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Which RC tanks are best?

Remote-control tanks provide hours of fun for all ages. Whether you’re staging a battle or traversing rugged terrain, these toys are immersive and just plain cool. There are tons of RC tanks out there, from historic replicas to futuristic armored vehicles. Which you choose will ultimately come down to the kinds of features you want your RC tank to have and how realistic you want it to look.

The best RC tank is the Heng Long Modified Edition Remote Control U.S. M1A2 Abrams Tank Model

What to know before you buy an RC tank

What is an RC tank?

An RC tank is a type of remote-controlled vehicle modeled after real-life tanks used in warfare. Like real tanks, these toys have tracks that allow them to roll over rocks, mud and other uneven ground. They also have swiveling turrets to lock onto their target. RC tanks are controlled by a handheld transistor and run on battery power.

Types of RC tanks

There are two types of RC tanks: historically inspired models and fantasy/sci-fi-inspired models. 

  • Historic tanks are modeled after tanks that exist in real life from World War I to the modern era. Popular models are those from World War II, such as the American M4 Sherman and German Panzer, and those found in today’s militaries, such as the M1 Abrams.
  • Fantasy and Sci-fi tanks have unique designs that don’t appear in real life. These follow the basic premise of a tank with a turret and tracks, but use futuristic color schemes and weapons.

Difference between RC tanks and RC cars

If you were to pit your RC tank against an RC car in a race, you’d be bound to lose. But a desert battle is another story. Both kinds of remote control vehicles have motors, controllers and batteries (though some RC cars use fuel). Yet, RC tanks don’t have nearly as powerful batteries or engines. They aren’t made for blistering speed or maneuverability. Rather, an RC tank is optimized for play. You won’t have to swap tires on these either, as their tracks are much more durable.

How to control an RC tank

RC tanks use a handheld transistor. Like RC cars, some use what’s called a pistol-grip controller. These have an ergonomic, one-hand design that uses a trigger for the throttle, and a wheel on the body of the pistol to turn the tank. 

Traditional stick controllers are the classic square transistors with dual-analogue joysticks. You’re more likely to use one of these if you want a tank with a rotating turret as you’ll need to steer and direct the cannon.

What to look for in a quality RC tank

Battery

There are two kinds of batteries in the remote-control vehicle world. Nickel based Ni-MH batteries and lithium based LiPo batteries. 

  • LiPo: LiPo batteries are typically reserved for performance-oriented models. These durable batteries are powerful and produce a lot of speed, but they are more expensive. 
  • Ni-MH: Most tanks will use a Ni-MH battery, which is less powerful, but are much safer and more affordable.

Turret

A good RC tank should have a rotating or dynamic turret — after all, what’s the point of a tank without one of its core features? The turret should be able to rotate more than 180 degrees, with 360 being optimal. You’ll also want a turret that can go up or down. Look for around 30 degrees of vertical maneuverability.

Cannon

If your tank has a turret, check to see what its features are as most RC tanks have a shooting mechanism. If you’re buying for a younger user, you’ll want to use your best judgment when it comes to safety. 

  • Sound effects: When you press fire on your controller, the tank makes a realistic shooting sound. This is a fun detail that doesn’t require any extra supplies, power or supervision.
  • Water: Transforming your tank into a little mobile water gun, water should be safe for all appropriate ages. 
  • Flame or smoke: Taking the tank to the next level, smoke or flames require oil to fire. These definitely require supervision.
  • BB or airsoft: These RC tank cannons shoot small plastic or metal pellets. These should be used by older kids and adults.   

Durability

You’ll want your tank to stand up to lots of play as well as to the elements. For this reason, durable, hard plastics are a must. In addition, check if your tank is waterproof before you take it through puddles or the snow, as water can damage the electronics and rust out the metal components. Lastly, you want your tracks to be made from either metal or anti-slip rubber. This will help your tank roll over rough surfaces without damaging components.

How much you can expect to spend on an RC tank

A kid-appropriate RC tank will cost anywhere from $50-$120. High-quality replicas with working cannons can exceed $200.

RC tank FAQ

Does my RC tank require fuel?

A. Most ready-to-roll out-of-the-box RC tanks run on battery power. If your tank makes smoke, you’ll need to top it off with oil to initiate combustion.

Are RC tanks safe?

A. Like any RC vehicle, an RC tank is as safe as the person using it. They do move at a decent clip and can bang shins or damage walls. But if you’re purchasing an RC tank that shoots, for a child you’ll need to make sure its cannon ammunition is age-appropriate and that you supervise play.

What’s the best RC tank to buy?

Top RC tank

Heng Long Modified Edition Remote Control US M1A2 Abrams Tank Model

Heng Long Modified Edition Remote Control U.S. M1A2 Abrams Tank Model

What you need to know: This tank is completely decked out with immersive effects and a working BB cannon.

What you’ll love: Produced at 1:16 scale, this tank is massive. It has a fully rotating turret, durable metal tracks with metal sprockets for all terrains and a whole slew of sound effects from the engine to the cannon. It also climbs steep slopes easily.

What you should consider: This tank is a little slow.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top RC tank for the money

Beaure WW2 German Tiger Army Tank

Beaure WW2 German Tiger Army Tank

What you need to know: Beaure’s interactive replica tank is perfect for pretend play alone or with friends when paired with a second model.

What you’ll love: This 1:28-scale RC Tiger tank has stunning effects and realistic details. It has a 330-degree rotating turret with sound effects when it shoots. This tank has a battle feature that allows you to play with another tank.

What you should consider: Two tanks of the same model cannot fight — you need one of each. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Mostop Remote Control Crawler High Speed Tank

Mostop Remote Control Crawler High-Speed Tank

What you need to know: The Mostop RC tank has a futuristic design modeled after high-tech military-police vehicles.

What you’ll love: This tank is fast with a top speed of over 7 miles per hour. Its rugged antislip tracks are designed to enable drifting and the gearbox has enough torque to climb up 30 degrees of incline. This tank can also wade 5 centimeters. 

What you should consider: Some users report that the tracks can slip off their sprockets.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Karl Daum writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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