Police With DogF15, F16 Fighter Jets BC60XLT Handheld Scanner Radio  

Radio Scanner Guide


BC296D Handheld Scanner Radio    Sage Brush FireStock Car Racing

Welcome to Radio Scanner Guide!

The BCT-8 is a popular radio scanner designed for mobile use.  Vendors such as Amazon and ScannerMaster sell scanners.   
BCT-8 Scanner Radio

This website, Radio Scanner Guide, will help you select a scanner radio so you can join the exciting hobby of radio scanning! It organizes the many new and used models on the market into six categories based on their features. You will first read about the various radio services ? police, fire, military aircraft, and more ?that you can hear on a scanner. Then, Radio Scanner Guide will tell you which of the six scanner categories have the features you need to hear your desired services. Next, you may view all radio scanner models in those categories or you may view all scanner models under each major brand.

Keep reading below for more information on scanning! If you are an experienced hobbyist or know what features you need, you may skip this introduction. You may go to the Table of Contents, use the box to the right to see scanner model information, or keep reading this page. 

Scanner Model Reference

    Description of Scanner Categories

Scanners By Category

  1. Budget Scanners
  2. Conventional Scanners w/o 800 MHz
  3. Conventional Scanners w/ 800 MHz
  4. Analog Trunking Scanners
  5. Digital Trunking Scanners
  6. Continuous Coverage Scanners

Scanners by Brand

    Radio Shack:     Handheld   Base/Mobile
    Uniden Bearcat: Handheld   Base/Mobile
Radio Scanners have also been called police scanners, police-fire scanners, race scanners, NASCAR scanners, racing scanners, aircraft radio scanners, channel scanners, frequency scanners, and scanner radios among other names. These names reflect a few of the common topics people like to follow on their scanners. Also, scanners are sometimes referred to by their brand names: Radio Shack scanners, and Uniden Bearcat scanners. Scanner models for both of these major brands and for several smaller brands are listed on this website.  Often one manufacturer will market almost identical scanners under two brands.

What you can hear

Fire departments are popular listening targets.  (Photo by US Small Business Administration)
Fireman extinguishing large house fire

Hear Police, Sheriffs, Constables, state troopers, and other law enforcement investigate armed suspects, deal with hostile crowds, or bust routine criminals. Hear fire departments and paramedics revive accident victims. Sit back and relax with your radio scanner as you listen to commercial jetliners, private planes, and helicopters fly above you. Hear military aircraft fly on covert training missions or civil defense authorities do a monthly drill! Find out the inside scoop on your favorite race car drivers in the final laps. Other interesting services and businesses you will hear on your radio scanner include electric, gas and water utilities, marine activity, buses, trains, taxis, tow-trucks, buses, road construction crews, private security, shopping malls, amusement park staff, factories, other businesses, the National Weather Service, CB radio, amateur radio operators, and virtually any other user of a 2-way radio system.

Why listen to scanners?

An officer with the US Park Police uses her radio.  (Photo by US Park Police.)
The US Park Police in DC can be heard on scanners.

Feel the heart pounding suspense and enjoy the real-life excitement of hearing emergencies as they happen! Enjoy the wide variety of action - from police dealing with a deadly suspect to a commercial jetliner in trouble! Feel the intellectual stimulation as you become the detective, searching with your radio scanner for secret radio transmissions, and satisfying your curiosity for what is occurring in your community. Be among the first to know what is happening in a major emergency when normal communications won't work.  Become a "frequency sleuth", solving the mystery of who you hear on new frequencies!


The vast majority of radio transmissions you can hear on a radio scanner are fully legal to hear, including all listening topics covered on this website. Communications which are not legal to hear include cellular telephones and any scrambled or encrypted communications. In addition, there are laws against disclosing or using intercepted communications to commit a crime (such as eluding law enforcement) or for financial gain (such a business listening to a competitor's dispatcher to pick up their customers.) Some state and local laws also impose additional restrictions on scanner use, particularly use of radios that can hear police in vehicles.  However, even in states with such laws, you may legally listen to police, fire and other public-safety communications while at home. 

This information regarding scanner laws is designed to be a brief summary of US scanner laws; it is not intended to serve as legal advice or to replace the counsel of a qualified attorney.  Most prosecutions have either involved attempts to obstruct law enforcement or the disclosure of cellular phone calls.  The vast majority of scanner listeners do not run into problems with the law.   Listeners in the United States may legally monitor all listening topics covered on this web site.

Scanner listeners who hear about nearby emergencies including house fires or car accidents should not venture to the emergency site.  Listeners should not accidentally block access to the site or distract officials who may be acting under severe time and space constraints. 


The vast majority of interesting communications can be heard with inexpensive radio scanners which can often be purchased new for $80 to $200 or used through services like eBay for $20 to $100.  Typically, mail-order businesses offer the best prices for new scanners.  

About This Site

This site is organized into 9 parts, each of which guide you through the process of selecting your radio. You may read each page in order by following the arrows at the bottom of each page. Or you may use the links found on the left side of the screen or in the text of each page to skip around.

Part 6 contains tables for each of the 6 scanner categories listing all scanner models classified into each category. It provides specifications on each model and links to vendors selling that model, if it is a current model.

Keep reading for assistance in selecting the right scanner for your interests!

Table of Contents

© COPYRIGHT 2005, 2006, 2010 Matthew Hurst; ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, except certain photos.   Terms of Service    Linking Policy