Flying RC helicopters can be an expensive hobby. Cost is especially worrisome if you are buying your first heli and don’t know for sure if you’ll keep the hobby going. Maybe you’re buying one as a gift and are on a tight budget. You want to make sure you get the best rc helicopter for the money.
RC Helicopters have become extremely popular in recent years. This means that there are a lot more choppers on the market than there used to be as companies try to meet the quickly growing demand.
The good news is that there are now lots of options at a wide variety of price points. This means that no matter how big or small your budget, you should be able to find a heli in your price range. The bad news is that not all of these choppers provide good value for money.
So, with all the noise in the marketplace, how do you go about finding the best helicopter you can for the money you have to spend? Well, that is what I am here to help you with today.
I’ve been digging around finding out which choppers are providing good returns of fun and entertainment for the money invested in them, and which ones are just not measuring up to expectations.
It can be especially telling to look through some of the reviews out there in which unhappy customers vent their frustrations about a really bad experience they had with a poor quality heli. Equally important are the experienced helicopter pilots who talk about choppers that far outperformed their price tags.
Obviously, the abilities of your helicopter will improve the more you spend on it. Our goal is to make sure you get the most you can for the amount of money you have to spend.
The list below is organized based on various price points (under $100, under $200, etc.). This way, you should be able to skim through the list and find the price range that best fits your budget, whether it is big or small. In the end, whether you go with one of these choppers or not, I hope you find a great heli that maximizes the fun you have in this great hobby.
Best Option Under 50 Dollars: Hubsan X4
Finding a good first helicopter under 50 dollars isn’t an easy task. You often find ones made with poor quality materials and little to no features. Hunting for one at this price will leave you frustrated. Stop hunting and take a look at the Hubsan X4. There are many reasons why the Hubsan X4 is the best rc helicopter under 50 dollars.
It fits in the palm of your hand. The small size means that it takes fewer materials to make and that saves you money. It also means you can fly this quadcopter indoors or in small fields. This makes it a good toy RC copter for teens or people just looking to try out the hobby.
The Hubsan X4 is a quadcopter. That means it has four rotors instead of just one. A quadcopter is great for beginners because the extra rotors create more stable flight. It will rise easier into the air and fly about without much correction like a regular helicopter. Beginners are less likely to crash the Hubsan X4 as often and cause damage. As a bonus, quadcopters often fly higher in the air than a one-blade helicopter, which makes flight time more fun.
Most RC helicopters require a charger to charge the batteries when they run out. Cheaper helicopters usually don’t come with a charger. You have to purchase one separate. If they do, that extra cost is tacked on to the price. The Hubsan X4 comes with a USB charging cord. Just plug it into any USB compatible charging device and you’ll have the quad back in the air in no time. The simple cord adds very little to the cost.
Cheaper helicopters usually don’t do many tricks because it requires more powerful mechanics. Most just fly around. Some, and the Hubsan X4 is one of those, will do simple tricks. You can make it flip and dive while in the air.
The best thing about the Hubsan X4 is how it grows with your skill. It’s almost like having two quadcopters in one. It comes with two modes: beginner and expert. The beginner mode makes flight easy and does most of the work for you. Expert mode puts more power in your hands. Once you master beginner mode you can move on to expert mode. It will prepare you for more powerful RC helicopters when you decide to upgrade.
The Hubsan X4 is a ready-to-fly quadcopter, but it does require a little bit of calibration and trimming to get started. Without it, the quadcopter won’t fly smoothly or even at all. You’ll be at a high risk of crashing before you even get to enjoy flight. Read the manual carefully and follow the instructions before your first flight. It might seem confusing at first, but it will also prepare you for professional copters later on.
Here is a video of a guy testing out an X4 on a windy day:
Best Option Under 150 Dollars: Blade 120 SR
The Blade 120 SR is a hobby-grade helicopter. It is hobby quality and not toy quality like one designed for children. Hobby grade means the helicopter has flight controls and construction like a more professional heli and not a toy. It is pro-like but at a beginner price. This makes the Blade 120 SR the best rc helicopter under 150 dollars.
This helicopter is about a foot long. The size makes it small enough to fly indoors and large enough to fly outdoors, too. This is great if you plan to give this helicopter to someone as a gift but you don’t know where the recipient intends to fly it. It will go anywhere. Flying a helicopter outdoors is better for beginners anyway because you have more space and fewer objects to crash into.
To understand the main reason why the Blade 120 SR is the best rc helicopter under 150 dollars then you need to know the difference between coaxial rotors and single rotors. Coaxial helicopters have two rotors placed one atop the other that spin in opposite directions. Single rotor helicopters have only one rotor. The two rotors spinning in opposite directions creates much more stable flight, similar to a quadcopter. Single rotor helicopters are more agile.
The Blade 120 SR has the best of both worlds. It is a single rotor helicopter that flies like a coaxial helicopter. The rotor was designed with coaxial flight in mind. It is stable and agile at the same time. It makes moving from coaxial “toy-like” helicopters to hobby grade single rotor helicopters a breeze.
This RC helicopter is a great choice for hobbyists that want more than one helicopter but not the clutter. It comes as either an RTF (ready-to-fly) or BNF (bind-n-fly). BNF means it doesn’t come with a transmitter, which saves you money, but will work with other transmitters without problems. You use one transmitter for multiple helicopters.
As mentioned, this helicopter is considered hobby quality. It is best for intermediate hobbyists or someone that has at least flown a coaxial helicopter or quadcopter. It has four channels instead of three that toy quality helicopters usually have. The extra channel requires much more control from you, and therefore, much more practice.
While the Blade 120 SR can go outside it isn’t strong enough to handle much wind. Only fly this helicopter outdoors on calm days. It will handle some wind when on expert mode. You just have to practice until you’re good enough for expert mode and then go tackle the wind.
This video is a complete breakdown of what you can expect from the 120 SR.
Best RC Helicopter Under 200 Dollars: Blade CX2
The Blade CX2 is the best rc helicopter under 200 dollars because it is a more experienced quality heli for the price. If you wanted a helicopter that the pros fly then you’d have to spend hundreds of dollars more. The Blade CX2 gives you a good glimpse at what it’s like to fly what the big boys fly without emptying your wallet.
As you learned earlier, coaxial helicopters are more stable and easier to get off the ground than single rotor helicopters. The Blade CX2 is a coaxial heli. It won’t take long for you to have it hovering in the air completely stable and ready to fly.
The Blade CX2 also comes with Spektrum technology. This brand is well known in the RC world. The technology creates a seamless connection between the transmitter and the transceiver. It won’t interfere with other RC vehicles in the area. It also guarantees that you won’t lose connection to the helicopter as it gets farther away from you.
This RC helicopter is not for beginners no matter what advertisements claim. If you’ve never picked up an RC toy of any kind before then you will not be able to fly this helicopter without considerable practice. You do not need to be an expert, though. This is a great helicopter for intermediate hobbyists that are ready to get a glimpse at the expert life and start to learn those expert skills.
Be prepared to crash a few times. Whether indoor or outdoor, you will probably have a few crashes until you get the hang of flight. It is recommended to purchase extra blades immediately because they are most likely to break first. Luckily, the Blade CX2 has an aluminum head to protect it from crashes.
Here is a good video of the CX2 in action:
Now you know the best rc helicopters for the money. Which one will you choose?