One of my friends gave me a UV5R to replace my trusty BellSouth 1010 FRS radio so we can stay in touch over longer distances during trail rides (mountain biking). I've been using FRS radios since the mid 90s whenever they first appeared and it seemed odd that this radio could get significantly better range within the constraints of FRS (500mW). Of course the first thing I did was research the radio itself which led me down various paths which I'm sure you're all familiar with (surprise it's not FRS! ham licensing? no, but not FCC certified, legality?), but to sum up I discovered that GMRS is a thing, which I was previously unaware of.
So initially during this crazy ride the info I found suggested the UV5R was legal to use as long as you had a GMRS license, so I ended up getting one (no exam, nice). I've read the FCC regulations myself and unless I'm reading them wrong (certainly possible) the UV5R is unquestionably illegal to use for FRS/GMRS. From what I've read here and elsewhere online it seems like there aren't many Part 95e certified radios for sale, everything is combo FRS/GMRS and most of them are not really GMRS, just FRS under the new FCC regs (8 more channels and up to 2W on some?). So that brings me to the advice part.
I primarily use FRS radios to communicate with friends/family while biking, hiking, boating, etc. Kids/wife all have cheap 500mW FRS radios and we get about 1/4 mile in our neighborhood, maybe 1/2 mile when hiking/biking in state parks, probably 1 mile when boating. If I could double each of those ranges I would be happy. With the new FRS it looks like they share 100% of the channels with GMRS, and now they can transmit up to 2W, so what's the advantage of GMRS? Most handheld "GMRS" radios from Midland are only 2W, so I'd be gaining nothing and have to use a callsign?
Should I just get some newer 2W FRS radios?