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 through signal reception if they are within short to medium range, and their compact form is ideal for installation and 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 or other mobile devices while you drive or on a road trip can get you ticketed, whereas CB radios (CBs) are not covered by the ban on mobile phones/devices. However, plenty of awesome CB radios tend to be bulky and cumbersome. This is where compact handheld CB radios come into the picture, as they are a lot more portable, and you can even use them outside of your vehicle.
Unfortunately, it is 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 and most poopular handheld CBs on the market.
In our guide reviews, we’ll go over important specifications before giving you an overview of what to expect from each popular 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 ones.
The Best Handheld CB Radios Reviews & Comparison
1. Midland 75-822 Handheld CB Radio
- With all 40 CB and 10 weather channels
- Maximum of 4 watts
- Can be energized by either 6 AA batteries or a lighter adaptor
- The dual watch can monitor 3 channels in one go
- Features an automatic noise limiter for better clearness
- Features several quick function switches
- Has squelch control
- Display is bright and backlit which makes it easy to read
The Midland 75-822 is a mid-range handheld CB radio that is the baseline of what we would predict from a good communication radio in its category. While this radio may not come with the unique features that you can anticipate 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—all 40 channels. The radio can also receive broadcasts from the 10 NOAA channels, allowing you to get critical weather updates as well as nine other ones providing all kinds of basic forecasts.
As for power sources, this 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 knobs on the face of this Midland radio unit that allow you to discover certain channels and functions instantly. The first of these (and perhaps the most useful ones) is instant access to both ch. 9 and ch. 19 from the NOAA, which give you critical updates and alerts, respectively. While the display is small and compact, it is well-lit that offers an easy reading of notifications.
The dual watch function on this CB radio allows you to keep an eye 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 a noise-limiting feature in this CB radio helps ensure that there isn’t too much static when you are receiving a message. This is also rather well-made when you consider that it is priced similarly to other mid-range CB radios in the market.
If you end up having any problems with this radio as a result of a manufacturer defect, you get a year of warranty with it that will allow you to get it repaired or replaced. One of our only concerns with this handheld radio is that the antenna is insufficient for long-range use, nearly necessitating an external one.
2. Cobra HHRT50 CB Radio With Antenna
- Can get connected to all 40 CB and 10 weather channels
- The sound tracker helps cut down on noise by up to 90%
- You can monitor up to 3 N.O.A.A. channels simultaneously
- Has two-channel monitoring for other ones
- Comes with a high-efficiency antenna with a magnet mount for fast installation
- Has a good range of up to four miles
The next that we’re looking at is another mid-range CB radio, but this one is made by Cobra. Despite only being slightly more expensive than the preceding one, this one comes included with some extras and it can provide some helpful qualities that make it easier to use.
Since these benefits help make this CB radio in its user-friendliness, we’d recommend it for any newbies looking to get into the CB hobby. For example, this handheld radio also comes included with an external antenna with a magnetic backing for your vehicle that connects to it through a coax cable. It offers a well-lit display as well that can give great data even in terrible lighting conditions.
The provided antenna helps quickly boost the range of this model far further than it would be able to go otherwise, and the cable is long enough. Another one of the more helpful attributes that you get with this CB radio is the sound tracking that diminishes noise when you are transmitting communication through the microphone.
As with many other top CB radios you can find on the market, this one supports all 40 channels on the band, but it also has access to the ten channels that contain the weather broadcasts. This will allow you to track 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 sets out a tone that lets 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.
However, you can also use the dual watch function on this radio to keep track of two channels at the same time. Unlike the above product, one of the channels isn’t locked on the critical broadcasts, and you can pick which two channels are being tracked by the handheld radio.
This handheld radio also has a charging port that allows you to recharge NiMH AAs without having to take them out of the unit. It also has line in and lines out ports so that you can use a separate microphone or headset with it, and you can even plug in loudspeakers so that you can get messages more clearly while on communication.
3. Midland 75-785 Handheld CB Radio
- Maximum allowed output of 4 watts
- Can be fueled by 9 AA batteries or a lighter adapter
- With a charging port to be used for recharging
- Has an automatic filtering that keeps noise at a minimum
- Comes with a one-year manufacturer’s assurance
- 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 top and most reliable in its price range, which is rare for cheap radios.
Since this model is made in the USA, you can rest assured that it does have 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 pick up 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 plastic, and it can withstand falls and vibration without taking any long-term damage.
Despite its low price point, this Midland CB radio has a 4-watt output, which is the legally mandated limit in these devices. While it is limited in 4 watts, this radio can acquire transmissions with 7 watts of input power. There are a few other stuff 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 ones with this model, and they can be charged through the port in the side of the device.
As with the previous radio, this Midland model also comes with jacks that you can connect speakers and microphones to so that you can transmit or communicate with superior quality. It even features an automatic noise limiter that helps reduce audio artifacts that could make reception less clear when you are talking on the microphone.
The simple exterior of this radio doesn’t feature a wide array of buttons, as with competing products, but it helps keep it less complicated to use for beginners. Keep in mind that the mounted antenna is not as impressive as we would have hoped, so you will need to use a new external one with it.
4. Cobra C75WXST Handheld CB Radio
- With remote mounting
- With a sound tracker system to increase clarity by up to 90%
- With a backlit LCD screen that can be seen in the dark
- Hotkey to emergency channel 9 and knowledge channel 19
- The ergonomic design makes it more comfortable to hold
While this Cobra CB may not be a purely handheld radio, it features a remote design that doesn’t have any controls on the unit itself. Since there is a separate unit, this CB will have to be used in a vehicle, and it’s less portable than some of the other top models on this review.
That being said, we consider this a handheld CB radio from Cobra since it is still entirely usable with one hand, provided you are sitting while in communication. The unit itself has two rotating dials to control the squelch and the volume, and it also has a range of control 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, an info channel. The audio tracking that’s featured in this CB radio also helps cut down on static noise that can ruin exchanges during communication.
Since the Cobra unit itself is relatively compact, you can use it in smaller vehicles where you may not have enough space for another kind of CB. 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 while on a trip.
The LCD screen on this handheld CB features backlighting, which means that you can use it in the night when you don’t have an external light source. With 4 watts, this means it is just as powerful as every other handheld CB radio on our selection, as that’s the legal boundary of their power.
While it may sound like it is challenging to install, this comes with some brackets that make it simpler to attach 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 Cobra 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 much harder to use.
5. Cobra HH 38 WX ST Handheld CB Radio
- Contact to all 40 CB channels as well as NOAA channels
- Channel Scan allows you to discover the CB channels at once
- Lets you keep an eye on two channels at a time
- With a power of 4 watts
- The Soundtracker helps keep the audio as clear as possible
- Comes with a belt clip
The final one that we’re going to review is the HH 38 WX ST from Cobra, which many customers see as the little sibling to the popular HH Road Trip that we discussed earlier. Unlike the other top handheld CB radios on this list, this one is better suited to use outside of your vehicle because of its shorter range that can work amazingly.
However, there are still many features that help make this handheld CB radio more user-friendly than many other products that are similarly priced. Like many other CBs, this one can also get broadcasts from the NOAA, and it can also scan and get signals from the crucial emergency channel.
As for CB, this covers the whole band, capable of transmitting on all 40 channels. Like you would anticipate 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 suggest using a new external antenna if you are planning on using this CB radio in your vehicle, however.
An impressive feature is the ability to find 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 trouble-free to learn, and you will 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 know what’s happening on various frequencies. There is even a soundtrack system that helps reduce the amount of background noise. It also comes with a belt clip that makes it easy to carry even in rugged conditions, while finding signal reception with the technology it can give.
Unfortunately, the antenna that is built into this handheld CB is even worse than on top competing ones, making an external one necessary in nearly all cases. Another issue is that this is more pricey 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 quickly determine how portable it is for mobile use. You can bring a smaller one 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, bigger handheld CB radios also have a few advantages, which includes the ability to hold more power source, which will make them last longer. Some of them will also come equipped with huge 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 needs to work, 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 and use them on the go (mobile use). This allows you to have a battery backup as well.
On the other hand, other radios will come with an adapter that you can use to connect them to the lighter socket in your vehicle, and some may even be through USB. While these power sources trade portability for longevity, many of them can be powered by either battery packs or a cable.
The antenna that is attached on your CB radio will determine how far it can go before you have to augment its capabilities. The majority of handheld CB radios sacrifice a powerful antenna for superior transportability, 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 with an antenna to be set up to the exterior of your car and truck. If you wish to improve and get a long range for any other model, you are going to have to purchase the external kit separately.
A built-in speaker can help improve the clearness 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, tinny speakers, though they also often feature line out ports that you can use to connect more powerful ones.
With these ports, you can even plug headphones to your CB radio to hear things with superior clarity, though we strongly advise against using them while you drive or on a road trip. Other than that, volume, speaker and whether you’ll be able to hear them during normal use.
Finally, take a look at the guarantee agreement that comes included with your handheld CB radio, as that can determine whether it lasts you for six months or six full years. The best models will come with a manufacturer assurance that guarantees their build quality that will withstand most conditions, even rugged ones. This will also demonstrate that the manufacturer has faith in its product.
While many handheld CB radios on the market (browse Amazon) may seem similar, there are often small but important details that distinguish them. We hope that we were able to share the most crucial ones in this list to guide you, even if the reviews do not offer any Uniden item, a popular brand with good built-in technology like the anl switch. If you are looking to stay in touch with other people on the CB while remaining portable, handheld radios are your best option.
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