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The Best Handheld Ham Radios

The Best Handheld Ham Radios
By American Radio Club
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The Best Handheld Ham Radios

In this guide:

Our research into handheld amateur radios consisted of a variety of functions, including actual usage, interviews and a review of comments made by hundreds of ham radio operators. Our selection process was unbiased and based on truly finding the best handheld ham radios for those seeking the best radios for the best value. The reviews were written by a professional journalist with decades of amateur radio experience.

Top 5 Handheld Ham Radios in 2022

Yaesu FT-65R

Yaesu is a longtime manufacturer of amateur radio equipment and we find that this handheld offers more than just the basics. You’ll have full power and features in your hand with this radio.

Reasons to buy:

The Yaesu FT-65R is highly configurable and comes with an easy-to-use menu system that allows easy field operation. Its commercial-grade specifications makes this ham radio more like a professional radio. Many users say that superior front-end rejection means minimal adjacent channel interference, especially helpful for those using this radio in urban environments.

Just saying:

If you travel and like to take your radio with you, the bank system on this radio allows you to organize your channel storage, unlike many ham handhelds today. Heading to Walla Walla? Use the bank you have programmed for local repeaters there. The voice compander feature will help filter out background noise, too. We just love this rig!

Baofeng UV-5R

Who doesn’t own one of these inexpensive dual-band handheld radios — especially when they cost so little. We’re willing to bet most hams have one of these handhelds, either because they are curious, or they want a throw-away radio that they can immerse into public service work.

Reasons to buy:

The Baofeng UV-5R full-power 5-watt handheld is easily programmed for amateur radio service operation, whether you choose to do so manually via the keypad, or you use dedicated software or the all-encompassing cross-functional Chirp software. Because so many hams have this radio as their primary or backup radio, you’ll always find help online in operating this amazing handheld.

Just saying:

This import radio has had a bad reputation because so many have flooded the U.S. market. Many have fallen into wrong hands and have caused interference issues with public safety operations. But in the right hands of amateur radio operators, these have allowed many to get on the air on a budget on both the 2-meter (144-148 MHz) and 440-MHz bands.

Alinco DJ-VX50

Alinco continues to bring new ideas to the ham radio marketplace and this handheld is feature-packed for all the right reasons.

Reasons to buy:

If you use ham radio in a rugged arena, you’re going to want the handheld Alinco DJ-VX50T. Why? It’s one of the most rugged handheld ham radios around with its IP67 rating that allows it to be used in dusty and wet environments. It can survive a drop into three feet of water for up to a half-hour. It also can handle a lot of dust. If you really use your radio, especially for Skywarn weather spotting, this handheld will take a beating.

Just saying:

It’s an Alinco, not a Yaesu, Kenwood or Icom ham radio. Alinco has been trying to climb above the Big Three for decades, and hams don’t always give the firm credit for a good radio. Try it, you’ll like it! This radio will make you a believer.

Yaesu VX-6R

Believe it or not, but this very popular model has been around since 2005, and it’s still going strong. There must be a reason, no? It’s a cousin to the also popular Yaesu VX-7R, which has been around even longer. Why get rid of a bad thing?

Reasons to buy:

This is a tri-band handheld, the usual 2 meters and 440 MHz bands, but also the 222-MHz band at reduced power (1.5 watts high, 200 mW low). The 222-MHz band offers incredible coverage and for many, it’s fun to try this noiseless band with exceptional propagation.

Just saying:

You’re buying a 15-year-old model that still is being sold in stores. Get over its age and embrace its popularity. Many hams buy this versatile handheld every year.

Radioddity GA-510

Radioddity has become a true leader in import ham radio equipment. Its brand name has become popular among import radio users. Their customer service is unmatched, too.

Reasons to buy:

When you buy the Radioddity GA-510, it comes complete. You get a full complement of accessories, including two, count ‘em, two batteries so you always have a spare, and a programming cable. What we like best about this radio is that it can transmit with a power of up to 10 watts, double the power of most other 5-watt radios. That in itself should get you to take a good hard look at this popular radio.

Just saying:

Import radios typically don’t own up to their specs, but many have tested this radio’s 10-watt power output and consistently have found it to be in excess of 9 watts, even close to 10 watts, in each test. For what it’s worth, Baofeng makes this radio for Radioddity. Also, unlike most amateur gear where you use offsets for repeater frequencies, this radio requires you to program your receive and transmit frequencies — hardly worth worrying about because of its exceptional value.

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