Trading is a lucrative profession in Elite Dangerous, but youll need the right ship for the job. Every ship in the game is unique in its capabilities — there are dedicated trading ships and general ships that are versatile enough to get the job done.
This guide covers the best trading ships in Elite Dangerous. Well start with the beginner ships like the Hauler and Adder before moving onto the late-game powerhouses like the Type-9 Heavy. Two things are important when it comes to trading ships: cargo capacity and shields. If youve got those down, youre good to go.
The Hauler is the very first ship that is dedicated to trading. Its cheap and bulky but comes with enough cargo capacity to be suitable for the very first trading missions in the starter Federation District.
Once youre out and about in the wider universe, the viability of the Hauler quickly drops off. The cargo capacity is only really suited to Rare Commodity trades, which are limited in scope due to the relatively short jump range of the Hauler. The Hauler is essentially a short-term investment for dedicated traders as they build their way towards more expensive and sophisticated ships.
General specs of the Hauler:
- Max cargo capacity of 26t, this is great for a ship of its price range, but wont get you much further than very simple trading missions.
- A max jump range of 37ly is more than enough for beginner trading missions and is also why new pilots sometimes pick up the Hauler as a basic exploration ship. You can check out our list of best exploration ships here. The ship is extremely light, however, and only comes with a small fuel scoop and fuel tank, which means any extra weight slows it considerably.
- The Hauler only has one small hardpoint, barely enough for a functioning weapon. Its probably the least viable combat ship in the entire game. You will want to upgrade ships to something with a bit more combat functionality if you want to survive the inevitable pirate encounters.
Rather than purchase the Hauler, many players opt instead for the Adder. Vastly more versatile than the Hauler, the Adder costs around 80,000 credits (30,000 more than the Hauler) and is a viable ship for combat, trading, and mining. It has a larger cargo capacity and more hardpoints for mining equipment or weapons.
The Adder is seen as an excellent first-choice ship upgrade for new pilots. A jump straight from the Sidewinder to Adder is not unheard of, especially if youve spent time grinding for credits in the Federation District. If you want to purchase a ship that is capable of a variety of roles rather than just trading, the Adder is your best bet. Heres a closer look at the specs.
General specs of the Hauler:
- Max cargo capacity of 30t, just a bit larger than the Hauler.
- Max jump range of 32ly, shorter than the Hauler, but not by much.
- Two small hardpoints and a medium hardpoint, which allows you to attach a much more powerful weapon. The Adder also has decent shields and will soak up more hits than the Adder.
- In terms of maneuverability, the Adder is much more capable of getting out of difficult situations, as well as dodging incoming enemy interdictions.
Cobra Mark 3
The Cobra Mark 3 is a very suitable upgrade from the Adder. Coming in at around 300,000 credits, the Cobra is an extremely versatile ship. It has the capability to be a decent trader with its 60t cargo capacity, handles itself well in combat situations thanks to its shields and hardpoints, and works as a reliable mining ship. If you want to dabble in lots of different professions, the Cobra Mark 3 is the ship for you.
In terms of pure trading, the Cobra has the best cargo capacity of any ship in its price range and has a cargo capacity double that of both the Adder and Hauler. Its also much cheaper than the Type-6 Transporter, the next logical step on the trading ship ladder.
General specs for the Cobra Mark 3:
- Max cargo capacity of 60t, suitable for short-range bulk goods trading and for larger capacity rare commodity trading.
- A jump range of 29ly when maxed out.
- Two small hardpoints and two medium hardpoints, which allow you to attach two pulse lasers to the medium points. The Cobra has the power capability to maintain these weapons.
- The Cobra also gets picked up as both a Pirate and Bounty Hunting ship regularly, which is enough to tell you that its more than capable of defending itself while on trading missions.
The Type-6 Transporter is the experienced traders go-to ship, and its an ideal starting ship for those who are looking to start maximizing their trading profits. One of the standout features of the Type-6 is its ability to dock at Outposts as it can fit into a medium landing pad — something that the more expensive freighter-class ships (like the Type-7 and beyond) cannot do. This leaves many trading options open to the player.
The Type-6 comes in at around one million credits, so its better suited to players who have built up a decent bankroll. Further engineering upgrades will be required, so its a good idea to only upgrade to the Type-6 after youve got used to flying trade trips with the Cobra.
General specs of the Type-6 Transporter:
- Cargo capacity of 114t when maxed out, suitable for long-range bulk goods trading.
- Jump range of 30ly. You should upgrade the Frame Shift Drive as a priority to extend the potential trading routes for the Type-6.
- The only downfall of the Type-6 is its lack of hardpoints suitable for weapons, featuring only two small class one hardpoints. This makes it the second-worst combat ship after the Hauler. Your best defense against Pirates is to jump away, if possible. This is why some players opt for the Keelback as a more offensive trading vessel.
The Type-9 Heavy is the largest dedicated trading ship in Elite Dangerous. Its an absolute monster, with a cargo capacity of 300t as default and the potential to be upgraded to 700t. That puts it just behind the Imperial Cutter for the largest cargo capacity in the game, though its a minimal difference. Due to its size, the tanky Type-9 can be pestered by much smaller attacking ships, as its chunky movement and slow turning speed put it at a disadvantage. Install a Fighter Hanger, however, and you should be fine.
This ship is best suited to all different kinds of trading, although wed recommend a smaller ship for rare goods trading. Its large fuel tank means it can travel very long distances without the need to refuel, ideal for completing entire trading loops.
General specs of the Type-9 Heavy:
- Max cargo capacity of 700t, the second largest in the game.
- Max jump range of 22ly (this is a very large ship, remember.)
- Two small hardpoints and three medium hardpoints mean the Type-9 can defend itself if the situation gets out of hand, although against much smaller and agile ships you will still have a problem.
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Harry Alston (291 Articles Published)
Harry Alston is a writer based in the UK. He was once number one in the world on Call of Duty: Black Ops and now spends his days chasing that past glory.