We discovered an interesting consumer grade GMRS radio from Cobra that has the potential to be a game-changer for the non-ham preppers. Most preppers want to have some sort a of communications plan and this radio may just be the ticket, especially if you’re group isn’t willing or ready to jump into Ham Radio.
The radio is the Cobra MR HH450 Dual All-Terrain-Radio
and here’s a quick review along with some of my thoughts.
First off, it’s a Dual Band radio capable of transmitting and receiving on the Marine VHF and the 15 “true” GMRS frequencies . You may be asking why it only covers 15 channels instead of the usual 22 channels and I will get to that further down the page.
NOTE: This article will not be covering the VHF Marine Band capabilities of this radio. We have no reason or desire to use the VHF Marine Band. The FCC has allocated that band for use only on the water by boat owners. I know that it’s common to use Marine Radio on land in some areas but where we live it’s not a good idea.
The Cobra HH450 package that we received contained the radio, a rechargeable battery pack, a AA battery adaptor, charger stand, 120VAC and 12VDC charger cords, belt clip, lanyard and instructions.
This radio uses GMRS channels 1 thru 7 and 15 thru 22. A quick check verified that Channels 1-7 and 15-22 coincide perfectly with those same channel frequencies on our Midland GXT and LXT handhelds. I’m not sure if the privacy codes are exactly the same, there are too many to check.
Here’s the main attraction…. and what I consider to be the big game-changer…. the antenna is detachable. It has a removable antenna that utilizes an SMA coaxial connection.
By eliminating the FRS (Family Radio Service) frequencies, channels 8-14, Cobra was able to manufacture this radio with the removable antenna allowing the use of an external antenna on the GMRS band. This is a huge step in the industry and one that I am hoping will catch on. There are just a handful of commercial GMRS radios on the market right now that have this feature.
Some other features worth noting:
- Enhanced GMRS scanning…. meaning that it not only scans the main channels but it can also be programmed to scan through the privacy settings.
- S.A.M.E. Alert function…. to my knowledge, there is only one other consumer grade GMRS radio on the market at this time that has that capability.
- Cobra claims 6 watts output… I’m sure that’s the maximum with a full battery. I’ve found that some “real world” tests have shown a 3-4 watt output which is still double the actual output power of our Midland handhelds.
- It floats and appears to be either water-proof or extremely water resistant. There are rubber seals at every visible junction.
- I was happy to see that the case does not feel like cheap plastic. The material is similar to most of our handheld ham radios and looks like it can withstand some abuse.
- The battery charging tray accepts either the entire radio or just the battery pack. It can be set on a shelf or hung on a wall.
- This radio has a voice recorder on it. I’m not sure if that feature will ever get used around here but it’s there if needed.
- I’ve been keeping this radio on and monitoring for GMRS traffic and emergency alerts since we’ve had it. Battery charge life seems pretty good although we haven’t been transmitting, just scanning.
- Price: This is not an inexpensive radio. The proprietary lapel speaker/mic is also a bit salty in price but should come down if an aftermarket solution is developed.
- Battery Powered Only: There is no way to run the radio from an external power source. Other handhelds have the option to plug into your vehicle’s lighter socket while on the road or working. This radio does not have that ability.
- The SMA connector on the radio is MALE and is set rather deeply into the radio’s case. This presents a very minor obstacle to using a rooftop antenna. Centerfire Antenna is already working on a base station antenna system for this radio.
By adding a raised, external antenna to this radio you can substantially extend it’s “reach” and still abide by the FCC GMRS power output and frequency regulations. This may be a true asset if your group or team is using, or plans to use, GMRS radios.
I would definitely recommend purchasing the GMRS license and properly using your call sign when operating a base station. There has been “official” talk of eliminating the need for a GMRS license but that hasn’t happened yet.
This radio is not a “toy”. The construction is similar to our Alinco and Kenwood amateur radios. The AA battery tray and 12VDC charger cord are a bonus, in my opinion. Most handheld radios that I have purchased did not come with those items.
I do not work for Cobra nor do I have a vested interest in Cobra. This is just a review of a radio and it’s features that I feel a prepper group would be interested in. If you are interested in purchasing this radio through Amazon, it is available. We do receive a small commission if you use the link below and make a purchase.