If you have read our guide to buying a dartboard for you and have decided you want to buy a bristle dartboard then I discuss here what you should be looking for if you want to choose the best bristle dartboard you can buy – all within your budget of course.
When you are considering buying the best bristle dartboard these are the factors that you need to take into account:
Bristle fibre density
You need the fibres to be very tightly packed – the tighter the better. The more compact the fibres are then the more easily they will spring back when you remove the dart from the board. This is the most important factor in board longevity. You may have seen before old dartboards covered in holes. This is because the fibres are not densely packed and over time have not move back to file the holes. In general, cheap dartboards will have lower quality fibres that more expensive dartboards and you do get what you pay for in this regard, although with that said, if you are not playing every day a cheaper board could last you several years.
Dual or single core fibers
Another factor to look out for is the internal structure of the board itself. Many dartboards have single layer of compressed fibres sandwiched against a layer of wood composite to form the board. Others on the other hand have two layers compressed fibres with one laying on top of the other. These layers then sit on the wooden board base. The extra fiber layer helps to cushion the dart as it enters the board and makes the board more durable as the dart cannot penetrate through the fibers and into the backing layer behind it. Not only this, but the extra layer makes the board quieter as the darts hit the board.
Wire frame profile
The wire frame that sits on the front of the board is called the “spider”. It marks out the boundaries of the numbers and the double and treble spaces that sit between them. Without the spider you could throw a dart that straddled two numbers. With the wire frame in place you can only hit one section at any one time.
Very occasionally the dart will hit the wire frame. Because the frame is made of metal there is no chance of the dart embedding itself in the wire so it just rebounds back out. To reduce the chances of the dart bouncing back out the edge of the frame forms an angle so that when the dart tip hits it there is more a of chance of the dart giving the wire a “glancing blow” and getting pushed into the bristle next to the wire. Many boards such as the Winmau 4 have a narrow 60 degree angle wire. This presents itself at a much sharper angle at the face, reducing dart bounce-outs and deflecting the darts into the scoring areas. It can make all the difference.
In general, you should look for a thin wire frame (less metal surface area) with narrow angle surface. This won’t stop the occasional bounce-out but it will – for sure – reduce the number of bounce-outs.
Still on the subject of the wire, another feature to look out for is a staple-free wire. On cheaper boards the spider is attached to the board by means of several staples dotted around the perimeter of the wire. Although these are usually small and quite unobtrusive, the staples are of course metal and present themselves as another obstruction for a dart to hit and bounce out.
Higher quality dartboards have a staple free wire which is attached integrally to the board. No staples means less metal surface area on the board and less bounce-outs. One thing to watch out for is that some manufacturers advertise only a part of the dartboard as “staple-free”. For example, you may sometimes see the words “staple-free bullseye” as a feature. This is good, but not great because it means there will almost certainly be staples in other places around the board – at least not around the bullseye.
An obvious one, but no less important. The thinner the spider wire the smaller its surface area, meaning fewer bounce-outs. Not only that, a thinner wire means a larger scoring area. So with a thin wire frame you get less rebounds and higher scores!
This is an important one. Along with the quality and tightness of the bristles (discussed above) the spider needs to adjustable so that the board behind it can be rotated. This allows the numbers to move around a short distance and evens out the wear of the board. If you are playing “501” regularly the chances are that the area at the op of the board covering the numbers 5, 20 and 1 will become quite work over time. Rotation of the spider allows this worn area to be move to another set of numbers lower down the board and freshen up the top area of the board which is regularly being hit.
The hanger at the center of the back of the frame needs to be sturdy and solid of course in order to take the weight of the board and absorb the impact of the darts as they hit. As well as this, most dartboards will usually have three spacers which are attached to the back edge of the board at equal intervals. These enable the board to stabilise against the wall and not wobble when hit. Often these spacers are thin strips of metal with a particular shaped profile, but better boards have adjustable wheel-locking mechanisms which make the board even sturdier against the wall and are especially useful for rough walls or walls that may not be entirely flat.
Double sided board
Some bristle dartboards are double-sided, which gives you an extra game to play. On one side is the conventional dartboard and spider whilst on the reverse is usually a numbered target area made up of concentric rings of alternate color. It’s certainly a nice bonus and there are several double-sided boards we recommend on the 8 Dart Finish website, including the Winmau Blade 4 dartboard. You just need to make sure you are not trading off board quality for the extra playing area on the reverse side.