If you are considering buying a model train set, one of the first choices you have to make is what size to get. This article identifies the most popular scales and translates each scale into inches. Based on an analysis of Google searches, the most popular scale model trains are the HO scale and O scale. These two scales account for over half the searches, both in the United States and globally.
HO Scale trains lead the pack with 31% of total searches in the US compared to 30% of searches for O Scale trains. HO Scale also leads the pack globally with a dominant 49% of searches. The explanation for the popularity of HO scale trains is due more to the affordable prices and manageable size. HO scale trains are 1:87 scale, which means the cars are about 7-9 inches long. HO scale trains are about the right size for most beginner train hobbyists because the track layout usually fits well on a 4 x 8 piece of plywood.
Compare that to O scale trains, which are 1:48 scale, which means the cars are about 12-16 inches long. Not only do O scale train sets take a lot more space to set up and to store, they also cost a lot more. As a result, the O scale trains are primarily purchased by more serious model trains hobbyists while the HO scale trains are primarily purchased by beginners and families looking for train sets as a Christmas gift.
The next leading scales are the N scale model trains with 20% of searches, followed by G scale with 16% of searches. N scale trains are 1:160 scale, which makes them even smaller than HO trains. Cars are only about 4-5 inches long for N scale. G scale trains are at the other end of the size spectrum with 1:22.5 scale, which means the cars are about 18-26 inches. G scale trains are too big to fit in most homes. They are most commonly used in outdoor gardens.
The only other scales getting any searches are Z scale and S scale. Z scale received 3% of total searches while S scale received less than 1%. Z scale trains are 1:220 scale, which is even smaller than N scale. Z scale is a popular choice for people who have only a very small space available such as a coffee table or a desktop. S scale trains are 1:64 scale , which is slightly larger than the popular HO scale and slightly smaller than the popular O scale. Despite being in the same size range as the two most popular scales, the S scale trains have not caught on for many hobbyists.
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Joe Kanooga is a father of two kids, a successful business owner and the author of numerous articles about ho scale model trains. Click here to download a free model trains guidebook filled with hobby tips, ideas and information.
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