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

Reviews Summary for National NC-303
National NC-303 Reviews: 16 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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N8FVJ Rating: 5/5 Mar 6, 2016 06:46 Send this review to a friend
Super after Alignment  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My review is below. In this post I aligned the receiver per the manual for greatest output in the 2215kHz and 80kHz per the National manual. I was not pleased with the result. I went back and aligned per the best signal to noise ratio. What a difference.

The NC-303 has plenty of gain. And, with using a 6GM6 vs the stock 6BZ6 the gain was higher than stock. After alignment I can hear about any signal on 75 meters after other radios have given up. Not exactly aligned per highest signal, but best signal to noise ratio.

The QRM fighting tools on the radio is excellent. The tone control has low & high audio response cut, bandwidth on AM is either 8kHz or 3kHz. The Further, the Q multiplier will remove noise.

I believe this National NC-303 is the best AM receiver for tough band conditions. While on the DX-60 net today I could hear everyone. Others nearby reported some signals could not be copied. I understand my quiet location is stellar for receive performance, but the NC-303 plays a part. These radios are selling right now in excellent condition for around $250-300. You cannot find a better bargain anywhere. If you can buy one, do it.
AA6QQ Rating: 5/5 Aug 24, 2013 06:41 Send this review to a friend
Big and Beautiful   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I picked my NC 300 up a few weeks ago from the estate of a silent key, it was the last item left and to my good fortune he was overlooked by everyone else and came with two (2) NC 300 parts rigs for the bargain price of $100.00. He's beautiful, that two tone paint is bright and shiny and looks like I just pulled him out of his ginormous box, he only needed a little cleaning of the switches and pots and he fired right up. Speaking of switches, the band switch is an engendering masterpiece.

He came with the original manual, I particular like the line in the manual that National left off general coverage to make a more compact, efficient receiver. Compact? He's the size of a motel refrigerator, and with the chrome he looks like a 50's fridge. But I wouldn't want him any other way.

I won't get into all the tech stuff because that has already been stated here.


W8JI Rating: 5/5 Oct 4, 2010 15:08 Send this review to a friend
Good receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
Around 1970 or so, someone brought an old homebrew transmitter in huge rack (pair of 4-125A) and a NC300 into my shop. I couldn't believe how good the NC300 was compared to my SX101 and other receivers.

A few years ago I bought a NC303 on eBay, and I was equally impressed with it in comparison to my other old tube radios. It far outdoes my HQ180, and is better than my SX101. It's not quite the receiver my SX117 is, but it is darned good for the era in which it was designed. It is head and shoulders above my HRO60.

We have to keep in mind the era of these old radios, and compare them to the technology of that time. Doing that, this is a stand out radio.
W6OU Rating: 4/5 Jun 5, 2010 23:03 Send this review to a friend
A bruiser  Time owned: months
This is a bruiser of a receiver--large and heavy. I like the large tuning knob which can be spun with a flick of the wrist. The receiver gain is quite high and the product detector tends to overload so I usually have to turn the rf gain down on ssb. AM reception sounds better than most other receivers. Many boatanchor power supply electrolytic capacitors tend to suffer from excessive current leakage but the ones in the NC-303 tend to open up and cause a blast of hum from the speakers. The NC-303 audio output transformer is undersized so the primary winding tends to fail open. Having to install an accessory unit for 100 kHz crystal calibration is another negative. For ssb, I would recommend the NC-303 but not the NC-300.
N5LB Rating: 5/5 Jan 10, 2010 15:25 Send this review to a friend
Very Good CW  Time owned: more than 12 months
I am on my second one. My first I owned in the 70's and did a lot of 10 meter CW. I traded it (and its partner an Invader 200) for an SB-102. I have a second one acquired about 10 years ago and it is my favorite BA receiver. My R4C is far superior but the ol'303 sounds so good on CW. Reasonably stable once warmed up and sensitivity is more than adequate below 15 meters.
KE4PWE Rating: 4/5 Jan 5, 2009 07:39 Send this review to a friend
I Love my 303  Time owned: more than 12 months
I just read someone in this list that toss a 303 in the dumpster, so sad, I love this radio and would rescue any of them that needed a home. That's why I have a office full of boatanchors that I have fun with. There's a lot of work to do the cap replace and wiring to make it look original but it's worth it. The NC-303 is a great receiver of it's day, I have used mine for over 25 years since my mentor gave it to me, he was an old CW only kinda guy and it also has the converter addon with 2 1/4, 6 and 2meter. I have used the converters but find that they are very simple and could use some improvement in circuit design, I'm using drake converters and downeast micro now but it's still fun to use the older equipment and know that it will always work. There are simple fixes to the dial string and light bulb problems. The biggest problem is keeping the plastic from cracking on the band display but if your creative it will last forever.
WB2WIK Rating: 5/5 Oct 24, 2006 14:47 Send this review to a friend
Loved it  Time owned: more than 12 months
It seem silly writing a review on a product that is as old as I am, but I just read a new review on this and thought I'd add two cents.

I owned an NC-300 in '65, then an NC-303 in '66, as a kid. They were used, even then, probably third hand but in great shape at the time.

Loved that flywheel weighted tuning mechanism -- wheeee! Big, heavy, solid. Builds strong bodies more ways than Wonder Bread.

I installed my 50, 144, 220 and 432 MHz Nuvistor receiving converters *INSIDE* the NC-303, there's so much spare room in there! I just screwed the converters to the vented rear panel and cabled them up, using power from the Accessory socket on the '303. Golly, I loved it! Something about working AM using a real AM receiver (303 is okay on SSB, but AM-CW is where it shines) that has the audio power to drive a 10" loudspeaker and fill the room with its volume...

If I could find one in mint condition today for what I paid for one in '66, I'd buy it. But it won't happen. I paid $150 for my '303 in 1966, and it was like new.

Of course my first car cost $250...

KA8DLL Rating: 5/5 Oct 24, 2006 11:00 Send this review to a friend
super nice radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
Certainly equal to a Sx101a. Large and heavy. This is a man's radio. Very attractive front panel. Quality construction. Plenty of chrome,just like it should be from the 50's.
K7UA Rating: 5/5 Feb 2, 2006 14:51 Send this review to a friend
Nearly the best in 1960s  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had a NC300 as my general class receiver in the early 1960s. It was a terrific receiver. I also had a Johnson 6N2 converter and the National 220 MHZ converter. Unless you could swing a Collins S-line the 303 was as good as it got. It also made a great 2M AM receiver. Much better than any transceiver of the day. A rating of 1 out of 5. You have got to be kidding!
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.
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