When searching for a two way radio to fit a particular terrestrial activity or application, it generally comes down to a choice between either a business or consumer grade model. Each category is intended for use on a specific radio service, and each has its own advantages and limitations. Fortunately, there is one category that has all the best qualities of both. We're talking about the MURS.
The Multi-Use Radio Service, or MURS, is a rather unique radio service that is usually overlooked, quite underused and greatly underrated. There are five MURS frequencies, all reserved on the VHF band for business, personal or recreational use at up to two watts of power, and without a license. MURS is license-by-rule, meaning that simply owning and operating an FCC type accepted MURS radio gives you the license to use it.
Now, two watts may not seem like a big deal, but it's actually a fair amount of power when applied to the VHF band. And as any seasoned radio operator knows, when it comes to maximizing range, wattage is not what really counts anyway. It's the antenna and where it's positioned within line-of-sight that makes all the difference. This is an important point to consider, because MURS allows for detachable and external mount antennas. You can hear All About MURS on our podcast, The Two Way Radio Show.
If MURS is so great, where are all the MURS radios? Good question. As mentioned before, MURS is often overlooked for a multitude of reasons, and most are market driven. But that doesn't mean they aren't out there. On the contrary, a number of MURS radios do exist, and in several different forms. There are handheld models, base stations, Intercoms and Callboxes and even a PA System available for MURS. With this eclectic selection, the question now becomes, which is the best MURS radio?
Of course, the best form factor largely depends on your application, but as far as portable handhelds go, it's really no contest. Here are our picks for best MURS radio.
Best Value MURS Radio
The Wouxun KG-805M is our winner for the best value MURS radio on the market. Introduced in 2019, it's also a fairly new model. It has five channels programmed with all five MURS frequencies and transmits at a full 2 watts, the maximum for the MURS. It sports a backit LCD display with an option to choose one of three backlight colors, which can be customized for transmit, receive or standby modes. The keys are also backlit for operation at night or in poorly lit areas.
The KG-805M features 155 CTCSS tones and DCS privacy codes, channel scan, a built-in FM radio, channel name edit and display, and VOX. The 805M can also be programmed from a PC to receive NOAA weather channels and for other advanced customization. It's rated IP55 for dust and water, which means it's a fairly tough little radio for use in the field.
As an added bonus, the antenna is also removable! This is a powerful advantage over other handheld MURS radios with fixed antennas, as it allows the operator to swap out with the stock antenna for another to optimize range or possibly even to attach an external antenna to considerably increase it.
Overall, the Wouxun KG-805M is a solid MURS radio, and it's packed with features at a cost that is both advantageous for businesses and affordable for the average consumer. For these reasons, we consider the KG-805M to be the best overall value MURS radio out there. Price: $79.99
Best Overall MURS Radio
The Motorola RMM2050 gets the award for best overall MURS radio currently available. Designed specifically for on-site business operations, the RMM2050 offers great audio and excellent range on VHF. It has five channels and the maximum 2 watts of power, a multi-color LED indicator, and two programmable buttons. It features three audible call tones, hands-free VOX mode, three voice-inversion scramble codes, and channel announcement with voice alias.
The RMM2050 is programmable and can be easily cloned with an optional cloning cable connected to the charger. It's also one of the toughest MURS radios around, with an IP54/55 rating and built to meet MilSpec 810 standards for shock, rain, humidity, salt fog, vibration, sand, dust, and temperature. As with many other radios in the Motorola RM Series, the RMM2050 also includes antimicrobial protection. Want a closer look at this model? Watch our Motorola RMM2050 unboxing video!
If it looks somewhat familiar to longtime MURS users, that's because it is. The RMM2050 is the successor to the classic RDM2020. While a bit pricier than the Wouxun model, Its tough exterior and excellent quality sound is well worth the investment. Price: $189.00