10 Best Handheld CB Radio Reviews 2020 – Expert Buying Guide
The handheld CB radios have a special place in the hearts of off-road enthusiasts, hunters, truckers, emergency response groups, to name but a few. Incredibly compact and easy to use, these units give you real-time NOAA weather updates, emergency updates, and traffic conditions—for safety and convenience.
Unfortunately, these portable units aren’t built with the same capabilities. Some come with great features and performance, ranking them way up above the others. In this post, we’ll describe the best handheld CB radio for you to help you make a more informed choice.
Best Handheld CB Radio Reviews 2020:
1. Midland 75-822 40 Channel CB-Way Radio
Midland is one of the top-rated brands, with a reputation for manufacturing top-of-the-line CB radios, including the best handheld CB radio units available today. One such CB radio is this Midland 75-822 40, which will prove to be an invaluable tool for keeping you tuned in for an emergency and various road conditions.
The radio offers you 40 separate CB communication channels, delivering a total of 4 Watts worth of power output. It also comes with a channel scan feature that helps you automatically check through all the 40 channels for activity.
While communicating, you’ll enjoy the built-in ANL (automatic noise limiter) that helps improve for weak signals…and the squelch control that eliminates the background noise for super-clear communications.
Another pretty useful features you’ll get in this radio is the instant access to NOAA weather channels as well as channels 9 and 19. These will keep you updated on the weather conditions as well as various emergencies for a safer ride.
Don’t forget that this handheld radio features a large, backlit multifunction LCD display for easy day and night reading. Plus, a keypad lock feature to lock in your preferred settings, so they don’t get wiped accidentally. It has a flexible antenna that you can easily remove for transport and an external headset jack to offer you hands-free use.
2. Cobra HHRT50 Road Trip CB Radio
Just like Midland, Cobra is also a popular brand in the CB radio world. Their units are loved by all CB users and enthusiasts across the globe. As one of their best portable CB radios, this Cobra HHRT50 is a full-powered 40-channel CB radio that you can depend on for recreation, sport, or emergency use.
The No.1 feature that puts this radio in its own class is the built-in Sound Tracker system. As you can easily guess, this unique tech helps cut down the noise by up to 90%—allowing your voice to be heard loud and clear, even over your annoying car engine noise.
Another fantastic feature of this CB radio is that it gives you complete access to 10 National NOAA weather channels. These will ensure you stay up to date on the incoming weather hazards or changing weather conditions. The unit even features an audible tone to notify you of a nearby emergency or threatening weather condition.
OH! Remember, this CB radio comes packed with a magnetic mount antenna to let you quickly set it up on your car roof for clear communications. The radio will offer you an average range of up to 4miles, depending on the geographic terrain you use it in.
3. Uniden PRO401HH 40 Channel Handheld CB Radio
When searching for a handled CB radio to use as a backup, you’d want to look for a basic model that doesn’t cost you much but still has reliable performance. An example of such a device is this Uniden PRO401HH.
Given its extremely low pricing, this radio offers you just the essentials—a speaker, mic, and rubber duck antenna. It also provides you with the necessary controls you need to navigate the channels, including the talk button, channel up/down, on/off volume knob, and the squelch control.
It’s also pleasing to note that this radio has NOAA weather channel. This makes it a convenient radio for those who hit the trail trails or simply travel long distances frequently as it offers real-time weather updates and reports.
The unit requires 9AA batteries to operate. The hi/low power setting helps conserve battery life. And inside the box, you’ll find a DC adapter that lets you charge the radio (if using rechargeable batteries) in the car, making it a great travel buddy.
When you purchase this handheld CB radio, you’ll also enjoy extra features such as a built-in belt clip for easy carry, speaker output, and a microphone input.
4. Midland 75-785 40-Channel CB Radio
Here’s another Midland unit, regarded as one of the most powerful handheld CB radios you can invest in today. The unit comes in a sleeker and slimmer design; Midland confirms that it’s 33% smaller than its predecessor for increased portability.
Like the previously discussed CB radios, this model also comes with a maximum FCC allowable power output of 4 Watts. It offers you separate 40 channels to ensure you enjoy access to all the stations allowed for Citizen band (CB).
The portable Midland features a built-in automatic noise control that excellently blocks background noise and interferences for increased clarity in your communication. Moreover, it features an automatic gain control that ensures improved reception over greater distances. And like the other units above, it also has a squelch control feature to further eliminate background noise.
Because this little Midland comes with a bright LED display, reading it both at day and night becomes easy and painless. As for power, this radio requires 9 AA alkaline batteries. The integrated battery saving circuitry helps conserve battery power.
5. Cobra HH50WXST Hand Held CB Radio
This Cobra HH50WXST also shows up on our review of the most popular handheld CB radio reviews on the market today. This Cobra features an extremely compact, simple, and rugged build for undisrupted operation no matter the weather condition or time. It’s a rugged-and-ready unit suitable for off-roading.
Just like the other Cobra radio we mentioned earlier, this model also comes integrated with the SoundTracker System. This feature effectively cuts noise up to 90% for you to enjoy crisp-clear transmissions. It also offers you complete access to NOAA weather channels to give you the latest weather information in a portable design.
The Cobra has a maximum power output of 4 Watts output and offers you full access to all the 40 channels allowed for CB radio. The automatic channel scan ensures you have an easy time scanning through all these channels for activity.
Needless to say, this CB also offers you up to 4 miles range to ensure you clearly communicate with other CBers within this range.
Don’t forget that this CB radio has an illuminated multi-functional display for easy reading in any light conditions. With the screen’s dual watch, you can monitor up to 2 channels simultaneously. It also has a high/low power switch for effective battery power consumption to grant you more hours of use.
6. Uniden PRO501HH Portable Handheld CB Radio
If you’re looking for the best portable CB radio for off-road use, you can trust this unit from Uniden to suit your needs. The radio comes in a compact and rugged design to enable it to withstand the rigors and punishments attributed to offroad lifestyle.
You’ll be pleased to note that this is a feature-rich unit, hosting all-cool features for high performance. It features instant NOAA weather channel broadcasts that ensure you keep updated on the weather conditions and get alerts on severe weather/hazards. It also offers you instant access to channels 9 and 19 so that you can receive even more crucial info such as traffic updates for a safe trip.
The Uniden radio has a large backlit LCD display to facilitate easy reading in all weather conditions (you can turn the backlight on/off, as you wish). Furthermore, it comes with a dual watch feature that allows you to simultaneously monitor 2 units of your choice.
When you start communicating with this radio, you’ll appreciate how the automatic noise limiter function jumps in and blocks all the background noise for clear transmissions.
High/Low power saver switch…you can flip to the low setting to help save your battery power for extended usage. Or you can switch to the High setting if you want to punch the strongest signal out of your radio.
7. Midland 7w44 40-channel Portable CB Radio
Looking for a budget-friendly handled CB radio for your short-range communication needs? If yes, this Midland 7w44 will be a cool choice for you. Featuring rugged construction, this radio is designed to let you enjoy excellent communication everywhere you go.
Even though it features a lower price tag than other models featured on this handheld CB radio reviews list, it also managed a maximum of 4 Watts output. And will offer you full access to all the 40 CB channels—giving you multiple stations to choose from for maximum communication range.
The affordable Midland handheld radio comes equipped with PLL Channel Selection that translates to pinpoint accuracy when tuning your radio. It also comes with built-in noise control, a pretty helpful feature for eliminating unwanted background noise when you’re communicating with other radio users.
Like most of the radios featured above, this unit also has a low/high power saving switch. This helps you save your battery power and enjoy more usage hours while on the go. The radio comes with a 3.5mm accessory plug to let you plug in a standard headphone for hands-free use.
What Features To Look For Before Buying?
At a glance, all the handheld CB radios look similar. They have a compact, portable/mobile design—just like a walkie-talkie—and you might think there’s nothing much to consider before picking one.
But there are distinct features that make some units better than others. And focusing on those features is your secret weapon when on the chase for the most powerful handheld CB.
Below, we outline these features:
What do you want to use your handheld radio for? Close communication or long-range communications?
The truth about these models is that they can transmit at different ranges. If you simply want a unit for short-range communication at a job site, hiking, hunting, etc., then the effective range shouldn’t be much of a consideration.
If you want to enjoy far reach, however, you should look for a long-range handheld CB radio. Radios that come with a longer antenna tend to offer a better range. Units that support external antenna can also help improve the range.
Checking previous users’ reviews can also help you get a radio with an excellent range.
Automatic Noise limiter
For high clarity in your transmissions, make sure you look for a CB radio that has a built-in automatic noise limiter function.
Turning on this feature in your radio gets rid of all the background noise and other interferences so that you can hear or be heard by other CB users clearly.
Not all radios come with this feature, so carefully examine then model you want to buy to see it has this functionality built into it.
If you want to enjoy even smoother communication with your new portable CB radio, then you should make sure it also comes with a squelch control function.
The work of this function is to clear all the noise present so that you can send crisp-clear transmissions.
This will enable other CB users to hear you during an emergency or when asking for help.
Large, backlit LCD display
Just like the mobile CB radios, the handheld units also come with a display that shows helpful info such as the date, channel you’re listening to, alerts, etc.
That said, a radio whose display screen is large and backlit would be more convenient for you to use.
Firstly, a large display will display larger fonts that are easier for you to read. The backlit feature will make it easy for you to read the displayed info in any light condition, whether its day or night.
Another convenient feature to have in a handheld CB radio is the channel scan.
Since these units give you access to up to 40 separate channels, you can agree with me that scanning all of them to look for activity can be pretty inconvenient. It can even be more challenging when you’re behind the wheel, and you want to keep focus on the road ahead of you.
Getting a handheld CB radio with a channel scan makes the channel search effortless. The function automatically navigates all the channels in search of activity. It stops right where they detect a voice so that you can listen.
Emergency channels access
We have just stated above that portable CB radios offer you access to a total of 40 channels.
Among these channels, we have emergency/information channels that are pretty helpful, especially when you’re on the road. These include the NOAA weather channels, emeegrn3yc channel 9, and information channel 19.
The ideal unit for you should give you access to these channels. It should also come with some kind of button or switch that lets you INSTANTLY jump to these channels. This allows you to enjoy instant real-time weather updates and reports, traffic conditions, and other helpful info to help you stay safe on the road.
All the handheld CB radios out there are powered by batteries. This explains why it’s essential to check the battery health of the unit you plan to buy.
You should try looking for a radio that offers you at least 12 hours of battery to ensure you continually use it while out there. Units that work with rechargeable batteries are even better as you can charge them on the go. Also, they’re more economical as you won’t need to spend money on replacement batteries.
Radios that come with built-in power-saving features such as high/low power switch can also help you preserve as much power as possible and extend your battery life.
PRO TIP: Accessories-compatible handheld CB radio.
In addition to all the features mentioned above, it’d be good to have a handheld CB radio that accepts additional accessories to make it even easier to use. These accessories include external antenna, external speaker or headphones, microphone compatibility, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are handheld CB radios any good?
A handheld CB radio is as good as they come! The radio isn’t much different from the mobile CB radio or other types of radio, save for the portable, handheld design. They have the same 4 Watts maximum power output and offer you up to 40 channels for full coverage of all the 40 CB stations.
Owning a handheld CB radio is useful if you’ll need reliable communication with many people, say when you go hiking, off-road tour, hunting, etc. It’s also a great investment if you like exploring nature and want to stay safe while out there. If you live in areas with natural disasters, a handheld radio can also act as an excellent emergency means of communication when you want to call for help, speak with close friends, and so on.
Q: What is the range of a handheld CB radio?
Generally, handheld CB radios can send or receive signals from as far as 5 miles. However, the effective range of your specific unit will vary depending on various factors such as the antenna you’re using, the terrain you’re using it in, and even air condensation.
Q: Do I need an external antenna for a handheld CB radio?
It depends. Most handheld CB radios let you hook them to an external antenna. This can be helpful if you want to improve the range (up the quality of received and received signals). You’ll just need to mount the antenna on your vehicle as you’d do for a mobile CB radio and then connect it to your radio via a quality coax cable. However, be sure to tune your antenna correctly (with an SWR meter) to optimize the antenna system performance and shield your radio from possible damage.
Q: Can I change my portable CB radio’s stock antenna?
Absolutely! Most handled radios allow you to replace their original rubber duck antenna with aftermarket models. This is helpful as the aftermarket antennas are designed to offer you better performance and increase the signal strength. It also means that if your stock antenna breaks or gets damaged, you just need to replace it with a new one instead of replacing the entire unit, which can be costly.
A handled CB radio is highly convenient means of communication for emergency, long distance travelers, truckers, nature explorers, etc. It will continually update you on the traffic conditions, emergencies, and offer you real-time weather updates to ensure you have a safer journey.
We have just outlined our ultimate list of the best handheld CB radio units that come packed with the coolest features to make your long-distance trip safer and more convenient than ever before.