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Repeater capable FRS/GMRS radios

We often receive questions about the range limitations of consumer FRS/GMRS radios. In fact, it is probably one of the most commonly asked questions about them, and for many, it seems to be one of the most important considerations when shopping for a handheld radio. This is certainly understandable, of course. Everyone wants the ability to communicate with others across great distances, and certainly more than just across their front yard.

However, since radios communicate line-of-sight, and given the power and other limitations of the typical FRS/GMRS handheld walkie talkie, coupled with the uncertainty of weather conditions, location and terrain, the average range of direct radio-to-radio communications with the typical consumer radio may not meet some applications.

In such a scenario, one may need more than just a standard walkie-talkie. One may need a handheld radio with the ability to operate through a repeater.

Although the FCC does not allow the use of a repeater on FRS frequencies (and given the 1/2 watt limitation of the FRS service, it isn't practical anyway), it does allow the use of repeaters on the GMRS. Yes, there are GMRS repeaters out there, not too many, but they do exist. But what about repeater ready GMRS radios?

Yes, they do exist as well. We receive frequent inquiries and requests from customers who are searching for GMRS radios with the ability to operate through GMRS repeaters. While they aren't common, they certainly are out there, and they aren't too hard to find.

This chart lists brand name portable handheld GMRS radios currently available with repeater capability. Click on the name or image of each model for details and more specifications on each radio. All models listed in the chart are available from Buy Two Way Radios.

FRS/GMRS Two Way Radio Comparison Chart

Model Interference
Eliminator
Codes
FRS/GMRS
Channels
Weather
Channels
Repeater
Capable
Repeater
Channels
Motorola
Talkabout MR355R
121 22 11 8
Motorola
Talkabout MS350R
121 22 11 8
Motorola
Talkabout MS355R
121 22 11 8
Olympia R500 121 50* 11 8

Additional resources:
TWRS-68 - An Introduction to Repeaters
Radio 101 - How To activate repeater channels on a Motorola Talkabout radio


*According to Olympia, the 50 channels consist of 22 FRS/GMRS and 28 "extra" channels.

9 Comments

Great information. I think maybe something like this may work great for when my family goes hiking in case we decide to split up on the trail. Thanks for sharing!

I'm currently looking for a high power base/mobile GMRS radio that is repeater capable as well! It seems to me that all I can find in this category is an expensive "UHF business class" or "UHF ham" radio that can also be "programmed" to use the GMRS repeaters... I'm curious if there's anybody currently manufacturing a true high power 50/25/10/5 watt GMRS only base/mobile radio that is programmable for repeater use at a decent price? I find it kind of odd that I can't find something like this being offered for sale under the current rules & regs... I'm using the repeater capable Motorola MS350R hand held radio that only has 3 watts output and need more power! Any ideas as if anybody currently has plans on the drawing board for manufacturing something like this in the near future? Any suggestions you have would be extremely helpful... Maybe I need to cash in and find a manufacturer that can work with me to design a model in exchange for a couple new radios...

what is the date on this information?

Missing from the above list is the Garmin Rino 650 series, which is a FRS/GMRS repeater-capable handheld radio, with integrated GPS.

The article says that there are GMRS repeaters available, but does not identify any specific make/models. I'm looking to install a GMRS repeater; can anyone point me in the right direction? All I'm finding are "repeater controllers" which require two GMRS radios (with specific connection ports) to be plugged into them. Is there a commercially available GMRS repeater out there?

I am looking for a fully fledged part 95a certified mobile radio that is capable of repeater operations as well as simplex on all GMRS channels AND has a 45-50W transmitter output. So far i have not been able to find this. Any hints???

I wish there was a repeater capable transceiver with NOAA All Hazard Alert function!

In answer to Bernt, Robert and Tim, high powered GMRS radios/repeaters seem only to exist in the past (as business radios that were part 95 certified.)

Ebay, local amateurs/GMRS operators or GMRS websites are your best source for more info and radios.

Thanks Rick,
I will check it out.
BTW I spoke too soon, it looks like the Olympia R500 has weather alerts...just not sure if it is "all hazards" and can be set to local alerts because what I'm worried about is forest fire.

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