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 Who Makes the Best 5 Watt GMRS Radios?
GlockSlap  [Member]
9/12/2011 1:12:41 AM EST
Who Makes the Best 5 Watt GMRS Radios?

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_Matt_  [Team Member]
9/12/2011 1:17:11 AM EST
do you want it to have the FRS channels too?

ilbob  [Member]
9/12/2011 3:18:05 AM EST
Originally Posted By GlockSlap:
Who Makes the Best 5 Watt GMRS Radios?



If you listen to some here, there are no "best" GMRS radios.

Personally, I am not convinced that there is not a use for short range 2 way radio, as long as you understand it for what it is.

Get one with FRS IMO. Forget the licensing issues. Technically you need a license but in a bad situation, no one is going to care. There are a bazillion of these things out there and very few licensees.

I think you might be better getting some of the business band radios like maint men have in factories. They seem to work better. Again, there are licensing issues, but if you are in a SHTF issue, it is a very unimportant thing.

Just don't be stupid about it. As long as you are not abusing the system, license or not, no one is going to care.
baderrick  [Team Member]
9/12/2011 3:38:02 AM EST
Someone mentioned these the other day:

TriSquare

I'm seriously considering a few. of the TSX300s.

GlockSlap  [Member]
9/12/2011 4:18:10 AM EST
It looks like it only has 1 watt of power? Or that doesn't make a difference b/c of it's technology?
thederrick106  [Team Member]
9/12/2011 5:09:35 AM EST
Originally Posted By ilbob:
Originally Posted By GlockSlap:
Who Makes the Best 5 Watt GMRS Radios?



If you listen to some here, there are no "best" GMRS radios.

Forget the licensing issues. Technically you need a license but in a bad situation, no one is going to care. There are a bazillion of these things out there and very few licensees.

Just don't be stupid about it. As long as you are not abusing the system, license or not, no one is going to care.


Unless you are well versed and in good understanding of how radios work, how the different bands/frequencies work, the different band plans, the fcc rules and laws then I would never try to give some one advise on breaking the law.

No bashing here but if you are going to use something I would think its best to do it legally but thats just me. I broke the rules before I understood and realized how things work. I learned, (mostly here) about the rules and do my best to follow them... I became a ham because of the SF and Ham forums here!
Lots of hams will say GMRS bubble pack radios are no good, well thats true and false. Most GMRS radios make great short range radios. But when comparing to amateur equipment well they don't even compare. Getting your tech is not hard. A handful of hours studying and memorizing some information and questions and I was able to pass. It really does open you up to a new world of comms and believe it or not, you can make a lot of like minded contacts via amateur radio.

With all that said I also have a good amount of FRS and GMRS radio options. I would also suggest that ham is not for every one and GMRS is a very good option for short range comms, those who only need less then a miles worth of communications, and for those who have no interest in radios.
My family and I hunt with Garmin Rinos and use the GMRS frequencies. I hold a valid GMRS license that covers my family and I. Granted it may not matter but I for one am not going to risk my amateur license or a multi thousand dollar fine for using a frequency unlicensed. Many chose to so thats their option.

To answer the OPs Question the best GMRS 5W radio is not going to be a GMRS specific radio at all. The best will be a type-accepted programmable UHF HT/radio. Basically a public safety or similar radio (UHF) that has to be hooked up to a computer and programed for the GMRS frequencies. That is going to be your best bet... Once you start searching around the web you will find many options... They won't be cheap like the bubble pack radios you get at major outlet type stores though.
Another option to think about is the MURS frequencies.. They are in the VHF spectrum and offer better over land communications. For that I highly suggest the Standard Horizon HX370! Its a Marine radio that you are able to program...
A lot of information on that radio can be found here:
http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_22/647740_Standard_Horizon_HX370S__89_99_.html

In an outdoors scenario that radio will outperform any 5W UHF rig every time.
(VHF works better outside/over land&sea where UHF works better inside because the higher frequencies penetrate structures/walls better.)

I will close it up with saying that I don't even know that much about radios in the whole big scheme of things but my comments and suggestions are just things to think about.
I can do my best to answer any other questions reference what I posted above, but don't forget the ham section. There is a wealth of knowledge and a lot of good guys there even if you are not interested in getting your amateur license.

stand by for an eta on typos (that was a lot of typing )
thederrick106  [Team Member]
9/12/2011 5:14:10 AM EST
Originally Posted By GlockSlap:
It looks like it only has 1 watt of power? Or that doesn't make a difference b/c of it's technology?


Those are a good option for short range comms, same as FRS (which is only .5w legally)

What they excel at is secure comm! no scanning that or picking up any of the transmission unless you know what channel to use... an example where these would work great for every day use would be theme parks or cruises!

They use frequency hopping in the upper end of the UHF band.

Distance will be similar to bubble pack frs/gmrs type radios.

I have been meaning to pickup a few for secure short range recreational comms.
Tight-group  [Member]
9/12/2011 6:54:22 AM EST
The short answer is NO ONE if you want more than a few hundred yards with obsticles.

I did a weekend basic cert course and spoke to a ham who had it together and told me how its done. He took this antenna and coupled it with this

handheld . Since we have mountains here he found a high line of sight and hit the sugarloaf reapeater 35 miles

away at around 135hz with 1 WATT! the unit above will use the murs frequencys.

Here comes the good part, you can get one of these or a MURS unit and LEGALLY use 2 watts in the designated murs chanels.

The guy that showed me all this had his unit set up to break down and fit in his back pack.

The whole key is that these units have a removeable antenna and the antenna is the whole secret.

Even the full size whip (about 18") for the murs frequency will give you several miles with some obstruction.

thederrick106  [Team Member]
9/12/2011 8:38:22 AM EST
Originally Posted By Tight-group:
The short answer is NO ONE if you want more than a few hundred yards with obsticles.

I did a weekend basic cert course and spoke to a ham who had it together and told me how its done. He took this antenna and coupled it with this

handheld . Since we have mountains here he found a high line of sight and hit the sugarloaf reapeater 35 miles

away at around 135hz with 1 WATT! the unit above will use the murs frequencys.

Here comes the good part, you can get one of these or a MURS unit and LEGALLY use 2 watts in the designated murs chanels.

The guy that showed me all this had his unit set up to break down and fit in his back pack.

The whole key is that these units have a removeable antenna and the antenna is the whole secret.

Even the full size whip (about 18") for the murs frequency will give you several miles with some obstruction.



You are correct on the wouxun HT being able to cover distance with the right antenna, however you are incorrect in the fact that the wouxun HT can legally operate on on the MURS frequency allocation. Its not type accepted for MURS or public saftey bands just any FYI... (it is only type accepted for amateur frequencies)

Though the wouxun being a dual/free band-able unit I of course have the murs/frs/gmrs etc frequencies programed in for monitoring purposes or SHTF
Gamma762  [Team Member]
9/12/2011 10:19:46 AM EST
For licensed GMRS use, just get any real Part 90 land mobile radio UHF band handhelds and program them to the GMRS frequencies.

Personally I like Icom, since the radio and software will also cover the 440-450 amateur band as-is, along with the 450-470 LMR range (GMRS is in the 460s).
Other common land mobile radio brands:
Kenwood
Vertex
Motorola

The previously mentioned Wouxun units seem to be ok as well but will be a bit more complicated for the end user.

Previous thread with links to radio manufacturer websites:
http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_6_10/349137_COMMO.html&page=1#i3172414

Originally Posted By thederrick106:
In an outdoors scenario that radio {HX370} will outperform any 5W UHF rig every time.
(VHF works better outside/over land&sea where UHF works better inside because the higher frequencies penetrate structures/walls better.)

This is untrue. VHF and UHF will have similar performance handheld-to-handheld over rural terrains. VHF might have a slight edge in propagation but that's easily offset by better antenna performance at UHF. UHF will substantially outperform VHF when used in an urban area, or into and out of vehicles or buildings. Plus GMRS on UHF can legally run more transmit power than using MURS on VHF.

If you get the Wouxun handhelds they are dual band, they have both VHF and UHF, so you can program them for both GMRS and MURS frequencies, and try them yourself.
haloblue  [Team Member]
9/12/2011 10:23:10 AM EST
Try these. Very flexible: http://wouxun.us/

Here is a post about them that references the original from Calguns & Sipsey: http://deaconmatson.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/comms-for-hacking-profit/

OpusXKC  [Member]
9/12/2011 11:32:22 AM EST
I've found the Kenwood TK-370 to be a reliable 5 watt Part 95 certified GMRS radio. It can easily be programed using a computer, or (with a hardware and software mod) via the front panel. It does quite a nice job in the 462 band, and can be tuned for 440 as well.
thederrick106  [Team Member]
9/13/2011 3:24:31 AM EST
Originally Posted By Gamma762:
Originally Posted By thederrick106:
In an outdoors scenario that radio {HX370} will outperform any 5W UHF rig every time.
(VHF works better outside/over land&sea where UHF works better inside because the higher frequencies penetrate structures/walls better.)

This is untrue. VHF and UHF will have similar performance handheld-to-handheld over rural terrains. VHF might have a slight edge in propagation but that's easily offset by better antenna performance at UHF. UHF will substantially outperform VHF when used in an urban area, or into and out of vehicles or buildings. Plus GMRS on UHF can legally run more transmit power than using MURS on VHF.


I agree with most of what you said but I have had better luck over land- distance wise with 2m vs. 70cm. Maybe its my equipment who knows.

Again not bashing one or the other, I use both including GMRS which I am licensed for.

The wouxun is a good radio, I have two and really like them. I don't find the menus to be to bad once you get used to them.
juslearnin  [Team Member]
9/13/2011 5:50:45 AM EST
Originally Posted By thederrick106:
Originally Posted By Tight-group:
The short answer is NO ONE if you want more than a few hundred yards with obsticles.

I did a weekend basic cert course and spoke to a ham who had it together and told me how its done. He took this antenna and coupled it with this

handheld . Since we have mountains here he found a high line of sight and hit the sugarloaf reapeater 35 miles

away at around 135hz with 1 WATT! the unit above will use the murs frequencys.

Here comes the good part, you can get one of these or a MURS unit and LEGALLY use 2 watts in the designated murs chanels.

The guy that showed me all this had his unit set up to break down and fit in his back pack.

The whole key is that these units have a removeable antenna and the antenna is the whole secret.

Even the full size whip (about 18") for the murs frequency will give you several miles with some obstruction.



You are correct on the wouxun HT being able to cover distance with the right antenna, however you are incorrect in the fact that the wouxun HT can legally operate on on the MURS frequency allocation. Its not type accepted for MURS or public saftey bands just any FYI... (it is only type accepted for amateur frequencies)

Though the wouxun being a dual/free band-able unit I of course have the murs/frs/gmrs etc frequencies programed in for monitoring purposes or SHTF


This is incorrect. The wouxun is type 90 certified, which means it can be used on LMR and public service frequencies. You can argue that it cannot be used on MURS because that requires type 95, however, if you want to split hairs.
thederrick106  [Team Member]
9/13/2011 8:02:41 AM EST
Originally Posted By juslearnin:
Originally Posted By thederrick106:
Originally Posted By Tight-group:
The short answer is NO ONE if you want more than a few hundred yards with obsticles.

I did a weekend basic cert course and spoke to a ham who had it together and told me how its done. He took this antenna and coupled it with this

handheld . Since we have mountains here he found a high line of sight and hit the sugarloaf reapeater 35 miles

away at around 135hz with 1 WATT! the unit above will use the murs frequencys.

Here comes the good part, you can get one of these or a MURS unit and LEGALLY use 2 watts in the designated murs chanels.

The guy that showed me all this had his unit set up to break down and fit in his back pack.

The whole key is that these units have a removeable antenna and the antenna is the whole secret.

Even the full size whip (about 18") for the murs frequency will give you several miles with some obstruction.



You are correct on the wouxun HT being able to cover distance with the right antenna, however you are incorrect in the fact that the wouxun HT can legally operate on on the MURS frequency allocation. Its not type accepted for MURS or public saftey bands just any FYI... (it is only type accepted for amateur frequencies)

Though the wouxun being a dual/free band-able unit I of course have the murs/frs/gmrs etc frequencies programed in for monitoring purposes or SHTF


This is incorrect. The wouxun is type 90 certified, which means it can be used on LMR and public service frequencies. You can argue that it cannot be used on MURS because that requires type 95, however, if you want to split hairs.


my bad on the public safety portion.
GlockSlap  [Member]
9/13/2011 9:37:06 AM EST
And here I was just hoping to buy something simple

I'm still thinking a 5 watt GMRS could be the way to go, but I do need twin building penetration w/i a one mile area.

I was really hoping for an easy answer, but see that there isn't.
shooter_gregg  [Team Member]
9/13/2011 9:46:16 AM EST
Originally Posted By thederrick106:
Originally Posted By Gamma762:
Originally Posted By thederrick106:
In an outdoors scenario that radio {HX370} will outperform any 5W UHF rig every time.
(VHF works better outside/over land&sea where UHF works better inside because the higher frequencies penetrate structures/walls better.)

This is untrue. VHF and UHF will have similar performance handheld-to-handheld over rural terrains. VHF might have a slight edge in propagation but that's easily offset by better antenna performance at UHF. UHF will substantially outperform VHF when used in an urban area, or into and out of vehicles or buildings. Plus GMRS on UHF can legally run more transmit power than using MURS on VHF.


I agree with most of what you said but I have had better luck over land- distance wise with 2m vs. 70cm. Maybe its my equipment who knows.

Again not bashing one or the other, I use both including GMRS which I am licensed for.

The wouxun is a good radio, I have two and really like them. I don't find the menus to be to bad once you get used to them.


Some of the range has to do with environmental factors. Pine needles are close to 1/4 wavelength on 440. Wet pine needles absorb a lot of rf energy. I was told this by a radio tech in NE Florida when I was stationed there. I had asked him why there were so few UHF repeaters in the area.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Gamma762  [Team Member]
9/13/2011 10:48:26 AM EST
Originally Posted By shooter_gregg:
Some of the range has to do with environmental factors. Pine needles are close to 1/4 wavelength on 440. Wet pine needles absorb a lot of rf energy. I was told this by a radio tech in NE Florida when I was stationed there. I had asked him why there were so few UHF repeaters in the area.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile

Must be some really weird pine trees there... 1/4 wave at 465MHz is about 6 inches. Pine needle attenuation was a big problem at 800MHz, not 450 anywhere that I'm familiar with.
Originally Posted By GlockSlap:
And here I was just hoping to buy something simple

I'm still thinking a 5 watt GMRS could be the way to go, but I do need twin building penetration w/i a one mile area.

I was really hoping for an easy answer, but see that there isn't.

I'm not seeing what is uneasy about it. I linked to a good choice in radio in the other thread that I referenced, the Icom IC-F4001. If you really want a Kenwood, Vertex, etc get one of them instead, just not sure about the availability of programming software and cables. I know the 3001/4001 are good radios.

If you're expecting an answer like the marketing BS that's printed on consumer bubble pack radios, there isn't one, not one that's truthful anyway. No one can honestly say "buy Acme XYZ1 radio, 10 miles range!!". Your range is going to be a combination of radio quality and the physics of radio propagation over whatever path is between your radios. A good quality LMR market 4-5 watt handheld radio will give you typically somewhere between 1 and 3 or 4 miles range over typical terrains. The only way you're going to know is to use the radios in your particular area and get a feel for the conditions.
thederrick106  [Team Member]
9/13/2011 12:06:59 PM EST
Originally Posted By Gamma762:
If you're expecting an answer like the marketing BS that's printed on consumer bubble pack radios, there isn't one, not one that's truthful anyway. No one can honestly say "buy Acme XYZ1 radio, 10 miles range!!". Your range is going to be a combination of radio quality and the physics of radio propagation over whatever path is between your radios. A good quality LMR market 4-5 watt handheld radio will give you typically somewhere between 1 and 3 or 4 miles range over typical terrains. The only way you're going to know is to use the radios in your particular area and get a feel for the conditions.


+1 and well said
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