When it comes to dartboards I always say buy the best you can and I will explain why.
Over the last several years the dartboards have advanced more than the previous fifty years prior. At the high end of the market sees the disappearance of round and triangle wired dartboards in favour of the blade divider. The advantages of this type of dartboard become glaringly obvious the first time you play on one. The blade dividers are designed to reduce the amount they obscure the scoring segments thus reduce bonces outs. Blade board require no pining because the blade is cut straight into the sisal and give a clean edge that doesn’t twist, unlike pinned wired boards. Most of the Major manufactures sell Blade construction dartboard but only one bears the name Blade and that is made by Winmau. Over the years I have played on most of the blade boards and reviewed each over time. SO out of the bunch which one is best?
I favour the Winmau Dual Core 2. The sisal Winmau use gives it an edge of the over others. All of Winmau dartboards use a Kenyan Sisal which I find softer, less brittle and more durable. The Dual Core allows the dart to penetrate deeply into the board again to help a softly thrown dart still to stay put. The board also comes with adjustable rear stabilisers to keep the board true when mounted on an uneven wall it isn’t surprising it is the board of choice by the British Darts Organisation (BDO). So what about the others?
The Unicorn Eclipse HD2 was launched in 2016 and part of the new Unicorn product range for 2017 is the top of the current Unicorn dartboard range. It is the PDC endorsed and their board of choice until 2022. This dartboard probably gets more TV Coverage than any other dartboard on the market. The new numbers are made from a highly visible plastic. Unicorn also sells additional coloured numbers to suit your own taste in Black, Red, Green, Blue and of course White, however, a wildly thrown dart that hits the dartboard number indicator can break it. Although the board looks superb on TV it may not be the best choice for everyone. Unicorn also manufactures the Eclipse Pro HD2 (not shown here) and this board has the same qualities of the Eclipse H2 but has a traditional metal wire number indicator.
The Unicorn Eclipse dartboard, in my opinion, wears faster but the number ring is without question better and is highly visible. The Unicorn dartboards will be used in all Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) major dart events to a least 2022
The Puma Bandit still for me is the nicest looking. It is clean surface and construction stand out however I found the (Spider) blade wire tends to move forward away from the board surface and either requires hammering back or board replacement. All of three of these board have a clean unveined surface. The Puma is endorsed by the World Darts Federation (WDF)
Not all the blade construction are endorsed by governing darts bodies, that is not to say these boards are lesser or inferior quality. Above are three dartboards that are as good as their endorsed partners. The three I have selected above are all blade construction, however, all three still show the paper or in some cases the plastic veins. The veins are caused but the board construction process. A number of sisal ‘biscuits’ are compressed together to form a dartboard. Where the sisal ‘biscuit’s meet forms the vein.
Although veins appear on most dartboards they are relatively thin they don’t usually cause a problem. However, on the odd occasion, mainly when the dartboard is worn, a dart hitting a joint vein may not stay in the board, hence to say why these three don’t make my top three. The Nodor, One80 and Harrows that said Winmau Blade 4 (not the Dual Core) have served me well for a few years! With regular turning, all of these boards they all should last you well.
Ok, we have had a look at the top of the range. The Blade boards so what about the rest?
Next up is the pub and club favourite. The Diamond/triangle wire boards. The boards again made from high-quality sisal they won’t be dual core and will have veins and until recently all bristle dartboards were made this way. The diamond wire is supposed to deflect a dart hitting it into the board! Well depending on the angle of trajectory it will, however, these wires are pinned to the sisal and at least 50% thicker than the blade construction hence to say more bounce outs.
Generally, these are good dartboards but with wear the pins become loose and the wire turns and deforms. A dart hitting the wire can bend the wire and usually, this is in the treble twenty area. If the board becomes too worn the wire can completely turn so you have a facing flat surface and this will increase the bounce outs. My advance buy a Blade board!
This construction has been around for many years. Again pinned to the sisal as per the diamond wire and is a good entry level dartboard. If you are new to darts and want a decent dartboard to just hone your skills then go for this type of board. If darts don’t grab you then at least you haven’t spent out too much on the top of the range. If it does make your second board a Blade because you will see the difference.
Although the round wires are the thickest overall it is also the cheapest.
Another pointer to look for if you are buying a wired board not a blade, then look at the pinning construction. Most these days are pinned within the treble and double areas however if you can find one that has its pins on the outer side of the trebles then these don’t obscure the treble and double bed. These boards may also have more pins because they are pinned either side of the highest scoring segments but also allow for less movement in the wire hence a better construction.
You will find some manufacturers now only make one type of board the blade this is because others have fallen a little out of fashion and once you have owned a blade board you won’t go back to a diamond or round wire.
How Dartboards are Made
My thanks to the Winmau Dartboard Company and other Dartboard Manufacturers for use of their images