Best Joystick and HOTAS Controllers for the Ultimate Flying Experience

If you enjoy flight simulators or flight games such as Elite Dangerous. Then you will know how difficult it can be to control the aircraft using a mouse and keyboard.

However, if you use a joystick or HOTAS (hands on throttle-and-stick) system your control immediately improves along with the all-round experience.

But with such a variety of different flight sticks available, varying drastically in price it difficult to find the right one for you.

As a result, we have created this guide to help gaming enthusiasts find the best joystick for their needs and budget.

Why waste anymore time frantically waving your mouse across your desk trying to do a loop the loop when you can easily carry out the most difficult manoeuvres with a joystick.

10 Best Joysticks and HOTAS Controllers

Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog

Best HOTAS for Elite Dangerous

Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog
  • Replica A-10C Flight Controls
  • 55 Programmable Action Buttons
  • Original Creator of the HOTAS Concepy

Our choice for best HOTAS is the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog which is a premium quality joystick, with a twin throttle system featuring a control panel that is designed after the U.S. Air Force’s A-10C aircraft. It is sturdy, precise, innovative and offers extremely high performance.

It has excellent precision and is equipped with 3D magnetic sensors and two throttles side by side. The throttle and stick paired together offer a whole new experience, but they work individually just as great. You might have to buy extra pedals if you prefer Z-Axes or something with a similar function.

The only major downside to it is that it can be pricey and isn’t readily available everywhere. But if you are a serious gamer looking for a joystick with an impressive flight simulator, then look no further. This joystick will give you an unparalleled gaming experience.

Gladiator Joystick

Best Joystick

Gladiator Joystick
  • Replica WWII KG12 Grip
  • Smooth Movement: Pitch, Roll and Twist Axes
  • Good Quality Components

Our choice for overall best joystick is the Gladiator Joytick which is more or less a replica of the WWII KG12 flight stick.

As a result, you feel as though you are in flight mode the second you use it. For extra precision the base comes with a silicone grip that stays put even when you start gaming rigorously.

It’s a very realistic joystick that is also durable. It’s practically future proof, and its easy plug and play system makes it very user-friendly. One word of caution though, it is surprisingly cumbersome which becomes a concern if you usually play for long stretches at a time.

Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS4 Flight Stick

Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS4 Flight Stick
  • Wide Hand-Rest
  • Detachable Throttle Control
  • 12 Programmable Buttons
  • 5 Programmable Axles

Equipped with a stick resistance that can be adjusted, a realistic yet detachable throttle, twin rudder system, and a PS4/PC sliding switch that is in-built. These features give the Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS4 flight stick a very realistic feel and also adapts quickly to flight simulated games.

This joystick is perfect for a beginner who is looking to venture into the world of realistic gaming. It has excellent controls, very easy on the eyes and fits perfectly like a glove into your hands as you play the game. It also has a sleek black and blue color, and its comfortable manipulation design and feel makes it the best hotas for Elite Dangerous. In addition, it comes with one of the best flight stick-throttle combo prices on the market.

Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

Best Cheap Joystick

Extreme 3D Pro Joystick
  • 12 Programmable Action Buttons
  • 8-way Hat Switch
  • USB Connection

While no competition to the best joystick the Logitech’s Extreme 3D Pro joystick is a great entry-level flight stick. It comes with 12 action buttons and a rapid-fire trigger which can give some high-end models a run for their money.

In addition, the design combines functionality and simplicity which makes it a perfect choice for a beginner or for someone looking for a joystick that is reliable but affordable. It feels a little lightweight at first, and you might need to secure it to the desk if you are used to gaming with sturdy controllers.

One drawback is that the software can be a bit tricky to calibrate at first but nothing that you won’t be able to figure out. However, this does allow the buttons to be programmed which is a great feature. All in all, this is one of the top choices for budget gamers.

Related: Top gaming laptops for under $500 – buyer’s guide

Thrustmaster T16000M FCS HOTAS

Best HOTAS for Star Citizen

Thrustmaster T16000M FCS HOTAS
  • 16 Programmable Action Buttons
  • Patented Hall Effect Accurate Technology
  • 4 Independent Axes

The T16000M FCS is precision oriented with numerous action buttons and switch controls. In addition, it also comes with a mini analog stick and Braille style button identification. Combing sensitivity and functionality this joystick is a pleasure to use.

It is one of the best budget-friendly joysticks especially if you are a beginner and you aren’t sure about spending a lot of money yet. It’s one of the easiest to set up and is perfect for Star Citizen. However, something you should watch out for is that the button layout can seem a little complicated at first and then there’s the throttle which is not the smoothest.

200-571 CH Products Fighterstick

200-571 CH Products Fighterstick
  • 24 Programmable Buttons
  • 3 Axis
  • Control Manager Software for 132 Programmable Functions
  • Realistic F-16 Flight Stick

This joystick is a programmable joystick that comes with a realistic F-16 handle and an eight-way POV hat. It has superior controls with the fighterstick consisting of 24 buttons and three axes: the aileron, the elevator, and the throttle.

The trim wheels have dual rotary functionality which precisely adjusts the ailerons and elevators making it a perfect joystick for Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen. It also comes with fantastic software which makes up for its rather hefty price tag. Considering its massive size though, it sometimes feels a bit lightweight and uncomfortable if you game for long periods of time.

Logitech G X56 HOTAS

Logitech G X56 HOTAS
    • Military-Grade Flight Sim Precision
    • Independent Twin Throttles
    • Adjustable Accuracy
    • RGB Backlighting
    • 30 Customizable Controls

The X56 is a definite improvement from the X52 HOTAS and the X52 professional. It comes with two throttles which can be easily adjusted according to your preferred level of friction.

The throttle and stick combo are mainly designed for flight simulator games and are perfect for War Thunder. In addition, there are numerous customizable options and mini analog sticks which double as thumb buttons. This upgraded version comes equipped with advanced sensors combined with an adjustable spring system for heightened sensitivity and stick-control.

Furthermore, the twin throttle is ideal for dual-engine spacecraft and aircraft, and also locks into one throttle for a single-engine craft. However, the only issue for some users is that the price point falls in the premium line.

Like Logitech products? Check out our Logitech G703 vs G403 mouse guide

Mad Catz F.L.Y.5 Stick

Mad Catz F.L.Y.5 Stick
    • 12 Buttons
    • Tilting Head for User Comfort
    • Adjustable Handle Height
    • Independent Twin Throttles

The Mad Catz FLY 5 stick is an upgraded version of the Cyborg X Stick. It comes with a twin throttle and control that can be programmed to your preferences. One of its best features is that both the stick and the head are adjustable in length and angle tilt.

Interestingly enough, when you use the FLY 5 in conjunction with the Saitek’s SST Programming Software, the number of assignable buttons doubles if you press the shift key. In addition, the twin throttle has the option for separate engine control or using one for engine control while the other functions as the elevator trim. It is compact and lightweight, falls within a medium budget price tag and is a good pick for beginners.

 Logitech G Saitek X52 Flight Control System

Logitech G Saitek X52 Flight Control System
    • Advanced Multi-Function Display
    • Precision Centering Mechanism
    • Clock and Stopwatch Function for Flight Plan Control

Logitech’s G Saitek X52 includes a throttle that is detachable and a centering mechanism for precise control. If you like having a selection of different hand positions, then this is perfect for you.

The LCD has an inbuilt multi-function on the throttle control which is a cool feature that allows access to button information at a glance. Furthermore, the throttle can be adjusted according to your preference to ensure a seamless gaming experience.

Also, it comes with a non-contact technology on the X and Y axes for enhanced control and durability. This joystick is one of the best HOTAS joysticks on the market in its price range and works very well with Elite Dangerous. You might struggle a bit during the initial setup, but this is still an excellent choice for a beginner.

Mad Catz V.1 Stick for PC

Mad Catz V.1 Stick for PC
    • Ambidexterous Flight Stick
    • Trigger and 5 Buttons
    • Twist Action Rudder
    • Removable Legs for Storage

This joystick is loaded with an ambidextrous functionality and a POV switch which enables you to enjoy a realistic view in the game. It is simple in design but has interesting features, basic but gets the job done. If you are looking to do dual stick flying, then this is a great choice.

For extra functionality the pinky switch doubles as the shift key giving you more options. However, the trigger’s build quality is poor, and the LED can sometimes be annoying with prolonged use as it shines on to the monitor.

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