I’m going to jump in to clarify this further and provide a little perspective in regards to the article referenced earlier.
As the article stated, if the radio is Part 90 certified for business use, then in theory it should meet approval for Part 95, even if it was not type accepted by the FCC for use on the GMRS. The key phrase here is in theory. Since the FCC (to our knowledge) has not specifically stated otherwise, it stands to reason the use of a radio with Part 90 certification can be used as a Part 95 radio, in theory. We discussed the topic in detail in episode 38 of the Two Way Radio Show Podcast, also titled Using Business Radios on the GMRS.
At the time the article was written, there were no mobile radios certified for the GMRS. During the last two years, Midland filled that void when they introduced several models, most notably the MXT400, which is a full 50 watt GMRS mobile radio, and a very good one, I might add. As such, the article is now somewhat outdated.
Also, the article makes it clear that although Buy Two Way Radios can program such a device for the GMRS at the request of the operator, it is the responsibility of the operator to abide by the applicable rules and laws. Keep in mind that the radio may be used to receive and listen to those frequencies, however it may or may not be legal to transmit on them.
We are not the radio police, and we have no authority or badge of enforcement. On the other hand, the forum has rules to protect everyone who uses it.
Just because someone can program a radio for those frequencies, doesn’t mean they should. It’s a matter of ethics and doing the right thing. I am not here to judge anyone for their morals, ethics, or lack of them. However, I am here to ensure that we do not promote or endorse illegal or unethical activity in these forums to protect all members. Let’s keep it clean.
Even if a Part 90 radio can be used on Part 95, there is one more caveat. Due to the delays in production, we pulled the TH-8600 from our lineup before it launched, so I don’t have one here to check, but if it isn’t Part 90 type accepted, then the entire argument is moot anyway, because if it isn’t approved for Part 90, it won’t meet approval for Part 95.
To address the OP’s question simply and directly, if the radios sold by Wal-Mart you refer to are the “bubble pack” FRS/GMRS radios under 2 watts, they are now considered lower powered FRS radios, which do not require a GMRS license to operate, and are therefore perfectly legal for non-licensed users, because they are “licensed by rule”.
If so, then the question of whether the TH-8600 is legal for GMRS or not is irrelevant, because it is certainly not legal for use on the low powered FRS channels under any circumstances because the power and antenna limitations imposed on the FRS by the FCC make it so.
If you seriously want to get into ham radio, then an amateur license would be something to consider. However, if you and your companions just want reliable radio communications on the trail, an option would be to use higher powered GMRS handheld radios and a GMRS mobile, perhaps units that are repeater capable. Yes, you would need to purchase a GMRS license, but if you and your companions are all related, you would need only one, since a GMRS license is valid for the entire family.
We have a lot of articles, podcasts, videos and other resources in the forums and on our web site at Buy Two Way Radios to help you learn more about GMRS and consider all your options.
Here is a list of all the resources.