RC helicopter buying guide: How to choose RC helicopters!

By V Kadamatt | Buying Guides

Sep 14
Best RC helicopter: Featured Image

Want to learn how to fly but do not know how to choose an RC helicopter? In this RC helicopter buying guide, we’ll discuss: What are the best RC helicopters for beginners? Like most of our other buying guides, this guide is split up into two sections –

  1. Considerations like types of RC helicopters, price, build quality, availability of parts, performance and availability of parts
  2. A list of best RC helicopters for beginners, based on our experience and research. This subsection is further split into two:
    1. Best entry level RC helicopters.
    2. Best intermediate RC helicopters.

 

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Selection criteria for this RC helicopter buying guide

 

Types of RC helicopters

So, how to choose the best RC helicopter for you? Our advice is to stick to hobby grade RC helicopters. Sure, you can get a toy grade one for cheaper, but these aren’t worth it if you want a decent flyable RC helicopter that will actually last for years to come.  Toy grade helicopters usually range from having 2 channels (throttle and rudder) to 3 channels (throttle, rudder and elevator).

They also lack a swash-plate, which is essentially the part of the helicopter that directs the rotor blade, thus severely limiting directional control. Nevertheless, we have included some toy grade RC helicopters because it can be great to practice on, before quickly moving onto something better.

That being said, even among hobby grade RC helicopters, there are 3 types: Coaxial, fixed pitch and collective pitch. For beginners, the ideal RC helicopter is the coaxial.

 

Coaxial: The ideal beginner RC helicopter type

These come with two rotors at the top that rotate in opposite directions. This results in a cancelling of torque reaction (spinning effect) that each rotor has, on the main body of the copter.

Coaxial helicopters do not require a tail rotor. They are the most stable flying copters among the different varieties and are generally not very reactive (or ‘snappy’) to control inputs and extremely easy to fly and therefore, very ideal for beginners. You can get them in small to medium size ranges, making them great indoor and outdoor flyers.

Pros: Easiest to fly and cheapest to purchase and repair

The downside: Cannot perform aerobatics and are bad at flying in windy conditions.

 

Fixed pitch: Best RC helicopters for intermediates

Next up in the ladder in terms of difficulty are ‘fixed pitch’ helicopters. Unlike the coaxial, these have only one rotor at the top. Note that most coaxial helicopters are also ‘fixed pitch’, the term is used to describe helicopters that have a tail rotor (to balance for the torque reaction), but the ‘pitch’ or angle of attack of the rotors of these types of RC helicopters are ‘fixed’.

Like Coaxial helicopters, the amount of lift in this type of helicopter is proportional to the amount of throttle input or the rotation of the motors. The higher the throttle, the more lift produced. These helicopters also come in small to mid sizes and can be flown indoors and outdoors.

Pros: Fairly cheap, can do basic aerobatics and fly in moderately windy conditions

The downside: Harder to master than the coaxial and cannot perform advanced aerobatics like collective pitch RC helicopters.

 

Collective pitch: Best RC helicopters for advanced pilots

If you have been flying RC helicopters for a while, you might want to get a collective pitch type. With these helicopters, the lift is not produced by upping the throttle. Rather, the ‘angle of attack’ or pitch of the rotor blades are varied to either gain or lose altitude. The spinning speed of the rotor blade is unrelated to the lift produced.

This results in a ‘snappy’ reaction to control inputs. This is what is required for advanced maneuvers like inverted flying and ‘tic-tock’. Ever seen a pro RC helicopter pilot fly an RC helicopter, doing crazy insect like maneuvers? You better bet they’re flying a collective pitch RC helicopter.

Pros: Extremely aerobatic, sporty and can fly in even windy conditions

The downside: Hardest to master and are pricey

 

Price, build quality and availability of parts

Most of the entry level RC helicopters we’ve listed below for beginners come under $100. Some come under $50.  It is needless to say that build quality is important. However, the ease and price of getting extra parts is often overlooked. Especially as a beginner, you are likely to crash while learning. Hence, this is something really important.

 

Performance and number of channels

As a beginner, you probably shouldn’t worry too much about high performance yet. But even so, getting an RC helicopter that can fly indoors as well as outside (at least in light wind conditions) maybe important, especially as an intermediate. You may not get the performance level of a collective pitch RC helicopter, but you need SOME performance. Though you can get away with it as a beginner, a copter that gets thrown away by even the slightest of winds will not allow you to enjoy and practice efficiently as an intermediate.

Another important thing to consider is the number of channels. Most beginner coaxial RC helicopters come in 3 channel varieties. These have the ability to ascend, descend, and move forward, backward, up and down. However, some copters come in 4 channel varieties. These have the added ability to rotate about its own axis.

A 3 channel variety RC helicopter should be enough for you to enjoy and learn as a beginner, but if you are up for it, getting a 4 channel variety wouldn’t hurt (though these typically cost more).


 

Best entry level RC helicopters

 

Syma S107

RC helicopter buying guide: The cheapest

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

The Syma S107 has to be one of the smallest and cheapest 3 channel coaxial RC helicopters out there and it ought to be the best micro RC helicopter for beginners who want something to practice on, which is why it is worthy of inclusion in our list of best RC helicopters. The transmitter that comes with it is infra-red so don’t expect anything long range and high quality due to interference from sun light. This RC helicopter is meant for indoor use only and can dish out up to 8 minutes of flight time.

Note that the transmitter comes with a throttle spring that automatically takes the throttle back to zero. However, that is mod-able. Otherwise, the Syma S107 is very well built and well put together and is a very stable flyer, especially due to its inbuilt gyro.

Specifications 
TypeCoaxial
Transmitter typeInfrared
Control distance40 feet
Flight time7-8 minutes
Can fly outdoors?No, Indoor use only
Number of channels3

Video review:

 

Click here to check current price on Amazon


Top Pick: E-flite Blade mCX2

Best RC helicopters: Blade

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

Like the Syma S107, the blade mCX2 is a coaxial micro copter and is a popular choice for beginners. Don’t be fooled by its looks though, it flies better than most other copters. For one, it is 4 channel and it comes with a Spektrum receiver and transmitter. You could also bind and fly it with any Spektrum compatible transmitter! Unlike the Syma S107, it can fly perfectly well indoors (due to its size) but it also flies decently outdoors in light wind conditions (despite its size). With winds however, expect it to get pushed around. That being said, we still think that this copter deserves to be the “top pick” in the entry level helicopter section of this RC helicopter buying guide. Definitely one of the best RC helicopters out there in the market.

Specifications 
TypeCoaxial
Transmitter typeMLP4DSM 4-channel transmitter equipped with Spektrum 2.4GHz DSM2 technology nd digital trims
Control distance250-300 feet
Flight time7 minutes
Can fly outdoors?Indoor and outdoor use in very light wind conditions
Number of channels4

Video:

Click here to check current price on Amazon


Best outdoor RC helicopter for beginner: Safstar QS8006-2 53 Inch

Best RC helicopters: Large copter

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

QS8006-2 is a 53 inch 3 channel coaxial RC helicopter, with built in gyroscope and LED lights. If you want the best outdoor RC helicopter for beginner, want to spend very little, and are okay with your RC helicopter looking uglier than most others, this is it. Don’t expect to fly it indoors unless you want to damage it (or other objects or people in your household) (it is 53 inch!)

You can expect flight times of up to 7 minutes and transmitter range of about 250 feet. Charge times can take insanely long though (2-3 hours!) but otherwise, a very well built, very flyable flyable copter.

Specifications 
TypeCoaxial
Transmitter type 3.5 Channel Remote Control Led
Control distance250 feet
Flight time7 minutes
Can fly outdoors?Outdoor use (53 inches) in mild wind conditions
Number of channels3
Video:

Click here to check current price on Amazon


GPTOYS G610

RC helicopter buying guide beginner copter 2

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

The GPTOYs G610 is a 3 channel RC helicopter similar to the Syma S107, except it is slightly bigger (11 inches). Like the Syma S107, It is a very cheap indoor use coaxial copter that you can practice plenty on, as a beginner. The transmitter is also infrared so don’t expect long ranges, especially outside, on a sunny day!

Overall, very durable and very flyable. One of the cheapest and perfect for beginners. Definitely worthy of inclusion in our list of best RC helicopters.

Specifications 
TypeCoaxial
Transmitter typeInfra red transmitter
Control distance50 feet
Flight time7 minutes
Can fly outdoors?Indoor use only
Number of channels3

Video:

Click here to check current price on Amazon


Haktoys HAK448 4 Channel

RC helicopter buying guide beginner copter

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

Another 4 channel RC helicopter that can fly both indoors and outdoors (in mild wind conditions of up to 5 mph). It is easy to fly and well-built so it should last a while in your RC helicopter career as an absolute beginner. This copter stands out from most others, due to the way it is designed. But the main reason why included it in this list of Best RC helicopters is due to the flight experience we had with it. You can expect flying times of up to 7 minutes and flight range of around 200-250 feet. Note that it requires 6 1.5V AAA batteries for the transmitter that do not come included in the box.

Specifications 
TypeCoaxial
Transmitter typeHAK448-20 Transmitter 27MHZ
Control distance250 feet
Flight time7 minutes
Can fly outdoors?Indoor and outdoor in very light wind conditions
Number of channels4

 

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Best intermediate RC helicopter: Single blade, fixed pitch

TOP PICK : WLtoys Large V912

Best RC heliopcters : Intermediate copter 2

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

Get something like the WLtoys V912 and you are going into the intermediate territory. Although pricier than most coaxial copters, it is inexpensive compared to some of them like the elite blade. The V912 has 4 channels and is harder to master since it is a fixed pitch RC copter, but flies really well even in light wind conditions and can handle basic aerobatic manuevers. It is an outdoor RC helicopter. It is one of the best RC helicopters out there for intermediates, in our opinion.

At a control distance of about 450 feet, it is way more than the coaxial ones and you can expect about 7 minutes of flight time. If you are an intermediate RC helicopter pilot with some experience flying coaxial helicopters, it is recommended that you get something like this. If you are a beginner up for some challenge, you could get this too! This copter deserves to be the “top pick” for the intermediate section of this RC helicopter buying guide!

Specifications 
TypeFixed pitch, Single blade
Transmitter typeTransmitter frequency 2.4GHz
Control distance450 feet
Flight time7 minutes
Can fly outdoors?Indoor and outdoor in moderate winds
Number of channels4

Video:

Click here to check current price on Amazon


V911 RTF

Best RC heclipters: Intermediate copter

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

Similar to the V912, the V911 is a fixed pitch RC helicopter, ideal for intermediates who have some flying experience down. Although it is a step down from the V912, it costs less and can handle indoor flying better since it is smaller, which is why we have included it in our best RC helicopters list. The V911s can handle outdoor flight, but will get pushed around more than the V912s if it is windy.

Control distances can go up to 300 feet and flight times up to 7 minutes. Overall, it is pretty durable and can handle basic aerobatic style fast paced flight pretty well, just like the V912s. Perfect for the fervent beginner and intermediate flyers.

Specifications 
TypeFixed pitch, Single blade
Transmitter typeTransmitter frequency 2.4GHz
Control distance300 - 350 feet
Flight time7 minutes
Can fly outdoors?Indoor and outdoor in light winds
Number of channels4

Video:

Click here to check current price on Amazon


Hero RC H911

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

The Hero H911 is another 4 channel fixed pitch RC helicopter worthy of being included in our best RC helicopters list in this RC helicopter buying guide. It is very ideal for intermediates and beginners who love a challenge. It is very durable and manueverable: a perfect craft to practice your skills on, before moving onto collective pitch copters.

The flight control distance is lesser than that of the V912, but the flight times are similar. It doesn’t handle outdoors as well as the V912 but you can still fly it outside in low wind conditions. That being said, it can be flown indoors with many obstacles (you cannot do that with the V912) since it is a mini copter. It is also cheaper than the V912s.

Specifications 
TypeFixed pitch, Single blade
Transmitter typeTransmitter frequency 2.4GHz
Control distance250- 300 feet
Flight time7 minutes
Can fly outdoors?Indoor and outdoor in very light winds
Number of channels4

Video:

Click here to check current price on Amazon


Conclusion

To summarize, consider the following before making a purchase:

  • Type of RC helicopter: Coaxial vs Fixed pitch vs Collective pitch.
  • Price vs durability and performance.
  • Availability of spare parts (just in case you crash and damage your RC helicopter.
  • Features and number of channels

Research thoroughly and watch video reviews. You’ll get a better idea of what to expect!

That’s all folks! We hope the guide on the best RC helicopters helps you with selecting the best RC helicopter for your needs as a beginner. If you have any questions or suggestions, please drop them below and we’ll be sure to answer and love you for it!

RC helicopter buying guide: How to choose RC helicopters! was last modified: August 2nd, 2017 by V Kadamatt

About the Author

Artificial Intelligence , UAV and RC enthusiast. Software professional, part time philosopher and star gazer. Also loves physics, mathematics, economics, psychology, fantasy, Sci-Fi and futurology.

Leave a Comment:

(2) comments

Laurie January 16, 2017

I like how there are different types for different experience levels. You can start with one kind of rc helicopter and get a different model as your experience grows. Great information, thanks for sharing!

Reply
    V Kadamatt January 17, 2017

    Glad you liked the guide! Classifying different types according to experience levels not only matters in terms of difficulty. Most beginners who get into flying RC helicopters really may not know if they’ll become a flying addict. Taking that into consideration, it also makes sense for them to get something on the cheaper end first.

    Reply
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