Though people may have moved on to newer technology, the classics never fade away and never truly go out of style. To that point, there is still a thriving handheld CB radio community that stays up to date on their local surroundings and even occasionally forms lasting bonds and friendships that transcend distance and time.
Of course, the best handheld CB radio will need to provide a very specific set of functions that are unlikely to be the same for all people. This is especially relevant if you intend to use your handheld CB radio in a particular setting like a workshop or your vehicle. This is before even considering what type of CB radio you need.
- Best Handheld CB Radio 2019
- 1. Cobra HH50WXST – Best Handheld CB Radio (Editor’s Choice)
- 2. Uniden BCD436HP – Best Local Handheld CB Radio
- 3. MIDLAND 75-822 – Best Handheld CB Radio On The Market
- 4. Uniden PRO401HH – Best Listening Handheld CB Radio
- 5. Midland 75-785 – Best Handheld CB Radios (Best Price)
- 6. Uniden PRO505XL – Best Price Handset CB Radio (Editor’s Choice)
- 7. Cobra 75WXST – Best Handset Handheld CB Radio
- Best Handheld CB Radio Reviews – Buyer’s Guide
Best Handheld CB Radio 2019
With all of the choices, figuring out which handheld CB radio is the best can be a difficult and confusing task. That is why we have put together a list of the top 3 best handheld CB radios, highlighting what each one does best.
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Then we provide a helpful review of 7 products and buyer’s guide, so you can find the best handheld CB radio to suit your needs.
1. Cobra HH50WXST – Best Handheld CB Radio (Editor’s Choice)
Instead, this CB radio is powered by batteries, which anwhile a bit expensive and inconvenient, provide this CB radio with the ability to be used in virtually any situation. On top of that, it comes with plenty of great features. The Cobra HH50WXST made our pick for the Best handheld CB radio.
As should be expected by this point, the top 2 brands almost always come with all of the expected channels, and the Cobra HH50WXST is no exceptions. First, this CB radio comes with all of the standard 40 CB channels.
So you do not have to worry about missing out on any of the usual transmissions. However, this CB radio also comes with all 10 NOAA weather stations as well as the instant emergency channel and the instant information channel. Finally, this CB radio also comes with a channel scan, so you do not have to do it by hand.
Display and More
Beyond the channels provided by the Cobra HH50WXST, this CB radio also provides a fair number of features that are merely convenient. For example, the display is a backlit LCD that presents far more information than most of the other CB radios that we reviewed. Aside from the channel, this CB radio’s display will also present the relative signal strength too.
2. Uniden BCD436HP – Best Local Handheld CB Radio
However, sometimes what you need specifically is something that is similar to a CB radio but more localized within a smaller radius though broader in signal reception. In this case, you may well opt out of the traditional CB radio. And instead, prefer one that focuses almost exclusively on the local channels.
Pretty much every factor regarding the Uniden BCD436HP has been tailor made to suit people who are looking for focused, local radio chatter. As such, you should not expect this “CB radio” to function like a traditional one as the range is severely limited compared to some of the highest end models.
Of course, this is not simply the best local CB radio because of its ability to focus with a laser-sharp target on local events and transmissions. This scanner also comes with a host of other features that make it a great value. For instance, this CB radio has by far the best display.
Aside from the fact that it is LCD and backlit, this display is also the largest making it much easier to navigate the numerous menus that are required to access all of the different features. That said, this scanner also comes with GPS connectivity. So you do not have to worry about figuring out where you are in relation to the reports coming through on the Uniden BCD436HP.
3. MIDLAND 75-822 – Best Handheld CB Radio On The Market
Though Midland may not have the same kind of reputation as some of the other companies that we have reviewed, much like those other companies, Midland has been around for a while over 5 decades and in that time the brand has figured out a thing or two about CB radios. In this iteration, Midland has put forth the best CB radio that can easily transition from one setting and format to another with a quick switch of included accessories. This by far makes it the best CB radio on the market we reviewed.
One of the biggest problems with many different CB radios is that their form factor. It makes nearly impossible to conveniently use them in different situations though many of them include accessories for you to try. Still, a true hybrid CB radio will not only need to come with accessories to transition from one setting to another. Those accessories must be designed with the user in mind not simply as a throwaway.
Outside of its ability to slip into something a bit more comfortable and from the car to being carried, the MIDLAND 75-822 also comes with plenty of other features that make it an attractive CB radio. For instance, this is one of the CB radios that comes with ANL. Which is perfect for when you want to use it as a mounted handset CB radio.
While it may not be able to program numerous channels, it remembers the last channel that was listened to. Finally, you can always easily find other channels with its channel scan function.
4. Uniden PRO401HH – Best Listening Handheld CB Radio
When you opt for a lower end product, most of the time you simply need something that is durable and can provide you with excellent reception. Thankfully, in the case of Uniden PRO401HH, both of those prerequisites are met with flying colors. First, the body is incredibly compact and dense.
Though the casing may be plastic, it is incredibly hard plastic and, when combined with the general build, makes it strong even if dropped. On top of that, the antenna is actually one of the better stock antennas for the reception that we saw.
5. Midland 75-785 – Best Handheld CB Radios (Best Price)
This CB radio is definitely geared a little bit more toward use during travel than it is for anything else. That is not to say it will not serve admirably in other contexts. But it will definitely miss out on some of its features if you do not use it for travel situations.
There are a couple features about the Midland 75-785, which make it ideal for travel situations. But arguably the most important one revolves around how this CB radio is powered. It is actually powered by AA batteries like many of the other CB radios.
In the buyer’s guide, we warn you to ignore pretty much ever wattage rating that does not 4W or 12W since CB radios can only transmit at those maximum wattage levels. However, there are a few exceptions when a different wattage rating can be meaningful.
For the Midland 75-785, this wattage rating is actually an input which only serves to increase its value as a travel handheld CB radio. It is able to boost its ability to receive transmitted signals if you change out the antenna for an active model.
6. Uniden PRO505XL – Best Price Handset CB Radio (Editor’s Choice)
When it comes to CB radios there are really only a handful of brands out there that regularly manufacture the best products available. It also happens that most of these companies have been around for a while, making CB radios for decades. So it only makes sense that they have a pretty good idea of what it takes to make a great CB radio. With Uniden, their more than 50 years of experience not only ensures that they know what makes a CB radio great. They can likely do it for far less than their competitors.
There are a number of features that are fairly easy to find on a CB radio. And there are features that only turn up every so often. One of the more rare and coveted features is the ability to turn the CB radio into a PA system. For the Uniden PRO505XL, this CB radio can not only serve as a PA system. But it has a bit more versatility beyond that as well.
Beyond the Uniden PRO505XL’s versatility, there is not too terribly much that sets this CB radio off from its competitors. But neither it has to worry much about falling too far down in most qualities. That said, there are a couple of situations where the Uniden PRO505XL could be improved and they are almost certainly a direct result of that rock bottom price. First, this CB radio does not have great range. Even in a desert with no obstructions, the range of the Uniden PRO505XL is a bit disappointing. On top of that, you might need to make sure to use an external speaker as the one embedded in the CB radio is poor quality.
7. Cobra 75WXST – Best Handset Handheld CB Radio
Outside of Uniden, Cobra is likely the other biggest name in the CB radio market. While there are certainly other brands besides those two, those are the two that people can confidently trust and purchase without having to do quite as much research.
Other brands may require some digging to make sure that they will provide the experience you are looking for. For the Cobra 75WXST, you should have no complaints as this CB radio actually provides a great mix of features.
Once you properly mounted it, will not get lost, dropped, or otherwise damaged through transport or use. On top of that, Cobra made it a point to design the handset in such a way that it felt comfortable. And natural in your hands which is especially effective if you talk for extended periods of time.
Outside of the form factor and overall quality, another great set of features regarding the Cobra 75WXST are the numerous benefits provided by the channels. The Cobra 75WXST obviously receives all of the normal 40 CB radio channels. It also picks up the 10 NOAA weather channels in case of emergency or simply to get a detailed weather report.
Cobra 75WXST has an instantaneous connection to both the emergency channel 9 and the information channel 19. With the touch of a button, you can also just scan through the channels allowing the Cobra 75WXST to look for signals to decode and stopping when it finds one. Finally, you can also save 4 different preset channels in case either your region has a couple of popular bandwidths or you and specific contacts specifically looking to use one of the quieter channels.
Best Handheld CB Radio Reviews – Buyer’s Guide
The 4W is the maximum power that a consumer device can use for output transmissions. And the 12W output transmission is reserved for SSB radio bandwidths. That said, there are plenty of brands, which will throw out other wattage ratings that generally have little to nothing to do with the effectiveness of the CB radio unless it is being used to power an antenna. Outside of that specific instance or for perhaps a microphone with a PA function, there should be no other wattage ratings that you pay any attention to.
If handheld CB radios have a standard, it is that they will almost certainly come with squelch control. Squelch control is a feature designed to tune out all of the weaker frequencies on your channel. So you do not have to worry about random static noise and errant weak signals. That said, the way that squelches control accomplishes this may leave a bit to be desired depending on your arrangement.
Specifically, squelch control reduces the overall receptivity of you receiver making it so that only the strongest, clearest signals make it through. It just so happens that these signals are often those which originate from closest the receiver’s position. As such, while squelch control may be able to clear up your reception, it will do so at the expense of range making it less than ideal for long distance CB radio use.
When it comes to CB radios, the list of features from one product to another is arguably more diverse and without too terribly many set standards that you must simply determine which features are the most important to you when differentiating one CB radio from another.
While this specific feature may not necessarily be found on all CB radios, it is one of the most beneficial features to have. Essentially, with RF gain, you are able to control the amount of gain with the received signal. That can be used to both clear up the noise around a strong signal or boost the reception of a weak signal. In a sense, though the 2 features often accompany one another, RF gain can be thought of a bit as a more refined squelch control. Which allows the user to fine-tune the type and intensity of the signal altering qualities of the CB radio.
Another feature that is fairly popular, though it is not necessarily all that common is for your CB radio also to pull double duty and serve as a PA system. In this regard, you will still need to hook up some kind of additional hardware to protect your audio. It allows the CB radio to act as the control hub for your PA system.
Considering the sparsity of this arrangement, you should not expect this PA system to be too terribly complex. It is actually often best served with either a dedicated speaker system of which is usually not directly powered by the CB radio or through a PA horn which can be either passively powered or amplified. In fairness, this setup is most commonly used for a driver to be able to speak to pedestrians around them at least if you get an all-in-one kit. It can still serve as an excellent tool to have just in case an emergency forces a family evacuation.
Automatic Noise Limited
The bane of most CB radio users is various types of noise that bleeds in through the signal reception this is such a major point that there are no less than 4 different types of noise reducing or canceling features. Automatic Noise Limited, or ANL, is one such feature that performs the same function as the others with a particular focus.
Essentially, this feature in no way affects the actual external signals. You are receiving but are instead cleaning up the signals from your transmitter before they are sent out. Which benefits not only the people you are talking to but also reduces the noise that your setting creates as well.
Specifically, your setting almost certainly has a fair number of subsonic noises going on all around it. Even though your ears may not be sensitive enough to pick those sounds up. The CB radio is and it not only receives and transmits the various local subsonic sounds. It amplifies them as well until they become part of the background din from your CB radio.
What’s The Best Handheld CB Radio?
As we can see, the best handheld CB radio will mean different things to different people. If you only intend to use the CB radio in a vehicle while making long drives, then you will almost certainly want a CB radio that has a different form factor and potentially different features than someone who takes a CB radio with them whenever they go on extended hikes. Of course, if the price is an issue, you can always go with a model from a good brand at a low cost. In this case, we recommend the Uniden PRO505XL. As the most compact mounted handset CB radio that we reviewed as well as the least expensive. This product goes above and beyond by also serving as a PA system.
Still, sometimes you may need to take your CB radio on the go, and in this situation, a handset CB radio simply will not cut the mustard. Instead, you will need a proper handheld type of CB radio and we recommend the Cobra HH50WXST. Though it may not have a PA system function, it gets excellent reception and transmits equally as well. On top of that, it has the best display on our list.