If you found yourself at this page you were probably bitten by the drone bug and are looking to get a nice drone to fly and have fun with!
When I first got into drones they were not as popular as they are today, so I had to look around a lot to find the drones and parts that I needed and also had interesting experiences with retailers and their shipping speeds. So let’s dive into it!
Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all possible retailers, just the ones that I am familiar with and are quite popular
Banggood is like the Chinese Walmart of drones. You can get a wide variety of pretty much everything from super cheap toy drones, ready to fly drones of all sizes, and virtually all the parts you could need to build drones of any size imaginable.
The parts you get are going to be a mixed bag. They carry super cheap parts as well as a few mid level and high level parts – but mostly people buy from Banggood when they need cheap stuff.
They also have a fairly wide and diverse selection of frames – so if you’re tight on budget for a frame, pick one up from here.
They’re an absolute charm when it comes to buying accessories and tools, though. If you live somewhere where things like nylon screws and heat shrink is not available locally, you can certainly pick it up from Banggood.
The only qualms about buying from these guys is the long shipping time. Shipping from Banggood takes anywhere between 2-4 weeks to delivery, so you have to be prepared to wait for what you want.
Customer service is a toss up. Personally, I have not had any issues. In fact when I received a dud product(it was a relatively cheap camera) I just had to email them with a picture informing them of the issue and they gave me a refund right away.
When you buy from them, don’t use a credit card – use PayPal, as their buyer protection is better and allows for faster resolution in the rare case you run into a problem. However, in my 100+ orders from them so far, I have only run into an issue once, so that’s a pretty good track record in my books.
GetFPV is one of the original drone racing retailers and they sponsor some of the world’s best pilots such as Charpu, Skitzo, and JohnnyFPV.
They have a really wide selection of stuff, though most of their products are of their own in-house brand, Lumenier. It’s really top notch stuff and the fact so many awesome pilots still work with them should stand to reason that they’re so good.
They’re also known for great customer service and the shop is run by folks that are passionate about growing the hobby.
You’ll find everything you need – radios, chargers, lipos, frames, electronics, you name it.
GearBest is another Chinese retailer. They don’t carry as wide a variety of parts as Banggood, but they do have very nice ready to fly kits lately. I have reviewed two of them: the Grasshopper 94 and the DarkMax 220. If you’re looking for a good ready to fly drone that’s slightly higher end but still budget conscious, you can find some good ones on GearBest.
GearBest shipping is pretty much the same as Banggood. Expect wait times of 2-4 weeks to delivery, unless you use DHL or FedEx but those will also cost you a lot more.
FPVModel is an Asian retailer with really high quality products. They don’t have as diverse of a selection of multirotor stuff as some of the other guys, but everything they carry is really top notch.
The real value in my opinion of buying from FPVModel is getting their ARF kits. These are complete kits that have everything right down to heat shrink and double sided tape that contain all parts you would need to put together a build. This is really handy especially for a first build where you may not be aware of something you may end up needing!
Plus, the kits have good components and are awesome value for money. All you would need is a receiver(assuming you already have a radio and goggles) and you’re good to go.
The Betaflight HIVE backpack is also exclusively available here.
They offer air mail shipping(2-4 weeks), or if your order reaches a certain threshold they do free DHL/Express shipping, which is nice.
Another retailer which I feel is lesser known but still top notch is MyRCMart. I think the biggest advantage of MyRCMart is they generally use Hong Kong Post shipping, which is far quicker than China Post.
They have a very good selection of OEM products including their own RCX brand which are all high quality components and at a fairly reasonable price. RCX ESCs and motors are really good. I have rarely bought flight controllers or frames from here, however.
If you’re looking for inexpensive motors, ESCs, or other components(including FPV cameras and transmitters/antennas) or spare parts like wires and connectors, MyRCMart is awesome.
RCPapa is where I do most of my shopping for high end stuff lately. They have a selection of really top notch stuff – everything you would need to put together a really nice build.
RCPapa is based in Hong Kong, so they use Hong Kong post to ship and they’re pretty fast, too. I usually get packages delivered to me in India within 10 days. I would assume it would take nearly the same amount of time anywhere in the world.
If you’re looking for high end frames, motors, ESCs, cameras, video transmitters, and receivers – and you can’t find them locally – head over to RCPapa. I’ve bought my last couple of Runcams from there and plan on picking up some Crossfire receivers from them soon, too.
So far, we’ve seen international retailers that ship worldwide. But if you live in the United States and a) don’t like getting things from the Slow Boat and b) prefer to give your business to local businesses, then there are lots of places to choose from. Here are my thoughts on some I have shopped with.
Amazon does make this list because they’re really good for buying cheap toy drones and DJI drones. The biggest advantage of Amazon is a lot of their products are Prime so you’ll get them in two days or less. Like Banggood, there’s almost nothing you can’t find on Amazon in terms of tools/spares/doodads that you may require when building a drone.
Amazon is a bit lacking when it comes to proper racing drone components, though. You can find some, but they’re usually overpriced. I’d only buy proper components from Amazon if I didn’t have something and needed it yesterday.
Here is a link to a spreadsheet of other retailers. I have not used any others so I would not know much about them, but they certainly are worth checking out.