Is Z scale smaller than N scale

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

Scale Track Width
Z Scale 1:220 6.5 mm
N Scale 1∶148 / 1∶160 9mm

So there you have it. If you’re looking for more info on Z gauge, take a look at my other articles on Z scale.  Equally, I have loads of tips and guides on building N gauge layouts, read them here.

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.


Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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