stability to your throws and also helps prevent any bounce offs from occurring from contact with other darts.
These shafts are compatible with any flights you choose to use. We found no problems when trying to insert flights. The threading is machined nicely and sits straight with a secure fit. When the flights do spin, there is very little noticeable friction. The only thing you might want to add is a set of O-rings to keep the shafts locked on.
If you enjoy playing with top-spin shafts, or want to give them a try, this is a great brand to consider. Sturdy, functional, and easy to use. Spin shafts are not for every player, but it is difficult to tell until you use them for yourself. They won't drastically alter your abilities, but they can help new players stay on target - another great item from Dart World.
What we Liked
+ Top selling shaft on Amazon
+ Sturdy yet lightweight
+ Bang for the buck pricing
+ Compatible with most flights
Watch out for
- The shaft rattles while throwing, which might be distracting for some
4. CUESOUL Tero AK7 Spring Dart Shaft
- Length: 25mm to 53mm
- Material: Poly-carbonate Spinning
- Set: 4 shafts
Note: This shaft is compatible with only TERO AK4 flights (need to be purchased separately).
The CUESOUL team shows off their creativity with the built-in telescopic spring system. This rotational design keeps flights in place without falling off, and the telescopic feature gives an extra buffer to avoid flights being ripped when coming into contact with other darts.
Extra molding on the end of the screw of the shaft secures the barrel on tightly. The threading allows for more or less tightening, depending on what you feel comfortable with. The durability here is top-notch and would recommend these to any player who has bad luck with breaking shafts.
A few negatives include the O-rings that are in the set. They function just fine, but have a habit of falling off the shafts too easily. Also, these are designed to be used with CUESOUL flights specifically, although not required. We normally prefer to recommend products that are multi-brand compatible, but these are good enough on their own to justify a spot on our list.
A solid set of shafts that will keep the tension during play. This product is a good upgrade for beginners to start using. A variety of colors and sizes are available to help customize your build. The extra shaft for your set of three is a nice bonus. Overall, a solid product for under $10.
What we Liked
+ Does not rattle like typical spinning shafts
+ Allows for tight grouping
+ Robin-hood proof (literally!)
Watch out for
- Compatible with TERO AK4 flights only
5. Winmau Aluminum Dart Shafts
- Length: Ex-short, short, medium
- Material: Aluminium
- Set: 9 shafts
Our final pick goes to the well-known, Winmau brand. Their standard pack of 9 aluminum shafts are simple, easy to handle, and well-built for a reasonable price of under $10. A variety of sizes are available to choose from: extra short, short, and medium length. Several different colors are offered for a personal touch, and each shaft is given an anodized finish for an increased lifespan.
The shafts thread directly into the barrel, and the cross-hole locking system keeps the fit tight without any hassle. Steel tip or soft tip, these will do the trick. These are designed to be fitted with O-rings, but oddly none were included. Make sure you pick some up for the best performance.
We consider these a great set for beginners, as they don't have anything "extra" to complicate the design. These are also a step up starter shafts you'll find, with a noticeable improvement in durability and performance. The number of shafts and price point are very budget-friendly, and a good choice for more advanced players who need to save some money. These aren't top tier shafts, but still an excellent buy for many casual to intermediate players.
What we Liked
+ Excellent option for beginners and semi-serious players
+ Above-average build quality
+ Value for money
Watch out for
- Need to purchase O-rings separately
- Slightly heavy
Buyer's Guide to Dart Shafts
The shaft is one of the four major components of the darts. The other three being - tip, barrel, and the flights. All these parts must work in sync with one another to get the desired performance. What I mean here is that you can't use a short shaft on a short barrel. Otherwise, your dart will travel so fast that it will hit the dartboard before even you release it.
So the length and type of shaft you use should be in line with the other parts. That said, it isn't complex, and in this guide, I'll brief you on how you should go about choosing the perfect shaft for yourself.
How Do You Grip The Dart?
Depending on how you naturally hold the dart can affect the shaft type you need. This has to do with the center of gravity and the overall weight distribution. If you find that you hold the front of the barrel when throwing, consider opting for shorter shafts. These will move the center of gravity towards the front, closer to your fingers.
Likewise, long shafts will take the center of gravity and move it towards the rear of the dart. If you like to hold the barrel by the back, try adjusting to a longer shaft size.
How to Choose a Dart Shaft
To choose a shaft, you need to account for four factors: Length, composition, functionality, and aesthetics (optional). Of this, length is the most crucial element.
The length of the shaft determines the flight pattern of the dart and trajectory.
So, here is the basic rule of thumb you should stick with: If you have a shorter barrel, use a longer shaft, and if you use a longer barrel, you should use a shorter shaft.
When choosing a shaft, you usually find 5 or 6 standard lengths. Adjusting the length of the dart shaft is one of the common ways to fine-tune the performance of the darts. A good place to start looking is short, medium, and extra short shafts.
- Extra Short: 13mm
- Short: 9mm
- In-between: 26mm
- Medium: 33mm
Shorter shafts are ideal for players who like to lob or float their darts. If you use front-loaded or torpedo darts, you should opt for shorter shafts. On the other hand, longer shafts travel through the air straight and with a flatter trajectory. So, if you shoot straight, perfectly flat choose a longer shaft.
Medium shafts are the most forgiving and offer the best balance of control and stability.
So, which is the right shaft for you? There is no straight answer to this, and it depends on your preference and gripping style. Each player will have a unique style of throw, with its strengths and weaknesses. The best way to discover the "optimal" shaft design is through experimentation. Although some obvious issues like wobble or shaky flight patterns can be resolved by shortening the shaft length.
For starters and intermediate players, it's best to stick with a medium or in-between shaft. These sizes are very common amongst players, and you'll probably find one of these three will appeal to you. As you progress as a player, feel free to branch out to more uncommon lengths such as mid and micro, which fall in between other standard lengths.
Shafts come in either straight or slim profile. They don't necessarily result in any difference in performance. This has more to do with aesthetics and weight. Generally, for lighters darts, slim shafts are preferred.
Shafts are made of a variety of materials, from plastic to carbon fiber. Each material has its pros and cons and affects flight behavior.
At the bottom of the spectrum, there are nylon shafts that are often used for its low cost. You will see these types of shafts used in soft tip dart sets most often. They provide a cheap entry-level option for new players getting into darts, and function well enough for casual players to use on a less frequent basis. Pro players will want to opt for better material.
Polycarbonate is very similar to plastic and performs much like its nylon counterpart. The advantage here is the polycarbonate shafts have a much higher strength and durability for a little bit more cost. This material is a great choice for up and coming players looking to invest in better components. You are sure to get many games out of polycarbonate shafts. Pros often will take these as their first choice of material. Another reason why Poly shafts are popular is that they're available in a wide range of colors and textures.
Aluminum is not as durable as polycarbonate but still functions exceptionally well. A wide variety of sizes, colors, and modifications can be found in aluminum constructed shafts. Prices tend to be in the mid-range, making them suitable for all player types. Aluminum makes for a solid step up from nylon, and an alternative to polycarbonate.
Carbon Fiber shafts are increasingly getting popular due to the sturdy and robust build quality and classic black finish. They don't break easily, either. Mine is still going strong even after three years of usage. No matter how many times you Robinhood them, they will still survive. However, they're quite expensive. A set can easily cost you upwards of $30.
"Supergrip" branded shafts are either polycarbonate or nylon and fitted with a special O-ring to keep the flight secure during play. See our number one pick for more details.
Another term you may want to know is "sidewinder." These shafts have a different insertion method for the flights. A long opening along the shaft's side acts as extra protection for when the flights are opened and placed directly into the shaft. This design can improve stability slightly.
There are two types of shafts - Locked and Spinning. Locked shafts are the normal shafts that have been in use for years. The spinning shaft is a relatively new entrant in the space. As the name suggests, these shafts can rotate on its axis, allowing a much more stable throw. But do they offer any advantages? Let's find out:
Spinning Shafts - Marketing Gimmick or a real deal
So, spinning shafts are designed to limit the chances of Robinhood and reduce deflection. This allows you for tighter grouping of the darts on the board and minimizing any damage. But all this claim looks good on paper.
While the darts community seems to be divided on the effectiveness of spinning darts but as per me, they don't offer much performance difference. Darts, by default are designed to spin in the air. Simply adding a spinning shaft does not radically change its behavior. The downside of spinning shafts is that they get loose more often and need to be regularly tightened.
No wonder none of the PDC players use a spinning shaft.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Weight of the Shaft - Does it really matter?
Yes, it does, but most players tend to check the net weight of the darts rather than the shaft alone. If you're looking for a lighter shaft, nylon, polycarbonate, and carbon fiber would be an ideal choice. For heavier ones, aluminum is a preferable choice.
Which type of shaft can withstand Robinhood?
While the sight of Robinhood is always pleasing but you mostly end up ruining your flights or shafts. Flights are relatively cheaper to replace but not shafts. So, you should either choose super cheap shafts like nylon, which you won't break your bank to replace. Or, you can opt for something like carbon or aluminum shafts, which aren't easy to Robinhood.
Another way to prevent your shaft is by puncturing your flights and using a champagne ring. This configuration is much tighter and solid. In an event, if any dart hits the shaft, it won't crumble into pieces as the ring would hold the structure in place.
O-Ring: Do you need one?
O-ring is a silicon or rubber ring which is placed between the barrel and the shaft. The ring securely tightens the two components together. During the game, darts take a lot of hits and may become loose. Using an O-ring reduces this and is always recommended to use.
The shaft, like the other components of the dart, plays a vital role in deciding how the dart will perform. Each part of the dart is equally crucial to optimize your throws to the fullest, and the shaft should not be neglected. Spending time studying your throw style, and experimenting with various types of shafts is a worthwhile endeavor for those who truly want to improve their game.
There are many options to try, so take your time and choose wisely. It could take a while to figure out the perfect dart build for yourself. It's best to be patient during the learning process.
As a new player, don't stress too much about finding the perfect shaft. Focus on improving your game first, and making incremental changes until you start to see consistent results.
When you go to upgrade your darts, don't forget about the shaft! Throw away low-quality parts as they're not worth the cost savings. Buy trusted products that will keep your shots consistent. With darts, you get out what you put in.
Good luck, and keep practicing!