What Are RC Cars Scales? Everything Explained
I have been interested in RC cars for a while now, and I also have learned a lot about them. Among the things that I have learned include RC car scales: what are they, which are the most popular RC car scales, and which scales are best for beginners. This article is made specifically for those who want to learn about that, so read below if you are interested.
First of all, Scales refers to the size of an RC car when compared to a full-size car. RC cars are typically modeled after real-life vehicles, and so when first creating a model, manufacturers decide on the scale of the car being made. This scale could run from 1/32 to 1/5 depending on which size the manufacturers prefer.
So a 1/5 model is going to be 5 times smaller in all dimensions than it’s real life variant. For example, let’s say that a real-life car measures 3840 millimeters long x 1735 millimeters wide x 1495 millimeters tall. A 1/5 replica of that specific model is going to be about 768mm L x 347mm W x 299mm H
A 1/10 car is going to be 10 times smaller, an 1/16 is going to be 16 times smaller, etc…
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all RC cars are modeled after real-life cars. Some cars are made with dimensions that do not copy any real-life vehicle, and manufacturers usually point this out when it happens.
Additionally, there are some scales that going to be better for beginners. Smaller-scale cars are ideal for newbies because they are simpler, they use less fuel and electricity, plus they tend to be cheaper too. But bigger scales tend to feature superior performance and better offroading capability, so they are best for more experienced enthusiasts who are looking for more capability from their cars.
Which RC Car Scale Is Best For You?
As I said above, there are some scales that are going to be better for certain people. Below I compile the most common scales available in today’s market and I also mention their pros and cons.
There are other slightly bigger scale classes that look similar to this one, like 1:27, 1:30, and 1:34, but since they are much more uncommon than 1:32, I’m just going to skip them. Anyways, this is one of the smallest scales that major manufacturers will make. This scale class tends to have cars that use rubber tires, proportional steering, lightweight, drifting potential, and built-in batteries. From what I have seen, there are no nitro cars available on this scale class, so if you are looking for something like that you are going to have to step up to 1:16 scale.
There are a lot of cheap toy grade models in this class, but there are some well-made cars too. Some noteworthy brands famous for making very small RC cars include Kyosho, HPI, Losi, and Tamiya. If you are looking for a proper hobby grade RC car that won’t stop working after a week, then check those brands out. Their small scale stuff is quite expensive, but well worth it if you prefer smaller sizes.
The 1:24 is very popular among enthusiasts that like small offroaders and newbies in general. Anyways, this is a very common scale that most, if not all manufacturers will support. Nitro powered RC cars aren’t super common in this scale, but they can be found if you look well enough. And when it comes to the batteries, you tend to have your choice between built-in and external power supply.
Manufacturers that are well-known for making 1:24 RC cars include Microxracing and Losi. There are a lot of great drift cars in this scale class, with easily found JDM car replicas like Skylines, SX240, and BRZs on the market. So if you are looking for something that resembles a real-life car as much as possible, check this scale out. Something else worth mentioning is the fact that these models tend to be significantly faster than 1:32 models. The added weight means that manufacturers can stick a more powerful motor in these cars without sacrificing maneuverability and handling.
My favorite scale class, the 1:16 scale class can be considered just a smaller 1:10, with a lot of very good and very high-quality electric buggies available. This is a very common scale, and all major manufacturers will make RC cars of this size. And just like 1:24 RC cars, this is a scale with a lot of replicas available. I personally used to own A 1:16 BRZ Japanese import and there are also many other models to choose from.
The 1:16 scale is, in my opinion, one of the most versatile scale classes available, but they are mostly used for racing. They are also used for bashing, but since they tend not to have as much ground clearance as bigger scales, bashers aren’t quite as common in this scale.
The most common and popular scale, these RC cars aren’t very big but they aren’t very small either. There are a wide variety of 1:10 scale models available, both hobby and toy-grade, and in general, these provide the best bang for your buck. Nitro powered cars are also easily found, and power-wise this scale will satisfy anybody looking for strong pull from their cars.
Real-life replicas are commonplace in this scale class, but they aren’t as common as in the 1:24 class shown above. But what you are most commonly going to see are unique designs that do not resemble anything else.
When it comes to the pricing, this scale is actually pretty affordable for what you get if you ask me. An entry level 1:10 truggy is going to be about 150 dollars, which is a heck of a deal, especially if it comes with a battery stock. More high-end models will start at 250 dollars, but considering how versatile 1/10 models can be, I consider them a steal at that price.
I would consider 1:8 models to be 1:10 models with more power and with slightly more size. They tend not to feature as much aftermarket support as the more common 1:10 models though, so I have personally avoided these. But generally, they tend to be almost identical to 1:10 models, but featuring more powerful models and more ground clearance.
The most expensive scale, models in this class tend to feature the most advanced technology and components in the RC car industry. There are a lot of truggies in this class, generally featuring stability control systems, very torquey motors, and more general awesomeness. Anyways, this model is very good for offroading, generally featuring the most ground clearance of all scales. If you prefer offroading and want something more advanced and fancy than the typical 1:10 buggy, this is the scale you should be looking for.
This scale class has one disadvantage that you probably already know about: they are quite costly! Decent models are going to start at about 400$ dollars, and you could easily spend over 800 dollars if you want something more high-end. And this is without all the add-ons like a new battery and what not. But if you have the budget for one of these, you are going to love the durability and performance of the 1:5 models.
Most Popular RC Car Scales
The most popular RC car scales are 1:16 and 1:10 scales. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. These scales are small enough to feature nimble maneuvering and ease of use, but they are bulky enough to support enough power in its frame. In other words, they feature tight handling and a good amount of power, all in a compact package.
Not only are they the most popular ones, but they are also a great choice for beginners, especially 1:16 scale models. This is because they are a great bang for your buck, plus they are very easy to work with and get spare parts for. Popular models like the Exceed Blaze and Traxxas Slash are very popular, and because of this, information on how to use them is plentiful online.