Handheld Radios

Anybody here fool around with these low powered radio? China made vr5 or whatever they are. Worth the small investment or not?


The Baofeng HT (hand held, handy talkie) are viable.

I highly recommend getting an amateur radio license AKA ham. Check out the ARRL for how-to, and pick up one or two


One EMP negates charging and communications.
The best we can do afterwards is…




This is why the ACOG is such a great optic, one EMP and those battery powered LPVO’s will be awful dark when it matters most :wink:


I have two of the Baofeng VHF/UHF radios. I gave one of them to my son in law. They are fairly well built. Programming them is mind-numbing. They work pretty well for what they are.

I also have a mil-spec Yaesu handheld that can withstand just about anything, and if my life is depending on comms, I’ll stick with the Yaesu over the Baofeng.

The big question is what do you want to use it for? Is it just fun and entertainment? Or are you preparing for Armageddon and need communicate to save your life? If yes, then spend the most money you can on the best possible radio.

But then in a very bad day scenario when the SHTF in a serious way, the cups with the strings between them might be the only thing that works afterwards.

And in the meantime, the Nordic countries have formed a joint air-force command. Oh where is this headed……


Most of the Baofeng radios on Amazon are variants of the UV-5R and UV-82. They are all HAM radios, requiring an FCC license at Technician level or higher to transmit using them. They are all legit amateur band radios, and work well at a surprisingly low price.
I have had a UV-82 for many years. I use it for talking with others, and also to receive NOAA Weather Radio.

You can find a wealth of help for using them on YouTube. However, many of those Tubes show how to mod the radios to transmit out of the legal frequencies (which are legal only with a HAM license).

You can legally buy and use them to listen, but, as noted above, need a HAM license form FCC to transmit legally.

Another note, Some of the modifications on the Tube show how to use them in FRS or GMRS channels. FRS channels can be used by anyone, but only with very low power radios with short stubby fixed antennae. The nice pocket radios you buy in pairs at Best Buy are FRS, and legal to transmit with. GMRS radios DO require a license from FCC, but it is a register and pay only to get, with no test, like the HAM tests.

Probably more than yu wanted to know. BOttom Line… go to YouTube for advice.


I’ve used the cheapy Baofengs and Moterolas on a couple of work projects out in the desert out of cell phone range. I can’t remember the particulars on the frequencies but remember the instructions saying they had low power channels that anyone could use and higher power channels you were supposed to get a license to use.

On the low power channels you could reach several miles in the flats but you’d be lucky to get a mile in the canyons or hilly areas if you weren’t at the top of a hill.

They’d be fairly useful if the cell towers and phone lines were down and you wanted to coordinate with a neighbor down the road without having to go knock on their door.


Thank you and all the guys. Mainly used around the property. Good information and advice. Thought I would get a take from you guys first, before heading down the YouTube rabbit hole. Thanks guys, appreciated.


Hey I appreciate all the information, I’ve been curious about this for a bit. Good base of info to branch off from :slight_smile:

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Based on that I recommend you look at GMRS radios. That type is specifically designed for use on large properties like a farm.

  1. The radios are a little more expensive than FRS radios, but can have longer antennae and higher power, so they work at longer distances.
  2. They have twice as many channels as FRS radios.
  3. Using them does require a license, but the license is good for the entire family, and requires no test, just pay a registration fee.
  4. If your property is particularly large, you can install and run a repeater [think of a repeater as a local cell tower for those specific channels] on the property, which greatly increases the effective range of the radios.

Just buy real GMRS radios, which are already set up with all the channels on the assigned frequencies, Do not buy BaoFeng HAM radio and rig it for GMRS. That is an FCC violation which can get you in trouble, and also requires some fancy programming tricks.

Good luck!


True statement - the Baofeng’s do not meet the FCC’s spectral purity requirements. They put out all sorts of crap with the intended transmitted signal. Again, for a life or mission-critical application, I’ll spend the extra bucks, get a well-designed mil-spec radio, and why not get a GMRS license. (Which I think is $70 for 10 years or something like that.) With the GMRS, you can use repeaters that dot the landscape.

Or just get your ham license. Pretty easy to do, and then you can be part of the larger ecomm community and truly help out when things turn to s**t.


I’m probably jumping into a pool that’s deeper than I can stand up in, but unless concerned about other people listening in on conversations, would a pair of handheld boating VHF radios have sufficent range for what you are looking for? I am pretty sure they all include weather and channel 16 emergency channel.

I understand it is a test with no obstructions, but I have talked back to land from at least 12 miles offshore with this one set on 6 watt output: Uniden MHS126 Handheld Floating Two-Way Radio | Cabela’s (cabelas.com)


License for GMRS radios is $35 for ten years, and whole family can use the call sign, including aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews.
Navigating through the FCC website is a more difficult matter.
Here is a good guide to get through it. The process is fairly easy, but the website sucks.


+1 on the Yaesu. Their VX-6R is built like a brick you know what.


As a FYI, even if you have a HAM radio, a HAM license, and a GMRS license you cannot legally use your HAM radio to transmit on GMRS frequencies.


Soo…GMRS is the general thought? I don’t sit on a Montana ranch or anything. 200 heavily wooded. Or does the line of sight thing come into play on that. Any recommendations on the GMRS. Sounds like the 35 buck radios are to be left in China. Will have to do some more research. Thanks for a starting point and bringing up to pass on the baofeng.

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Last time I worked in thick forest and had access to a radio was when I worked for the Forest Service. I don’t remember anything about those radios other than they cost about $1500 each (back in 2003ish) and we usually needed to pass our signals through repeaters located on the tops of mountains to reach our coworkers who were more than a few miles away. When not going through the repeaters our range was limited when in the valleys and thick forest.

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I have absolutely no experience with them, but a quick look on Amazon for GMRS radios showed me a pair of BaoFeng GRS (not HAM) for $60 and a pair of Midland for $80. Midland is a well established brand in the HAM market, so if I were to dip a toe in the water I’d pop for the $35 license and the $80 Midland pair.
Pay attention on the search result page on Amazon, because it also shows FRS radios, which look almost identical to the GMRS ones.


Please forgive my ignorance on this radio stuff but, is GMRS the same thing as CB radios and the hype of the 70s and 80s?

I remember the “old pilot”, my grandfather had what looked like a registration card by his set up in the house. Had numbers and letters with his “handle”.

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Nope, CB is a fourth kind of public use radio: Amateur Radio (HAM), Family Radio Service (FRS), General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), and Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS or simply CB).
CB used to require a license, but no longer.
CB and FRS are only radio-to-radio; HAM and GMRS can be radio-to-radio and also use repeaters.
FRS and CB do not require a license; HAM and GMRS do.

There are several articles on the net comparing CB to GMRS.

Types Of Two Way Handheld Radios: Ham vs. CB vs. FRS vs. GMRS vs. MURS