As time goes by, innovations tend to overshadow the old, and they fall out of favor, and many people wrongly believe that to be the case with CB radio. Since we now have mini computers in our pockets (smartphones), a lot of people assume that CB communication has fallen by the wayside, but that’s far from the truth.
CB radio provides people with a convenient way to communicate if they’re within short to medium range, and they are ideal for mounting in vehicles. With 40 channels, you can interact with everyone on the same frequency as you, which would otherwise require a crowded conference call to accomplish.
Finally, talking on a cell phone while you drive can get you ticketed, whereas CB radios are not covered by the ban on mobile phones. However, a lot of CB radios tend to be bulky and cumbersome. This is where handheld CB radios come into the picture, as they’re a lot more portable, and you can even use them outside of your vehicle.
Unfortunately, it’s usually hard to find the right handheld CB radio since there are so many of them available. We’ve decided to take matters into our own hands and make it easier for anyone looking to get their hands on one. Today, we’ll be reviewing some of the best handheld CB radios on the market.
In our reviews, we’ll go over product specifications before giving you an overview of what to expect from each model’s performance. Once we’re done reviewing each handheld CB radio, we’ll go over our buying advice, in which we discuss some of the most important features to look for in the best products.
The Best Handheld CB Radios Reviews & Comparison
1. Midland 75-822 Handheld CB Radio
- Equipped with all 40 CB channels and 10 NOAA channels
- Has a maximum output of 4 watts
- Can be powered by either 6 AA batteries or a car lighter adaptor
- Dual watch can monitor NOAA and another channel at the same time
- Features an automatic noise limiter for better clarity
- Features several quick function buttons
The Midland 75-822 is a mid-range handheld CB radio that is the baseline of what we would expect from a good product in its category. While this radio may not come with the unique features that you can expect to see in some of the more extravagant models, it still has everything you need.
Like with many other CB radios, this one covers the entirety of the CB band, receiving all 40 channels. The radio can also receive broadcasts from the 10 NOAA channels, allowing you to tune into critical weather updates as well as nine other channels providing all kinds of basic forecasts.
As for power sources, this portable radio can use six AA batteries so that you can get the most out of it on the go. However, if you plan on using it for an extended period, you can hook the radio up to an adapter that plugs into the cigarette lighter port of your vehicle.
There are several buttons on the face of the radio unit that allow you to access certain channels and functions instantly. The first of these (and perhaps the most helpful one) is instant access to both channels 9 and 19 from the NOAA, which provide you with emergency updates and info, respectively.
The dual watch function on this CB radio allows you to keep a watch on channel 9 for emergency updates while you listen in on your preferred frequency. This can help ensure that you don’t get caught in foul weather like torrential downpours, or sometimes worse.
The inclusion of an automatic noise limiter as a feature in this CB radio helps ensure that there isn’t too much static or background noise when you’re receiving a message. This model is also rather well-made when you consider that it’s priced similarly to other mid-range CB radios.
If you end up having any problems with this radio as a result of a manufacturer defect, you get a one-year warranty with it that will allow you to get it repaired or replaced. One of our only issues with this handheld model is that the antenna is insufficient for long-range use, nearly necessitating an external one.
2. Cobra HHRT50 CB Radio With Antenna
- Can receive all 40 CB channels as well as the 10 NOAA weather channels
- The sound tracker system helps cut down on noise by up to 90%
- You can monitor up to 3 NOAA channels at the same time
- Features dual channel monitoring for other ones
- Comes included with a high-efficiency antenna with a magnet mount
- This model has a range of up to four miles
The next product we’re looking at is another mid-range CB radio, but this time, it’s made by Cobra. Despite only being slightly more expensive than the previous product, this one comes included with some extras and some helpful features that make it easier to use.
Since these features help make this CB radio more user-friendly, we’d recommend it for any beginners looking to get into the CB hobby. For example, this handheld radio also comes included with an external antenna with a magnetic mount for your vehicle that connects to it through a coax cable.
The included antenna helps boost the range of this model far further than it would be able to reach otherwise, and the cable is long enough to reach the dashboard on a car. Another one of the more helpful features that you get with this CB radio is the sound tracker system that diminishes noise when you’re receiving.
As with many other CB radios, this one supports all 40 channels on the band, but it also has access to the ten channels that contain the NOAA broadcasts. This will allow you to hear crucial weather updates, and you can even tune into the emergency channel to catch any that are currently developing.
If there is an ongoing emergency that you need to be notified about, this radio will output a tone that let you know if any hazards are developing around you. This system monitors three channels at once to let you know about these weather patterns, making it more efficient than the dual monitoring system.
However, you can also use the dual watch function on this radio to keep track of two channels at the same time. Unlike the previous product, one of the channels isn’t locked on the NOAA emergency broadcasts, and you can pick which two channels are being tracked by the handheld radio.
This handheld radio also features a charging port that allows you to recharge NiMH AAs without having to take them out of the unit. It also features line in and line out ports so that you can use a separate microphone or headset with it, and you can even plug in speakers so that you can hear messages more clearly.
3. Midland 75-785 Handheld CB Radio
- Features the maximum allowed output of 4 watts
- Can be powered by 9 AA batteries or a car lighter adapter
- Equipped with a charging port to be used with rechargeable batteries
- Features an automatic noise limiter that keeps noise at a minimum
- Comes included with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Equipped with an accessory jack for speakers or headset microphones
For customers that want something a little more affordable, this handheld CB from Midland is one of the best choices. Available for about half the price of the other two radios that we’ve looked at so far, this is surprisingly one of the most reliable models in its price range, which is rare for cheap radios.
Since this model is made in the USA, you can rest assured that it features the build quality that Midland is known for, and we were impressed by just how affordable it is. Like nearly every other CB radio, this one can operate on all 40 channels in the band, though it can’t receive NOAA transmissions.
This model is also designed to be as durable as possible so you won’t have to worry about taking it out of the truck or car. The housing is made out of durable and hard plastic, and it can withstand falls and vibration without taking any long-term damage.
Despite its low price point, this CB radio features a 4-watt output, which is the legally mandated limit in these devices. While its output limit is 4 watts, this radio can receive transmissions with 7 watts of input power. There are a few other features that you wouldn’t expect to see in such an affordable radio, like the PLL channel selection function.
You also have a few different options when it comes to powering this device, ranging from nine AA batteries to using your car’s lighter if you don’t feel like wasting them. You can also use nickel-cadmium batteries with this model, and they can be charged through the port in the side of the device.
As with the previous radio, this model also comes equipped with jacks that you can connect speakers and microphones to so that you can transmit and receive with superior quality. It even features an automatic noise limiter that helps reduce sound artifacts that could make reception less clear.
The simple exterior of this product doesn’t feature a wide array of buttons, as with competing products, but it helps keep it easier to use for beginners. Keep in mind that the mounted antenna is not as impressive as we would have hoped, so you’ll need to use an external one with it.
4. Cobra C75WXST Handheld CB Radio
- The remote mounting allows it to be attached to your dashboard
- Equipped with a sound tracker system to improve clarity by up to 90%
- Features a backlit LCD screen that can be seen in the dark
- Hotkey to access emergency channel 9 and info channel 19
- The ergonomic design makes it more comfortable to hold
While this may not be a purely handheld radio, it features a remote mount design that doesn’t have any controls on the unit itself. Since there is a separate unit, this CB radio will have to be used in a vehicle, and it’s a lot less portable than some of the other models on this list.
That being said, we consider this a handheld CB radio since it’s still entirely usable with one hand, provided you’re sitting in your vehicle. The unit itself features two rotating dials to control the squelch and the volume, and it also has a range of buttons to manage everything from the memory to the scan function.
There are also hotkeys that allow you to rapidly switch to channels, including channel 9, which contains emergency broadcasts, and channel 19, which is the NOAA’s info channel. The sound tracker system that’s featured in this CB radio also helps cut down on static and background noise that can ruin exchanges.
Since the unit itself is relatively compact, you can mount it in smaller vehicles where you may not have enough space for another kind of CB radio. It’s meant to be installed under the dashboard of your car, and it has a low profile that shouldn’t get in the way of your legs.
The LCD screen on this handheld CB radio features backlighting, which means that you can use it in the night when you don’t have an external light source. With an output 4 watts, this model is just as powerful as every other handheld CB radio on our list, as that’s the legal limit of their power.
While it may sound like it’s challenging to install, this model comes with some simple brackets that make it easier to mount to the interior of your vehicle. All of the controls on the handset are within reach if you’re using it one-handed, though they’re small enough to present an issue if you have larger fingers.
Unfortunately, we ran into a few issues while we were using this model. The main problem is that it isn’t a true handheld set, meaning that it’s much less portable than other products. The LCD also lacks backlighting of any sort, which makes it a lot harder to use.
5. Cobra HH 38 WX ST Handheld CB Radio
- Features all 40 CB channels as well as NOAA channels
- Channel Scan feature allows you to scan the CB channels at once
- Dual watch functionality lets you monitor two channels at a time
- Equipped with a power output of 4 watts
- The Soundtracker System helps keep the audio as clear as possible
The final model that we’re going to review is the HH 38 WX ST from Cobra, which many customers see as the little sibling to the HH Road Trip model that we discussed earlier. Unlike the other handheld CB radios on this list, this one is better suited to use outside of your vehicle because of its shorter range.
However, there are still a lot of features that help make this handheld CB radio more user-friendly than many other products that are similarly priced. Like many other CB radios, this one can also receive broadcasts from the NOAA, and it can also tune into the crucial emergency channel.
As for CB, this radio covers the whole band, capable of receiving and transmitting on all 40 channels. Like you would expect from most CB radios, this one features a 4-watt power output, limited by the FCC. The power source for this handheld CB radio is nine AA batteries, which may seem a bit excessive, but they last relatively long.
The long battery life combined with this model’s reliability help make it an excellent choice for emergency use, so if you’re ever stranded by the roadside, it can help you get rescued sooner. We’d highly recommend using an external antenna if you’re planning on using this CB radio in your vehicle, however.
An impressive feature is the ability to scan all 40 channels at once so that you can see which of them are active and which aren’t. While the button layout is relatively simple and there aren’t too many of them, that helps make them easier to learn, and you’ll have them memorized in no time.
The dual watch feature of this handheld CB radio allows you to keep track of two channels at the same time, which is perfect for busy areas where you want to hear what’s happening on various frequencies. There is even a soundtracker system that helps reduce the amount of background noise you hear.
Unfortunately, the antenna that is built into this handheld CB is even worse than on competing models, making an external antenna necessary in nearly all cases. Another issue is that this product is more expensive than many of the other options on this list.
The size of your handheld CB radio is the first thing that you’re going to want to consider when looking for the right one, as that will determine how portable it is. You can bring a smaller radio nearly anywhere, and even if you have a small car, you’ll likely be able to fit it in the glove box or center console without a problem.
However, larger handheld CB radios also have a few advantages, like the ability to hold more batteries, which will make them last longer. Some of them will also come equipped with larger antennas that can provide them with a more substantial range before requiring an external one.
The next thing that you should account for in your handheld CB radio is the power source that it uses, as that will determine how convenient it is and how long it lasts. Many handheld CB radios will use batteries, as that will allow you to take them out of the car and use them on the go.
On the other hand, other radios will come included with an adapter that you can use to connect them to the lighter socket in your vehicle, and some may even be powered by USB. While these power sources trade portability for longevity, many of them can be powered by either batteries or a cable.
The antenna that is mounted on your CB radio will determine how far it can reach before you have to augment its capabilities. The majority of handheld CB radios sacrifice a powerful antenna for superior portability, as that’s one of the main advantages of the handheld form factor.
However, if the radio is made for vehicular use, then it may come included with an antenna to be mounted to the exterior of your car and truck. If you wish to improve the range of any other model, you’re going to have to purchase the external antenna kit separately.
A speaker can help improve the clarity of others’ transmissions, and it may simply be louder, making it easier to hear what they have to say. Many handheld CB radios will feature small speakers that sound tinny, though they also often feature line out ports that you can use to connect more powerful speakers.
With these ports, you can even connect headphones to your CB radio to hear things with superior clarity, though we strongly advise against using them while you drive. Other than volume and speaker quality, consider where the speakers are positioned, and whether you’ll be able to hear them during normal use.
Finally, take a look at the warranty that comes included with your handheld CB radio, as that can determine whether it lasts you six months or six years. The best models will come with a manufacturer warranty that guarantees their build quality. This will also demonstrate that the manufacturer has faith in their product.
While many handheld CB radios may seem similar, there are often small details that distinguish them, and we hope that we were able to share the most crucial ones in these models. If you’re looking to stay in touch with other people on the CB while remaining portable, handheld radios are your best option.