Elecraft KX2 / KX3

I am considering getting an Elecraft KX2 or KX3, for portable use. If I get the KX2, is there anything I will find lacking compared to a KX3? I am also considering an external transverter for 2m, although I recognise that if I go down the KX3 route, I could choose to get an internal one.
I look forward to your collective advice!

Thanks in advance.

1 Like

Which one other than the Elecraft one?

1 Like

I haven’t seriously looked, but I have seen units available on eBay and elsewhere. I understand that not all of them are stable, so I will be doing more research before getting one. I may also just get a small but capable handheld instead for VHF/UHF - this might be the better option.

1 Like

I sold my KX3 a few years back. I found it rather expensive for use on the mountain, but also heavy compared to the KX2. It had been my base station for quite a while, but when I was no longer allowed an antenna at home I just let it go. I think the transverters for the KX3 are pretty exorbitant. I would go for a handheld that has APRS, as this will give you more options for spotting.
73 de Matt


I highly recommend the internal ATU option for the KX2. Many on this reflector like me have praised its ability to match a wide range of antennas.


Thanks Matt - I agree about the cost. Also, in the UK it seems like there is nothing in the second hand market, so I would have to buy new. I am leaning towards the KX2, and since this radio will only be for portable use I don’t need to integration options for amplifier usage that the KX3 has. I wanted to check if I was missing something!
Good point about the APRS - I hadn’t considered that.

Thanks Andy. I also see the T1 tuner in use by KX2 users, but I guess the internal tuner has the advantage of being one less item to carry (or forget!)!

I think the KX2 hooks up with the KXPA100 just as well as the KX3. If I get another station at home, I will probably go for SDR receiver and use the KX2 as the TX.


Hallo Paul

about 3 years ago I was faced with the same decision… KX2 or KX3

For me it was the KX2

I don’t need a 160m band for SOTA.
It has almost the same performance (also the tuner)
It is much smaller and lighter (and cheaper)
I do not need the other functions

Yes, I also like to do 2m SSB. But then it is a deliberate activation and I take a 2m antenna and the transverter with me. The transverter is very light.


If you start a search for a KX2 here, you will find many useful tips.

73 Armin


The answer to your question is difficult so try limiting the options.

  1. Set a “do not exceed” budget… the maximum you can spend now.

  2. You want to go portable but we’ll assume with that new looking call sign you’ve not really done any portable operating yet. In that case, buy something that has the best resale value in case you find out you don’t like operating portable and you what to cut your losses. No problem selling a KX2 used.

  3. You do not need an ATU to start with. Sure they’re nice, but to begin with you can make antennas that work on multiple bands without an ATU. Later you can buy an external or internal one.

  4. Again 2m/70cms multimode option is something you don’t need to begin with. Again it’s nice to have and I enjoy operating there. You can buy a transverter later on.

  5. I had a look at your profile… you’re a few years younger than me. The weight difference between a KX2 and KX3 is not much now but when you get to my age all of a sudden it will feel like someone has added a few sacks of potatoes to your bag. Save weight when you can.

All of which says buy a KX2 and a decent 2m handheld. Don’t buy one of the crud-fest cheap Baofengs, they’re no good for use out portable where there may be commercial transmitters.

Most of the people I know with a KX2 bought them second hand. They do show up but you need to be quick and vigilant.

For the record, I had an 817 before I started SOTAing. Now I have 2x 817s for long and boring reasons, 2nd one bought before the KX2/3 appeared. I need 70cms all modes for my microwave transverters which is why I still use an 817 on HF as well. I’ve a K2 but it’s too big and heavy for SOTA TBH. I’ve toyed with buying a KX2 because I’m worth it and nearly bought it before I wondered about a 705 because it’s shiny. The 705 has a load of features I’m not interested in but it’s shiny :slight_smile: I should buy one of each and sell an 817 but I have done 13800 miles on my current set of car tyres and they need replacing now which is the same price as a KX2. Need the tyres and don’t need (but want) a KX2 or 705.

So that’s easy… KX2 and a proper 2m handheld. Stuff the KX2 with add-ons when you need them.


Thanks Andy!
To cover your points:

  1. I agree. I want to buy one portable rig though, so I am carefully examining the options! For example, I don’t want to buy an KX2, and then find that actually I needed a KX3, as that would cost significantly more than buying only one of them!
  2. You are correct in identifying that I haven’t done much in terms of portable operation. I have everything to be able to take my ft-897 on the road (and do from time to time), but I wouldn’t like to lug it up a hill! Living in North Wales there are many options for SOTA operation, either on foot on on a mountain bike, so I am quite keen.
  3. I agree. My ft-897 came with an add on tuner, but the antennas I have built already actually operate without it (with the exception of the Sotabeams Bandspringer midi).

I have seen the various comments around Baofengs and commercial masts. I haven’t yet looked into alternatives from other manufacturers.
I will keep my eyes peeled for a second hand KX2! I have also seen rigs such as the Discovery tx-500 which look particularly interesting!

1 Like

I currently have the KX3 with all the bells and whistles except no 2meters. A friend went with the KX2 and if I had to do it over again the KX2 would be my choice with the ATU.



I have a KX2 (with ATU) and have at no point wished I’d gone KX3 instead. It is my main HF rig out and about and at home. The more I use it, the more I appreciate it.

Other rigs will come and go, pretty sure I will own the KX2 until I die.


Hi - Early this year got a KX2 directly from Elecraft - there was some VAT to pay but it arrived as expected with no issues. I went for the internal ATU as I didn’t fancy fitting one - but I did change the side plates to add protection (Gems Products version). I have no regerets other than possibly not buying an internal battery at the same time - although I sourced one from The Netherlands and it got through the Brexit wall… Significantly lighter than my previous combination - although I still have my FT 817 for 2m SSB or as a backup. Perhaps it is just me but I find it much more intuative to use than the FT 817 - no layers of menus to fight through. I have the KX2 out in the office / shack and it gets turned onat home as well as on a hilltop and on RX it seems to be as good as my bigger rig - IC 7300. Just my pennys worth! Paul


Hi Paul,
I’m glad you made your post as a KX2 user. I have handled one but don’t own one. IMO it is the best choice for SOTA etc.

For anyone wondering about what to do, I urge you to get the internal tuner and battery.

It’s an investment. This is what you earn money for.

You can take a HH for 2 m and get most of the
2m stations on FM.

Oh and do try to use a better antenna than some scrap of wire thrown on the scrub.



I own both KX2 and KX3. Unless for some reason you absolutely… positively… got to have 6m on SOTA then KX2 is the only way to go. Also, as stated above the internal tuner is a major plus, at least in my opinion. Either way, you will not be disappointed in either one. If I need 6m I too purchased the transverter from the Ukraine just to have that option available.
Tim - K5DEZ


I can only tell of my experience with both KX2/3 on HF. I have kx3 number 0804 got it in 2012. My SOTA buddy has a KX2 which we use on joint activations as well. First thing I noticed was the external Speaker on the KX2 is way better than the KX3 but apart from that they function much the same. I also noticed from own experience and others the KX2 will run at a higher temperature if used in a hot climate country like VK. My JA friend had a few over heating warnings on his KX2 during summer time in JA. The accessory heat sink on both rigs can help, I never bothered with one but I always make sure the rig is in shade if its a hot day out activating. I would not consider VHF as a means of qualifying a summit unless you have lots of active chasers in the foot print of a summit, its not worth even carrying any VHF kit here in VK5 there’s no one out there to contact from a lot of summits I visit.
vk5cz …


This poll gives a form of recommendation as to what activators are using.

I’ve never used a KX3 but have never felt I was missing something with the 2. (Except power sometimes, and there are better solutions than a KX3 for that :wink:)


I have a 70cm transverter from https://transverters-store.com/ which I use with my FT-891. They also sell on ebay. The signal quality is good, and they have transverters with a TCXO which are quite stable. (I tested the stability while using it for QO-100 UL with FT8). I don’t have a comparison with the Elecraft transverters, but the value for money seems quite good to me.

I think you meant 6m. KX2/3 both do 160m.

To answer OPs question, I own both a KX2 and a KX3. The KX3 is my main station rig, and the KX2 is my SOTA rig. There isn’t any feature of the KX3 that I wish I had on the KX2 for SOTA activations. Also, my SOTA activations are mostly CW, if that makes a difference.

73, Jim KK0U