Thursday, December 01, 2005

My Favorite Stem

My favorite stem is vary hard to find.



I do not treat aluminum vs. nylon as some sort of holy war. I use stems made from both materials and I like them both and recognize the pros and cons of both. For example, on my 16 gram Radarts that I used all last season I will only use short aluminum shafts. The in-between nylon shafts will work on them length wise but they have a dramatically different feel and thus do not work over all. Thus there are some darts in my collection that will only take an aluminum shaft. The reverse is not true. While on many of my darts I actually prefer to use an in-between or short nylon stem I can use an in-between or short aluminum shaft just as happily. I have many many many different types of shafts and stems of all lengths and materials. Perhaps some day I'll compare the pros and cons of the whole range but today I am just getting to a particular point and that is:

My Favorite Stem is Hard To Find!

Take a look at the stems in the photo below. The three stems are all similar in some regard. All plain black, which is an advantage because it detracts from any flashiness in the darts. Flashiness is bad but that is a discussion for another post.


The top shaft is a standard in-between length aluminum shaft. Plain as can be this is actually my prefered aluminum shaft when I use them. It has one main pro and one main con. The pro is that its shape provides a nice feel to the dart when thrown and is more attractive aesthetically. The main con is that you have to use rubber o-rings to keep them from unscrewing on their own. It doesn't bother me all that much to have to use o-rings, but some darts are machined more intelligently than others. On the poorer darts, when you tighten a shaft that is o-ring equiped it will smash the o-ring outward so that either it slips out of the dart altogether, or just creates a little bulge sticking out from the joint between the barrel and the shaft. The better machined darts provide a slight groove or inward angle so that when the shaft is tightened it squeezes the o-ring in towards the threading.

The bottom shaft is your standard medium length nylon shaft. The main pro is that it will stay tight on its own, the main con is that it is a dumpy looking shaft. The mediums are too long for my taste, and for the barrels I typically use. I will soon be trying some 44 mm length barrels at the suggestion of Taechon and the mediums may work better on those but that remains to be seen. I use springs sometimes. But not because they keep the flight on tighter. I actually prefer that the flights pop off easily and thus the springs will interfere with that. Another benefit of using the springs is that when you robin hood the stem (as opposed to robin hooding the flight) the spring will prevent the stem from breaking, thus preserving the stem for you. So, when I am running low on the stems (which has been true for the last eight months) I will use the springs to keep from having to buy more stems too soon.

The middle shaft shares the pros from both of the other two shafts and is MY FAVORITE SHAFT. It is a shapely beautiful stem that looks good on any dart, AND it is nylon so it doesn't require an 0-ring to keep it on tight. This stem has other benefits. It is flexible in the middle and will easily bend out of the way of incoming darts. Also, you can still use springs on these stems to keep the flight from coming off if you like (and the springs are extremely effective). The only downside that I am aware of (other than their apparent scarcity) is that they will snap more easily than other stems making them more disposible than others. But if I could find them in good supply this would not bother me in the slightest. Above is a pic of them with a spring in place.

So, does anyone know where I can find them in a variety of colors and lengths? I have seen similar ones on Unicorn's website but only in white, and to be honest they weren't as nice looking (too angular and not curvy enough). Thanks in advance!

10 comments:

JB said...

I was wondering what you think about spinning shafts, and your opinion on the difference between all-aluminum spinners and the nylon base/metal top type. In general, I've had better luck with nylon (non-spinning) shafts over aluminum, but recently I've been killing my flights so I want some spinners. Anyway, just looking for other opinions before I buy anything. Thanks.

jsobo119 said...

I like those shafts... I am considering buying some of the Unicorn XL's even though they only come in natural (white)...

I looked everywhere trying to find them for you... no luck... even called a couple dart shops to see if they could get them... no luck... let me know if you find them... I wrote a-z asking them to get the black ones...

Zeeple said...

jsobo119: good news, you CAN get them in black. I checked the Unicorn site recently and they picture the nylon XLs in red white and BLACK. I might order some just to tide me over until I locate the shafts pictured. Thanks for looking around for me. That was cool of you. I'll let you know if I find them.

JB: That's a good question. If you want some spinning shafts there are lots of good options out there. I have several and I'll blog about them soon, maybe tomorrow.

JB said...

zeeple: I'd appreciate that. I did end up finding some all-aluminum spinners at my local Sports Authority. They had two different lengths (I prefer the 2"). I picked up a set and if they work for me I'll probably get more. Unfortunately, my usual dart supplier has yet to reopen due to damage from Hurricane Katrina in this area (N.O. metro area). The reason I asked about the nylon/alum. combo spinners is that there are some on ebay (10 sets for $10) and I was thinking about getting them. I am relatively new to darts, this being only my second season playing...but I am quite addicted. I look forward to your opinion on the spinners.

Zeeple said...

hi JB, I had an opportunity to toss a few darts in Hammond LA a month or so ago and found the bars around there to be steel-tip oriented which is a nice surprise in any area. I was able to pickup some darts and flights at a place called Augustines. I wanna say this: The internet allows us to NOT settle for less than what we want. Big stores do not carry the one-off or unique items for fear they will not sell. I almost never buy dart stuff in brick and mortar places anymore because they don't have what I want 99% of the time. The internet is the new world marketplace and that is how it should be until the brick and mortar places decide to start taking risks again with their products. Go to either of these places and look around:

http://www.edarts.net
http://www.a-zdarts.com

Also, I did post a few thoughts on spinning shafts so if you do not see it yet just refresh your browser.

Zeeple said...

I believe I have found such a dart in the wild. Look at the stems in this picture:

http://www.regent-halex.com/sidebar_images/darts/darts.jpg

It looks like the ones I am looking for but unfortunately I cannot find them for sale on their site anywhere.

Zeeple said...

Oops. The folks at Regent Halex say it is not theirs.

jsobo119 said...

Good news zeeple...

I wrote a-z darts...

"I wish you had the Unicorn XL shafts in black instead of just white (natural)… Can you get them in black?"

They wrote back...

"yes we can get them in black and you are in luck, because we will be adding these to our order we have in with them...we should receive these new items in approximately a week."

jsobo119 said...

Also on the brick and mortar place... I try to order from ours as much as possible so that when I want to buy darts I can go there and try them... My place caries just about everything bottleson.. and all hammerhead... just not unicorn...

Zeeple said...

That is good news regarding the color options on the XLs. I think I'll get some and see if they are passable next time I order dart supplies, but I doubt if I will be spending any money on darts anytime soon. Xmas wipes me out every year.

When I talk about brick and mortar places I guess I was mostly talking about the huge department stores and sporting good stores that carry the most minimum of selections in darts. I have been in good "dart" stores that have a nice selection but they can never compete price wise.

There was once place in Seattle, for example that was charging the full "suggested" retail price for GTs. They wanted $175.00 for them!! Absurd. I wish I could support local mom and pop places but not when they charge those kinda prices.