Radio Scanner Guide
Part 6: Radio Scanner Models Listed By Category and Listed by Brand/ Model Number
This website divides all new and used radio scanners into 6 categories to make it easier to find available radios that meet your needs. Certain scanner models fit the criteria of multiple categories and therefore are listed multiple times, as noted in the comments for those particular scanners. Click on any of the category headings below to view a table listing scanner models in that category. Or view scanner models arranged by brand and model number using links near the bottom of this page.
Category 0: Crystal-Controlled Scanners (Obsolete) - Avoid these scanners for anything other than antique-radio collections. They were made primarily in the 1970's and early 80's. For the curious, a crystal-controlled scanner uses a separate crystal to control what frequency the radio is tuning. For each channel you want to monitor, you must buy a new crystal for about $5 each. Such radios are very inflexible. Typically people only buy crystal-controlled scanners as collector items, not for serious use. I do not recommend purchasing one and do not list any crystal-controlled scanners on this website.
Category 1: Budget Scanners - Scanners in this category receive the major land-mobile bands of 30-54; 138-174; 406-512 MHz. They only have 8 to 20 channels, may not have a search mode for finding new stations, and most do not receive aircraft. These scanners are adequate for people in rural areas interested in listening to only one or two agencies, such as their local police department, and who do not need trunk-tracking or 800 MHz coverage. Generally, significantly better radios in Category 2 (below) can be purchased for about the same price.
Category 2: Conventional Scanners without 800 MHz - These radios have more features than the scanners listed in Category 1. Like the Budget Scanners, they receive all major land-mobile bands except 800 MHz (30-54; 108-174; 406-512 MHz). They also can hear civilian aircraft in the 108-137 MHz range. They have more channels - 20 to 100 channels, so you can listen to more services. They also have a search mode for finding new stations. These scanners are recommended for users who do not need 800 MHz coverage or trunking, such as users in a rural area or those only interested in hearing commercial aircraft. It should be possible to find suitable used radio on eBay for $20-$50 or a new model from a reputable mail-order vendor for $50-$100.
Category 3: Conventional Scanners with 800 MHz - These radios are like Category 2 (above) but also feature the 800 MHz band. They can hear all major land-mobile bands plus civilian aircraft. Frequency coverage is as follows: 30-54, 108-174, 406-512, 806-956 MHz. However, they do not include trunk-tracking. Therefore, they can monitor conventional radio systems and can monitor audio on analog trunked systems, but cannot follow the conversations as they hop across frequencies (see Part 3A: Land-Mobile Systems, trunking for more details). They feature 50 to 300 channels, allowing the user to monitor more radio services than scanners in Categories 1 and 2.
Category 4: Analog Trunking Scanners - Known as "Trunk-tracking" or "Trunking" Scanners, these radios can follow conversations on analog (non-digital) trunked radio systems in addition to having all the capabilities of scanners in Categories 1 through 3. Note that these radios can still follow conventional systems like Category 3 scanners.
All radios feature 150 to 1000 channels and also contain all major land-mobile radio bands plus civilian aircraft (30-54, 108-174, 406-512, 806-956 MHz). They can all track Motorola Type I, II, and I/II hybrid systems. Most can also track G.E./Ericsson EDACS trunking systems, while some models can also track E.F. Johnson LTR trunking systems. This information is listed in the table. It is necessary that the scanner you purchase can track the trunked radio systems you wish you hear.
Category 5: Digital Trunking Scanners - These scanners can follow trunked and conventional radio systems using digital voice encoding. They can also follow analog trunked systems like Category 4 radios, and, in fact, also have all capabilities of the scanners in Categories 1, 2, 3, and 4. Digital Trunked systems are similar to analog trunked systems except the actual voice communications are digitally encoded. All radios in this Category have a built-in or add-on decoder for Motorola APCO-25 digital protocol. Due to their high price, they are recommended only if the agencies you would like to monitor are APCO-25 digital. Such scanners will not decode encrypted voice or voice transmitted in other, incompatible digital formats. (Luckily there aren't too many of those systems.) All radios in this category have at least 500 channels.
Category 6: Continuous Coverage Scanners - These scanners can listen to virtually all VHF/UHF frequencies, including all major land-mobile bands. They can also tune into specialty bands not found in most scanners, like military aircraft or TV Sound. All radios in this category have continuous frequency coverage from 25-1300 MHz, except for the gap for the cellular phone band (mandated by US Federal Law) and the UHF television band (there is nothing there to hear). All have 200 to 1000 channels and allow the user to choose receive mode (NFM, WFM, AM) and search step size. Most of these radios are or were top-of-the-line scanners when produced and therefore are good-quality receivers. However, some of the older models do not have some features that are now common in high-end scanners like trunk tracking. As such, all scanners in this category have all capabilities of scanners in Categories 1, 2, and 3. Most of the newer ones also have the trunking capabilities of scanners in Categories 4, and in some cases, 5. In cases where a "Continuous Coverage" scanner also has trunking capabilities, it will be noted that the radio is also listed in Category 4 or 5.
Click on any of the category headings above to view the table of scanner models listed in that category.
Scanners Listed by Brand and Model Number
Uniden Bearcat Base/Mobile Scanners - Model numbers usually begin with BC or SC and a numeric digit of 7 or higher.
Uniden Bearcat Handheld Scanners - Model numbers usually begin with BC or SC and a numeric digit of 3 or lower.
Radio Shack Base/Mobile Scanners - Model numbers usually begin with PRO, followed by a four digital number beginning with 20 (i.e. PRO-2096). Models produced before 1994 were sold under the "Realistic" brand name.
Radio Shack Handheld Scanners - This list features all Radio Shack brand scanners designed for handheld/ portable. Model numbers usually begin with PRO, followed by a 2 digital number (e.g. PRO-96). Models produced before 1994 were sold under the "Realistic" brand name.