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What is the Best Cheap CB Radio?

person's hand on steering wheel

A cheap CB radio doesn’t mean the quality has to be sacrificed. You can pay a lower price and still get a pretty good product out of the deal. Below are a few best ones to consider if you are on a budget.

Best Cheap CB Radios Reviews

1. Uniden PRO520XL Pro Series 40-Channel CB Radio

Though it’s the most affordable option on our list, the Uniden PRO520XL is one of the most rugged designs that comes with a bunch of features. The LED meter makes it easy to see just how strong the signals are.

The PA switch will allow you to make public announcements with an attached speaker, and the ANL (automatic noise limiter), volume and squelch controls, and more gives users control over the quality of their transmission.

You have everything you need in the box, and your purchase comes complete with a 2-year warranty. The microphone on the Uniden PRO520XL is front-facing and the microphone features an extra-long cord for easy use.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Everything is included in the box
  • 2-year warranty with your purchase
  • Front-facing microphone
  • Extra-long mic cord
  • ANL (automatic noise limiter)
  • Clear LED display
  • Squelch control
  • Rugged build
  • External speaker jack for PA announcements

Cons

  • May produce the hum of the engine
  • Installation hardware could be better

2. Uniden BEARCAT 980 40-Channel SSB CB Radio

In terms of design, the Uniden Bearcat takes the cake with its futuristic build and silver and blue trim. The display is very clear and easy to read, making just one glance enough to get you all the information on the road.

The display can even be customized with 7 colored lighting options for you to adjust to your liking. This Uniden model is a full spectrum CB radio with 40 channels and easy switches to emergency channel 9. It also allows you to connect to NOAA weather channels with the push of a button.

What’s great about the mic is the upgraded noise-canceling function that automatically reduces background noise for clear transmission.

Pros

  • Large LED display
  • Customizable lighting
  • Modern design
  • Full-spectrum CB radio
  • Connect to NOAA channels
  • Connect to emergency channels
  • Noise-canceling microphone
  • Crystal clear transmissions
  • Can work with a wireless mic

Cons

  • The display may not be very bright

3. Midland 75-822 40-Channel CB Radio

If you are looking for a small and portable design, the Midland 75-822 is your best bet. It is still a full spectrum CB radio complete with 4 watts of power output. 

It’s a portable and handheld device, so it requires 6 AA batteries to work or you can plug it into the cigarette plug with the adapter.

It also allows you access to NOAA channels and 2 emergency channels. A small design doesn’t mean it’s any less functional than a full-sized CB radio. 

The Midland 75-822 still offers an ANL (automatic noise limiter) and squelch control for the best sound.

To make the offer even more appealing, the CB radio comes complete with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Pros

  • Easily portable design
  • Battery-powered or plugs in
  • Connects to NOAA channels
  • 2 emergency channels
  • ANL (automatic noise limiter)
  • Squelch control
  • 1-year warranty
  • Compact

Cons

  • Can be short-ranged

Cheap CB Radio Buying Guide

As you can see, you don’t need to shell out a lot of money to get all the basic features. All of the CB radios we suggested above come with the basics and more. So what should you look for when buying the best cheap CB radio?

Squelch Control

The squelch control is a very handy and effective feature to have in a CB radio. Listening to static noise in the background while waiting for the recipient to reply can be quite annoying.

The squelch control eliminates that and only triggers the CB radio when there is a transmission to be received. 

You shouldn’t have to look too hard for a CB radio with this feature as it’s a pretty standard one and comes in all the models we suggested above.

PA Abilities

Do you need to make public announcements? The PA function [1] allows you to broadcast your signal and amplify it for the public. 

However, to activate this feature, you would need a large PA speaker or horn, which is an additional purchase.

sunlight passing through the foliage of trees

ANL

There is almost nothing worse than a bunch of static during a transmission that makes it hard to understand what the sender is saying. This is where the ANL (automatic noise limiter comes in). 

It will filter out not only engine noise but all other interferences to enhance the quality of the transmission.

Weather Channels

A lot of users can really appreciate the ability to connect to the NOAA weather channels and receive real-time weather updates.

Emergency Channel

Channel 19 is reserved for truckers and channel 9 is the emergency channel. CB radios with easy access to both afford another layer of convenience for the user.

Display

Some models, and the three we have suggested, have light-up displays to make the screen more visible in low light conditions. Some models even have more than one customizable light setting.

RF Gain

The RF gain is a feature that helps the CB radio block out weaker transmissions. This will also help to reduce background noise.

aerial shot of trucks lined up

FAQ

What is the best compact CB radio?

The best compact CB radio would be the Midland 75-822 40-Channel CB Radio, which is a handheld version and is easily portable.

How much does a CB cost?

A CB costs as much as you want it to. There are higher priced models and very affordable ones (like the ones on our list) that have amazing features.

What is the range of CB radios?

CB radios have a range from 3-20 miles depending on the model you choose. Other factors that could affect it would be the terrain, line of communication, and more.

Does CB radio need a license?

No, a CB radio does not need a license to operate. However, if you have a ham radio in some parts of the country, you would need an operating license.

Our Top Pick: Uniden PRO520XL Pro Series 40-Channel CB Radio

The Uniden PRO520XL is our top choice for the amazing price for a full spectrum CB radio that is packed with features.

It offers all the features you need to eliminate background noise and static while having a rugged built to ensure the lifespan of the CB radio.

If you want to go for the more powerful route, there are more options. Check out our list of SSB radios with the most impressive range.

William