Baofeng Antenna Upgrade

Best BaoFeng Antenna Upgrade for Ham Radio or GMRS, FRS, MURS Bands

The best BaoFeng antenna upgrade for your VHF/UHF handheld (HT) radio such as the UV-5R and BF-F8HP.

[ Editors note: I recently purchased a VSWR / power meter with a design enabling direct connection to the Baofeng for testing upgrade antennas for various bands (frequencies). I am updating this article’s recommendations, given my results, discussed below. ]

The best upgrade antenna depends on intended operation (the legality of which is your own due diligence). Recommendations listed below are not only based on their specifications, but my own VSWR testing as well.

While many antennas may receive well enough outside their Tx optimized frequencies, it is important that the antenna you choose is tuned to TRANSMIT within the band(s) you’ll be operating on!

  • Ham (Amateur Radio) radio bands (VHF & UHF)
  • Commercial business band (VHF)
  • Maritime radio band (VHF)
  • MURS (VHF)
  • GMRS & FRS (UHF)

Many people have purchased at least a pair of the popular BaoFeng UV-5R 2-way radios (or variants thereof, like my favorite version, the BF-F8HP). Maybe several sets (or more). The problem is… The stock BaoFeng antenna is less than ideal. If you’re serious about optimizing the potential for transmit distance, the specific BaoFeng antenna upgrade choices listed below will help, a lot!

First. Why the BaoFeng brand? Sure there are better radios. But,

  1. Price vs Features. BaoFeng found an inexpensive sweet spot.
  2. Wide frequency range for Transmit (Tx) and Receive (Rx).
  3. Easy to program with free ‘CHIRP’ software.
  4. No technical restrictions to transmit on any frequency of the radio’s capabilities. (Though there are Legal restrictions)

Best Aftermarket BaoFeng Antenna Upgrade

With that said, there are a ton of these BaoFeng radios out there. I too have several sets (among other brands). So I wanted to share with you my recommendation for a BaoFeng antenna upgrade that will perform better on your radio. I have them for all my BaoFeng radios.


Okay, enough already! What about the best antenna for the Baofeng UV-5R (or BF-F8HP)?

I don’t want to get all technical here. But to an extent, I do have to dip into it.

Depends On Which Bands You Intend To Use For Communications:

This is an important consideration! It matters. Your Baofeng antenna upgrade choice depends on the frequencies where you intend to operate. Antennas are designed for specific frequencies or range of frequencies. Therefore operating (transmitting) on a frequency outside the antenna’s design parameters will produce poor results. It could even damage the radio!

BaoFeng Antenna Upgrade For Ham Radio Bands 144/440

The Ham Radio bands within the functionality of the BaoFeng do require a license to transmit. They are as follows:

VHF (Ham band) 144-148 MHz (2 Meter band)
UHF (Ham band) 420-450 MHz (70-centimeter)

The best Baofeng antenna upgrade for these Ham Radio bands:
(view on amzn)

It’s a 15.6 inch dual-band whip designed for Ham radio.

The NAGOYA NA-771 antenna is Tx optimized for 140-150 MHz and 420-450 MHz.

The exact optimization is 144 MHz and 430 MHz, and has a gain of 2.5 dBi.

My SWR tests indicated the NA-771 performed better than the Diamond SRJ77CA that I happened to also have.

There is another design of this antenna if you’re looking for a very flexible whip. Nagoya says, “Most notably the alloy whip is vastly improved for flexibility and durability.”

Best BaoFeng Antenna Upgrade for GMRS, FRS

This antenna will function best when operating on GMRS / FRS channels (frequencies / ‘band’). Again, the FCC rules for transmitting on GMRS are beyond the scope of this article.

The best aftermarket Baofeng antenna upgrade for GMRS:
NAGOYA NA-771G (15.3″ whip)
(BTECH on amzn)

Best SWR obtained on the NA-771G

I used the Surecom SW-102 for measurements. Although I have a really nice Daiwa SWR meter, this one enables direct connection for handheld radios. I’m not claiming it’s perfect. There are lots of variables while attempting to measure HT antenna SWR, and other better and more expensive ways to test. However it’s reasonable to use for comparison purposes from one antenna to another.

NAGOYA NA-701G (5.5″ whip)
(BTECH on amzn)

The NAGOYA NA-771G and the NA-701G antenna are Tx (transmit) optimized for the GMRS / FRS channel frequencies.

The exact optimization (at least where they specify ‘gain’) is 462 MHz.

The NA-771G has an incredible gain of 4.75 dBi. However it is 15.3 inches long, and may not be best suited for pocket carry or belt-clip wear. But it sure does perform very well.

Depending how the radio was held, SWR measurements ranged between 1.04 and 1.25 : 1 which is excellent!

Nagoya NA-771G is the best baofeng antenna upgrade for GMRS.

It’s little brother the NA-701G with it’s 5.5 inch whip and 2.15 dBi gain didn’t perform quite as well as the tall whip (to be expected), but was still very good.

I keep both model antennas because they each have their advantages and they both perform well!

Difference Between NA-771G and NA-701G
Pros and Cons of Nagoya 771G versus 701G antennas

The NA-771G has a significant gain advantage. My measured SWR is excellent for this antenna with essentially 100% of radio power being used (negligent reflected power). But as you can see in my photo above, that antenna is going to get in the way of things under some uses and circumstances. Although there are other uses and circumstances where this won’t be a particular problem. You WILL get more range from this one.

The NA-701G is the best choice antenna for normal use with GMRS. The antenna will not get in the way, and it still performs very well for any normal expected communication distances that one might expect from these radios.

With that said, a most important factor for VHF / UHF transmit range (distance) is height above ground level. The higher up, the better.

GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service)

A set of frequencies near 462 MHz and 467 MHz (some shared with FRS), popular and often shared on FRS/GMRS “bubble pack” radios. Transmitting on GMRS-specific frequencies does technically require a “no-test” license (good for the whole family, and for 10 years. $35 as of this update). Although apparently the FCC has not enforced this requirement that I know of.

FRS (Family Radio Service)

A set of frequencies near 462 MHz and 467 MHz. You do not need a license to operate on FRS ‘channels’. It’s basically today’s low power “walkie-talkie” band.

Best BaoFeng Antenna Upgrade for PLMRS (commercial/business), MURS, Maritime (marine radio)

MURS (Multi Use Radio Service)

A set of five frequencies near 151 MHz and 154 MHz. There are a wide variety of radio products that use MURS frequencies beyond just voice communications. Transmitting on MURS designated frequencies does not require a license.

Maritime Mobile

The Marine radio band falls on frequencies within the spectrum between 156 and 162 MHz. Mariners and boaters use the Marine band to communicate. In the case of recreational boaters, for the most part, no license is required.

PLMRS (Private Land Mobile Radio Services)

The ‘commercial business’ band within the spectrum between 150 and 174 MHz. It’s also generally known as the business radio band. Transmitting on these frequencies does require a license.

(BTECH on amzn)

The NAGOYA NA-701C antenna works best for the three aforementioned bands. It is Tx (transmit) optimized for VHF frequencies 150-165 MHz.

The exact optimization is 155 MHz. It has a gain of 2.5 dBi and a whip length of 8 inches.

Note: Their specifications for this antenna indicate that it will also perform in the UHF band (450 – 470 MHz), which would in theory cover GMRS / FRS. But not so fast, hold your horses..

My SWR testing indicates this not to be the best case, at all, with poor SWR. This may be the reason they’ve developed the 771G and 701G as described above. For this reason, I no longer recommend the 701C antenna for GMRS / FRS.

  • The 701C tuned the best (commercial bands) between 153-155 MHz (essentially a perfect SWR)
  • MURS channels SWR ranged from 1.8 to 2.4 : 1, which isn’t bad
  • Maritime (marine band) SWR ranged from 1 to 1.7 : 1

Why do preparedness-minded people purchase 2-way handheld VHF/UHF radios like the BaoFeng UV-5R or BF-F8HP?

Excellent features and technical capabilities versus price.

Because these radios fulfill the need for local 2-way communications and relaying information. This will become especially important following a disaster, or worse. Today’s conventional modern methods of communications may fail. As a result, cell phones, internet, and other digital communications may become inoperable without grid power.

Portable 2-way HT handheld radios will enable a local community to communicate with each other (for example). This will also provide serious advantages for local security. Similarly, 2-way radio communications will enhance one’s personal / home security.

I recommend the following model choice (if you’re going with Baofeng). It’s a step up from the original UV-5R. And new purchased radios can (apparently) still transmit on FRS/GMRS/MURS/Marine bands (see update below).


New UV-5R no longer allows 450+MHz transmissions?

Update: Apparently new Baofengs are now limited to only transmit on ham radio frequencies. 144-148 MHz, 222-225 MHz, 420-450 MHz — ONLY

Due to FCC action, new devices seem to be locked. Be aware of this when purchasing new devices.

That means they cannot be used to transmit on MURS, GMRS, FRS, Marine VHF, or Part 90 business frequencies.

Edit: this seems to apply to USA sold/distributed models only.

Update: Apparently there is a way to unlock / unblock / jailbreak the transmit frequencies on the newer Baofeng UV-5R radios so they function just like they used to. I’ve not tried it because all mine are already capable. You might simply search online for the ‘how-to’.

(here’s one youtube video about this)

Again, FCC rules are beyond the scope of this article.

FCC Rule Change

The last part of a FCC rule change went into effect September 30, 2019.

Why the fuss? The reasons are somewhat technically complicated among the FCC rules and regulations. However in short, in my interpretation,

  1. Because it is essentially an ‘open’ radio and can (could) transmit anywhere between 136-174 MHz and 400-520 MHz without restriction.
  2. Because it can transmit at higher power levels on bands / frequencies with existing FCC power restrictions.
  3. By FCC rule, a FRS-capable radio cannot accept an external antenna.

The following text is excerpted from the FCC (PRS reform).

Sales of FRS combination radios prohibited

Effective September 30, 2019, no person shall sell or offer for sale hand-held portable radio equipment capable of operating under this subpart (FRS) and under any other licensed or licensed-by-rule radio services in this chapter (devices may be authorized under this subpart with part 15 unlicensed equipment authorizations).

No person shall be permitted to manufacture or import, sell or offer for sale any radio equipment capable of operating under both subpart B (FRS) and any other service, other than part 15.

The Commission grandfathered the operation of any existing combination radios as set forth above, and reminded operators of such existing devices that fit within the reclassified GMRS category that they must obtain a license before operating a GMRS device. – Personal Radio Service Reform

In summary, as of this writing and according to the FCC text above, it evidently applies to the existing BaoFeng UV-5R radio variants (or any other similar radio which may fall outside FCC rules and certification).

However it is not illegal to operate them, provided that you operate within the constraints of FCC rules.

The Future of the UV-5R?

The purpose or use-case scenario of the typical inexpensive Baofeng UV-5R radio has not been for the Ham radio bands (though a capable entry level radio). Ham operators will often have more expensive radios, given the hobby.

That leaves the other bands which I’ve listed above. FRS, GMRS, MURS, Maritime, and the PLMRS Business band. The best aftermarket BaoFeng antenna upgrade for these bands are the NA-701C and the 771G (and 701G). These are the antennas I’ve purchased for my BaoFeng radios.

Legal operation is your responsibility.

Now if you consider post-collapse SHTF, you might say that “legality” of transmitting on frequencies which require license, may be “out the window”. Either way, the aftermarket antennas by NAGOYA that I’ve listed above will have you covered for this particular radio.

You may be interested in some of the following articles:

This Baofeng Extended Battery For Mission Critical Operations

Program a Baofeng Radio with CHIRP – Quick Start

VHF versus UHF for Handheld Radio Communications

2-way Radios for Communications

Your Tiny World Without Communications & Transportation

Best Portable Shortwave Radio For Preparedness


  1. Ken laid out the frequencies well. If ya have a baofeng, get the recommended antenna, above. Also you could add a 19″ wire to a grounded screw on the outside of the little radio. Any wire, just let it hang down.

    A little math here: vhf = 2 meter ham radio. 2 meters signifies the length of the radio wave, from one wave to the next. The 16.5″ recommended antenna plus the 3.5″ radio equals 20 inches. If ya add on the 19″ wire to the grounded screw. That is 20″ plus 19″ equals 39″. One meter is approximately 39″. You have just made a 1/2 wave antenna. The recommended antenna provides a 1/4 wave antenna.

    The antenna recommended by Ken is quite helpful for the baofeng, get it. I didn’t know anything about ham, just a very few years ago. It really isn’t hard. I was overwhelmed at first, just like you maybe? I’m not the brightest bulb on the string, so if I can do it, I know you can as well.

    The test has no math. It really isn’t hard.

  2. I’m no where near as smart as Plainsmedic and Ken or anyone really on this but that antenna does work much better than the factory one. It made a huge difference in the terrain when we were hunting just on the family channels. I feel a lot safer now when someone is in the couple of mile area with me. I bend it and run it thru my pack hydration tube loops to keep it down lower but raise it when needed at distance.
    Yeah Plainsmedic I downloaded and printed a 80 page technician question pool study guide today after my 8wt came in. I’m not feeling very smart at all

    1. Matt in Oklahoma;
      Don’t feel bad buddy, I bought one of these a few years back and have yet to figure out how the turn the friggen thing on….. Too many buttons and knobs.

    2. Matt,
      For some folks, it’s easier to do a flash card approach. hamstudy dot org will provide you with questions and multiple choice answers. Yes, those questions. You don’t have to actually know some of this stuff, ya just need to know the answer to THAT question. If ya recognize the question, and you will, the answer will jump off the page at you.

      Later on, you will want to know/understand how it works. Everyone learns in their own way. Use what works for you. You won’t regret doing this!! There will be 35 multiple choice questions. You can miss 9 and still pass. I’m rooting for ya.

      1. Thx
        That’s what I downloaded and printed. I’ll study it some tonight while I nurse and hand feed a sick chicken.

        1. Matt,
          Checkout the website. It does the flash card thing, for ya. Makes it easier than looking at a piece of paper. Gives the right answer when you’re wrong, etc. Worth messing with, in my humble opinion.

  3. If you rely on BaoFeng radios for your emergency communications needs I guess you’ll do just fine with a high point pistol too..

    You get what you pay for..

    1. @Donald,
      For many people the inexpensive BaoFeng radio has enabled entry level into this niche of communications. And there are lots of them in the hands of the preparedness-minded. Therefore I believe this article on aftermarket antennas for this radio to be helpful for some of the BaoFeng owners.

      1. Donald. Some of us ” Regular Folks” here, have champagne dreams and koolaid money.
        Sounds like you have the best of the best. Congratulations.
        We all do what we can do.
        While you are drinking Don Perignon and eating caviar. I guess I will be drinking cheap bourbon and eating chips and salsa from the dollar tree. I am OK with that!

    2. Don, let me try this with you. I will take my HK and High Point 9 MM guns and shot you in both legs (just a hypothetical). You tell me what one hurts more.

      I took the High Point on trade for some work I did for a guy that had no money and needed some plumbing repair done.

      High Point is low cost, but having owned it for 4-years I have to say it works every time.

      And as far as the BaoFeng’s I don’t have one but a lot of Ham’s do and they sound just as good as any Icom, Kenwood or Yaesu. I would guess you will not be able to tell what radio someone is using by listening to it on the local repeater.

      I don’t know how long a BaoFeng will last but they do work and they fill the entry level market pretty well.

      I’ve heard of them going dead, but I see Yaesu’s doing the same thing just as much or more. Icom’s seem to hold up very well, but they cost more also.

  4. Do people still need to know Morse? Government trained me to handle 25 groups per minute back in the 1970s. I think knowing Morse was once a requirement…

    I could play chess and listen to a Russian manual Morse transmission and never miss a dit.

  5. Antennas are without question the most important part of a radio system, Buy the best antenna you can find as it will be worth whatever you pay.

    I like Diamond antennas, I think they are the best there is and they have always given me great results.

    (Why do preparedness-minded people like to have 2-way handheld VHF/UHF radios like the BaoFeng UV-5R or BF-F8HP)

    Because they are easy to buy and use. Inexpensive and fill a need.

    I like Ham radios as there is nothing to match them.

    Is Ham radio better? YES, but Ham radio is a whole lot complicated and involved. Likely more so then many would like to deal with.

    I like Ham radio but I have been a radio guy for 40-years and still I learn new things all the time. I can see that most people don’t want to go into it that deep. so BaoFeng ‘s work for them.

    BaoFeng’s fill a need and do it without too much complication. Nothing wrong with that.

    If I were not a Ham and were wanting radios to use among family and friends I would use MURS as they are a lot less of them out there.

    Please be aware that any radio you use is probably being monitored by someone. Myself and many of my friends listen to everything (and then some) You MUST assume someone is listening to you. Take care in what you say, it would surprise you how much you can learn listening to people that give little thought to how far a radio can transmit.

    PS: It’s a good idea to find an old analog scanner (they are inexpensive, $20.00 or less, someone gave me 2 of them yesterday. A 100-channel and a 200 channel one.) and program it with the BaoFeng frequencies, VHF marine frequencies to listen to. Analog scanners can’t listen to police or fire any more as pretty much all public service is digital. That’s why these radios are not valued by most people these days.

    In a SHTF situation bad-guys could use radios to implant attacks. Knowing it’s coming could save your life. I would also suggest a CB radio to listen to as there are a lot of CB’s out there and people will use them.

    Look on-line for BaoFeng / prepper frequencies and you will find a list of what to put in a scanner. Look for at least a 200-channel scanner as there are a lot of frequencies to listen to.

    1. CF,
      Thanks for your comments. I bought a course online for the Technician license and I enjoyed it enough to go on and get the General license. I went with the BaoFeng BF-F8HP but I really can’t remember all of the reasons why. I added the Diamond SRJ77CA which improved the performance. All of the equipment and courses was under $200 when the dust settled. I have been satisfied with what I have.

      1. CF,
        Now I remember, I went with the F8HP because it is an upgraded UV 5R with 8 watts of output.

  6. I’m glad some of y’all chimed in on these posts.

    This is exactly what I stated that I had found with ham clubs. Snobs and smart elecks

    In learning:
    I’m so glad that I’m now armed with the knowledge of how far up I have to send my satellite in order for it to become an official space station by FCC rules. This will really help me run a walkie while I hunt LOL. I’m seeing why there are just study guides and no one is actually trying to learn the entire thing.

    Thanks Ken for posting the additional equipment for those that have it. Same guy probably quit carrying the gun he really liked cause they quit making holsters commercially too or quit driving the car he had cause they don’t make paint for it anymore.

  7. Chuck Findlay,
    Thanks for chiming in. Folks, Chuck is the kind of ham we all need. He knows of which he speaks. People like Chuck are in most local ham clubs. They will help you, without running you down. Don’t let the nay sayyers get ya down. Disregard my comments, in favor of Chuck’s. I still have a lot to learn.

  8. I received a comment from “Mark”, who seems “in the know”. He commented regarding the FCC rules and regulations. I’m posting it for your consumption:

    There’s no “new ban” of Baofeng radios. There was a recent enforcement advisory, to reiterate the existing rules that radios must be certified for the bands in which they are sold and marketed for. The precedent-setting case against Amron several years ago is what was cited, which happened to involve Baofeng radios, but there’s no rule that targets that brand.

    It wasn’t ever legal to use a Baofeng or similar radio unlocked if it didn’t have certification for the other bands in which it can transmit. In other words, radios should be locked down for Tx on ham bands only, or if they are sold as Part 90 radios, the VFO and keypad must be locked in such as way that you can’t unlock them from the external controls. That’s not new.

    The PRS band rule changes from 2 years ago as of Sep. 28th, when the last part of the rule changes went into effect, have nothing to do with Baofeng either. They were about a reorganization of the rules, a few listed restrictions, reclassification of existing FRS/GMRS hybrid radios (now considered FRS if 2W or less), and some other details.

    There is NO legal FRS radio capable of using an external antenna. FRS radios are not allowed to have removable antennas at all. GMRS & MURS, on the other hard, are. GMRS requires a no-test license. Of course, during SHTF, who cares.

    I hope this clears things up a little.

  9. I recently purchased a VSWR / power meter with a design enabling direct connection to the Baofeng radio for testing antennas for various frequency bands. I’ve just updated this article’s recommendations, given my results discussed in the article (Best Baofeng antenna upgrades).

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