Best Estes model rocket

Arts & Crafts

Just because these rockets aren’t huge doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous to launch them. Always launch in the middle of a large, open field and count down to launch, so anyone in the vicinity is aware of the launch.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which Estes model rocket is best?

There’s something magical about building an awesome-looking rocket then launching it as high as you can make it go. When it comes to top brands in model rocketry, there aren’t many available which are as good or better than Estes, a quality it’s maintained since its formation more than 60 years ago.

One of the best Estes model rockets is the Estes Mercury Redstone Model Kit. This replica rocket of the U.S. Redstone is highly detailed, which makes it perfect for display and the included recovery parachute means you can still safely launch it before displaying.

What to know before you buy an Estes model rocket


Estes model rockets are either fully constructed and ready to launch out of the box or require assembly. The difficulty of the assembly is measured with a numerical system of 1, the easiest, and 5, the hardest. 

The easy, level 1 assembly rockets rarely are more complex than gluing down the fins and piecing together the body and nose cone; a process that can take anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour. The most difficult builds can take many hours and might require specialized equipment or have performances that can be affected by even the slightest mistake. 

It can be very frustrating and disappointing to start with a more complex rocket than you’re ready for, so don’t be afraid to take it slow.

Engine size

Estes model rockets require an engine, sometimes called a motor, to actually launch. Most kits don’t include the engine, although once you have one, you can use it with many Estes rockets

Estes engines are classified by letter grades from A to D that correspond to both their diameter and the estimated number of newton-seconds which the engine provides propulsion for (the “Installed Total Impulse”). An “A” is the smallest, providing 1.26-2.50 newton-seconds of impulse, while “D” is the largest, providing up to 20.00 newton-seconds of impulse.

An Estes rocket’s engine must be appropriate to the weight, size and intended speed and height of the launch. The Estes model rocket kit will tell you which engine sizes are compatible with the rocket.

What to look for in a quality Estes model rocket

Parts of an Estes model rocket

Body tube: This is the main portion of the rocket, which all other parts are attached to.

Nose cone: The nose cone allows the rocket to cut through the air; it also contains the parachute or streamer.

Fins: The fins guide the rocket through the air; they are typically made of balsa wood or plastic.

Engine: See above for engine details.

Parachute/streamer: The retrieval system for a launched rocket. Parachutes are typically found in large Estes rockets, which achieve shallower heights as a parachute can cause large drift after launch in higher-reaching rockets. Thus, streamers are used in higher launching rockets to create drag and cause a more vertical falling pattern.

How much you can expect to spend on an Estes model rocket

You can find a beginner Estes model rocket kit for as little as $10, although it won’t usually include launch gear. Spending up to $25 opens up access to kits containing up to three rockets, as well as possibly including launch gear. The most you’ll spend is around $50 for sets that include either many rockets or large rockets, as well as everything you need for launch.

Estes model rocket FAQ

Is it safe to launch an Estes model rocket on a windy day?

A. No. Days with medium to high winds can greatly affect everything from the launch pattern of your Estes model rocket to the likelihood of loss or damage to your rocket. Always save your launch day for occasions with as little wind as possible. Also, remember that even if the wind is mostly reasonable on the ground, it will always be stronger the higher into the air you go.

Is there anything not included in an Estes model rocket kit that you need to have to assemble them?

A. Estes model rocket kits should include everything you need for assembly in the box, except for your chosen adhesive. Regarding adhesive, try to use wood glue when securing wooden fins or other porous materials and plastic cement for anything, well, plastic. Also note that most kits do not include the engine you need for launch.

What’s the best Estes model rocket to buy?

Top Estes model rocket

Estes Mercury Redstone Model Kit

Estes Mercury Redstone Model Kit

What you need to know: An Estes replica of a real U.S. Redstone rocket, it comes ready to be built and flown.

What you’ll love: This replica rocket is loaded with details, which makes it perfect for displaying instead of or after launching.

What you should consider: The build stage is a little difficult and the rocket doesn’t fly as high as other Estes model rockets.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Estes model rocket for the money

Estes Hi-Flier Flying Model Rocket Kit

Estes Hi-Flier Flying Model Rocket Kit

What you need to know: This is a reasonably affordable and reasonably performing Estes model rocket.

What you’ll love: This Estes rocket can launch up to 1,600 feet and is surprisingly easy to assemble.

What you should consider: There’s no recovery parachute to aid in safe landing, so the rocket might take some damage after coming back to earth.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Estes Athena Flying Model Rocket Kit

Estes Athena Flying Model Rocket Kit

What you need to know: This is a no-assembly-required Estes model rocket perfect for those who just like the launching portion.

What you’ll love: The launch of this Estes rocket is reliable and straight and it accepts many engine types.

What you should consider: There is no engine or launch gear included in this Estes package.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.