The Citizens Band Radio Service, or CB, as it is commonly called, is a type of radio communication under the category of Personal Radio Service. As with the other types of PRS, such as FRS, GMRS, MURS, and LPRS (Low Power Radio Service), CB is intended for both consumer and business use. A CB radio does not require a license to operate.
CB service operates on 40 shared channels in an AM mode or Single Side Band (SSB) mode. SSB offers less noise and greater range than AM mode and is usually found on higher-end CB radios. SSB has two modes, Upper Sideband and Lower Sideband. You can only communicate with other SSB CB radios when in SSB mode. CB channels and frequencies are not assigned to any specific individual or organization. For the most part, you can operate a CB radio on all 40 channels and frequencies designated by the FCC for CB, but there are some caveats.
First, you can use CB only on those 40 channels and frequencies. Channel 9 may be used only for emergencies or for travel In addition, however, any channel can be used for emergency communications or traveler assistance. In addition, as these channels are shared, you must always give priority to emergency communications on all channels.
CB is intended for short-range, local communications only, but there is a way to increase range considerably by bouncing or “skipping” the signal off the ionosphere. This method is called ‘shooting skip”. Some CB users can skip a signal thousands of miles.
Because the 40 CB channels are shared with other users, some common etiquette is required. Users must never talk with another station for more than 5 minutes continuously and must wait at least one minute before starting another communication.
CB users also have their own lingo and codes. 10 Codes are the universally accepted standard for CB transmission in AM mode while Q Signals are generally used for Single Side Band and by skip-talkers.
Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is NOT the same thing as CB, or Citizens Band, radio. It is an entirely different radio service (the Federal Communications Commission refers to the various types of radio communication activities it regulates as “services”). The Citizens Band Radio Service uses low-power transmitters, operating on 40 channels in the 27 MHz range (some radios claim to have as many as 120 channels). CB radios must be of a design certified by the FCC, and cannot be modified. You do not need a license to operate a CB radio. There is no requirement to identify CB transmissions, although many CBers use a name of their own choosing, called a “handle”, to identify themselves on the air. CB radios typically have a range of several miles, although atmospheric conditions can carry a signal much farther.
With the introduction above, below are some of the best handheld CB radios that you can find on Amazon currently from the above-listed brands.
Best handheld CB Radios: Uniden, Cobra, Midland, and Retevis 2021
The Uniden PRO505XL 40 Channel CB Radio is perfect for those long days on the road. It features instant channel 9 functions where you can quickly set the radio to the emergency/channel 9. You can check the relative strength of incoming transmissions with the signal/RF power indicator. This CB radio has an external speaker jack that will let you plug in an external speaker for better sound as well as an external PA jack that allows the connection of a PA speaker.
This Bearcat CB radio offers all the features you need in a sleek, compact design that fits in just about anywhere. This radio weighs less than two pounds for easy handling. Enjoy the complete range of 40 CB radio channels to communicate with those around you. Keep in touch with others on the road, and stay tuned in to emergencies and traffic situations. This radio is easy to install in your truck or car, and easy to use as well, so you can be having conversations in no time.
With an orange backlit LCD display, this Bearcat CB radio is optimized for day or night viewing. View the current channel, the volume, and other features on the display. This Bearcat CB radio features a simple layout with large dedicated up/down buttons. This makes it easy to change the channels while keeping your eyes on the road.
This CB radio also comes equipped with a dynamic squelch control feature for optimal sound. Turn the squelch knob to adjust the level at which the radio suppresses weak radio signals. This provides you with high-quality sound.
- Dynamic Squelch Control Delivers Quality Sound
- Simple, User-Friendly Layout
- Backlit LCD Display
- Full 40 Channel Operation
- Compact Design Fits Anywhere
Cobra has brought back their version of the CB with this 29-LTD. They’ve made some nice improvements to the CB you might have used a decade or two ago. Key improvements to this radio include a front panel microphone connector which makes in-dash installation a cinch.
Cobra has also provided a nine-foot microphone cord so that you keep in touch from a good distance, whether you’re located in a truck cab or dispatch office. The final noteworthy improvements on this device are tactile controls for safer, and more accurate, functionality. Other features include antenna warning indicator, SWR calibration, instant Channel 9, PA capability, dimmer control, switchable noise blanker and RF gain. In a time of seemingly un-ending technological advances, it’s nice to see something we created back in the late 1930s is still alive and kicking.
- Antenna Warning Indicator
- 4 Watt Output
- Instant Channel 9 40 Channel Access
- Display Type: Led
A compact, simple design mobile radio designed for use in the Citizens Band (CB) Radio Service. This Citizens Band delivers the convenience of a handheld CB radio with the security of knowing you have the longest range possible so you can always stay in touch. It has complete access to 10 National Weather Channels for the latest weather information in a portable or mobile design.
This Citizens Band also has the standard 40 CB channels with a High/low power switch. You can save your battery by switching to low power to talk to a nearby buddy and then turn it up to high power for a long-distance conversation
Key up on the go with the HH 50 WX ST from Cobra. Tune into all 40 CB channels as well as 10 added weather channels for solid, up-to-date information on the latest road conditions. Cobra’s Soundtracker Noise Reduction System limits interference for true transmissions so chatting clearly is no problem. An illuminated multifunctional display and rugged build allow for operation no matter the weather or time. The rugged-and-ready Cobra HH 50 WX ST comes feature-rich and fully equipped with a 12-volt cord.
- Sound Tracker System Cuts noise up to 90%
- 10 weather channels provide the latest weather information from NOAA
- 40 CB channels for full coverage in an ultra-small package
- 4 Watts of power output
- High/low power switch reduces battery power consumption by up to 75% to extend battery life
- Channel scan
- Dual watch – select two channels to constantly monitor simultaneously
This CB radio comes with seven watts of input and four watts of output (the FCC maximum allowable) and is a sleek and slim handheld that’s 33% smaller than its predecessor. Highlights include automatic noise control, automatic gain control, a bright LED display, a high/low power switch, and plenty more. With battery-saving circuitry, this mobile radio can operate on 9 AA batteries or use your vehicle’s 12V DC lighter socket adaptor, for a truly portable CB solution.
This durable CB radio is built to go wherever you go with HI/LO power settings to prolong battery life and the 75-785 offers 40 separate communication channels, delivering the maximum CB communication range with 4 watts of output power. Tune in with pinpoint accuracy using onboard PLL channel selection.
While communicating with this device, a built-in ANL (automatic noise limiter) improves reception for weak signals, and squelch control further eliminates background noise. Transmissions on your end should be crystal-clear as well, thanks to the built-in electrostatic microphone.
You can power the 75-785 with nine AA alkaline batteries for use on the go. Alternately, fill it with rechargeable nickel-cadmium AAs, and use the charge jack to recharge them all without removing them from the radio. Additionally, a DC charger is included for use with “cigarette lighter” power adapters in cars, trucks, boats, etc.
- Handheld CB radio with 40 CB channels
- maximum-allowed four watts output power
- Power with nine AA batteries or included cigarette lighter adapter for mobile use
- Charge jack allows NiCad batteries to be charged without removing them from the radio
- ANL (automatic noise limiter) and squelch control for improving reception/eliminating noise
- External Accessory Jack: accessories, such as an external speaker box or headset mic, using this jack.
This compact and lightweight walkie-talkie is small-sized and easy to carry or get clipped on a belt or in a pocket. It can also work directly with other Retevis walkie-talkies (such as RT22 RT27 RT21 H-777S) and can work with H-777 on channels 6 and 7.
With high-quality audio and unique squelch function, you will get high-quality communication with crystal and clear sound with this device. Activate the operation by voice without pressing the PTT button; achieving the dedicated “no dialing” communication for you and your team.
RT28 will emit a sharp alarm sound in maximum volume when you press the alarm button; inform others once danger comes and it comes equipped with a micro-USB charging port; ensuring you charge the radio wherever a free USB connection is available, by power bunk, in the car, etc.
- Emergency Alarm
- 16 channels
- Battery saving function
- VOX/hands-free talk
- Micro USB charger
- Kenwood standard 2 pin
- The solid antenna is well-built
- The enhanced antenna offers a decent range of transmission and reception
- Robust and thickened PC plastic shell for resisting shock; pressure; vibration; dust and splash.
- compact and sturdy for long use even in a tough environment.
- earpiece jack(2.5mm/3.5mm)
The emergency alarm function equipped in a CB radio device helps you be informed once you get in danger, making it ideal for first responders and other professionals who cannot compromise safety.
When purchasing a CB radio, one thing that must not be overlooked is the antenna. While antennas are often included with handheld CB radios, they are not included with mobile units and must be purchased separately.