It’s surprising that many people don’t understand the fact that different SWR meters are designed for different purposes, and not every SWR meter would work well for HAM radios.
This is something important to understand, but we will be getting to it a little later as we would first like to simply walk you through the 5 best SWR meters on the market for HAM radios so if you don’t want to bother educating yourself further, you won’t really need to.
Best SWR Meters for HAM Radio
Here are our HAM radio SWR meter reviews.
As the name suggests, the MFJ-259C isn’t just another SWR meter out there. It’s an antenna analyzer as well and does a lot more than a typical SWR meter.
You would be surprised at the speed it reads SWR and antenna impedance and how quickly it allows you to tune your antenna. One of the customers mentioned how their antenna just wouldn’t tune no matter what they did and this thing saved their sanity by helping them set up their antenna in less than half an hour.
Sure, it does cost a pretty penny, but it isn’t your cheap $30 SWR meter but a very advanced SWR meter and antenna analyzerwith great accuracy, incredibly fast tuning and great overall features. It works very well on both HF and VHF.
- Incredibly fast operation
- Great accuracy
- Digital screen readings
- Easy to use
- Would chew through your batteries rather quickly
The DAIWA CN-501H is another very high-quality SWR and power meter. It works with a great accuracy both for SWR and power readings, at least until you don’t go too high especially with the power.
It works great for HF and VHF, unlike many other SWR meters that struggle with HF. Just like most other meters, however, it won’t work for UHF.
It comes with cross needle that paves the way for a much simpler and convenient operation. Customers mention in their review how they are quickly and easily able to tune their antenna with great accuracy using the DAIWA CN-501H.
- Great accuracy for both SWR and power readings
- Works impressively well for both HF and VHF
- Surprisingly simple and convenient operation
- Rubber bumpers
We really couldn’t find anything wrong with it.Check Price on Amazon
Surecom is a relatively lesser known brand but this SWR meter from Surecom is the absolute best you can buy in its price range. There’s a reason it has managed to get almost universally positive reviews.
The accuracy is spot on, comes with a digital display and is very durable thanks to being made of metal instead of cheap plastic. Some users mentioned that they have tested this meter with many of their HAM radios and antennas and other devices and every single time they turned out to be impressively accurate.
It’s both a SWR and power meter, and both the readings are right on the money. It works just as accurately for RF and HF, as well as for VHF and UHF.
- Amazingly accurate for the price
- Digital display
- Very durable with metal body
- Works just as well for measuring HF and RF as well
At this price for what you’re getting it would be unfair to try finding a minor flaw with this meter. It’s absolutely perfect at this price!Check Price on Amazon
The Signstek Professional is an incredibly functional SWR and power meter at an unbelievable price. In fact, to our surprise, it even turned out to work for both VHF and UHF, which blew us away as even many of the much more expensive SWR meters don’t work on UHF.
It tunes even the most advanced of dual band antennas perfectly well. What’s more, it can measure up to 200 watts, which is again amazing given the price. The insertion loss is usually less than 0.3 dB as well, which is also something you will be hard-pressed to find in this price range.
Finally, the Signstek Professional is built like a tank and is sure to last you a very long time.
- Super functional and works on both VHF and UHF
- Tunes even advanced antennas with great accuracy
- Measures up to 200 watts
- Amazing build quality
- The power readings can be a bit off in some cases
5. Astatic PDC1
Let us tell you right off the bat that the Astatic PDC1 isn’t the best option if you want highly accurate readings. However, if you’re on a really tight budget and looking for something for just basic use, then the PDC1 will likely turn out to be your best bet.
While it works better for CB radios, it isn’t a bad option to use for HAM HF. The readings wouldn’t be dead accurate, but it would help you tune your antenna well.
In most cases, it also manages to tune the antenna pretty quickly, so that there too.
- Great price for a basic SWR meter
- Works well for HAM HF
- Manages to tune the antennas well and quickly
- Not very accurate
- Can be very finnicky at times
HAM Radio SWR Meter Buyer’s Guide
If you think you can go about purchasing an SWR meter for your HAM radio the same way you do for other devices or in general, then you’re just wrong. The requirements for using an SWR meter for a HAM radio tend to be very different, especially in order to tune the antenna properly.
Many meters are just not designed for the frequency range and bands a HAM radio needs for proper tuning. All the SWR meters we reviewed above are designed for HAM radios, with the exception of the last option which isn’t specifically designed for HAM radios but works well for basic tuning all the same.
Accuracy Is of Paramount Importance
The reason you’re getting an SWR meter in the first place is to accurately tune your antenna to your HAM radio, and perhaps for some other measurements like measuring the power readings. If your SWR meter isn’t accurate enough, you wouldn’t get much help from it in properly tuning your antenna.
Needless to say, you wouldn’t get good performance if the tuning isn’t spot on, and you would also run the risk of damaging your radio.
It’s also important to consider what bands your SWR meter can work on. Most of them do not work on UHF – including some of the ones we reviewed above – so if you need something that works on both UHF and VHF, then just go with either the Surecom Gam3Gear SW-102S SO239 or the Signstek Professional.
That said, however, you definitely wouldn’t want to compromise at all with the operation on HF, as it tends to be a very important factor. All the meters we reviewed above work great for HF.