In this world of the internet and smartphones, it is good to observe that ham radios, sometimes called amateur radios, are still widely relevant. This guide will talk about ham radios for long-distance communication.
There are loads of choices out there, and it can be hard to select the best one for your requirements. That is why we have put together a list of the top-selling HF ham radios in one place. Therefore, keep reading to learn more.
Top 5 Ham Radios for Long Distance
|Ham Radio for Long Distance
|Yaesu Original FT-991A
|Icom 7300 Direct
|Highest Number of Channels
|Yaesu Original FT – 891
|Compact Ham Radio
|Very Light Weight
|Excellent Audio Quality
The Best Ham Radio for Long Distance: Yaesu Original FT-991A
The FT-991A from Yaesu costs a pretty penny but it is a real shark-in-a-box. This amateur transceiver is capable of receiving and sending over FM, AM, CW, SSB, RTTY, C4FM, and more.
Its multi-mode operation makes it one of the most versatile ham radios on the market today. Aside from its versatility, the FT-991A has several other features that make it a fantastic radio for long-distance communications.
The Yaesu Original FT-991A is capable of delivering a solid 100 watts of output power. With this output power, you can easily reach other ham radio users globally provided you are using the right antenna.
However, note that the radio supports full 100 watts of transmit power on the HF band only. If you are transmitting on the UHF/VHF bands, the output power drops to 50 watts.
The transceiver has 100 memory channels meaning that you can store all of your preferred frequencies. Yaesu also installed an internal automatic antenna tuner in this radio. The tuner helps ensure you do not experience any delays when changing frequencies. Note that the internal antenna turner works for HF frequencies only and not UHF and VHF.
This Yaesu transceiver is a fantastic all-in-one unit as it covers all ham-radio bands from 160 meters to 70 centimeters. It also works with C4FM for digital broadcasts.
Thus, if you transmit/receive on various frequencies, this radio is a fantastic option for you. With a dimension of 9″ x 3.2″ x 9.3″ (WxHxD), the FT-991A is a very compact radio.
So, while you can use it within your ham shack as a base radio, it will also work great as a mobile rig.
However, the unit is a little heavy, weighing in at approximately 13 pounds. Therefore, this unit may be more appropriate for use within a large vehicle like a truck as opposed to cars. Thankfully, the product comes with an optional vehicle mounting bracket.
You will love the transceiver’s gorgeous touchscreen display. The LCD is vivid and responsive and features a waterfall display that makes it easy for you to identify signals.
The FT-991A comes loaded with several other great features including an inbuilt sound card for computer use, Automatic Scope control, and USB programming ability.
Overall, the Yaesu FT-991A comes highly recommended for ham operators who are seeking a dependable all-band radio.
- Output power: 160 – 6 meters: 100 watts – 25 watts
- 160 m through 70 cm –SSB/FM/CW/C4FM Digital/AM
- Output power: 70 centimeters/2 meters: 50 – 12.5 watts
- Multi-color waterfall display
- Dynamic real-time spectrum scope
- 3.5-inch color touchscreen
- Modulation type: A3E(AM), A1A(CW), J3E(LSB,USB), F3E(FM), F7W(C4FM, F2D(PACKET, FID9PACKET
- Weight: 13 pounds
- Dimensions: 17.4 x 12.1 x 7.4 inches
- Color: Black
- 100 memory channels
- Impressive touchscreen
- Feature-rich interface
- Dependable all-band radio
- Excellent build quality
- Fantastic audio quality
- Easy to operate
- Excellent range
- A bit pricey
- Some users report that it takes a bit of time to learn all of the radio’s features
User Review and Feedback on Yaesu Original FT-991A
The Yaesu Original FT-991A has received stellar reviews from the amateur radio world. Several users of the product have referred to it as a “fantastic super complete HF two-way radio”.
These users love that the radio offers all-band coverage for receiving as well as for transmitting.
Most users have praised the device’s simple-to-use touchscreen. These customers say that the touchscreen makes using the amateur radio a lot simpler compared to competing models that come with buttons.
Nearly all previous buyers agree that though the FT-991A has a feature-rich interface, learning to use the radio is fairly easy.
Most previous buyers have said good things regarding the radio’s top-mounted internal speaker.
Several of these customers referred to the device’s audio output as exceptional observing that it outperforms all other high-end VHF, UHF, and HF transceivers on the market. Users also like that the radio comes with an inbuilt sound card and antenna tuner.
Nearly all previous buyers have praised the radio’s high transmit power. Several buyers say they could easily talk to other ham radio users across the globe using the device’s 100 watts output power plus a mobile antenna.
Most users are also happy with the radio’s 100 memory channels, excellent receive sensitivity, compact design, and clear screen. Most previous buyers note that while the unit is somewhat pricey, it is worth every cent.
On the downside, many previous buyers say the radio is not so user-friendly as it took them a long time to completely understand how to use the device.
Some users have complained that programming the radio manually is hard and complicated. A few other customers say they expect such a high-end transceiver to have a much better internal speaker.
4 More Alternate Ham Radios for Long Distance
1. Icom 7300 Direct
Highest Number of Channels
If you are thinking of buying a transceiver for long-distance communications, you should seriously consider the Icom 7300 Direct. With its 100 watts of output power, the radio is one of the more powerful options within its price range.
Besides, the radio has been proven to match the performance of many models that are double its price. It comes with a highly sensitive receiver, quality audio, and a highly robust front end.
Thanks to its 100 watts output power, the Icom 7300 delivers excellent Tx and Rx performance. Paired with a trusty antenna, you can communicate with other ham radio users in various countries, cities, and states using this radio.
The device has 15 bandpass filters plus RF direct sampling system. These ensure you have crystal clear audio quality when receiving signals.
One of the radio’s strong points is its simple-to-use touch screen with a waterfall display. Most users agree that the display is large enough, has enough resolution, and that the controls are intuitive.
The touch display allows you to do several tasks including changing the display to include a spectrum waterfall, adjusting the transmission output, adjusting RF gain, and more.
Although the IC – 7300 is a feature-loaded radio, the device is sufficiently simple to use straight from the box.
It requires a little setting up but as soon as you’ve mastered its capabilities and functions, you can easily deal with the more advanced operations. It is no wonder many previous buyers describe it as “simple and exciting to use.
The radio ships with a user manual. Be sure to read this manual as it will help you quickly familiarize yourself with the device’s higher function operations. With the aid of this manual, you can easily modify the settings to suit your style of operation.
The manual contains several helpful graphics and diagrams and is written in plain English. Note that the CD contains the complete and unabridged instruction manual so you may also want to look at it.
The transceiver’s inbuilt automatic antenna tuner is highly responsive. The radio has 101 memory channels (2 scan edges, 99 regular) thus you have loads of places to store your preferred frequencies and contacts.
Dollar for dollar, the Icom 7300 Direct offers excellent value for money.
- Fantastic highly customizable transmission and reception audio
- Touch screen interface
- Exceptional selectivity and sensitivity
- Easy to use
- 101 memory channels
- Offers good value for money
- Steep learning curve
- A loud fan during transmissions
2. Yaesu Original FT – 891
Compact Ham Radio
This Yaesu all-mode radio is one of your finest options if you are seeking a powerful mobile/desktop HF radio.
The radio offers all of the reliability, power, and performance you would expect from high-end amateur radios. The device can operate on every band from 160m to 6m.
The FT-891 comes in a black exterior shell with a dimension of 6.1 x 2.0 x 8.3inches. You can install the device just about anywhere – thanks to its rugged and compact construction.
It has a sizable LCD screen centered on its front side. The radio weighs a little more than 8 pounds.
Its 100 watts operating capacity ensures you can communicate at a long distance across the globe. This is especially so if you pair this output power with the appropriate antenna.
The radio delivers this impressive output power level regularly – thanks to its careful circuit construction.
Yaesu installed thermostatically-controlled interior fans plus a heat-transferring chassis on this radio. These help ensure the device operates in optimum conditions always.
Two-way radio receivers regularly suffer disrupting transmission and background noises. This noise can make it hard for you to decipher transmissions. The FT – 891 employs Yaesu’s 32-bit IF DSP to reduce and cancel random noises.
This helps ensure you do not have any disruptions when transmitting on the HF band. However, some users have complained that the transceiver heats a little when broadcasting at over 70 watts of power.
This Yaesu radio model is extremely user-friendly. It comes with a variety of user-friendly features which includes a large reception and transmit indicator and a tuning knob that allows for easy torque adjustment.
Included in the box are the transceiver, power cable, user manual, mounting bracket, handheld microphone, DC power cable, spare 25-A fuse, warranty card, and quick start manual.
- 32-bit DSP allows for excellent signal quality
- Backlit keypad buttons for easy operation
- Lightweight and compact design
- 100 watts output power
- Large LCD screen for easy viewing of menu options
- Easy to use
- Loud, clear speaker
- Somewhat difficult to program
3. Xiegu X5105
Very Light Weight
The Xiegu X5105 is undoubtedly one of the finest HF QRP transceivers on the market today. With its inbuilt spectrum sweep, antenna turner, SWR analyzer, and iambic keyer, the radio can rightly be called a true “shack-in-a-box.
The X5105 is a QRP (low power) radio with a power output of 5 watts. Nevertheless, the device performs well for long-distance contacts provided it is paired with a reliable antenna.
After unboxing the X5105, you will be impressed by how compact the device is. Weighing in at 3.42 pounds and with a dimension of 11.81 x 4.57 x 9.13, the X5105 can easily qualify as a portable handheld transceiver.
The radio comes with a non-removable inbuilt battery. The unit’s compact design and inbuilt battery make it especially suitable for field operations. With a full battery charge, the rig can function for many hours. No external power is required.
The X5105 feels exceptionally rugged. It has an all-metal body indicating that it can handle loads of abuse. A Plexiglass cover is fitted over the screen monitor.
This helps to shield the screen against damage. If you are a regular user of HF transceivers, you can easily locate several of the frequently used features and functions of the X5105.
You will find a dedicated knob for PTT on the X5105’s top panel. You will also find 2 buttons for band down/up and two for volume down/up on the top panel.
The control buttons are backlit but some users have noted that the buttons feel rubbery and cheap.
Several previous purchasers who use the X5105 for field operations say the audio quality is up to standard. These users note that the device’s petite top-mounted speaker delivers sufficient volume.
Nevertheless, note that if the volume is increased beyond 70 percent, you will possibly experience distortion in the audio. The X5105 accepts a conventional 3.5mm stereo plug meaning that you will have no problems using headphones with this unit.
Most previous buyers are happy with how amazingly comprehensive the entire X5105 package is.
Aside from the Xiegu X5105 transceiver, the box contains a microphone, a USB cable, a power cord plus bare pigtails, a user manual, and a Xiegu CE-19 interface expansion card.
Overall, if you are seeking a basic but capable compact HF radio for long-distance communications, the Xiegu X5105 comes highly recommended.
- Full HF coverage (160 to 6 meters)
- Rugged chassis
- Compact and lightweight
- Inbuilt automatic antenna turner
- Reasonably priced
- Well-written user manual
- Some complaints about the battery indicator being misleading
- Distorted audio at high volumes
4. Xiegu G90
Excellent Audio Quality
This HF SDR ham radio from Xiegu is a top-performing device with a tweakable interface. It comes with 20 watts max output power, a built-in antenna tuner, 0.5 – 30 megahertz coverage, plus excellent audio.
These features make the Xiegu G90 a fantastic option for long-distance communications.
While the radio comes in a compact build, it is a little heavy at 5.48 pounds. One of the device’s most endearing features is its removable faceplate.
You can easily detach the head from the unit’s main body and mount it remotely. This feature gives you a great deal of flexibility in installing the radio.
The unit’s 1.8 inches TFT LCD is very bright and clear both during daylight and night. While in use, the LCD shows the power meter, signal level, mode, volume, input voltage, waterfall display, and receive bandwidth display.
Most previous buyers are happy that they can get this summary at a glance of the screen layout.
As stated earlier, the Xiegu G90 features an inbuilt automatic antenna tuner. This tuner works by enhancing power transfer between the radio and the antenna.
With this feature, you can easily attain optimal performance in long-distance communications. The shortwave HF radio broadcasts between 1.8 – 29.99 megahertz.
You can also use it to listen to FM, AM, SSB, and CW. Thus, aside from ham radio, you can hear international and local news broadcasts, pirate radio broadcasters, and utility stations.
Included in the box are the transceiver, 1 programming cable, 1 multi-function handle, 2 fixed studs, I power cable, operational manual, 1 DB-9 cable, and 1 Allen wrench.
- Fantastic audio
- Inbuilt automatic antenna tuner
- Simple to use
- Excellent transmit and receive performance
- Responsive customer support
- A few users say they had a tough time setting up the radio
- LCD is somewhat small
How to Select the Best Ham Radio for Long Distance Communication?
1. Radio Frequency Output Power
Most rigs on the market are either QRP (5 to 20 watts) or full power (100 to 200 watts). If you will be using your transceiver as a home base station or within your vehicle, then a 100 watts radio is more than sufficient for your long-distance needs.
All the transceivers recommended here deliver 100 watts of output power except the Xiegu G90 and X5105. The Xiegu G90 and X5105 are QRP HF radios that deliver 20 watts and 5 watts of output power respectively.
QRP rigs are smaller, cheaper, and lighter, and they draw less power.
2. Frequency Bands
Many HF transceivers on the market also have the 6-meter band. A few have seventy centimeters and two meters also.
You can choose to purchase an HF-only transceiver (such as the Xiegu G90) if you can afford to purchase a separate UHF/VHF FM transceiver for local communication.
The advantage of having larger rigs is that they have more space to accommodate easier-to-see displays, screens, and buttons. This allows for a more convenient operation as you will be pressing fewer buttons when you need to change radio settings.
However, remember that larger radios may not be appropriate for mobile and portable use as they can be bulky. Also, they draw excessive current when operating from batteries.
Buying a new HF ham radio can be a pricey purchase. Consequently, you must consider this factor. All of the options offered here are reasonably priced and they deliver big on performance.
In recent times, many hams use software to program their rigs. So, when purchasing an HF radio, you may want to consider the connectivity and control.
The radios offered here are all USB-computer friendly. This means you can control these devices via computer software.
Comparison of Top Ham Radios for Long Distance
|Yaesu Original FT-991A
|9 x 3.2 x 9.3 inches
|UHF, VHF, HF
|Icom 7300 Direct
|9.4 x 9.4 x 3.7 inches
|HF, 6 meters
|Yaesu Original FT – 891
|6.1 x 2 x 8.2 inches
|HF, UHF, VHF
|11.8 x 9.1 x 4.6 inches
|HF, 6 meters
|13 x 9.7 x 4.9 inches
When shopping for an HF ham radio for your long-distance requirements, there is a broad selection available.
The options recommended here all offer superb value for money and exceptional performance. If you are seeking an all-mode HF radio, the Yaesu Original FT-991A may be your best choice.