The Snapshot Review: Unicorn Gripper 6. The Beresford Barrel.

Not many amateur players are asked to produce their own barrel design by a major manufacturer. Fewer still see that design released onto the market and be available for general sale. Darts World contributor Tom Beresford is one of that select group.

Tom’s design was modelled on two of his favourite players, Joe Cullen and Krzysztof Kcuik and their distinctive barrels.

  • Product: Darts (Steel Tip)
  • Brand: Unicorn
  • Model: Gripper
  • Tungsten: 90%
  • Edition: 22g
  • Price: 35-60

Overview and First Impressions:

The barrels were originally marketed with Tom’s name and previous logo associated with them but are also part of the extensive ‘Gripper’ range. The ‘Beresford Barrel’ is the 22g version. The dimensions are relatively conventional at 45mm x 7mm, but its the grip sections that make the dart stand out. The dart has the same basic shape as the Cullen arrow but the front grip section is far more aggressive and has more in common with Kcuik’s Weapon of Choice’.

Open the Box:

  • One set of 3 90% Tungsten Barrels – Unicorn engraved.
  • One set of 3 Gripper Zero Degree’s Shafts
  • One set of 3 Gripper Flights
  • One set of 3 Finger Grip Points (Fitted)

These combinations of grip patterns give the dart a direct and aggressive look and feel. The slightly shorter, than Joe’s, dimensions are good for those who might describe themselves as ‘a bit wristy’. At 90% tungsten, they are a high-quality dart that will be long-lasting.

The price tag varies between 35 – 60 and is quite high for a ‘range dart’, best value can be obtained by hunting online. The finger grip points, supplied, are a nice touch and give the player a variety of options and ways for the dart to feel secure.

Test Results:

The testers found that both middle and rear grip players could get good performance from the dart. No front gripping player appeared comfortable.

“It took a while to really get the best from these, but they grew on me…..”

All the testers found the dart appealing and were eager to try them. The concept of a hybrid dart appealed to some who thought it may solve their personal needs.

Unicorn Gripper 90% Tungsten Darts 20g Designed With Tom Beresford
A180 still feature Tom’s logo as well as the Gripper branding. click to buy

Counterintuitively it was the players with the lightest grip who found the Gripper easiest to adapt too. They liked that they could feel it in their hand without having to actually ‘grip it’. The supplied set up is a very good place to start and the supplied accessories and spares are handy. However, a ‘Rockstar’ set up was very effective!

Downsides:

The split-grip proved awkward for more than one of our testing group. Those who persevered managed to find a manageable grip but it was not an easy task. However, more than one simply could not use the dart functionally.

Cullen himself simply said he had tried them

“but they were not for me”

Marks: 8/10

Overall this dart got 8/10. One tester marked very highly and one could not offer a mark. It seems that it could be thought of a marmite dart! An improving player in need of more grip may get on well with these if their technique suits.

SnapShot:

A highly specialised dart, popular with some testers and throw styles. Durable and interesting as well as superbly engineered and manufactured. A highly individual dart that may suffer from being the combination of two styles rather than a single vision. A definite ‘try before you buy’ dart, not recommended for a beginner who is yet to settle on his/her grip or throw style.


Review and testing carried out by AIM: for an on behalf of Darts World Magazine.

5 Darting Bargains – In An Age of Spiralling Costs.

Darts World has noticed that the costs, especially player and premium, of darts have increased substantially over the past few years.  Increased and improved cosmetics, together with some technical innovations, can be blamed for some of this. But, the increased popularity and worldwide expansion of darts seem to be resulting in a golf or tennis like spiralling of some equipment costs. 

Not quite within our bargain criteria, but the Pro-Line is an excellent dart for a mid-range price.

Less than five years ago very few sets of darts would cost more than £50 and the vast majority were between £20 & £35. These often included accessories such as a case and or spare flight & stem setups. Today, a brief look at any of the major sellers reveals thirty or forty different models with an RRP of over £60 with a handful of models on or around the £100 mark. 

Does all this mean that darts is becoming a rich pursuit for those with more disposable cash? Can the average young person still get a decent start and does all this extra cash actually make much difference? 

Darts World asked A.I.M: to look into the best value darts available and to put them through their paces. We set them a maximum of £25 per set and asked them to assess quality, performance, value, and accessibility.  Here is the first summary of what they found; 

1) Pro-Style (21-26g) – Darts Clearance £12.99-14.99. http://www.ebaystores.co.uk/dartsclearance?_fsub=7330512015& 

These are a lovely dart for the £15 cost.  The 22g model is 48mm x 7.2mm (widest) and has a slight taper from the front to rear. There is a small blank near the stem and the grip is what could be described as an original Bob Anderson style grip but slightly more aggressive. They have a slight front weight but still, feel well balanced. Almost indistinguishable from the McKicks Alan Glazier darts. 

The darts come with nothing but a point protector in order to keep the costs, and postage fees, at an absolute minimum. They were popular with all our testers and all standards. Even our elite player was very impressed. The ‘Pro-Style’ compared well with other models even those of higher cost. The tungsten content will be at least 80% and may be higher.  

Pro-Style – Excellent value at a bargain cost.

2) Winmau Diamond 23g – Red Dragon Clearance £24.90 (RRP £55)  – http://www.reddragondarts.com/winmau-diamond-3-23-gram-12105.html

These are a serious bargain. Originally £55+ they represent the combination of high-quality tungsten and a diamond fusion grip. Winmau seems to have abandoned this grip style and thus you can now pick up some serious bargains. 

Winmau Diamond Grip – Currently less than half price.

These have a great deal in common with John Lowe or Andy Fordham shape darts. The extra grip near the nose can be handy. They are 90% tungsten and measure 40.6mm x 7.7mm. The diamond grip was very popular and will be missed by some serious players. However, after a while, it can rub the other darts into looking shabby and wears itself down. 

In short, these are a premium dart for a one-off price. I doubt these will last long. Well worth a try or even to get yourself an extra set if you use them already. 

3) Designa Dark Thunder – £22.95http://www.dartscorner.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=42991 

A lovely dart, in a classic style, for under £25.

These are a very good value, 90% tungsten dart. They have a lot in common with Unicorn (Taylor) Phase 1. The black barrels with natural highlights are a popular look and have a touch of the Noir range about them. A very grippy dart that is not chunky in the hard or over-complex in design. Various weights are available with 22g and 24g being the most popular. With Darts Corner moving their priorities to Mission darts these may not be around forever as the Designa badge may fade away. 

Monster – The Cobra – £24 (RRP £50+)  – http://www.dartscorner.co.uk/product_info.php?cPath=1190_1692&products_id=31539

These are available in the clearance section of dartscorner.com and may not be for very long at this price. This model became Jelle’s signature shape and style for quite a few years and during his most successful PDC spell.  

The Cobra – A £50+ premium dart for a clearance price.

90 % Tungsten, superbly designed and engineered to be a superb combination of aerodynamics and style. 42mm long x 7mm (at the widest) they are highly individual and you might wish to try before you buy! Although badged as 22g this is misleading the barrel weight is only 20.4g. 

Two of our testers loved these and one has kept them! However, our third player could not get used to them at all. It seems that ‘The Cobra’ is a bit Marmite! 

Alan Tabern – V180 – £20http://www.a180.co.uk/product.php/10304/v180-alan-tabern-90-tungsten-darts-21g

A classic player dart for only £20. Alan Tabern’s simple barrel.

You don’t get many classic player darts for under £20. However, V180 makes a small range, all of which are pitched at a great price. Perhaps the best of these is the Tabern dart. These could be made by Target, Alan’s old sponsor, they are a classic style ring grip dart. Only Alan’s 21g edition is available. They are a little over 47mm x 6mm wide they feel very well balanced and are 90% tungsten. 

Our players thought that these were a lovely dart. The only downside was that they are not as heavily gripped as some current models. Our more traditional testers were fond of these darts, whereas our younger player, seem to find them over delicate and harder to control. 

It can be seen from the above, that despite the recent increases in the cost of premium products, high-quality darts can be sourced. A little creativity and patience can result in darts of the same