I first got my hands on the ICOtec GC500 game call about a month ago. Like I usually am with budget products, I was more than a little skeptical about what the GC500 could offer me. To be honest, I wasn’t sure at first if I was going to buy this call or not. I was debating between the GC500, which would cost me a little under $150 and another, more expensive call for close to $400. Frankly, I’ve always believed in the saying “you get what you pay for” and I was concerned about the price of the GC500 and what that said about the quality of this call.
I’m happy to report, however, that the GC500 call has very pleasantly surprised me and proved me completely wrong. In all honesty, I’m not sure if I could have found a better call in any price range. The GC500 does everything ICOtec claims it can do and more. If you’re like me and you find that you’re skeptical because of the GC500’s price tag, I assure you that, against all of the odds, this call has astounded me with its quality, versatility, range, volume and more. And all in a compact and extremely affordable package.
According to ICOtec, GC500 can store up to 200 programmable calls and includes 200 calls right out of the box. ICOtec has promised that the remote and unit will work together at a distance of up to 300 yards, which impressed me right away. This call touts a powerful 15-watt speaker and an extensive range of the volume setting.
The GC500 also comes equipped with an internal speaker and an audio jack. The screen on the remote control has a backlit feature, and the remote can be attached to the unit for extra portability. Line-of-sight isn’t required for the remote to control the unit. The remote can also be used to activate an electronic decoy at a distance. The audio jack can be used for even greater coverage by allowing you to connect an external speaker.
That may sound like a lot for a game call of this budget, and I thought so too, at first. But much to my surprise, the GC500 lives up to all of its promises and more. The following are some of my impressions using this game call for the past month or so.
Comes with 24 sounds right out of the box, with 200 more sounds available on ICOtec’s website
When I originally read that the GC500 comes with only 24 sounds, I was a little disappointed. “That isn’t a lot” is, basically, what went through my mind, and I’m sure it’s what many of you are also thinking. But as it turns out, ICOtec offers a library of up to 200 sounds on their website, for absolutely no charge. I’ve found that all of them are very high-quality. And of course, with up to 200 of them stored on my GC500, I’m basically covered for every occasion.
Speaker loudness and range are perfect for almost any situation
One of the things that worried me the most when I originally debated whether or not to buy the GC500 was that the volume range spanned from only 1 to 7. What worried me was that it basically wouldn’t be enough. Thankfully, the volume of the GC500’s speaker turned out to be absolutely perfect. I’ve personally found that 3 works perfectly well for my closer calls. If I really have to project the sound far away or into wide open terrain, I’ve found that 5 or 6 is perfect.
I’ve confirmed that the unit and remote can communicate with one another up to 200 yards apart
Both the unit and the remote control come with an antenna. But what I’ve found is that there’s basically no need for me to even pull the antenna up on the remote. With only the unit’s antenna up, I can confirm that the remote works at a distance of up to 200 yards. I haven’t had the opportunity yet to try and see if it works past that. However, even 200 yards is very impressive. According to ICOtec, the remote and the unit will work with one another up to 300 yards apart, but I simply haven’t had the chance to test that yet.
Lightweight and comfortable to handle
One more thing I’m happy about is how compact and lightweight the GC500 is. I have zero trouble carrying or handling it. It’s very comfortable to handle, and its compact size means that you shouldn’t have any problems packing it up for trips or if you’re moving to a new house.
Ergonomic remote, easy to use and read the screen at night
I find the remote is very comfortable to handle and very ergonomic. It’s a piece of cake to use, and you can easily feel the buttons out at night. The screen is very easy to read during the day. At night, you can use the backlit function to make the screen incredibly readable.
Top-notch build quality and design
Don’t let looks or the price tag fool you; ICOtec designed the GC500 with great build quality in mind. Both the unit itself and the remote appear to be very durable, and I’m sure both can effortlessly survive a solid amount of wear and tear; wear and tear a game call is bound to accumulate over the course of many hunting trips.
Aside from build quality and sturdiness of the unit, I love the GC500’s many extra design features, like allowing me to attach the remote to the unit. That will be a welcome addition for those of you who are prone to losing small things. I’m sure ICOtec knows that convenience is one of the biggest selling points for products and services nowadays. They seem to design their products with this in mind.
Extensive library of high-quality sounds
What astonishes me is the quality of the sounds ICOtec offers in their extensive library. Not only do they get the job done, but I’ve also found that they often work better than the sounds of most other calls I’ve used, even the more expensive ones. The sounds that come in ICOtec’s extensive library are in a .ico format, but the GC500 will play any .mp3 or .wav file you have.
Designed with convenience in mind
Like I said earlier, ICOtec seems to have designed the GC500 with convenience in mind. Everything, from being able to activate electronic decoys with your remote to automatically cycling through sounds in a set, only serves to make the mundane part of your hunt more streamlined. Navigating through your call sounds couldn’t be easier. You can also save up to six of them as favorites for quick and easy access.
The sound library is incredibly easy to customize and arrange in whichever order you like
One of my favorite things about using the GC500 is the ease with which I can customize and arrange the unit’s sound library. The GC500 marks all of your sounds 001 to 200. By adjusting those three digits, you can easily arrange your sounds whichever way you please. I personally like to order my sounds from most to least used. For me, that means howls first, distresses second, etc. While I haven’t felt the need personally, you can also load your own custom sounds in .mp3 and .wav format, which I’m sure some of you will want to.
Great battery life
The GC500 will take four AA batteries. The remote takes one 9-volt battery. I can’t say a lot here other than that the battery life is very robust. I’m very satisfied with how long both the unit and the remote tend to last me. I’ve personally let calls play on the GC500 from 7 in the morning until dark, and it hasn’t died out on me yet. As with any device that’s important to you, I’d recommend using batteries you trust with this. And carrying spares!
Extremely affordable and feature-rich for the price range it’s in
I’ve found that, in life, I can rely on the “you get what you pay for” mentality a little too much. Don’t get me wrong. More often than not, you do indeed get what you pay for. But sometimes, you just have to take a risk with your purchase. And sometimes, that risk pays off in a big way. In this case, I feel like I’ve gotten more than what I paid for with the GC500.
The SD bundled with the unit has to be replaced if you would like to download and use the extended library
Luckily for me, I already had a spare SD card on standby. It may be worth purchasing one before you go out and buy the GC500. A good hunter will need the extended library of sounds, and for that, you’ll need a new card. I use an 8 GB standard SD card, and I’ve had no issues so far.
Should You The ICOtec GC500?
When I first got my hands on the ICOtec GC500 game call about a month ago, I was very skeptical about what it could offer me with its price tag as is. I was debating whether to buy the GC500 or another call for close to $400. I’ve always followed the mentality of “you get what you pay for.” Earlier experiences have left me convinced that a product this much cheaper than its competition couldn’t possibly be as good. Never mind actually better.
Thankfully, the GC500 proved me wrong in almost every way possible. If you’re like me and you’re similarly skeptical of cheaper products, trust me. In this case, you shouldn’t read a book by its cover. The GC500 saved me from buying a potentially inferior product, one that was hundreds of dollars more expensive.
Simply put, the ICOtec GC500 has astonished me with the value it has. I can’t think of too many occasions in my life where an affordable, “budget” product like this one has left me as satisfied as the GC500 has. For a little under $150, I got most of the features a $400 call would have offered me and then some extras. I can honestly say that my hunting experiences have been improved by miles since I began using the GC500.
I wholeheartedly recommend it to any hunter out there, whether you’re on a budget or not. The GC500 is one of those rare products that can easily beat out its more pricey competition. If you’re in the market for versatility, range and volume and a call that works at a considerable distance, the ICOtec GC500 will do the job and then some.