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Best Handheld Ham Radios Of 2023

Best Handheld Ham Radios Of 2023
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If you are in the market for a ham radio to use as a hobby, it will surely bring you hours of education, socializing and fun.

If you want to purchase one during a disaster, it will be your number-one companion when disaster strikes.

Whatever reason you are looking for ham radio, we have taken the time to round up a list of the best handheld ham radios on the market.

best handheld ham radio


So What Is A Ham Radio?

So, funny story. Ham is a corruption of the word amateur, as in amateur radio, and it’s just what it sounds like.

Ham or amateur radio is typically used for activities such as communication experimenting, fun and socializing, and even emergency communication.

While there are tabletop ham radios, the most common types resemble walkie-talkies and are known as handheld ham radios.

Many people use ham radios as a hobby; it’s the foundation of many amateur radio clubs.

These people can be found all over the world and are known as ‘hams.’ They range from young hobbyists in school to seasoned enthusiasts with decades of experience in amateur radio communications.

If you are interested in ham radios, you may also be interested in our list of the best long-range listening devices

Why Use Ham Radios?

If you aren’t an audiophile, you may wonder, ‘why use ham radios in today’s modern age?’

handheld ham radios

Well, there are several reasons people still use ham radios. Of course, it’s a hobby for many people, but there are many other reasons:

  • When phones are out of service, ham radios will still work in natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis.
  • Handheld ham radios are great for camping in remote areas where phones don’t work.
  • Besides the joy of having a non-failing communication device, handheld ham radios are known lifesavers in emergencies.
  • Handheld ham radios are great for hiking in areas where phones don’t work or would get damaged easily.
  • It’s an excellent way to escape modern gadgets while staying in touch. Handheld ham radios are a fun way to communicate while staying away from smartphones and the internet.
  • Ham radios aren’t known as hands-free devices, but you can get an earpiece with a mic (typically for walkie-talkies) that you can use with your ham radio.

Having shown you all the benefits of ham radios, let’s look at the best handheld ham radios out there.

How To Choose The Best Handheld Ham Radio

Before we go on to the list of the best handheld ham radios on the market, let’s explain the criteria we used to choose the best ham radios out there.

When searching for the best handheld ham radios, you will find several makes and models on the market.

best handheld ham radios

Ham radios not only come in different designs but offer a variety of different features as well. The ham radio you choose should depend on your desire.

Are you looking for a very long-range ham radio, or are you looking for a ham radio with very long battery life? Think about these things before purchasing.

We have chosen to present the best handheld ham radios in different categories.

Regardless of what you are looking for, we have put together a list of the best handheld ham radios on the market.

Review the list and find the best handheld radio that suits your requirements.

Best Handheld Ham Radios Of 2023

Best Overall
BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band...
Best LCD
TYT MD-380 - DMR/Moto TRBO Ham Radio
BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band...
TYT MD-380 - DMR/Moto TRBO Ham Radio
Prime Benefits
More Information
Best Overall
BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band...
BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band...
Prime Benefits
More Information
Best LCD
TYT MD-380 - DMR/Moto TRBO Ham Radio
TYT MD-380 - DMR/Moto TRBO Ham Radio
Prime Benefits
More Information

1. Best Overall: BaoFeng BF-F8HP Handheld Ham Radio

With a custom design that offers convenience and a delightful user experience, the BaoFeng BF-F8HP is a big step up from the UV-5R.

The state-of-the-art chipset has more transmission power, offering 6 watts on UHF and 7.4 watts on VHF.

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This handheld ham radio has a 2000 mAh battery that allows you to enjoy listening to the built-in FM radio and still have enough power to last for a whole day.

The BaoFeng BF-F8HP offers 128 programmable memory channels. You can add or remove channels from the scanning list using the free computer software.

This ham radio also comes with a flashlight and a handy manual to guide you through the customization options and its capabilities.

A lot of power in a handheld device
Compatible with all accessories used for the BaoFeng UV-5R
Affordable price
Great audio quality
Built-in FM radio and flashlight
Bright and customizable 3-color display

You need to download some information from a CD to the radio
No water-resistant cover

BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band...
  • Upgrades from our Previous Generation UV-5R: Twice the Output Power (8 watts up from 4 watts output), New...
  • High / Med / Low Power Settings (8W, 4W, 1W); Frequency Range: VHF: 136-174 MHz(Rx/Tx). UHF: 400-520...
  • The BF-F8HP was designed in the USA and because not everyone is a radio-expert we really wanted to focus on...

2. Best Anti-Interference: BaoFeng UV-82L Two Way Handheld Ham Radio

As one of the latest products from BaoFeng, the UV-82L two-way radio comes with anti-inference ability and strong stability.

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This fine ham radio features a high-tech SMP speaker that delivers perfect audio quality, similar to major brands like Motorola.

Its performance is as good as the design, and you won’t be disappointed with how it feels on your arm.

The BaoFeng UV-82L two-way radio comes with a dual push-to-talk button and an 18cm booster antenna supporting a longer coverage distance.

It is also very stable regarding receiving signals and comes with two signal indicators, one for sending and the other for receiving. The unit also comes with an LED flashlight and a large LCD.

Manually programmable
Large 2-line LCD
128 memory channels
FM radio reception
1800mAH rechargeable battery

The user manual may be too technical for some people

No products found.


3. Best LCD: TYT MD-380 Handheld Ham Radio

Although it’s TYT’s first DMR digital handheld ham radio, we have found that the MD-380 is one of the best handheld ham radios on the market. Kudos to them!

It is a two-way portable radio with a revolutionary LCD and a unique DTMF keypad.

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This high-resolution display gives you high-tech graphics and explicit text messages. This handheld ham radio can receive about 1000 channels and is very easy to use.

As you can tell, the TYT MD-380 has many great features, and they are available at a fraction of the price of its competitors. The audio quality is fantastic, and you can program the radio using the keyboard.

These high-tech features are offered at an attractive price.

The antenna uses an SMA connection
Well-built body
Excellent audio quality and volume
Attractive price

It needs a software polish
No Bluetooth connectivity
The desktop charger takes too long to charge the radio

TYT MD-380 - DMR/Moto TRBO Ham Radio
  • TYT MD-380 UHF Analog/Digital DMR Radio + USB cable
  • USB Programming Cable and software
  • AC Charger, 2000 mAh Battery, Belt Clip, Antenna, English Manual

4. Best Design: Baofeng Yellow BF-F9 V2+ Handheld Ham Radio

As one of the most impressive handheld ham radios from Baofeng and one of the best handheld ham radios on the market, the Yellow BF-F9 V2+ comes with 8 watts of transmission power.

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It has an extended frequency range like the BaoFeng UV-82 and offers many other features. This includes a tri-color LCD and a noise-reduction feature with the new chipset.

With an automatic scanning feature, the BaoFeng Yellow BF-F9 V2+ allows you to scan for a particular frequency and channel easily.

More importantly, this lightweight radio has a handy keypad lock feature that helps you avoid accidentally pressing the keys.

The BF-F9 V2+ can accommodate 128 channels and has a dual reception feature that lets the radio work with two different frequencies.

It can be used as a repeater
Powerful 3800 mAH rechargeable battery
Rugged and durable construction
Simple to use and install

Manual programming can be a bit challenging

BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band...
  • Upgrades from our Previous Generation UV-5R: Twice the Output Power (8 watts up from 4 watts output), New...
  • High / Med / Low Power Settings (8W, 4W, 1W); Frequency Range: VHF: 136-174 MHz(Rx/Tx). UHF: 400-520...
  • The BF-F8HP was designed in the USA and because not everyone is a radio-expert we really wanted to focus on...

5: Best for Hiking: Yaesu FT-60R Handheld Ham Radio

The Yaesu FT-60R handheld ham radio is the best for hiking and camping. It is possibly the best handheld ham radio for survival.

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This water-resistant portable ham radio features a plastic frame and a sturdy aluminum case that won’t crack easily when you drop it.

The battery life is also perfect for those long days in the woods, with a single charge lasting about 3-4 days.

This ham radio is inexpensive, yet it is one of the best handheld ham radios on the market, offering 5 watts of raw power and comes with an audio alarm to notify you when the battery is low.

More importantly, the Yaesu FT-60R can receive about 1000 memory channels. In addition to that, its receiver has broad coverage.

It also has a password feature to restrict unauthorized access and a backlit keypad with an alphanumeric display.

Well-built, solid design
Low price
Excellent battery life
Water-resistant casing

The stock antenna could be a little better
The volume knob is awkwardly positioned

No products found.

6. Largest LCD:Wouxun KG-UV8D Handheld Ham Radio

The Wouxun KG-UV8D is a nice dual-band ham radio that will fit well in your arms, giving you a comfortable feel. This top-of-the-line radio is powered by a 7.4V 2600mAH rechargeable battery that lasts about 12 hours.

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The unit also comes with a battery-saver feature to increase its efficiency, allowing it to last longer.

Wouxun has designed the KG-UV8D to look quite remarkable (excellent for ham radio), allowing it to look as good as it functions.

This ham radio has a big LCD, a hands-free operation feature, and a high-illumination flashlight.

Other great features include 999 programmable memory channels, a stopwatch, a removable antenna, and a user manual.

Easy to program
Big screen LCD with excellent graphics
Dual capability
Cross band repeat

The manual could be a little better
Low output transmits audio
The display can be a bit annoying during sunny days

7. Best Lightweight: Baofeng UV-5R Handheld Ham Radio

This unit loads up a lot of great features in a robust and lightweight handset, making it easy to use and carry around.

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Aside from an ergonomic design, the BaoFeng UV-5R rocks a rechargeable Li-ion battery, lasting 2-3 days after charging.

This device has an excellent coverage area, with the antenna transmitting within a 7 miles range.

Finally, it comes with a small LED flashlight that can be used in emergencies.

Excellent frequency range
High-definition 2-color LED display
Inbuilt speaker and microphone
Great frequency range
Extremely strong and durable

Manual programming can be a pain
Scanning could be better
No PPT lockout function

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8. Best Hands-Free: Wouxun KG-UV6D Handheld Ham Radio

If you are looking for a ham radio that offers excellent features at an affordable price, the Wouxun KG-UV6D is your best bet. It’s one of the best handheld ham radios on the relatively inexpensive market.

Wouxun KG-UV6D Handheld Ham RadioCheck Availability On Amazon

This dual-band radio features 199 memory channels, an LCD, and a backlit keypad. The radio also includes a voice prompt feature that allows you to enjoy hands-free operation.

With a strong and water-resistant body, the Wuoxun KG-UV6D is excellent for camping and outdoor activities.

The radio also features a high illumination flashlight, FM radio, battery meter, and a keypad lock to prevent changing the settings accidentally.

The power saver feature is handy when trying to maintain long battery life (there is a battery meter and a low battery alert).

Audible button beeps
Customizable display options
Hands-free operation using the VOX feature
Backlit keyboard and LCD

Scanning speed is a bit slow
Modifying an existing entry can be a bit hectic

9. Best Broadcasting Range: BaoFeng BF-888S Handheld Ham Radio

The BaoFeng BF-888S is a full-featured handheld radio with a coverage range of up to 6km on open ground. This two-way unit has a high-quality antenna, charger, and user manual.

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The rugged construction gives the radio a beautiful look.

Its exterior is made of dense molded plastic to make it durable.

Aside from having excellent construction and a comfortable design, the BaoFeng BF-888S has a 1500mAH Li-ion battery that gives you a full day’s worth of charge.

It takes only 3 to 4 hours to recharge the battery.

The sound is crystal clear, and you can enjoy a broadcasting range of about 2 miles under optimum conditions. You can also boost the range by installing a higher-quality antenna.

Fantastic sound quality
Compact and comfortable design
Great broadcasting range
FM radio reception after you reprogram

Not compatible with other FRS radios
No automatic beep or alert after transmission

No products found.

11. Best Dual-Frequency: Btech GMRS-V1 GMRS Two-Way Handheld Ham Radio

The Btech GMRS-V1 is a top-quality ham radio with a tri-color adjustable display and a superb dual watch receiver. That means the GMRS-V1 can monitor two frequencies, prioritizing the one receiving a call.

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You can also listen to an FM broadcast station while ensuring you don’t miss an incoming call.

With these features, it has earned its place on this list of the best handheld ham radios.

For those who like having a lot of information about a specific channel, the Btech GMRS-V1 is just what you need.

You can easily synchronize and configure the displays to show the frequency and channel name.

Finding a new channel is also very simple; you can add or remove the ones you don’t like from the list.

Easy to add channels
FM radio broadcast
High-quality belt clip and wrist strap
Can monitor two channels simultaneously

No programmed NOAA channels
GMRS locked to 23 channel locations
Slow scanning

BTECH GMRS-V1 GMRS Two-Way Radio, GMRS Repeater...
  • The GMRS-V1 has one built-in receiver but can "watch" two channels (semi duplex). Monitor 2 GMRS channels or...
  • Channel Skip: Easily add or remove a channel from the scanning list - if you have a nuisance channel, just...
  • Features: 25KHz/12.5KHz Switchable FM Radio Large Tri-color LCD Display (3 Selectable Colors) LED Flashlight...

How Do Ham Enthusiasts Communicate?

Even though hams are primarily radios, ham operators don’t just communicate over voice but other means as well. Hams communicate via Morse code, teletype, PSK, and sometimes pictures.

ham radio emergency communications

Ham Radio Benefits

There are many ham radio clubs worldwide because many people find it fascinating. However, beyond fascination, there are some essential benefits of ham radios as well:

• You can communicate from anywhere in the world.
• Ham operators are part of a community of millions around the world
• Ham radios are critical during emergencies, especially in developing areas without access

to proper telephone infrastructure. Even in developed countries, communications infrastructure often fails during times of disaster. It’s in these times that ham radios are most helpful.

Licensing Requirements For Ham Radios

Before you purchase a ham radio, you should know that strict laws govern ham radios.

The reason for this is that ham radios operate on specific radio frequencies. Radio frequencies are segmented because only certain communications are allowed over certain bands.

If ham operators aren’t careful, they can crossover into bands they aren’t supposed to, which may negatively impact other important communication channels. As such, in most jurisdictions, you will need to obtain a license before engaging in amateur radio communications.

ham radio licenseThere’s some good news, however. Ham radio licensing is easier today than it was some years ago.

The grade license you obtain will, among other things, determine the frequencies over which you can operate your ham radio. In most countries, there are just about three types of licenses offered:

The Technical License: The technical license is really for entry-level amateur radio enthusiasts. This is generally used by hobbyists and people who want to get their feet wet with amateur radio.

In the United States, obtaining a technical license requires that you pass an exam of about 35 questions. With this license, you will have the ability to communicate domestically and locally and get access to frequencies over 30 megahertz. You will also get access to a few HF band frequencies as well.

The General License: The general license is a step up from the technical license. To get this license, you must pass another examination of 35 questions.

The Amateur Extra License: Both previous licenses are prerequisites to obtaining the amateur extra license. For this license, you must pass a more challenging, 50-question exam.

Important Aspects of Handheld Ham Radios

Ham radios can look a bit intimidating to those unfamiliar with them. Ham radios have several essential parts, such as the transceiver and memory slots.

As a ham enthusiast, there are a few things that you should know about before diving into ham radio operations. We discuss the major ones below:

What Is a Transceiver?

The name might give it away, transceiver. Can’t figure it out? A transceiver is a transmitter and receiver combined into a single unit. Most radios made today combine the transmitter and receiver onto a single board, and so most modern radios have transceivers within them.

Ham Radio Power

If you are keen on signal strength, coverage, and range, then the power rating of a ham radio should be an essential factor for you.

There are handheld ham radios and powered ham radios. Powered ham radios usually deliver more power (in terms of coverage, signal strength, etc.).

However, if you are going with a handheld ham radio, you should make sure it has high and low-power options to adjust it as needed.

Ham Radio Frequency

We mentioned frequency above concerning ham radio operations and licensing. To repeat, the license you have will determine the frequencies over which you are allowed to operate.

ham radio frequency

Not all ham radios will work with all frequencies, so you must select the right radio that covers the frequency range you wish to operate over.

Ham Radio Bands

Bands are very important when it comes to buying a ham radio. The best ham radios are built to work with varying bands. Ham radio bands include:

ham radio bands
Two-meter Ham Band (144 MHz to 148 MHz): Ham radios covering this band are generally used for emergencies such as hurricanes or floods. This is for several reasons, including the fact that the licenses for this band are easy to get, yet it’s easy to set up and very reliable for local communications.

440 MHz band (430 MHz to 440 MHz or 420 to 450): This band is widely used for general communication. It is often used by RADAR systems as well.

Now depending on the radio you have, it may be able to operate in just one of these bands, both or several bands. Most modern radios allow operation in at least two bands (dual band) or several bands (general coverage):

Dual-band: as mentioned, dual-band allows the ham operator to cover two frequencies simultaneously.

General Coverage: general coverage allows the ham operator to pick up various signals, including ham radio bands, AM and FM, and TV frequencies.

Memory Slots

Yes, ham radios use storage too. They store information in little storage banks called memory slots. However, each slot does not hold much data, even for the best handheld ham radios.

So, if you only use your ham radio on special one-off occasions such as emergencies, you may be OK with less than 50 slots. However, if you will be using it on an ongoing basis, you will need upwards of 100 slots.

Ham Radios with Backlit Display

Most handheld ham radios are made with a backlit LCD. These ham radios are essential for people using them in emergencies, dark places, etc. They are also great for some people with sight deficiencies.

handheld ham radio lcdHowever, you should also remember that you never know when you will need to use your ham radio in a dark environment, so if you buy a handheld ham radio, you might as well get one with a backlit LCD.

Finally, if you are worried about the light consuming too much power, you can purchase one that has the feature to switch off the backlight.

Programming Your Handheld Ham Radio

Before you go off and use your shiny new handheld ham radio, you must set up the device first.

It would be best to tell it what frequencies to operate on and similar data.
The procedure you use to program your ham radio will depend on the type.

If you are programming an analog radio, that will be different from programming a digital mode radio. Yet, some radios are special cases and require special programming, such as the Beufang.

Ham radio chirp

Most models come with a keypad that can be used to program the device. Alternatively, the newer, more high tech and some of the current best handheld ham radios can be connected to a computer running software such as CHIRP that you can use to quickly and easily program your handheld ham radio. Best of all, it is open source and completely FREE!

Handheld Ham Radio Range

Most handheld ham radios have an excellent range of between 1 and 2 miles. However, you will get better coverage in areas with more ham radio repeaters. These devices pick up ham radio signals and rebroadcast them to the broader network.


1. What is the best handheld ham radio?

BaoFeng Yellow BF-F9 V2+ is considered the best handheld radio. This radio stands out because of its rugged body, 3800 mah battery, and multiple other features. It is also the best pick if you are looking for ham radios under budget. 

BaoFeng UV-82HP has a 12-hour battery life, and a high-quality antenna is the best for emergencies. This high-quality antenna will help to listen to important news and updates from the government in times of emergencies and calamities.  

2. What is VHF in terms of ham radio?

VHF is found on the radio frequency spectrum between 30 and 300MHz, with the specific ham radio band allocated for 144-148MHz. VHF provides a simple communication method that allows two ham radios to communicate in line of sight.

3. Can the ham radio transmit on FM?

Yes, the ham radio transmits on FM. FM is used in many sectors of ham radio, particularly on the VHF and UHF bands, as well as on Ten Metres. Frequency modulation has lots of benefits when used for basic radio communications.

4. How far will a handheld ham radio reach?

With the proper license and equipment, your ham radio range may go as far as the world, starting at 5 kilometers with a basic handheld. Many factors determine how far a signal will travel, including the frequency you’re broadcasting and the power of your transmitter’s output.

Bottom Line:

There you have it, the best handheld ham radios on the market. Though buying a handheld ham radio can be tricky, you can easily find one that you will truly appreciate. All you need to do is ensure that the device suits your needs, from the design to the coverage range. After going through the list, we hope you found the best handheld ham radio for your own needs – one that offers beneficial features that you will enjoy.