New hams often ask which radio to purchase. By which they usually mean which inexpensive, Chinese-made “commie-talkie” should the purchase. There are dozens available under almost as many brand names. I encourage everyone to only purchase radios that their friends have been using for a while, as the “newest models” sometimes really aren’t and may be throwbacks with a new and deceptive model number. Online resellers are not always good at clearing out old inventory.
Which radio do I recommend?
To make life simple, there is only one model that I recommend. And the reason is simple: The Baofeng UV-82C is type-accepted by the FCC on commercial (non-ham) frequencies. ONLY the “C” model — for commercial — has Part 90 acceptance making them legal on commercial frequencies.
This means the radio will narrowband audio and operate on narrow channels. That makes it legal to use, with proper authorization, on local public safety channels. Provided they are not P25 or some other digital mode.
They are legal to use on business band frequencies, as well as the unlicensed MURS channels. I am actually uncertain about MURS type-acceptance but will investigate. I don’t think they are legal on GMRS or FRS, but I don’t think that stops many from operating illegally.
In fact, read this thread and you may wonder if any of the Chinese radios are really Part 90 legal.
Many of these radios are being purchased and used by public safety volunteers (including myself) for their do-gooder activities. I try to operate legally.
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