Last updated on April 8th, 2014
During ordinary times or during an emergency, disaster, or SHTF, communications can be of utmost importance. 2-way radios are an excellent choice for many use-case scenarios for personal communications.
2-way radios do not rely on anything external like wireless providers, cell towers, network service providers or the internet to provide communications between radio units. They are used as a stand-alone system that can be used anytime – anywhere.
2-way radios are independent, making them a great choice for preparedness.
Uses for 2-way radios
Road trips – where multiple vehicles are traveling together
Camping – keeping in contact while others are out and about
Boating – staying in touch with your group on the shore
Hiking – emergency communications if you get separated
Security – communication between locations, patrols
Home – general purpose while out on the property
Emergency – contact with others
The FCC has allotted specific frequency bands for 2-way family-type radios, and they transmit on various sets of frequencies labeled FRS, MURS, and GMRS.
FRS – Family Radio Service
It is an improved ‘walkie-talkie’ system and it does not require a license, and is limited to 0.5 watt transmitting power. The usual range of communications between FRS devices is less than one mile.
There are 14 FRS channel frequencies.
FRS 01 — 462.5625 MHz Shared with GMRS
FRS 02 — 462.5875 MHz Shared with GMRS
FRS 03 — 462.6125 MHz Shared with GMRS
FRS 04 — 462.6375 MHz Shared with GMRS
FRS 05 — 462.6625 MHz Shared with GMRS
FRS 06 — 462.6875 MHz Shared with GMRS
FRS 07 — 462.7125 MHz Shared with GMRS
FRS 08 — 467.5625 MHz
FRS 09 — 467.5875 MHz
FRS 10 — 467.6125 MHz
FRS 11 — 467.6375 MHz
FRS 12 — 467.6625 MHz
FRS 13 — 467.6875 MHz
FRS 14 — 467.7125 MHz
MURS – Multi-Use Radio Service
It does not require a license, and is limited to 2 watts transmitting power. The usual range of communications between MURS devices is less than a few miles.
There are five MURS channel frequencies.
GMRS – General Mobile Radio Service
Technically, GMRS does require a license from the FCC, and transmitting power is allowable up to 5 watts. However in 2010, the FCC proposed to remove the individual licensing requirement for GMRS and instead license GMRS “by rule” (meaning that an individual license would not be required to operate a GMRS device). This proposal is still pending.
Information from the FCC regarding GMRS and licensing can be obtained here.
There are 23 GMRS channels.
Ch. 15 — 462.5500 MHz
Ch. 01 — 462.5625 MHz Shared with FRS
Ch. 16 — 462.5750 MHz
Ch. 02 — 462.5875 MHz Shared with FRS
Ch. 17 — 462.6000 MHz
Ch. 03 — 462.6125 MHz Shared with FRS
Ch. 18 — 462.6250 MHz
Ch. 04 — 462.6375 MHz Shared with FRS
Ch. 19 — 462.6500 MHz
Ch. 05 — 462.6625 MHz Shared with FRS
Ch. 20 — 462.6750 MHz
Ch. 06 — 462.6875 MHz Shared with FRS
Ch. 21 — 462.7000 MHz
Ch. 07 — 462.7125 MHz Shared with FRS
Ch. 22 — 462.7250 MHz
Ch. ** — 467.5500 MHz
Ch. ** — 467.5750 MHz
Ch. ** — 467.6000 MHz
Ch. ** — 467.6250 MHz
Ch. ** — 467.6500 MHz
Ch. ** — 467.6750 MHz
Ch. ** — 467.7000 MHz
Ch. ** — 467.7250 MHz
Note: When looking at the manufacturers claims of transmitting range, they are never close to that in ‘real life’ situations. Their measurements are made under ideal conditions which typically do not exist in the real world. Hills, trees, buildings, or any obstacle will reduce range. You will get the best range over open land or over the water.
Note: Many hybrid FRS/GMRS radios number the frequencies according to how they are stacked in the radio’s programming (usually in order of frequency, not channel number). Because of this, frequencies may appear incorrectly numbered on the radio’s channel readout. Check your owners manual.
I own the following Midland GXT 2-way radios and have been pleased with their performance:
Midland GXT1000VP4 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair)
There are lots of 2-way radios out there.
Do some research and consider adding some to your preps.