Out of every set of Performance Darts I’ve thrown, these are, by far, my favourite. Introducing… the Optimum Performance Darts.
The darts come in both 22g and 24g (the darts I reviewed were the 22g version), and come supplied in a stylish package, along with a plain black darts case, a set of black intermediate nylon stems, and a set of DPC 100 micron flights. The darts slightly vary in width depending on the weight, with the 22g being 7.8mm in width (5.8mm at the narrowest point), and the 24g measuring up just 0.1mm thicker, at 7.9mm (6.1mm at the narrowest point).
Regardless of the weight, both sets are 45mm in length. The darts come fitted with a 32mm standard silver point, which is the only downside I could find to the dart themselves – silver points tend to need to be scuffed with emery cloth in order to grip the board. However, Performance Darts offer a free repointing service when purchasing the darts, and so should you wish, you can change the points out for new ones.
Right out of the packet, I drew one straight comparison from these darts – they are very similar to the popular Target Phil Taylor G3 darts. To compare the two, I felt like I should invest in a set… and so I did!
In terms of shape, the two are almost identical, with the 22g and 24g Taylor’s being the exact same length as the Optimums. The only discernible difference between the two is that the Optimums measure slightly wider – 0.05mm in it!
While it’s easy to distinguish similarities between the Optimums and the Taylor’s, the grip on the two are polar opposites. Where the Taylor’s have a smooth, subtle style pixel grip, intertwined with a standard ring grip, the Optimums feature three contrasting grip styles in strategically placed positions, in order to offer a different style of grip for every type of throwing action.
The rear of the dart utilises Performance Darts own ‘sticky grip’, which is a dual cut standard ring grip. This creates a coarse feel, while locking your fingers in place right up until the point of release. This grip, also seen on the Classic Performance Darts, was the grip I personally used when throwing these for this review, and like with the Classics, I was taken aback by the deceptive aggression to the grip. It’s clear to see why this style of grip has been so frequently used across the Performance Darts range!
The central section contains a simple ring grip, much like the ‘sticky grip’, but without the dual cuts. This ring grip, made popular by the likes of Bristow and Lowe, and more recently Rob Cross, is a staple in many darts, and it’s clear to see why. To offer more grip on the Optimums, the ring grip appears to be cut wider than usually seen on barrels. As well as this, the distance between grooves, and width of them remains consistent with the rear ‘sticky grip’, which allows for a smooth transition between the two, which ensures the grip remains comfortable – even if you’re holding the dart between the two different sections.
The front taper features an uncommon micro grip, previously seen on certain Unicorn sets, such as the Gary Anderson Phase 4 darts. The taper offers grip right down to the point, as well as a perfectly angled taper to assist with tight grouping – something relatively unseen in bomb style darts! With such a fine grip featuring in a high impact area, this grip may wear down quicker over time, due to collisions in the board with the other barrels. After a few hours of practice, I could make out where the grip had been chipping slightly, but so far the grip hadn’t been affected, nor the aesthetics of the dart.
Appearance: 9/10 – Out of the box, I couldn’t fault them for looks. The silver barrel, with the black stems and white/black flights looked like something out of a James Bond film – I half expected a poison dart to fly out of them! The only reason I couldn’t award these full marks for appearance is simply due to the wear. While I found the grip hadn’t been affected, after a few hours of throwing, I found that both the rear ‘sticky grip’ and front micro grip has begun to chip slightly.
Balance: 7/10 – I was throwing these from the rear ‘sticky grip’, and so around 75% of the way back from the point. I found that my darts tended to land very high up in the board, resulting in quite a few fall outs. This I put down to a combination of the balance, and the silver points. For me, the balance felt perfect from the position I was throwing from. However, throwing directly from the rear, the front felt heavy, and from the front, the rear felt heavy. For a dart like this, it may be a challenge to find the perfect throwing position, as with any bomb style dart. The setup used may require some tinkering, with shorter/longer stems perhaps worth a try to get that balance point right for you.
Grip: 10/10 – Full marks! The three grip styles compliment themselves perfectly, with a seamless transition between the two at the rear and centre of the dart. The dart offers a high, consistent level of grip throughout, regardless of where you hold the dart. Thanks to the shape of the dart, should you throw from the rear as I had been, you’ll find you’ll push into the grip more as you’re throwing into the beginning of the bomb shape.
Quality: 10/10 – With three complex grip styles, I expected some sort of manufacturing error or defect somewhere along the barrel, but could find none at all! Every cut is as accurate and precise as you’d expect from a dart made by Performance Darts, who pride themselves on the quality of the final product. From repeated use, the flights have taken a battering primarily due to the shape of the dart, and so having a few spare sets on standby wouldn’t go amiss! Performance Darts conveniently sell sets of 5 for as little as £1.50 (30p a set!).
Value for Money: 10/10 – Wow! Three 10/10 scores in a row! Performance Darts must be doing something right! For comparison, the Target Phil Taylor G3 darts retail around £94.95. The Performance Darts Optimum retail at… £27.95. To put that into context, for a dart with near identical dimensions, as well as with more grip, you’ll save around £65 in getting the Optimums! What’s not to love about these!
Once again, I’d like to thank Paul Gillings at Performance Darts for the opportunity to review yet another set of darts. The Optimums are definitely my favourite out of every set I’ve ever reviewed, and I’d go as far to say in my Top 5 sets I’ve owned! Really enjoyed using these, and bringing this review to you all to read.
If there’s anything you’d like to ask about the darts, or if you’d like to comment on the review, feel free to message me on Twitter, @JoeReid180.
The Optimum Darts are available from a number of retailers – choose your favourite from here! The Silver Optimums Joe is using are available in 22g and 24g and priced at £27.95. The black version are in 22g, 24g and 26g and are £31.95.