Home KX2 vs KX3: Which one should I buy?

KX2 vs KX3: Which one should I buy?

Whether it's heading for a vacation or traveling for business, many operators want to be able to use their radios while they're out and about.

We receive a lot of questions about choosing a portable radio.  The Elecraft KX-Line (KX2 and KX3, PX3 Panadapter and KXPA100 Amplifier) allows you to use them in any number of ways. 

Let’s look at how you can figure out which radio and accessories are right for you.


Choose the radio based on your Activity Plan

Your Activity Plan is what we call your preference for operating.  All Elecraft products are designed so that you can optimize your system to support it.

For example, if you’re planning extremely portable activities, you’re likely calculating the weight of your pack along with the smallest radio.  In that case, the KX2 is the radio to choose.  It has half the cabinet size of a KX3 and a built-in microphone so you can go further out (or up to a summit activation, for instance) with your rig.

If, on the other hand, you’re planning to operate out of your auto or Recreational Vehicle, you have more options to use different equipment.   You can tuck the KXPA100 (our 100-watt linear) behind the seat or in the trunk, since the KX3 or KX2 can completely control it.   You can then use the KX3 and PX3 panadapter mounted together for a full 100-watt station in very little space.  As a result, the KX3 is more preferred because it can be expanded to a complete, 100-watt station with the PX3 and KXPA100.  

Even More Ways to Operate

We’re also finding that many operators constrained for space are turning to the KX-Line because they can have a top-rated transceiver along with the Panadapter and 100-watt capability.  Add our KPA500 Amplifier or KPA1500 Amplifier, and you’ve got a super-station in a small shack!


Determining Your Activity Plan 

Here’s a chart that illustrates how you can think about this.  On the bottom axis, Expandability is defined as the ability to grow your station using components like the PX3 panadapter and the KXPA100 linear amplifier.  On the Y axis, Portability is defined as how easy the radio system is to “Grab and Go” and how bulky the pack is.

Once you’re clear how you’ll be using the radio and accessories, choose the radio based on what you want to do with it.  Select the radio and its options based on your Activity Plan with the table below.


Choosing Your Radio

 KX2 Ultra-Portable KX3 Expandable System
  • Mobile
  • SOTA
  • IOTA
  • Walk-about (with AX1 antenna)
  • Grab & Go Kits
  • Small Shack (Apartment/Condo)
  • Downsizing from a big station
  • Shared Portable and Fixed Station Configurations
Add the KXPA100 to make it a full 100 Watts! Add the PX3 Panadapter and the KXPA100 to make it a fully expanded station with Grab & Go capability


You can add options at any time and in any order!

Unlike all other radio manufacturers, all Elecraft products have options you can use to optimize the system for how you use it.   This means that you can purchase a top-rated, high-performance radio first and then add the most appropriate options.  Remember, you do not need to install options until you need them.

Let us know how we can help you build a system for you.  Learn more about the KX2 and the KX3 transceivers.