We have reviewed some very powerful and functional two way radios on this blog, but when you’re looking to use a two way radio without any license at all, your options are limited.
But if you aren’t looking for something advanced, the options we have picked based on our research is all you need to consider. So let’s cut right to the chase.
Best License-Free Two Way Radios
Here are our license-free two way radio reviews.
This is one of the few real and fully functional handheld two way radio that doesn’t require a license to operate. It even features a “semi-duplex” mode, which allows you to watch two channels at once. Scanning channels is very easy and quick.
The sound quality is really good for a license-free radio that can operate like a real two way radio in every sense. It operates on the VHF band with an impressive range. The reception is strong and clear, too.
Being a BaoFeng two way radio (BTECH is a BaoFeng Tech brand), the durability would never be an issue. This radio is also very easy to use despite its versatility like allowing you to program every feature you want.
- One of the few “real” two way radio that doesn’t require a license
- Excellent sound quality, especially when compared to cheap license-free walkie talkies
- Solid build quality and long battery life
- Very versatile with many useful functions
- Some users mention it can’t pull in signals from faraway distances in challenging environments like a Kenwood, but it would be unfair to compare it to something much more expensive
2. Retevis RT21
These Retevis RT21 rechargeable walkie talkies come in a pack of 4 units, and are being sold at a great price. They are license-free FRS two way radios, and come with 16 FRS channels and some useful accessories.
The range is surprisingly good for the price, and the sound quality is nothing to complain about too. The durability is unbelievably good, with a user dropping it from the 7th floor without any major damage to their unit.
The ease of use is great, especially with the PTT (Push-to-Talk) function that offers a lot of convenience. These units are also fairly versatile and allow you to program to any frequency you want, which is easy to do as well. The Retevis customer service is second to none as well, should you have a problem with any of the units you receive!
- Great functionality for the price
- Range is surprisingly good
- Loud and clear sound
- Amazing durability
- Considering what you’re getting for the price, there’s nothing to complain about these radios.
These are some highly functional walkie talkies that you can use without worrying about any licensing requirements. In addition to the basic features, these 2 units also come with NOAA weather alerts, VOX function, 154 privacy codes for secure communications and FM radio functionality.
Users mention how these are also a great option as kids walkie talkies due to their amazing ease of use, though they are sufficiently functional with a fairly good range and great sound quality. The reception is pretty good with impressive signal reliability as well.
There’s also a flashlight feature that comes in handy. The durability is pretty good as well, and the weather alert function works really well. There’s also a PTT function that comes in handy.
- Surprisingly functional walkie talkies for the price
- Very easy to use
- Great sound and range
- Many additional useful features like a flashlight and PTT function
- The PTT button comes in handy but is a little difficult to reach and can get a little annoying sometimes
First things first, let us tell you that it’s not fully a license-free two way radio, but we still included it in our list because if you limit yourself to the FRS channels, then you won’t need a license. In other words, just make sure you don’t use any GMRS channels and you will be just fine without a license.
With that out of the way, these come as 2 units and are very functional. The range is pretty long (although not the promised 30 miles), there are 121 CTCSS privacy codes, NOAA weather scan and alert and dual power options.
These radios are also very easy to use with clear, good sound, with quite a bit of flexibility with respect to the features.
- Very functional radios with some impressive features
- Long range
- Clear sound and easy to use
- Durable with long battery life
- You need to make sure you don’t use the GMRS channels as they may require a license
So here’s another Retevis on the list, as it’s a great brand when it comes to offering surprisingly functional walkie talkies or two way radios for beginners, most of which are license-free. You would get 4 units, so the price per unit turns out to be very cheap, especially for the kind of functionality they bring to the table.
The audio is surprisingly clear and loud, and the reception is better than what you would expect for the price. The battery life is pretty long too, and there’s also hands-free operation function and advanced scanning function.
The ease of use and convenience is great as well. Users also mention that they are surprised with the range for a license-free radio, especially at this price point.
- Loud and clear audio
- Great signal strength and reception
- Very functional with many useful functions
- Great range and very easy to use
- At this price there’s not much to complain about, which is something you will definitely agree with once you read through the almost universally positive customer reviews.
License Free Two Way Radio Buyer’s Guide
Something we would really like to clear is that it’s incredibly difficult to find something functional enough as a real two way radio that offers fully license-free operation. Many of the license-free options are just kids walkie talkies, with the other few just not being functional enough with a terrible range.
However, our experience has helped us wade through all these mediocre options to pick these 5 radios that are both surprisingly functional and beginner-friendly, while offering a license-free operation.
Like we just said, it’s very hard to find a license-free radio with a decent range. But make sure you consider the range carefully or you will end up with something hard to reach your neighborhood with.
That said, you must also not expect the kind of range as with the best HAM radios out there, which are basically a type of two way radios, as they typically require a license and come with advanced operation.
While there are other important factors too, few are as important as the sound quality. The sound not only needs to be good and loud, it also must be clear enough even when you’re at a considerable distance where the radio’s reception and signal strength is put to test.