Are you a trucker that fears not having quick, real-time communication inside your rig at all times? That’s understandable with the tight deadlines you run on. Not to mention the fact that even minutes lost in transit can cost you big money. It’s that very line of thinking that demands you have the best CB radio installed in your cab with you. In this article, we will take a look at 5 of the best CB radios for truckers. We will also review 5 of the top handheld CB radio models.
5 Best-Rated CB Radios
Here is what we feel are the top 5 CB radios that any professional truck driver could own:
Cobra 29 LX 40-Channel CB Radio
This nice little on-dash or in-dash mounted SSB CB radio features a 40 channel selection and has the maximum 4 watt AM RF power output. It will auto tune to channel 9 (police) and 19 (trucker channel) too.
The Cobra 29 LX CB has a big and easy to read display. You can set the display to one of 4 color choices. It can also be dimmed so it does not distract you at night.
Even the microphone setup is good with this CB radio with weather. It has a 9-foot long mic cord that plugs into the front of the unit. This is what enables this good CB radio to be mounted in the dash.
Uniden BEARCAT 880
Here is another best-rated CB radio model. The Uniden BEARCAT 880 is loaded with nice features. It all starts with its easy to read 7-color display. The display is also backlit for easy night time use.
It features access to all 40 FCC approved channels. There is a memory scan feature too and instant trucker and emergency channel access. The mic is noise cancelling so you transmit very clearly.
This model scores very high on most CB radio reviews. It has also proved to be a very reliable truck radio
Cobra 75WXST 40-Channel CB Radio
Cobra is well-known for making high performance CB radios. This model certainly fits that description. It is definitely one of the better CB’s on the market. It is one of the highest rated trucker radios.
This is a 40 channel professional CB radio. Its best feature is its microphone. You can control this unit using the push buttons right on the mic. Operating a CB does not get much simpler.
This CB radio with weather channel capability transmits and receives clearly too. This Cobra unit is also one of the most compact CB radios you will find.
Cobra 29NW Classic
When you go to buy CB radio products you will notice the name Cobra a lot. That is because they are known for making good CB radios. This model itself is rated very high on consumer reports.
The Cobra 29NW has such nice features as a full 40 channel selection and instant channel 9 and 19 access. It also has special backlit controls for easy night use. Its long 9-foot mic cord is ideal too.
Its SWR calibration feature lets you fine tune your antenna signal. This keeps this unit working at a high performance level.
This is one of the most powerful CB radios you can buy for your truck. It will even work well in a car too. Uniden is a proven brand you can trust too. This nice max 40-channel CB will help you get to where you are going without delays.
It has much adjustability built into it. This unit has SWF antenna calibration and it’s an auto noise limiting model too. This Uniden high powered CB radio can instantly be set to emergency channel 9 also.
This model is slightly bulky but its in-dash mounting capability will help there. It can even be used as a PA system in emergencies.
Top 5 Portable Hand-Held Models
Do you want to use your CB radio on multiple vehicles or you don’t want a CB taking up space on your dashboard? Then check out these handheld models that are highly rated in customer reviews:
Cobra HH 38 WX
This is a nice compact CB radio. It’s small and light enough to take anywhere you want to use it. The Cobra HH 38 WX has nice clear send and receive communication for a portable CB radio too.
One of its best features is its dual channel monitoring. It helps sometimes to be able to monitor more than one CB channel at a time. The fact it has both emergency and weather channel access is comforting too.
It even comes with a wrist strap and belt clip. That makes it easy to take with you wherever you go.
Uniden PRO401HH 40 Channel Handheld CB Radio
Here is another lightweight and compact model CB radio. It gives you a lot of flexibility when using it. You have access to a max 40-channles and it can broadcast up to 4 miles depending on the surrounding terrain.
One of its best features is its power mode settings. For very short range communication it can be used on an energy saving setting. With a flick of a switch you can use its full extended range power too.
This is a great digital CB radio for beginners. It’s also a fairly cheap model CB too.
If you like to be aware of what’s going on around you weather and traffic wise, then you will like this portable CB radio system. This midland 40-channel CB is super compact too. If you are looking at buying a mobile CB that customers review highly this is it.
It has 10 preprogrammed weather channels and an auto channel 9/19 feature too. The nice noise and squelch control on it is a bonus too. This portable CB has max power too. It can run off batteries or a DC jack.
This unit has both a high and low transmit mode. That allows you to save battery power on the low transmit mode. It will run off of battery or DC jack power.
Are you looking for the best price on a portable CB radio? Then this Midland CB may be perfect for you. Just don’t mistake that for meaning this is not a high watt long range CB radio. It works really well for an inside or outside of your vehicle CB.
With it you are able to use it on all 40 FCC approved CB channels. It also features the max allowable power output of 4-watts. Its automatic noise limiting capability is nice to have too.
You can run this off batteries or a DC car jack. The DC jack will recharge NiCad batteries too.
What Is A CB Radio?
A CB radio is a means of short distance communication. It stands for ‘Citizens Band Radio’. At the present time, there are 40 CB channels available. All of these channels are located within a certain frequency. This frequency is what is known as the 27MHz band.
The FCC limits the transmit range on these types of radios. Current they can only transmit at a max of 4-watts of power output. This limits their useful range to 4 miles or less.
They are very popular among truck drivers and other vehicle drivers. CB radios are so popular for pro drivers that there is a dedicated trucker’s channel (19). There is also a dedicated emergency channel (9).
Key CB Radio features
Here are the key features to have on a CB radio:
Because of the way radio signals work noise and interference are a problem in the mic. It’s no different with CB radios. This is due to the fact they have weak signals. They pick up a lot of noise. A squelch control is an adjustment that helps cut down on noise interference.
Many CB radios have the ability to double as a public address system. This can come in very handy at times. Truckers can use it in the event of an emergency. They can also use it for safety purposes when in a freight yard or at a loading dock.
We talked about noise in the microphone occurring in radio communication. There is also noise on the receiving end too. That is where an RF gain switch comes into play. It does the same thing a squelch button does for transmitting noise. By adjusting it you make the incoming voice signal clearer.
One big bonus to have on a CB is weather channels. These can help a driver modify their routes and the time they drive them. It can also alert truckers to possible delays. It is especially helpful to have in winter.
Instant Channel 9 & 19
These are the most often used channels on CB radios. Channel 9 is monitored by police and emergency services. The universal truckers channel is 19. A CB radio that can tune to these channels with a push of a button is very convenient to own.
Single Side Band (SSB)
As CB radio technology improved a mode called an SSB was added. This stands for ‘single side band’. This is advanced technology that is mostly found on high-end CB radios. It has to do with the frequency modulation of a CB radio signal. This basically makes better use of a CB’s transmit power and bandwidth.
Nightwatch and/or Backlit Displays
If you are like most truckers you may find bright lights at night distracting. That is why many drivers look for a CB with a night dimmer switch (Nightwatch mode). Backlit keys help you operate the CB at night too. So look for a CB radio with these when shopping for one.
Looking for channels on a CB can be very distracting. It can even be considered dangerous. A channel scanning but can help here. When you press it the CB will auto-scan all the channels. On higher end, CB’s it can be set to only scan channels in memory too.
Types of CB Radios
Here are the 4 main types of CB radios:
CB Radio w/Handset
This is the most popular type of CB radio for truckers. These can be in-dash or dash mounted. They consist of a main unit and a microphone with a long cord. The cord is often 9-feet long or more. That allows this CB to be mounted just about anywhere in a truck cab.
One thing that makes these popular is there is plenty of room for features. They often have big easy to view displays. Dimmer switches and noise cancelling adjustments are also common
Handheld/Mobile CB Radio
There is one big drawback with a CB radio with the handset. That is once you mount them they cannot be used in any other vehicle. They also cannot be taken with you. That is why some people find mobile or handheld CB radios more useful.
These look more like a typical radio or the handset of a cordless home phone. They also have a rubbery antenna on top. Despite the fact they are lightweight and portable they are still a good CB. They often have the same transmit power and as many channels as a regular CB radio.
Base Station CB Radio
This is a setup for serious CB users. It is only allowed to be used in land-based situations. Usually, it’s used for monitoring purposes such as by police or emergency crews. They are much more expensive to buy than regular CB radios. Some advanced CB radio knowledge is also required to operate them.
The advantage of base stations is they have more broadcast and transmit power. They often can be used for other purposes too. These include amateur radio applications.
All in Handset CB Radio
This is basically the same as a CB Radio with the handset. There is one big difference though. This is that all the controls are on the microphone itself. That means there is no reaching across a cab to make adjustments. It is a safer form of CB radio to operate. The power part of the unit can be located out of the way too.
The drawback with these units is they are harder to operate. They also have small buttons which can make it hard to use also.
What Kind of Radios Do Truckers Use?
With newer radio technologies available CB radio use has lessened over the years. That is hardly the case among truckers. CB radios remain the #1 means of the truck to truck communication. Their short range communication ability is ideal for over the road driver communication
These are relatively inexpensive items for considering they can save you more than the cost of buying one in a single long-distance trip. That is what makes them so appealing to truck drivers. You would be hard-pressed to find a single trucker that does not use a CB radio. They are really that valuable to a pro truck driver.
It appears CB radios will be a must-have for truckers for the foreseeable future.