5 Best Budget Radios for Airsoft (Buyer’s Guide)

When participating in an airsoft gun battle, staying in touch with your team and planning out tactics is crucial. That’s why many squads turn to two-way radios and walkie-talkies to keep in touch. 

The best budget radio for airsoft is the Baofeng UV-5R two-way radio, and it’s a standard radio for most airsoft enthusiasts. This radio includes a durable casing, a long-lasting rechargeable battery, 128 channels, hundreds of CTCSS and DCS privacy codes, and a removable earpiece. 

The only instances in which I wouldn’t recommend the Baofeng UV-5R are: 

Video: Baofeng UV-5R FM Radio Low Cost Transceiver Range Test Review

What To Look for in an Airsoft Radio

Airsoft battles are nothing without teamwork and clear communication. So, having a reliable and clear radio can help you and your team strategize, stick together, and elevate your skills. 

When you’re shopping for an airsoft radio, you should look for: 

  • Durability
  • Long-lasting battery
  • DCS and CTCSS privacy
  • Earpiece support
  • FRS or MURS band compatibility

So, let’s look at these features and talk about them so we can evaluate the best radios with a bit more knowledge behind our backs. 

Durability

When you’re out on the range, you’ll likely have your radio tucked away in a pocket or clipped onto your belt, safe from hard wear and drops. However, sometimes accidents happen. Your radio might get hit by a BB, fall, or get stomped on in the heat of the moment. 

This means that picking a radio with a rugged, hard shell is crucial. In addition, if your radio is durable enough, you probably won’t ever have to replace it, which can save you money and time searching for a new one. 

In addition, one extra feature that you might want to look for is water resistance. When it starts raining, you shouldn’t have to focus on covering up your radio to save it from the water. 

Long-Lasting Battery

Your radio should have a battery that lasts longer than your average airsoft session to ensure that you don’t get left out of your team’s communications. When searching for the right radio, you should look for a model with at least 8 hours of battery life. 

Additionally, choosing a model that supports multiple battery packs or both AAA batteries and a battery pack can help ensure you always stay charged while on the field. 

DCS and CTCSS Privacy

When you use radios to communicate with your teammates, you don’t want the opposing team to tune in to your conversation. 

That’s why you should choose a radio with plenty of security. 

Radios with Digitally Coded Squelch (DCS) and Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) allow you to block the frequencies of any radios outside of your group. These radios use certain tones that you can tune into using a 3-digit code. 

Unlocking these coded channels will allow you to control who can and cannot hear your transmissions. 

In addition, the more channels you have on your radio, the harder it’ll be for other people to hack into your comm system.

Earpiece Support

Having a radio with high volumes and a speaker ruins any stealth moves that you’re planning since the sound of your radio could give away your location. Furthermore, when gunfire gets loud, you won’t be able to hear your radio’s speaker, which could cut you off from essential messages from your teammates. 

Choosing a radio with an AUX cable or a model with an interchangeable earpiece is the best way to ensure that you can hear your team without using an obnoxious, loud speaker. 

Some radios have inputs such as 2-pin connectors, while others may have an AUX output. Generally, I recommend going for a model that has an AUX jack since you can usually find ear protection and a wide variety of headsets that use AUX. 

FRS or MURS Band Compatibility

Radios can pick up almost anything, including urgent information such as police scanners, emergency transmissions, and other sensitive material. The FCC has set regulations that require people who use certain radio bands to get a license to protect these transmissions. 

Like most people, you probably don’t want to pay the $85 and take the test needed to get a radio license for your airsoft games. So, you’ll need to use a radio that works on the publicly available bands such as Family Radio Service (FRS) or Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS). 

Your radio will have to be compatible with these bands to use them. So, always check what bands you can use with a certain walkie-talkie before purchasing. 

Best Overall: Baofeng UV-5R Two Way Radio

Most airsoft enthusiasts who use radios know about this Baofeng radio, which has consistently high reviews and plenty of features that make it ideal for combat. If you look around, this radio tops all of the boards, and it’s a reliable piece of equipment that’ll serve you well for many years.

These tried-and-true radios offer plenty of excellent features, such as 128 different channels, DCS and CTCSS privacy codes for each channel, powerful transmission, a large rechargeable battery, and this model comes with an earpiece. 

In my opinion, the only significant downside to this radio is that it doesn’t have an AUX input but uses a K-pin connector. Still, if you’re willing to purchase the Baofeng BFS-112 Speaker, it has an AUX input for easy connection to any 3.5 mm (0.14 in) headset.

This radio does have a learning curve, too, and it may require you to get a license. That’s because it’s more powerful than most of the other radios on this list, and it can connect to radio bands used for government and police transmissions. However, you can always stay on the FRS radio band without having a license.

For a helpful beginner’s tutorial and a review for this radio, check out this video from The BB Radio on YouTube: 

Pros

  • 8-volt output power
  • Includes a safety earpiece with a microphone
  • High-range antenna
  • 128 channels with 100+ privacy codes each
  • Rechargeable lithium battery
  • It fits nicely in pockets
  • It comes with a belt clip
  • Durable
  • Built-in LED flashlight
  • Incredibly reliable
  • Compatible with GMRS and FRS radios
  • Can be used on non-FRS Bands

Cons

  • Sensitive to water
  • It doesn’t include an AUX input
  • It can be too complicated for beginners
  • It might require a license

Best Accessories: TIDRADIO UV-5R Ham Radio

The TIDRADIO UV-5R is almost the same as the Baofeng UV-5R, but this radio comes with everything you’ll need to customize your setup. 

This product includes a programming cable, two lithium batteries, an AC charger, a USB charger, a headset with a built-in mic, a convenient car charger, a belt clip, a TD-771 antenna, and a hand microphone with a built-in AUX input. 

That said, there are some complaints that I’ve heard about this radio from some users. These include:

  • Downloading the software to program can be tricky. However, with enough patience, it’ll work. 
  • Most of the accessories, such as the longer antenna and the hand microphone, aren’t premium quality, and they can be a bit faulty at times.

However, they’ll get you by, and they’re ideal for beginners and people who don’t need a perfect transmission. 

So, overall, with this radio, you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

Video: TIDRADIO UV 5R Ham Radio Handheld Two Way Radio Review

Pros 

  • It comes with all of the accessories you’ll need
  • 128 Channels with DCS and CTCSS Privacy
  • It comes with two 1800 mAh lithium batteries
  • Durable and rugged casing
  • Compatible with FRS and other FRS Radios
  • It can be used on non-FRS bands

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • It doesn’t include an AUX output on the radio
  • It can be challenging to program 
  • Some of the accessories can be faulty

Best Value Twin Pack: Motorola T200 Talkabout Radio

The Motorola T100 Talkabout Radio is a reliable entry-level radio, perfect for beginners and people who want to keep things simple. This twin pack is ideal for people who wish to have a backup or for a bundle deal to ensure that everyone on the team has a comm system. 

These radios come in double to large bundles, making them an excellent team investment. They come with belt clips, include a built-in flashlight, have an AUX output for headsets, and work with all other GMRS and FRS-compatible radios on the same channel.  

These radios also have versatile battery solutions. They come with rechargeable AA batteries, but you can always change them out with standard lithium batteries. The radios also come with charging cables for easy power-ups on the go. 

The unique feature of these radios is that they are so weatherproof and durable. Their design is perfect for withstanding hard wear and prolonged use, so you shouldn’t expect them to break, no matter how many times you drop them. 

These radios are advertised to range up to 20 miles (32.19 km) – “up to” being the key phrase here. They don’t always have such a high range in areas with obstructions such as buildings or mountains, but they usually do just fine in airsoft ranges of 2 square miles (5.18 sq km). 

Pros 

  • Waterproof 
  • Incredibly durable
  • 23 channels with 122 privacy codes each
  • It comes with rechargeable batteries
  • It has an AUX output
  • Built-in flashlight
  • Small enough to tuck into pockets
  • Compatible with FRS and other FRS Radios

Cons

  • It doesn’t come with a headset
  • The range is smaller than advertised

Best Value For Groups: NOAA Long-Range Walkie Talkies

If you’re going in on some walkie-talkies for your airsoft squad, these NOAA Long-range Walkie Talkies are the way to go. 

These basic-looking 2-way radios aren’t basic at all. They have tons of features that make them ideal for team communication during battle. 

One of my favorite things about these radios is that they have many automatic features such as auto power-saving settings, scanning, low power alerts, and a squelch system for better sound quality. 

These also have secure DCS and CTCSS privacy codes for each of the 22 channels, allowing you to keep your communications within your team. 

The battery on these walkie-talkies is also strong, with 1800 mAh of power, and they come with USB charging cables that can fit into anything, including computers, car outlets, and game consoles. 

In addition, these are highly durable, and they can withstand many drops and impact forces. They have a convenient lanyard loop and come with a lanyard, making it easy to clip them anywhere you have space. 

The only downside to these radios is that they don’t do well in areas with walls or buildings, but even then, they’re guaranteed to transmit signals to at least a 1 mile (1.6 km) radius. 

Pros 

  • 22 channels with 121 security codes each
  • Automatic features
  • AUX output on the radio
  • It comes with an earpiece with a built-in mic
  • Versatile charging options
  • The lanyard clip allows you to clip it anywhere
  • Compatible with FRS and other FRS Radios
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • The range is low in areas with obstructions

Best Beginner Radio: eSynic Two-Way Radio

Sometimes, having hundreds of channels and tons of special features can make it more challenging to use a radio. If you’re overwhelmed by the many moving parts of the more complicated radios, the eSynic Two-Way radio is what you’re looking for. 

This basic-looking, black radio has all the features you need the most without making things too complicated. It’s small and easy to fit into small pockets, and its USB charging port makes powering up as easy as charging a cell phone. 

This radio has a smaller range, too, so if you need it for communicating over more than a 3-mile (4.8 km) radius – which is unlikely given most airsoft ranges are relatively small – you might need to level up to a slightly more sophisticated radio. 

Overall, this basic radio is simple, making things simpler for you while you’re out on the battlefield. 

Pros 

  • Simple, user-friendly design
  • 16 channels
  • 50 privacy codes for each channel 
  • Rechargeable 1500 mAH battery
  • It comes with an earpiece with a built-in mic
  • AUX output
  • Built-in LED flashlight
  • Compatible with FRS and other FRS Radios

Cons

  • Fewer channels than most two-way radios
  • 3-mile (4.8 km) range

The Bottom Line

Overall, most experienced airsoft enthusiasts recommend the Baofeng UV-5R two-way radio above all others, and I agree. This radio is versatile and has tons of features that make it ideal for veterans and beginners alike, so I can’t recommend it enough. 

That said, there are tons of other options that are simpler, more budget-friendly, or more geared towards groups, and all the radios on this list are the best of the best, so you won’t be disappointed with any of them.