Best Radar detector/ What kind do you have?

I am looking for a new radar detector and it seems there are tons out there to choose from. I have heard that the Escort passport 8500 is one of the best, but dang, $300 smackers for it?
Anyway.... what kind do you have? Do you like it? What would you reccomend for purchase?

I appreciate any and all feedback!
All of my traffic tickets came when I was using a radar detector. Haven't had one since, and I wouldn't spend money on one now. Many police officers have "instant-on" radar guns now anyway (or even laser, which is very difficult to 'detect' given it's very focused beam)... Such guns turn on and grab your speed almost instantly, or at least faster than you can slow down. Now, the legality of such a speed 'measurement' is not entirely defined yet, since I know some manufacturers even warn that a measurement taken this way should be only use as guidance. However, when you are 300 miles from home, you don't want to have to worry about developing a court case to show that the measurement was unreliable.

I won't condone breaking the law (i.e. speeding), but just be smart. Be attentive and keep your eyes moving (rear-view mirror, bridges, median, shoulder, etc) and you'll be just as well served. Sure, some radar detector manufacturers will "pay" for your ticket, but they won't touch the insurance rise that may accompany said ticket. Other detector are very sensitive, but that means more false alarms too. Just watch out for laser, instant-on guns, and other new techs (lidar, etc). Just my 2 cents.
I cannot comment on other states, but in Missouri, state patrol uses instant-on radar. I know quite a few troopers, and most of them say if they catch you speeding and they see a radar detector, you are getting a ticket...period. With the instant-on technology, a radar detector is more like a "you have just been busted" detector.
I suppose I should also state, that I do not intend on speeding, and am careful on not doing so, but my last ticket (now 5 years ago) came when I was just not watching and got caught. This is/was/might be used for those times when my focus is skyward, not speedometer wise.... :blink: lol
I was using the Cobra XRS 9430, but later found out that it was pointless to have, for the same reasons Jeff and Mikel pointed out. Once they get you with the instant-on radar or laser, you're pretty much screwed. Most of my traffic mishaps occured when I was using the detector unit.

My best advice-don't waste your money on one.
I've had an Escort 8500 for two years and feel nekkid driving without it. But the other comments are correct, too. For me its proper use is as a safety tool, not a license to speed. With "instant-on" radar, any detector won't save you if you fail to slow a bit for approaching vehicles or zoom over blind hills -- neither of which you should be doing anyway. But usually the officers in those situations aren't looking to nail anyone they can or use the stop as a pretext to check you out and will give you the 10mph when it comes down to it.

But where it comes in handy is near towns and speed zones, at night, and roads that have enough traffic that the officer's finger gets tired hitting the "on" button all the time. Like the common scenario when it's after dark and you're tired and impatient to get to your motel two hours away. You come into Podunkville and the detector's alarm reminds you that the 40mph speed zone is a very good number in those situations. Or when a county sheriff is parked lights off in the middle of nowhere in a place that can see for miles with their radar on stealth, snoozing or something, until the radar logs a speeder and wakes them up. The Escort is good enough to detect stealth signals and photo radar in enough time to let you know if you're halfway awake.

Few officers bother to use Lidar, i.e. lasers, and a detector is just about worthless against it anyway, so I have the detector Velcro'd to the dash underneath a protective blanket of fabric. It's quite inconspicuous that way and quickly removeable if necessary.
Radar Detectors are easily defeatable with the radar units made in the last 10 years. Almost all of them have a Stand By mode (Instant On) ans it's merely just a couple fo seconds for it to aquire the object being tracked.

For a doppler radar, it's really pretty simple. You're better off trying to questions the Officer's Operational training in radar rather than trying to beat the radar itself. I know that when I was running traffic, I would visually aquire my target, turn on the radar, distinguish (by sound) that it was being properly tracked, then track for 5 seconds before locking in the speed. All of this usually took about 7 seconds.

Other things to watch for, are large vehicles traveling in the same direction or directly away from you. The angle in which the Officer is pointing when he has the radar on your vehicle. Any bridges or large signs around?

When I was really bored (usually about 2 or 3 a.m.) I would sit over I-35 and turn the radar on, just for grins and giggles when a gaggle of fast moving cars came along. It was always interesting to see who had detectors and who didn't. Those that did would almost stand their car on it's nose trying to slow down, while those that didn't, would take a few seconds longer to figure out what was going on. I've locked in vehicles traveling at 105 mph on I-35 that early in the morning! Takes them a little longer to slow down.

Of course this doesn't take into account Laser systems. They are more precise, but I don't know of any yet that work in motion. The Officer has to literally pick his target before getting any kind of return. Some of the early Laser Units, the effective cone was about 6 to 10 feet at one mile. That's also why you see a lot of them have a rifle scope on them. Alsthough, I don't think they are used much over .25 mile anyway. Anything much further than that, it gets hard to judge the speed anyway.

If you do get hit with a ticket, take a look at a few things. Road conditions for one. Wet roads will reflect radar differently than dry roads. High Temps and the Mirage effect can also play a factor. Usually this will return a bogus reading to the radar and the tone will warble enough that the officer (if properly trained) won't be able to use it. Find out what the volume setting is on the unit itself. What was the traffic like at the time. If you were in a gaggle of other vehicles, how did the officer single you out. Is there something nearby that could reflect the radar energy back and create a bogus reading? Cosign Angle Error used to be a defense, though most often that error usually went in the Ticketee's defense. One of the things I had to what for was the dash heater fan. Part of the radar energy would get reflected down into the windshield vents and if the fan was going, I could easily pick out a car going a contsant 80 mph! That's why you had to listen to the tone. That would tell you more than anything else. Find out the last time the unit was actually calibrated, then compare that with the manufacturer's recommendations. Find out if the officer did an operation check of the unit with tuning forks or whatever method is normally used.

And finally... Don't waste your time on a radar detector. On extremely long distances, it may give you an edge, but in the shorter range, the officer already has you.
Don't waste your money! Be alert and slow down in towns. Not that I condone speeding, but doing it on the open road is one thing, but flying at highway speeds through a little town is another. Cops know that too and tend to hit hard in urbanized areas.
Don't waste your money; most of the tickets I've seen with people I have chased with have come to those with radar detectors. One of our here in Colo has a radar detector and plenty of tickets to go with it. Just stick with the laws and be prepared to face the officer should you get caught speeding. Trust me, the radar detector isn't worth the investment.
Most officers I have talked to say that you are just about guaranteed to get a ticket for SOMETHING if they see a radar detector. Even if you roll through a stop sign and they originally planned on just giving a warning, the radar detector is a ticket for sure.
It is best just to drive in a safe manner and obey the laws!!
The best radar detector is to take the led out of your foot. Why waste your money? They are worthless and a BIG waste of money. Spend that $150-$300 on actual chasing if that is what you like of course. That radar detector will not bag you a tornado... ever.

I am looking for a new radar detector and it seems there are tons out there to choose from. I have heard that the Escort passport 8500 is one of the best, but dang, $300 smackers for it?
Anyway.... what kind do you have? Do you like it? What would you reccomend for purchase?

I appreciate any and all feedback!


As a long time user of radar detectors, their utility is questionable nowdays (for all the reasons above). I own radar detector from probably 2000? that I used extensively for several years, then never installed when I changed cars. During the past two years, it has never occurred to me to even hook the thing up. far as storm chasing (or any other time) goes...essentially useless in my opinion. (I have never used the brand, so can't address the model you asked about, sorry)
I will tell you to not even waste your time or money with these things. TRUST me I know very well. Why ? you may ask , because I use them if you know what I mean. There are settings on these guns that like most have said already( INSTANT ON) by the time your detector goes off YOUR BUSTED!!! On the older radar guns you would have to turn the gun off then turn it on real quick when a car was comming. The reason was because the older guns when turned on would shoot out a constant signal. The new ones have settings that WILL NOT shoot out those signals unless you set it as such. That is just the radar that I was talking about. If the officer was using laser , then you can forget it. Those are so accurate it's not even funny. I can even set it to where I can find out how far a sign might be from me and it will measure out how far!!! Good for working accidents too! Like everyone has said before keep you eyes on the road and check bridges etc.

CB radio would probably do you better on the highway. Monitor it when you can and listen for the good word from the truckers.


a CB is a much more valuable (and legal) tool to get "smokey reports" B) If there is a cop running radar/laser somewhere other than a single lane dirt road, it'll be on the CB.

Excellent post by John Diel also!
Valentine the best radar dectector ever made . It has easily paid for itself
I have an older Cobra that talks, but it's useless against radar these days 90% of the time. The only reason I still keep it in there is because it has a built in digital compass and the emergency vehicle alert feature for fire, ems etc.
I own two Escort 8500 X50s. One blue (wife's) and one red (mine). I must be the odd ball here because I use mine every day and haven't had a ticket since 1994. In 1995 I bought my first detector which was Whistler. Whenever my detector says there's a 'K' or 'Ka' band in the vicinity I slow down and more often than not I will see a cop somewhere up the road. 'X' bands are almost always false alarms. Everyone is right about a laser signal. You don't have much time to react, if any. Even still, if you manage your speeding to no more than 10 miles an hour over the speed limit, you can usually jam on the brakes and get down to the speed limit in a hurry, but not always.

Anyhow, I'd recommend an Escort if you want safe and reliable detection. Since I signed the dotted line in 1995 I have never looked back and certainly never regretted the money I've spent. Last but not least, keep your eyes peeled on the road just as if you don't have a radar detector, just in case you see smokey bear up ahead and he has instant on or laser. If you do this you'll probably wind up just like me - ticket free and a happy camper!
It is a waste of money IF you don't get a high end radar detector. I just bought a Cobra this year and managed to get three tickets over the last four months. A cheaper radar detector just gives a false sense of security. I got two tickets when the cop did that turn on and turn off radar. The other one I got was because I forgot to turn my radar detector on.
I plan on buying a Valentine before next chase season. I think you are golden with one of those even if the cop is doing that instant on radar because some of the Valentines have a 12 mile range. My Cobra only had a one mile range. I wouldn't worry about laser. I have only gotten hit with that once and it was in the city from a motorcycle cop(they make laser jammers too if you're interested). If you have a 12 mile range, odds are there is going to be another car some where in the 12 mile area ahead of you that is going to get hit with radar and warn you. I have heard great things about Escorts too, but I personally would go with Valentine.
I have a Beltronics Vector 995 and it has saved me many times while driving. I paid $230 for it 1.5 years ago and it has easily payed for itself. I strongly suggest getting one of the following because anything else is more or less worthless. A Cb radio is also very handy while on the interstate just tune to channel 19. The valentine 1 and the whistlers are are half way decent at picking up lidar (laser) however the valentine 1 is the best. However, most of the time if you get a laser alert your screwed anyway as you have about 3 seconds or so to slow down. For those on a tight budget that want a really good detector I would go with the whistler xtr-690 ($170) as it has a digital compass and is built on the same platform as a whistler pro 78. A good place to buy the whistler xtr-690 is the link below as the place that sells it is an authorized dealer.

Valentine 1 ($420)
Beltronics X65 ($330)
Escort 8500 x50 ($300)
Beltronics V995 ($240)
Beltronics Vector 955 ($180)
Whistler pro 78 ($180)
Whistler xtr-690 ($170)
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I will most often give people a break on their speed unless it is really outrageous such as over 20 mph in a zone. Radar detector is good for full citation. The newest radar I have can monitor front/back at same time with different readouts. Instant on and fastest reading you do not even have to be the closest vehicle to me. Since most states the radar supports the visual estimate an officer does not need to pace or radar you. We are certified by the courts in visual speed.

I rarely would use that as the only basis for citation but will always have visual est and then radar conformation. We played with a escort when the new radars came in. If the officer leaves the radar on you will get enough warning if they wait until they see your a speeder then your caught. It will also depend on what speed the officer is stopping at. Such as 10 over, I will usually work 15 and above and there is so much of that there are days it will take 20 over. Keep in mind that departments are starting to use more unmarked units for traffic and may just pace you after you blow by and then hit the radar. The stalker radar I have can monitor 4 lanes of traffic in away or approaching at the same time when stationary. Moving I can run front away/closing or rear away/closing at the same time.

Lidar the same thing the officer waits for the speeding vehicle and sights it in and lasers the vehicle. The officer will have to have a clear line of sight for these such as a bridge. Save your money..... do not over do the speed....
If cops are shooting radar and just turning it on to hit cars on a sparsely populated highway, then won't your radar detector pick it up when the cop hits a car that is a mile or two ahead of you on the highway.

Just like a flashlight, there is always some scatter in the radar beam. The cone widens the further you get away. Just like every other radar in the world, it CAN be detected much further out than what the return would be to the sender. So, yes, you could get a warning before you see the police car.

Like Robert said, there is a procedure most departments use though. The first is the visual estimate. It's surprisingly accurate within 5 mph or so of the radar readout after you've done it a while. In most cases, though, all the radar needs is 30 seconds or so (usually less though) and a good clear tone on the audio and your busted. Obviously I haven't used the newest radar on the market so I'm going to take a leap here and assume that advances in technology have helped in the traffic radar arena too.

Now imagine your running down the highway. You get a flicker on your detector and it goes out. Not a real strong signal. Ok, a little further and you get another flicker. Now your in a valley behind a hill. Over the top of the hill you go and your detector blasts in your ear. Dude, Too late, you're busted! It's that fast. Remember, there are plaenty of things out there that will produce false positives on detectors and they don't have the advantage of having a doppler tone to discriminate. A detector is simply a receiver.

Caleb: You better believe these guys are sneaky! You don't know the half of it! BTW: I got busted myself outside Enid by OHP. I had just come off of OK 74 and got up to speed, set my Cruise Cotrol and saw the lights in my rear view mirror. I never saw him. He was a nice guy though and we both got a chuckle out of it, he took a look at my GRLevel3, gave me a warning and I was off again.