Home | Garmin 300XL TSO GPS/COM

Garmin 300XL TSO GPS/COM

We went shopping for an IFR GPS last winter and settled on the Garmin 300XL TSO GPS/COM for a couple of reasons:

  • IFR Certified GPS
  • IFR Legal COM
  • Good Price (<$3k) on Factory Reconditioned Units

We chose against a Garmin 420/430 option for a few reasons:

  • No real extra functionality
  • Net Extra Cost of $2k-$4k (Used/New)
  • $3k+ Upgrade Cost to WAAS

The unit has a somewhat different menu structure than the 430/530 series, some like it more, some less. Either way it is quite a bit better than the King KLN series of IFR GPS. As I’ve gotten used to it and used it actively I find I like it actually very easy to use. Most primary features can be activated in a net of 1-3 knob twists and 3-5 button pushes, secondary features (various nav, air, GPS, performance calc options) take a few more twists or buttons but not any worse than a 400/500 Series unit. The display is overall very readable but sometimes washes out a bit in direct sunlight. The inverted/auto-dimmed display is identical to that on the Garmin 327/330 transponders and is very readable without glaring at night. Feature wise the 300XL has the same features as a Garmin 420 (the GPS/COM version of the 430) minus the datalink, basemap and non-GPS approaches for “advisory” use. For “legal” IFR usage the 300 can do everything the 420 can until the 400/500 series get their WAAS upgrades (which will now set you back $3k-$5k installed if you don’t already own your 400). The extra value of a 420/430 comes in a few areas:

  • WAAS Upgradability to VNAV/LNP Approaches
  • Base Map w/Terrain
  • Availability of Data Link Options (Weather, TIS, etc)

All of these extras except the terrain/basemap have substantial extra costs. The GDL 69 box for datalinked weather for instance costs more than a complete Garmin 496 which has the value of being portable to the car or other aircraft. So it is up to you as to whether the extra $2k-$4k is money well spent or not. Currently the 300s are going for <$3k for a factory reconditioned unit with full 1 year warrenty. The cost savings of the 300 is somewhat offset by the need for an additional annunciator/switch panel (cost $600-$1000 installed) but still substantial. At "new" pricing the units are less of a deal especially when factoring in the annunciator cost. Right now if you have the $$ to spend new I would buy a 480 with WAAS/VNAV/LPB out of the box or wait for the Garmin 420/430/530 upgraded units to be available. But if you really want an IFR GPS now and can't afford a 420/430 these units are a fine option. The money you save can pay for quite a bit else as well including an add-on Garmin 496 with weather and terrain.


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