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Best CB Radio For Truckers; Buying Guide And Feature List

As high tech as everything has become, having a good old school CB radio is still a must for truck drivers. From highway information to just talking with other drivers to pass the time, these devices are still the best free way to chat.

Why Use a CB Radio?

For the most part, you’d think that cell phone would’ve completely wiped out the use of the CB radio. Chances are the use of the CB will never completely die out due to best cb radio for truckersone simple fact – it’s free. You don’t need an expensive plan and they’re easy to use. 

CB Radios have been a tried and true form of communication for years that have allowed drivers to communicate weather conditions, vehicle accidents, DOT truck inspection operations and other road conditions up and down the highway. Good old school truckers heading in one direction always gave great info to the drivers heading other as a warning or heads up…

For local drivers (dirt haulers, delivery etc) CB radios still remain one of the easiest and simple methods for dispatch to speak with drivers. This helps keep the drivers hands free so they don’t get ticketed for being on a cell phone and helps keep company costs down with a cheap way to communicate. 

In addition to truck drivers, hunters, boaters and other folks who are out in the outdoors still use CB’s to communicate in areas where they may not have cell service. 

In a hurry?

If you’re short on time and trying to find the best cb radio that’ll work for you, use the links below to check out our selections that are available on amazon. Most trucker drivers are not big on the walkie talkie style, but we’ve included an excellent choice for those that want a CB but only need basic features.

Best CB Radio with pro features and bluetooth – Cobra 29 LX Max Smart Professional CB Radio (4.5/5 rating)

Best Pro Walkie Talkie CB Radio – Uniden Pro 401HH Handheld CB Radio (4/5 rating)

Best CB Radio For Truckers

$99.95
in stock
2 new from $99.95
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
$199.95
in stock
2 new from $199.95
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
$144.26
$179.99
in stock
33 new from $144.26
3 used from $105.77
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
$195.00
in stock
32 new from $195.00
2 used from $146.25
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
$350.00
in stock
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
$99.99
in stock
11 new from $99.99
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
$63.95
in stock
4 new from $63.95
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
Last updated on October 27, 2021 6:48 pm

What is a CB Radio?

CB Radio stands for ‘Citizens Band’ and is a form of radio communication that operates on the 11 meter band between 26.965 MHZ and 27.405 MHZ. Citizens Band radios are a category of personal radio service that is intended for public or consumer use. The service utilizes 40 channels that operate in an AM or single side band mode. 

Other personal radio services that would fall within these guidelines are:

  • Family Radio Service (FRS)
  • General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)
  • Low Power Radio Service (LPRS)
  • Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS)

Remember with CB radios that not just ‘anything goes’. Although the frequencies used by these radios are unrestricted, the FCC still requires a basic code of conduct be adhered to. You’ll want to be careful how you ‘soup up’ your CB radio as it may become too powerful for CB radio guidelines which will mean you may have to apply for a license. 

There is no minimum age rule in order to own and operate a CB radio and just about anyone can use a CB radio.

CB radios are still in wide use today to get weather, road conditions and roadside inspection (chicken coop) updates.

Different Types Of CB Radios

Although we’re all most familiar with the mobile version of the radios, there are a total of four different styles of CB’s that are available. What you choose will depend largely on your intended use of the radio. Each of these different types of CB radio have their pros and cons. For example, you may love the features of a base station, but its going to be too large to fit in a cab. 

Mobile CB Radio

This is probably the most common type of CB radio that’s available. They will vary in size from smaller units that you can mount discreetly under a dashboard or maybe overhead. Smaller units won’t have as many of the upgraded features that many over the road truck drivers prefer in their radios. 

Remember that before you make a firm decision on which mobile radio you’re going to choose keep in mind where you plan on mounting it. In addition to deciding where the radio itself will be mounted, you need to remember that you may need an external speaker so you’ll need room for that to. 

Mobile CB radio will run a wide range on price from $30 – 40 for a simple slimline radio that doesn’t have many features, to well over $200 or more for professional style radios that have tons of functionality. 

CB Radios typically use no more than 40 channels on 4 watts of power.

Handheld CB

Handheld CB radios are convenient for on the road or on foot. They’re compact and convert to mobile use pretty easily which makes them pretty versatile. You still have most features like weather and emergency communications available, but it does depend on the radio you select.

Converting these radios for vehicle use will require that you purchase a magnetic external antenna that you place on top of your vehicle. You’ll then have to run the coax cable from the roof down through a window to the radio which can be inconvenient to use on a regular basis. 

Just like the name implies – these are radios you can hold and are set up walkie-talkie style. These radios are battery operated although some of these radios have the ability to plug them in to a cigarette lighter to keep them powered. Batteries used for handheld CB radios run the gamut from using several AAA batteries to rechargeable lithium batteries.

Base Station CB

These units are typically larger with their own internal power source and are designed for home use. For best performance you’ll need to purchase a good external antenna and mount it on the highest point of your house. 

You can achieve some significant distances with base stations, but you’ll want to be careful as too much power can start puting you in the HAM radio frequency range which means you’ll need a license. 

Handset CB

Handset radios are set up so that all of the controls that you’ll need are built into the handset making it easy to manipulate or operate the CB controls. These radios are designed to fit in your hand more comfortable (good ergomomics) to allow good control of the radio. 

The handheld CB connects to an external box with connectors that’s generally packed with more features for the radio. If you have multiple vehicles, you could buy multiple connector boxes and then just move the handheld portion from vehicle to vehicle. 

Just about every CB Radio should have at least three controls – on/off, squelch and RF Gain

What Features Should I Look For?

CB radios themselves have not changed technologically in a number of years. The difference is in the quality of electronics (as you’ll read) and additional modern features that are built into the radio. 

Depending on how heavy you intend to use your CB Radio may depend on the features you’ll want on it. Heavy users will want a mid to high grade radio while casual users can get by with something fairly cheap with little to no features. . 

The first thing to consider for a mobile unit is the size of the radio itself. Larger units will need a mounting kit and sufficient space around the to help keep it cool. Smaller units (the $49 variety) are easy to mount just about anywhere inside your vehicle. 

A note about power

As you’re looking around for a CB radio remember that when it comes to power output, all radios will put out the same four watts of power. This is by FCC regulation to limit transmission power. 

The only way to boost the power of your CB radio is to modify it illegally beyond four watts. It can be done but know that if you do you’re putting yourself out there to generate complaints and be fined. 

Cheap Vs Expensive CB radios

CB radios run a wide range of prices from around $40 all the way up to the $300 range. If they all have the same transmitting power why does it matter?

Just like any other electronic device you buy, you’re paying for quality components inside the radio. High end radios are designed for heavy use (like truck drivers) and have a wide variety of features built in. Integrating bluetooth into the radio is just one of the latest features you’ll come across. 

You’ll also be paying for good reception and clarity. Higher end radios feature better receivers and speakers that make the radio clearer and much more quiet (less static). 

If all you want to do is monitor emergency frequencies and chat occasionally a low end radio will work just fine for your needs. 

However, if your frequently monitoring a wide range of channels, want to hear whats going on miles ahead of you and chat with other drivers you’ll need to think about getting a mid to high range radio with a good receiver. 

Basic Features

As a general guide, here are the basic features you’ll want to keep your eyes out for:

  • Squelch
  • RF Gain
  • Automatic Noise Reduction
  • Weather Information
  • Channel 9 and 19 Toggle
  • Channel Scanning
  • Single Side Band
  • PA System Capability

Don’t forget about your CB antenna. To get the best out of your radio having a good antenna is key. 

What is CB Squelch?

Squelch is a CB radio setting that works as a noise gate to suppress weak signals that can cause static. The squelch setting filters what you listen to as opposed to RF gain that controls the distance or how far you are listening.

Squelch is a precise adjustment that sets the threshold of how strong a signal must be before you hear it. The higher the squelch the strong the signal must be before an incoming signal is heard through the radios speaker. 

You’ll find that as you use your radio that the squelch (more here) will need to be adjusted fairly regularly. This is due to things like the time of day and location affecting the signal.

What is Squelch used for?

Squelch is used to filter out weak signals that generate static. As mentioned above, applying more squelch (or turning the knob to the right) creates a stronger filter for the signals to get through. 

How do you adjust Squelch

Generally all CB radios have a knob somewhere on the face of the radio marked ‘SQ’. The squelch setting works in a fairly simple fashion;

Turning the knob to the right applies more squelch (or a bigger noise gate) while turning the know to the left reduces the amount of squelch.

For some models of radios the squelch may be a simple button that is depressed to activate the feature. When buttons are used there is no adjustment – the squelch feature is either on or off. 

Should Squelch be High or low?

How high or low you set your radios squelch will depend on how much signal you choose to let through the noise gate. Setting the squelch lower will result in more signals being received by the radio which may mean more static.

Typically when making adjustments to the squelch settings, it’s adjusted to a level just slightly above static levels. This allows the radio to pick up the most signals, but keeps the radio quiet so you don’t have to listen to constant static. 

Squelch is a setting that’s standard on just about every CB radio. In fact if the radio you’re considering isn’t equipped with a squelch adjustment, don’t bother purchasing it. All you’ll hear is static every time the radio is on.

Squelch and RF gain work together. Squelch works as a noise gate to let the strongest signal in and RF gain adjust the range of the CB radios reception.

What Is RF Gain?

The RF gain on a CB radio adjusts the sensitivity of the radio based on the range of reception. The higher the setting the farther away you’ll be able to receive signals. Lowering the RF gain reduces the range that the CB radio will receive signals. 

The RF Gain Setting:

  • Adjusts the CB radio receiver sensitivity
  • Is commonly set full clockwise or all the way to the right.

A lot of truck drivers will turn the squelch all the way to the ‘off’ position and then turn the RF gain all the way up then adjust the RF gain knob back until most of the noise or static is no longer audible. This can eliminate some signals that are choppy but allow signals out in the distance to still be heard. 

How Do You Set the RF Gain On A CB Radio?

CB radios are typically installed with a control knob labeled ‘RF’ that controls the level of the CB radios sensitively filter. Turning the RF gain clockwise or to the right increases the radio sensitivity allowing the listener to hear signals in the distance. 

For example,  if you’re chatting with someone that’s getting farther away a common tactic is to turn the squelch down and turn the RF gain up. 

What is Delta Tune On A CB Radio?

The Delta Tune controls the frequency your radio’s receiver is operating on. Delta Tune on a CB Radios receiver controls the operating frequency the radio is set to and is similar in function to the receive incremental tuner (RIT) on amateur radios. 

Some CB radios have a function referred to as a ‘clarifier control’ which is similar to Delta Tune but don’t serve the same purpose. 

To some operators it doesn’t matter where this controller is set, but it’s suggested that it’s left in the center position of the dial. 

This primarily because the Delta Tune feature has little to no effect on modern synthesized PLL CB radios and the setting was designed for crystal based CB’s.

Automatic Noise Reduction (Limiter)

Some CB radios are equipped with a setting or switch that helps to block electromagnetic noises from things like switches, lights and poorly shielded electric wiring. Wiring your radio directly to the battery is a common way to reduce outside noise from affecting your CB Radio. 

If you’re radio isn’t equipped with this type of setting you’re going to have to install a CB noise filter (amazon link) to filter out all the unwanted electromagnetic noise. 

Channel 9 and 19 CB Channels

Many CB radios have a switch that will allow you to toggle between channels 9 and 19 which are the main channels that people use. Channel 9 is used for emergencies and Channel 19 is typically used as a ‘hailing’ frequency and is the ‘meeting place’ channel. 

Having a switch on your CB that can easily toggle between the two channels makes it convenient to pass on information on channel nine and then go back and listen in on the ‘party line’ on channel nineteen. 

What is channel 9 on a CB?

Channel nine on a CB radio is a channel reserved specifically for emergency purposes and to report road conditions. Idle chat is not permitted.

List of CB Radio Frequencies, Channels and Use

CB Radio Frequency
CB Channel
Use

26.96500

01

Open

26.97500

2

Open

26.98500

3

Open

27.00500

4

Open, Used by 4×4’s

27.01500

5

Open

27.02500

6

Open

27.03500

7

Open

27.05500

8

Open

27.06500

9

Emergency Channel

27.07500

10

Open, Regional Roads

27.08500

11

Open

27.10500

12

Open

27.11500

13

Open, Used by Marine and RVers

27.12500

14

Open, Walkie Talkies

27.13500

15

Open

27.15500

16

Open, SSB

27.16500

17

Open, North/South traffic

27.17500

18

Open

27.18500

19

Truck Drivers, East/West Traffic. Main channel

27.20500

20

Open

27.21500

21

Open, Regional Roads

27.22500

22

Open

27.25500

23

Open

27.23500

24

Open

27.24500

25

Open

27.26500

26

Open

27.27500

27

Open

27.28500

28

Open

27.29500

29

Open

27.30500

30

Open

27.31500

31

Open

27.32500

32

Open

27.33500

33

Open

27.34500

34

Open

27.35500

35

Open

27.36500

36

Open (SSB also)

27.37500

37

Open (SSB also)

27.38500

38

Open (SSB also)

27.39500

39

Open (SSB also)

27.40500

40

Open (SSB also)

CB Radios can only have 40 channels. Radios that offer 120 or more are hype

Single Side Band CB Radio

Most CB radios do not offer the single side band function that is typically offered on higher end radios. Ok, so what is it? Single side band offers a greater range in signal and less garbage noise than lower end CB radios. 

There are two modes to single side band – the upper side band and the lower side band. This references. Since CB radio use the AM Frequency, using a radio with single side band expands the use of AM frequencies by using the upper and/or lower side bands. 

trucks on highway

There are a lot of different brands that you’ll see if your shopping for a CB radio either online or in store. Many are off brands with no real track record. Each of these manufacturers tend make three types of radios;

  • Mobile
  • Walkie Talkie
  • Base Stations

If you’re looking to stick with name brands or proven brands of radios here is a quick list;

  • Cobra – Probably the most recognizable name
  • Galaxy
  • Uniden
  • Stryker
  • Midland
  • President

Of course each manufacturer has multiple models to choose from for different levels of use and features. 

The Wrap Up

Truckers have used CB radios for years as the primary way to communicate and cell phones haven’t changed that too much. After all, you don’t know the cell number of every person going down the road do you?

The best CB radio for truckers is one that can provide a lot of next level adjustments to keep noise down and provide excellent range. Remember for range, it won’t be the radio alone, but you’ll also need a good whip antenna to throw your signal out there. 

CB’s are still one of the best ways to chat with people whether you’re a pro truck driver, hunter, camping trips or you’re out on the water. There are a bunch of activities that a good CB can be used for; they’re still a lot of fun and anyone can use them. If you’re a truck driver with a passenger, it gives them something to do as well.

Recap of Choices

$99.95
in stock
2 new from $99.95
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
$199.95
in stock
2 new from $199.95
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
$144.26
$179.99
in stock
33 new from $144.26
3 used from $105.77
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
$195.00
in stock
32 new from $195.00
2 used from $146.25
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
$350.00
in stock
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
$99.99
in stock
11 new from $99.99
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
$63.95
in stock
4 new from $63.95
as of October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
Amazon.com
Last updated on October 27, 2021 6:48 pm
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