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GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service)

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A valid alternative to the CB radio?

The CB radio has been the go to radio for offroad enthusiast for decades because at the time it was the best option that didn't require you to test and know morse code. Today there are more options but most offroaders are still using CB. Why?

Ok I know there are people who are scared of the ham test (though it no longer requires morse code) and there are people whole don't like Government rules/control or giving the government money... I get it, but for the rest of the population there are other alternatives.

Though GMRS does require a license there isn't a test. The license is good for 10 years (after 9/28/2017), cost $70, and covers your immediate family. Figure that is $7 a year, forgo a couple of lattes every once in a while and you will have that $70 back in no time.

GMRS also shares it's frequencies with those little handheld radios you can purchase at any major retailer. Those handheld radios are in the Family Radio Service (FRS) and while they share the same frequencies they are lower power, 2 watts or less. GMRS allows up to 50 watts and there are small mobile radios available, but they are capable of working with each other which makes the FRS radios great spotter radios.

What are some of the pros of GMRS over CB...
Power: CB is limited to 4 watts (AM) or 12 watts (SSB which most don't use offroad). GMRS can have up to 50 watts.
Modulation: CB is AM (typically used offroad, some CBs also have SSB, Single Side Band). GMRS is FM. Just like in your vehicle, FM has better audio quality.
Repeaters: CB doesn't have repeaters. GMRS is repeater capable to increase range, though typically only around metropolitan areas.
Antenna: For CB the optimum mobile antenna is 108" (1/4 wave), anything shorter is a compromise. For GMRS a 1/4 wave antenna is 6" and needs far less ground plane than a CB antenna so it can be mounted virtually anywhere.

Right now Midland is the only company I have found producing GMRS mobile radios. The 5 watt MXT-105 is $100, the 15 watts MXT-115 is $150 and the 40 watt MXT-400 is $250.
Midland does occasionally offer a 20% off promo code.

Unfortunately it seems people are reluctant to change, even if something better is available. Maybe it's because a lot of people don't know there are alternatives... I don't know.

If you have any questions, let me know.

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Several of the group I wheel with are switching to a VHF UHF 2 way radio by Boa Feng. It is programmable so that you can link multiple radios onto the same channel and talk back and forth just like the age old CB. I will still keep my CB as it is a requirement at Jeep Jamborees. 

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Our club is transitioning to the GMRS style radio as well. At first I was against them but being a trail lead I love the portability of them. When I get out of the Jeep at the top of a hill or obstacle I can grab my radio and carry it with me. Sometimes I can be 100 yrds away from my Jeep. Also when our rigs get bunched up CBs can reverb and. Be unintelligible. The GMRS radios dont have this issue.

Edited by Ndkshns

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The BAOFENG works great like @rednecktim said. My first time to use them was at the Robbers cave Jeep invasion this past spring invasion. There is so much to do on them but don't let it intimidate you.  It took maybe two minutes to get it set up and rolling with the others. Rugged Radios also make great handhelds as well and run a little more price wise than the Bao's. The deal with Rugged is if you are at any major jeep event where they are sponsoring or selling, they will do anything to help you understand how and the why of their products. I have a brand new CB in the box I have yet to install and I am really reluctant to do so now. 


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Technically the Baofengs (most) are illegal to use except on ham radio frequencies with the proper license.

Please be mindful of the frequencies you are using, I would suggest sticking with the FRS or MURS frequencies. 

Even the Rugged Radios are programmed with frequencies that you are supposed to have a license to use. The licenses are regional and you can interfere with many entities that are actually licensed for those frequencies. 


1 WTHRMN 151.625

2701 Licensed users. Including: Union Pacific, FCA US, Subaru, University of Oklahoma, NM State University, BP, Exxon, Boeing, Vertex standard (Yaesu ham radios), UPS

2 BFGRLY 151.715

1243 Licensed users. Including: Many school districts, City/State agencies, McDonalds, and various businesses.

3 BAJAPTS 154.980

644 License users. Including: State, City, County, Police and Fire for States all over the country.

4 NETWORK 151.685

1232 Licensed users. Including: American Airlines, School districts and Universities, Costco, fast food restaurants.

5 CHECKRS 151.925

1178 License users. Including: Verizon, Haliburton, Hospitals, City/State, Schools/Colleges, various businesses.

6 FAIR 150.860

127 License users. Including: Hospitals, automotive, schools.

7 YOKOHAM 153.110

396 License users. Including: Exxon, Marathon Oil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, NBC Telemundo, FCA US, CBS, Clear Channel, various other TV/Radio.

8 RUGGED RELAY 152.960

653 Licensed users. Including: Various Oil/Gas companies, Concrete companies, Kingsford Charcoal, many farms, Urgent Ambulance service, schools.

9 CHKRS 2 151.505

1736 Licensed users. Including: UPS, Construction companies, Conoco, Phillips 66, Exxon, Goodyear, AM General, T-Mobile, Tampa Bay Search and Rescue & REACT. Denali Off Road club holds a license for their members.

10 BFGPITS 153.395

282 Licensed users. Including: FCA US, Northrop Grumman, Dow Corning, Oil/Gas, farms, Tyson foods, Kroger, Oklahoma State University, Boeing.

11 MAG 7 153.380

295 Licensed users. Including: GE, PPG Paints, Ford, Trane, Citgo, 3M, Green Bay Packaging, Valero, Yokohama Tires, OK State, University of Texas Permian Basin, Idaho Power Company, New Hampshire, Electric Coop, IBM.

12 RESCUE 155.160

1133 Licensed Users. Including: National Ski Patrol, many search and rescue teams, many municipalities, schools, and hospitals.

13 CORE 153.245

227 Licensed Users. Including: Sinclair, Exxon, Dow Corning, Northrop Grumman, 3M, Volvo Trucks, Nestle Purina, various manufacturing companies, Dana (axles), many schools, municipalities.

14 PRIVATE 156.675

117 Licensed Users. Including: Municipalities, Chevron, Shell, towing companies, oil/gas, many maritime businesses,

15 SANDLMO 152.510

53 Licensed Users. Including: Communication companies, Telephone companies,

16 PCI RLY 154.515

1738 Licensed Users. Including: Municipalities, many Hospitals, many schools, Fastfood.

17 BITD 151.490

540 Licensed Users. Including: Oregon State Forestry, Nevada Dept of Wildlife, State of Arizona, Penn State Police, State of California, farms, NH State Dept of Corrections, City/County, State of Maine Info Tech, Texas DOT, schools, State of Washington, State of West Virginia, Lockheed Martin,

18 KOH 1 157.450

200 Lincesed Users. Including: many hospitals, schools, City/County, State of New Jersey, City of New York, State of Colorado, State of California, State of New Mexico, LA County, State of Nebraska.

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