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Top 8 Bristle Dartboards: Reviews and Buying Guide!
Last updated 28th May, 2020

Having been around for generations, darts has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years as more people look to get off their smartphone and reconnect with family and friends over fun classic games. The most common dartboard (often spelled ‘dart board’) is the bristle dartboard. In this post we’ll cover why you should buy a bristle dartboard, our top 8 recommended bristle dartboards, and the most important factors to consider when buying.

First, though, let’s answer the question we get asked most frequently when it comes to darts…

What are bristle dart boards and what are they made of?

Bristle dartboards are the dartboards used by professionals, and most commonly by amateurs, and they are made of sisal fibre. The material is used because its coarseness ‘grips’ the darts so they don’t easily fall out, and its ‘self-healing’ qualities allow dart holes to close up after use. Bristle dartboards require steel tip darts. The most popular alternatives nowadays are electronic boards that require soft tip darts, however other less commonly used materials are cork, wood and paper coil.

Why buy a bristle dartboard?

It’s what the professionals use

Given bristle dart boards are the boards most commonly used by pros and amateurs alike, having your own is the best way to practice for tournaments and replicate the real thing at home.

They are durable

Thanks to the self-healing nature of the sisal fibre in bristle dart boards, they remain in good condition so your gameplay doesn’t suffer as the board gets older. Even if you’re a keen player playing a couple of times a week, you should expect your board to last 4-5 years.

Top 8 bristle dart boards

Below we review the best bristle dartboards we’ve found from around the internet. For those starting from scratch, there are a couple that come as a full set with either a cabinet or surround included. The two biggest and most reliable brands in darts are Unicorn and Winmau, so most of the recommended boards are from one of these two manufacturers.

1. Unicorn Striker Bristle Dartboard

The Unicorn Striker is the perfect board for someone starting out or buying their first dart board. It’s the entry-level board from Unicorn, but rest assured it's still a quality board for the home and will serve most recreational players well. It has a staple free bullseye to reduce bounce outs, but the rest of the spider does use staples.

  • Staple-free? No
  • Price: £
  • Retailer: Amazon

2. Winmau MvG Diamond Edition Dartboard

Similar to the Unicorn Striker, the Winmau Diamond Plus is Winmau’s entry-level dartboard for recreational play. We’ve added this one to the list due the unique colouring and design of the board that you won’t find anywhere else. The green and black is thanks to Winmau’s partnership with Michael van Gerwen (nicknamed the ‘Green Machine’), one of the greatest darts players in the world!

  • Staple-free? No
  • Price: ££
  • Retailer: Amazon

3. Winmau Blade 5 Professional Bristle Dartboard

The Blade 5 is Winmau’s mid-range board, suitable for both tournaments and recreational play. Thanks to its staple-free construction and thin wiring, it has a 14% reduction in web surface area compared with previous versions, decreasing the chance of bounce outs. The board also has a rota-lock system that makes rotating the board and locking in position nice and easy. Overall, this is a quality board and our favourite on the list.

  • Staple-free? Yes
  • Price: ££
  • Retailer: Amazon

4. Target Pro Tour Dartboard

The only board in our list that’s not manufactured by Winmau or Unicorn is the Target Pro Tour. Target is not as big of a brand, but they do produce great dartboards and this one is no exception. It is made with Smart Edge wiring to maximise your target area, and uses a highly compacted sisal to speed up the recovery time of the board. All in all a great dart board and a good choice if you want to try something different from the mainstream brands.

  • Staple-free? Yes
  • Price: ££
  • Retailer: Amazon

5. Unicorn Eclipse HD2 PDC Edition Bristle Dartboard

The Eclipse HD2 is Unicorn’s top of the range board and arguably the highest quality dartboard on the market. It’s the PDC’s (Professional Darts Corporation) board of choice until 2022 thanks to its quality and design, and we’d recommend it for keen players who want the very best. Unsurprisingly, it comes with all the bells and whistles such as thin wiring, staple-free construction, unilock levelling system and high quality sisal. If you want to impress your buddies, this is the one for you!

  • Staple-free? Yes
  • Price: £££
  • Retailer: Amazon

6. Unicorn Striker Board with Red Surround

A great way to protect the walls around your board is to put a surround around it to catch those stray darts that don’t quite make the target! This full dart board set includes a surround and six darts for the ultimate home setup. If you like the idea of having a surround then check out our reviews of the top surrounds and backboards.

  • Staple-free? No
  • Price: £££
  • Retailer: Liberty Games

7. Winmau Diamond Dartboard with Cabinet Set

If you want to keep your darts setup looking stylish, while simultaneously protecting your walls, then a dartboard with cabinet set is a great option for you. The set comes with a Winmau Diamond board, a stylish black cabinet, two sets of darts, and an oche line. It’ s great value and one of the most popular sets on the market. If you're interested in a cabinet then why not read our post on the top dartboard with cabinet sets.

  • Staple-free? No
  • Price: £££
  • Retailer: Amazon

8. Unicorn Smartboard Automatic Bristle Dartboard

If you’re fed up all the mental maths involved in scoring, then look no further than the world’s first app enabled auto-scoring dartboard! This board has integrated magnetic sensors that track where the dart lands, and send the score to the Scorebuddy app on your smartphone via bluetooth so you can easily track scores without having to worry. The app has 8 different games to choose from, and the board comes with 2 sets of darts and a measuring tape so you’re ready to go.

  • Staple-free? No
  • Price: ££££
  • Retailer: Amazon

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Buying guide

There are a number of things to consider when deciding which dartboard to buy. We’ve highlighted the most important below.

Quality and functionality

While it’s true that dartboard quality can vary, the entry-level boards from the big brands, such as the Unicorn Striker, are still good quality and will suffice for most recreational players playing a couple of times a week. If you’re a keen player getting your darts out most days then a mid-range board like the Winmau Blade 5 is a great choice.

When you’re buying, look out for whether the board is rotational. It’s important to rotate your board regularly so that you don’t end up with one section getting particularly worn out over time, while the rest remains relatively untouched. Doing this will spread the wear and allow your dartboard to last much longer!

Wiring

The wiring (also known as the ‘spider’ or the ‘web’ due to its appearance) is a really important feature of a dartboard because when your dart hits the wire there’s a chance of a bounce out, which can be very frustrating and leave you with a score of zero! Quite simply, the thinner the wiring, the lower the chance of the dart bouncing off it, and the higher the chance your dart lands in the board and scores.

This is also why it’s important to look out for staple-free construction. In some boards, small staples are used to hold the wiring in place, which reduces the overall surface area of the board you are aiming for.

Should you buy the dartboard as part of a set?

When buying a dartboard you can either buy it on its own, or as part of a darts set along with other accessories such as a surround, a cabinet, darts, and an oche line. If you’re just starting out, then buying a set is a great way to get started as you get everything in one go, but it’s worth noting that the darts are usually of a lower quality so if you’re looking for the best darts setup then you’re better off buying the components separately.

How much does a dartboard cost?

Bristle dartboards typically fall into one of three categories: entry-level, mid-level, and professional. For entry-level you’d expect to pay around the £25-30 ($30-40) mark, for mid-level in the £40-50 ($50-65) range, and for professional boards it’s £60 ($75) and up. You can find cheaper boards on the internet but they are likely poor quality or not bristle. Of course, if you’re buying the board as part of a set then you’ll pay more depending on what else is included.

FAQs

What size is a professional dart board?

A standard dartboard has a circular playing surface with a diameter of 18 inches. It is also not uncommon to find boards with a diameter of 17.75 inches.

Dart board distance: how far away from the dartboard should you stand?

Accordingly to professional regulations, the distance between the front of the dartboard and the toeline (known as the ‘oche’) is 7ft 9.25 inches. As long as your feet are behind the line, you can lean forward over the line when throwing the dart.

Dart board height: how high should you mount the dartboard on the wall?

The dartboard should be mounted so that the centre of the bullseye is at a height of 5ft 8 inches above the ground.

How long do bristle dart boards last?

A dartboard’s shelf-life depends greatly on how much it is used. If you're a keen player throwing darts 4-5 times per week then you should expect your board to last 4-5 years before it’s worn down to the extent that it should be replaced. If, on the other hand, you’re an occasional player then dart boards can last for many more years.

Can you use a bristle dart board outdoors?

If a bristle dartboard gets wet then it can be ruined, therefore it’s not advisable to leave your dartboard outside. That said, there’s nothing wrong with taking your board outdoors for a game or two in the sun, and then bringing it back inside when you’ve finished playing. Alternatively, if you keep the dartboard outdoors in a watertight cabinet then it’ll be protected from the elements.

Conclusion

So there you have our favourite bristle dartboards and a buying guide to help you choose which to buy - we hope you found it helpful! To summarise, our favourite board in terms of value for money is the fantastic Winmau Blade 5, but if you’re an occasional player looking for something that will do the job then you should go for the Unicorn Striker. If you’re just starting out and want an entire darts set then take a look at the Unicorn Striker with Surround. Whichever one you go for, you won’t be disappointed. Now go forth and play darts!

For the rest of your man cave needs and desires, why not explore our site or head over to the Darts section to see more posts and recommended products!

Affiliate disclaimer: on some or all of the products above, we receive a small commission if you make a purchase via our site. This does not impact the price you pay, but it allows us to keep helping people by writing these reviews, so thank you!


Louis
Co-founder at Mancaves HQ

Dreams of having his own fully-specced man cave with all the bells and whistles one day. Until then, he loves to play poker around the dining table and pool at the pub, and occasionally get out of the house for a run along the Thames.