Why the high SWR readings with a handheld?

Does no one make a decent 8" handheld antenna? Is everything on the market a counterfeit?

I picked up a digital SWR meter, with the full understanding that it may not be 100% accurate, but at least I can use it to compare antennas back to back on my Wouxun KG-UV899 handheld.

Some antennas are about what I expected. The lowest SWR was the Diamond SRJ77CA handheld and the Tram 1185 mobile, both of which were not much more than 1.03 on both 2 meters and 70 cm bands.

The factory Retevis RT21 stubby and the Retevis RHD701 antenna from my Retevis RT5 radio were both fair performers, at around 2 to 3.

The shocking numbers were the factory Wouxun antenna and the Nagoya NA-701C that I bought to replace the factory antenna.

SWR numbers on the factory antenna were over 12. The highly-rated Nagoya NA-701C antennas (I bought three of them) were over 9 to 10, depending on the frequency.

I have read many tests of the Nagoya NA-701 and no one reports SWR numbers anywhere near there. I bought them from a reputable dealer on Amazon. I understand there is a lot of variability in readings, especially with handhelds, but I tried to hold it consistently and tested all the antennas back-to-back on the same radio in the same location and holding it the same way. Range tests showed the antennas performed pretty much as predicted by the SWR numbers. The best were the Diamond handheld and the Tram mobile. The Retevis RHD701 was not too bad, but noticeably better than the Wouxun factory antenna and the Nagoya NA-701C.

It’s days like this that make me wonder if I would have been better off just NOT knowing SWR numbers. I really like my Wouxun KG-UV899, but those high SWR numbers are a bit scary.

Most people never know about SWR with their it’s simply because they have no way of measuring them. Those it’s still seem to operate as normal though. Hmm, does that mean those high SWRs don’t really make much difference? That sort of depends on how much the transmitter is reliant on a well impedance matched antenna, doesn’t it.
I have a sneaking suspicion SWR isn’t as close as could be with any antenna “shorter” than “normal” it antenna. (Normal short antenna length is typically 1/4 wave. Then you have those “stubbys”.)
If your HT is doing what it’s supposed to do in a “normal” manner, don’t obsess about SWR.