When it comes to games that are fun to play, engaging, and will bring out the sports spirit in just about anyone – darts is king. It is a dynamic game that can be played both professionally and casually with family and friends. Being easy to install and also quite affordable, dartboards are the centerpiece of most game rooms.
In this guide, we will take a closer look at some of the best dartboards for 2021, see what their main features are, and compare their pros and cons to one another. Now, let’s start with a brief comparison chart!
Dartboards Comparison Chart
Winmau Blade 5 Bristle Dartboard
Without a doubt, one of the top-selling and best models for this (and previous) years is the Winmau Blade 5 Dartboard. It comes from a well-known brand in the darts world that specializes in competition-ready dartboards which won’t burn a hole in your pocket and don’t cut any corners in their quality and performance. The Blade 5 is one of the cheaper models from the brand which makes it far more accessible to normal people looking for something authentic for their game room.
Unlike the Blade 4, this newly revised Blade 5 model has a few amazing features, mostly connected with the way its wiring is built. While the Blade 4 had 90-degree angled wires, the newer model’s wires are cut at 60 degrees at their front part. This significantly reduces the surface of the wire and increases the surface of the different scoring zones. Thanks to the sharper angle, the Treble areas get 6 square mm more area while the Doubles get 9mm more on average. The Bullseye ring is also revised with a stronger steel ring that will make it last longer and resist direct impacts with steel-tipped darts.
Another new feature here is the Rota-lock advantage which consists of three wheel locks that help you easily level the dartboard. They are self-locking and can hold any position you set for them and are also very easy to rotate without lifting the dartboard off the wall. The dartboard itself is 1.5 inches thick and has a diameter of 17.75 inches. These dimensions, combined with the self-healing materials, build quality, and decent price, make it my favorite model for this year.
- Extremely durable
- Improved wiring system
- Reduced bounce-outs
- Lock-and-level system
- 1.5 inches thick
- Excellent for game rooms and bars
- A bit expensive compared to some cheaper more casual models
- Long-term durability isn’t great if you play it daily
Viper Shot King Regulation Bristle Dartboard
Viper is yet another brand that specializes in professional and non-professional dartboards. Their bristle models are among some of the most famous ones in the darts world mainly due to their cheaper price tag yet decent quality. The Shot King is a mid-tier dartboard that is made out of compressed sisal fibers and is a great addition to both bars, training rooms, and regular game rooms. The sisal construction is actually one of its top features as it can withstand heavy usage over long periods of time. It does that by having its fibers compressed into one another. This allows them to heal small holes made by steel-tip darts while you play.
As most other sisal and bristle dartboards, this one comes at 17.75 inches in diameter which is the regulation size. The coloring on it is also quite natural and similar to the ones you get on professional tournaments. If you’ve been practicing on a few zones, you can also rotate the number ring so that you don’t wear certain areas of the dartboard over the long run. As most other dartboards in its class, it is 1.5 inches thick, giving it plenty of durability and rigidity.
One thing that I don’t particularly enjoy on this dartboard is its spider (or wire). Not only it is rounded but there are also quite a lot of staples around the dartboard. This makes this model less-than-ideal for people that want to train professionally as you would get a lot of bounce-outs once you start aiming at those doubles and trebles. The bullseye is staple-free and angled, however, which is good and will make for better center shots. With the Shot King, you also get 6 steel-tip darts, mounting hardware, and a user manual. As a whole, I would really recommend this dartboard to anyone that wants to enjoy the feel of a real dartboard without having to spend a ton of money.
- Great price
- Rotating number ring
- High-contrast colors
- Staple-free bullseye
- 1.5 inches thick
- The netting isn’t staple-free
- Round spider wire
- The surface can crack
Arachnid Cricket Pro 650 Electronic Dartboard
Coming from sisal and bristle dartboards, the Cricket Pro 650 features quite a different option for darts lovers. It is an electronic dartboard that allows up to 8 people to play different types of games together. And while it is far more expensive than most other traditional dartboards out there, it is the ultimate thing to have in your game room if you want to stay entertained throughout the evening!
While it will take us a whole separate article to mention all of the features of this electronic model, there are a few that are worth mentioning. One of the main advantages of electronic dartboards as a whole is that they can keep track of your score. This one has four individual LED screens that can track 4 scores for either 1 or 2 players per screen, depending on the game mode. There is also a solo play option that allows you to take advantage of the whole dartboard. There are also voice prompts when you have to shoot, volume control, sleep mode, darts storage, 5 cricket games, 24 other games (with 132 variations), and a full control board that gives you full control over what you can do with the functions. There is also a handicap mode that allows more advanced players to play with beginners without the skill getting in the way!
With your cricket Pro 650 Electronic Dartboard, you also get 6 soft-tip darts, extra dart tips for spare parts, an AC adapter, mounting hardware, game instructions for the different models, and a user manual. As a whole, at this price, you can certainly get quite a lot of other professional-grade bristle dartboards but that isn’t the point here. The point is that this dartboard can give you a ton of fun times with your friends and has a lot of gaming options for up to 8 players which is what in-house game rooms are all about!
- Extremely durable nylon surface
- Comes with 6 darts and extra tips
- Has games for up to 8 players
- Voice prompts for you to throw
- Handicap features
- A total of 4 LED displays
- Ideal for game rooms and casual play
- Quite expensive
- The feel of the darts isn’t very authentic
- There can be a lot of bounce-outs due to the design
IgnatGames Professional Dart Board Set
The IgnatGames Professional Dart Board Set is something that sits a notch higher than most other bristle dartboards on this list. It brings superior quality and comes with steel-tip darts that are actually really good compared to some other alternatives out there. The board is also far more expensive than most other bristle options on the market, gearing it more towards the professional players, or at least the ones that prefer to spend a little extra to get the best possible product.
One of the best features of the board here is the staple-free wire system that goes across the dartboard. This gives you a wider striking surface and thanks to their patented technology, their wires are up to 65% thinner than most other rounded wires out there. This also significantly reduces the number of bounce-outs you are going to have when playing on this board. Just like most other expensive bristle models, this one is also self-healing thanks to its Kenyan sisal construction. This special type of sisal is also one of the major reasons for the higher price tag of this particular model. With the board, you also get 6 brass steel-tip darts that come in two colors – red and blue. You also get a hardware kit that will help you attach the dartboard to any wall and a darts oche tape which will help you set up the darts set as accurately as possible.
Another thing you get with this set is the brand’s free eBook which has plenty of information including different dart games you can try, as well as illustrations and scoreboard tactics you can drill on at home. As a whole, despite its higher price tag, this dartboard truly is everything you will ever need, whether you’re a bar owner or simply want to get the best for your game room!
- Superb quality
- Kenyan sisal
- High contrast scoring areas
- Staple-free wire system
- Thinner spider wire
- Comes with 6 brass steel-tip darts
- Free darts eBook and oche tape
- Turning number ring
- Very expensive
- The numbers on the number ring aren’t very durable when hit
- Paint can fade after some time
EastPoint Sports Belmont Dartboard Set
The EastPoint Sports Belmond Dartboard Set is a good all-in-one solution for anyone looking for something premium yet affordable for his game room. This sisal-fiber bristle dartboard comes with its own cabinet that has a premium feel to it and is made out of wood. On both doors of the cabinet, there are two chalkboards that you can use to keep track of the cricket game. The cabinet comes with all the accessories needed to mount it to the wall. Speaking of accessories, this set comes with 6 high-quality steel-tip darts that come in two sets of colors, one for each player. They have built-in storage in the doors of the cabinet as well.
The size of the dartboard is also regulation-sized at 18-inches which makes for a good practice set to train on in your game room. It is made out of high-density sisal fibers that are naturally self-healing. This means that they can compress and close any holes that the steel-tip darts make after you take them out of the dartboard. This self-healing feature of most bristle dartboards is what makes them last long, although some models don’t quite live up to that longevity.
The number ring and the spider are made out of rounded wires which are quite tough. However, thanks to being rounded, they don’t really reduce the bounce-outs you will get. The number ring can rotate which is excellent for people that train a lot since it will allow you to constantly play around the dartboard without damaging a single area too much. There are also staples all around the dartboard, further increase the bounce-out probability. The bullseye in the center is staple-free, though, which is always a welcome feature. As a whole, this is one of the better-made dartboard cabinets that will fit in any bar and game room and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
- Great price
- Comes with a good wooden cabinet
- 6-pack of steel-tip darts
- Self-healing sisal surface
- Movable number ring
- Staple-free bullseye
- The cabinet isn’t very durable
- The quality of the darts isn’t stellar
- The board is prone to molding
Winmau Diamond Plus Tournament Bristle Dartboard
The Winmau Diamond Plus Tournament Bristle Dartboard is another great model from the brand that has plenty of advantages and only a few setbacks compared to other dartboards in this price range. One of its biggest benefits compared to dartboards from other brands is its durability and quality. Not only can its surface self-heal, but it also isn’t very prone to wear and tear. Thanks to the movable numbers ring, it can also provide a ton of practice areas for you, without destroying certain scoring zones. The board is also nicely colored with contrasting (and official) colors, as opposed to some other models that have less-contrasting zones.
Like other Winmau dartboards, this one has angled dividers that deflect the darts and direct them into the scoring zone instead of leaving you with a bounce-out. Unfortunately, there are staples around the spider net that always increase the chance for a bounce-out, especially if you’re going for those double and triple zones. The bullseye is strapless, though, which is a welcome feature. The board is 18 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches thick. This puts it right on par with other regulation dartboards, making it suitable both for practice and for casual play. And while the Diamond Plus is quite poor in terms of accessories that come with it, it does bring plenty of value to the table, especially in the long run. This is why I would recommend getting it along with a good backboard and a nice steel-tipped set.
- Good build quality
- Self-healing sisal fibers
- Angled divider wires
- Turning numbers ring
- Excellent for pros and beginners
- Official size and depth
- No added accessories
- Not staple-free
- A bit expensive considering it comes as a standalone board
Arachnid Cricket Maxx 1.0 Electronic Dartboard Cabinet Set
The Arachnid Cricket Maxx 1.0 Electronic Dartboard Cabinet Set is another option from the brand that I wanted to mention for a few reasons. First of all, it comes in the form of a cabinet which is always better-looking than a standalone dartboard. Secondly, it is cheaper than the Cricket Pro 650 and offers similar functionality, albeit using slightly older tech from the brand. The Cricket Maxx is also 1.5 inches smaller in diameter, making it more suitable for tighter spaces and smaller game rooms.
The dartboard comes pre-loaded with 34 games and a total of 183 variations along with 4 individual cricket games. The Cabinet is made out of wood and has its inside painted black to avoid distracting you from your target. The outside features a good-looking walnut finish. The dartboard allows up to 8 players to join at the same time with 4 LCD displays to track their progress, handicap features, and more. There is also an optional heckler feature that will mock the bad darts and praise the good ones!
The set also comes with 6 plastic-tipped darts – 3 black and 3 red for better team play. You also get additional plastic tips for replacement, mounting accessories, and an AC adapter. All in all, this features one of the brand’s budget options that is a decent alternative if you’re really set on going for an electronic model!
- Ideal for smaller game rooms
- Decent price for an electronic dartboard
- Good-looking design
- Cabinet with Walnut finish
- 34 games
- Up to 8 players
- The spider rails are a bit thick
- The darts aren’t of very good quality
- Some of the electronic functions can go bad in a few years
Franklin Sports Professional Dartboard
The Franklin Sports Professional Dartboard is a simple, yet good bristle solution if you’re looking for something professional both in terms of its construction and in terms of its size. The board measures 18 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches in depth, which is the official size of most dartboards. It is made out of good-quality sisal that can self-heal and is surprisingly long-lasting.
The dartboard uses a steel wire across its surface. While this allows for thin webbings, there are staples all over it which will increase the potential bounce-outs you will experience. Unlike other models, this also doesn’t include a rotatable numbers ring, meaning you will eventually wear out certain zones more than others. What I really like about this board is that it does bring an authentic bristle dartboard feel to it without costing too much, making it a viable choice in this price range.
- Good price
- Decent durability
- Thin wires
- High-contrast zones
- Regulation size
- Numbers ring isn’t adjustable
- Not staple-free
- Doesn’t come with accessories
Dartboards Buyer’s Guide
Dartboards are notoriously hard to pick mainly due to the huge variety of types, sizes, and prices out there. In this section of the article, we will take a look at all the different types you can stumble upon, what their main pros and cons are, and most importantly – which are the features that you should be paying attention to when picking a new dartboard for your game room.
Types of Dartboards
Some of the most common dartboards currently on the market are:
- Bristle Dartboards
- Electronic Dartboards
- Wooden Dartboards
- Magnetic Dartboards
- Cork Dartboards
By far the most common type of dartboard out there is the bristle one. These dartboards are used mainly in tournaments but people that are serious about darts prefer having them in their game rooms too. While fairly expensive, these models have a much longer lifespan than all others. The reason for that is hidden in their construction. They are often made out of sisal or hemp which is woven quite tight. This allows the dartboard to “fix itself” after getting hit by a dart.
The darts themselves are steel-tipped, which is why most parents avoid getting these for their kids, as injuries aren’t uncommon. When a darts misses, you can also easily damage your wall unless you have a good darts backboard. As a whole, these are the dartboards that most pro players prefer and are the ones that will bring the most value for the money, no matter if they’re a bit more expensive than the rest.
Electronic dartboards are quite different than bristle models and they are geared more towards bars and casual players. They do, however, bring a ton of features with them, mainly stemming from the fact that they are electronic and that they can have plenty of features coded into their platform. The way these dartboards work is also fairly different from bristle models. There are numerous tiny holes in the plastic surface of the electronic dartboard. When a plastic-tip darts hits any of these holes, the dartboard will detect the hit and mark your points, usually showing them on an LCD screen.
These dartboards are obviously far more durable in the long-term as they don’t wear nearly as much as the others here. Their darts, on the other hand, might require a swap further down the road, as their tips get bent after missing the target one too many times. Still, these models are relatively cheap, come with a ton of features, and often include a whole set of functions and accessories with them, such as a throw line, a small cabinet, different point games, and more. If you have kids and want them to enjoy a fun beginner-friendly game of darts, these are a solid option.
Although wooden dartboards don’t deserve a ton of attention in the modern darts world, they do have a heritage type of contribution to the whole development of various dartboard models. It is believed that the original clock-like appearance of a dartboard stems from the wooden rings and patterns on a circular wooden dartboard. These dartboards were used long ago (and sometimes today by kids) and have quite a lot of disadvantages. One of the main ones is that they often dry out and crack unless you soak them overnight. They are also very hard, which makes taking out the darts harder than it is with the rest of the dartboard types here.
Learning how to make a dartboard can be a fun DIY project with your kids that will save you plenty of money and will give you a cool dartboard to play with!
Magnetic dartboards share a ton of similarities and features with electronic models. The main difference is in the darts. In magnetic dartboard sets, the darts have a flat magnetic tip that binds to the magnetized surface of the board. This reduces wear and tear on both the dartboard and the darts themselves, making these sets excellent for kids or game rooms. Thanks to the flat-tipped darts, these are even more kid-friendly than the rest of the options here.
However, these dartboards are quite detached from the real feel of playing darts and are meant only for kids or casual play at home. Accuracy is also compromised, since the magnetic tip of the darts doesn’t provide a ton of weight balance, making the throw quite different than what it would feel like with a normal steel-tipped dart. Still, one of the biggest advantages of these sets is that they are very cheap and easy to install and play with. They also have plenty of electronic features such as games, score tracking, and more.
Last and maybe least are the cork dartboards. These present similar features and material feel like the bristle models but wear out significantly faster. Due to that reason alone, they aren’t recommended for frequent playing, making them bad for bars and professional training. They are, however, super cheap, so they can be a good addition to your game room if you won’t use them on a daily basis.
Dartboard Features to Look For
While cheaper dartboards don’t present a ton of quality and features that you should compare before buying one, more expensive sets have plenty of things that you have to consider and cross-check between them and their competition before making your final choice. Here are some of the main things you should take into account before buying your first dartboard.
- Depth & Density
- Spider & Wire
- Build Quality
- Additional Features
As we already discussed, there are five types of dartboards out there. Additionally, there are plenty of darts types too, so make sure you select these based on how much you plan on playing, whether you want your kids to join in on the fun, and what your budget is. Kid-friendly dartboards are electronic and magnetic models. These can’t potentially harm a kid and won’t burn a hole through your pocket. However, if you want to get a bit more serious and enhance your darts skills, go for a bristle model. These shouldn’t be played near kids or by kids and are ideal for people that want to compete in local tournaments. They are on the more expensive side, though, which is why most people go for electronic models for their game rooms.
One important tip to remember is that if you get a set with steel-tip darts, make sure you get a darts backboard to protect your wall behind the dartboard.
Depth & Density
One of the most overlooked features of any dartboard is its density and depth. Logically, the thicker a dartboard is, the better. However, that doesn’t stop most manufacturers from making dartboards around an inch thick. My experience has shown that you need at least 1.5 inches of depth in order to prevent damage to the wall behind the dartboard. If you already have a board that isn’t as thick as needed, you can simply get a backboard that will cover the extra piercing distance of the darts. If you let the darts go through your dartboard you also risk ruining their tips, which will make them less accurate and harder to stick to the dartboard. This feature is only important on dartboards that work with steel-tip darts that go through the whole board, magnetic and electronic models are obviously excluded.
When it comes to density, there has to be a fine balance between how dense the board is. If it isn’t very dense, it won’t be able to hold the darts in place and they might bounce or fall upon impact. On the contrary, if the dartboard is way too dense and hard, the darts will have a hard time piercing it and might wear out much faster over time. Luckily, the materials from which bristle dartboards are made are naturally good at being averagely and uniformly dense across the whole board.
Spider & Wire
The metal web that serves as a divider on the dartboard is called a spider. Obviously, there is no spider on electronic and magnetic models, as the dartboard is simply divided into different sections by plastic. However, bristle models rely on their spiders to stay stable and tight. The wire of that spider is another important feature. There are a few ways to design a wire but in most cases, it is sharp with its sharp side pointing outwards. That allows the wire to point the darts to any of the scoring zones if you hit the wire head-on.
The way more wires are attached to the dartboard is via stables. While these are hidden pretty well in most cases, they are often the reason for a “bounce out”. Look for dartboards that have a minimalistic spider with little to no visible staples. The center bullseye ring is also important, especially its design, angle, and how its stapled to the dartboard.
One of the main things that you have to consider when choosing a new dartboard is its size. While there are official sizes depending on the tournament and international events, there are still differently sized dartboards that are made for a better game room experience. Some dartboards that are meant for kids have a larger playing surface just to make sure kids hit the target more often. Still, most electronic dartboards will actually be smaller, measuring between 15 and 16 inches. Regulation-sized dartboards vary between 17.5 and 18 inches.
If you also want to house a bigger darts game for more than 6 people, you should also consider getting a larger dartboard. This will allow more darts to stay on the dartboard while each player takes his turn.
The build quality of your dartboard will directly translate to its durability and longevity. Typically, most magnetic and electronic models are made out of plastic which is naturally brittle and doesn’t last a ton of time, especially if you use it very often. Plastic is also a poor choice for an outdoor dartboard set. Bristle dartboards, despite being “softer” are much more resilient and can stand a beating. They also rarely deteriorate over time. Their kryptonite, however, is moisture. Make sure you keep the dartboard in a relatively dry place, otherwise it can age much faster and start chipping away when one too many darts hit it at the same spot.
The build quality also translates to other parts of the dartboard. Make sure you read on the reviews of different electronic models and see how their electric parts handle the test of time. Most cheaper models will have most of their extra features fail within a few years, which is another reason to get a bristle dartboard.
When it comes to coloring, there are quite a lot of options to choose from. One of the most common color designs is the black and white one. Most professional bristle dartboards use black and white with alternating green and red colors for the 2- and 3-point zones. The bullseye is almost always red, surrounded by a green 9-point zone. Some electronic dartboards can also use blue instead of green for added effect. There are also dartboard models that will have certain zones illuminated. That way, you will be able to aim better in darkly lit rooms. Lastly, there are models that use red for the bigger white zones which gives the dartboard a really cool darker look.
Apart from the scoring zones, the webbing can also be differently colored. Most dartboards use metallic colored spider wires, although some might have them painted black or any other color that will blend in with the zones so that you don’t see the spider.
As I previously mentioned, the more accessories you get, the better. Some of the main ones you can get with a dartboard set are – an actual set of steel-tip darts, mounting hardware, a cabinet, replacement parts for both the dartboard and the darts, a scoreboard, chalk, and more. All these bring up the value of the set through the roof, especially if you’re getting it for a good price. If you’re a beginner, the darts in most sets should suffice. However, if you are into darts full-time, I suggest always getting an additional external set of darts, as these typically bring a much higher quality to the table.
If you want to get the best possible dartboard set out there, you should also pay attention to the additional features of the set. For most bristle dartboards, you will benefit a lot of buying one with a rotating number ring. This feature is actually incredible and it allows you to use your dartboard for much longer. The way it works is that the whole number ring gets rotated around your dartboard, clockwise or counterclockwise. This allows you to train more and target different zones without wearing out only certain areas of the dartboard. Some models are even two-sided, allowing you to turn them over if you have damaged one side too much already. These are typically thicker, bulkier, and cost more.
Speaking of the spider, having a staple-free bullseye is also a good feature as it reduces the number of bounce-offs you can have. When it comes to the actual materials of the dartboard, pay attention to models that have a higher sisal grade quality, which is a must-have feature if you are going to train on a regular basis. These higher sisal grades allow for the dartboard to “self-heal”, making it a much better investment in the long run.
Lastly, you should consider the price of your dartboard. There are a few things that you should keep in mind here. First of all, check how full your dartboard set is. Some models will come with plenty of additional accessories such as – a throw line, a backboard, a cabinet, full set of 6-12 darts (either steel tip, plastic, or magnetic). Obviously, the more accessories a set includes, the better deal it is, especially if the price remains low.
However, sometimes it is better to invest in a more expensive bare-bone dartboard. These will bring a premium experience and will outlast all other models. They are also the best if you want to train for some regional tournaments. It is also worth it to invest a bit in a nice set of steel tips darts, as they will perform leaps and bounds above the other free darts you get in most sets.
Learn some of the best dart drills for beginners by clicking here!
Frequently Asked Questions
What dartboards do pros use?
Professional darts players typically use bristle sisal dartboards. These are much more accurate than electronic or other types of dartboards out there. Also, compared to traditional bristle dartboards, sisal ones have a lower surface compression, leading to better penetration by that darts themselves, further improving the overall accuracy.
Should you wet a dartboard?
No, under no circumstances you should ever wet your dartboard. Using any type of liquids or even spraying a bristle dartboard can ruin its fiber’s complexity and structure. This will make the dartboard perform differently and will result in an altered dart penetration. However, there is one exception to that rule. Dartboards that are made out of cork or wood can often be soaked overnight to remain softer. That way, they won’t break when a steel-tip dart hits them.
How long do dartboards typically last?
This generally depends on the materials from which the dartboards are made. However, most bristle dartboards out there will have a lifespan of around 6 months. Of course, this also depends on your usage. For daily playing and training, 6-8 months is pretty close, although the dartboard can easily last you more than a year if you aren’t as regular.
Is it bad for you to leave the darts in the dartboard?
One of the main reasons for dartboard degradation is leaving the darts inside it. Typically, most dartboards will handle darts staying in them for a bit. However, if you make a habit of leaving the darts on the dartboard and potentially leave them for more than just a few hours, this can cause certain issues. Some of those issues include fiber deformations or drying of the surface around the dart. Also, this opens up the bristle surface to moisture that can reach the bottom layers of the dartboard and ruin it over time.
How often should you turn your dartboard?
If you want to get the most out of your dartboard and prevent potential damage to it, turn it over every few days. If you aren’t playing as frequently, you can turn the dartboard once every week. Professional players typically turn their practice dartboards around every day.
When browsing between the best dartboards on today’s market, you should consider quite a lot of things in order to make the right choice. Most importantly, however, make sure you choose the right type of dartboard for your game room. If you plan on playing frequently and want the closest to professional feel, get a bristle dartboard. These are tough, have a premium feel to them, and will last you plenty of time before they need replacement.