Darts Consist of several parts:
- The tip or point
- the business end.
- The barrel
- the body of the dart into which the tip is inserted.
- The shaft
- the piece that screws into the barrel and holds the flight.
- The flights
- the little plastic, metal foil, nylon or turkey feather "wings" that give the dart aerodynamic characteristics. Similar in purpose to the feathers on an arrow.
There are several types of flights and shafts available. Bob Lanctot has the following to say about shafts:
"I use white Jocky Wilson shafts for several reasons. First, these are not plastic but nylon based, thus stronger. They have a little metal ring which prevents the fingers (the shaft's, not yours) from breaking off when hit by a dart and also serve to secure the flight and prevent it from falling off. I prefer white because the white ones are stronger. The coloured doping supposedly weakens the material.
Plastic shafts tend to break more easily thus requiring replacement more often. If you don't like the Jocky Wilson shafts, try some of the other nylon-based shafts. Metal shafts do last longer, but I've found that there are 3 annoying things about them. They are always coming unscrewed. Some come with little rubber washers to help keep them tighter while others have holes drilled through them so you can stick the point of another dart into them to tighten them up. When I played with them I used plumbing tape on the threads. That kept them nice and tight. Another thing I don't like about metal shafts is that because most are made of soft aluminum, the tend to bend when the dart falls on the floor. The thinner/longer the shaft, the greater the chance of bending. Finally, I don't like them because when you "Robin Hood" them the fingers get bent out. You can bend them in but they are no longer "true" and unbalance the shaft and dart.
Harrows Makes a product called "Alamo" shafts. They are a combination of plastic/nylon and aluminum. The fingers thread into the shaft and are made of aluminum. I used to use them too, but found that the plastic expanded a little and the aluminum insert would get loose. What I did like is that I could buy replacement fingers. So when they got bent, I would just throw them away and plug in new ones.
I also used what they call "bubble" shafts for a while. These are a type of polyester plastic shaft made of clear plastic in several colours. Their name is derived from the distinctive bubbles you can see in the plastic. These are nice shafts, inexpensive, but their longevity is questionable.
I've been using the Jocky Wilson's since about '87 or '88. They're cheap and last a hell of a long time."
Bill Garland(email@example.com) adds:
"Plastic flight holders break within thirty or forty seconds of use. Rarely get over a minute from them. They are worth nothing. I use the Alamo plastic shafts that have the metal tips on them. Robin Hoods break the metal tips, but they are replaceable. It usually takes a few hits to permanently destroy them, however. Sometimes the plastic breaks, too, by cracking. You can buy a set of the metal tips for ummmm lemme remember mmmmm $1.29 or something. The shafts with plastic shaft and metal tip flight holders themselves are less than two bucks, if I'm not mistaken.
All metal shafts are expensive. I had a set - must have been nearly five bucks with all that tax we have to pay - and bango. First dart, into the twenty. Second dart, into the first dart. Broke right away.
Someone from here told me about a set of titanium shafts he had, said they cost about fifteen bucks in the states, but they had a _15 year_ guarantee. Hard to believe..."
Bob Lanctot responds:
"Geez, Bill I've never heard of titanium shafts that were guaranteed for one game of darts let alone 15 years. Here about the Ottawa area you can get a set for titanium shafts for about $8.00 + PST + GST.
The shafts won't break, however, they will bend if you carry your dart wallet in your back pocket and sit on them. The word "titanium" is a little confusing. It's like "tungsten". The dart barrels are made of tungsten alloy, but the points are still steel. Because titanium is so hard, you can't really do anything fancy with it, like put threads on it.
So, the fitting that goes into the dart barrel is made of aluminum and there's a little fitting that pushes on to the other end to slide your flights in. It's made of aluminum like the fitting on the Alamo shafts. If you Robin Hood them, they will bend and/or break also. The advantage of the titanium shafts is that they are pretty rugged and are thin and non-obstructive."
Perry Israel comments:
"I have used metal and plastic shafts. I personally prefer the metal, notwithstanding Bob's comments."
firstname.lastname@example.org (Gabe Tang) chimes in:
"I'll agree with Bill Here.....plastics really won't do the job if you are shooting tight groups or robin-hooding frequently. Even drops onto the floor can break 'em. The nylons are only slightly better and they can lose their ability to hold flights in snugly usually after just the first robin-hood.
And I hate constantly picking up other peoples flights when they use those darn nylons. :-o
I use Alamos exclusively now too. They tend to last longer if you don't over-torque them or they don't crack on a drop to the floor. Actually, as the shafts do tend to crack more than the metal tips, I will keep the good tips to swap-out when I can't bend them back to shape after a robin-hood. Cheaper than buying a set of tips only.
I once bought a set of the Titanium and promptly proceeded to robin-hood the tip within 15 minutes. They are a bugger to try to bend back into shape.
The titanium shafts are sort of guaranteed.......guaranteed to sucker you into buying them! :-} I went back to the bar owner and local dealer of these thingies and he wouldn't give me satisfaction so I've never gone back since. And he was supposedly Umberger's manager at the time. Sheeesh....if you can't get somebody in the business with a reputation to uphold to stand behind their products.....you have to go back to the manufacturer to replace the product. heck, with the cost of a few bucks to ship the damaged set to them and the lost time and aggravation.....I don't consider it worth it. Things break...pure and simple. That being so, I opted to get the most reliable shaft I can for the cheapest I can and write it off as a consumer expendable. So what did I do, I called Cornhuskers and bought 50 sets at some really cheap price like maybe 50 cents a pop and I haven't run out yet. It also helped that I got flights and other darts and even a set of plastic tips and steel screw-in tips and such. Why......well, when I travel, I don't like to put my darts in an airline check-in box since they lost a set a few years back. And they won't let you carry steel tips on board if they catch you at the metal detector x-ray inspection. But they will let soft-tips go through! So I just slip the plastics on and walk through but I have the metal screw-ins for real darts later on when I'm at my destination with my darts safely in hand rather than lost somewhere in baggage-handling. All legal and safe. nyuck nyuck nyuck."
"As a lark, I recently bought a set of turkey feather flights. It's been nice not having to replace flights, and they throw fine for me. Has anyone else tried these?"
"Used to be, back in the olden days (20 years ago), there were basically three types of flights you could buy for your darts, which were made of brass and equipped with 1/4" threads (instead of 2BA threads common to the tungsten darts). You could buy the feather flights in 2 basic styles and several different lengths, moulded plastic flights (like the ones that came and, perhaps, still do come with paper boards) or wooden shafts (referred to as "canes" by the Brits) in which you would stuff paper flights in much the same fashion as our plastic/aluminum, etc. shafts and folded flights we use today.
Of the three, the turkey feather flights were by far the best and, in my opinion, still are. The long arrow feather flights provided the smoothest, most stable flight for your darts. The feather flights fell into disuse mainly because players began buying tungsten darts with leatherette wallets which allowed them to carry their darts safely in a shirt or pants pocket. Feather flights are also easily damaged and spares are bulky and difficult to carry. The darts must be carried in a box to protect the flights. Strangely enough, many players today, prefer not to remove their flights and carry them in a plastic holder which would be ideal for protecting the feather flights. But due to a shortage of suitable turkey feathers, the flights are pretty expensive. Why is there a shortage of suitable turkey feathers when there is no shortage of turkeys? Because today, poultry is speed fed with all kinds of unnatural ingredients to make them grow faster and bigger so the farmer can get them to market faster and make more money. This results in a poor grade of feather. Such is life in the '90s."