Best CB Radio

To find the best CB Radio we researched & tested more than 30 models. Our scoring criteria focused on 4-watt AM RF power output for maximum range, the number of channels, audio quality controls, and ease of use. We also evaluated auxiliary features such as Bluetooth integration, night/backlit displays, and mounting options.

Our best overall pick goes to the Cobra 29Lx Professional CB Radio. It provides the ideal combination of audio quality, range, and channel variety – blowing the competition away with its overall feature set. It soundly beats our honorable mention, the Uniden PRO520XL Pro Series 40-Channel CB Radio, thanks to its dedicated iRadar smartphone app and Bluetooth capabilities.

Keep reading to learn more about the Cobra 29Lx Professional CB Radio and 6 other CB radios that made the cut.

Top 7 Best CB Radios Compared

 #1  Cobra 29Lx Professional – Top Pick/Best Overall

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Cobra 29Lx Professional CB Radio is a true camper’s dream, featuring 4-watt AM RF power output, which is the highest radio frequency power level, providing enough range for 2-way communication more than 10 miles away. It also runs a diagnostic tool to auto-calibrate the strongest signal available, so we do not have to annoyingly toggle through various channels with repeated button presses.

Pros
  • 4-watt AM RF power output
  • Sleek, chrome finish
  • Hands-free calling and receiving
Cons
  • Steep learning curve to operate

The Cobra 29LX Dynamike feature allows for improved voice clarity by controlling how loud you are. Think of it as a speaker in reverse without distortion and little to no transmission squeal. An easy-to read 4-color LCD display is also available in day or night time driving modes, along with 24/7 NOAA weather channel access for regular weather alerts.

Lastly, the Cobra 29Lx Professional CB Radio can also be paired with your smartphone to enable hands-free calling and receiving, as well as on-screen voice and text ID. It also has a dedicated smartphone app, iRadar, for live police, road hazard, and speed trap alerts to stay ahead of law enforcement. Manual alerts can also be reported by other drivers on the same network.”

 #2  Uniden PRO520XL Pro Series 40-Channel – Honorable Mention/Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: Like the Cobra, the Uniden offers 4-watt AM RF power output, 40 channels, and awesome noise management. Anti-squelch is built-in using an automatic noise-limiter for increased clarity during 2-way communications.

Pros
  • Automatic noise limiter switch
  • Very clear 2-way communications
  • Can be used as a public address system
Cons
  • May be too small for some folks
  • Channel indicator can be hard to read in daylight

Arguably, the Uniden’s greatest claim to fame is its small and compact build, more than capable of handling the rigorous grind of off-road driving. Its build ranks way above cheap and flimsy plastic, inspiring confidence the first time you touch it. It also can also be mounted in several ways using the provided “U” mounting bracket anywhere along a flat surface, such as your dashboard or above the rear view mirror.

One of the Uniden’s most notable upgrades over its predecessor, the PRO-510XL, is the addition of a Public Address switch with long coiled front-facing microphone cord. Simply connect to an external PA speaker and select Public Address mode to deliver booming commands on your next group camping trip.

 #3  President McKinley USA 40 Channel – Easieset to Tune

WHY WE LIKE IT: The President McKinley USA 40 Channel CB Radio offers a throwback utilitarian build for the beginner, using a simple three-knob interface for channel selection, fine/course clarification, and power/squelch/automatic squelch controls.

Pros
  • 40 AM Channels
  • External loudspeaker jack
Cons
  • Channel rotary switches are poorly positioned
  • Congested display
  • No auto dimmer

Its front-firing speaker sounded excellent despite its compact size, with an included front microphone plug and an external loudspeaker jack for public announcements. Its microphone is also super easy to grip with well-positioned up/down channel buttons.

A digital menu also comes with several display options for color (orange, blue, or green) and a dimmer for better visibility during day time or night time driving. One knock, however, is its congested, hard-to-read display, offering little spacing in between the S-meter, channel numbers, and menu options.

 #4  Galaxy-DX-959 40 Channel AM/SSB Mobile

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Galaxy-DX-959 40 Channel AM/SSB Mobile CB Radio is a jack of all trades- type of CB radio. Its biggest strength is arguably its input/output controls, including mic gain control, a variable talk-back feature to hear your voice while transmitting. A ‘Roger beep’ also signals the end of each transmission.

Pros
  • Choice of AM or SSB modes ANL for engine noise filtering
  • Superb audio quality
  • Excellent modulation
Cons
  • Dial-heavy

Our research also unveiled a fine-tuned automatic noise limiter, which helps filter engine and other background noise to a minimum, making it an excellent choice for a heavy mix of city and highway driving. Range is also not a concern, using a Single Side Band (SSB) transmission, which triples the 4-watt power of standard CB radios to 12 watts for longer 2-way communication range with other SSB-compatible CB radios.

 #5  Radioddity CB-27 – Best for Beginners

WHY WE LIKE IT: This basic, ultra-compact Radioddity CB-27 CB Radio is the perfect beginner’s radio, owning just enough features without overwhelming the senses. We most appreciated its size, weighing less than 1 pound and measuring roughly 4 by 4 by 1 inch. This allows for a greater variety of mounting options in or around your dashboard.

Pros
  • Doubles as PA system
  • Easy to Read Display
  • Compact aluminum Body
Cons
  • Not as feature-packed as the Uniden, Cobra, and Galaxy
  • Using buttons instead of knobs for squelch controls can be annoying

The CB-27 has outstanding audio controls despite its small size and low price tag, boasting RF Gain control to adjust receiver sensitivity and flexible squelch control to manage background static. Automatic squelch controls reach 9 levels and manual squelch controls reach 29 levels for even greater calibration. It also doubles as a public address system when paired with an external speaker system (sold separately by Radioddity), using a 78-inch long mic cord and removable hand mic to help you control unruly campers or shout instructions on a job site with ease.

 #6  Midland 75-822 40 Channel – Best Value/Best Handheld

WHY WE LIKE IT: This basic, ultra-compact Radioddity CB-27 CB Radio is the perfect beginner’s radio, owning just enough features without overwhelming the senses. We most appreciated its size, weighing less than 1 pound and measuring roughly 4 by 4 by 1 inch. This allows for a greater variety of mounting options in or around your dashboard.

Pros
  • Includes car cigarette lighter adapter for power
  • Sturdy build
  • Operates in handheld mode or using a mobile adapter
Cons
  • Limited to 3 watts using battery
  • Limited range

Our favorite Midland 75-822 40 Channel CB-Way Radio feature is its handheld function with solid button placement and feel, along with textured knobs on top for volume and squelch controls. Its a true handheld with an optional walkie-talkie antenna and battery pack, so it can be used in multiple vehicles without much trouble. Its only downside is that power reduces to 3 watts when using an external battery, which reduces range. However, if you are in an area with little competing signal traffic, structures, or diversified terrain, it should not present much of an issue.

Rounding it the Midland 75-822 40 Channel CB-Way Radio are its LCR (last channel) buttons and memory function buttons that go to stored channels. Programming is a breeze with a simple press of the ‘Function’ button and holding down one of five memory buttons.

 #7  Cobra 19 DX IV CB Radio

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Cobra 19 DX IV offers basic functionality, with little more than RF gain for reception and basic squelch controls for audio management. Ergonomics are also solid, with a large right-hand channel selector knob and a simple, easy-to-read LED readout that shows the transmit bar meter and channel number

Pros
  • Well-placed buttons
  • CB microphone is very comfortable to hold
Cons
  • Not the most durable unit with a hard plastic build

The Cobra 19 DX IV is really small and compact, built using non-durable hard plastic, so we highly recommend it for daily cruising on smooth terrain and not the off-road with tons of vibration and dust.

As an AM-mode only radio, the Cobra 19 DX IV does not have channel scanning or weather alerts with the lack of sideband signal transmission. Its channels are only limited to manual 40 channel access and quick switching between channels 9 (emergency) and 19 (traffic). If your main purpose is to communicate with others, the Cobra 19 DX IV – CB Radio offers enough pop to do the job.

How We Decided

Buying a CB radio can be an exhausting process, with tons of features that could make it hard to understand what is most important. Our evaluation looked at power output, number of available channels, channel scanning, size, and ergonomics/ease of use. We did not include any CB radios with less than 4 watts of power, excess background noise reception, limited squelching options, and poor usability.

CB Radio Buying Guide

The Most Important CB Radio Features to Consider

Picking the best CB radio to accompany you on that off-road expedition could be jaunting. In our research, we only focused on CB radios with a well-rounded feature set based on our evaluation criteria. During our extensive research testing some of the more popular CB radios on the market, we narrowed down our evaluation criteria to the following:

  • Power
    Most CB radios broadcast at 4 watts, which allow for maximum range out in the open countryside. However, certain models are Single Side Band-compatible, a technology that allows broadcasts at 12 watts provided the channel you are communicating with also shares the same transmission power.
  • Squelch Control
    This function adjusts radio output levels to prevent static and constant background noise from reaching your speaker. This prevents the user from having to continually adjust the volume in between periods of inactivity and receiving messages. Our preference goes to CB radios that do this automatically without having to turn knobs or press buttons.
  • Feature Set
    Auxiliary features such as backlit displays for nighttime drivers, Bluetooth for hands-free operation, and size were part of our overall evaluation, although none are must-haves.

Frequency Asked Questions

Some of the top questions about the best CB radios answered

  1. What is the top CB radio for truckers?
    Our vote goes to the Uniden PRO520XL Pro Series 40-Channel CB Radio. It includes a built-in automatic noise limited and auto-squelch to enhance input quality and keep background noise to a minimum. Consider that a must with loud truck drone and rest stop noise on the roads. Plus, it has a far-reaching transmission, particularly useful in remote areas with poor voice and data signals.
  2. How many miles can a CB radio transmit?
    On the standard 4-watt power (max power legal allowed), there are many variables that could affect range, including signal traffic, number of structures, and type of terrain. Remember, radio waves cannot transmit through walls. Expect to reach anywhere from 1 to 30 miles miles depending on conditions.
  3. Does anyone use CB anymore?
    Absolutely. Although social media, cell use, and dedicated trucking app remain top of mind for many folks, CB radios continue to enjoy high usage today. It is very popular with truck drivers who spend tons of time out alone on the road looking to connect with other truck drivers.

Ray Prince

Diehard UFC/MMA fan and all-around techie who loves to write.

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