A.I.M: Produced this Top 5 for Darts World Magazine a couple of months ago. Many of the deals discovered are still available!
Darts World has noticed that the costs, especially player and premium, of darts have increased substantially over the past few years. Increased and improved cosmetics, together with some technical innovations, can be blamed for some of this. But, the increased popularity and worldwide expansion of darts seem to be resulting in a golf or tennis like spiralling of some equipment costs.
Less than five years ago very few sets of darts would cost more than £50 and the vast majority were between £20 & £35. These often included accessories such as a case and or spare flight & stem setups. Today, a brief look at any of the major sellers reveals thirty or forty different models with an RRP of over £60 with a handful of models on or around the £100 mark.
Does all this mean that darts is becoming a rich pursuit for those with more disposable cash? Can the average young person still get a decent start and does all this extra cash actually make much difference?
Darts World asked A.I.M: to look into the best value darts available and to put them through their paces. We set them a maximum of £25 per set and asked them to assess quality, performance, value, and accessibility. Here is the first summary of what they found;
1) Pro-Style (21-26g) – Darts Clearance £12.99-14.99. http://www.ebaystores.co.uk/dartsclearance?_fsub=7330512015&
These are a lovely dart for the £15 cost. The 22g model is 48mm x 7.2mm (widest) and has a slight taper from the front to rear. There is a small blank near the stem and the grip is what could be described as an original Bob Anderson style grip but slightly more aggressive. They have a slight front weight but still, feel well balanced. Almost indistinguishable from the McKicks Alan Glazier darts.
The darts come with nothing but a point protector in order to keep the costs, and postage fees, at an absolute minimum. They were popular with all our testers and all standards. Even our elite player was very impressed. The ‘Pro-Style’ compared well with other models even those of higher cost. The tungsten content will be at least 80% and may be higher.
2) Winmau Diamond 23g – Red Dragon Clearance £24.90 (RRP £55) – http://www.reddragondarts.com/winmau-diamond-3-23-gram-12105.html
These are a serious bargain. Originally £55+ they represent the combination of high-quality tungsten and a diamond fusion grip. Winmau seems to have abandoned this grip style and thus you can now pick up some serious bargains.
These have a great deal in common with John Lowe or Andy Fordham shape darts. The extra grip near the nose can be handy. They are 90% tungsten and measure 40.6mm x 7.7mm. The diamond grip was very popular and will be missed by some serious players. However, after a while, it can rub the other darts into looking shabby and wears itself down.
In short, these are a premium dart for a one-off price. I doubt these will last long. Well worth a try or even to get yourself an extra set if you use them already.
3) Designa Dark Thunder – £22.95 – http://www.dartscorner.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=42991
These are a very good value, 90% tungsten dart. They have a lot in common with Unicorn (Taylor) Phase 1. The black barrels with natural highlights are a popular look and have a touch of the Noir range about them. A very grippy dart that is not chunky in the hard or over-complex in design. Various weights are available with 22g and 24g being the most popular. With Darts Corner moving their priorities to Mission darts these may not be around forever as the Designa badge may fade away.
Monster – The Cobra – £24 (RRP £50+) – http://www.dartscorner.co.uk/product_info.php?cPath=1190_1692&products_id=31539
These are available in the clearance section of dartscorner.com and may not be for very long at this price. This model became Jelle’s signature shape and style for quite a few years and during his most successful PDC spell.
90 % Tungsten, superbly designed and engineered to be a superb combination of aerodynamics and style. 42mm long x 7mm (at the widest) they are highly individual and you might wish to try before you buy! Although badged as 22g this is misleading the barrel weight is only 20.4g.
Two of our testers loved these and one has kept them! However, our third player could not get used to them at all. It seems that ‘The Cobra’ is a bit Marmite!
Alan Tabern – V180 – £20– http://www.a180.co.uk/product.php/10304/v180-alan-tabern-90-tungsten-darts-21g
You don’t get many classic player darts for under £20. However, V180 makes a small range, all of which are pitched at a great price. Perhaps the best of these is the Tabern dart. These could be made by Target, Alan’s old sponsor, they are a classic style ring grip dart. Only Alan’s 21g edition is available. They are a little over 47mm x 6mm wide they feel very well balanced and are 90% tungsten.
Our players thought that these were a lovely dart. The only downside was that they are not as heavily gripped as some current models. Our more traditional testers were fond of these darts, whereas our younger player, seem to find them over delicate and harder to control.
It can be seen from the above, that despite the recent increases in the cost of premium products, high-quality darts can be sourced. A little creativity and patience can result in darts of the same very high standard for a lot less of your hard earned.