The game of darts is best enjoyed playing with your mates, sipping your favorite beer at the local bar. But driving down to the local bar every time isn't possible. And not to mention if you're new to the game, it can be quite embarrassing playing with more advanced players in a public setting. But then there is nothing stopping you from getting your very own dart board, isn't it? You can practice and play whenever and however you want, right from the comfort of your game. Who knows, you might be the next Michael van Gerwen in the making!
Moreover, darts is extremely fun and engaging, perfect for any rec or game room. It's also relatively cheaper in comparison to other games and is suitable for players of all ages and skill levels.
But choosing the best dart board for your needs can be quite an overwhelming task. Bristle, electronic, magnetic, or paper coiled, there are different types of darts boards available across all sorts of price ranges, making the selection process tricky.
But don't worry, I've got you covered. I've been playing darts for more than a decade and have tried and tested most of the popular boards out there. From popular brands like Winmau or Unicorn to budget brands like Viper or Hathway, I've played on most of them.
So, here I present to you my top 5 picks for best dart boards for the money!
Few things to keep in mind:
- If you're looking for a professional quality dart board, choose a bristle board.
- If safety is important, choose a soft tip dart board.
- If you're a beginner or you're worried about the damaging your wall, buy a dart board with a cabinet or backboard.
Our Top Picks for the Best Dart Boards
- Winmau Blade 5 Bristle Dartboard - Best Professional dart board
- One80 Gladiator 2 Dartboard - Runner Up
- Unicorn Eclipse Pro Bristle Dartboard - Budget Pick
- Winmau Professional Darts Set - Best Dart board with cabinet set
- Biange Electronic Dart Board- Best Soft tip dart board (electronic)
1. Winmau Blade 5 Bristle Dartboard
For the best gameplay experience, we recommend the Winmau Blade 5. This is a professional-grade bristle dart board ideal for anyone looking for a quality board. Whether you're a serious darter or someone looking for a home dart board, this won't disappoint. Endorsed exclusively by British Darts Organization - an official dart body, you can rest assured that this is a quality unit built to regulation (13 1/4" playing area). This board offers excellent playability and at the same time, sports exceptional build quality as well. It's effortless to maintain and quite durable, provided you rotate the board regularly.
Built by Winmau - a company that has been manufacturing dart boards for over three decades, you can definitely count on the reliability of this unit. The Blade 5 also happens to be the best-selling and top-rated dartboard across Amazon, Walmart, and other major retailers. Overall this is the best dart board for the money, and you can't go wrong with this pick.
The Blade 5 is the upgraded version of the Blade 4 and one-step lower to the newly introduced Dual-core. Personally, I found the Dual-core board to be too soft and not as long-lasting as the Blade 5.
Let's take a close look and find out what differentiates this board from the rest.
Only the best quality sisal fibers are used for the construction giving the board exceptional healing properties. No more ugly dart holes or marks!
In comparison to the Blade 4, the newer blade 5 comes with thinner wiring spider, increasing the scoring area by 8%. The 60-degree sharp razor wiring deflects the incoming darts into the scoring areas while reducing the chance of bounce-outs or dart damage. The radial wiring is 10% thinner, and the dynamic sector wiring is 20% thinner in comparison to Blade 4. The bull's eye ring is made out of carbon diffused steel, imparting extra durability.
Mounting and leveling the dartboard is as easy as it gets. Thanks to the triple-wheel lock, you can set the board on virtually any surface. The board remains footed firmly in place and is easy to rotate.
To Summarize: Without any doubt, the Winmau Blade 5 is the best dart board out there. You can't really go wrong with this one. The build quality, performance, and pricing is spot on!
What We Liked
+ Professional-grade dartboard
+ Durable and easy to maintain
+ Reasonably priced
+ Stellar customer reviews
Watch out for
2. One80 Gladiator II Dartboard
Another excellent dartboard that we recommend is the One80 Gladiator II. This board and the Blade 5 (top pick) play almost similarly with hardly much difference between them. Some darters swear by the quality of Gladiator boards.
Like the Blade 5, the Gladiator II is made of sisal fibers with staple-free spider wiring for reduced bounce outs. The sword edge wiring greatly reduces the wiring footprint, increasing the scoring areas. The board is also rotatable with removable numbers for easy maintenance and even wearing.
However, Gladiator II outshines Blade 5 in two departments. The coloring is visibly brighter and livelier than the Blade 5. But the major difference is that in Gladiator II, the spider wiring system is actually attached to the dartboard giving it extra durability. In contrast, in Blade 5, the razor spider is pressed onto the board.
The mounting mechanism is simple but not as robust as the Blade 5. It uses a ferrule system with an M5 bolt for mounting. The manufacturer also covers the board under a 1-year warranty against any defects.
The pricing, performance, and build quality is near-similar. Ultimately, it boils down to the cost and design. If the board is available cheaper than the Blade 5 or if you find the design attractive, choose this.
What We Liked
+ Pro-quality dartboard
+ Exceptional build quality
+ Brighter coloring
+ 1-year warranty against defects
Watch out for
- Slightly difficult to level due to the traditional mounting system
3. Unicorn Eclipse Pro Bristle Dartboard
For our budget pick, we have chosen the PDC endorsed Unicorn Eclipse Pro Bristle Dartboard. Priced just under $50, this bristle dartboard offers the perfect blend of performance and pricing that not many boards can compete with. Moreover, it's manufactured by Unicorn - the official equipment supplier for all PDC sanctioned tournaments, so the quality is obviously excellent.
This official tournament-grade dartboard is made from self-healing sisal fibers with ultra-slim wiring and staple-free construction to maximize averages. The board has everything you would expect in a quality dartboard. It's built durably, captures the dart easily with reduced bounce-outs, and is quite easy to maintain. However, the color finishing and the overall build quality is about average. Some of the buyers also complained that the outer metal rings occasionally pops out of its place.
If you're looking for the most bang for your buck, this PDC endorsed dartboard won't disappoint. An ideal choice for recreation and casual players looking for a decent quality board to practice on.
What We Liked
+ Affordably priced
+ Endorsed by PDC
+ Excellent choice for casual and semi-serious players
Watch Out for
- The outer metal ring occasionally pops out
4. Winmau Professional Darts Set
Best Dart board with cabinet set
Our next pick is the Winmau Professional Darts Set. This all-inclusive set comes with everything you need to get started with darts. In the set, you get a premium wooden cabinet with scorer, Winmau Diamond plus dartboard, six quality darts, and oche throw line tape.
For new players, choosing these items individually can be a daunting task. Here, you get an excellent combo with only the best quality items making it suitable for both professional and recreational play.
The most essential item of this combo is the cabinet, especially for newer players. A cabinet safeguards your wall from unintentional damage and ugly marks. Recreational players don't have the best of the aims, and few darts are sure to miss the board completely. In such scenarios, a cabinet is a lifesaver. The cabinet also doubles as a scorer to keep track of points. It also comes with a chalk, duster, and checkout table for easier calculation. An oche tape is also included, to mark the official throwing line.
The Winmau Diamond Plus Dartboard is a top-of-the-line sisal board offering unmatched performance and playability. It's also a tournament approved board and built as per the regulation standards. The board is very durable and should easily last you for many years to come.
Included in the set are six steel tip darts. They're excellent starter darts for beginners to get the hang of the game. But as you progress, you would want to change to something more professional.
The Winmau Professional Darts Set is an excellent value set, ideal for home use, or for a bar set up. The set costs about $160, but if you were to pick these items individually, it would cost you a lot more.
What We Liked
+ Best complete dart board setup
+ Comes inclusive with everything to get you started
+ Elegant yet sturdy cabinet
+ Pro-quality dartboard
+ Excellent support
Watch Out for
- The cabinet is quite heavy. Pay extra attention while mounting.
5. Biange Electronic Dart Board
The Best Looking
Coming to our last pick, the Biange Electronic Dart Board. It's an electronic dartboard that uses soft tip darts. The board offers two-fold benefits. Firstly soft tip darts are absolutely safe with no chance of injury. If you intend to play with kids or if you have kids around, they are an excellent choice. Secondly, being an electronic board, it does all the calculations and allows you to play multiple games. You can also play solo against the computer.
Coming to the product specs, the playing surface measures 13.5'' in diameter, as per the regulation. The board supports 27 games allowing up to 16 players to play at the same time while showing scores of up to four players simultaneously. The four large LED displays are provided to show individual scores, while the buttons at the bottom are used for configuration. The playing surface is made of nylon with ultra-thin segments, which significantly reduce the bounce outs. The voice prompt lets the player know about their turn and whenever any setting is changed.
The board can be powered by both battery or the mains supply. You can very much take the board outdoors and play your favorite dart game, but remember it's not waterproof. It also comes with built-in storage for the darts keeping the whole play area organized. Six 18-gm soft tip darts and 20 soft replacement tips are included along with the board.
If you're looking for a durable electronic board that does not put a hole in your pocket, the Biange Electronic Dart Board is your best bet.
What we Liked
+ Supports 27 games and up to 16 players
+ Durably built
+ Affordably priced
+ Regulation sized
Watch out for
- Occasional bounce outs (common in all types of electronic boards)
Buyer's Guide to Dart Boards
If you're in the market for your first dart board, you're definitely going to be overwhelmed with the vast range of options. If you've owned one before, you should be extra cautious in choosing a quality board. It's important to make an informed decision. While all the dart boards that we've recommended are excellent choices in their segment, but if you would like to know how did we arrive at the selection, this guide is for you.
In this buyer's guide, we've covered everything there is to know about dart boards and how to choose one which meets your requirements.
Steel Tip Vs. Soft Tip
OK, so the first choice you need to make is what type of darts do you intend to play with? You have two options: Steel and Soft tip.
Steel tip, as the name implies, comes with a sharp steel tip that sinks in the dartboard easily. On the other hand, soft tip darts are made of softer materials like polycarbonate and plastic. They can be used in both bristle and electronic dart boards.
Generally, Steel tip is a standard for serious competitive play. But this does not mean soft darts are inferior. In fact, the skill and technique required for both are exactly the same. It's a matter of preference. Some like the feel of steel darts while some like the safety element of soft darts.
One thing to note here is that you can use both soft and steel darts on a bristle board, but you can't use steel darts on electronic boards. The only downside of soft tip darts is that they may break easily, but they're cheaper to replace.
Which one should you choose? It boils down to your preference. If you're a traditionalist, choose steel darts. But if you would like to try newer darts that are compatible with all types of boards, choose soft tip darts. Generally, for home usage, soft darts should suffice.
Risk of Injury
Darts is more or less a safe game. The chances of injuries are rare, and that only happens when someone does something very stupid. And what when it happens, the injury can be severe.
So if you've kids, ask them not to stray around when you and mates are playing darts. To be on the safer side, you can use soft darts instead of steel tip darts. Soft darts come with plastic top and thus significantly reduce any chance of injury. The good thing is you can use a soft tip dart on a bristle dartboard, but you can't use a steel tip dart on a soft tip dartboard. Moreover, steel and soft tip darts play almost similarly, and you won't find much difference in performance.
What's your current skill level? Are you just starting or you're more of an experienced player? Do you intend to allow your kids to play darts as well?
Answering these questions would help pinpoint what type of dart board you should go for.
Recreational/Casual Play: If you just want to play socially with family and friends, you don't need the best dart board. You need a board that plays decent and is priced affordably. You should be ideally looking for a bristle dartboard if your budget permits. You can get a decent one under $50 price range.
Serious/Competitive Play: If you're looking for a board to practice and play serious matches with your pals, you need a high-quality board. You should look for a pro-quality bristle board with a razor-wire spider. Keep a budget of $80 to $150. These boards are very durable and can last a long time if cared for properly.
Kids might also play: If you indent to play with kids, we suggest going for a magnetic dart board instead of the normal ones. The reason is the risk of injury. Traditional darts, both soft and steel, have a sharp tip, which may pose a risk of injury for your young one. Don't spend more than $30 on such a unit. Kids more often than not can get aggressive, and you already how that pans out.
Type Of Dart Boards
Broadly there are three types of dartboards: Bristle, Electronic, and Magnetic. Then there are also cork, wooden and paper boards, but they aren't that popular.
Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each type of board:
<Bristle Dart Board>
These boards are the gold standard when it comes to darts. You might have come across one of these boards at a local bar or club.
They are the most common and most popular type of dart board, and that's for a good reason. It's very durable, provides optimal playing experience, is self-healing, and is relatively easier to maintain.
Bristle dart boards are actually made out of compressed natural Sisal fibers. These fibers are highly tensile, stiff yet maintain their structure very well. This makes them an ideal choice for dart boards.
The darts get captured on the board easily with minimal chances of bounce outs. And when you remove the darts, due to the self-healing property of the sisal fibers, the hole gets closed automatically. A typical board is made of millions of sisal fibers bonded together. When a dart pierces through, the fibers do not break rather separates out to make way for the Dart. And when the Dart is removed, the fibers restore back to their position, closing the gap.
In the higher-quality boards, the fibers are densely packed, which results in more durability and better self-healing characteristics. Cheaper bristle boards tend to wear out quickly as the fibers are not tightly packed.
However, one downside of the bristle board is that they're prone to moisture/liquid damage and must be placed in dry areas.
Maintenance: Although the Bristle board is the best material for Darts, it requires periodic maintenance to keep it in shape. You need to rotate the board every couple of weeks so that the sisal fibers can heal. Otherwise, you will find a certain section of the boards more worn out than others, especially the 20 and bulls-eye.
<Electronic Dart Boards>
As the name implies, these dart boards come with an electronic logic board, which does automated scoring, and allows you to play with multiple players at the same time. You can even play solo against the computer. Some of the newer ones also allow you to play and stream matches over the internet - how cool is that?
Electronic dartboards are made out of nylon material with square mesh to capture the darts. One major benefit of electronic dartboards is that it doesn't deteriorate with time, and if properly cared for, you can use it for a long, long time.
However, the downside of these boards is the higher chances of bounce out, especially around the spider. Moreover, they're almost double the price of any typical bristle board.
In the professional circuit, electronic dartboards are almost never used. This has more to do with a traditional feel of the game rather the performance.
Electronic dartboards are only compatible with soft tip darts, and you can't use steel tip darts on them. Overall, they're an excellent choice for recreational as well as serious players who are looking for a hassle-free, board to play on. Additionally, they're also much safer as they use only soft tip darts.
<Magnetic Dart Boards>
Probably, when you were kids, you might have played or seen one of these. Magnetic Dart boards are primarily designed for kids and teens, but adults can join in the fun as well. It consists of a dart mounted with a magnet tip and dart board with iron backing. When the Dart is thrown at the boards, due to the magnetic effect, the Dart sticks to the surface.
As again, they're not designed for serious or competitive use, so you can't really compare its performance with the above boards. One major issue you'll face with this is the bounce outs. The darts would simply not stick to the board, especially if thrown at an angle.
Summary: Choose a bristle board if you're looking for a traditional board that offers you the real feeling of playing darts. Electronic dartboards are more convenient to use and safer.
How to Spot a Quality Dartboard:
This is pretty straightforward. The one with the thinnest wire or spider is more likely of higher quality. The wire divides the board into 20 radial sections. On boards with thicker wire, the chances of darts hitting the wire and bouncing out are higher. On thinner, triangular, or embedded razor wire, this is vastly reduced.
Design & Construction
As per official rules set forth by the World Dart Association, a hard tip dart board must be 17-3/4" in diameter from edge to edge. The actual playing area must be 13-1/4" in diameter.
For soft tip 15-1/2" board is the regulation size of which 15" is the playing area.
You should ideally be looking for a regulation size board unless you're constrained on space. This would let you play and train seriously if you ever want to.
In smaller boards, you would need to throw the darts from a shorter distance to compensate for the smaller board size.
Dartboards can be made of different materials, from plastic to cork and everything in between. The material ultimately decides how long the dartboard will last. A sturdy material like wood may look like a great choice, but actually, it isn't. It's too stiff for the darts and would easily damage the tips of the darts.
When it comes to hard tip dart boards, there is no material better than the Sisar fibers. They're very durable and easier to maintain. No wonder, they have been the material of choice for over 90 years. But not all sisal board are equal. You should be looking for a dense board with at least 1.5" to 2" Sisal fibers. An excellent way to check the density of the board is to check the weight of the board. The heavier board mostly means the fibers are more densely packed.
Wood or cork are also often used, but they result in average to below-par performance.
For soft tip dart boards like an electronic one, nylon plastic or thermoplastic is the preferred material. They're very sturdy and stiff and will last you a long time.
Round vs. Square holes in electronic boards: This is a common debate as to which types of holes are better round or square. Personally, I like square holes as it gives more surface area for the tip to sink into. Moreover, in circular holes, the chances of bounce-outs are higher.
Another common material is the tightly rolled paper. They are more suited for kids to play with and aren't durable.
The radial wiring that divides different sections on the board is referred to as the Spider. It's a visual marker, helping players clearly identify different sections. Besides dividing the board, the wiring also deflects the darts onto the scoring area.
The wires are either stapled or embedded directly on the board.
90% of the bounce out that occurs is due to the dart hitting the Spider. That's why, for a professional dart board, a staple less embedded razor or triangular Spider is preferred. Additionally, thinner spider results in larger sections allowing you to group darts more comfortably.
The brackets are the most overlooked part of the board, but they're also very crucial. Not only should it sturdily hang the board but also make it convenient to rotate the board when needed. Always check if the manufacturer includes spring clips with the brackets or not. Spring clips are installed on the backing to prevent the board from wobbling and shaking.
<Rotatable marking points>
As we've already mentioned, to maintain a bristle board spick and span, you need to rotate the board regularly. But when you do so, the corresponding metal markers at the top would also go up or down depending on which way you rotate it. If you don't know, the 20 should always be at the top and 3 at the bottom.
All dart boards come with a removable scorer. Once you have rotated the board, you can mount the marker in such a way that 20 is at the top. Do check about the quality of the wire. You should look for high gauge wire, which does not bend easily.
The red and green sections on the board should be clearly visible for easy spotting and low glare. So it's crucial that the board retain its color throughout its lifespan. Generally, food-grade ink is used on quality boards, and this is what you should be looking for.
Do's & Don'ts while mounting a Dart board
It would be best if you give a proper thought where you're going to mount your Dart board.
- Before even you decide to buy a dart board, make sure you have requisite space to play. You need a clearance of 11 ft long and 5 ft wide to play freely without feeling congested.
- It's generally a bad idea to mount the dart board anywhere near windows, near breakable items, or high traffic areas where anyone could walk in between. Even the best players tend to miss a few shots, which might end up breaking or damaging the nearby items. And if you're a beginner, you're sure to miss odd throws. So, better be safe than sorry.
- When hanging the board, make sure you take the measurement accurately. The bulls-eye should be exactly 5f t 8" (1.73 meters) above the flooring. It's the international standard height and remains the same for both soft and steel tip dart boards.
- For steel tip dart board the throw line should be 7ft 9.25" (2.37 meters) from the board, and the diagonal distance from the bulls-eye to the throw line should be 9ft 7.5" (2.93 meters). For soft tip dart boards the horizontal distance is slightly longer at 8 feet (2.44 meters), and diagonal distance is 9 feet 9 ½ inches (2.98 meters).
- Always use a dart board backboard or surround to save the walls from stray darts. Eventually, you'll end up with those ugly marks on the wall, which will be an eyesore. Alternatively, you can invest in a dart board cabinet. It offers two-fold benefits - protects your wall and keeps your play area organized and tidy.
- Safeguard your flooring, especially if you an expensive wood flooring. Bounce outs are quite common in darts. The falling darts can rip through wooden flooring, leaving unsightly marks. And if you happen to play on concrete flooring, the dart tips, shafts and flights are prone to damage, which are costly to replace. You can avoid all this by investing in a good quality dart mat. A dart mat not only protects your flooring but also marks throw line properly.
Summing Up the Guide
So there you have it! Hopefully, this guide could help you choose the best dart board for your needs. While the market is flooded with a gazillion different types of dart boards, we just covered a handful of them. If I had to recommend one board that you can't go wrong with, I would confidently choose Winmau Blade 5. It's suitable for players of all skill levels and is priced affordably.
If you've any further questions or you want me to review a certain Dart board, you can reach out to me at [email protected].