Traxxas Rustler RC Car vs. Bandit

Want to know the difference between Traxxas Rustler RC car vs Bandit? Get to know two of the most classic models of all time with our helpful guide.

You can't go wrong with a Traxxas radio control car. Over the last 30 years, they have led the way in innovation with 10 industry firsts.

This includes the first RC car to go over 100mph If you are getting started in the hobby of RC cars, this might be a much for you.

The Bandit and Rustler RC cars are perfect for newbies and those adults who enjoy the hobby. Each car is ready to run out of the box and can reach at least 30 mph.

Curious which one you should choose? Read on to learn more about each model's history, performance, and durability.


Based in Texas, Traxxas has produced ready to race RC car kits since 1986. The company has become synonymous with performance, durability, and world-class customer support.

They offer cheap RC trucks that start at less than $150. There are 25 models that fall below $350. Their top of the line model is $800 and capable of speeds over 100mph.

Rustler RC Car Kit

The first Rustler came on the market in 1994 with a two-wheel drive 1/10 scaled electric stadium truck. Over the last 24 years, the Rustler has seen many upgrades and models


The first model introduced was the Rustler in 1994. It featured a two-wheel drive, independent suspension, and 2.2-inch wheels. The motor and a "Stinger 540" had a 3-speed rotary mechanical speed control.

Rustler XL-5

Rustler XL-5 came out in 2006 with an upgraded "Titan 12T" 550 12-turn brushed motor. It also had a redesigned transmission and new 2.8 inch tires.

In 2008 the XL-5 body got an updated to the VXL body. It also got a new paint scheme.

Rustler VXL

In 2007 Traxxas introduced the VXL. The biggest change with this model was the "Velineon Brushless system".

It also received high current connector upgrades. These include 12 gauge wires, stronger differential yokes, and fiberglass suspension bar.

Parts Available

Upgrade and replacement parts are available for almost every component on the Rustler. Upgrade the motor, bearings, and clutch components for increased speed and performance.

There are different bodies, bumpers, and skid plates available for a look upgrade. You can even buy new decals and stickers for a customized look.


This car may be two-wheel drive, but it can keep up with the four-wheeled competitors with no problem. The four-wheel independent suspension gives it great traction over the uneven terrain.

It's responsive reversing and braking make it easy to get out of spaces you didn't mean to go. Attach a wheelie bar and you'll be pulling tricks without the fear of flipping over.


The car's materials are tough plastic and metal withstanding beginner driver's bumping and crashes. The vital internal components are fully sealed and waterproof.

The tires on the Rustler are from the Traxxas Nitro series. These tires are impressive with deep grooves making them perfect for off-roading.


In 2009 Traxxas stepped up their game and made both models of the Rustler waterproof. This opens up a whole new world of off-roading adventures.

Bandit RC Car Kit

In 1995 Traxxas released the Bandit. It is a 1/10 scale of a two-wheel drive buggy.


You will notice that it has a lot of the same parts as the Rustler. These parts would include the transmission, motor, speed controls, and radio system.

The major difference is the shorter front and rear suspension. The body style is more of a buggy style with a narrower stance and small diameter.

The tires on this first version were thinner and smaller than those on the first Rustler. There also was a rear wing included.

Bandit XL-5

The XL-5 released in 2007. It got the same upgrades that the Rustler XL-5 received except for the wheels.

The Bandit XL-5 received upgraded wheels to 2.2-inch wheels. These bigger, wider tires were now the same size as the original tires on the Rustler.

Bandit VXL TSM

The second half of 2007 brought the introduction of the VXL TSM. The same upgrades as the Rustler VXL were also on the Bandit VXL.

The only difference was the look of the body. The VXL has the same body as the XL-5, but with a new paint scheme.

In 2015 the VXL got Traxxas Stability Management. This lets drivers push the Bandit harder by providing more stability in low traction driving.

Parts Available

There are parts available to upgrade almost every component of the Bandit. Look for Anaconda tires to help give you better traction for improved handling.

You can upgrade the motor to a brushless one for improved performance. There are big bore shocks available to upgrade those too.


Out of the box, you can expect top speeds of around 30 mph. You can upgrade your model though and increase this to 40mph.

Even with the impressive stop speeds, you aren't sacrificing handling. In the hands of an experienced driver, you can do sharp turns and sudden stops.

This kind of performance lags on the uneven ground though. Best to stick to paved surfaces.


Traxxas is already known for building models that provide impressive durability. The Bandit has a cooling molded moto plate and electronics mounted on a fiber-composite chassis.

Both of these prepare your buggy for any challenge you put it through. The telescoping drive shafts provide a quality performance of the suspension.


The Bandit XL-5 and VXL both received the same waterproofing treatment that the Rustler models got 2009. This meant that all models got a watertight receiver box, waterproofed high torque steering servo, and a waterproofed XL-5 ESC.

Traxxas RC Model Wrap Up

Both the Rustler and Bandit provide affordable models that are ready for racing right out of the box. Both options are ideal for a beginner looking to get into the hobby of RC cars.

Both are waterproof with impressive speed, though the Bandit is faster. You will find that the Rustler comes with better quality tires, though they are easy to upgrade on the Bandit.

Some users find the Rustler RC car to be a bit bulky, finding the Bandit's sleek buggy style more appealing. Both cars have a large number of parts for upgrading so if you don't like something, you can change it.