The 5 Best Handheld Ham Radios – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Best Handheld Ham Radios

Owning handheld ham radios can seem to be an absurd idea, particularly in this digital era. Many people presume that ham radios are no longer used, which is simply not true. These simple devices can be extremely useful in an emergency, especially when there is no other way to communicate with others.

Ham radios, also known as amateur radios, are devices that communicate and connect with others through radio frequencies. They communicate using RF spectrum frequencies for audio, data, image, and text. Finding the best handheld ham radio, particularly if you’re buying one for the first time, can be challenging. Handheld ham radios with sophisticated features and cutting-edge technology are abundant on the market.

Why Should You Invest in the Best Handheld Ham Radio?

There are many reasons why you should consider investing in the best handheld ham radio because of the advantages it provides. You can connect with ham radio from anywhere.

This is why they’re ideal for emergencies: they’ll operate anywhere and don’t require access to the internet, phone networks, or satellites to function, so you’ll be able to communicate even if the power grid goes down.

Your handheld ham radio can also be used as a torch, emergency radio, weather radio, or car GPS, depending on all of the features it does have. Have queries regarding How to Choose Boat Propellers? Check out our guide on Boat Propellers to know more about how to choose the right boat propeller with all the necessary info.

How Does the Handheld Ham Radio Work?

For communication, ham radios usually use a range of radio frequencies. Non-hams may use radio scanners or receivers to listen in on hams.

Various frequency bands across the radio spectrum are used for ham radio. The frequencies are usually assigned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and are only intended for amateur use. Many ham radios run on a frequency that is higher than that of the AM broadcast band.

Morse code is used by some ham radios, while voice is used by others. Morse code, on the other hand, is much more dependable since the signals can get through even when voices can’t.

What are the Benefits of the Handheld Ham Radios?

When the phones and Internet go down, ham radio can still be used to communicate. The biggest advantage of owning and operating a ham radio is that it can be used as an emergency radio to connect with others when there is no other way to communicate.

Another advantage is that they can be used in a range of locations. You might use one while hunting, for example. When you’re out in the woods, a two-way radio will help you communicate with other hunters, receive emergency updates, and monitor your location if your ham radio has GPS. Looking for the Boat Fenders? Check out our Buyer’s Guide on Best Boat Fenders to know more.


Top 3 Picks


9Expert Score
Baofeng BF-F8HP Dual Band Two Way Radio - Best Overall Choice

The Baofeng BF-F8HP has 128 channels and can be programmed, allowing you to listen to whatever you want. It has three power levels, two channels that can be monitored at the same time, and a strong battery. Because of its ease of use and affordability, it is the best choice for beginners.

PROS
  • Loud and clear speaker
  • Affordable
  • Very easy to use
  • Easy to read display
CONS
  • Misses the 10W transmitting power
  • No CHIRP support

9Expert Score
Whistler WS1040 Handheld Ham Radio - Best Premium Choice

The Whistler WS1040 comes with cutting-edge audio hardware. This allows for clear transmission. It also includes Skywarn Storm Spotter technology, which allows you to get weather updates before they air on TV or radio.

PROS
  • Skywarn Storm Spotter technology
  • Easy to use
  • Amazing audio quality
  • A lot of storage
CONS
  • Not designed for beginners

8Expert Score
Radioddity GM-30 - Best Budget Choice

You get a GMRS repeater-capable when you buy this handheld ham radio, along with a Dual Band NOAA scanner and receiver, and it's USB rechargeable. What's unique about this radio is that it can transmit at up to 5-watts of power and can connect to GMRS repeaters, which means it can go up to 5 miles.

PROS
  • Affordable
  • Dual-Band Receiver &amp
  • Scanner
  • USB rechargeable
  • 5 mile range
  • Easy to use
CONS
  • You might need a computer and USB cable to configure

5 Key Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best Handheld Ham Radios

When looking for the best handheld ham radios, you can focus on the following features. 

1. Dual Band

You can listen to two frequencies at the same time with a handheld ham radio that has a dual-band capability. It also makes it simple to choose the frequency on which you want to transmit. Keep in mind that some dual-band ham radio antennas aren’t compatible with the dual-band feature. If that’s the case, you’ll need to find an external antenna that supports this feature.

2. Programmability

Before you buy a handheld ham radio, you should ask yourself this question: can it be manually programmed and programmed with software? If the ham radio can only be programmed with software, make sure the cable you’ll use to configure it is in good working condition. A working keyboard is needed for manually programming a handheld ham radio.

3. Battery Life and Rechargeability

After a couple of hours of use, the best handheld ham radio would need to be recharged. Before you buy a radio, check to see if it has an external DC connector. This makes it easier to recharge the battery and guarantees that the ham radio can operate at all times.

4. Clear and Understandable User Manual

You can look for a handheld ham radio with a user manual that is simple and easy to understand. This is important because you must understand how to use your device and how to diagnose any problems that might occur. When issues arise, you should be able to troubleshoot them quickly with the help of the user manual.

5. Speaker Quality

Your handheld ham radio’s function is to enable you to understand what’s being said. This is why finding the right handheld ham radio with a good speaker and an external headphone jack is so critical. The headphone jack is important so you can easily plug in headphones and hear the information clearly if the outside noise becomes too much.


The 5 Best Handheld Ham Radios


To assist you in making an intelligent choice, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best handheld ham radios currently available. Let’s take a look at some of the best handheld ham radios available right now!


Baofeng BF-F8HP Dual Band Two Way Radio – Best Overall Choice

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This Baofeng BF-F8HP Dual Band Two Way Radio is widely regarded as the finest handheld ham radio. Because of its ease of use and affordability, it is also regarded as the best choice for beginners.

It’s the best handheld ham radio because it has three power levels, two channels that can be monitored at the same time, and a strong battery. Because of this ham radio’s FM broadcast capabilities, you can listen to the radio while monitoring other radio channels if you get bored.

The Baofeng BF-F8HP has 128 channels and can be programmed, allowing you to listen to whatever you want. Incoming calls take priority over FM broadcast radio, so you’ll always know when someone is calling. Are you searching for the best fish finders with GPS? Check out these from Garmin.

Pros:

  • Loud and clear speaker
  • Affordable
  • Very easy to use
  • Easy to read display

Cons:

  • Misses the 10W transmitting power
  • No CHIRP support

Whistler WS1040 Handheld Ham Radio – Best Premium Choice

Buy now

This handheld ham radio has a storage capacity of 1,800 frequencies and can scan for any frequency transmissions in your region. You can also listen to any transmission that this ham radio can connect to. It also has a free-form memory organization feature that allows you to access frequencies that you use frequently.

The Whistler WS1040 comes with cutting-edge audio hardware. This allows for clear transmission; users have reported that transmissions that are hard to understand on other ham radios are crystal clear on this radio. It also includes Skywarn Storm Spotter technology, which allows you to get weather updates before they air on TV or radio. 

Pros:

  • Skywarn Storm Spotter technology
  • Easy to use
  • Amazing audio quality
  • A lot of storage

Cons:

  • Not designed for beginners

Radioddity GM-30 – Best Budget Choice

Buy now

You get a GMRS repeater-capable when you buy this handheld ham radio, along with a Dual Band NOAA scanner and receiver, and it’s USB rechargeable. What’s unique about this radio is that it can transmit at up to 5-watts of power and can connect to GMRS repeaters, which means it can go up to 5 miles. 

This Radioddity GM-30 – handheld ham radio requires you to configure your transmit and receive frequencies, unlike other handheld ham radios that use offsets for repeat frequencies. Are marine binoculars helpful in boating? Check out right away

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Dual-Band Receiver & Scanner
  • USB rechargeable
  • 5 mile range
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • You might need a computer and USB cable to configure

Baofeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio

Buy now

The Baofeng UV-5R is the perfect budget radio if you want to save a little money on the best handheld ham radio. The frequency range of this device is 65-108 MHz, with high and low power settings of 4W and 1W, respectively. It also includes a programmable FM radio that can be used on amateur frequencies as well as narrowband and wideband frequencies.

You have 128 programmable channels to choose from, and you can add and remove them as required. It has a powerful rechargeable battery, which is 1800 mAh Lithium-ion and has a 12-hour power range. When the battery isn’t in use, it has a power-saving feature that extends the battery life.

Pros:

  • Rechargeable battery
  • Power saving feature
  • LED display
  • Good frequency range (up to 15 miles)

Cons:

  • Scanning and selecting channels are slow

Baofeng-UV82C Dual Band Ham Radio

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Since it has a V-85 antenna for optimum efficiency, Baofeng-UV82C is one of the best handheld ham radios on the market today. It also has a PTT option, which comes in handy when you need to transmit on two frequencies at the same time. It also has a dual push-to-talk button and can receive two frequencies at the same time, even though they are on different band levels. Because of the dual watch receiver, this is possible.

The Baofeng-UV82C also includes an FM radio with incoming call priority, ensuring that you never miss a call. This handheld ham radio’s software, known as CHIRP, is widely regarded as the finest. It can take some time to get used to this software, but once you do, it’s really simple to use. What are the best GPS systems for your boat? Read through to find out

Pros:

  • CHIRP programming
  • Good battery life
  • Affordable
  • Great antenna

Cons:

  • No clock

TYT MD 380-DMR/Moto TRBO Ham Radio – Noteworthy Mention

Buy now

This handheld ham radio features a single band and dual-mode functionality. The receiver in this radio is said to be one of the most sensitive receivers on the market today. The audio quality on this radio is significantly better than that of other handheld ham radios.

The TYT MD 380 is distinguished by its multi-color display, which has a high resolution that allows you to read the screen easily. The speaker is not only loud, but also clear, and it runs on a 5W transmitter.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight
  • High-quality audio

Cons:

  • Battery life isn’t great
  • It can be hard to program

Final thoughts:

The best handheld ham radios are a perfect investment to make if you’re looking for a new hobby or want to be prepared for the next emergency. And if there is no other way to communicate, you will always be connected to other people.

And if something else is going wrong, you’ll still have peace of mind knowing that you have access to communication with your group. The most important advantage of owning a handheld ham radio is this.

The handheld ham radios on this list are all considered to be the best on the market. They all have different features, are efficient, simple to use, and long-lasting, allowing you to get the most out of your ham radio.


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