I have used about 4 or 5 different variations on the Ringo Ranger antennas for 2 meters and 2 meter/440. I have used the dual banders, the short ones (3 feet long) the medium size ones ( about 6 feet long and the super tall one ( about 12 feet long with the drop down radials and extended feed cable. I have also use 4 ele 2 meter beams, cophased 8 element beams on 2(old telrex) and 14 and 27 ele on 440. I have used home made 1/4 wave ground planes made from welding rod and a so-239 connector. I have even used a 165 mhz business band with an extended tip to put it on 2 meters.
The cushcraft ringos are good and quite predictable. the taller they are the better they work, the higher you get them the better they work. The 12 footer is really prety good but a bit wippy in high winds. The 4 element beams work great. For 50 watts on the mid sized verticle, I can hit the same repeater on 5 watts on the beam at the same height, with about the same signal strength. The beams that mount from the back seem to be better than the ones that mount from the middle, which makes sence as there is no pole in the middle of the field.
The cophased 8 element beams had super strong signals but a pain to tune the swr down, hard to cophase properly, and very sensitive to aim point, even twichy in the wind. They are ok for specific purpose, but too much for casual repeater use, in my humble opinion.
I helped build a set of the radio shack fm cut down antennas ( cophased)and they work very well, fair gain, good pattern, and not real hard to aim. They do like to be up in the air 30 feet or so for best results.. I don't know why.
I have'nt used halo's in a long time and for mobile the 18 inch antennaas work ok and better than a duck, BUT go with the 47 inch 5/8 wave over a coil for best results. This gives you a 20 to 50 mile advantage on long shots mobile over the 18 incher's and day and night over a rubber duck. Again the more metal the higher you can get it, the better the results, in 95 % of the cases.
So in summing this up, I see no real suprizes. Generally an antenna is better if it is larger, and higher. But remember in a pinch you can strip the cover off the last 19 1/2 inches of the coax, pull the center conductor out from the shield and make a 1/2 wave dipole on 2 meters and get better results than with a duck. Remember, any antenna is better than no antenna at all!!! tom N6AJR