The Baofeng UV-5R and its derivatives are perhaps the most prolific handheld radios in use today due to their simplicity, versatility, and low price. In a SHTF or grid-down scenario, a Baofeng may be one of the few widely available communication tools. The Guerilla Guide is written for all levels of experience, using techniques taught to special operations personnel, but with the end user in mind.

The 411

The guide consists of seven chapters and three appendices. Topics include field programming, improvised antennas, operation, and communications security.

Chapter one starts with an introduction to the Baofeng radio and its capabilities and continues with communications basics and the three roles of communication: sustainment, tactical, and clandestine/strategic. The author explains that the Baofeng operates as a dual-band radio, transmitting in VHF and UHF, and that both bands have their own pros and cons.

In chapter two, functions and field programming, the author goes over frequency and memory modes. Remember: All data that you input into your radio is potentially exploitable. The author gives real-life examples of this from his service overseas, stating, “Every Taliban member with a radio in Afghanistan became a target for us.” Any radio captured was given to the Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) officer to search the memory and analyze their communication protocols. In short, “Do not, under any circumstances, program the memory of a radio you intend on using for tactical or clandestine purposes.”

Another pro tip by the author is “Lock that keypad!” While conducting night training, a squad leader had an unlocked keypad that resulted in him losing his frequency when his radio shifted on his gear. Now, in the dark, with lost comms, an exercise that was going smoothly quickly went south.

Chapter five on the construction of improvised field antennae is extremely valuable information, as many people think the radio range is fixed at a certain distance. The author breaks it down so that anyone can learn the basic concepts of antennae in an improvised environment. The most critical and often overlooked element while using the Baofeng — or any other radio — is the antenna. In many cases, it’s more important than the radio itself.

Regarding “how much range does it have,” radio theory should be understood. In layperson’s terms, three factors are involved: the operating environment, the obstacles between you and the intended receiver, and the efficiency of your antenna. The author keeps the technical data to a minimum so anyone can grasp the basics and goes into detail on the pluses and minuses of different antenna types.

The chapter on communications operations stresses specific considerations for the three types of communications. Failure to know this principle is the most devastating failure of communication security (COMSEC). The Baofeng radio can save your life or get you killed if used in an undisciplined way. When using the Baofeng in a tactical role, keep transmissions short, use codewords, and always operate with separate receive and transmit frequencies.

Chapter seven covers the difference between encoding and encryption. As the Baofeng has no built-in encoding or encryption capabilities, the author goes over transposing a message into a code, aka encoding. This can be done digitally via software or manually via pen and paper.

Photo of a the Guerrilla's Guide to the Baofeng Radio on a digital background.

The Verdict

I recommend this guide to anyone looking to get their comms game in order. It is an invaluable guide to the communications world that will help keep you alive. The Guerilla’s Guide to the Baofeng Radio will get you on the path to communications proficiency in no time. It’s available in paperback, and a field edition that’s spiral-bound and pocket-sized for carrying into the field is also available.

The author’s pen name is NC Scout. He’s a former member of one of the U.S. Army’s Special Reconnaissance Units and the owner of Brushbeater Training and Consulting. NC Scout conducts hands-on training, and anyone interested in a course in communications as well as several other topics can visit and view his training schedule.

About the Book

  • Book & Author: The Guerrilla's Guide to the Baofeng Radio, by NC Scout
  • Publisher: Independently published
  • MSRP: $25
  • URL: or
  • Pages: 156
  • Rating: Thrive | Survive | Die

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Editor's Note: This article has been modified from its original print version for the web.

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