The 5 Most Popular Train Scales & Gauges Explained

If you’re a model train enthusiast or on you’re way to becoming one, you’re probably familiar with the different scales and gauges. However, if you’re just gearing up to make your first train purchase, you may be wondering what we’re talking about. What do scale and gauge even mean? What are the different options offered? The scale refers to the model train’s relative size in proportion to the real train. The gauge is the distance between the rails, which in real life would be 4 ft. 8 and ½ inches inside-to-inside between the rails. Model trains reduce these measurements depending on the scale. We’re here to explain 5 of the most popular model train scales, including G Scale, O Scale, HO Scale, N Scale, and S Scale.

G Scale

G Scale is 1:22.5, and runs on a gauge of 1.75 inches. This is the largest scale offered, making them suitable for outdoor use in your garden, as well as large indoor spaces. G Scale model trains are also great for younger children to play with since they’re durable and rugged. We offer G Scale trains from several of the most popular manufacturers including USA Trains, Bachmann, and Lionel Large Scale.

O Scale

O Scale model trains are 1:48, running on a gauge of 1.25 inches. As a larger scale model, they have intricate detailing and are manufactured with precision. These models are a great choice if you’re looking to build permanent tabletop layouts, or even for around the Christmas tree. In the United States, Lionel was the first to manufacture O Scale trains in 1900, making them the oldest of the scales. At Charles Ro, we’re proud to be the largest Lionel dealer in the world and an authorized service station. If you’re looking for O Scale, look no further than our selection, including Lionel

S popular ready-to-run train sets, Christmas theme trains, and beyond.

HO Scale

The HO Scale is 1:87, half of the O scale. They run on a gauge of .625 inches. Because of its small size, the HO Scale has become one of the most popular scales for model trains. This is the perfect scale for the hobbyist looking to build their own layouts in a small space. Many well-known manufacturers make HO scale trains, leaving you with endless possibilities for design, and themes. The Polar Express and Thomas & Friends trains are among the most popular themes people request. We also provide Athearn, Bachmann, Fox Valley Models, and several other brands that manufacture HO Scale trains for all your smaller model train needs!

N Scale

N Scale models trains are 1:160, and run on a rail gauge of .375 inches. These are the smallest trains we offer at Charles Ro, and are about the size of your finger for reference. N Scale trains allow for a large layout to be built even when space is tight. Because of their small size, they are more geared towards adults use, rather than for children. We offer a variety of N Scale trains from manufacturers such as Rapido Trans Inc., Walthers, BLMA Models, and beyond.

S Scale

S Scale model trains, commonly referred to as American Flyer, are 1:64 and run on a .883 inch gauge. The S Gauge trains are higher-end, with intricate detailing that are proportionate to real trains. Our hobby train store offers one of the largest selections of “S” Gauge trains in the nation.


Which Scale is Right For You?

Now that you know a little bit more and the different scales and gauges, you should feel a bit more prepared to make your model train purchase. If you’re unsure which scale would be best for you, our experts at Charles Ro will be glad to assist you! Our store is located in Malden MA, and our trains are also available for purchase online.

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