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!