Are you searching for the best CB radio on the market?
I have a CB radio in each of my vehicles and having a quality model makes all the difference it their performance. With that in mind I have reviewed the top cb radios out there and after reading this article you will know my recommendations.
Check the quick list below for links to customer reviews and prices for my picks for the best cb radio, or read on for the full review:
- President McKinley USA 40 Channel CB Radio
- Galaxy DX-959B Mobile CB Radio
- Cobra 29LX Professional CB Radio
- Uniden BEARCAT 40-Channel SSB CB Radio
- Uniden PC78LTX 40-Channel Trucker’s CB Radio
No matter if you like to go off-roading or are simply trying to prepare for a grid-down situation during which you will have to leave your home and escape to the woods, investing in a great CB radio is a wise decision. The best CB radio will not only allow you to communicate with others, but make it easy to stay connected even when you aren’t near cell towers.
How to Choose the Best CB Radio
Taking some time to choose the best CB radio for your needs is important so that you don’t overspend on something that won’t work for you. Remember that all CB radios have the same transmission power when they are used right from the box. While you can pay someone to peak and tune your radio for you, all CB radios have the same transmission wattage.
What this means for anyone looking for a CB radio is that they can spend more time worrying about the different features of the radio, and less about the transmission power that it offers.
I recommend first setting your budget, as prices can vary widely. There are some CB radios that are more bare bones, while others are fully loaded. Depending on how much you are willing to spend and what features you are looking for, you should be able to easily find the right radio for you.
Some higher-end radios offer single side band. This allows you to use frequencies that are below and above standard channels. Being able to do this will allow you to communicate with other single side band CB radio users without having to have an FCC license.
Benefits of Having a Quality CB Radio
There are a few reasons why I think that everyone needs to invest in a CB Radio. These are powerful communication tools that go far beyond what you are able to do with your cell phone, especially when you are faced with an emergency situation.
One great advantage of a CB radio is that they offer incredible security. When you use a CB radio you won’t have to worry about whether or not you are near cell towers when trying to communicate. You can easily communicate just about anywhere with a CB radio. Additionally, you can always access weather information so that you can prepare for problems down the line.
Another benefit of having a CB radio is that you can easily get information about problems in your area. While social media usually consists of checking your phone for information on updates about your friends, CB radios are a great social media connection with others that will alert you about major problems. This will allow you to respond faster than if you waited for information through emergency systems.
CB radios are also relatively inexpensive. This means that they are great for anyone who is on a budget, but still wants to be able to communicate with others around them. They are easy to find and to install, and you generally don’t have to hire someone to install them for you.
Features to Look For
The features on a CB radio are what will really set it apart from others on the market. I recommend that you look for a radio that has a large LCD screen that you can easily read in all types of weather and during the day and night. Radios that feature screens you can adjust will be much easier to use.
I also recommend that you consider a CB radio with a built-in meter. While these aren’t as strong or as accurate as a stand alone meter can be, a built-in Standing Wave Radio (SWR) meter allows you to quickly identify what problems you’re having with your antenna.
Additionally, look to see if your new radio offers PA capability. This means that you can use your radio to communicate with a large group of people like it is a PA system, which is great not only for entertainment, but also in emergencies when you need to speak to a crowd.
How to Use Your New CB Radio
Your first step when using your new CB radio will be to turn it on, listen to traffic on the channels, and then use the squelch button to adjust and minimize any interference. This allows you to easily tune into a clear frequency.
Make sure that you never interrupt others who are speaking, as this is considered really rude. Also, never speak directly into the microphone after pressing the “speak” button, as this will muffle your voice and make it difficult for others to understand you.
I recommend that you always turn off any music around you and have anyone near you quiet down so that other CB radio users can easily understand you.
I also think that it’s a good idea to spend some time listening before speaking on a CB radio, as this will allow you to understand the jargon that users use, as well as how to interact with others. It’s important that you use an unused channel if you and another person are going to speak directly with each other so that you don’t bother other users.
Best CB Radios
Whether this is your first cb radio or you are a veteran with a an old school handle, it’s important to select a CB radio with the features you want and the performance you need. I’ve had a lot of CB radios over the years and remember the old school models my grandpa had in his old Chevy truck he’d use whenever I went hunting with him. No matter if you’re looking for a radio when trucking, off road, or in your car you won’t want to waste your time with an under-performing CB.
President McKinley USA 40 Channel CB Radio
This is a great CB radio for any beginner who is interested in learning how to use a CB radio, but doesn’t have any experience. Thanks to being loaded with impressive features such as RF gain and mic controls, as well as a noise blanker to prevent loud noises, it’s not only easy to learn how to use this CB radio, but it offers all of the power that most people need to communicate with others.
- Features weatherbands and alerts
- Scan feature makes it easy to listen in on channels
- Large LCD display features three colors
- Automatic squelch control
- Screen can be difficult to read
- Buttons make it difficult to navigate
- Tends to create a whirring noise when in use
Galaxy DX-959B Mobile CB Radio
The backlit faceplate on this CB radio makes it really easy for users to see their frequency. Thanks to the power scale calibration, it can easily be used on single side band and AM frequencies. Additionally, the channel LED and frequency LED digits are always blue, making it easy for users to quickly tell both their channel and frequency. Additionally, this CB radio offers an on/off switch for variable talkback circuit so that you can easily control the radio and won’t cut people off.
- Variable dimmer control for night use
- Easily picks up weaker single side band signals
- Has five-digit frequency counter for easy scanning and tuning
- Power plug can easily become loose
- Can ship with misaligned channels
- Lights can easily fail
Cobra 29LX Professional CB Radio
This CB radio is loaded with features that make it an obvious choice for most any user. Thanks to the clock and alarm, you won’t ever lose track of time and can easily set an alarm for later in the day. This radio will automatically run diagnostics to check RF output and voltage so that you can be sure that it is working the best that it can and that you are enjoying a strong signal.
- Easy to read thanks to the four-color LCD display
- Instant access to NOAA weather channels
- Easily tune into strong channels for weather alerts
- Can sometimes smoke when overheated
- Mic button can become depressed and not pop back out
- Some wires aren’t durable and will break off
Uniden BEARCAT 40-Channel SSB CB Radio
The great SWR tuning features on this radio make it easy for beginners to quickly tune into their selected channel without a lot of interference. Additionally, this radio features a large digital S/RF/SWR meter so that it’s easy to see how well your unit is operating. Thanks to the ability to easily change the backlighting color, you won’t have to worry about how well you will be able to see the letters and numbers on the screen, no matter what time of day you are using your radio.
- Features seven-color backlighting
- Access to NOAA weather channels for fast updates
- Variable talkback feature
- The cord sometimes feels like it is loose
- The talk button can be difficult to press
Uniden PC78LTX 40-Channel Trucker’s CB Radio
Durability is key when shopping for a CB radio, and this is a highly durable option that is built to last for decades without showing any signs of wear or tear. Thanks to how easy it is to tune into various channels, it is a great option for use on the road or in emergencies. It has an impressive range right out of the box, making it great for anyone looking to set up a CB radio in a hurry.
- Provides access to 40 channels
- Durable build protects the radio even in marine conditions
- Features an automatic noise blanker/limiter for best sound quality
- Tends to pick up a lot of static
- Difficult to adjust squelch
- A little smaller than standard units, and can be difficult to mount
For more radio guides and tips read these articles:
- Best CB Radio Antenna
- Best Emergency Radio
- Best Shortwave Radio
- Best Long Range Walkie Talkie
- Best Ham Radio Base Station
- BaoFeng Radio
- How to Tune a CB Radio Antenna
- How to get a ham radio license
- Best SWR Meter
- Handheld CB Radio
Out of these five CB radios, the Cobra 29LX Professional CB radio is clearly the best option. It is absolutely packed with great features that set it apart from others on the list, such as a nine-foot microphone cord, the ability to save up to 10 of your favorite channels for fast access, and SWR calibration. I also really like that it offers immediate access to channels 9 and 19 so that you can hear about local emergencies and get information about what is going on around you. If you are looking for a great CB radio that will more than meet your needs, then you need to consider this as your best option.
Fred is the Ready Zeal owner and editor. He has been passionately pursuing all things emergency preparation since working alongside his grandfather as a boy growing up in the Midwest. When not working on the family homestead he can be found brewing coffee and reading a good book or backpacking in the wilderness. Contact Fred at [email protected]