A dart comprises of four basic parts, a point, a barrel, a shaft (or stem) and a flight. Of these four parts, the most crucial one is the barrel. This is the part of the dart you grip when you throw and it also gives the dart its weight. The shape of the barrel will vary depending on where the weight is concentrated. If the barrel is the same thickness all the way down the weight is distributed evenly, a torpedo style barrel is heavier at the front and a barrel which is thicker in the center has the majority of its weight concentrated there.
In the early days darts were made out of wood and then for a long time barrels were made out of brass. These days although brass darts remain (particularly at the cheaper end of the market), the choice of all professionals and the majority of league players is tungsten. Tungsten (consists of an alloy of tungsten and nickel, copper, ferro) has one distinct advantage over brass.
Tungsten is denser than brass, in other words if you had two equal amounts in volume of tungsten and brass, then the tungsten would be twice as heavy (2.15 to be exact). The advantage of tungsten darts is you can achieve the same weight as a thick brass barrel, but the tungsten barrel would be a lot slimmer. This would be a lot more beneficial to a competent dart player as this leaves a lot more room in the treble bed when darts are grouped closely together, making scoring easier.Tungsten darts have a definitive advantage over traditional brass. In addition to less deflections, they are being produced with great knurling patterns on the barrels. These provide a confident grip with less potential for slipping.And these darts come in a variety of both steel tip and soft tip sets.
Tungsten darts come in a variety of weights from about 16 grams up to around 30 grams. It is important when choosing a set of darts that you get the opportunity to try out as many as possible before deciding on a set. The main thing is you feel comfortable when throwing them. Once you find those perfect darts, it may be an idea to purchase an additional identical set just in case they get lost or stolen. If your game does go a little stale or you are striving for improvement, don't be afraid to change your darts.