CB Radio Vs HAM Vs Walkie Talkie Vs GMRS

Let it be CB Radios, HAMS, Walkie talkies, or GMRS, they're great alternatives to phones. You want to stay connected to your friends and families while the operator doesn't charge you any bill? Well, these are the things you should go for.

However, which should be your preference among these 4 gadgets? Well, in this CB Radio vs HAM vs Walkie Talkie Vs GMRS, we're going to talk about all the differences. This way, you can set your priorities correctly.

A Quick Overview

We've accumulated all the pros and cons of the four two-way radio systems for those who are running a bit short on time. The table below should help you make an informed decision.

Walkie Talkie

However, if you're not in a hurry, it's better that you go through the detailed discussion section after that.




CB Radio

Has a range of 50 miles

Added security with lower frequencies

Offers many channels

Needs no license to operate

Has a low handheld range of three to five miles

A lot of static


Very long range

Many frequencies available

Offers direct communication with local emergency responders

Ability to use amplifiers and extenders

Costs a bit more

Requires a license to use

Walkie Talkie

Can function even when the grid is down

Features easily replaceable batteries

Reasonable pricing

Offers a wide variety of exciting features

Any protruded terrain can block its signals

Needs both units to be functional to stay in contact


Minimal static

Offers a range of up to 25 miles

Can contact with FRS radios on a few channels

Clear communication

Not a vast user community

Requires license

Which One Should You Choose?

If you're thinking of going hiking, and don't want to carry a heavy backpack, then a walkie-talkie will work out the best for you. It'll help you stay in touch with your friends and family, provided that they also have another piece of the walkie-talkie.

But remember that walkie-talkies don't have a lot of range. Moreover, their signals get blocked if there are any hills or ridges in the way. But they have great portability.

CB Radio

If you're going camping, try a GMRS or a CB radio. They've got a great range and are a great addition to your family picnic.

But if you're readying yourselves for some end-of-the-world situations, you can never go wrong with HAM radios. Be careful, though. They can offer quite a bit of a learning curve, and you'll need a license to use one. But once you've got the hang of it, you'll find how amazing HAM radios can be.

CB Radio

Meet the wild west of the radio services, Citizens Band Radio Services, better known as CB radios. Commonly used by truckers, the CB radio has 40 channels to offer.

While they're commonly associated with truckers, many people have made good use of this valuable piece of equipment. CB radios help you with constant traffic updates, and they keep you in touch with the latest information. And if the situation calls for it, CB radio services will help you contact the local emergency services.

CB Radio

What's even more enticing about the CB radio is its pricing. Despite its remarkable collection of exciting features, CB radios don't cost that much. In fact, you can get some of the best CB radios without spending more than a hundred dollars.

Legal Requirements

You don't have to worry about a lot of legal requirements when it comes to CB radios; just a few will do.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), you can't carry a Citizens Band Radio if you're a foreign government official. Moreover, if you're thinking of contacting anyone overseas with the CB radio, it's better to give up on that idea. The FCC rules forbid any overseas communication.


The CB radio has 40 channels. And you can use each of these channels in both AM or Single Sideband Mode (SSB).

To make communications more efficient and distinct, the SSB mode is divided into two different modes: lower sideband mode (LSB) and upper sideband mode (USB). That way, you can choose what channel you want to use for higher security.

CB Radio

While SSB CB radios have a much wider range, they also cost more than their AM counterparts. However, the SSB CB radios can offer more reliability in unfavorable weather conditions with the added range.


Your radio's range will vary according to your model. But in general, a base model should offer you a range from ten to fifty miles, whereas mobile models can operate up to seven to ten miles.

CB Radio

Finally, the handheld models offer the lowest range. They have a broadcasting area from three to five miles. However, these values can differ depending on the terrain around the user.

HAM Radios

HAM is the social media of the radio days. Back when people didn't have the internet or any social media sites, they socialized this platform. Also known as Amateur Radio Services, the HAM radio used to be the and still is the hobby of many people.

Even after the advancement of technology, HAM radio hasn't fallen behind. You can interface this two-way radio with a tablet or a computer to send and receive data.

HAM Radios

So, you may ask: why do people call it amateur radio services? Well, an interesting fact about the HAM radio, the amateur doesn't mean novices or beginners. Instead, it actually refers to the non-commercial use that HAM radios are famous for.

Legal Requirements

With the wide range of features the HAM radios have to offer, it's only fair that you'd need a specific skill set to operate this intricate equipment. Otherwise, you'll just cause interferences and spoil it for yourself and others.

To make sure that doesn't happen, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires you to get a license to operate the machine.

HAM Radios

Look at it this way; it's just like a driver's license. Just like how you'd not want anyone to drive a car without a license, it's the same way with HAM radios.


Most HAMers use the VHF (very high frequency) as their line of connection due to its high reliability and low susceptibility to static from neighboring electrical equipment. However, you can use HAM radio on the HF band and the UHF band as well.


HAM radios are best known for their range. They're powerful machines. However, a standard handheld model is approximately five watts, while the mobile ones range from ten to a hundred watts. In contrast, ham base stations have around 100 to 200 watts.

HAM Radios

That being said, you can increase the power of your ham radio by over a thousand watts by installing amplifiers. In addition, you can install antennas to expand its range, not that you'll need them often. But it may be fun to tinker with your equipment.

Walkie Talkie

Apart from their professional yet fun look, walkie-talkies have a lot of practical applications. In a limited area where cell services are unavailable, that's where walkie-talkies shine. They're easy to use, fun to have, and very convenient when traveling light.

Walkie Talkie

One additional advantage of the walkie-talkie is that you can give on to your child to stay in touch with them anytime if you have any. And they'll be happy with this fantastic present as well.

Legal Requirements

As walkie-talkies are a personal radio service that doesn't rely on transmission towers or similar equipment, the FCC doesn't need the users to have any license to use a walkie-talkie.

Walkie Talkie

However, you should check with your local authority to ensure that you're clear about using a walkie-talkie within their jurisdiction.


Most of the walkie-talkie traffic is on the UHF (Ultra High Frequency) band. They usually surf in the 400-500 MHz area of the UHF band.

Walkie Talkie

However, some models surf the MHz band. Several other communication devices use this band as well, such as baby monitors, cordless phones, and many more.


In general, walkie-talkies transmit from one device to another. The highest distance you can transmit to is around a couple miles or a bit more.


GMRS is the asteroid in the two-way radio world. With the emergence of GMRS radio, people are quickly changing their preference from CB radios to GMRS. Owing to better sound quality and better range, GMRS, also known as MicroMobile, is taking over the two-way radio industry like a storm.


Micro Mobiles are not very expensive as well. Depending on the amount of power you intend to use, you can get one unit for a hundred to two-fifty dollars.

Legal Requirements

You may need a license from the FCC depending on the amount of power that you'll use. If your model transmits over two watts of power, you'll need to have a GMRS license for that.


It's pretty cheap, you can get one license for seventy dollars, and it's going to cover you and your family for the next ten years.


What makes the GMRS have such a static-free environment? It's because of the band it uses, FM. Unlike AM-based devices, GMRS offers increased clarity and eliminates any annoying statics. 


A standard handheld model can cover up to a couple of miles. And if you have a model with a higher antenna, you can transmit to up to five miles. Additionally, you can use repeater channels to multiply the operating range of your device if needed.


Final Words

That was pretty much it about the CB Radio Vs. HAM Vs. Walkie Talkie Vs. GMRS. Decide why you want to use it. Then, depending on your use, you should consider its range, how busy its channels are, its features, and other factors.

With these factors in mind, if it's for range, go for HAM radios. Or you can go for GMRS or CB radios. And if it's portability you want, you can never go wrong with a pair of walkie-talkies!


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