A Guide to the Different Types of UV-5R Radios

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By the author of The Faithful Prepper and The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications.

The Organic Prepper has intelligent readers. One only needs to read through the comment section to realize this. Just the other day, a commenter on an article of mine pointed out that there were different types of UV-5R radios.

While I knew that there were different battery pack versions, colors, etc., out there, I had no clue that there were UV-5Rs with different spectrum abilities. (Lesson learned: read the comments section more often.)

What are some of the different types of Baofeng UV-5R radios out there? Let’s take a quick look…

A quick caveat

For starters, there are a number of different Baofeng units that are available out there. Not everything that you’ll see on this list is technically considered a UV-5R, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, we’re calling it a duck here. Also…

Watch out for the fakes.

There are a number of knockoff versions of UV-5R radios out there that you are going to want to avoid. Baofeng is the brand that you are looking for, though, to my understanding, B-TECH is the real deal brand-wise as well. Anything else you find online, just stay away from it.

UV-5R 8W High Power

This is an 8W version that has a big ol’ battery pack that will give you plenty of juice for when you’re out and about. If you only want to use this radio for licensed ham radio contacts, you’re in luck, as this version only is capable of transmitting and receiving on 144-148MHz/420-520MHz.

It’s kind of a bummer of radio, in my opinion, as this means you aren’t going to be able to pick up any of the analog (old school) public service radio transmissions in your region, nor will you be able to pick up a host of other interesting frequencies that older UV-5Rs were capable of picking up.

The new neutered UV-5R

If I had a choice between the above or this one, I’d pick the above. You end up with a bigger battery pack and the ability to work the exact same frequencies – 144-148MHz/420-520MHz. This is pretty lame of a version if you ask me.

(Comms aren’t the only prep you should be looking into. Do you have your food storage in order? Make sure you check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to home canning to get the info you need sooner rather than too late.)

UV-5RIII with programming cable

This is more like it. For starters, this version of the UV-5R is a tri-band. That means it can pick up three different segments of the radio wave spectrum. Typically, the UV-5R is a dual-band radio – capable of picking up the 2-meter band (good for rural locations) and the 70 cm band (good for urban locations).

This radio can also pick up the 1.25-meter band – a feature I personally like for the reason that nobody seems to ever be on the 1.25-meter band (at least where I live). If you don’t want everybody with a radio in your area to hear your conversation with your buddy about your secret fishing holes, it’s pleasant to have access to a band that is not anywhere as busy as the 2-meter band. Two antennas are included to allow you to listen in on the 1.25-meter band (a 2-meter/70cm band antenna won’t work on 1.25 meter).

Another benefit of this radio is that you can listen in on more than the UV-5R models above. You have access to 136-174MHz, 400-520MHz, and 220-260MHz.

The programming cable is thrown in here as well, meaning you can instantly download CHIRP and upload your settings to your radio without having to make a second online purchase. Want a one-and-done UV-5R? This is it.

Just a UV-5RIII

This is the UV-5RIII just without the programming cable. If you already have a cable, this can save you $10.

BF-R3

Okay, so this isn’t technically a UV-5R. It’s so similar, though, that I think it’s pointless to call it by any other name. This is just a slightly upgraded version of the UV-5RIII. You end up with a bigger battery, tri-band capability, two antennas (one of which is for the 1.25-meter band), and a waterproof radio in your hands.

Most UV-5R models aren’t waterproof at all, so this alone is a nice feature. When scanning through a band, you also have the option of setting a start and end frequency for the scanning process.

If you’re tired of your radio picking up two old guys hogging up a repeater every time you try to scan through the 2-meter band, this can help you to avoid doing so and to scan through what you really want to hear faster. I’m personally not aware of any other UV-5R that does that (but, again, this technically isn’t a UV-5R).

These are bare-bones preps that will help to keep your neighborhood safe. 

Comms preps don’t have to be expensive, and a UV-5R is a perfect example as to why. Aside from helping you to transmit valuable information over sizable distances instantaneously, these may also make great barter items as they’re a fairly practical unit of value. Just make sure you know the type of UV-5R that you are buying before you ever hit that “Buy” button.

What are your thoughts here? Are there other versions of the UV-5R that we didn’t cover that people need to know about? Do you have other advice here that you can share? Let us know in the comments below.

About Aden

Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has three published books, The Faithful Prepper The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

A Guide to the Different Types of UV-5R Radios
Aden Tate

Aden Tate

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  • Prepping should be based more upon knowledge and skills, than things.
    Most people will come to the shocking revelation when SHTF, that being mobile is either necessary or preferable, in order to survive the first year or so.
    Thus they will be leaving most of their stuff (preps), behind.

    Next, if you are looking for local contact and info with the majority of people try CB radio. 2 meter is a short range Short wave frequency but requires repeaters for longer distance communications. Most of those repeaters are built to be connected to the grid for power. No grid power and the 2 meter rand will not be much better than CB is, with a whole lot fewer people on 2 meters.
    Many people have an old CB kicking around their garage and there will be a lot of them looted from electronics stores, truck stops, etc. Most of the truckers still have one in their trucks. Truckers can give you a wealth of intel on both the local conditions and what they know personally or from other CBer’s about conditions elsewhere.

    As far as their batteries are concerned, although these units are handi talkies, they will do best when connected to a car battery powered or solar powered system and a decent, fixed antenna array. So what size battery they come with matters very little. There are also some larger aftermarket batteries that are available.

  • These radios are not useable with Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood, and other H.T.s. Parts are not interchangeable also these are computer programmed only so if all pwr is out and all pads are dead you can not program them.

    Many of the hams I know who had them got rid of them due to breakage. The ones I have are rechargeable by cars or other units. Also radio programable from 160 through 440 set up for battery power or car use. Before you buy find a experienced ham see how he has it set up ask questions and learn to pass your radio license for when all other comms are down ham radio will work. KD7QDL…

    • I don’t know where you are getting your information from, but it is in error. I converse with other hams almost daily using a Beofeng while they are using the same, or any of the brands you listed. Beofengs can be manually programmed, although a PITA, as can any of the others you mentioned. I have programmed mine using both methods. So it makes no difference whether the grid is up or down. It appears that your General Class license became effecting just on the 12th of this month. Maybe you should follow your own advice and find an experienced ham.
      NK4DD

  • Personally, quite a while back, I chose to go with the Baofeng UV 82HP over the UV 5 series. Newer chip set and more power, it also operates across a broader range than the UV 5s.

    In Colorado, a number of the privately owned repeaters are independent of the grid, as they rely on solar power.

  • As far as HT’s go, I’ve got two of them. a Baofeng BF-F8HP 8-watt VHF/UHF, and a BTECH UV-5X3 5 Watt Tri-Band (includes 1.25m). They’ve been working well for me, and I bought a car charger for the charging base so I can still use them in the event of a power outage (I live in an apartment, and solar isn’t really an option for me at this time). Not bad little radios and not terribly expensive. The BTECH Tri-Band came with a Nagoya NA-320A antenna, which works for tri-band use.

  • The 8 watt is called: BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band.

    We use them when we don’t want to have a cell on us. If you use the small 1.7″ spiral antenna (SRH805S) it can easily be worn on a belt in crowds.

    Get the mini-whip antenna since the rubber-duck that it comes with is very short range.

    Radio: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MAULSOK/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Spiral Antenna: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BDAKDJS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    15.6″ mini whip: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KC4PWQQ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

  • I need to learn and become knowledgeable in the communication area. Can anyone give me a good resource to learn in this area?

  • Despite the negatives mentioned regarding these radios it should be mentioned that RECEIVING info can be as vital as giving.
    NOT to argue a point, yet being able to listen in, can be valuable in making decisions on what you MAY/NEED to do next. I am new to radio, just got my license. While I am still experiencing “mic fright” (:/) I find it interesting how much I can listen in on simply running through frequencies. Such as where the fish are biting best. I’d want to know that in an emergency. Though the others don’t want to share. (Fishing groups can be notoriously tight lipped.)
    Being part of a local radio group has provided me with frequencies used by local “authorities” which can assist in keeping me abreast of activities in the surrounding area. Maybe not legal, but in desperate times, if the law ain’t in force, I want to know what I can know.
    Next. As PARANOID as this will sound, Baofeng is a Chinese made radio. Having followed progress the Chinese have made in only the last 12 years AGAINST the USA, (from within the USA!), I am not confidant these Baofengs are as ‘safe’ for use in a SHTF situation. Yes I will use mine, but with determined caution. My next radio is going to be strictly US made even though the argument can be made our current gov’t can’t be trusted either.

    • A lot of knowledgeable people, over years now, have checked the Baofengs inside and out. Still no evidence of Chinese dirty work. Cheap radios: are we benefiting from cheap prison labor? But regardless of radio there’s plenty of evidence of jamming by our own authorities. Lots to consider. Bao’s are a good place to start and gain knowledge and experience. IMO.

  • I currently own six Beofeng UV-5s. One has stopped receiving. Two I use often. Three were programmed fully and reside in a faraday cage. All mine are early production, meaning they can be programmed for useable frequencies outside what the FCC denotes as legal ham freqs. This gave the FCC heartburn. Beofeng was directed to correct this feature if they wanted to continue importing into the US, and I think they must have. With the older radios MURS, FSR, and GMRS could easily be added in addition to the normal duel-band ham frequencies. One little HT… five band capability. How nice!

    Most new hams buy and HT for their first radio. The economy Beofengs are very prevalent in my region and perform just fine on the numerous repeaters. Reports have been the the higher wattage HTs really are not providing the higher wattage advertised, so keep that in mind. Also, add a better antenna. Those ‘rubber duckies’ that arrive with the HT are very short range. Still, don’t expect more than a mile or two (depending on conditions) radio to radio. That short range could be an asset to security within a group since no one far away could listen to your conversations. But I have sat on my deck using a echo-link repeater and conducted a QSO three states away. Not bad for 5 watts.

    Yeasu is a name in ham radio that is well known and well respected. If Beofeng isn’t your choice, Yeasu is now marketing a HT (FT-65) that is built to commercial standards (very rugged and water resistant) for less than $90.

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