The 10 Best RC Tanks
This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in January of 2017. Nothing evokes terror in the enemy like the sight and sound of a massive, powerful tank rumbling toward them. If you or your children enjoy recreating land-based battles, you may like one of these remote controlled models. Depending on the one you chose, these RC versions offer realistic noises, responsive handling, and often fire either actual projectiles or virtual weaponry. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 15, 2020:
RC tanks can be a ton of fun for both adults and children, and as you might expect, just like with RC cars and trucks, there are vast differences in the quality and prices between hobby-grade models for you, and toy-grade models that would make a great gift for a kid.
When it comes to the hobby-grade category, Heng Long immediately stands out as making some of the best options when you consider price to quality. We looked at many of the Tamiya models, and while they are no doubt impressive RC tanks, we didn't think anyone but the most die-hard enthusiast would really think they justify costing four to five times as much as the Heng Long options we have included, especially considering the specs aren't too different. The Heng Long M1A2 Abrams, Heng Long German King Tiger, and Heng Long US M4A3 Sherman all offer the same features and functionality, including metal tracks and gears, the ability to shoot pellets over 50 feet, sound effects, smoke generation, and a highly maneuverable turret. So if you are looking at these three, it will really come down to which tank you style you prefer. A step down in price and quality is the Heng Long German Tiger I, which lacks the metal gears and tracks.
For the kiddos, you'll have to choose if you want to get the battle tanks, which they can use with a sibling or friends, or if they would be happier with something they can play with alone. In the latter category we have the Cheerwing German Tiger, which is an affordable and lifelike option, and the Air Hogs Robo Trax, which transforms into a robot and shoots projectiles. When it comes to battle tanks, we have the JJRC U.S. M41A3, Click N' Play CNP4792, and HQ iPlay Battling Set. It should be noted that the JJRC U.S. M41A3 comes as a single unit, whereas both the other options come as a set.
The Bo Toys Storm of the Desert stands apart from all the rest in that it doesn't come ready to run. Instead, it is a model kit that you must assemble before you can start patrolling your territory with it. Considering that it has over 1,200 pieces, we think it is best for tweens and older kids who have the patience and determination to put something of its complexity together.
November 04, 2019:
RC tanks come basically come in two options: hobby grade and toys. Hobby grade vehicles are usually exact replicas of actual military tanks. This means they are built to scale and have an incredible amount of detail. On the other side of the spectrum we have the toys. These will be less detailed, may not always even resemble a real tank, and are just generally built with lesser quality components. However, for that trade off, they come at significantly lower prices, which makes them ideal for younger kids. To ensure we have something for everyone, we have included both on our list.
During this update, we removed a lot of models that made our list previously. These include the SGile Invincible Tornado Twister, which was overly loud considering its small size, and the SZJJX Terrain Twister, which suffered from lackluster performance on both land and water. Plus, without a turret or gun of any type, can it really be considered a tank?
Those looking for hobby grade models will want to check out the Heng Long M1A2 Abrams, Heng Long German King Tiger Henschel, and Heng Long US M4A3 Sherman. All of these feature metal gears and tracks, realistic sound effects, a smoke generator, and a high level of craftsmanship. They also fire six-millimeter BBs up to 75 feet, so you wouldn't want to leave them in the hands of young children.
The Amazing Tech Depot M1A2 Abrams and Bo Toys Storm of the Desert sort of straddle the middle ground. While not hobby grade, they are definitely a step above the average toy model. Both are capable of firing projectiles and traversing small obstacles well. If enjoy putting things together and are trying to choose between these two, we recommend the Bo Toys Storm of the Desert, which is a build-it-yourself option similar to model car kits. However, if you prefer a tank that looks a little more realistic, you'll want to go with the Amazing Tech Depot M1A2 Abrams.
All of the rest of the models on this list fall firmly into the toy category. While the Cheerwing German Tiger is the most affordable of these, the Haktoys HT502, Poco Divo Abrams vs. Terrorist Fort, and iPlay Battling Set are better if you want to play out real battles.
Why Tanks Rule Radio Control
It should come as no surprise, then, that within the RC world, the tank is one of the more robust and capable options in a sea of high-tech vehicles.
Outside the world of radio control, there aren’t many vehicles that can rival the tank. Whether it’s the durable treads that allow it to effectively tackle an enormous variety of terrain, the practically impenetrable armor covering every surface, or the impressively destructive firepower, a tank is far more than the sum of its parts.
Tanks first made their debut on the stage of the World War I, where allied forced needed a solution to the trench warfare stalemate along the Western front. These machines could cross the kill zone between trenches, protecting the soldiers inside from bullets and shrapnel, while obliterating the layers of barbed wire that littered the fields.
It should come as no surprise, then, that within the RC world, the tank is one of the more robust and capable options in a sea of high-tech vehicles. The radio version might not come with the same degree of armor, and they certainly don’t boast very much firepower by comparison, but their treads perform in much the same way as those of the real thing, allowing you to take an RC tank places no other remote car can go.
The other excellent thing about RC tanks is that the vast majority of them are based on designs for original machines of war. That opens these units up to a healthy demographic of history enthusiasts. These customers can get their hands on faithful reproductions of tanks from the days they were first introduced into warfare through to their high-tech modern counterparts.
Agreed Upon Imagination
When selecting an RC tank, you must ask yourself a question or two about the intended recipient. If that recipient is you, then the answers should be readily available. If not, the process may require additional investigation, though I bet you could surmise the majority of the solutions.
For starters, how old is this tanker? If he or she is just a kid, they likely won’t have as much regard for the nuances and detail of a scale model. They’d be better off with something that has more firepower, or something that can climb more advanced terrain.
If he or she is just a kid, they likely won’t have as much regard for the nuances and detail of a scale model.
By contrast, an older individual — perhaps a collector — wouldn’t be as interested in the tank’s ability to climb walls or put out the neighbor cat’s eye. A scale model with as much intricate detail as possible would rather be the way to go. The same is also true for certain children who have an opportunity to play with their new tank in the presence of such a collector, or alongside a [military veteran] who could shine the light of knowledge and experience on a tank outing.
In either case, there’s an agreement that must take place between the owner and their tank, and especially between the owners of tanks set out to battle one another. Older collectors know they don’t have a functioning tank that’s been hit with a shrinking ray and packaged to sit on a shelf for all time. But they agree to imagine, to use the tank as a kind of conduit to remember or imagine terrifying and exhilarating conflicts.
Younger RC tank owners enter a different kind of pact. Some of the tanks on our list have the ability to fire BBs. In some cases, these BBs can have enough force behind them to do some real damage to humans (or pets), particularly to the eyes. For the most part, however, they fire tiny plastic balls at a reasonably slow rate of flight. In a battle tank scenario, these BBs aren’t going to do too much damage to an opponent’s tank. That’s a good thing for parents’ wallets; if every spent shell also resulted in an exploded RC tank, the bills would rack up fast. This way, the biggest expense will be replacing lost BBs (and maybe replacing a vacuum cleaner that’s been clogged with them).
In order for a battle to prove satisfactory then, children have to enter a kind of pact. It’s rather healthy for them to do this at an early age, as it will increase their level of sportsmanship. When their tank gets hit, the BB will not leave any mark. There’s no explosion, and certainly no paint splatter. It’s up to the kids at play to determine the score, to be honest with one another, and to fight fair.
A Few Words About RC Tank Safety
RC tanks may not pose the same level of threat that a real tank would — especially a real tank under a child’s control. That doesn’t mean that they are entirely safe, however, and in order to protect their operators, anyone within striking distance, and the tanks themselves, it’s important to follow a few safety tips.
Next, in battle tank scenarios, whether you’re shooting at stationary targets or other tanks, always wear protective glasses.
For starters, never fire at an unsuspecting target. Very few of the tanks on our list can fire BBs with enough force to cause actual pain on most of the body, but it’s hard to know how the victim will react. The surprise can be enough to knock them off balance or cause them to drop something valuable, breaking either bone or glass in the process. This rule doesn’t just apply to humans, either. Firing on pets or wild animals is downright cruel, and Fido will be far less apt to come to your defense should burglars break in if he’s off licking his wounds somewhere.
Next, in battle tank scenarios, whether you’re shooting at stationary targets or other tanks, always wear protective glasses. One of your parents went out on a limb to get you that tank, so you’d better not prove the other one right by putting your eye out. You’ll both end up in the doghouse with Fido, who isn’t too happy with you to start with since you shot him while he was eating.
Finally, never operate a tank out of your line of sight. It’d be far too easy to drive it where it doesn’t belong. It may become a tripping hazard for unsuspecting pedestrians, or, worse yet, find its way into the road, where either it or a much larger vehicle may end up in an accident. Above all, use common sense, and don’t shoot anyone or anything that doesn’t want to be shot.