Best CB radio

Cell Phones & Accessories

CB radios operate on 40 shared channels. While you can use any of them, channel 9 must only be used for emergencies.

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Which CB radio is best?

Although CB radios might seem like a relic from the past, they’re still regularly used by truckers, security personnel, boat owners, and anyone in remote areas with no cell service, not to mention hobbyists. They allow you to communicate with others in your area using 40 public channels.

This guide contains all the information you require to choose the best CB radio. Our top CB radio choice is the Cobra 29 LX MAX. This professional-grade CB has a wide range of features, including Bluetooth compatibility and a “say-again” function to replay 10 seconds of missed messages.

What to know before you buy a CB radio

Size and weight

Although modern CB radios tend to be fairly compact, it’s still worth considering the size and weight of any models you’re considering. This won’t matter so much if you intend to set up your CB radio at home and leave it in one spot, but if you need to mount it in a vehicle or move it between vehicles, a lightweight and compact option is ideal.

Antenna

CB radios require an antenna to work. This is usually sold separately from the radio itself but is a must-have accessory, so you should factor the cost in if you don’t already own one. No matter how excellent your CB radio is, you won’t get the desired results with a poor-quality antenna, so it’s just as important a purchase.

SWR meter

In order to tune your CB radio, you’ll need an SWR meter. Although traditionally SWR meters were separate units, a fair amount of new CB radios have built-in SWR meters, making the tuning process far less of a chore.

Clarity

One of the biggest complaints about CB radios is a lack of clarity due to static and other similar issues. The two features a CB radio should have for better clarity are squelch control and RF gain.

  • Squelch control stops the annoying sounds you can hear in between transmissions by adjusting the minimum signal strength required in order to hear transmissions through your speakers.
  • RF gain also helps quiet the radio but without limiting the distance over which you can receive transmissions.

What to look for in a quality CB radio

Bluetooth

If your CB radio is Bluetooth compatible, you can link it to your smartphone to take your calls hands-free, an excellent feature for drivers.

Noise filter

A built-in noise factor helps to reduce static and other unwanted noises through your CB radio.

NOAA weather radio

Some CB radios can also receive NOAA weather channels, which is great for keeping abreast of changing weather conditions while you’re on the road.

How much you can expect to spend on a CB radio

Expect to pay anywhere between $40, for a basic CB radio with few extra features, and $300, for a high-end model with all the features you could want.

CB radio FAQ

Do I need a “handle” to operate a CB radio?

A. In the past, it was a legal requirement by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that all CB radio-users have a licence and a corresponding call sign, or “handle,” to identify themselves with. Although CB licences are no longer needed, many people who use CB radios still prefer a handle to let other users know who they are. It isn’t a legal requirement, however.

What range will I get on my CB radio?

A. While a variety of factors can affect the range of a CB radio, such as weather conditions and the terrain, you should generally expect to get a range of around a mile for each foot of antenna.

What are the best CB radios to buy?

Top CB radio

Cobra 29LTD Professional CB Radio

Cobra 29LTD Professional CB Radio

Our take: This high-end model is perfect for serious CB radio enthusiasts or people who use them regularly for work.

What we like: The heavy-duty dynamic mic comes is robust and scans all 40 channels for total coverage.

What we dislike: Can be tricky to use for beginners.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top CB radio for the money

Uniden PRO520XL Pro Series 40-Channel CB Radio

Uniden PRO520XL Pro Series 40-Channel CB Radio

Our take: If you’re looking for a basic CB radio at a low price, this model should be at the top of your list.

What we like: Extremely compact and lightweight. Suitable for mounting. Features RF gain and squelch control. Built-in noise limiter.

What we dislike: A little on the quiet side.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Uniden BEARCAT 980 40- Channel SSB CB Radio

Uniden BEARCAT 980 40- Channel SSB CB Radio

Our take: It might be a fairly complex option for newbies to get the hang of, but once you’ve mastered it, this is a truly excellent unit.

What we like: High-quality noise filter. Easy-to-read display. Driver-friendly layout.

What we dislike: The LCD screen might be difficult to see in daylight.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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