Can civilians use military radios?

There are lots of military products, wear, and pieces that you can purchase nowadays. With things like Amazon, or eBay, there’s a market for military surplus. There are some military pieces that are illegal to hold, some uniforms or decorations and awards are frowned upon to own. So what about things like radios? Can civilians use those?

Not the way you think. You can buy encrypted radios, similar to military radios, however, you can’t buy radios that have been used within the military. They’re often destroyed, or un-usable and thus not worth much.

So what’s the deal? Why can’t we access them? Is there anything similar to radios? Well, we have all the answers to your questions, but first we need to look at the history of the military radio.

Military Radios

Military radios are not commonly sold the way other military collectibles might be. Often times they’re destroyed, or simply just not sold. Why? Mainly because military radios only have access to certain channels or “stations” that are specially encrypted. Unlike regular radio’s you can’t just tune to a certain station and get a glimpse of what could be playing. Instead, each radio directly goes to a different station, that is specially encrypted to keep others from listening in. Imagine only having 3 television stations, that only you could access.

It’s closer to a telephone than anything else. With only one other direct line. Unless it was a specific broadcast, where broad or general information is being broadcasted that won’t get into the wrong hands. We have things like this now, with an Armed Forces TV network, or even radio stations used on military bases to play songs or report on the news.

Radio isn’t a new concept. Before technology had evolved to the extent that we know today, there were other ways of communication. Smoke, trumpet soundings, even flags were all used to communicate from long distances. From there, telegraphs were developed, morse code became a means of communication, and slowly but surely the radio came about.

For a while you could only communicate through broadcast, through encrypted codes and language, people could communicate from long distances without the worry of someone understanding. However back then, encryption wasn’t an easy technology and people could easily listen in on conversations if they hit the right dial. Not exactly a foolproof way of communication.

This created the development of radios that acted as telephones, encryption being a large part of it. Encryption has always been a thing, even dating all the way back to 1553. But now is used in the military, specifically AES-256 encryption or Advanced Encryption Standard with a 256-bit key. Something so intense you couldn’t crack it from the outside.

So now, in our ever-changing modern era, most radios are made to only communicate with one another. Carefully encrypted and changed regularly so that no one can get into them. Some encryptions are changed every hour, others are changed every month, day, or year. This is why you can’t necessarily buy military radios. You wouldn’t be able to access anything, and couldn’t use it as a regular radio to talk to your friends or listen to anything. It would be worthless. So unless you’re looking for a fun thing to collect, it’s not worth purchasing.

If you’re still really passionate about the use of military radios, there are a few dupes you can look into. Police radios being the best. However, there’s also an issue with that. Upkeep for these radios is incredibly difficult, as technology advances, these will fall behind and after a few years. Causing your radio, which will probably cost a pretty penny, to no longer be useful. Of course, there are a few radios that will maintain for quite a bit longer, and here’s a bit of information on that.

Military Radio “Dupes”

If you’re looking to purchase something similar, there are a few places you can look. Though it’s important to note whether or not you’re looking for a radio that works because if you are you may have a harder time finding one. You aren’t going to be able to find any modern ones, perhaps replicas, but nothing that’s currently being used for obvious reasons. However here are a few options for you!

If you’re looking for a working radio….

eBay! eBay is a great place to look for old, but still working, military radios. Often they’re sold in pairs so that you, and whatever person on the other side you desire, can work with each other. The radios commonly found on eBay can range from 100 to 1,000 dollars! You can also look on vintage military websites that can commonly be found selling certain radios or other collectibles. These sell out fast though, so don’t be too set on it.

If you just want a replica…..

Ebay is another great option for this one, but better yet, there are some great surplus stores that sell vintage radios just to own. The benefits of having a replica radio (that doesn’t work) is that they tend to come cheaper. Buying ones that do work are incredibly expensive not only to buy, but to keep up with. So buying a replica is the better of the two options, and here are a few great websites to look at!

TDM Military: TDM military is great for buying anything and everything military-related. They sell equipment, radio’s, head-sets, and any other small bits of paraphernalia that you could want

at-Communication: at-Communication not only spreads military news and information, but they also sell all sorts of things! If you can dream it, they probably sell it, with a bit more than TDM, but at a little bit of a higher price for what you might be looking for.

So if you’re itching for a military radio, working or not, there are certainly some places you can look. As long as you’re not trying to actually break into military radios, you’re safe to use any radio you can!

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