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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Vintage amateur | National NC-303 Help

Reviews Summary for National NC-303
National NC-303 Reviews: 17 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $449.00
Description: 160 thru 10 Meters amateur bands with converter bands for 6, 2 and 220 Mhz with direct dial readout. Converters are optional.
Product is not in production.
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WD4NKA Rating: 5/5 Dec 27, 2005 15:03 Send this review to a friend
A Timeless Classic.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I owned an NC303 for some years, and regretted selling it. Thus at my first opportunity i procured my current NC-300.

Both my 303 and my current 300 had to be recapped, both not having enjoyed, let's say, the most ideal storage. And with a simple recapping and application of contact cleaner, plus a touch or two with the iron on some cold solder points which were created by former owners, they came back to life in full vigour. And amazing AM reception.

There are some subtle differences between the NC-300 and 303. And both posess a certain "learning curve" to get the hang of the interaction of the filtering controls. The 300 has xtal filtering, from what i understand the 303 dropped that. Both have IF and AF shaping. Both have very effective ANL for AM. These radios posess that certain dynamic which any red-blooded Tubehead would fall in love with - weighted spinners, big glowing dial drum, incredible audio, the positive 'clunk' of the band or mode switch, and going deeper, it's more than just a good AM rx.

I have been impressed with the 303's stability after about 15 min warm-up, and the 300 behaves similarly now that the contacts are clean. I am using the original 4H4, my '303 had the 6V6G replacement. I could tell no difference really. But the 4H4 is unobtainum these days, good to know there's an easy swap. In fact, most of the tubes used are really not all that critical. I am using replacement first mixer and RF amp tubes that are really a stretch, and so far, no problems!

While i would be less than truthful if i didn't mention that my ol' Drake 2A did sound better on SSB - in fact most of my other receivers did . . . the '300/303s are no slouches in SSB performance and for me they are great cw rigs, once you get the hang of the IF and xtal selectivity/phasing control interaction. As i said, there is a learning curve.

Negatives might center around some accessablilty issues as far as reaching caps for replacement. And with most rx's of this era, audio and RF gain suffers as you close up the filters. But the 303/300s have plenty of gain to spare. One feature that i especially appreciate is the ability to control the front end and IF gain together OR just the IF stages alone. Here is where the NC300 excels as a cw receiver. You have an amazing amount of control over your receiving environment. For a 1950s receiver, not too shabby.

One thing i wish these rigs had: an SO-239 antenna jack. The screw terms are nice, but if you rack mount, and use thicker coaxial line, the weight on those terminal screws may require antenna-line bracing. No biggie, but i have had to go back and torque the antenna screws once or twice. I don't want to punch out a new receptacle in the rear, so i live with it. Thinner coax line or twin feed will not be a problem.

They're big, they're heavy, they're solid, they're everything a BA-person would like. And as has been mentioned, AM reception is outstanding. If i had to do it over, i would definately look for another NC303 or 300. If i was big into SSB, no. There are better: i would go for the Drake 2B in a heartbeat. But for good old fashioned BA'ing and heavy iron hamming on AM and CW, give me the 303/300 any day.

Currently my NC-300 is coupled with an HT-37/Johnson Courier combo, mostly 40m AM and CW. It will soon appear on my website at

vy 73, and good Providence in all your endeavours.
W1GFH Rating: 5/5 Jun 7, 2005 12:17 Send this review to a friend
NC300/303  Time owned: more than 12 months
Back a few years ago when the 10 meter band was open daily and 29 Mhz was often crowded with AM signals, I was talking to Pat WB9GKZ in Green Bay, WI. The subject was boatanchor receivers for AM use. I was just starting to collect gear, and told him I was considering classics such as the Hallicrafters SX101. Pat warmed to the subject. "You don't want the SX-101, man" he said, "the selectivity's too narrow. If you ask me, the National NC-300 is the ideal AM receiver."

Pat described the 8 kc. selectivity and audio tone control as being valuable AM operating assets. He also noted that the NC300 was commonly available on the used market and wouldn't cost an arm or leg. On his recommendation, I acquired one that was being offered for $250.

I discovered that unlike many of the classics, this receiver was very "hot" on upper bands like 10 meters, and the calibrated slide rule dial proved very accurate after a brief warmup.

There is enough audio output to drive a hifi speaker to comfortable shack levels, and an audio "tone" control to add thumping bass response should you desire. The rig's product detector allows surprisingly good performance on SSB signals as well.

Of course, there are superior general coverage AM broadcast receivers like the SX-28, the R390A and Hammarlund Super Pro, but the NC300/303 offers great bang for the buck, It's a real "sleeper". I would highly recommend it to anyone contemplating assembling a boatanchor station.
KC8JX Rating: 4/5 Dec 31, 2003 22:40 Send this review to a friend
This receiver is 45 years old?  Time owned: more than 12 months
My NC-303 was purchased prior to the Dayton Hamvention in 1998 and was delivered there. What a superb olde radio. Has cw/am/ssb coverage and selectivity from as narrow as 400 cycles to as wide as 8 kc. This is a large radio and heavy (that's why they call these "boatanchors"). This is known, I believe, as the second edition of the "dream receivers". I would not try ot 'buffalo' anyone thinking this receiver is better than today's super duper technology transceivers with all. However, for a receiver made in the mid 50's this receiver hears almost just as good. I agree "This is a great find, a nice addition to my shack and I really enjoy using it". It is paired with my Heathkit DX-100B, primarily for AM use. A very very good old tyme radio.
K6ZL Rating: 1/5 Aug 21, 2003 02:11 Send this review to a friend
Can be really great but has a fatal flaw.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This radio and it's predessessor the NC300, in top shape are cool receivers. The NC303 is great out of the box and the NC300 with K0EOO mods (see E.R. Sept '92) can is vertually as good. Here's the fatal flaw, the dial string on the "vfo" is a nightmare to replace. When the brass pullies on the band drum wear, they wobble on their shafts, the dial string constantly comes off, a real pain. I know, I just through one in the dumpster, with those problems.
When the receiver's great it's great, when it's not, Bummer!!!
KC8HXO Rating: 5/5 Aug 9, 2003 20:03 Send this review to a friend
Sleeper radio!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had quite a number of older receivers, and THIS one is here to stay. I think you can go through all the motions of testing, and looking at specs, and seeing what was supposed to be the "greatest" radio of the period, but what it comes down to for me is "what radio gets turned on when I go in the shack?" That is where the NC303 is in my lineup .... the first one to go on, and the last to be turned off. (Apologies to Uncle Art!)
WB6MYL Rating: 5/5 Feb 5, 2003 01:13 Send this review to a friend
Nice Rig  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Yes, I am one of those that would rate this a "5"; I recently acquired this rig along with a TMC GPR-90; the GPR-90 was the reason for my interest and the NC-303 was available at the same time as an older ham was "thinning out" his collection (thanx and a hat tip to my friend Larry Tinkler, who told me about the deal). Parenthetically, I was somewhat disappointed in the GPR-90 (nice looking rcvr but not real sensitive). Nonetheless the 303 was the "real" find. This is 15 tube double-conversion superhet 160-10M ham band only receiver(circa 58 to 62). This has that great National "American-made" quality about it. It is a very sensitive receiver, has a great working Q-multiplier, but the most impressive attribute is how quiet it is; I compared this rig listening on 40M and it was almost as sensitive as a 51S1 but because it was much more quiet, I favored it; I next compared the 303 with my favorite rcvr: the R-9000; the R-9000 does so much of "not getting in the way of the signal"; the 303 was not as sensitive (nor nearly as selective)but was almost as quiet.This is a great find, a nice addition to my shack and I really enjoy using it. Would like to hear from anyone who has a 300 or 303 and has experience using/owning the VHF converters. Thanx for reading and the bandwidth.
JAMES_BENEDICT_EX_N8FVJ Rating: 4/5 Nov 3, 2002 19:24 Send this review to a friend
The "Dream Receiver'  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This was called the dream receiver by National. It is very good, except the filtering. Sensitive, good frequency dial design to find a frequency and not drifty. Some would rate this receiver a '5', all my reviews are based upon using more modern equipment.
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