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.

> jump to (FRS, GMRS, MURS, Marine, PLMRS)

> jump to recommendation (Ham Radio bands)

Many people have purchased at least a pair of the popular BaoFeng UV-5R (or variants thereof) 2-way radio. Often several sets (or more). The problem is… The stock BaoFeng antenna is less than ideal. If you’re serious about optimizing 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)

BaoFeng UV-5R Ban of New Sales?

For your information. The last part of a FCC rule change from ~2 years ago will be effective September 30, 2019, and it will (apparently) affect new sales of the popular BaoFeng UV-5R and BF-F8HP radios (view on amzn). Although they are still available as of this update.

[ UPDATE (Late 2020) ] These radios are still available. They are NOT banned.

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 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.

FederalRegister.gov – 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.

Why Are BaoFeng Portable 2-way Radios Popula?

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 information gathering and communication. This will become very important following 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.

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.

BEST BAOFENG ANTENNA | NAGOYA

Okay, enough already! What about the antenna?

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:

Your antenna upgrade choice depends on what 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!

Ham Radio bands:

BaoFeng Antenna Upgrade For Ham Radio Bands

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 antenna upgrade for these Ham Radio bands:
>> NAGOYA NA-771
(view on amzn)

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. It’s whip is nearly 16 inches long.

There is a newer design of this antenna with slightly less gain (2.25 dbi) but with an extra thin more flexible whip.
>> NA-24J

FRS, GMRS, MURS, Marine, Business band:

Best BaoFeng Antenna Upgrade for FRS, GMRS, MURS

This antenna will function best when operating on FRS, GMRS, MURS, Maritime, or PLMRS bands.

The best aftermarket antenna upgrade for these bands:
>> NAGOYA NA-701C
(view on amzn)

Why? Because the NAGOYA NA-701C antenna is Tx (transmit) optimized for 150-165 MHz and 450-470 MHz.

The exact optimization is 155 MHz and 455 MHz, and has a gain of 2.5 dbi. It’s whip is 8 inches long.

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!

FRS (Family Radio Service) are a set of frequencies near 462 MHz and 467 MHz. You do not need a license to operate here. It’s basically today’s low power “walkie-talkie” band. Note the BaoFeng breaks the rules in the FRS frequencies by allowing the operator to transmit higher power than regulation and to use external antenna.

GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) are also a set of frequencies near 462 MHz and 467 MHz (some shared with FRS). It is also 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). Although apparently the FCC has not enforced this requirement that I know of.

MURS (Multi Use Radio Service) is 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 or 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) is 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.

The Takeaway

The purpose or use-case scenario of the typical inexpensive BaoFeng radio is usually not 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 for these bands is is the NA-701C. It is the antenna which 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 two aftermarket antennas by NAGOYA that I’ve listed above will have you covered for this particular radio.

[ Read:

2-way Radios for Communications

Your Tiny World Without Communications & Transportation

Best Portable Shortwave Radio For Preparedness

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44 Comments

  1. So reading that it sounds like any radio that is FRS is now restricted? Does that mean the ones that are combo, GMRS FRS? As well? Seems odd, the Baofang is UHF FRS? Primarily UHF though?
    I could just be an idiot though

    1. Kulafarmer,
      No. Not any radio that is FRS capable. Evidently NEW “combo” radios which include FRS are now restricted. It sounds like they don’t want the “walkie-talkie” consumer types to have the capability to transmit out of band.

  2. Kulafarmer,
    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.

    1. Bear in mind that I’m recommending TWO antenna choices. One for HAM bands (2 meter / 70-centimeter), and the other for (FRS/GMRS/MURS/Maritime/PLMRS). Each have their own unique characteristics.

      My BaoFeng radios are set up for the latter, because I operate them on those bands rather than the HAM bands.

      The picture up top show two of my BaoFeng radios. One has the HAM antenna installed (on the left, the tall one) and the other has the shorter 8″ antenna.

      1. Ken,

        It’s a minor point but…”HAM” is neither an acronym nor a proper name. “Ham Radio” is a slang term for Amateur Radio which is defined and regulated under Part 95 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. And transmission on Amateur Radio frequencies requires an appropriate license issued by the FCC. Just wanted to make that clear as it seems to be a mistake that many people make.

      2. Ken,
        This is most likely a stupid question, but is the Baofeng the only one being restricted? Or are all hand held UHF/VHF radios being restricted? Or only the ones that will do the UHF/VHF/FRS? Got to parden me, feelin sorta slow today

  3. Just one more step so TPTB can control American communications. They control the banks, the food, the medicine, the educational system, and are working on all comms from internet to air waves.

    1. (Just one more step so TPTB can control American communications. They control the banks, the food, the medicine, the educational system, and are working on all comms from internet to air waves.)

      I kinda understand your view to a point. But there would be complete anarchy on the air without some control. Example: Go spend a few hours listening to CB. It’s filled with a lot of garbage, filth and in many cases outright fools.

      I in no way want that on The Ham Bands. Just because governments institute some laws and rules doesn’t make it all bad.

      Ham radio is unique in that it’s self-policing and Ham’s try to keep their bands and frequencies in order.

      And FRS, GMRS MURS, Marine, Public Services, Aircraft all rely more on The FCC to police them. Also radio manufactures (other then a few like Baofeng who makes radios that transmit well outside of the bands) generally only build radios that work on the intended bands.

      All this keeps things running well as needed.

      But either way it’s done it is needed to keep it all working well.

      The FCC long ago gave up on CB and look at how it is.

      PS: Baofeng has been under the FCC microscope just because they dump a lot of radios on the market that do work outside of the bands. It’s causing problems and I don’t see it as good.

  4. 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.

      1. It’s intimidating at first. But like anything, the more you play with it (via reading the manual about the settings), the easier it becomes. It does take some technical “know-how” to advantage its features.

    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.

        1. Relax Plump
          I’m learning it.
          Well trying lol

          It looks a lot like other certifications for jobs. You need bout 10% to get it done.

          Do I really need to know all this about radiation to talk on a walkie? No lol

        2. (Yeah…why actually learn something when you can fake it. Sad.) Grow up! If you don’t like the way it’s done go take it up with The FCC they make the rules, not some arrogant poster on a BBS.

          The object is not to learn everything at once, the Tech level is an entry level. Many Ham’s don’t need or want to go beyond that point. You can do a lot with the Tech licence.

          To anyone wanting to get a Ham ticket all you need to do is download and print the test. it’s a multiple choice test. every question has 4 choices. (A,B,C D) you just have to pick the right answer. Here’s the thing that makes it easy. The FCC gives you the right answer. All you need to is take a sharpie and black out the 3 wrong answers. That way you only see the right answer to each question.

          Read it several times and the right answer will come to you when you take the test.

          The test is only 35 questions long and you can get 9 of them wrong and still pass.

          Once you pass no Ham (other then Einstein above) will ever ask how many questions you got right. no ones cares. All they care about is that you passed and that’s it.

          As far as learning all about radios, that will come if you want to learn more. But it is in no way needed to enjoy the hobby.

          I know many Hams (some that have been at it for 40-years) that only use a hand held radio. And pretty much all Hams are OK with that. Go farther into it or stay with the HT (HT + Hand Held radios) have fun with it.

        3. Plump,
          Really!!!! From everything I read, ham is slowly dying. If ya can get someone started, they will likely WANT to learn. They will NEED to know how it works. Let me guess, you have no use for lowly technicians, right? They don’t know what you know, do they?

          Do ya know how to wire a house or building? I doubt it, but ya use electricity every day. Plumbing? Computers? The list is endless. I agree with your comment; SAD really really SAD. If you are a ham, you are part of the problem. You don’t offer help or share your vast set of ham skills. Condescention is your “go to.” I can only dream of having the skills and intellect of “SAD.”

          Don’t try to help anyone get started in ham. It’s only for “Experts” like you, right? As with everything, there are always a few jerks.

          1. Plainsmedic — “ham is slowly dying”…Golly no. I love fried Ham and Eggs…(okay bad joke…sigh)

  5. Wow, Now I know there’s an awesome radio that has an awesome new antenna, that I can no longer buy ! Great!

    1. @Florida Prepper,
      The radio has been available for many years. There are lots and lots of them in the hands of the public. Though evidently no longer legally for sale, I feel the antenna information might be valuable for some of the BaoFeng owners to know, who may not otherwise know it already.

      1. I agree Ken, just wish somehow the timing of your article could have been a bit earlier than the day the radios that many of us did not know about, became illegal to buy. Great for the guy who knew about them prior to the rest of us. I’m sure the antenna will help those few. I come to your site to learn and find great products that may help me.

        1. Actually, the upcoming ban is what got me to thinking about it ;)

          Anyway, I’ll be writing about more 2-way radio alternatives in the future. Thanks for visiting.

          1. Florida Prepper & Ken

            Just checked on Ready Made Resources.
            They still have the BaoFeng BF-F8HP (and others) on their site for sale.
            Just Saying.

          2. Shhhh….
            Given the slow wheels of motion with .gov, maybe this will go on for awhile. We’ll see…

          3. Ken,
            Do you still want us to use your link to Amz. ? Or will that make you an accomplice to the “sale”? LOL, things are getting complicated.

  6. 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. 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 a low cost gun, 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.

    3. Donald, I just ordered a few “pre-ban” (ugh). UV9’s to go with my old 5’s. Just as a receiver alone, I feel they are a good deal. I don:t have any high points though. Ghetto piece. Horrible

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

      Ken’s #3 above didn’t happen for me, even with 2 very experienced Ham’s helping me we never succeeded.

      Just ignore the nasty replies and keep sharing the information.

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. For a legal means of coms between your local groups, have you considered the Nextel i355 direct talk ppt? The signals frequency hop making it difficult for the sdr group to listen in on your coms. You can make private group/individual calls then make general calls. They are very robust phones and parts/batteries/sim cards are very available. I am NOT talking about direct connect. These phones can be set up for power up, direct talk mode. They have a half mile range with good wall penetration.

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