Written by 4:42 pmCommunication

Best Handheld Ham Radios Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

Photo of Red Walkie Talkie in hand on white background

High-quality handheld ham radios feature the most advanced technology. Whether for emergencies or just to enjoy in your own time, these classic devices are extremely valuable gadgets.

In this current digital era, many believe that handheld ham radios have gone out of fashion, but this is totally untrue. They are still as essential as ever for communication, especially when exploring unknown territory. Handheld ham radios are a safety measure to keep you in contact with others when traveling.

They weigh almost nothing which is a great feature, particularly when you are spending lots of time walking outdoors. The power and frequencies which they possess surpass those of walkie-talkies, which are often limited in times of emergencies. Handheld ham radios are extremely powerful receivers that receive a signal nearby and rebroadcast with more power and clarity than a walkie-talkie could do. Therefore, it can travel much further.

This is important because it means handheld ham radios can communicate with the transceivers of boats and planes. They can therefore facilitate a hobby, whilst also provide a service for those traveling. Tech people who love all electronic gadgets will love these devices, and some will appreciate them as a tool for survival mechanisms.

The Best Handheld Ham Radios

1. Alinco DJ-VX50T Portable Transceiver

Product Dimension: 4.65 x 2.32 x 1.5 inches| Item Weight: 1.25 lbs

Description

The DJ-VX50 offers such a powerful output of 5W (VHF / 4W (UHF) which comes under a professional-grade operation. For someone who needs a handheld ham radio for their professional occupation, this would be the gadget to choose. This handheld ham radio is waterproof and also dust-proof, which would prove great when traveling in humid and wet conditions. This device also comes with a variety of tone bursts which give greater access to the transceiver and provide selective calling.

This device is so convenient, as it has a direct frequency input and alphanumeric channel labels. This will make using the radio so much easier and coherent. It also provides 200 memory channels that can each store operating parameters, which will ensure the user stays organized and prepared for their next adventure through channel storage. For personal usage, the DJ-VX50 contains VHF AM aircraft, FM radio broadcast, and the NOAA Weather Channel receiver to get a weather alert. It boasts a long-lasting battery life and a stand charger, providing extra power. This is such a versatile receiver that is also affordable, and so cannot be ignored.

Features We Like:
  • RX frequency range is 136-174MHz, 400-470MHz
  • TX Frequency coverage is 144-148MHz. 420-450MHz
  • Contains a Li-lon battery pack and a stand charger
  • 3 color-selectable display and keypad

2. Yaesu FT-65R Handheld Receiver

Product Dimension: 2.1 x 1.2 x 4.1 inches | Item Weight: 0.24 lbs

Description

This receiver has a freshly designed white background LED display, and can operate for up to 9 hours with its long battery life. The device’s lightweight and compact design will appeal to those who explore within their profession and need a sustainable device to power them through. The internal speaker within this Yaesu receiver has such a good sound quality that it will be so valuable in noisy environments as well as provide reasons to listen to clear sounds.

The white background is so vibrant but also highly visible, which reduces the risk of danger in threatening situations. Using a ham radio for survival is so important in tough conditions, which is why the Yaesu FT-65R’s front panel contains 4 user programmable quick recall keys. This dual-band handheld radio comes with an optional earpiece so that Vox operation is also available. The long-lasting battery is amplified with a 2.5-hour Rapid Charger, which is a must-have for anyone in need of an handheld radio.

Features We Like:
  • Offers up to 5 Watt power output
  • The front of this receiver is an internal speaker, providing 1 full watt of crisp audio
  • Antenna provided
  • Comes with AC adapter and Belt Clip

3. Radioddity GA-510 Ham Radio

Product Dimension: 8.03 x 4.57 x 4.45 inches| Item Weight: 1.67 lbs

Description

This handheld radio offers the best talking quality with differing power usages of 10 watts, 5 watts, and 1 watt. This is therefore a highly versatile device in terms of its transmission power. It is so easy to use, as you can control the settings through the keypad. You can also use this radio to control PC programming with the cable that is provided in the box.

The battery life lasts for 96 hours, which is a supreme quality as this will be essential in times of emergency. The case in which the radio is enclosed is hard and durable so will last you for years. For exploring the wildlife outdoors, this is the ideal radio to purchase, for only $64.99. As it is a dual-band radio, you can set 2 frequencies and channels on the same screen, and at the same time receive 2 different signals. This is a positive feature when many handheld ham radios do not offer this option.

Features We Like:
  • 10W high power feature
  • 3 power modes: high (10 Watts), medium (5 Watts), low (1 Watt)
  • Lasts for 12 hours under 10 Watts, 24 hours under 5 Watts, and 96 hours on standby
  • Supports Chirp – most US hams will be expected to do this
  • 3 different scanning options: time scanning, carrier scanning, search scanning

4. Retevis RT83 Radio

Product Dimension: 8.82 x 6.96 inches| Item Weight: 1.97 lbs

Description

This 100% waterproof ham radio can still work even when soaked in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. This is an admirable characteristic and one that many explorers will want in their device. It boasts a UHF frequency range with 1024 channels providing broader options for communicating. Ham radios are a way to verbally communicate, so strong and clear audio is imperative. It has also been made easier to use with a large, clear, colorful LCD equipped with graphics to be more visually exciting as well as convenient.

The high power features allow the user to easily have conversations outdoors in rapid weather and noisy surroundings. This handheld ham radio also has a recording feature, unlike many other radios. This way you can record important call content, and repeatedly listen back to content that you need to analyze. This radio is $124.99, however, for what it offers in range, makes it definitely worth the cost. Make your daily business operations smoother with this versatile and durable radio as your new method for communication.

Features We Like:
  • Compatible with MOTOTRBO devices, and DMR Tier I and II
  • Has a recording function
  • 2 mode of Analog and Digital – advanced technology makes for a better radio
  • 250-hour battery life on standby – will support a standard work shift and more
  • 2-way support group call match: call freely without group restrictions
  • Emergency function: press button for the radio to send out a distress call

5. Yaesu VX-6R Ham Radio Transceiver

Product Dimension: 2.28 x 1.12 x 3.5 inches| Item Weight: 0.08 kg

Description

This Tri-Band transceiver comes in the expensive range of $265.99, however offers some of the best features of any handheld devices you will come across in ham radio reviews. It is compact, submersible, and waterproof just to name a few of its exciting features. The VX-6R can receive an impressive range of 0.5 to 999Mhz, which surpasses the abilities of most ham radios. With different power settings, this radio’s output power is 5 Watts on 2 meters and 70cm, and 1.5 Watts on 222Mhz. The battery saver mode allows the user to explore multiple lower power settings whilst being more energy-efficient.

This ham radio can receive AM and FM broadcast radio, Shortwave, and CB. With its emergency features, you can contact the police should you be in danger, and also receive weather alerts for your own information. Aircraft and marine bands can be contacted at ease, which makes for a better ham radio because of its versatility and easiness for beginners.

Features We Like:
  • Compact, submersible, and waterproof
  • Convenient access key for WIRES (Wide-coverage Internet Repeater Enhancement System)
  • Also comes with a transmit Time-Out Timer
  • Automatic Power-Off function provided
  • Automatic Repeater Shift makes the device easier to use
  • Has an Auto-Range Transponder System (ARTS) which notifies the user when you move out of communications range with another ARTS station – this is exclusive to the Yaesu VX-6R
  • Comes with a charger, YHA-67 Antenna, Belt Clip, and Manual and Warranty Card

6. BTECH UV-5X3 Radio

Product Dimension: 2.28 x 1.26 x 4.33 inches |Item Weight: 0.5 lbs

Description

This 5 Watt Tri-Band radio comes with an antenna, charger, and earpiece ready for convenient use. This radio is compatible with computer programming, which is a useful feature when navigating data. This is the only radio that offers updated firmware features and a detailed menu system. The UV5X3 allows users, who want to display the most information at once, to show both the channel’s frequency and channel name simultaneously. This display synchronization allows the user to maximize the available information, which is particularly favorable when on the job because often you need to multitask.

The average buyer of a ham radio would appreciate the ability to modify the scanning list, and with the UV-5X3 this is finally possible. This means that you can manage the channel scan list without needing a computer, which is so convenient. With this east menu system, you can easily add and remove channels from the scanning list. Also, you can now scan through a portion of the receiving band without having to scan the whole band, which is more practical when you are working. BTECH is a proud American brand, constantly providing local support for those in need.

Features We Like:
  • Can pair the UV-5X3 with the Nagoya NA-320A Antenna for an all-in-one antenna option
  • Can modify the scanning list without needing a computer
  • Uses CHIRP software
  • Appropriate for amateur radio operators as it allows common edits to the channels
  • Affordable: costs only $64.89

7. HESENATE MD-UV380 Ham Radio

Product Dimension: 2.3 x 1.4 x 5.1 inches| Item Weight: 1.49 lbs

Description

For only $92.99, this radio comes with a common 6.5’’ dual band antenna and is a great low-cost option for amateur radio operators. It is well built with a solid feel, so is rugged and durable, and has superb audio for what it provides. This, therefore, is one of the best ham radios you can buy, for it also has a multi-colored LCD. This means that it is visually exciting as well as practical. The MD-UV380 provides dual-mode digital as well as analog transmit, has 5 Watts of output power, and up to 3000 channels.

Its frequency range is VHF 136-174Mhz, and UHF 400-480MHz, proving to be a powerful transceiver. Weighing only 1.91 lbs, this radio comes in such a small package of 7.8 x 6.38 x 3.35 inches. This is such a practical size for a ham radio, proving that it is valuable for your money. A desktop charger, driver, and software CD are also provided to provide help for the amateur radio community.

Features We Like:
  • Has a voice prompt
  • Has an encryption function
  • Is compatible with MotoTRBO Tier 1 & 2
  • Able to private call, group call, and receive text messages in digital mode

8. BTECH DMR-6X2 Radio

Product Dimension: 2 x 1.5 x 5 inches| Item Weight: 1.8 lbs

Description

This 7-Watt Dual Band radio flaunts a 136-174MHz VHF and a 400-480MHz UHF. The DMR-6X2 comes equipped with a GPS and a recording function, adding to the useful features this ham radio possesses. It sells for $209.89, however is certainly worth the price when it offers unique traits to this device. This radio includes a full kit and is provided with 2 full batteries, which is useful to have just in case you are in an emergency and need a spare battery.

With 4000 channels, this is one of the most technologically advanced handheld radios you can buy. It also allows for 10,000 talk groups and 200,000 contacts, so it is clearly produced with those in mind who need a ham radio to function at work with lots of people to communicate with. The DMR-6X2 boasts 4 different power settings: high (7 Watts VHF/6Watts UHF), med-high (5 Watts), med-low (2.5 Watts), and low power (1 Watt). It has been designed for both amateur and commercial usage with its large, bright 1.77″ color TFT display. This particular ham radio can last for up to 35 hours on a single charge using the 3100mAh battery, and up to 18.5 hours on a single charge using the 2100mAh battery which is included.

Features We Like:
  • Equipped with GPS and Recording function
  • DMR Tier 1 & 2 compatible, and MOTOTRBO compatible
  • This radio uses a loud 1-watt speaker, with an adjustable volume to accommodate when using both indoors and outside

9. Radioddity GD-77 Ham Radio

Product Dimension: 5.51 x 2.23 x 1.14 inches| Item Weight: 1.64 lbs

Description

This Digital/Analog two way radio is dual-band and easily works with a hotspot, making it incredibly easy to use. Both the digital and analog modes ensure that you can monitor the DMR community, and also stay in touch with your friends at the same time. The GD-77 comes with a promiscuous mode which enables you to hear all talk groups, not just the receiving group. Its audio quality has been described as exceptional, with a noise-free sound on the transmit audio. This will mean that the sound will not become distorted when you turn the volume up.

This device provides dual-band capabilities, to make for a sensitive receiver. It has a numeric keyboard, meaning that users will have quick dial features which are ideal in times of emergency. With this, you can adjust the programming settings as well as send SMS messages. All this, for only $94.99, you can use this ham radio like a cellphone, send text messages, and comes provided with a plug and USB cable.

Features We Like:

10. BaoFeng UV-82HP Ham Radio

Product Dimension: 2.5 x 8.1 x 7 inches| Item Weight: 1.19 lbs

Description

This high power dual-band BaoFeng radio claims a frequency range of 136 to 174MHz (VHF), and 400 to 520MHz (UHF), showing that this is the perfect ham radio for beginners to utilize. Moreover, it possesses different power settings: high (7 Watts)/ medium (4 Watts)/ low (1 Watt). Amateur radio users will appreciate the PC03 FTDI Cable, which is recommended for easy computer programming, making this clearly one of the best handheld ham radios.

Something unique about this radio, is that its frequency mode can be locked via software. This radio has been designed to optimize performance. This way you can customize your operation with different channels and programmable buttons. There are 128 different programmable memory channels, where you can add or remove channels from the scanning list using the free computer software. The 3 power levels allow the user to choose how far they communicate, which is a valuable characteristic for a ham radio when traveling outside.

Features We Like:
  • Uses CHIRP software
  • Contents included: BaoFeng UV-82HP radio, 1800mAh battery, antenna, charger, adapter, earpiece, wrist strap, belt clip, and a user manual
  • Only $64.89 – affordable and cheap

Buyer’s Guide to Handheld Ham Radios

Durability

It is important when purchasing ham radios that you consider durability. This involves assessing the radio’s build, if it is made of high quality materials. In turn, this will enhance its functionality and provide a greater user experience. If it is durable, this means that it will be strong, which is exactly what the buyer will want.

The battery life is also important, because a long battery life will ensure the radio carries you through an entire work shift, as well as usage for personal enjoyment. Whether or not your radio is waterproof is also incredibly important. If it is, that means you can operate with your device under every kind of condition, including the toughest ones. A shockproof case will also guarantee an extra safety feature for your ham radio.

Weight

Small and lightweight radios are preferable when travelling, particularly when outdoors. This means that it is easier to communicate on the go. The more compact the radio it is, the easier it is to carry it around as you work. In terms of portability, radios are better when they provide AM and FM radio broadcasting because this means that you can relax and have some enjoyment when travelling. It also means that incoming calls will be a priority wherever you go.

Budget

You do not have to spend a mortgage on a ham radio. You can easily spend just over $60 on a radio that is waterproof, offers a high range frequency, has emergency functions, and has a long battery life. However, if those radios listed above are out of your budget, the BaoFeng UV-5R is only $23 and is very popular with the ham radio community. Your radio should fit your budget, and you will feel happier if you stick to this price, especially if you are an amateur.

Function

Different ham radios have different functions. For instance, whether it can modify scanning lists, or operate as a high frequency radio. Ham radios often come with a programming cable, and it is always important to check if this is functioning before you purchase the item. To programme a radio manually, there must be a functional keyboard, which is something else to bare in mind.

Some radios come equipped with a GPS function and a recording feature. If this is something you require in a ham radio, you must ensure the one you want to buy possesses those features. It all depends what you want to use the device for, because this will dictate whether you need both VHF and UHF, or if you only need one or the other. How many channels you will need is another important question to consider, because some come with up to 4000 whereas others only have around 200.

FAQs

1. What is the most powerful handheld ham radio?

The BTECH DMR-6X2 has been deemed the best handheld ham radio, due to its 7 Watt power output and 4000 channels. This is one of the most powerful pieces of technology, all for £209.89.

2. How far will a handheld ham radio transmit?

Ham radios use high frequency bands, as they are the best bands in a major SHTF emergency. They can easily transmit hundreds of miles without depending on anything else. Once the ham radio has received the signal, it can rebroadcast it with audible clarity across hundreds of miles.

3. Who makes the best ham radio?

In the Best Handheld Ham Radio Comparison Chart, BaoFeng has 4 different products in the top 7, showing that as a company they are producing radios that are working for the masses.

4. What is the best ham radio for a beginner?

The Baofeng BF-F8HP is the best ham radio for beginners due to its affordability (it is only $40.77), its ease of use and popularity among beginners. Regardless, every ham radio comes with a manual and warranty guarantee to ensure that your beginners process is as smooth as possible.

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