Let’s clear something up before we jump into this review. When we are talking about the most powerful handheld 2-way radio, we are talking about radios that have a massive range on them. After all, it takes a huge amount of power to pump out a signal for miles and miles. Here, we are going to talk about the handheld radio with the best range we have seen; the Midland GXT1000.
The Makeup of a Powerful Handheld 2 Way Radio
This is a radio that is perfect for just anybody that needs a radio. It is designed to be used outdoors (hence the big range that it boasts), but it should still be fairly effective in an indoor environment.
We believe that the people who will get the most use out of this will be those doing outdoor activities. This includes camping, hiking, cycling, and maybe even a spot of off-road driving. Although do bear in mind that the radio is not the most solidly built in the world, so you may not want to use it for the most extreme activities. We do not know how much of a knock it can take.
A Whopping 36-Mile Range
We are just going to come right out and say it. This radio has a claimed 36-mile range. For a handheld radio, this is absolutely fantastic. Many of them, particularly at this price point, are going to have a range that is a fraction of that.
If you know your radios, then you will know that you won’t ever get that 36-mile range. The quoted range assumes that you are outside and there are not any obstacles in the way. The more obstacles (i.e. trees, hills, other people). the lower the range is. However, with the amount of power packed into the Midland GXT1000, we wouldn’t expect you to get under 20-miles. This is still huge for a handheld radio.
The Midland GXT1000 uses the GMRS radio frequencies. This means that you will have access to 50 different channels. The radio can also make use of privacy codes, which provides thousands of different channels for private communications (in theory, obviously the channels aren’t ever going to be completely private). There are more than enough channels here to suit pretty much every single purpose.
While most of the conversations with this radio are likely going to be private conversations with people in your party, you may be interested to know that there is a channel scan feature that can keep an eye out for conversations that are not private.
If you are outdoors, then you may also be pleased to know that the radio comes programmed for 10 different weather channels. The radio will constantly cycle through those and provide you with updates on any serious weather that may be happening in your area. You may not think this is useful right now, but believe us, when your radio tells you that there is a massive storm coming, you are going to love the warning!
These are radios on the cheaper side of things. This means that you can’t expect the most rugged of designs. We have even heard people claim that these radios feel a little bit ‘cheap’. However, that is to be expected. The money was poured into the technology, not the buttons and shell of the radios.
We would expect you to get a least 3-4 years of use out of the radio. This is assuming that you treat it fairly well. The only thing that you will likely need to be replacing in that time will be the batteries. The included batteries are terrible, but more on that soon.
If you do treat the radio well, then you are going to have something that works solidly until the day that it dies. This means that you are going to be able to enjoy fantastic audio quality. Your transmissions will be perfectly clear to whoever receives them. This means that people will be able to hear you properly, even if you are at a massive range. Your received transmissions will come in clear on your radio too. Although, some people have reported that they have had to have the volume all the way up. Although, this is to be expected. You are outdoors. It is noisy.
The batteries in the radio are fine. Yes. We know we said they are terrible, but for general use they are fine. A single charge will keep your radio ticking over for about 11-hours. The problem is that they take 12-hours to charge after that…and this time is only going to get longer the longer you own the radio.
Thankfully, Midland have done something cool. They do not force you to buy their standard batteries. You can stick any AA batteries in here and it will be fine. In fact, people have claimed that AA batteries last longer than the Midland offering. So, if you do pick up these radios, we suggest that you get a few rechargeable batteries in at the same time. Your radio will function so much better.
While you can buy the Midland GXT1000 without a license, we do want to point out that it uses GMRS channels. This means that in the United States, you will need to obtain a license from the FCC. To be honest, the cost of that is quite small. At the time of writing, it works out at about $70 per decade. If you are handing these radios out to your friends and family, then they will be able to do so based on your license too. However, things become slightly trickier if you are running a business.
If you wanted to go full ham, no pun intended, a ham technician license which is their entry point, would offer the longest distance for a two-way radio. If that is what you’re searching for, our Leixen VV-898 review might be a good fit.
Remember; all handheld radios that have this sort of range will need a license. The GXT1000 isn’t anything special there.
If you want an incredibly powerful two-way radio, then we seriously recommend picking up the Midland GXT1000. Just make sure that you get yourself a license for it (only takes a few minutes to get) so that you are not operating it illegally!