Best Handheld CB Radios 2021 – Buyers Guide & Detailed Reviews

Though smartphone technology has provided us with numerous ways to communicate, there is one standby means that will never go away. A citizens band or CB radio has been and continues to be an effective means of communication, especially in places where WiFi, cellular phone towers or the power grid are absent. Among the best CB radio options are the smaller, handheld versions of what truckers have used inside their 18-wheelers for decades.

Selecting the handheld CB radio that works best for you can be complicated unless you know what you are looking for. That is where our buyer’s guide comes in. Using our buyer’s guide, you can become better informed about the various benefits and features of a handheld CB radio, so that you have a better idea of what you need and are looking for. Along with our buyer’s guide, we provide you with a review of several CB radios which allow you to compare how the various features and benefits are implemented in each of the different models.

From our buyer’s guide and handheld CB radios reviews, you should be able to narrow down your choice to the model which best suits your needs and preferences. With that goal in mind, let’s move on to the buyer’s guide.

 

Why do you need handheld CB radio?

Those who live in a smartphone world hardly understand or ever expect that they will be in a place where they won’t have a connection of some sort. However, there are places where a connection is not possible and one must also keep failure of the power grid in mind as well. Should energy be lost, a CB radio will allow you to not only communicate, but will also allow you to monitor weather and other emergency transmissions.

 

What benefits can you expect from handheld CB radio?

Besides communication after power failure, a CB radio also allows you to communicate with several individuals at the same time. A broadcasted conversation on citizen’s band can be heard by any person who has their CB radio or scanner tuned into the particular channel where it is being broadcast. Unlike a cellular or landline phone, you can make a call to a wide variety of people at the same time asking for help, directions or information.

 

What are some features to look for in handheld CB radio?

A lot of personal preference goes into selecting the right handheld CB radio to fit your needs, but there are several general features that are pretty standard among all models. When comparing handheld CB radios, you will want to use the following features:

Portability

The reason behind purchasing a handheld CB radio is somewhat obvious; you want it to be portable. If the unit is too heavy or too bulky, then it defeats its purpose. Look for radios which have a comfortable feel in your hand and are easy to carry in a belt clip or even in your pocket. Keep weight in mind as well. As a rule of thumb, a handheld CB radio should weigh less than .5 pounds.

Automatic Noise Limiter

Not all handheld CB radios include this feature, but those which do tend to be produced by higher quality manufacturers and this feature allows you to help distinguish the best from the rest. An automatic noise limiter helps to filter out engine noise, static and other interference for a clearer transmission.

Accessory Compatibility

Additional antennas with better range and transmission capabilities, microphones, ear plugs and other accessories are available to use along with your handheld CB radio. Many of these accessories can enhance the performance of the radio or make it more convenient for you to use. Radios with accessory compatibility are also something to keep in mind.

Range

When it comes to discussing range, there is something that you need to understand very clearly. All CB radios, with the exception of SSB equipped radios, transmit at a maximum of 4 watts of power. This is a legal requirement put in place by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Though various antennas and accessories can enhance the clarity of reception and transmission, your radio will still only transmit at 4 watts.

 

Additional Features

There are additional features that are pretty much standard on all CB radios and should be present in whatever radio you purchase. Those features include:

• Squelch Control, which allows the operator to block out any static or noise from interference or other sources until a clearer transmission comes through.

• RF gain helps to filter the type of transmission the radio receives based on its signal strength. It is useful for blocking out background noise when talking to someone with a strong signal or it can be used to pull-in a transmission from a weaker signal.

• Weather capabilities have become something of a standard, allowing users access to local NOAA radio stations in order to get real-time weather conditions and updates.

• Channel scanners work just like any other radio scanner. It searches all of the available channels until it finds broadcasts on a particular channel and allows you to lock into that channel or move onto another. This makes it easier to tune into discussions without having to manually flip through all 40 channels of your radio.

 

How is a handheld CB radio best used?

Keep in mind, whenever broadcasting over a CB radio, that whatever you say is being broadcast to the public. Because anyone and everyone with a CB radio can hear you, discretion is something to keep in mind when using a CB radio. You should avoid too much private information about yourself and you should remain respectful and use language which is suitable to all ears.

Being respectful of other people’s conversations and cluttering the airwaves with non-sense or misleading information are two things you should avoid when using a CB radio. In addition, it will serve you well to catch up on the lingo and communicate using the various codes and standard transmission protocols for CB radio broadcasting. Though all 40 channels are available, channel 9 is typically reserved for emergency broadcasts only, channel 19 is generally reserved for communication between truck drivers, and there are various channels that are generally dedicated to particular types of information or communication.

With information provided in our buyer’s guide above, you should be prepared to make a much better informed decision concerning the particular handheld CB radio that will fit both your needs, preferences and expectations by comparing the various models in our reviews below.

 

 

Top Rated Best Handheld CB Radios Reviews

 

Midland 75-822 40 Channel CB-Way Radio

Midland 75-822 40 Channel CB-Way Radio

Midland is a trusted brand name among CB radios and its 75-822 40-Channel Handheld CB Radio lives up to their standards. This unit weighs in at 0.4 lbs or 6.4 oz. and is built to fit your hand or clip on your belt without being too bulky. This radio features scanner, 5 saved channels and a dual watch feature so you can monitor two different channels at the same time. It includes squelch control and ANL and has a backlit LCD display. This radio can be used cordless with 6 rechargeable AA batteries in its battery pack or attached to the power source of your vehicle with its special adapter. You can broadcast on either 1 watt low transmit or 4 watt high transmit depending on range.

 

Specs:

Dimensions: 3” w x 1.5” d x 12.75” h (w/ antenna)
Weight: 0.4 lbs or 6.4 oz.
Power: 6 AA batteries (batteries and chargers included) or vehicle power source
Watts: 1 watt low transmit and 4 watt high transmit
Channels: 40 CB + 10 NOAA
Warranty: 1 year

 

The Good

• The ultra-compact design of this unit makes it handy for easy carrying and it fits your hand well.
• Sound quality features ANL and squelch control are top of the line.
• This radio gets good reception for a handheld and even better with an accessory antenna in your car (not included).
• The included scanning capabilities and 5 channels memory storage are nice added touches.
• Being able to broadcast on lower wattage can keep close-conversations private.
• It comes with a 1 year warranty.

 

The Not So Good

• The included antenna is a little bit weak to provide decent range.
• Gain control would be a good improvement to add to this radio.

 

A Great Choice If…

You want a lightweight unit that is backed by a solid brand name in CB radios. You might not be impressed with the range of this radio if you need to communicate over a longer distance.

 

 

Cobra Electronics HH50WXST Citizens Band Radio

Cobra Electronics HH50WXST Citizens Band Radio

The Cobra HH50WXST Handheld CB Radio is well put together and provides some solid features to the user. It is compact and lightweight for easy portability and features squelch control to block out unwanted noise. It provides the user with 1 watt low transmission as well as 4 watts high transmission to save power and keep closer range conversations more private. This unit uses 9 AA batteries or your vehicle’s power source. It has an omni-directional microphone which will pick up your voice in whatever direction the radio is turned, channel scanning and a backlit LCD display.

 

Specs:

Dimensions: 2” w x 1.8” d x 6.3” h
Weight: 0.64 lbs. or 10.2 oz.
Power: 9 AA NiMH batteries (AC charger not included) or vehicle power source
Watts: 1 watt low and 4 watts high
Channels: 40 CB + 10 NOAA
Warranty: 2 years

 

The Good

• The compact design of this radio makes it a good fit you’re your hand and is easy to carry.
• Its omni-directional microphone will pick up your voice from various side of the radio.
• This radio has 4 mile range capacity on 4 watts and power can be saved on 1 watt setting.
• You can have instant access to emergency channels.
• This unit can be used with batteries or attached to your vehicle’s power source.
• It also comes with a 2 year warranty.

 

The Not So Good

• This radio uses a lot of batteries and does not come with a charger.
• The antenna included on the unit is pretty weak.
• This unit weighs more than 0.5 lbs.

 

A Great Choice If…

You want a reliable, compact radio with decent range. You won’t be happy with the range of the included antenna.

 

 

Cobra Electronics HHRT50 Citizens Band Radio

Cobra Electronics HHRT50 Citizens Band Radio

The Cobra HHRT50 Handheld CB Radio has durable construction in a lightweight and compact design with plenty of user-friendly features. Included among its features is squelch control to block out unwanted noise. It also includes 1 watt low transmission as well as 4 watts high transmission to save power and keep close range conversations more private. This radio makes use of 9 AA batteries or your vehicle’s power source. It has an omni-directional microphone, which will pick up your voice in whatever direction the radio is turned, channel scanning and a backlit LCD display. Included in the package is a magnetic mounted antenna to attach to your vehicle to achieve greater range.

 

Specs:

Dimensions: 2” w x 1.8” d x 6.3” h
Weight: 0.64 lbs. or 10.2 oz.
Power: 9 AA NiMH batteries (AC charger not included) or vehicle power source
Watts: 1 watt low and 4 watts high
Channels: 40 + 10 NOAA
Warranty: 2 years

 

The Good

• The compact design of this radio makes it a good fit you’re your hand and is easy to carry.
• Its omni-directional microphone will pick up your voice from various side of the radio.
• This radio has 4 mile range capacity on 4 watts and power can be saved on 1 watt setting.
• You can have instant access to emergency channels.
• This unit can be used with batteries or attached to your vehicle’s power source.
• A magnet mounted antenna for your vehicle is included in this package.
• It also comes with a 2 year warranty.

 

The Not So Good

• This radio uses a lot of batteries and does not come with a charger.
• The antenna included on the unit is pretty weak, so you might be happier with the magnet mount and just stay in your car.
• This unit weighs more than 0.5 lbs.

 

A Great Choice If…

You are looking for a reliable radio backed by a solid brand name and the added accessory of a magnet mounted vehicle antenna. You might not be happy with the fully portable range of this unit.

 

 

Cobra HH 38 WX ST 4-Watt 40-Channel CB Radio

Cobra HH 38 WX ST 4-Watt 40-Channel CB Radio

The Cobra 38WXST Handheld CB Radio can almost be completely hidden in a larger hand, but it is designed with plenty of user-friendly features. Included among its features is squelch control to block out unwanted noise. It also includes 1 watt low transmission as well as 4 watts high transmission to save power and keep close range conversations more private. This radio makes use of 9 AA batteries or your vehicle’s power source. Features on this radio are a removable belt clip, a wrist strap, and a high efficiency antenna along with channel scanning and backlit LCD display. It has an omni-directional microphone, which will pick up your voice in whatever direction the radio is turned.

Specs:

Dimensions: 2.5” w x 1.2” d x 5.5” h
Weight: 0.56 lbs. or 9 oz.
Power: 9 AA alkaline batteries (batteries not included/charger included) or vehicle power source
Watts: 1 watt low and 4 watts high
Channels: 40 + 10 NOAA
Warranty: 2 years

 

The Good

• The compact design of this radio makes it almost disappear in your hand and can be dropped in any pocket or carried using the belt clip.
• Its omni-directional microphone will pick up your voice from different sides of the radio.
• This radio has 4 mile range when on high and power can be saved on its low setting.
• You can have instant access to emergency channels.
• This unit can be used with batteries or attached to your vehicle’s power source.
• It includes a belt clip, wrist strap, channel scanning and backlit LCD display.
• It also comes with a 2 year warranty.

 

The Not So Good

• The antenna included on the unit is pretty weak.
• This unit weighs more than 0.5 lbs.

 

A Great Choice If…

You need a very compact portable CB with all of the best features. You might not be happy with the weak antenna provided with this radio.

 

 

Midland 75-785 40-Channel CB Radio

Midland 75-785 40-Channel CB Radio

The Midland 75-785 Handheld CB Radio is an affordable option among handhelds. It is a durable radio with not a lot of high-tech features to break down. It allows you 40-channel access shown on an LED display along with 10 NOAA bands. It operates on 9 AA NiCAD batteries with an included charger and an adapter for use in your vehicle. This unit includes squelch control as well as ANL for better sound clarity.

 

Specs:

Dimensions: 2.12” w x 1.75” d x 7” h
Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Power: 9 AA NiCAD (chargers included) or vehicle power source
Watts: 4
Channels: 40 + 10 NOAA
Warranty: 2 years

 

The Good

• This is a very affordable option for those who what a reliable form of backup communication in a compact and lightweight unit.
• It works with NiCAD rechargeable batteries or using your vehicle’s power supply.
• It includes both squelch control and ANL for improved transmission quality.
• It can receive all 40 CB channels and 10 NOAA channels.
• This is a very durably built model.
• It comes with a 1 year warranty.

 

The Not So Good

• The rubber duck antenna included on this model will probably have a range of less than 1 mile.
• This radio lacks a lot of features when compared with the others in the group.

 

A Great Choice If…

You need affordable, dependable backup communication and are an infrequent user. You might not be happy with the lack of features on this radio if you are a frequent user.

 

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