Top 10 Best GMRS Radios Review (updated 2020)

What is the best GMRS radio?

This a critical yet daunting question. Before delving deeper into this, it’s important to understand what a GMRS radio is in the first place.

GMRS stands for General Mobile Radio Service– a land mobile radio service that uses the Frequency Modulation (FM) and the Ultra-high frequency (UHF).

Besides, it’s mainly used for two-way communications and ideal for short distances. Finding the best GMRS radio can be a frustrating experience.

The right GMRS radio has a record for excellent performance– quality audio, wide-coverage, ease of use, durable battery power– and yet doesn’t break your budget.

In this GMRS guide, I have compiled a list of the best GMRS Radios that you can choose from.

So, let’s get started!

Best GMRS Radios Reviews

1. Midland- GXT1000VP4 – Best GMRS Radio

Features Summary:

  • NOAA weather scan and alert.
  • Multiple power settings.
  • Operates on an Extreme range of 36 miles.
  • Hands-free call operations.
  • 22 channels.
  • 142 privacy codes.

This is a two-way radio that comes in two various options and can cover a range of up to 36 miles. The two options are 3 packs and a pair pack. 

This allows you to get more than one radio at an affordable price and according to your preference and test. Besides, it’s also good for radio use and compatibility.

The radio can cover up to three range categories. 36 miles is the widest and you can experience this in jungles or areas with no construction works. 

The other ranges are medium-range and short-range. While medium-range makes it easy to communicate in areas with a mild obstruction, short-range will enable you to communicate in densely populated urban settings.

This feature alone makes the radio versatile and you can use it efficiently in any area regardless of the level of obstructions. 

Besides, the radio is waterproof thus you won’t need to worry if you accidentally bring it into contact with water. 

Being water-resistant, you can engage in water sports or hiking without fear of water damage on your radio.

Moreover, you can use the radio during hunting escapades. It features 5 animal call alerts that you can use to signal animals such as Turkeys, Crows, Cougar, Wolf, and Ducks.

And what makes it more suitable for hunters is the mossy oak camouflage pattern in pair pack-black/mossy oak option.

Pros
  • Covers a wide range for effective communication.
  • Suitable for hunting activities.
  • The radio is made of sturdy material, is waterproof and durable.
  • Long-lasting rechargeable AA batteries.
Cons
  • It’s not possible to change to an aftermarket antenna.

2. BTECH GMRS-V1 – Best Dual Band GMRS Radio

Features Summary:

  • Inbuilt FM radio.
  • PC programmable.
  • Compatible with Kenwood k1 accessories.
  • Powerful dual-band SMA female antenna.
  • Flashlight. 

This a dual-band and a two-way GMRS radio with a scanning receiver and an inbuilt GMRS repeater. Being repeater capable will enable you to have strong communication in obstruction prone areas.

It is easy to scan and add channels to your channel list. But what makes this more valuable is that you can skip the channels that you’re not interested in. These could be nuisance channels or just low-quality signal channels.

With its one inbuilt receiver, the radio can still operate on the semi-duplex system. Thus, this will enable you to monitor two different GMRS channels or frequencies.

And the best part is that monitoring is possible even on different bands. Therefore, you can do it on both VHF and UHF frequency bands. Moreover, you can give priority to the first station that receives an incoming call.

This handheld GMRS radio operates on up to 128 channels which gives you multiple channels for communication with many GMRS radio users. Out of these, 30 are GMRS channels while 98 are scannable and programmable.

Furthermore, the GMRS channels are divided into two categories. That is a repeater and non-repeater channels. While channels 1 to 22 are non-repeater channels, channels 23-30 are considered as a repeater.

Also, you can use the first 30 channels for two way communication–reception and transmission– and the remaining channels (00 and 31-128) for one-way communication– reception only.

Pros
  • The radio runs on a powerful 1800 mAh battery.
  • It has a large tri-color LCD display.
  • Dual monitoring is possible.
  • High-quality audio.
  • Easy to program and to operate.
Cons
  • Compared to other radios, it has a slow scan rate.

*Check out our review of the Best DMR Radios

3. Ansoko Long Range Walkie Talkie – Best Battery Life 

Feature Summary

  • Service card. 
  • Detachable antenna.
  • US- plug charging base.
  • 1500 mAh li-ion powerful battery.
  • The frequency range of 400-470 MHz.

This is a long-range and two-way radio that operates on the UHF band of 16 channels. Since UHF waves are shorter and stronger, they can penetrate through obstacles such as metals, concrete, and wood.

This makes Ansoko radio ideal for use both indoors and outdoors as communication is not affected regardless of the environmental conditions.

Also, the radio runs on the strong power output of 2 watts. This is strong enough to power communication within a range of 4 miles and more without interruptions.

Ideally, the furthest the radio can cover is dependent on the kind of obstruction along the way. Less built-up areas have a wide range while extreme weather conditions can affect its reach-out range.

Moreover, the radio is versatile and is designed for multiple uses. You can use it for hunting, camping, in cruise ships, by security teams, or even rod trips. 

This radio runs on a reliable and powerful battery with excellent performance. The battery takes between 4 and 5 hours to completely charge. This is considerably a short time before you get to use the radio.

When fully charged, you can use the radio for between 8-12 hours on continual use. However, if you’re not using the radio continuously, it can go for between 1-2 days before a recharge is necessary.

Pros
  • Customer support is available at no extra cost.
  • Easy to use.
  • Small size and portable.
  • Quality sound and wide range of coverage.
  • Durable battery life.
Cons
  • The radio doesn’t have a display screen.

4. Archshell Rechargeable Radio – Best Budget

Features Summary

  • 1500 mAh li-ion battery.
  • Programmable channels.
  • High-quality built-in speaker.
  • Vox function– allows hands-free.
  • Emergency alarm.

This is a single band and a long-distance two-way radio that mainly operates in the ultrahigh-frequency band. 

UHF waves are strong and can penetrate obstacles such as concrete, wood, or even metal. This makes the radio ideal for use in urban settings where there are tall buildings and many obstacles.

Besides, the radio measures 4.53 inches in height, is small in size and you can easily carry it in your pocket. However, this is only possible when you remove the antenna.

And owing to its small size, it will fit into one hand. You won’t need to operate the radio using two hands as one is just enough. 

If you have some other activity that needs your attention, you can use your other hand to take care of it.

Moreover, it is lightweight and easy to move around with stress-free. But that not all…the radio is made of sturdy material thus is durable and waterproof.  

No need to worry when the radio comes into contact with water.

This radio is easy to use and any person of mature age can operate the radio successfully. If you’re a newbie, this should give you some hope as your learning curve will be flat.

The radio functions on the UHF frequency range of 400-470 MHz and comes with 16 channels already programmed. This implies that when you get the radio, you can straight away get into using it.

Pros
  • Loud and crystal clear audio.
  • Easy to program and operate.
  • Highly sensitive and powerful antenna.
Cons
  • The radio doesn’t have a display screen.

*Check our the Best Portable Ham Radio

5. COBRA ACXT1035R FLT – Best Waterproof GMRS Radio

Features Summary:

  • Built-in led/SOS flashlight
  • Vibrate and call alert.
  • Replay missed radio calls.
  • Rechargeable NiMH battery.
  • Two-port charging dock.

This is a Vox function enabled two-way radio with exceptional abilities to cover long ranges. The radio can cover up to 37 miles thereby allowing you to communicate with many people across a wide range.

That said, the radio can support up to 2662 channels and an additional 121 privacy codes. This enables you to have secure calls with minimal interferences by avoiding interruptions when making or receiving calls.

Besides, the radio has an inbuilt NOAA radio receiver and alert. This receiver scans the prevailing weather conditions and warns you of an impending storm.

Also, you can use the receiver as an alert for other kinds of emergencies when they come up. These alerts and warnings are meant to keep you updated so that you take prompt action where necessary.

This radio runs on the Vox (voice-activated transmission) system which makes it easy for you to have hands-free calls. 

With Vox, the radio can detect a user’s voice, hence, you won’t need to press any buttons to receive the call. If you have other concurrent tasks, you can use your hands to handle them. This will help to increase your efficiency.

Furthermore, the radio is waterproof. And what’s more amazing is that it can float on water. If it was to fall into the water, it will not only be retrievable, but you will also get it undamaged.

Pros
  • The radio has an inbuilt flashlight.
  • Waterproof hence not susceptible to water damages.
  • Covers a wide range.
  • Offers emergency alerts.
  • Allows hands-free calls.
Cons
  • Does not run on standard CB channels.

6. Motorola T260TPSingle Band/Best FRS GMRS Radio

Features Summary:

  • FRS/GMRS frequency range of 462-457MHz.
  • 22 channels.
  • 121 privacy codes per channel.
  • Dual powering options.
  • Weather alerts.

This radio operates in both GMRS and FRS with a frequency of 462-467 MHz and within the UHF band. The radio is easy to operate and with the aid of the scanning button, you can quickly find available channels.

Besides, the radio supports 22 channels and each of these has 121 privacy codes bringing the total combination to 2662. Privacy codes enable you to have uninterrupted calls with other users on the line.

It features a low battery alert that warns you when the battery power levels significantly fall to critical levels. The purpose of the warning is to get you to recharge the radio so that you don’t miss important calls and updates.

But here’s more: you can turn on weather alerts or tune to one of the weather channels for real-time updates on weather conditions. 

In turn, timely weather updates warn you in advance if there’s going to be a storm or not. This will help you plan your schedules effectively. 

And certainly, you don’t want to be interrupted by bad weather in the middle of serious business. That’s why weather alerts become handy.

There’s not just one way to powering the radio, but two. Alternatively, you can use both to increase the efficiency of the radio. That said, you can use NiMH rechargeable batteries or AA batteries.

While NiMH batteries last for only 10 hours, AA batteries will last you for 29 hours. Clearly, AA battery is the best alternative because it lasts longer. However, combining both options is even much reliable.

Pros
  • Timely weather updates enable you to plan accordingly.
  • Dual power options give you powering alternatives.
  • The radio is easy to operate.
  • The radio is small in size and convenient to carry around.
Cons
  • NOAA radio service for weather updates may not be available in all areas.

7. Midland-MXT115 – Best GMRS Mobile Radio

Features Summary

  • 8 repeater channels.
  • 142 privacy codes.
  • NOAA weather alerts.
  • 50 miles maximum coverage.
  • USB output for charging mobile phones.
  • It comes with a powerful antenna.
  • High-grade hand microphone.
  • Multi-color LCD display.

This is a micro mobile two-way radio with the ability to transmit three times the usual range covered by handheld GMRS radio. It covers up to three categories of ranges depending on the level of obstruction.

These are; obstructed especially in built-up urban settlements, the ideal which extends into the suburbs and maximum range that extends into the rural areas.

Within the urban settlements, the range varies between 5-10 miles. While within the ideal setting, the range varies between 10-15 miles. 

The maximum range covers up to 50 miles so that you communicate easily with other mobile radio users.

This radio is ideal for road trips, farm use, over landing, and off-roading. More importantly, it is easy to install in almost all vehicles.

Also, it works on optimum power output of 15 watts. This is adequate for the effective running of operations so that you get the best service out of the radio.

That said…its NOAA weather updates come in handy when you need to schedule your errands. By alerting you of oncoming storms or weather hazards, you are able to plan in advance. 

You are also able to avoid possible harsh weather-related inconveniences.

Pros
  • It covers a wide range.
  • It’s easy to set up and use.
  • Weather updates help you to plan in advance.
Cons
  • Best use and results are only limited to Midland radio equipment and operators.

8. Midland-MXT105 – Best Functions Control

Features Summary:

  • Full 5W radio.
  • Keypad control.
  • NOAA Weather updates.
  • Magnetic mount antenna.
  • 15 channels.
  • 142 privacy codes.
  • 40miles max range

This a micro mobile and two-way radio that is designed to be used in vehicles. You can use it on road trips or while working on your farm. 

Unlike other mobile radios, it has a keypad lock and control feature.  Thus, when you activate this function, it prevents accidental activation of other functions. 

This can help you avoid sending false alarms or making unwanted calls. 

Besides, it’s a 5 watts powered radio that operates on 15 high and low power GMRS channels. And the best part: you can scan channels and pick your favorite ones from the list.

With this radio, you can communicate with other users over a maximum range of 40 miles. This is possible for areas with little to mild obstructions such as buildings, trees, and metals.

Within the urban setting, the radio can cover between 2-3 miles. While in the suburbs, it covers a range of 4-8 miles. All these are influenced by the above-mentioned obstructions.

Additionally, it features 121 privacy codes that help you to filter out unnecessary transmissions that can affect the quality of your communications.

Harsh weather and storms can mess up your schedules. That’s why you need to prepare in advance for them. This radio features the NOAA weather scan that scans through the 10 weather channels and warns you in advance.

Pros
  • Weather updates help you to plan properly.
  • It runs on a powerful magnetic mount antenna.
  • It covers a wide range.
  • Keypad control helps you to avoid sending wrong signals unintentionally.
Cons
  • It doesn’t have repeater channels.

*Best Mobile Ham Radio Reviews

9. BTECH Mobile GMRS-50X1 – Most Powerful GMRS Radio

Features Summary

  • 256 total number of channels.
  • DTMF handheld microphone.
  • Vehicle mounting bracket.
  • VHF and UHF bands.
  • FM radio (65.0MHz-108.0MHz)

This a two way and dual-range range GMRS radio that operates in the  UHV AND VHF frequencies of 400-520.99 MHz and 136-174.99 MHz respectively.

Besides, it runs on 50 watts power outputs which makes it efficient for maximum performance. Also, the radio is compatible with all GMRS and FRS radio brands.  

Thereby giving you multiple options of the varied users you can keep in touch with. Besides, it is compatible with GMRS repeaters which helps in boosting and retransmitting signals.

It features a VHF and UHF scanning receiver which you can use to scan and add other important channels to your channel list. The only shortcoming is that these can only be “receive channels” like the NOAA weather channel.

The radio covers long ranges so that you have quality communication with other users regardless of where they are. However, you need to install an external antenna to experience this.

It has a large LCD display with multi-selectable text colors where you can see the functions at a glance. This makes the radio easy to operate and it will only take you a short time to navigate between functions.

Pros
  • It features low noise and high fidelity microphone.
  • It’s easy to use and install on your vehicle.
  • Keypad backlight makes it easy to use even in the dark.
  • The microphone’s cable is long and curly for easy movement.
Cons
  • It requires an external antenna to cover long ranges.

Beginners Guide To Best GMRS Radio

1. What is GMRS radio

General mobile radio service is a two-way voice and short data messaging communication radio. Besides, it can also support GPS location information.

The radio uses channels found around 462-467 MHz and works well for short-distance communication. Mostly, GMRS is used with handheld radios, mobile radios, and repeater systems.

2. GMRS Licensing

You will need a license from FCC to operate GMRS systems. A license remains valid for 10 years after which you will need to make a renewal.

Any person that’s 18 years old and above qualifies to apply for a license. However, you don’t qualify if you’re a representative of a foreign government. 

3. GMRS Range and Frequency

GMRS systems are designed for short-distance voice and short data communication. However, this is usually influenced by obstacles such as buildings, trees, and other metal objects.

GMRS systems operate on channels found 462-467MHz frequency range.

4. GMRS Vs FRS

GMRS and FRS systems are typically similar radio systems. Both have a handheld, mobile, and base radios.  Also, both radio systems operate around the same frequencies range of 462 and 467 MHz.

Buyers Guide to Best GMR Radios

Before making a buying decision, you need a checklist of factors to consider so that you make an informed buying decision. 

Below, I have compiled a list of the main considerations you need to check when looking for GMRS Radio systems.

1. Range

Range determines the furthest your radio can reach during communication. But this is not a stand-alone feature as other factors influence it. Some of these include obstructions such as concrete, wood, and metal.

You need a radio with a wide range coverage that is optimal to where the target users are. If they are within an urban environment, then 1-5 miles will be ok. 

However, if they are in the suburbs or rural areas, you need a powerful radio that can transmit over long ranges of up to 50 miles.

2. Power

Power output determines the efficiency of the radio. Therefore, the higher the power, the better your radio is likely to perform. The opposite is true for lower power.

But what’s more important is determining firsthand what purpose you need the radio for. Normally, handheld and mobile radios require low power wattage compared to base radios.

Base radios stations require up to 50 watts due to the nature of their work. Handheld and mobile radios are mainly used for recreation purposes hence a wattage of 1-2 is enough for them.

Also, the higher the wattage, the bigger the radio is likely to be. If you need a radio that is convenient to carry around, then definitely it should run on low power wattage. 

However, base radios are huge in size, are heavy in weight, and require high power wattage. To determine the right power outage for you, you need to know why you need the radio. 

3. Privacy/Interference Eliminator Codes

Channels are easily available in busy areas. This implies that it only takes a short time before your channel list is completely filled with channels. 

However, you can’t always be sure of the quality of signals in these channels. Plus, in shared channels, you need to have a guarantee of your privacy.

This is where interference eliminator codes come in. with the aid of CTCSS –Continuous Tone coded Squelch System– and CDCSS– continuous Digital Code Squelch System– you can still use privacy codes to communicate via a busy channel.

Also, CTCSS and CDCSS will help you to sieve out unwanted noise in the main channel. However, it doesn’t take away all of it as you will still hear some unwanted chatter sounds in the background.

4. Compatibility

It’s possible to use two radios if they operate in the same frequencies and similar channels. You can program these radios so that they work in collaboration.

However, to achieve this, first, you must ensure the radios are of the same brand. Also, they need to share similar features. The best way to make this happen is by buying radios that are in pairs or packs of three or more.

5. Size

This depends on the purpose you need the radio for. Also, you need to know that handheld, mobile, and base radios vary in size and weight and each serves different purposes.

Handheld radios are small in size, lightweight, and used by users who are always in the move and in the field. That explains why they need to be lightweight and small in size for the convenience of carrying them.

Mobile radios are mostly used in vehicles. To use one, you need to find the one that can fit properly in your radio stereo space. It needs to be neither big nor small, but the perfect shape and size.

6. Channel Scanning

To communicate with others, you need to find the right channels. And the best way to achieve that is through channel scanning. 

The perfect radio should be able to scan the relevant channels that are used by your various Talk groups. This is the only sure way to keep in touch with friends and family or even workmates.

Scanning also helps you to find out any free channels that you can occupy with your talk group. Afterward, you can freely engage in uninterrupted communication amongst yourselves. 

7. Voice Activated Function (VOX)

This function lets you have hands free communications. Once you speak directly facing the radio, it begins to broadcast automatically.

This function is necessary if your hands are engaged with some other stuff. At such a point, its hands-free calls that are convenient so that you’re not interrupted.

When driving, you require little to no interruptions for maximum concentration on the road. You need to acquire a radio with VOX function enabled to help you with hands-free calls.

8. NOAA Weather Alerts

Bad weather, storms, and other acts of god can interfere with your normal schedule. The best way to stay safe is by getting prior updates so that you re-plan or reschedule yourself. 

These occurrences are likely to mess you up. You need a radio with NOAA function so that you get weather updates and other necessary alerts within your vicinity.

9. Global Position System (GPS)

GPS function enables you to find out your location data such as latitude, longitude, and altitude. You are also able to know the exact place name. 

This is important when you’re out hiking or when you have a team to supervise at work. Therefore, apart from voice and message communication, the right radio should also give you location data.

Final Verdict

General Mobile Radio Services are two-way radio systems that are ideal for short-distance communications. 

The best way to enjoy these benefits is to acquire the best handheld GMRS radio or the best GMRS mobile radio.

However, to make an informed buying decision, you need to have a checklist of considerations for a GMRS radio. That’s where this guide comes in handy. 

Finding the best GMRS radio shouldn’t be a frustrating endeavor. Today, by reading and following this guide, you’re in a better place to find your favorite GMRS radio.

Paul Dudley