Searching for a two-way radio for your agency can leave you uncertain of which will be the right choice for your team. While we won’t come out and tell you which radio make and model you should choose, we’ll show you things to consider when buying a professional two-way radio.

By professional radio, we mean radios used by police officers, fire departments, TSA agents, Border Patrol agents, and government agencies.

We’ll discuss 8 things to look for in a professional two-way radio to make sure you’re getting everything you need to communicate efficiently.

  • Battery Life
  • Intrinsically Safe
  • Water-Resistant
  • Durability
  • UHF or VHF Frequency
  • GPS and Location Tracking
  • Encryption
  • P25


Battery Life

Long battery life is essential to keeping you connected longer, especially during long shifts. Look for a radio that will promise 8 hours or more of battery life.


Intrinsically Safe

Intrinsically safe means the equipment is safe to use near fires and won’t cause a spark that can ignite a fire or explosion. This is incredibly important for firefighters and miners who work in hazardous environments where this spark can be disastrous.

If you require your radio to be intrinsically safe, look for SGS Group or FM Approval, these are accredited laboratories that test equipment and approve them to be Intrinsically Safe.



If you’re using your two-way radio outdoors where it is susceptible to rain, snow, or water, look for radios with an IP rating. IP ratings show you how well the radio is protected against rain and dust. To put it shortly, the rating will be 2 numbers. The first number resembles how well it's protected against dust particles, and the second number resembles how well it's protected against water.

For the most protection, your radio should be rated IP68. This means its dust-tight for 2 to 8 hours and protected against water immersion for long periods.

Learn more about what an IP rating is and what each rating means.



Working in public safety, you can be put through some tough environments. Your two-way radio should be durable enough to handle these environments.

Look for radios that meet MIL-STD (Military Standard). This means the radio has been tested and designed to meet the requirements for environmental stress.

The radio undergoes tests for mechanical shock, vibration, temperature, low pressure, humility, and explosive environments.

If your radio meets Mil-STD, you can be sure your radio is cable enough to handle any environment you put it through.


UHF or VHF Frequencies

Radios need to be on the same frequency to communicate. This is usually UHF, VHF, or 700/800 frequency. For example, if you operate on a UHF frequency your radio needs to have a UHF operating mode, and vice versa.

If your existing radios operate on UHF, your radios need to be UHF to communicate across them.

Make sure your two-way radio is on the same frequency as which you operate to ensure compatibility.


GPS and Location Tracking

Larger fleets of radios use GPS and Location tracking to find others and improve safety. If a member on your team is lost, hurt, or requires additional help, GPS location services can display the location so you can see where your team member is.



Does your radio need to be encrypted, meaning all conversations need to be protected against eavesdropping? Police officers usually have encrypted radios to keep people from listening in on secure information.

If you need secure communication, look for radios that can be encrypted.



P25 was introduced by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) to ensure two-way radios are interoperable across agencies regardless of what radios are being used.

Today, more radios have P25 interoperability to ensure everyone is connected during emergency events.


To recap, here are the main things to look for when buying a professional two-way radio.

  • Battery life is longer than 8 hours
  • Meets MIL-STD testing for durability
  • Has an IP Rating so it’s protected against submersion and weather.
  • Has GPS and Location Tracking to find others on your team quickly and safely.
  • P25 compatible for interoperability.
  • Intrinsically safe for use in hazardous environments
  • Encryption capabilities
  • You’re operating on the same frequencies.
Update: This blog post was originally posted on May 2019. It has since been updated and republished.
Two-way radio

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