N and Z scales are the two smallest widely available model train scales, but which is smaller?
If you want to create a model train layout in a small space, your two options are either N or Z scale. Yes, there are other ‘micro’ size model railway scales, but these two are the ones with the most commercial support the widest range of rolling stock, models and track.
If you’re thinking about one of these, one of the first questions is which is smaller.
The answer is…
Z scale at a scale of 1:220 and a track gauge of 6.5 mm or 0.256 is smaller than N gauge but not by much.
N scale works to a scale of 1∶148 to 1∶160 (depending if you’re in Britain or the US/Europe with a track width (the gauge) of 9mm or 0.35.
How Z and N scale compare
|Z Scale||1:220||6.5 mm|
|N Scale||1∶148 / 1∶160||9mm|
Alternatively, if just want to get started with a Z scale train set, you can read my thoughts on Märklin’s Z gauge starter set here.
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy. Affiliate notice: If you plan to buy the products on this page or similiar, please use the links here. These will take you to carefully selected businesses, including Hornby, Rapid Online, Amazon, eBay, Scale Model Scenery and Element Games, through which you can buy products mentioned. These links are made under their affiliate schemes which means that although the price to you does not change I receive a small commission on the orders you place which helps me maintain this site and allows me to create more articles like this. Please see my disclaimer for more information. Thank you for your support, Andy.