How can you do without a good CB radio on the road? These radios require no license and can scan all 40 CB channels. If you are buying a mobile or handheld compact CB radio for car or for truck use, be sure to choose a 4-Watt unit, which is the maximum permitted. Ranges are limited to 10 miles, although SSB CB radios can transmit at 12 watts with triple the range. A high quality CB radio includes recommended features like channel scan and RF Gain. In this comparison of small CB radios, we review the best brands by features and cost. With good quality models priced under $100, you should be able to purchase one of the best CB radios 2018 that fits your needs and budget at the best price.
- 1 Comparison of the Top-Rated CB Radios
- 2 Uniden 40-Channel CB Radio (PRO505XL)
- 3 Uniden BEARCAT With Sideband And WeatherBand (980SSB)
- 4 Cobra 29 LX 40-Channel
- 5 Cobra 18WXSTII Mobile CB Radio
- 6 Galaxy DX-959B
- 7 Midland 1001Z 40-Channel
- 8 Cobra 29LTD
- 9 Cobra 25 LTD
- 10 AnyTone Smart CB Radio with FM/AM Mode
- 11 Cobra 29NW Classic with Nightwatch Illuminated Front Panel
Comparison of the Top-Rated CB Radios
Uniden 40-Channel CB Radio (PRO505XL)
This small unit from Uniden brand is great for beginners who don’t need every feature. It may not output as powerfully as higher-end models, but transmissions within range should be clear. The clean design has fewer knobs than others but is readily installed. The casing is plastic and not metal, however, and there is no RF gain function. The integrated speakers are loud enough even with windows open. An inline fuse stops electrical shorts from causing more damage. Uniden’s affordable PRO505XL has many favorable reviews by customers and is our budget pick for a good CB radio.
Uniden BEARCAT With Sideband And WeatherBand (980SSB)
This SSB/AM unit is among the very best CB radios and features an advanced noise-canceling mic. Its clear 7-color screen lets you control many performance features, including an automatic noise limiter and Mic/RF Gain for filtering background noise. Antenna diagnostic monitoring along with SWR/SRF metering maximizes transmission range and clarity. Premium conveniences include memory channel scan, full-frequency readouts, PA capability, and built-in NOAA weather alerts. Although the controls can feel too small for bigger hands, Uniden’s Bearcat 980SSB is a great SSB CB radio that offers much to CB veterans.
Cobra 29 LX 40-Channel
This Cobra has an appealingly brilliant four-color LED screen but lacks SSB operation. It conveniently retains your ten most frequent channels for faster selection and features useful microphone boost. An emergency receiver provides NOAA alerts, while the antenna diagnostic feature continually monitors connections for voltage problems and the PA mode works with external loudspeakers. The volume knob’s location inside the squelch control is questionable. But as a well-performing illuminated radio with NOAA alerts, the Cobra 29LX offers many useful features for the money and is our pick for night drivers on the station.
Cobra 18WXSTII Mobile CB Radio
Cobra’s small CB radio that precisely scans all 40 channels, via a clear screen that shows channel numbers, signal strengths, and power outputs. The microphone’s non-traditional design houses the controls and speaker, with side channel and PTT buttons similar in layout to a handheld’s. Many positive customer reviews cite performance features like the Soundtracker noise limiter. Instant channel 9 and 19 access and 10-channel NOAA alerts are standard, while Dual Watch lets you monitor two channels simultaneously. The Cobra 18WXSTII’s advantage is that it fits many features in a small space.
This feature-rich SSB/AM unit is one of the best CB radios you can buy. It looks the business, packing chromed dials with dual LEDs, full-frequency readouts, and analog meter for power, SWR, modulation, and signaling. Variable-dimmed “Starlight” illumination and backlighting switches help ease usage. With a tuned antenna, reception sensitivity rating is high. Galaxy’s automatic noise limiter and reducer/clarifier circuits improve clarity and the antenna diagnostics and SWR tuning functions work well. There is a PA function but no weather alerts. Those who like tuning for performance will take to the complex but capable Galaxy DX-959B, our overall top pick.
Midland 1001Z 40-Channel
Midland’s small but solid 4-Watt unit is good for beginners and old-timers alike. The front controls and LED are easy to use, while the digital meter shows RE signal strengths and RF output power. RF Gain sensitivity adjustments help with the clearer transmission. Conveniences include instant access to channel 9 and PA mode. The only problem is that channel memory resets whenever power is turned off, reverting to Channel 9. Midland’s 1001Z is a cheap radio that may not have every feature but gets the basics right, including a 3-year warranty.
This compact CB radio is a polished, full 4-Watt classic design, with a clear LED for channel numbers and meter for signal strengths. RF Gain and tone controls, noise limiter, and adjustable mic boost let you tune reception and sound for clarity and the SWR calibration works. The tactile controls are nice, although some knobs can be finicky. The PA function works with external loudspeakers, while instant channel access gets channel 9 for emergency alerts. Cobra‘s 29LTD is both durable and stylish, with all the essential features of a good CB radio.
Cobra 25 LTD
Cobra’s compact but full 4-Watt unit has tactile controls and variable-dimming Nightwatch illumination for ease of use and safer driving at night. RF gain control and switchable noise limiter circuits block out the noise and weak signals. Instant Channel 9 gets access to emergency alerts and the PA function lets you use external speakers. The receiver’s speaker is weak-sounding, although the 9-foot-long keeps the mic accessible. The Cobra 25 LTD’s design incorporates years of professional experience, such as the front panel’s 4-pin mic connector for convenient under or in-dash installations.
AnyTone Smart CB Radio with FM/AM Mode
AnyTone’s Smart CB Mobile is a small but top-rated car radio that can serve as an alternative AM/FM/CB station for dispatchers. A good deal for the money, its slim case will fit in just about any car, truck, or UTV. Quality is the same as that of other commercial-grade Chinese units with aluminum chassis. There is no squelch knob or automatic noise limiter circuitry, but it pulls in a strong signal once properly tuned. Beginners will also find it easy to start on, even with the comparatively narrow frequency bands. The AM/FM section works for local weather reports.
Cobra 29NW Classic with Nightwatch Illuminated Front Panel
Cobra’s 29NW Classic is a basic but good CB radio that upgrades the earlier 29LTD 4-Watt model with Nightwatch electroluminescent lighting for enhanced safety and ease of use. Variable dimming of the backlighting makes it easier to view the layout in the dark with less eye fatigue. Instant Channel gets quick access to channels 9 and 19 for emergency and road chatter. The SWR tuning and antenna warning diagnostic get a high rating from many users.