Handheld Ham Radio: What You Need to Know

When you are planning to purchase your first handheld ham radio, you must ensure that you have done your research to purchase a quality device. Handheld ham radios are a perfect solution to make communication when the phone lines are down. Ham radios are also called amateur radios and are often seen under the category of CB radios or walkie talkies. When you are not familiar with handheld ham radios’ features and technicality, shopping can become quite overwhelming. That is why you need to know what makes a handheld ham radio good for your required purpose. Here is what you should know about handheld ham radio before making a purchase.

Radio bands

If you need a handheld ham radio for emergency purposes, you need to find a model that offers a two-meter band. These models will allow you to communicate on 440 MHz. Know that you need to get a license from the Federal Communication Commission before you can have a ham radio. You can consider a dual-band radio to enable two frequencies at the same time. They are effective during communication and less static while listening. You can also find tri-band options, but it is not a necessity as dual-band can perform almost as well as tri-band. Tri-band radios are only useful if you need to cover bigger band models and also morse code signals.

Frequency range

You must also consider radiofrequency range while purchasing a handheld ham radio as they are made to cover only a limited range. The frequencies depend on what the FCC allows, but every model comes with different frequencies. Ensure that you get the right frequency model for which you are permitted to avoid any legal obligations. You can get a general, technician, and amateur extra license to access different frequency levels. You will also have to give an exam before you purchase a license.



Most ham radio models have 0.5W – 5W of power, while the heavy-duty models are designed for 1W-5W. The models with higher watt will have a better range. The higher watt models are also quite expensive, so you need to make sure why you need them. If you see “peak wattage” written on the pack, it means that it can take the max you can get. It also does not mean that higher wattage models cannot work with lower wattage models. A 2W ham radio can have a better consistency than 5W ham radio.

There are plenty of handheld ham radio models in the market. You can do personal research to find the best handheld ham radio on quality review websites. Simplify your process by checking for each feature one by one, instead of comparing all models at once. Also, know what you want so you can filter the models easily.