Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best CB Radio


TJ Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Oct 27, 2015
Kent, WA
CB radio stands for citizens band radio. It is basically a means of communicating with contacts by use of shortwave radio. The gadget is normally mounted on vehicles and private homes and used to relay information those nearby in a fast, cheap, and efficient manner.

It is by far the oldest form of wireless communications and still remains popular to date. It is commonly used by truck drivers, paramedics, law enforcement agencies, firefighters, and personal car drivers. They play a great role in boosting the local communication.

They are available in various designs, functionalities, degrees of sophistication, and features. Because of this, would-be users may often find themselves confused as to which one may suit their needs. That’s why a guide of this kind is by all means necessary. The object of this guide is to help persons like you in making the right decision. It also lists some of the top CB radios in vogue today which you may consider giving top priority in your search for a suitable radio.

How to Choose the Best CB Radio
The major differences with CB radios are their feature choice as well as the size they offer. The following considerations will guide you through making the right choice.

Consideration 1. Noise limiter feature
This is the component of the citizen band radio that ensures a high-quality audio output. It basically operates by eliminating some types of undesired noise such as those that arise due to strong pulses of interferences in radio receivers. They, therefore, ensure that you receive accurate information that is devoid of any discrepancies of whatever nature. They also boost the clarity of the audio quality during a conversation. It is imperative that a citizen band radio of choice possesses this feature. This feature should have effective controls to allow for the accurate setting of the desired noise level.

Consideration 2. Effective display lighting
Drivers are ordinarily exposed to different lighting conditions. This is due to the variations in the visibility, weather conditions, time of day, and the existence of obstacles. These different lighting conditions definitely affect the overall driving experience.

To curb any possibilities of accidents arising and to also ensure a smooth driving experience, the best citizen band radio ought to possess effective display lighting. The most suitable display lighting has to enable the user to vary the direction, intensity, and colors of the lights. To add to that, the range of the light rays have to be long enough to guarantee maximum reach and visibility.

Consideration 3. Channel scanning
A typical citizen band radio has the ability to tune and listen to up to forty channels at a time. In order to navigate seamlessly between these channels, the right radio inevitably has to have a channel scanner. This is basically the component of the radio that scans (looks for) the various signals and establishes a connection between the radio and these signals. Some radios of this kind have automated scanners that accomplish such an adjustment on their own without the active input of a user. On the whole, an automated scanner is the better option in case the radio is to be utilized for longer distances. This is to eliminate all the inconveniences that may typically arise whenever different frequency zones are traversed.

Consideration 4. Weather and alert channel scan
Given that weather patterns do change rapidly and unexpectedly, it follows that the right radio ought to be able to give off real-time weather updates from time to time. This is to enable the users of these radios to prepare psychologically and to make the various adjustments in time.

Equally as important as the weather updates are the various alerts. These could be information concerning the existence of black spots, potholes, crime scenes, steep bends, and other obstacles. They too are equally important as they give the drivers some psychological preparation while approaching such areas. Would-be buyers of these gadgets are hence strongly cautioned to make every effort and acquire that radio that has this capability as well.

Consideration 5. Design
Cars are markedly different. As such, the amount of space they may have for the installation of such gadgets may also differ markedly. Further to this, the interior dashboard of each car is also uniquely designed. This means that a citizen band radio that may be compatible with one car may not necessarily fit another car.

It is, therefore, necessary that you pay keen attention to this as well. This is to avoid any errors, discrepancies or inconsistencies that may naturally arise in the course of installing this radio. The general rule of thumb is this: the right radio has to nicely fit in your car. This means it has to be of the right size and also blend well with the rest of the interior décor of the car. If possible, the said radio has to be manufactured by the same car manufacturer. This may go a long way in enhancing the overall compatibility of the two devices.

Consideration 6. Public Address Capabilities
In moments of distress and evacuations, there is usually the need to relay some piece of information to the wider public. The wider public here could mean those in the vicinity and who also have citizen band radios installed in their cars or premises. The term may also extend to cover other persons in the vicinity who are not necessarily connected to the radio system.

For a citizen radio to be utilized for this purpose, it has to have a public address system either built into its system or configured for future installation. The system generally bypasses the radio transmitter and as such, does not require an active radio signal/connection to relay any information.

Consideration 7. Radio Size
As has already been stated, these radios come in various shapes and sizes. The main sizes that are available are small versions, medium sizes, and finally, the full-chassis units. Size is very important. That’s because it determines to a large extent whether or not the radio in question may nicely fit into the car. As such, it is quite imperative that adequate caution is exercised while on the lookout for a suitable citizen band radio. The right radio on the basis of this consideration should be one that is compact enough to fit within the available space.

Consideration 8. Instant Channel
Emergency situations may often arise unexpectedly. If and when they do, timely response is by all means necessary. This is to ensure timely evacuations and appropriate responses. It is also necessary in the sense that it wards off further deterioration of the emergency situation.

In order to guarantee this timely response and keep off any associated dangers from worsening, most citizen band radios have the instant channel capability. This capability simply allows the users to switch seamlessly between the current channel and channel 9 or channel 19. Channel 9 is the emergency channel whereas channel 19 is the official communication channel for truck drivers and long distance drivers.

Consideration 9. Backlit Display
Night travel requires adequate lighting to enable the various control features of the citizen band radio to be clearly legible. This can only happen in case the right radio has the necessary lighting. That’s where the backlit display feature comes in.

This is basically a way of lighting the citizen band radio displays. It comprises the LED lights that are located at the rear end of the radios. The lights provide the needed illumination that enables all the various control features to be clearly visible. In this way, it provides the users with the ability to easily see the features and engage them appropriately.

Consideration 10. Built-in Meters
Ideally, the radio of choice has to possess several built-in meters. These include the Standing Wave Ratio Meter, signal strength meters, and transmission meters respectively. The standing wave ratio meter measures and displays the strength of the standing waves. These are signals that do not leave the cb radio antenna and are thus forced back into the radio transmitter. The SWR provides users with the appropriate information that is required to make the necessary proper adjustments.

The signal strength meter measures the strength of the incoming signals and lets the users know about them. This display is very necessary as it enables the users to determine the appropriate course of action to take. For instance, the user may be forced to seek emergency intervention in case the normal channels of communications are no longer reliable.

Lastly, the transmission meter measures the strength of the outgoing signal. As such, it lets the users know whether to intensify their signal transmission or to scale them down altogether. It also enables the users to determine whether indeed their signals may be received well by the recipients.

Consideration 11. Delta Tune
This term ‘Delta Tune’ refers to the button that controls the frequency of the radio’s receiver. It is pretty similar to the Receiver Incremental Tuning of the armature radio. It basically allows the users of these citizen band radios to fine tune their signals for greater audibility.

A good citizen band radio, therefore, ought to not only have this delta tune but also have it in the right condition possible. This is the only way that the audibility of the incoming signals may be assured. It also enables any possibilities of ambiguities arising to be mitigated effectively.

Other Considerations:
Other considerations that arise a difference but are dependent on individual preference may include SSB, which is an alternative to AM radio. In addition, it allows for long-range communications. You will also need to address emergencies with the help of instant emergency channel where you can effectively communicate.

Which CB Radio Should I Choose?
With a wide variety of products in the market, the following are recommended product reviews to guide you make the ideal choice.

Uniden PRO520XL 40-Channel CB Radio (My Personal Choice)

Short-range communications require a small compact and handy gadget. This is because there is absolutely no need to traverse harsh terrains or generate high-frequency signals. The suitable gadget, therefore, has to be light, compact, and simple in its structure and functionality. No other gadget fits this particular bill than this citizen radio.

It is packed with lots of features. The most prominent among these features is the ability to communicate with 40 FCC-approved channels, a built-in automatic noise limiter, a front mount microphone, signal/RF meter, LED indicators, 4-Watt audio output, and super-heterodyne circuit/phase locked loop. This radio further incorporates a state-of-the-art microelectronics and a sophisticated Euro-styled two-way radio.

The radio has the abilities to eliminate noise, improve communications, monitor the various activities, connect with a public address system, and easily let users access the emergency channels 9 and 19. On the whole, it is also convenient to use and may be precisely controlled as need be.

With this radio, users stand to accrue so much more benefits than they actually pay for. That’s because the radio allows two-way communications, much like the standard cell phone. It may also be used as a speaker for the sake of addressing large crowds. Lastly, its weather and hazards alert may also be utilized for the sake of keeping abreast with the happenings in one’s surroundings.


Galaxy-DX-949 40 Channel AM/SSB Mobile CB Radio

Those on the lookout for a citizen band radio that is simple to comprehend and operate need to look no further than this one. That’s because it is equipped with several elegant features that enable this to be the case.

Among these features are a large and easy-to-read meter, scales to display power output, modulation feature, SWR and incoming signal display. It also comprises two-digit channel display, large yellow digit displays, variable power output control mechanism, a variable talkback circuit that is accompanied by an on/off switch, and an automatic SWR circuit.

Further to these, it has an SWR alert LED, a Roger beep on which an on/off switch is attached, a variable dimmer control, a push switch that turns off the meter lamp, display digits, and 3-position tone switch that receives incoming signals.

Its rear connector is suited for accessory Galaxy 6-digit frequency counter. It also consists of the proprietary Galaxy Noise Filter (GNF) Circuit which reduces unwanted noise in order to aid in the recovery of any weak SSB signals.

Due to the existence of these features, users are anticipating ease of use, several functionalities at a time, and general convenience, to name but a few. The radio is on the whole a worthy purchase, in the sense that it does incorporate several features of the ideal radio in one compact package.


AnyTone Smart CB Radio

This citizen band radio delivers both on appearance and functionality. This stems from the fact that it is specially designed and adequately equipped with all the relevant features.

It generally features a compact design and is small enough to fit in just about every other empty space. It also has easy-to-reach buttons that are also simpler to engage. Its cord is of the push-to-talk type and is also coiled for greater cb radio range and reachability. On the whole, the gadget is quite durable and is also reliable enough to be used under all weather conditions.

Among a host of several other elegant features are AM/FM modulation modes, a frequency range of 26.565 – 27.99125 MHz, 4 Watt power output, and PLL synthesizer frequency controls. Other features/capabilities include frequency tolerance of 0.005%, input voltage of 13.2V, and 70dB image rejection rate, among others.

Because of these, users are to anticipate convenience of use, the relevance of use across several driving conditions, and long-term reliability. This is the radio to settle on in case the intent of use is in long distance truck driving. What’s more? It is also quite affordable. This means less pressure or financial hardships on the part of users in the course of its acquisition.


Uniden PC787 Bearcat CB Radio

Some cadres of users may often prefer radios exclusively for the purposes of receiving displayed data. This particular radio clearly fits the bill. This is due to the fact that it does contain all the features and functionalities that are necessary for the execution of the same. It can still carry out the other roles and tasks of the standard radio as well though.

It has an extra-large S/RF/SWR meter, a built-in SWR, tone control adjust audio, NOAA Weather alert feature, noise-canceling microphone, and may communicate with 40 channels. It also possesses variable volume, squelch control, Mic Gain Adjust, RF Gain Adjust, automatic noise limiter, and noise blanker. These further enhance the quality of the audio outputs. Moreover, it is also compatible with the BC906W wireless microphone and has a wireless range of 100 yards.

With this gadget, users may easily view the data that is displayed. They may also perfectly match the antennae, set the desired sound quality to receive the latest weather and hazards updates, transmit, and receive data seamlessly.

This gadget is the perfect companion for those who frequently ply areas that are prone to extreme weather conditions. It has the ability to exude the necessary benefits perfectly well under such circumstances.


Uniden BEARCAT 880 Bearcat CB Radio

Communicating at night requires a gadget that is preferably able to handle two-way communication. Such a gadget should also be well lit to ensure adequate visibility in times of pitch darkness. This is where this particular gadget comes in. As is going to be revealed in the discussions that follow, it has what it takes to deliver under such circumstances.

The gadget has 7-color backlighting feature. It can handle two-way communication due to the talkback capability. It does have a 6-pin noise-canceling Mic, radio diagnostics; squelch controls, digital SRF / SWR meter, NOAA weather update, excellent aesthetics, compact size, and memory scan. Moreover, it also grants its users instant and unhindered access to the emergency hotlines of channel 9 and 19 respectively. Other than that, it may also be connected to a public address system for communicating with the wider public.

Due to the existence of these features, users are to anticipate a range of conveniences. These include reliability at night, seamless access to 40 FCC-approved channels, maximum comfort, unparalleled signal clarity, large and easy-to-read displays, and excellent night-time viewing, to name but a few. This surely is a gadget that no serious frequent night traveler may even contemplate overlooking.


Cobra 29 LX 40-Channel CB Radio

In order to drive safely a night and under intense weather conditions, a gadget that is equally strong and handy is by all means necessary. Such a gadget has to be truly designed for use in such extremely difficult circumstances. No other gadget comes even close to this one, as shall be seen in the review that follows.

Comprising an enormous multi-color display, this radio also brings along an easy access to 10 NOAA weather channels. It has a button that greatly expedites the process scanning channels. It also grants users access to all the 40 channels that are approved by the FCC. To add to this, the gadget has public address capability and may hence be utilized for addressing a large number of people at a time.

It is also equipped with certain elegant features such as the radio check diagnostic. This feature provides updates and information concerning crucial aspects of the device. These include battery voltage, antenna condition, and RF power. Most of its functionalities are also automated. This means the device requires less human input and involvement. As such, it saves users a great deal of time and effort. This is the gadget of choice for those who may want to save their time and effort.


Uniden 40-Channel CB Radio

In case space is an issue, a small and compact citizen band radio may be the only way out. This is to guarantee that that particular radio shall fit within the limited space available. As shall be seen from the discussions that follow, this radio clearly suits this particular niche.

Generally, the radio comprises a compact design and can fit just about anywhere. It is also compatible with the 40 channels that are approved by the FCC. It does have a backlit LCD display, contains a simple and user-friendly layout, as well as a dynamic Squelch control that delivers high-quality sound.

By opting for this radio, users are guaranteed amplified announcements, instant access to emergency channels, excellent displays and monitoring of the various functionalities, enhanced sound output, and seamless compatibility with other audio gadgets.

On the whole, the gadget is perfect for extremely long journeys. Its compact size also means it won’t demand too much attention as is the case with the bulky ones. This subsequently means fewer maintenance costs. It also weighs less (2 pounds/0.9 kg) and is as such convenient to carry around. Given that it costs less and returns many benefits, it is an ideal purchase indeed.


Midland 1001Z 40-Channel CB Radio

Effective communication requires maximum power output and the ability to have a dialogue (two-way communication). This is the niche of this particular gadget. As shall be deduced in the proceeding review, it is equipped with features that are designed to enable this feat to be accomplished.

These features include the 4-Watt power output, the ability to easily switch from public address to citizen band radio and back, instant access to channel 9, digital power meter, Squelch control, LED display, and RF gain, among others.

Users are to anticipate deriving several benefits out of the use this gadget. These include maximum power output, ability to easily adjust the reception of the signals, enhanced locking of the microphone, reduced background noise, and large high-intensity channel readouts.

All factors considered, this gadget is suitable for both starters and seasoned users alike. Moreover, it is also easier to install and may in fact easily fit most cars, trucks and recreational vehicles (RVs). Further to these, it is also fairly cheap and hence within the budget ranges of many a potential user. Because of this, this gadget is a ‘must have’ for any serious user who wishes to enhance his overall experience while on the move in remote locations.


Cobra 18WXSTII Mobile CB Radio

Those who are conscious of the overall appearance of their car’s dashboard may often wish to settle on a gadget that may blend perfectly well. The gadget of choice must also be as elegantly designed as can be to guarantee maximum beauty. This is the core reason behind the design of this particular citizen band radio.

The radio is equipped with several elegant features. These include a heavy-duty microphone that has a 9-foot cord, channel scan button, a SoundTracker System, a large LED channel display, front-firing speakers, and a dual watch.

Other than the afore-listed features, the radio is also able to perform several technical chores. These include retaining the last channel in its memory, unhindered access to 40 channels, access to 10 NOAA weather channels, instant access to channels 9 and 19, electronic tuning capability, and the ability to monitor two channels simultaneously.

Due to the existence of these features and its ability to perform the mentioned functions, the radio is indeed a worthwhile purchase. The users who decide to settle on it are guaranteed of crisp clear signals a well as the benefit of enhanced interior ambiance. It also expedites the communication process by virtue of being able to monitor and communicate with multiple devices simultaneously.


Uniden BEARCAT CB Radio With Sideband And WeatherBand

For any device to ensure smooth operations, it has to be quite easy to deploy and must also possess as many relevant features as possible. Smooth operation is particularly important in times of search and rescue and evacuations. This citizen band radio, as shall be clearly seen from the subsequent review, has all that it takes to guarantee this.

It comprises Weatherband, AM/SSB Sideband capability, 7-color selectable display, a power cord, and noise-canceling microphone. All these work interdependently to ensure smooth operations and amazing outcomes. The gadget is also simpler to operate. This is due to its possession of a mounting bracket that makes it quite easy to patch it up just about anywhere.

The gadget grants its users access to several benefits and functionalities. These include ease of monitoring the various activities, instant access to emergency channels, and excellent night time views. Other than that, it is also comfortable and quite convenient to handle around. Its signal reception and audio output are pretty high. This eliminates all forms of ambiguities that may arise in a typical communication session.

In case any errors are to be avoided and nothing but high-quality output to be achieved this indeed is the gadget of choice. It is moderately priced, a fact that is understandable owing to its sophisticated nature and high quality.


Stryker SR-655 10 Meter Amateur Radio

High power is especially necessary for extremely remote locations. This is due to the farther distances between any two radio users. It is also necessary to ensure the reception of signals no matter what. This radio is designed and intended for that very purpose. It has a strong transmission mechanism that ensures a high power output at all times.

Apart from a strong transmission mechanism, the radio is packed with plenty of other elegant features. These include the bright 7-Color LED backlit faceplate, 32-position dimmer control buttons, variable power controls, Variable-Frequency Oscillator, advanced clarifier, and variable talkback control feature. Moreover, it is also PC programmable and may hence be used alongside personal computers.

Its four transistors have the ability to jointly produce 70+ watts of peak envelope power. As such, it generates very high transmission frequency or signal strength. This is what enables it to tackle harsh or remote locations with ease.

On the whole, the radio is pretty effective in sending and receiving signals. It filters noise very effectively and has the ability to deliver exceptional results under the harshest environmental conditions. Because of this, it is quite suitable for search and rescue missions. The drivers of long-distance trucks will find it particularly useful.


Final Verdict
Obtaining the right citizen band radio is by all means necessary. This is to ensure that it meets the needs and preferences of each driver. As may be clearly deduced from the review above, there are so many such kinds of radio in the market today. This makes the process of finding the right one all the more complicated. As such, adequate steps ought to be taken to ensure that only the right one has been settled on. The above guide is therefore quite appropriate and relevant for the situation.

Also noteworthy is the fact that not all the various parameters could be identified and discussed. This is due to the limited amount of time and space. As such, you are strongly advised to carry out further research to ‘fill in the various gaps’.

In order to arrive at the right purchasing decision, you are strongly advised to outline your key needs and expectations. You should then proceed to look for the appropriate citizen band radio using those needs and the above parameters as the yardstick.


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