Updated April 04, 2019 by Daniel Imperiale

The 8 Best CB Radios

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This wiki has been edited 19 times since it was first published in February of 2015. 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.

8. Midland 75-822 40-Channel

7. Uniden Bearcat 880

6. AnyTone AT-5555N

5. Cobra 29LX Camo RealTree

4. Cobra 29 LTDCHR

3. Galaxy-DX-949 AM/SSB Mobile

2. Uniden Pro520XL

1. President Johnny III USA

What Is A CB Radio?

None of the CB radio channels belong to any specific station and instead are shared by all users.

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.

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.

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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Daniel Imperiale
Last updated on April 04, 2019 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel Imperiale holds a bachelor’s degree in writing, and proudly fled his graduate program in poetry to pursue a quiet life at a remote Alaskan fishery. After returning to the contiguous states, he took up a position as an editor and photographer of the prestigious geek culture magazine “Unwinnable” before turning his attention to the field of health and wellness. In recent years, he has worked extensively in film and music production, making him something of a know-it-all when it comes to camera equipment, musical instruments, recording devices, and other audio-visual hardware. Daniel’s recent obsessions include horology (making him a pro when it comes to all things timekeeping) and Uranium mining and enrichment (which hasn’t proven useful just yet).


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