Midland GXT850 Review

Midland GXT850 Review


Power Output ERP:
1.6379 Watts (GMRS High)
0.278 Watts GMRS/Med
0.2035 Watts (FRS/Low)

Advertised power output 5 watts

This radio had a hefty look and feel. It is advertised as being waterproof.
I did not test this.These radio have both CTCSS and DCS coded squelch
to assist in interference protection.

Sound Quality: The radio had a nich hefty audio quality. Volume was
sufficient for all but the noisiest environments.

Ease of operation: I considered the menu layout to be confusing at first.
Setting CTCSS and DCS codes was a bit more complicated than I would
have liked to see. Nonetheless, after learning the functions with
the help of the manual, I was able to navigate easily. CTCSS and DCS tones/codes are listed in the manual.

Advanced Features: These radios have an advanced selective calling system. It allows each user to input an
ID tag and selectively call individual radios, or the entire group. Each radio is set with an
ID tag and a group number. This system is effective with large groups and wasn’t tested
in a group mode. It worked great with the two units I had. At first, it was a bit complicated; but we got it down after
a little while. These radios offer Voice Operated Transmit (VOX) for hands-free operation. A silent “vibrate” function is also available.
Scan function: If you set a CTCSS/DCS code, and then scan, the scan function “remembers” these codes and when it scans that channel, it will scan the pre-set code too. This is useful if your group operates on different CTCSS/DCS coded channels. These radios will not display, or scan a CTCSS/DCS code if they are not pre-set. As such the radio isn’t good for “finding” codes.

Ranges: (Test area was in a suburban environment. Your experiences may vary based on terrain and environment)
(Squelch enabled, Maximum effective range)
Car to car: .75 miles
Car to house: 1.18 miles
Person to person outdoors: 1.55 miles
Person to house: 1.18 miles

Battery Life: Charge life of supplied battery pack is effective for
normal use all day. Battery did not indicate loss of power during
test period. Supplied charger charges both the supplied pack, and your own
AA cells.

Final Comments: I enjoyed these radios. Admittedly, they were a bit more
complicated to use, but then they had a lot of features. They are durable and effective.
Scan function does not allow for locking out undesired channels or display CTCSS/DCS tones.
I consider this a drawback.

As with All GMRS capable radios, and FCC-Issued GMRS license is required for GMRS frequencies.

These radios were used on our Florida vacation. Our communications never exceeded about a half mile or so; but communications were crystal clear and perfect. While we never got them in the water, they certainly did well in the Florida humidity (no displays fogging up and such).

Just got back from a fishing trip in Canada. GTX 850s worked well except for one which occasionally “squealed” when receiving at first. It seemed to stop that after the first day. We did test the water proofing on one of the radios when it was dropped in the lake while docking a boat. The water proofing held, with no damage or operational problems with the radio. I looked under the battery cover, and headphone cap etc and could find no water anywhere.

Using channel 18 on High Mode, these radios got more than 3 times the range we could get with my Motorola FMRS radios. They worked well for vehicle to vehicle while traveling and from boat to boat on the lake.

I would recommend them from my experiences with them.

Are these models above the Midland GXT800?

Good review… I’m just comparing the midland line of 2 ways. Looking to get the GXT800 but all I can find are bad reviews and complaints on the distance.

Same basic radio. Just different features. All the specs are the same.

What you get on bad reviews is that people expect the “25 mile range” or whatever these guys advertise. When they experience reality, they give a bad review.

These radios perform like any other consumer grade radio.

I recommend them.

Like jwilkers says, most of the bad reviews are out there because the consumers expections were not properly set. When some sites only publish the manufacturers advertised range, it is easy to see why a customer would be disappointed in the product.

The fact is, these consumer grade radios are very useful for many applications, and simply the wrong tool for the job in others. We’ve found that it helps immensely to let customers know what to expect before the sale.

For a consumer grade product, the Midland GXT800 is a great choice. It offers tons of features, great voice clarity, and typically 1-2 miles of range.


Did anyone on this forum had the chance to test this radio in the mountains? I would be interested in the maximum range obtained in a line of sight scenario where Earth’s curvature is still not a problem (valley to mountaintop) but also in the case of the two radios both being in a deep valley with no visibility, where UHF performs really bad…

Been done with FRS radios many years back. The record is somewhere around 125 miles.

PS>>> don’t let the FRS/GMRS manufacturers see this… otherwise… netx year’s models could be advertised as 125 mile radios :slight_smile:

I have a question about the included rechargeable battery packs: what is the rated capacity in mAh, and the rated voltage written on the pack (4.8V or 6V)? Thanks in advance!

Packs are 6V 700 mAH.

Thanks for the info, I found this very help. I wonder if you can change the antenna to get a better ERP.

I’m actually looking to by a GMRS, singled this one out because of the 5watt rating, but now because of your informative post, I’ve learned something new. Thank you very much.


Not legal to change or modify these radios in any way. For better performance, you’d need a commercial grade radio.

Glad my reviews helped :slight_smile:

Why would it be illegal?

I just read :

The FCC limit a FRS radio to only using its fixed small antenna built into the radio unit. But the other three types of units are allowed to have external antennas.

Some models of GMRS and MURS radios are designed for external antennas, while others do not. Almost all CB radios are designed to allow for an external antenna.

Here is the link to the website: http://www.thetravelinsider.info/2003/0718.htm


Because these radios are also FRS-compatible. Since they fall under FRS rules, any modifications to the antenna are illegal and would void type-acceptance. As such, any consumer “bubble pack” radio can in no way be modified.


On commercial-grade radios, switching antennas and all that are perfectly legal, as long as they are used on GMRS frequencies only (FRS regs forbid any antenna over “unity gain”)

Ok, that makes sense.
Thanks again for the helpfull informartion.


I recently purchased a GXT808VP3 (FCC ID MMAGXT850) and found the grant notes stated ERP:
1.6379 (GMRS hi power)
.278 (GMRS lo power)
.2035 (FRS)

The package states the range to be 20 miles (i realize this is far from reality). My question is, is the GXT850 in this review a GXT850VP3 or GXT850VP4? I ask because the FCC ID reviewed by jwilkers is the same as my VP3. How could the GXT850VP4 claims to have a greater range (26 miles) but have the same output power as the VP3?

Range claims are inflated by maunfacturers to sell product.

When you test these radios for distance, are you testing them in FRS mode or GMRS? Also, how does one get an FCC license for GMRS mode?


GMRS mode. I am a GMRS licensee.

You would go to the FCC website in the Universal Licensing System (ULS).


You’d need to apply for an FCC Registration Number (FRN), then apply for the license. Fees can also be paid online.


Once you get to the FCC site it will looks intimidating. It is MUCH easier than it looks. :slight_smile: