Size and Performance Differences of Larger Scale RC Cars
A comparison of 1/10 scale RC, 1/8 scale RC, 1/6 scale RC, and 1/5 scale RC
If you’re at all familiar with RC cars and trucks, you know that they’re available in a very wide range of sizes. The smallest radio control car made to date is a miniature Mercedes Benz that was designed in 2002 by Michihiro Hino of Japan. It set a Guinness World Record by measuring only one inch long. At the opposite extreme, the largest RC truck in production is the Mammuth Rewarron. That one has a length of over six feet!
While many people love mini and micro remote control vehicles, there are good reasons why the large scale RC cars and trucks — the 1/10 scale RC, 1/8 scale RC, 1/6 scale RC, and 1/5 scale RC cars and trucks — are more popular overall with serious RC car hobbyists. Each of those four scale sizes also has its own unique advantages. Trying to decide which to buy? Let’s take a closer look at what sets each one apart.
RC Scale is Not an Exact Indication of Size
Before going any further, it might be helpful to clarify what the scale of an RC car or truck actually means in terms of length and other dimensions. The ratios in the descriptions of 1/10 scale RC, 1/8 scale RC, 1/6 scale RC, and 1/5 scale RC compare the model vehicle to its full-size counterpart. A scale of 1/10 means that the RC car is one-tenth the size of the real thing, while 1/8 means that it’s one-eighth the size, and so on.
Therefore, RC cars and trucks of the same scale will not necessarily have the same or even similar dimensions. It all depends on the size of the full-size vehicle they’re modeled after. A 1/10 scale RC monster truck may be quite a bit larger than a 1/10 scale RC touring car. Because a real monster truck and a real touring car are not the same size, 1/10 scale RC model versions of each will reflect that same size difference.
Here are a few other things to consider when you’re deciding what size of RC car or truck you want to buy. Scale RC vehicles are available smaller than 1/10 scale, and some of them, like mini and micro models, are significantly less expensive. Small RC cars and trucks can also be driven indoors easily, and they’re no hassle to carry and to store when not in use.
But in RC as in most products, you get what you pay for. Low-cost mini and micro RC cars usually have less sophisticated engineering than the larger ones, so their performance capabilities are correspondingly limited. Small RC cars and trucks have less ground clearance as well, so you’ll have difficulty driving them on most outdoor terrain and over uneven surfaces.
Though you’ll likely spend more money buying 1/10 scale RC, 1/8 scale RC, 1/6 scale RC, or 1/5 scale RC, those cars are right at home racing outdoors at high speeds and on rough terrain. They’re also easier to repair and to customize with upgrade parts, so you’ll likely be running them for a much longer time than a smaller RC car.
How Big are 1/10 Scale RC, 1/8 Scale RC, 1/6 Scale RC, and 1/5 Scale RC Cars?
Here are some rough approximations of the size you can expect in 1/10 scale RC, 1/8 scale RC, 1/6 scale RC, and 1/5 scale RC cars and trucks. Again, remember that dimensions in any scale are proportional to the size of the full-scale vehicle that the model is based on.
1/10 Scale RC Cars and Trucks: Size
Experienced hobbyists often steer RC newcomers toward 1/10 scale RC cars and trucks. On average, these are about 20 inches long. It’s a good size — affordable, not too big to run in a wide variety of locations, easy to transport and store, but also large enough to allow plenty of exciting details and visual impact.
1/8 Scale RC Cars and Trucks: Size
A popular choice for racing, 1/8 scale RC cars and trucks are generally just a little bit larger than 1/10 scale, with larger power systems and more durable engineering. And for that reason, they’re also somewhat higher priced. You can expect a 1/8 scale RC car usually to measure somewhere around 25 inches long.
1/6 Scale RC Cars and Trucks: Size
The manufacturers who produce 1/6 scale RC cars and trucks often include an enormous amount of scale detail to capitalize on the larger size. After all, a 1/6 scale RC vehicle can easily measure 30 inches long or more! Probably due to their higher cost — and the larger spaces needed to run them — 1/6 scale RC cars and trucks are a less common sight on the tracks and trails than smaller sizes.
1/5 Scale RC Cars and Trucks: Size
Imagine controlling a massive RC machine that measures over three feet long! That’s roughly the size of a typical 1/5 scale RC car or truck. Supremely realistic, fast, and powerful, 1/5 scale RC vehicles can be quite expensive. And because of their size and weight, they require plenty of space and expert control skills to operate safely. Large-scale RC cars and trucks like these are sure to turn heads.
How Does Performance Differ in 1/10 Scale RC, 1/8 Scale RC, 1/6 Scale RC, and 1/5 Scale RC Cars?
Everyone wants their RC car to be fast. With the right power system, any scale of RC car can go very fast. There are other characteristics and capabilities of 1/10 scale RC, 1/8 scale RC, 1/6 scale RC, and 1/5 scale RC cars that make each of them popular with RC drivers for a particular purpose.
1/10 Scale RC Cars and Trucks: Performance
Versatility is a hallmark of 1/10 scale RC car performance. They’re suitable for a wide variety of on-road and off-road terrain, including pavement, dirt, grass, and even sand. Because 1/10 scale RC cars and trucks are easy to maintain, they’re a great choice for drivers of all skill levels. RC product manufacturers recognize the popularity of the size and offer lots of compatible upgrade and optional parts. For fun or for competition, you can’t go wrong with a 1/10 scale RC car.
1/8 Scale RC Cars and Trucks: Performance
These larger RC cars are known for their impressive level of detail and realism, as well as for their impressive performance and speed. Most 1/8 scale RC cars are built for racing on smooth, flat tracks and pavement, and are less well-suited for rough off-road surfaces. Though less versatile than 1/10 scale RC cars, 1/8 scale RC vehicles like those from Losi® and ARRMA® are a great choice for competition and for high-speed bashing.
1/6 Scale RC Cars and Trucks: Performance
The distinguishing characteristics of most 1/6 scale RC cars and trucks include eye-popping scale realism and high ground clearance. It’s that second feature which gives them the edge when tackling all kinds of off-road terrain. The Axial SCX6 1/6 scale RC crawling rig platform is the perfect example. SCX6 rigs are loaded with the fine scale details that appeal to RC crawling enthusiasts, and they can follow a challenging line from point A to point B better than any other off-road RC vehicle.
1/5 Scale RC Cars and Trucks: Performance
“Intense” and “extreme” are words often used to describe the performance of 1/5 scale RC cars and trucks. That’s exactly why these large-scale RC vehicles are best suited for advanced drivers. Though electric 1/5 scale RC cars are available, you can find many that are powered by gasoline engines. These deliver the most realistic driving experience available in the RC hobby. You’ll usually find 1/5 scale RC cars racing in high-level competitions or performing off-road stunts.
Larger Scale RC
Do RC cars and trucks get even bigger than 1/5 scale? The answer is yes. You can watch videos of 1/4 scale and 1/3 scale RC vehicles in action on YouTube. As you’d expect, the realism and power of these machines is flat-out incredible. But for the most part, any RC vehicle larger than 1/5 scale has been scratch-built by a highly experienced hobbyist with plenty of time, talent, and money to invest. That doesn’t mean you can’t drive one someday. Start with 1/10 scale and keep dreaming big!