The 10 Best CB Radios

Updated March 17, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best CB Radios
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. When you're on a long midnight haul on deserted roads and the coffee and No-Doze just won't cut it, nothing will keep you awake quite as effectively as a little conversation over the CB radio. Even if you're at home, communicating with those who still invest in this older technology will help remind you that the world hasn't quite passed you by just yet. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best cb radio on Amazon.

10. Midland 75-822 40-Channel

The Midland 75-822 40-Channel is a portable system with a 4-watt output. It includes an automatic noise limiter function, and it can run on battery power or be plugged into a vehicle's cigarette lighter socket to stay charged on the road.
  • noaa weather monitoring
  • dual watch that covers two channels
  • backlight turns off too quickly
Brand Midland
Model 75-822
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. AnyTone Smart Mobile

The AnyTone Smart Mobile radio/transceiver is a cost-effective and compact little unit that is a great backup option for the trucker or dispatcher. It also makes a fine choice for someone just getting into this kind of communication.
  • simple push-to-talk controls
  • good for local weather
  • relatively narrow frequency range
Brand AnyTone
Model pending
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Uniden Bearcat 880

The Uniden Bearcat 880 is an attractive, affordable model with a very bright readout. It features radio diagnostic monitoring and a digital SRF/SWR meter, as well as a clear frequency display, so you'll know which channels to use.
  • noise canceling mic
  • memory scan function
  • too small for big hands
Brand Uniden
Weight 4.4 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

7. Cobra 29LX Camo RealTree

The Cobra 29LX Camo RealTree is a 40-channel device with attractive styling and a bright, four-color LED readout. It features antenna monitoring and an adjustable mic boost, and it can store your 10 most commonly used channels for fast access.
  • built-in emergency alert receiver
  • radio diagnostic test
  • microphone feels cheap
Brand Cobra
Model 29 LX
Weight 5.5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Stryker SR-655

The Stryker SR-655 is a feature-loaded, high-powered option with a 7-color LED backlit screen. It is PC programmable for versatile control, and its Hi-Cut noise filter system stops those unpleasant squelches and squawks along the channels.
  • dimmer reduces glare
  • four 70-watt transistors
  • vfo or traditional band modes
Brand Stryker
Model SR-655HPC
Weight 6.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

5. Cobra 29 LTDCHR

The Bluetooth compatible Cobra 29 LTDCHR comes in an attractive chrome cabinet that adds both durability and style to the package. It has all the features you'd expect from a quality model, and allows users to control incoming and outgoing calls.
  • routes phones through radio speaker
  • instant access to emergency channels
  • hard to grip some knobs
Brand Cobra
Weight 5.3 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. President Johnny III USA

Users without a lot of space to spare will appreciate the incredibly small footprint of the President Johnny III USA, as well as the fact that the unit appears to have kept a large number of features built-in despite its size.
  • selectable backlight color
  • automatic squelch control
  • optional roger beep
Brand President
Model Johnny III
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Galaxy-DX-949 AM/SSB Mobile

The meter on the Galaxy-DX-949 AM/SSB Mobile contains scales for SWR, incoming signal, power output, and modulation, giving you an incredible amount of information at a glance. You can dim the light behind it manually, as well.
  • three-position tone switch
  • proprietary noise filter circuit
  • clarifier cleans up sound
Brand Galaxy
Model DX-949
Weight 6 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Uniden Pro520XL

If you or a family member are just getting into this kind of communication, the Uniden Pro520XL offers all the most important features you would need to get started at an incredibly reasonable price, so if you find the hobby's not for you, there's no huge loss.
  • four-watt sound output
  • quick channel 9 access
  • effective noise limiter
Brand Uniden
Model PRO520XL
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. AnyTone AT-5555N

The AnyTone AT-5555N is a top-quality, 10-meter device with a 12-watt AM output and 30-watt FM output. It is designed to work at temperatures from well below freezing up to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an ideal choice for storm chasers.
  • wide programmable frequency range
  • superior display
  • built-in 8 ohm speaker
Brand AnyTone
Model AT5555N
Weight 5.5 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

What Is A CB Radio?

A citizens band radio, or CB radio, is type of short wave radio frequency that individuals can use to communicate with each other. It has a transmission distance of 40 to 100 miles, depending on your equipment and atmospheric conditions, and can be used for business or personal communications. Users don't need any kind of license to legally transmit over any of its 40 channels. None of the CB radio channels belong to any specific station and instead are shared by all users.

At any given time, only one user, known as a station, may transmit a signal. Other stations must wait for the communication to be over before starting their own transmission. For this reason, it is common for waiting stations to broadcast the word "break" during a period of radio silence. This is to notify the people currently using the channel that others are waiting.

Despite the advent of cell phones for personal communications, there are many consumer groups that still use CB radios on a regular basis. It is common for truckers to use CB radios to communicate with other drivers to keep themselves amused during long rides or to inform others of road conditions.

Many contractors who need to keep in constant communications with workers on other job sites often choose to use a CB radio as opposed to a cell phone as well. There are also a large number of radio hobbyist who enjoy the traditional style and lingo of CB radio communications.

A Brief History Of The CB Radio

The CB radio service was created in the United States in 1945 as one of a number of other personal radio services that were regulated by the FCC. Initially there were two classifications of CB radios, "A" and "B". Both originally operated on the 460–470 MHz UHF band, but Class B radios were limited to a smaller frequency range.

In the late 1940's, a man by the name of Alfred J. Gross started the Citizens Radio Corporation with the intention of producing Class B handheld CB radios for general public use.

Unfortunately, at the time, these UHF radios were not affordable and it wasn't until 1958, with the inception of the Class D radio service that it began to catch on. Class D was created on the 27MHz radio frequency, which had 23 channels. This is what evolved into the popular Citizens Band as we know it today.

Initially CB radios were mostly used by small businesses, truck drivers, and radio hobbyists, but as the cost, weight, and size of the radio devices began to drop in the late 1960's, they started to become popular with the general public. CB slang started to evolve, CB clubs were formed, and the CB 10 codes came about.

How Does One Use A CB Radio?

Operating a CB radio is a simple endeavor that doesn't require any special training or know how. Getting started is as easy as buying a CB radio, mounting your antenna, and tuning into a popular channel.

Channel 19 is a good one to start with as it is most commonly used, so you should hear people talking relatively quickly. Channel 6 is usually jammed up by illegally over-powered pirate radios who broadcast for long periods. You can take some time to explore any of the 40 stations you choose though.

Once you've got yourself tuned in, you can start sending out your own communications. If there are people currently using the station, wait for a pause in the conversation and then broadcast the word "break." This will let the other users know you are waiting for your turn to transmit. Once it is your turn, begin with a radio check. This allows you to check that your transmission is being sent out loud and clear. If no one responds after a minute or two, you can re-issue another radio check.

Once someone responds, you can initiate a conversation, but take note of the other user's tone and attitude. Some operators are chatty hobbyists that can't wait to start a conversation, while others are truck drivers who are at the end of a long shift and may have no interest in talking.

Remember to always be polite and not take up too much time on a crowded channel. You should not broadcast for more than 5 minutes continuously, and then wait at least one or two minutes before starting another transmission. If you want to have a long and drawn out conversation with another user, agree to meet on another less crowded station.

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Last updated on March 17, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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