Best hand held police scanner 2019 [Scanning Guide]

best hand held police scanner
best hand held police scanner

If you are looking for the best hand held police scanner, you are in the right place. Since there are plenty of options it’s tricky to choose the handheld scanner which suits your need. If you are looking for something mobile best for your vehicle you can also see our list of best police scanner for car. You shall not underestimate the capabilities of these devices due to their sizes. You can use these handheld scanners for turning into the frequencies used by police, fire department, ambulance, emergency services and many more. Whistler and Uniden are the brands producing most popular scanners in the market.

It’s surprising to know that 75% of police scanners sold are actually handheld scanners. Handheld police scanners which are also known as portable scanners are so much popular due to their portability. You can use them in your home, car, and while walking around without any issue. Handheld police scanners generally run on batteries. Occasionally they can be used with AC adaptors as well. Modern models come with USB cables. These cables can be used with your PC or wall off adaptors to charge. You can use the same USB cables are used to program your scanners as well. In this article, we will discuss ten best hand held scanner and will explain how to choose the perfect one for you as well.


Best hand held police scanner


Product NameImageWeightDimensionPrice
BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band1 pounds8 x 4 x 5 inches Check Price
BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen)1.01 pounds10.5 x 2 x 2 inches Check Price
Uniden BC75XLT14.4 ounces1 x 5 x 3 inches Check Price
Uniden BC125AT14.4 ounces4.3 x 2.2 x 7.3 inches Check Price
Uniden BCD436HP1 pounds3.8 x 2.4 x 9 inches Check Price
Whistler WS10107.8 ounces1.6 x 2.4 x 5.7 inches Check Price
Whistler WS10408.5 ounces1.6 x 2.6 x 5.7 inches Check Price
Uniden BCD325P21 pounds10 x 1 x 2 inches Check Price
Whistler WS10807.4 ounces1.1 x 2.1 x 5.3 inches Check Price
Whistler WS10881.15 pounds7.6 x 5.7 x 1.9 inches Check Price


BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band

BaoFeng UV-5R is an entry level dual-band two-way radio system. Although it’s not primarily a police scanner it can be programmed to be one. The unit is on top of our list due to its price and capabilities. You will get the unit with eight extra accessories. It contains a radio, a battery pack, an antenna and a headset. There is also a belt clip, hand strap, adapter, desktop charger and a manual. You can use the antenna to extend the range of the unit. The frequency range of the device is from 65 MHz to 108 MHz.

You can customize the channel names, boot display and many more by using the optional PCO3 computer programming cable. The cable doesn’t come with the unit which is a negative point. You need to know about local laws about transmitting since in many places it illegal to transmit above 0.5 watts on FRS frequencies. The good news is you can adjust UV-5R’s transmission between 1 to 4 watts. There is an auto lock feature in keypad which prevents you from accidentally pressing keys. Overall this is the best hand held police scanner on an entry level.


  • Small.
  • Good frequency range.
  • Durable and extremely strong.
  • Selecting the desired channels is slow.
  • Scanning is a little slow.


Uniden BC75XLT


Uniden BC75XLT is our choice of the best hand held police scanner for beginners. You can program around 300 frequencies to scan in the scanner. Booting of the device is fast. You can charge it with both an AC adapter and a USB charger. The device is powerful enough to pick the weakest signal without any antenna. You can use it in any place, it will give you the best sound quality in odd circumstances as well. BC75XLT is a rugged and durable scanner. It is equipped with close call RF technology.

This technology enables the unit to detect and tune into the nearby transmission, even if you have not programmed that frequency into a channel. The scanner is completely Narrow-band compliant. As of now, all business and safety operations require narrow-band modulation. The backlit display makes it easier for you to read the display even in low light conditions. There is an option of priority scan which enables you to frequently scan the channels designated as priority channels.


  • Easy setup and use.
  • Lots of channels.
  • Close Call RF Capture Technology.
  • Not the most durable police scanner.

Uniden BC125AT

Uniden BC125AT is actually offered as an event scanner but also has built-in auto service searching which includes police, fire, marine, railroads and many more. The unit has a substantially large LCD screen and well-designed keypad buttons. Soft rubber buttons are very easy to operate. With this scanner, you can scan up to 40,000 frequencies. You can organize all the desired frequency with its Alpha-tagged channels. The Alpha-tagged channel feature supports up to 500 channels which are divided into 10 storage banks.

The channels can be organized by departments, locations and can be assigned names. This makes the tracking easy and you are always sure whom you are listening to. The unit is lightweight making it easy to carry wherever you go. It is equipped with an orange backlight LCD display which is easy to read including low light conditions. On the LCD display, you can see Alpha tags, channels numbers, frequency, mode and many more things. Programming the scanner is quite easy. The Uniden software makes it even easier. Overall it fits perfectly in the list of best hand held police scanner within 100$.


  • Includes USB charging/Power cable.
  • User-friendly.
  • Can be programmed by PC with free BC software..
  • Not weather resistant.

Whistler WS1010


Whistler 1010 is the best hand held police scanner in the analog category. The unit comes with an analog scanner, AC adapter, flex antenna, black battery shell and a yellow rechargeable battery shell. It has 200 channels memory space which allows you to store frequencies in 10 different storage banks. The backlit liquid crystal display enables you to read and program data even in low light. It supports a great feature called data cloning. Data cloning allows you to transfer the programmed data to another WS1010 scanner.

The scanner has a flexible antenna with BNC connector which is capable to connect an external antenna as well. This provides reception of distant or weak signals. The key lock feature is another safety feature which ensures you don’t accidentally change the settings of the scanner. With lockout function, you can skip desired channels or frequencies while scanning to save time. With the help of software, you can program the scanner, take back data and update the existing database. There are many more features like priority channel, scan delay, service banks, etc which makes it a good choice.


  • Great price.
  • easy to set up and use.
  • Has long battery life.
  • faceplate is easy to scratch.
  • Slow Charging.

Whistler WS1040


Whistler 1040 is an advanced digital phase 1 scanner. You can consider it the best hand held police scanner in digital phase 1 category. The unit comes with a large backlit display and keyboard. To top it off, it also includes a multi-color customizable and programmable LED alert light. The alert light is quite a helpful feature in identifying a frequency from a distance. For example, Red for fire, orange for police and so on. Programming is made easy with a few lines of text providing assistance in programming and uses of the scanner.

The scanner has many great features like scan list, free-form memory organization, Skywarn storm spotter, digital AGC, etc. With scan list functionality you can arrange, group and scan frequencies based on your choices. The free-form memory organization system allocates the memory dynamically and efficiently. If you are willing to keep a tab on storm watcher networks, the scanner gives you one-button access to common frequencies used by them. The scanner can hold up to 38,000 scannable objects in memory which is pretty good.


  • Flexible programing.
  • It is easy to use.
  • Comes with Close Call™ RF Capture Technology.
  • Start-up speed.

Best hand held police scanner Buyer’s Guide

Handheld police scanners are the most popular police scanners in the market. There are plenty of companies producing different scanners. Among them, Uniden and Whistler are the notable ones. Every scanner is built for a different group of user. In this guide, we will explain you technicalities and features to look for your best hand held police scanner.

Why should you buy a handheld police scanner?

When we think about hand help police scanner the first thing hits our mind is why handheld? Why not a desktop scanner. The most important reason is portability. Although we have discussed best police scanner for the car in another article which is kind of portable. But they don’t give you the same freedom as handheld scanners. You can go to a place where a vehicle can’t go and still scan for frequencies. There are many other points too like power consumptions, flexibility, etc which makes the handheld scanner popular.

Although the handheld scanners are not as powerful as the base or car mounted scanners, the portability and flexibility is something which makes it a better choice. If you need something strong most handheld scanners will not meet your requirements. In that case, you should focus on strong and highly capable handheld scanners. Most handheld scanners will satisfy your frequency coverage needs. The sensitivity and selectivity are where it can’t compete with base scanners. There are always some extra accessories which will increase the sensitivity and selectivity of your scanner.

Things to look before you buy your best hand held police scanner

Once you have made up your mind that you do want to buy a handheld scanner, there are few things you must know about before making the purchase.


Police scanners are not always used for scanning for police frequencies only. You can see frequencies of Sherrif, Highway patrol, Fire/Emergency services, ATC, Railroads, Malls, Stadiums and many more. Once you know which all the things you need to scan you can easily search for the qualified product for it.


The antenna is a major part of your scanner. A high-quality antenna will increase the range and quality of signals. This results in higher quality of scanning and sound.


Always look for keyboards made up of ergonomic materials. If there is backlit light it’s even better. It enables you to use the scanner even in low light conditions.


The whole scanning is worthless if you can’t hear the resulting sound properly. Always look for good quality of speakers. Generally, the power of an average handheld police scanner will range between 3-10 watts.

Charging and power source

The biggest reason to opt for handheld scanners is portability. These scanners are supposed to be mobile. Hence you should look for long-lasting batteries. You should also look for easy charging points. Some scanners can use both traditional and USB chargers. It’s always best to go with them.

Local Law

Before buying a police scanner you must know about local laws of scanning. Mobile and encrypted transmissions are illegal to scan everywhere. Rest are allowed but you must register for an FCC license.


If you are a newbie it’s better to opt for a pre-programmed scanner. And if you are an expert you already know what to choose.


Memory is very important while choosing a police scanner. You should be able to store enough objects and channels in the scanner for ease of use.


Look for a bigger display. A better display will help you in programming and operations. If the display has a backlit function it’s even better.


Apart from the above features, you should also keep an eye open for the alert feature. Some scanners come with light or sound alert which informs you when a particular frequency is accessible. Things like weather alerts, AM & FM radio capabilities, GPS connectivity are a bonus if you can find them in your desired scanner.


Above we have presented you our list of best hand held police scanners. Whether you are a hobbyist, an alert citizen, or a journalist the list is suitable for all. Choosing a handheld police scanner is a personal choice based on personal preferences. We hope that this guide helps you in making the perfect decision.





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