Why Tungsten Darts: Advantages, Disadvantages, And Ideal Percentage

When I was searching for my perfect darts set, I noticed that there were a variety of metals that darts came in.  The majority of darts being sold today seemed to be made out of tungsten.  I wondered why darts were made of tungsten.  So, I did some research and testing for myself.

So why are darts made of tungsten? Darts are made out of tungsten because it allows the darts to be made slimmer than darts made out of metal like brass and steel.  Tungsten is a dense, heavy metal that allows the dart to be manufactured thinner but still maintain the necessary weight.

Picking a dart set can be a complicated process.  There are numerous different varieties of darts, and with the advent of online shopping, most dart players are buying darts without the benefit of trying them first.  Since tungsten darts can be more expensive than brass and steel darts, it’s best to understand why darts are made of tungsten and what the advantages and disadvantages are.  Read along to find out if tungsten darts should be on your darts shopping list when picking your next darts set.

What Are Tungsten Darts?

Tungsten is a rare metal that is known for being dense and heavy.  The primary attribute of tungsten is that it has a high weight to volume ratio.  Tungsten is used today in a number of applications from aerospace and jewelry making, to pocket knives and drill bits.  According to the BBC, 80% of tungsten mining comes from China.  Tungsten is most commonly mixed with nickel, copper, silver,  and/or iron to create an alloy.  Compared to other metals like lead and steel, it takes much less tungsten to have a comparable weight.  This means that you can make smaller objects and still maintain the same weight.  In darts, this means that a tungsten barrel can be made much thinner than a brass or steel barrel of the same weight. 

Tungsten darts only contain a percentage of tungsten and the remaining percentage will be made up of nickel.  Less commonly, tungsten darts can also be mixed with copper and silver.  The most common percentages of tungsten seen in darts available today are a range from 60% tungsten to 97% tungsten.  For example, a 90% tungsten dart would be made up of 90% tungsten and 10% nickel.  The higher percentage of tungsten, the thinner the dart barrel can be made and still maintain the desired weight.  The higher the percentage of tungsten, the more expensive the dart will be.

Since tungsten alloy is dense and robust, the higher percentage of tungsten requires more effort and higher cost to fabricate into your favorite dart barrel shape.  The cutting and milling tools will dull quicker the higher percentage tungsten. 

I have seen people on the internet looking for 100% tungsten darts.  Unfortunately, 100% tungsten is brittle and extremely cost prohibitive to manufacture.  In my research, 100% tungsten behaves like glass.  When tungsten is mixed with nickel to create an alloy, it becomes much more usable to fabricate objects such as darts.

Advantages Of Tungsten Darts

  • Thinner Than Brass And Copper Darts
  • Denser feel Is Confidence Inspiring
  • Greater Durability
  • Greater Availability And Variety Of Selection

There are a number of advantages to using tungsten darts.  The primary advantage of tungsten darts is that is that they can be manufactured thinner then darts made out of brass and steel.  This is tremendously important for any dart players that play dart games that require consistent tight groupings.  The slimmer profile allows the darts to be thrown into tighter groups when tight scoring situations arise.

The next advantage to tungsten darts is that they have a weighty feel that feels denser than a dart made out of something like brass.  Tungsten darts feel more solid and can provide a more confidence inspiring feel to any player.  This advantage will be felt more once a dart player has had a chance to try a variety of different darts.

Tungsten darts are much more durable than brass and steel darts due to the nature of the tungsten.  This durability can be best seen when darts hit each other in a tight grouping or when a dart bounces out and hits the wall or floor.  Damage to a tungsten dart barrel is highly unlikely.

The final advantage is that tungsten darts are more widely available today than brass and steel darts.  This means that the selection availability of different types of tungsten darts is wide.

Disadvantages Of Tungsten Darts

  • More Expensive Than Brass And Steel Darts
  • The Potential For An Allergic Reaction To Nickel

The primary disadvantage of tungsten darts is that they are more expensive than brass and steel darts.  At my local darts store, tungsten dart sets range from $25 (USD) to $250 (USD).  While brass and steel dart sets range from $6 (USD) to $35 (USD). 

The other main disadvantage of tungsten darts is that just about all tungsten darts have nickel in them.  This can be a problem because being allergic to nickel is one of the most common skin allergies in the world.  There are very few tungsten darts available that do not have nickel in them.  This is made more complicated because most dart manufacturers do not list the other metal mixed with the percentage of tungsten.  If you are allergic to nickel, then look for tungsten darts with copper or silver or settle for brass or steel darts.

What Is The Best Percentage Of Tungsten To Use?

The best percentage of tungsten to use will be based on the preferences of the dart player.  As a general rule of thumb, the higher the percentage of tungsten the higher the cost.  Additionally, the higher the percentage of tungsten the thinner the dart barrel will be.  Tungsten darts range from 60% to 97% tungsten. 

My research has found that 90% tungsten darts are the most widely available on the market today.  Because of this, since the selection of 90% tungsten darts is so great, I would say that it is the best percentage to use.  If you want to get your first tungsten dart set, getting a lower tungsten percentage is advisable since it will cost less.  If you value a slimmer dart barrel, then look to get a higher percentage of tungsten. 

Related Questions

What other metal are darts made from? Both steel tip and soft tip darts are primarily made out of brass, steel, or tungsten.  The most popular metal they are made out of is tungsten.

Which is better 80 vs. 90 tungsten darts? The better one is which suits your style and budget.  80% tungsten darts will be less expensive but will potentially be thicker than 90% tungsten darts.  90% tungsten darts are more widely available from just about all dart manufacturers. 

Why are tungsten darts better? Tungsten darts are better than brass or steel darts because they are slimmer and denser.  This allows you to throw them into a much tighter grouping then next time you are going for triple 20’s.