Want to buy the best two way radio's around

I am looking at buying a new set of two way radios. I’m planning a trip to (the retail store that rips people off with “special” radios) at the end of the month and want to know what to buy when I go. What I am looking for is:

  1. The best range possible. Don’t care if it is a little bigger, just want better range.
  2. Good batter life
  3. VOX compatible - would like to be able to plug in a headset to use with my snowmobile
  4. Generally really good quality

I’m sure that people ask this question all the time and I apologize for asking it again. I’ve tried to do my research, but I thought that people in this forum might be able to help me out.

Same here, I’ve narrowed it down to the :

I’m actually looking for the smallest possible unit to give to my daughter when she rides to school, what’s furstrating is that actual dimensions are hard to come by, doesn’t help of course that there is ZERO info about that on Motorola’s site or in the user manuals…

There is no ‘best range’. All the marketing ranges you see are pure hype. They have no base at ALL in reality.

Range is 1/2 -2 miles in urban areas for handheld to handheld.

It’s determined by line of sight. Once a unit is about 1 watt, power will be insignificant unless you get up to 20+ watts, and even that won’t matter that much.

Battery life is a lot more important. Small is likely to equal low battery life. ‘Absolute highest power (2 watts, usually, for low cost handhelds)’ is ‘less battery life’.

Bear in mind that regulations for GMRS are about (probably) to change, and it’s possible that radios with more than 2 watts may no longer be allowed, maybe 6 months from now.

Ruggedest and longest battery life would be one of the few Icom, Motorola, or Kenwood commercial HT’s that happens to be type accepted for GMRS. They’re also going to be much the most expensive.

You do read accounts of people comparing 5/10/35 mile Motorola radios and getting better results with the latter so there are probably some differences, better design possibly.

Just about all top-end GMRS radios average 2 miles range. Some people get a bit more, out on a lake or in a large field for example. We have also found that people tend to misinterpret the range they get, so be wary of any claims of range over 4 miles.

We have a forum member and moderator, jwilkers, who does a very accurate and thorough job when he reviews radios. I recommend checking out some of his observations and comments:


We have found Midland radios to offer the best mix of durability and range. Most GMRS radios (though not all) are able to use headsets, and many have VOX.

From Midland, the GXT1000 has about the most range you are going to find in a GMRS radio, rechargeable battery packs, VOX, and even comes with headsets. They are also rather tough and water resistant. They are reliable all-puprose radios.

People tend to buy Motorola either for a specific feature, or the brand name. We have found that they are no better (and no worse) than any other manufacturer. They also seem to have a thing for camouflage. Anyway, the MR350R may also be worth looking at. It has rechargeable battery packs, VOX, and has a headset port.

If you want the best battery life in a consumer radio, then Cobra makes several model with Li-ion batteries. The radios are a bit non-traditional though and are not as tough as a Midland or Motorola. You might like the CXR925, it has great range, VOX, and can use headsets as well.

The very best radios, as noted by SkipSanders, are commercial grade radios from Icom or Kenwood such as the TK-3131.

Thanks, this is helpful, the GXT1000 do indeed pack a lot of punch at 5.33 Watts per the FCC as indicated in the review, it’s too bad (but not surprising since I understand the range peaks at 1 watt) that their range is similar to the other “35 mile” models with power between 1.5 and 2.

What do you think the explanation is for the range differences stated by manufacturers, small differences in wattage, design differences?

Range differences are simply marketing hype to sell radios. My amateur radio gear with gain antennas cannot make 35 miles point to point with another handheld. That is why hams have repeaters :slight_smile:

Nothing out there will get you more than a couple miles if you are lucky.

Right, but don’t you think they have some backup to justify different ranges like 10/15/20/27/35? They can’t be outright lying! Possibly small differences in power…


Thanks, I’m familiar with that link, it doesn’t address the reason why manufacturers make models with different ranges, there has to be a technical difference between models with a different claimed range, power output, antenna, design, etc…and there are user reports out there by experienced users (MR350 review on the internet) where side by side testing between 5/10/35 models in a mall gave different results with only the 35 model working perfectly.

There’s your error. Yes, they can be. Marketing Hype has no connection with the real world for radio ranges. They aren’t ‘lying’, because the radio can get that range… under certain conditions. So can the cheap one they claim less range for, but they just won’t mention that.

Get the antennas up high enough, and they can have 50 mile range. You aren’t likely to be in that situation, though. (Both ends on 1000 foot mountains with NO hills/foliage/buildings in between, say, with a lake in between the mountains you’re on)

Marketing:‘It’s our better (read, more expensive) model, so we have to claim more range!’
Technical: ‘But it doesn’t HAVE more range!’
Marketing: ‘Shut up, we can’t hear you! LALALALALA’

Ok…but you forgot the second part of my previous message, user reports of experienced users on 5/10/35 models.

Experiences of users differ. In one area, you may get excellent range… others… poor. I have lots of experience and have reviewed many radios… listed here in the reviews section…

5/10/35 models… yeild the same results. I have had FRS radios back before the businesses killed GMRS by making “hybrid” models. The earliest FRS with 500 mW power still compare and can compete with radios with 2 watts or more.

Power is no issue… antenna design and terrain of operating area matter.