So they turned up today, my new Sigma UltraCores, and very nice they look too in their smart Icon case. Time to hit the board and see how they perform!
Of course this won’t be my first test of them. I spent many happy hours playing around with the prototypes before returning them to Unicorn HQ with my blessing to proceed to production. Still, even for a world-weary old darting curmudgeon like me, there’s nothing like getting some new arrers in the post to inspire a bout of faintly juvenile enthusiasm.
Now it would be quite understandable for you to question the benefit of a low standard player such as I testing darts designed to facilitate streams of 180s and 100+ checkouts. Be assured there is method in my inability. Firstly, there are always skill-independent factors such as usability, durability, and QA to check. Secondly, I’m not really testing where the darts land so much as how they fly and how it feels to throw them in terms of grip, balance, etc.
The special consideration here with any Unicorn UltraCore dart is that balance can be tuned, as can weight, by altering the sequence of the polymer and tungsten barrel inserts supplied. The original UltraCore One and new UltraCore Two and player barrels all take four inserts, giving sixteen balance/weight combinations, whereas the new Sigma version takes three, giving eight combinations (add one more combo to those if you include the no insert option).
This discrepancy is because the very tunability of an UltraCore barrel precludes supplying it with pre-determined shaft and flights to give the type of precision accuracy-optimised aerodynamics found in a Sigma Pro or Super Pro. By comparison, stability optimisation, such as found in the old Sigma One and current Sigma X models, has a little more leeway and, given just three inserts and reduced barrel length, can thus be sufficiently reconciled with the UltraCore concept.
That said, Sigma UltraCores do have a theoretically optimum insert sequence for stability optimisation, which happens to be polymer-tungsten-polymer in steel tip mode (giving a 20gm barrel with point) and three polymers in soft tip (giving an 18gm all-up dart).
I’ve said before that no amount of theoretical aerodynamic optimisation will compensate for the weight or balance of a dart not suiting you in practice. Hence I’m more than a bit suspicious that psychology has played no small part in my finding, after a lot of trial and error in steel-tip mode, that in my case theory and practice coincide and the polymer-tungsten-polymer sequence suits me best. Next time maybe I’ll be more scientific and recruit someone to change the inserts for me so I can do a proper blind trial!
Should you decide to get a set of these new Sigmas (if you are interested, more about them on Page 14 of the 2017 Book of Darts, downloadable from this website), I hope you have as much fun as I did in tuning them to your personal specifications. Biased I may be, but I reckon they’re pretty cool darts. They might even take over from my Sigma Xs (which in turn took over from 950 Ones) as my weapons of choice!
Speaking of Sigma 950 Ones, you may notice that they aren’t in the 2017 Book. If you’re mourning their departure, fear not – even if you don’t fancy the Sigma Xs, the 970 barrels, when fitted with One shafts and flights, should perform much the same in flight and, as I’ve also said before, are actually a technically “purer” Sigma.
Before I sign off, a sneak preview as to what might be the subject of my next blog. I’m very aware that all my jabbering on about Sigma darts (and you can’t expect me not to write about my pet project from time to time!) invites the understandable question “if they’re so great, why does no top pro use them, at least unmodified?”
Obviously this is partly because no off-the-peg barrel can hope to suit manufacturer-sponsored players - who can try out as many different patterns as they wish over many hours of practice - as well as one customised to their exact specifications. Moreover, it’s also linked to why there is an increasing, and I might argue not inevitably justified, tendency for modern pros to favour comparatively long, straight barrels fitted with large flights.
Interestingly, there are, as you may have observed, notable exceptions. But perhaps more on that next time!
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