The 10 Best Walkie Talkies
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in May of 2015. Whether you're looking for a stimulating toy for the kids or a reliable communications device for a worksite, you're sure to find the right walkie-talkie for your needs in our comprehensive selection. We've included options useful for people operating fairly close together as well as models with maximum ranges of many miles, ranked here by their power, user friendliness, and value. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 28, 2020:
While there weren't a lot of big shake-ups in this category, we did see fit to make a few pointed changes. For starters, we removed the Arcshell Long Range and replaced them with the Kenwood TK-3402 ProTalk, which boast the maximum power allowed in a handheld unit like this, and that offer superior build quality from a more reliable brand than Arcshell. Sure, they're undeniably more expensive, but we already have a few good budget offerings that exceed the Arcshell's capabilities in the Motorola T260 Talkabout and the Cobra RX680.
We also upgraded the Motorola T460s to the Motorola T482 Emergency, which have similar range and clarity across their channels, but that also incorporate a couple of items that could prove useful in a crisis, like an emergency checklist and a whistle built into the belt clip. Another upgrade came in the Retevis RT48, replacing the company's RT21 models included last time around. For a marginal increase in investment, these offer significantly more water and dust resistance, as well as charging bases designed to plug into USB ports, so you can charge them using anything from a car adapter to a portable power pack if you're out in the field without access to an outlet.
November 21, 2019:
Going over the contents of our previous ranking, there was a certain level of redundancy, particularly with the inclusion of the Proster Original, the Arcshell Long Range, and the Baofeng BF888S, all three of which are literally the same walkie with three different brand names slapped on them — same appearance, same specs, and virtually the same price. Now, we ditched two kept the Baofeng for a pair of reasons. One, it's the most trusted name of the three, and two, I've owned these exact walkies for about two years and can testify to their good qualities and their bad.
Unfortunately, much of that previous list contained either outdated models from decent brands or offerings from brands that have no place on a list like this, and as a result we sent a lot of them packing. We also decided not to include any kids' models on this list, as the prices for adult models have brought them within reach for most kids, and as we already have a dedicated page for kids' walkie-talkies. In their places you'll fine models like the Uniden SX507, the Motorola 22-Channel, and the Dewalt DXFRS800, all offered by respectable, reliable companies with reputations you can trust.
Another important factor in selecting the models for this list was that they had to be useful without an FCC license. To make this simple, if you see FRS anywhere in a listing or description, you're in the clear. That stands for Family Radio Service, and it pertains to the FM frequency range the FCC has set aside for private, non-commercial use. Within that band, however, is a range referred to as the General Mobile Radio Service, which is often accessed by devices with at least two or three watts of power behind them. You'll need a license to safely and responsibly broadcast on GMRS channels. Now, some of the models on our list offer GMRS coverage, but none are exclusive to it, so as long as you pay attention to you manual (or go out and get a license), you'll be in the clear. Never operate on restricted FCC bands without proper licensing.