Handheld Ham Radio Buyers Guide

Looking to buy a handheld amateur radio? There are dozens of options from many manufacturers with a broad range of available features and capabilities.

Purchasing Your First Radio has simplified advice to help you make your first purchase so you can get on the air right away.

This guide also is useful for more experienced amateur radio operators who want detailed comparisons of features so you can make an informed purchasing decision balancing the tradeoffs between budget, features, durability, and ease of use.

Handheld radios have limited power; none transmit with more than 10W and most top out at 5W. With this power output, the antenna you use makes a tremendous difference in how effective your transmissions are. Most handhelds come with a fairly low performance antenna, often referred to as a "rubber duck". Buying a new antenna is an inexpensive way to increase the effectiveness and range of your transmissions. This guide includes a section on handheld antennas to help you get the most out of your radio.

Browse by Budget

You can select a radio based on the amount of money you want to spend. Prices fluctuate, and sometimes handhelds go on sale. This guide groups the radios into four budget categories based on generally available pricing. The categories are:

Browse by Brand

If you know the radio you want to look at, browsing by brand is an easy way to find it.

Where To Buy

I don't participate in any affiliate programs, nor do I accept money from any manufacturers, distributors, sellers, or any other companies or entities. It would be lots of work to maintain links to all the online sellers for each handheld radio included in this guide, so I don't do that. Rather, here's a list of online retailers who carry handheld amateur radios.

Radios to Add to This Guide

We all have a todo list. Here's the list of radios that I'd like to add to this guide: