We all know about two-way radios and their ability to coordinate communications instantly but do you know all the extra capabilities of radio system? We will discuss all these things in this guide and also review the Top 10 Best Two-way Radios 2018.
I will recommend you guys to read them both so that it will be easy for you before you make a purchase.👀
The conventional analog radio sends out modulated audio signals on specific radio frequencies to each other generating a radio frequency signal and overlaying your voice on top of it. These radio frequencies for years have carried one voice for one radio channel.
Cool, so now what? By leveraging today’s digital radio technology or DMR Digital Mobile Radio, we do a conversion process on the radio that takes your voice in radio frequency and digitized it.
Best Two-Way Radios 2018
In a neighborhood communications environment, there are two possible ways to gather and collect information utilizing runners or two-way radios. Two-way radios come in two different types available to the peoples. There are FRS radios and GMRS radios and then there are FRS/GMRS radios. FRS radios do not require a license while GMRS radios do. We will discuss the using and work of both types in the buying guide. Here is a list of Best Two-Way Radios 2018.
|Two-Way Radios||Weight||Frequency Range||No. of Channels||Price|
|BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R) |
|1.15 pounds||400-520 MHz||128|
|0.88 pounds||400-470 MHz||16|
|Midland LXT630VP3||1 pounds||462-550 MHz||36|
|Motorola MT350R||0.33 pounds||462 ~ MHz||22|
|Baofeng UV-5R V2+||1.2 pounds||400-480 MHz||188|
|Retevis RT21||4.25 pounds||400-480 MHz||16|
|Radioddity R2||1.65 pound||400-470 MHz||16|
|Midland GXT1000VP4||0.3 pounds||462-467 MHz||50|
|BaoFeng UV-82HP||1.2 pounds||400-520 MHz||128|
|Midland GXT1050VP4||0.3 pound||462-467 MHz||50|
1. BaoFeng BF-F8HP – Best Long Range Two-Way Radio:
The BaoFeng BF-F8HP is a VHF and UHF dual band two-way radio. It has the frequency range 65 to 108MHz. For VHF it receives 136 to 174MHz and 400 to 520MHz for UHF. It has a high gain dual band rubber duck antenna. The motive operation is simple or semi-duplex. It is a pretty good radio with transmitter output is 8W, 4W, and 1W. So that you can use this radio in any of these three modes.
This two-way radio comes with a charging platform that just plugs into the wall. It also includes external push-to-talk, mic, and an earpiece, and when you use this earpiece the battery life will significantly increase. If you wish you can also upgrade it with long whip antenna or extended battery. You can also program this device with your computer and with its keypad. It has got a much better antenna and batter battery as compared to its other models.
The BF-F8HP has 128 programmable channels, it can connect to both FM broadcast stations as well as a weather vane. This will give you the instantaneous weather update. You can have the wider frequency range if you program this radio. It can also be utilized on walkie-talkie frequencies and has dual watch capabilities.
Features & Specifications:
- This is one of the most versatile radio for amateur use.
- It has got a separate button for each option.
- Dual watch receiver.
- It is easily programmable.
- Except for three power levels, it also includes larger and greater battery.
- The new and improved in-depth documentation and user manual.
- Frequency Range: [Tx] 136-174MHz, 400-520MHz
[Rx] 136-174MHz, 400-520MHz, 68-108MHz
- Channel Capacity: 128 Channels
- Operation Voltage: 4 DC
- Antenna Connector: SMA-Female / Antenna Impedance: 50Ω
- Output Power: 8W / 4W / 1W
- Audio Power: 700mW / 10%
- Real pick radio stations.
- Powerful built-in siren.
- High gain antenna.
- LED light with strobe mode.
- In-depth user guide.
- Smooth and stickier texture.
- No certified with FCC Part 9.
- Cheap material used.
- Does not include PC USB programmable cable.
2. Retevis H-777 – Best of 2018:
The next in our list is from Retevis H-777. These two-way radios are well built and very rugged. These radios come with removable antennas for the addition of larger antennas and accessories. It has 16 channels in total and transmits on 402 to 470 MHz of the frequency range. They are very compact in size and provide a lot of performance for such a small package.
This H-777 two-way radio has a built-in LED flashlight which actually proves to be quite handy when out in the dark and without a light nearby. Another built-in feature for the LED light is when the LED button is pushed a second time, it activates an automated Morse code sequence for SOS. According to the manual, they do have a scanning ability but require software and programming to activate this feature.
With a very reasonable price these two-way radios performed very well and much better than expected. Even in mountainous terrain, these radios were able to perform very well. It comes with a single band and single frequency and also gives you the power saving option.
Features & Specifications:
- It comes with the high gain antenna.
- This will indicate you for low battery.
- It also features CTCSS/DCS function.
- Time-out-time (TOT) prevents you not to use the channels for a long
- This two-way radio allows you to scan channels or privacy codes within the same channel so that you can locate other conversations.
- It also features the busy channel lockout which means if you are in conversation with someone on the same channel it will automatically prevent transmission.
- Technical Regimes: Analog
- Frequency Range: 400-470 MHz
- Memory Channels: 16 Channels
- Max Power: 5 Watts
- Supply Voltage: Li-ion 3.7V/1000mAh
- Dimension: 60 x 33 x 115mm (not including antenna)
- CTC SS/DCS: YES
- User-define side buttons: P1/P1
- They are constructed with solid material.
- Cost effective.
- Built-in LED torch.
- PC software programmable.
- Simple and easy to use.
- USB support charging.
- No LCD screen.
- Antennas are easily fragile.
- Not features VOX (Voice Activated Transmit).
3. Midland LXT630VP3 – Best Two-Way Radio for Hunting:
The Midland radio communication is an international industry leader in wireless communication. Midland LXT630 two-way radios are perfect for the outdoor enthusiasts. If you are playing in the outdoors this Midland two-way radios are the perfect choice for you.
The LXT630 has up to a 30-mile communication range and 36 channels for crisp and clear communication to choose from. It also features NOAA weather alerts with weather scan, silent operation and three levels of hands-free operation. The LXT630 also has dual power options using Midland’s rechargeable battery pack or three AAA batteries.
This two-way radio uses a code to help block interference from other users. You will only hear people set to your tone, in the unlikely event that you are transmitting at the same time as you would hear them too.
What comes in the Box?
The LXT630 value pack comes with two radios, belt clips, two rechargeable battery packs, AC adapter, desktop charger and an unbeatable three-years warranty with multiple options to choose from.
- 121 privacy code gives you up to 2,662 channel options to help you block other conversation.
- It operates silently.
- eVOX easy voice activation.
- It continuously monitors any activity within your channel.
- Low and high power setting.
- It features the low battery indicator and battery meter.
- High visibility yellow case.
- Small and easy to use.
- Good range and quality.
- Hands-free operation.
- Five call alerts.
- Scanning for channels takes longer time.
- No animal call alert.
4. Motorola MT350R – Our Favorite Emergency Radio:
The Motorola MT350R is ideal for the harsh environment. It comes with the range of up to 35 miles. The range is very important when choosing a two-way radio. It is built to give you the reliable connection in all operations and it is packed with features to keep you connected on your next trip.
With an IP-54 rating, the weatherproof design of MT series makes ideal to protect not only dust but wet weather conditions including snow or splashing water. This is waterproof up to 30 minutes and under one meter of water.
The Motorola MT350R uses push to talk power boost to transmit at either a higher power for increased range or lower power for longer battery life. It has low and high push-to-talk button. With a dual watch, the MT series gives you the ability to monitor two channels at the same time. Its battery can easily be replaced by three double AA batteries.
An on-screen battery display and automatic low battery alert let you know when you are running low on power. You can also charge its battery with a USB port for convenient charging. It also features the VibraCall vibrating alerts, ten call tones, a headset connector, and eye box capability. These two-way radios are built to handle any situation. When you fully charged it, it lasts for 9 hours.
Features & Specifications:
- NOAA weather radio receives weather alerts in advance.
- Built-in LED flashlight for an emergency.
- Low battery alert reminder to replace or charge the batteries.
- Talkabout Clear Class D amplifier which improves clarity at higher levels.
- Channel-code combinations reduce interference and also filter interference from non-Motorola unit.
- Dual channel watch and dual power.
- Waterproof IP-54 rating.
- 22-channels, each with 121 interference eliminator codes for 2,662 combinations.
- Two radios.
- 2 (AA) NiMH rechargeable battery packs.
- One accessories brochure.
- Two belt clips.
- One Mini-USB Y charging adaptor.
- One emergency preparedness checklist.
- User guide.
- Interference Eliminator.
- Quiet talk.
- Emergency alert button.
- Push-to-Talk PTT power boost.
- Low battery alert.
- Good audio quality.
- No base station.
- Too heavy and bulky.
- Clips are also very big.
5. Baofeng Black UV-5R V2plus – Best for Hunters:
The Baofeng UV-5R is a portable dual-band FM transceiver this means it is a portable two-way radio. The unit runs on an included 1800 milliamp hour lithium-ion battery pack and also included with the handset, an antenna, an English user manual, a push-to-talk earpiece, a belt clip, a hand strap and also a desktop charger. The LCD screen along with all the front panel buttons are backlit so there is no problem operating this in the dark.
The rotating lock on the top of the unit also functions both as a power switch and also as the volume control. On the side of the unit is a 2.5-millimeter headphone jack and also a 3.5-millimeter microphone jack. On the other side of the unit is a call button, a push-to-talk button, and a monitor button. The LED lights up in different colors when receiving and transmitting and the colors are customizable.
The Baofeng UV-5R two-way radio has a dual frequency display so you can toggle between the two frequencies by pressing the A/B button.
You can press the monitor button to turn on the LED on the top of the unit, press it again to enable strobe and press it again to turn it off. When you press the call button it toggles the unit to receive commercial FM radio and holding down the call button will engage an alarm mode where the unit will sound an alarm tone and also cause the LED light to flicker.
This two-way radio has two frequency modes and a channel mode. It has a VHF frequency range of 145 to 155 MHz and a UHF frequency range of 400 to 480MHz. It supports 128 channels and also it supports DCS and CTCSS that can be enabled and disabled.
The squelch threshold is selectable from 0 to 9. You can toggle the device between broadband and narrowband and can also set the RF power to high or low at 5 watts and 01 watts respectively. It has a busy channel lock function and it also has a roger function which will transmit an end of transmission tone. The keypad can also be locked.
- It also has a voice-operated the transmission.
- This gives you the option of auto band detection.
- It has a selectable frequency step and also it has a battery saving mode and a programmable timer transmission.
- Its battery is compatible with other Baofeng UV models.
- Durable and sturdy.
- Great sound quality.
- Low cost.
- USA warranty.
- Programming can be an issue for some people.
6. Retevis RT21 – Best Two-Way Radios for Mountains:
The Retevis RT21 is the newest professional analog two-way radio. Its appearance is stylish and comfortable and not easy to scratch. It comes with 16 communication channels. The actual transmit power of this two-way radio is 2.5 watts the battery capacity is last for a longer time.
It features a scanning option which allows you to monitor transmission without manually search them. Built-in scramble function provides enhanced security for your important private communications.
This two-way radio is ideal for communication between security guards, construction sites, and other outdoor activities. It is easily programmable by PC software. The RT21 is capable to control background noise by its VOX (Voice Operated Exchange) function. It also includes TOT (Time-out-timer) features to prevent transmitting if you are no longer using it. You can take these radios easily for mountain trips or hiking.
- Battery saves and power protection function.
- It features an emergency function which means it alarms you in case of an emergency.
- It supports CTCSS & DCS encode and decode.
- Frequency range: 400-480MHz
- Input voltage: Li-ion 3.7V/1100mAh
- Dimension (Exclude antenna): 4.76×2.44×1.22inch
- Channel Spacing: 25 / 12.5 KHz
- Frequencies step: 12.5k, 25k
- Antenna Impendence: 50Ω
- Water Resistance.
- One meter free-fall.
- Low battery indication.
- No LCD screen.
- It is not suitable for the loud atmosphere.
7. Radioddity R2 – Best for Fishing Trips:
The Radioddity R2 is a UHF 16 channel single band radio that operates on analog mode. It is 400-470 MHz which is a standard for these single band 16 channel radios. It comes with scrambler which is a sort of encryption.
The working time of its battery is 20 hours and 96 hours standby time. Indicator light and battery tone will turn on when the battery reaches to a low level. It also comes with VOX which is a Voice Operated Function that keeps the radio up when the sound detects exceed a certain threshold.
The scan function is also included which is on and off by pressing the PTT button. When the scan begins the indicator light on the top is green and it will automatically scan channels from 1 to 16.
For short range communication, this two-way radio is ideal and its battery timings are also more than enough. It also gives you the option of wide and narrow bandwidth setting. A high-gain antenna which can be removed when you are not using it.
- The 1200 milliamp hour lithium-ion battery which is quite
- It also features with a standard headset jack.
- UHF single button antenna.
- It is fully programmable using downloadable software available on Radioddity website.
- This device also includes Busy Channel Lockout.
- Very good in size and easy to carry.
- 96 hours standby time.
- Straightforward and easy to use.
- USB charger.
- Easy to program.
- Low voltage alert.
- No display.
- The instruction manual is not well-written.
8. Midland – GXT1000VP4 – Waterproof Two-Way Radio:
The Midland GXT1000 two-way radios are versatile for every user whether you’re on the farm, in the woods, at an event or on the river Midland’s two-way radios are there to suit your needs. It comes with a dynamic HD audio, they also have 10 call alerts, an emergency SOS siren, channel scan and nine levels of hands-free operation.
The GXT 1000 has up to a 36-mile communication range with 50 channels of clear communications. The 36-mile range is variable and also depends on where you live. It has the NOAA weather alert radio. It also features the whispered call which allows you to speak quietly. Once you activate this whisper feature it makes the microphone super-sensitive so you can speak clearly when you whisper and others will also be able to hear you.
This GXT1000 two-way radio also comes with a group call option and it allows you to make a direct call to others within your group. It basically means if you have a bunch of these walkie-talkies you can set them all in a group and you can target specific radios in that group to communicate.
The nice thing about these two-way radios is that it has a rechargeable battery pack so you can also use four double A batteries.
Channels & Operations:
With this radio, you will get 22 channels plus extra 20 channels. The first 22 channels are your main channels which are divided into seven FRS channels, eight GMRS and then seven FRS/GMRS channels. It also features from low to high medium settings.
It also got eVOX which is a hands-free operation and it also increases the extra talk power. Another option that it has got is a dual watch from which you can constantly monitor two different channels.
- It has got 10 different ringtones so that you can talk on different channels with different tones.
- Keypad lock is also its unique feature and it really helps you if you are hunting or walking around.
- It also has Roger Beep silent operation which also very useful option while you are hunting.
- Flexible antenna.
- It also comes with the wall plug and 12-volt charger.
- 387 privacy codes.
- The NOAA weather alert radio system with the weather scan.
- Durable and light-weight.
- JIS water resistant.
- Very simple operation and easy to use.
- SOS siren.
- Unbeatable 3-years warranty.
- Poor battery life.
9. BaoFeng UV-82HP – Cheap Two-Way Radio:
The UV-82HP is a high power dual band two-way radio system. This particular radio has three power modes that are low, medium and high. It comes with a newer antenna if you compare with its other models and this antenna is called the High Gain V-85 Antenna.
One of the cool features is that it includes dual push-to-talk so that you can communicate to either channel without having to actively switch between them.
It is dual watch and dual receive so you can toggle the push-to-talk and transmit on any band you want to. It also supports repeater tone. You can also program it easily with a simple USB cable.
The radio fits well in hand and feels impressive. This is one of the best versatile radio on the market.
- Extra power and improved
- The transmit audio is very good and clear.
- Three power settings.
- It comes with a full numeric keypad.
- It also features the Busy Channel Lock Out (BCLO).
- It has got a LED flashlight.
- Great battery life.
- Excellent quality.
- Lithium-ion battery.
- Desk Charger.
- Full USA warranty.
- No specific button for channel and frequency mode.
10. Midland – GXT1050VP4 – Best for Preppers:
The Midland GXT 1050 two-way radios are perfect for the everyday use. If you are in the outdoors Midlands two-way radios are there to suit your needs. Midland’s industry-leading two-way radios combined NOAA weather alerts with weather scan. An emergency SOS siren, it also comes with 10 call alerts and 5 animal call alerts and dynamic HD audio. If you are nature enthusiasts and want to be undetected in the woods.
The GXT 1050 has a silent operation, whisper mode along with 9 sensitivity levels of hands-free operation and comes in a mossy oak break-up infinity camouflage. Midlands GXT 1050 two-way radios are lightweight, durable and JIS4 waterproof allowing you to be out in any weather conditions. The GXT 1050 has up to a 36-mile communication range with 50 channels of crisp and clear communication to choose from along with 142 privacy codes to help you block other conversations. You can get out faster and stay out longer with Midland’s two-way radios.
The GXT 1050 value pack comes with two radios, a pair of headsets, AC/DC adapter, desktop charger, and two batteries. This two-way radios also come with an unbeatable three-year warranty. It works really well for better safety and communication in the outdoors go.
Features & Specifications:
- It gives you 22 channels with an additional 28 channels for clear voice and easy to use the button.
- 142 privacy codes which give up to 6270 channels that help you to jam other signals.
- It comes with the 36 Mile Range and this range can be increased if the area is open and no obstruction is there.
- SOS Siren – that can be used if you face some kind of emergency.
- You will get 10 call alerts with different call tones. It also includes 5 animal calls. You can also make a direct group call.
- It has a unique feature of whisper that allows you to communicate quietly.
- The eVOX feature gives you the hands-free operation with simple voice activation.
- This will automatically scan the weather condition in your area.
- Channels: 50 GMRS/FRS channels +142 privacy codes
10 NOAA Weather (WX) Band channels
- Operating frequency: UHF 462.5500 ~ 467.7125 MHz
- Power Source: 4 AA Alkaline or 6.0V Rechargeable NiMH battery pack.
- Best for hunting.
- Clear audio.
- Dual power operations.
- Automatically scan channels.
- Bright LCD display.
- X-TRA TALK power.
- Low battery indicator.
- Battery life is short.
- Not completely waterproof.
- Earbuds don’t fit tight enough.
Best Two-Way Radios – Buyer’s Guide
How to Fix Common Two-way Radio Problems?
In this part, we will cover the top solutions for common radio problems before you bring them for maintenance. Try to go through the following steps to see if you can resolve the issue before turning it in for repair. These are the ABCs of quick radio maintenance.
Step A: ANTENNA
First, you have to start by checking the antenna. A loose antenna can ruin your connection. Start by unscrewing the antenna in a counterclockwise direction and look to ensure you have the correct antenna type for your radio. There are two different types of antennas;
- You have the Standard Width Antenna which is a long thin antenna and
- the Stubby Antenna which is much shorter.
Also, when you flip over the antenna check to see if there’s a pin or flat connector on the base look inside of the radios antenna base and confirm you are pairing this correct antenna to the correct connector.
If, don’t know the frequency band you are operating on? This can be confirmed by the model number which is located on the inside of the radio.
Step B: BATTERY
The length of the Radio battery usually lasts between 18 to 24 months depending on the amount of usage. You can check the manufacturer’s date of your battery. The manufacturing date indicates that the battery is over 24 months old. So, chances are the battery will need to be replaced. A great at-home test you can do is a battery swap.
Step C: CONNECTION
Your accessories such as remote speaker mics or two-way surveillance kits might not work properly, there are a few easy tests you can try. Power off the radio, attach and secure the accessory and turn on the radio. When attaching accessories to the radio make sure you follow these steps for proper connection. If the accessory still won’t work with the radios, detach the accessory and check the accessory port.
A lot of times if the radio has contacts, chances are they get dirty from everyday use. To clean them you can use a pencil eraser to take off any residue. Properly secure the accessory when the radio is off after cleaning and turn the radio back up. If this doesn’t fix the problem try attaching a different accessory to the connection. If the new attachment works on the old radio it might be time to replace the accessory.
Types of Main Radio Systems that can be Used Commercially:
There are five main systems with these high-tech digital two-way radios.
Conventional Radio System:
A conventional radio system is the most basic system you can use working over a small distance. Usually, these systems are for a single place with a small number of users around 01 to 150. While using a single repeater on top of the building making it great for small to mid-sized businesses in native radios.
IP Site Connect Radio System:
Second is an IP site connect radio system. This system works for the same amount of people as the previous system but uses repeaters in different locations connected together over the customer’s existing data network or key is a bridge to take in smaller signals and launch them across large distances. This allows the system to stretch over different locations miles apart.
But what if you’re a company over a hundred people? A capacity-plus system takes a group of repeaters and links them to work as a functional unit. This linking of repeaters allows them to communicate together over a local network and enhance the performance of the system by becoming a traffic cop on the number of users accessing the system. When a user wants to use their system and it is being tied up by another you the system sends them to another available channel thus sharing resources.
Capacity Plus or Multi-site Plus:
A linked capacity plus or multi-site capacity plus allows for those larger customers to now connect there’s large system over multiple sites or campuses that are miles apart. Similar to an IP site connect link capacity plus does the same but with greater capacity.
Finally, Capacity Max is for those users in corporations with a multitude of sites and thousands of users. Capacity max offers wide area, high capacity, and digital mobile radio system capable of providing the widest coverage with the most uses. These digital two-way radios also have integrated data applications such as GPS tracking and work order management which allows you to send out a text that automatically states that you are requesting maintenance, automatic dispatching signal, man down which enabled if the radio lies facedown for a certain amount of time it will send out a signal for help. Now indoor location tracking which allows for radius you have pinpointed inside a certain location and of course texting to share information on voice communication is inconvenient.
We will discuss the use of FRS radios and their applicability in an emergency situation. What’s nice about these radios is they require no infrastructure. All they require is fresh batteries and someone who is on the same channel and with the same group code that you have. They are very effective with the utilization by core members in collecting and passing information back to the neighborhood into the command.
Features of Two-way Radios:
All radios regardless of their size, shape or color have common features. They all have an antenna, an on/off volume knob, a display screen, and a push-to-talk button. They have the ability to select channels, select group codes, adjust the volume and as long as you have fresh batteries and your partner is on the same channel and group code that you are on, you can speak to one another.
How to use Two-way Radio?
There are two things you must remember. Always speak in a clear and concise voice and you must push the push to talk button to speak and then you must release the push-to-talk button to listen. By turning on the power and volume knob a number appears on the display. This is the channel that you will be talking on and it must be the same channel as your team member. If you are using privacy codes then you must have the same privacy code.
Protocols when utilizing two-way radio:
There are four different functions when speaking and/or listening on a radio. The first one is the contact. You are attempting to contact someone on your team by pressing the push-to-talk button and calling out that team’s number. Acknowledgment is when that team that you have contacted responds to your call and you have now established communication. The transfer is utilizing the word “over” so that you have signified that you have released the push-to-talk button and you are ready to listen. “Closure” or a “copy” utilizes that you have understood the information and you are ready to proceed.
How to set-up Neighborhood Net:
There are two different types of nets. The one is directed or closed net and then there is a multiple neighborhood net. With a directed or closed net sometimes referred to as a conference call. A group on the same channel and with the same group code can all communicate with one another using the proper protocol that is a directed net. A multiple neighborhood net is one where several neighborhoods with different frequencies can come together and discuss what incidents may be occurring in their neighborhood by using a common channel. We encourage this type of group to be established in other neighborhoods.
UHF and VHF – What’s the Difference?
Well, the simple answer is 95% of the time you want to choose UHF. If you are operating in a city any sort of urban environment buildings, pretty much anywhere the UHF is going to give you better more reliable and consistent coverage. The only time you would ever use VHF is if you are in wide open spaces, if you are in a farm, ranch, a very wide open rural area, you are going to get a little more distance in those circumstances. But even then, we often find that UHF even outperforms VHF and some of those areas. So, again simple answer you are pretty much always going to choose UHF.
So every time that frequency that seven feet long radio wave hits anything, it loses power. Whereas the two-foot long frequency or two-foot long pole you can walk through doors, gaps, windows, so it will penetrate through all these little spaces without losing energy and that’s why UHF outperforms VHF.
Difference between CB and Ham Radios:
If you want to choose between CB and Ham radio then there are a lot of differences but the major differences are the functionality of the radios. The Ham Radios works a lot clearer than CB and you get the nice and clean signal with at the FM versus AM.
The antenna systems with CB is not a functional antenna that works well it really has to be fine-tuned and it takes the effort to tune CB antennas properly. So it does not matter how much you tune your antenna right, your other partner also needs to have his antenna tuned right in order for it to work at all. And because of that, you have very limited range capabilities with CBS. While on the other hand, Ham Radios are just handheld.