Best CB Radio Reviews (2020)
One of the oldest electronic devices used in automotive vehicles by far is the CB radio. Today, it is still being used by countless drivers doing many different professions. You name it, law enforcement, paramedics, firefighters, truck drivers, people like you and I, and many more others. The invention of a smartphone has definitely put a strain on the demand when it comes to CB radios. However, CB radios will most likely still be used for a long time because they are EXCELLENT for local communication.
What we designed this guide to do is help you find the best CB radio for your particular situation. Although we’re not sure exactly what you may need to use it for, the CB radio reviews below (in our top 7 list) will help you decide if one of these is what you’d be looking to use. Now, before we dive deep, it’s important to note that these CB radios are what you can purchase as a typical consumer right from the internet. Nothing out of reason in terms of price, both the regular and portable CB radios are rated highly for their functionality, price, and practicality.
Types of CB Radio
It is helpful to know that there are four types of radios on the market. Choosing one that is most compatible with your needs will not be hard as long as you know them all. They are:
- Handheld CB radio – It is a walkie-talkie lookalike. Usually runs on rechargeable batteries, and you can use it in most cars as it has a cigarette cord.
- Base station CB radio – It has a built-in power supply, excellent for indoor use, but not the best choice for the road.
- Mobile CB radio – Mobile is the most popular type of radio that is used in vehicles. The features here vary between producers and brands.
- All-in-one CB radio – a device that is designed to fit into smaller spaces, resembles a handset.
Benefits of having a proper CB radio
You might think that CB radios are a thing of the past, but once you realize how much potential they really have, you just might want to get one. Here are the main advantages that you can expect from being a radio owner.
- Money savings – CB radio is a device compared to other vehicle communication devices is on the cheaper side and requires not much maintenance. No license needed, low power requirements, it is a cost-effective choice.
- Staying connected – while the Internet connection is improving as well as cell connection, there are still places where the radio is the only way to communicate while traveling. There are also no restrictions on where you can communicate, no roaming for the radios.
- The security aspect – the ability to use channel nine, so the channel used for emergencies and monitored by volunteers as well as emergency services, gives you that assurance that if something happens, somebody is there to help you.
- A tool for many professions – you might not realize how many lives a CB radio saved. It is the most efficient communication tool for paramedics, police, and firefighters. Another profession that benefits positively from having CB radios is truck drivers. They are able to interact with each other and pass on important information almost instantly and safely.
- It can operate at low frequencies – it is a feature that is most appreciated by many users. The radio enables you to talk with friends and other people in close proximity, so in the narrowband frequency. This is a unique aspect of the CB radio, as other devices don’t have that feature.
- An exciting hobby to have – operating on radio frequencies can be an excellent passion to have after you get home from work. You can broadcast weather forecasts, update on the current road information, and simply find a community for yourself to share your thoughts in a unique way.
These are the top benefits of being a CB radio user. With all the questions answered and your knowledge at the peak, let’s dive into some of the best CB radio offers you can find on the market at the moment.
Here’s The Top 7 Best CB Radios and Reviews (Full List Below)
7. Cobra 18WXSTII Mobile CB Radio
Cobra is known for its wide range of electronics that are 100% centred towards the driver. With that being said, it’s obvious that their CB radios are pretty darn good quality electronics. Our #7 contestant is the Cobra 18WXSTII Mobile CB Radio. This particular unit is nothing fancy in terms of technology, but it does what it’s supposed to do quite well. It features 40 full CB channels, 10 NOAA weather channels, an easy to extend 9-foot microphone, and a compact design.
By compact, we mean 7″ inches long, 6.5″ inches deep, and 1.9″ inches high. The speaker from which you’ll hear everything from is mounted in the front, giving you a clearer reception. Along with the various dials on the front, you’ll be able to tell the signal strength using the led indicators located on the front panel. If a cost-effective and small unit is what you’re looking for, the Cobra 18WXSTII could be the answer. Check it out!
6. Midland 1001Z CB Radio
Here comes an even smaller unit than Cobra’s 18WXSTII CB. The Midland 1001Z is a basic and compact package featuring approximately 40 full CB channels. From this particular CB radio, you’re going to have instance channel nine access, as well as a 4-watt output of power to give you the most range this unit can provide.
At first glance, it seems like the front has a WHOLE BUNCH going on, and that’s because it is true. You’ll have the volume control CB/PA switch to allow you to use as a Public Address System (when paired up with a PA speakers), you’ll have the RF gain to adjust reception sensitivity, squelch control, and you’ll also have the on/off knob. No fancy LCD screens, but instead a basic design led signal strength indicator.
The extension cord for the microphone accompanies this small portable CB radio unit perfectly. This is the cheapest unit on our list, a great choice if you want a beginner styled citizen band radio. On display, the bars indicate the strength of receiving reception.
5. Uniden PRO505XL CB Radio
A nicer version of the Midland model mentioned above, we present the Uniden PRO505XL. This CB radio is the exact same price and size, for the most part. The only differentiating factor would be the LCD display showing you the selected channel and signal strength. Now with that being said, this is a highly popular model due to the affordability and compactness it presents. Right away, from the front, you’ll have a few essential controls such as on/off knob, volume, squelch control, CB/PA switch, instant channel nine button, and the ability to scroll up or down through the included 40 channels.
With the stretchable microphone, you’ll have plenty of wire to have the microphone reach you. Its small size makes it perfect to fit into tight spots in any vehicle you could think of. Get an external PA speaker to make it a complete package.
4. Cobra 29 LX CB Radio
With this unit, we’re going to really step it up in terms of functionality. Unlike the mentioned above minimalism units, what we have here is a CB radio that has a plethora of features that will come in handy. Our #4 contestant is the Cobra 29 LX CB Radio with 40 full channels. For a higher-tech CB radio unit that gives you almost everything under the sun when it comes to functionality, the 29 LX may be a fantastic option for you. Let’s dive into some of its features.
First off the entire front display (including buttons): you can change the background color from red, blue, orange, and green. You have access to 10 NOAA weather channels with immediate emergency alerts.
You can control the amount of talkback present during transmission. The memory channel allows you to store up to 10 of the most frequently used channels for quick access. They are the clock, timer, and even alarm which are handy for professional drivers, PA system compatibility, a 4 watt AM/RF power output, and instant channel nine and 19. More than 450 individual users have rated this Cobra model a 4.5 of 5.0. Check it out!
3. Uniden BEARCAT 880 Color Display CB Radio
Taking a very modern look with the new styling, we have our #3 as Uniden BEARCAT 880 CB Radio. This is the type of CB radio that fits in with any single din head unit in terms of styling. We picked this guy as our #4 because it’s fairly priced, relatively compact in size, looks sharp, and has quite a few features. First and foremost, this is a 40 channel radio that features 9 and 19 instant channel access.
Get access to NOAA Weather alerts, radio diagnostics, and a public address feature. With the beautifully illuminated control panel, you’ll be able to read what each button displays easily. There’s CB/PA switch, wireless microphone compatible, included noise-canceling microphone, squelch control, talkback mic gain, memory channel scan, RF gain, and volume with an on/off switch, all in one device. Nice and clean design, not looking out of place anywhere, especially under 100 dollars.
2. Uniden BEARCAT PC787 CB Radio
With a beautiful silver and baby blue back-lit color scheme, the Uniden PC787 Bearcat takes our #2 spot. This radio in particular is just 75 dollars and boasts quite a few nice features. For starters, you get a clean layout on the front showing you exactly what each button and knob does with a back-lit blue color. Important features include an integrated SWR meter (which also helps you to match your antenna perfectly), mic and RF gain, instant weather alerts, noise blanker, automatic noise limiter, instant channel nine & 19 access, and lastly, there are 40 full CB channels.
The extra-large displays on both ends allow you to see the signal strength you’re receiving easily, and also which channel you’d like to select. Bottom buttons allow you to adjust the squelch volume, tone volume, microphone gain, and most importantly the main volume (which has an integrated on/off switch). This unit luckily is also compatible with a wireless microphone for up to 100 yards!
1. Galaxy DX-949 Mobile CB Radio
Coming in as our #1 best CB radio out of the top 6 list is the Galaxy DX-949 AM/SSB Mobile CB Radio. For starters, this is a professional grade CB radio unit. Not the sleekest look and design, it’s created specifically for professional drivers in mind (not amateurs). A large meter is located on the left to tell you the strength of the receiving signal, modulation and SWR. A digital display is located on the right to indicate the variable power output, and selected channel.
Other included switches and knobs are: variable volume squelch control, microphone gain, RF gain, dimmer (with an on/off switch), RF power, and a master switch for SWR Alerts, RB, and RX/TX. Proprietary Galaxy Noise Filter reduces noise when in recovery of weak SSB signals.
Overall it’s quite heavy and large, and some space is required to get a fitment properly. To see more details, click the Amazon button.
Additional guides you may find interesting are our car battery buyers guide and the satellite radio buyers guide. For all-electric appliances hooked up to your vehicle, you need a good car battery to support everything.
Additional guides you may find interesting are our car battery buyers guide and, the satellite radio buyers guide. For all-electric appliances hooked up to your vehicle, you need a good car battery to support everything.
Buying a CB radio may seem like a complicated process, but once you get to know a little more about the device itself, it is quite easy to choose. There are some great radios available on the market, all you have to do is is pick one that checks all your boxes.
Buying a CB radio 101
Buying a CB radio can be tricky, as there is a lot of technical phrases involved, but do not worry if you follow the guide, you will for sure find the perfect radio that will suit your needs. When it comes to shopping for this type of device, there are a couple of things you should consider. They are must-have features, different types of CB radios, and the benefits of having a radio at your disposal.
Features to look for in a CB radio
If you need any more specific information about the possible features of a CB radio, here it is!
- Technical Features – CB radio is a device where the size really matters. Bigger radios tend to be of higher quality and include upgraded pieces of equipment like transmitters, receivers, or a PA system. Before you buy anything, make sure to double-check all of the technical features that are available for the make and model you are looking into. The addition of external speakers is an excellent idea if you care for high-quality audio. Also, look out for the radios that use the LCD screen, which is more user-friendly.
- Quality of sound – Proper audio quality is essential for a good CB radio. Make sure to look into the filter options that help block the static noises as well as the noise of the engine. A Squelch Control is another fantastic idea, as it enables you to control the speaker activation, so you don’t hear that background noise all the time. A must-have feature is also the RG Gain. It filters the noise based on the strength of the radio signal bringing clarity to the messages you hear.
- Ease of use – Make sure that all those buttons, controls, and switches are well placed and accessible. You do not want to get distracted on the road.
- Communication across many channels – Most CB radios are able to communicate over 40 different channels, including one for emergencies and one for the weather. If you want to get the full experience and take real advantage of the radio, buy a device that gives you access to all those 40 channels. You don’t want to miss out on communication with a specific group or essential information. A multichannel CB radio is the way to go.
- Built-in SWR meter – Lastly, an SWR meter is an absolute necessity if you don’t want to waste time, and yet not all radios have this feature built-in. You need it to run your radio without damaging it, and it also allows you to get SWR readings whenever the radio is on.
The ultimate CB radio buying guide and FAQ
Let’s start talking about the CB radios by addressing some of the most frequently asked questions that refer to this topic. When it comes to CB radios, it seems like people heard about them, but do not necessarily know how this type of equipment works, and this leads to the most asked question out there.
➡️ What is a CB radio, and how does it work?
- CB actually stands for citizen band radio, and it is a personal communication device that is designed to pass on information via radio between people. It can be used for both professional as well as personal purposes. Most importantly, you don’t need to apply for any kind of license to be able to get a CB radio or use one. The only requirement is that you obtain a certificate from the FCC if radio communication is regulated in your area. There are exactly 40 different radio channels that are authorized in SSB or AM models. AM is the standard here, and you can find SSB in the more advanced radio devices.
➡️ How much power does a CB radio need?
- Another frequently asked question is the power requirements for the standard CB radio. You should know that the power output of this type of equipment is limited by law. Most of the time, your radio is already set up to the maximum allowed power configuration when you buy it. AM, as mentioned before, is the standard-issue here, and it is limited to 4 watts that are measured by your CB radio antenna outside. The high-end option of powering a CB radio is SSB, and here the limit is twelve watts. When you think of CR radios, power means range. However, an SSB option despite the better range has a lower quality of the communication. Remember not to tamper with the power limits by using an amplifier, for example. You don’t want to find yourself holding a ticket or a fine for trying to increase the power illegally.
➡️ Do you need an antenna for a CB radio?
- The answer to this question might surprise a lot of people, as you actually do not need to use an antenna with your radio, especially if you use it locally. A task of an antenna is to increase the signal strength and reception, and this is why most users go for one, but it is not essential for your CB radio to work properly. Another useful fact is that the FCC has some laws in place that regulate the maximum height of the antenna you can go for. It can’t be higher than 20ft above the mounting structure or 60ft above the ground. Depending on your vehicle, the length of the antenna you can consider will vary. You can also choose a directional antenna that is slightly more expensive, but it should improve the reception and overall user experience of the CB radio.
➡️ Is there a license that you need to get in order to use a CB radio?
- You do not need a license to be able to use the CB radio. However, there are some regions that call for a certificate from the Federal Communications Commission, or the FCC, to operate the device legally. Make sure to check your local regulations before you turn your radio on.
- That concludes the list of the frequently asked questions. Now that we covered all the basics let’s move on to the features that you should look for while shopping for a CB radio.