CB Radios For Truckers – A Review Guide + Top Picks

We’ve looked at lots of reviews and done our homework to bring you this list of the best CB radios for truckers. We’ll show you our favorites and delve into the features of other well-regarded models.

During the CB craze era of the 70s and 80s, the CB radio was like the internet for truckers – and every truck driver had one!

Nowadays, they’re less common – but we still think they’re an essential trucker’s item. Keep reading to find out why!

The CB Radio in the Golden Years of Trucking

So just how big was the craze?

Well protests and blockades were organized using CB radios, especially after the 1973 oil crisis aftermath.

A few songs inspired by CB radio culture also climbed to the top of the billboard music charts.

Sure, the times have changed and it’s a bit different nowadays. The CB radio is not as popular as it used to be.

However, there are still some things you can’t replace.

How would you get an accident alert almost immediately? You could on a CB radio.

Just pray you don’t end up driving in some very remote place like Alaska without a CB radio. Not all places in the country have cellphone reception!

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CB Radios for Truckers: Top Picks

Best Overall: Galaxy-DX-959 SSB CB Radio

  • Can transmit up to 12 watts 
  • Reduces noise using a noise filter 
  • Easy to read meter with bright backlight
  • Thanks to SWR, you can avoid radio damage
  • Comes with roger beep and dimmer control 
A photo of a Galaxy-DX-959 SSB CB Radio.

Best Value: Uniden PRO510XL CB Radio

  • Very cheap CB radio 
  • Can be plugged to an external speaker 
  • Uses automatic noise limiter and squelch control to block background noise 
  • 2 year warranty deal
  • Fitted with S/RF meter to monitor activity
A photo of a Uniden PRO510XL CB Radio.

Honorable Mention: Cobra 29Lx Professional CB Radio

  • Great mid-range budget CB radio 
  • Includes NOAA Weather Channels 
  • Automatically run diagnostics 
  • Microphone is very durable
  • Comes with a clock and alarm 
  • Easy to read display
A photo of a Cobra 29Lx Professional CB Radio.

Galaxy-DX-959 SSB CB Radio

  • Type: Mobile CB radio
  • SSB: Yes
  • Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9.25 x 7.9 x 2.35 inches 
A photo of a Galaxy-DX-959 SSB CB Radio.

What We Like

  • Single Side Band
  • Includes S/RF meter
  • Roger beep alert
  • Noise filter
  • Backlit LED display with dimmer control
  • Automatic SWR circuit
  • Can be connected to an external speaker and public address system

What We Don’t Like

The Galaxy-DX-959 CB Radio has everything you would expect in a high-quality CB radio.

For starters, it’s equipped with a single side band (SSB), which means it operates up to 12 watts – rather than 4 watts like a regular CB radio. (Known to old school truckers as a ‘Big CB Radio’).

More succinctly, this triples your transmission range.

Besides that, it includes an S/RF meter for you to monitor the power output, signal strength, modulation, and standing wave ratio.

So if your antenna is not properly tuned, it’s easy to find out before damaging the radio. Not to forget, it features a noise filter to block any unnecessary background noise.

Despite its premium price, this Galaxy CB radio doesn’t come with Bluetooth connectivity, but it does have powerful SSB. Could this be the best long range CB radio for truckers?

Uniden PRO510XL CB Radio

  • Type: Mobile CB radio
  • SSB: No
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12 x 5.8 x 3 inches  
A photo of a Uniden PRO510XL CB Radio.

What We Like

  • Low budget
  • S/RF meter with backlit display
  • Great sound quality
  • Can be connected to an external speaker
  • Two-year warranty
  • Precise frequency control

What We Don’t Like

  • No Single Side Band (SSB)

For less than 50 bucks, this is one of the cheapest CB radios on our guide.

Don’t underestimate it though – it’s full of features. Firstly, its automatic noise limiter (ANL) and squelch control eliminate background noise whenever you’re talking.

But that’s not all. It includes a built-in internal speaker, though you can also connect it to an external speaker.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a Single Side Band (SSB) – which is a shame if you want to increase transmission range.

Regardless, it does operate on any of the 40 channels as per the FCC standards.

Cobra 29Lx Professional CB Radio

  • Type: Mobile CB radio
  • SSB: No
  • Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.25 x 9.25 x 2.25 inches
A photo of a Cobra 29Lx Professional CB Radio.

What We Like

  • LCD display
  • Clock and alarm setting
  • NOAA weather channels
  • Radio check and frequency display
  • Great voice clarity
  • Instant access to channel 9
  • RF gain and switchable noise blanker
  • Durable microphone

What We Don’t Like

  • If it’s not tuned right, it can malfunction

This is a mid-range CB radio made by Cobra for truck drivers.

Unlike most CB radios, this unit goes the extra mile to include NOAA weather channels, plus a clock and an alarm.

Of course, we can’t forget its impressive LCD display that you can change to red, green, blue, and amber.

It gets even better.

It includes a heavy-duty dynamic microphone with a 9-foot cord so no problems if you want to install it on the overboard.

What’s more, you can easily improve your voice clarity using the dynamic boost setting. It’s convenient for truckers who don’t have loud, booming voices.

One issue we found, though: If you don’t tune it properly, the radio will likely malfunction.

Hence, it’s recommended to consult a CB expert at any major truck stop when installing it.

Uniden BEARCAT 980 CB Radio

  • Type: Mobile CB radio
  • SSB: Yes
  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 3.5 x 15 x 8.5 inches 
A photo of a Uniden BEARCAT 980 CB Radio.

What We Like

  • 7 color digital display
  • Reduces background noise on the microphone
  • SWR meter and RF gain control
  • Automatic noise limiter (ANL) and noise-canceling mic
  • Wireless mic compatibility
  • NOAA weather alert
  • Equipped with Single Side Band (SSB)

What We Don’t Like

  • Daylight brightness makes it hard to read display

Here is the cool thing; it’s possible to use a wireless microphone on this Uniden CB radio.

However, you would need to use the Uniden BC906W CB wireless microphone.

Otherwise, this unit is fitted with a single side band to enhance your transmission range.

Talking about the sound quality, it comes with a noise-canceling mic and an automatic noise limiter (ANL) to minimize any background noise from your truck’s engine.

Heck! Even when it’s raining cats and dogs outside with loud thunder noises, it still does an effective job to filter out the noise.  

On the downside, the backlight display can be hard to read during the day – but it shouldn’t be a problem at night.

Cobra 25LTD Professional CB Radio

  • Type: Mobile CB radio
  • SSB: No
  • Weight: 4.2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 2.25 x 6.25 x 9 inches 
A photo of a Cobra 25LTD Professional CB Radio.

What We Like

  • 9-foot microphone cord
  • Easy to install
  • Durable microphone
  • Instant channel 9 access
  • It can connect to an external speaker
  • RF gain setting
  • Switchable noise blanker
  • Improves voice clarity

What We Don’t Like

If you’re looking for a simple CB radio without too many gimmicks, this could be a good option.

It features everything you would expect in a decent radio; 4-watt output, instant access to channel 9, 40 channels, and a 4 pin connector. Additionally, the microphone cord is 9 feet long.

Also, you can improve voice clarity using its dynamic boost and reduce static by activating the switchable noise blanker.

This product is made with simplicity in mind. Hence, it doesn’t have any Bluetooth connectivity or single side band capability.

Midland 75-822 CB Radio

  • Type: Handheld CB radio
  • SSB: No
  • Weight: 0.4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 2.6 x 6.7 inches  
A photo of a Midland 75822 CB Truck Driver Radio Hand held device.

What We Like

  • Portable CB radio
  • Squelch control and automatic noise limiter (ANL)
  • NOAA weather channels
  • Compatible with a headset
  • Easy to read at night
  • Instant access to channel 9 and channel 19

What We Don’t Like

  • Expensive for a handheld CB radio

This is not a typical trucking CB radio but rather a backup option. It’s a portable device to use when you walk out of your truck.

Let’s just say it’s a CB radio you can put in your pocket and it’s powered by AA batteries or a cigarette lighter adapter.

If you’re worried about its reception, it all depends on the antenna you’ve installed.

Despite its small size, it comes with everything found in bigger units; from the automatic noise limiter and squelch control, to a backlit display.

Moreover, you can connect it to an external headset and use it without your hands.

The price may be a little high for a handheld CB radio, but it’s feature packed.

Midland 1001LWX CB Radio

  • Type: Mobile CB radio
  • SSB: No
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Dimensions: 9.8 x 9.2 x 2.5 inches 
A photo of a Midland 1001LWX CB Radio.

What We Like

  • Cheap
  • Built-in weather scan
  • Easy to install
  • Adjust sensitivity range and RF gain control
  • Automatic noise limiter
  • Easy-to-read display
  • PA capability

What We Don’t Like

  • No Single Side Band (SSB)

This CB radio doesn’t take up a lot of space and it’s easy to install.

A quick look at the control panel, and you will notice it isn’t cluttered; just three knobs and three small buttons.

At the center, you got the RF gain and squelch control knob which comes in handy if you want to keep it quiet when you’re talking.

Sure, the backlit LCD is smaller compared to what you will find in most radios on our guide but it’s easier to read it when it’s dark.

What else? You can connect it to the PA speaker mounted on your truck, activate the PA switch, and do some public speaking.

Its biggest shortcoming is that it doesn’t have a single side band (SSB) to increase the transmission range.

Nevertheless, it’s way cheaper than most CB radios.

Galaxy DX-939F CB Radio

  • Type: Mobile CB radio
  • SSB: No
  • Weight: 5.4 pound
  • Dimensions: 9 x 7.25 x 2.5 inches 
A photo of a Galaxy DX-939F CB Radio.

What We Like

  • Two-year warranty
  • Backlit LED channel display
  • Talkback circuit
  • Power output control
  • Variable dimmer control
  • SWR Meter

What We Don’t Like

  • It’s expensive

This Galaxy CB radio is medium-sized making it perfect to install on the dash or overboard.

For what it’s worth, it’s designed with features that you wouldn’t find on a regular CB radio. For instance, the SWR meter alerts you if the antenna is not properly tuned. This helps prevent damage to the radio.

However, what’s really impressive is that you can read the incoming signal strength on the decibel scale. A quick glance and you can see whether it’s a weak or strong transmission.

Other than that, the talkback feature lets you hear yourself talk on the speakers. This means you can better adjust your volume.

It turns out, it’s more expensive than most CB radios – but we argue that it’s one of the few CB radios that give you a precise reading of everything, from the transmit power, to signal strength and standing wave ratio.

5 Benefits of a CB Radio for Truckers

1. Receive Updates and Emergency Alerts: Accidents, Traffic, Weather, and Police Speed Traps

A CB radio can literally save your life!

Picture this: You’re driving at 60 mph on the highway. There’s been a major accident ahead,  but you don’t know about it yet.

By the time you realize what’s going on, it could be too late.

Do you know how hard it can be to suddenly stop an 18 wheeler? Especially when driving at high speed and hauling a heavy load?

CB radio can save you all that trouble.

A truck CB radio is used to find out about nearby accidents, roadblocks, weigh stations, speed traps, and traffic.

Just ask any experienced truck driver who’s been on the road long enough. They’ll have a story about how that one time a CB radio saved their life.

Drivers who don’t turn on their CB during bad weather could miss out on important messages which could save their life and/or the lives of others on the road.

Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t get a warning about an accident or a bear trap (police speed trap) on those fancy apps on your smartphone as quickly as you would on a CB radio.

2. For Places Without Cell Phone Reception

If you ever watched ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Roads’, most of the drivers bring a CB radio for the ride.

This is because they usually drive through remote locations with little to no cellphone reception. During these times, a CB radio is the only way to communicate.

Well, it doesn’t even have to be a dangerous road.  There’s still a lot of remote places in the USA with no cellphone service.

It’s at these times when having a CB radio comes in handy.

3. CB Radios are Cheap

Most CB radios on the market are sold for less than a hundred dollars. That’s pretty cheap for such a valuable piece of equipment.

The best part is, they’re free to use and you don’t need to buy airtime minutes.

The best CB radios can be utilized for many years with little or no maintenance.

Plus, they’re easy to hook up. You can do it yourself – no need to worry about installation fees. 

4. A Community of Truckers

Back in the old days, drivers used to collaborate via the trucker CB radio channel when approaching a speed trap. They would avoid getting a ticket by driving side-by-side at the same speed.

Well, it would be difficult for traffic police to ticket two big rigs at the same time!

Of course, times have changed and we’re not living in the CB crazed glory days of trucking anymore.

But there is still a large community of truckers on the CB radio out there.

Sometimes, listening to the CB radio on the road can be entertaining, if you get on a good channel.

There are truckers telling stories, cracking jokes, and just shooting the breeze – in their unique trucker CB lingo!

However, watch out for trash talk on some of the channels, especially when you’re around big cities.

5. Communicate with Shippers and Receivers

In some places, when you’re about to load or unload, you’re required to switch to a specific channel on the CB radio. This is how you receive instructions on how to proceed.

Some trucking companies use a specific channel for their truckers to communicate with each other, especially in large yards or drop yards.

This is key to ensuring operations work out smoothly.

A photo of an llder Model Peterbilt Custom Large Sleeper Berth truck.

Types of CB Radios

Mobile CB Radio

Mobile CB radios are the most popular type of CB radio used by truck drivers.

They’re usually designed as a small rectangular box with control knobs and a wired microphone at the front. The features depend on the brand and model.

Most trucks are pre-wired with adequate space on the dash and overboard to hook up a mobile CB radio. They use a mounting bracket to keep it secure. 

Handheld CB Radio

A handheld CB radio looks like a walkie talkie, and is small enough to carry around on foot.

Most handheld CB radios run on batteries. You can also connect them to the 12V cigarette plug on your vehicle for power. 

Even though they’re smaller than a typical CB radio, you can use an exterior antenna cable for a longer mile range.

All in One Handset CB Radio

This type of CB radio resembles a handset, albeit it’s smaller and you can operate it using one hand.

Usually, all the controls are fixed on the handset. To use it, you need to connect it to a signal receiver with an antenna.

Nowadays, we even have all in one handset CB radios that can be connected to your smartphone.

However, these types of radios are not ideal for trucks. They’re better suited for smaller cars.

A photo of a CB radio for truckers.

Base Station CB Radio 

If you’ve ever been on the road and communicated with folks sitting at home, they’re probably using this type of CB radio. They’re intended to stay at people’s homes. 

A base station CB radio is designed with a built-in power cord for plugging into a wall socket – usually a 110V outlet.

They’re also used by warehouses and receivers to coordinate with nearby truck drivers.

So Which is the Best CB radio Type?

In essence, a mobile CB radio is the main option for truckers. Most trucks have a special CB Radio installation space just for these types of radio.

You see that overboard above your windshield’s visor?

Top CB Radio Brands for Truckers

TOP CB RADIOS FOR TRUCKERS

Galaxy

If you’re looking for a premium product, go for Galaxy CB radios.

They’re made by an American company, Galaxy Audio, which was founded in 1977 during the CB craze era.

Besides manufacturing CB radios, the company also makes microphones, mixers, speakers, earbuds, and monitors.

In our opinion, Galaxy CB radios have the best quality on the market –  in terms of power, range, and clarity.

Truckers who take their CB seriously, often go for a Galaxy Radio.

Cobra

The company behind it, Cobra Electronics, has been innovating radio devices for more than 50 years.

Most of its products are designed for the RV, marine, and trucking communities.

If you’re looking for mid-range CB radios with great value, Cobra CB radios would be an ideal option.

Stryker

Stryker Radio is an American company that specializes in manufacturing CB radios, CB antennas, CB microphones, and replacement parts.

They can be difficult to find at most truck stops but they’re popular in Southwest U.S.A.

Uniden

Uniden CB radios are the cheapest on the market.

Of course, it has something to do with the fact that Uniden is the largest CB radio manufacturer in the market; hence, they take advantage of economies of scale.

It’s a Japanese company that has been around since the 60’s. It has subsidiary offices in Europe, U.S.A, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

A photo of an old-school Kenworth K100 Cabover Red White Truck.

How To Choose The Best CB Radio for Truckers

When it comes to choosing the best CB radio, here’s what we think you should look out for:

Channel Scan

Any good CB radio should be capable of accessing at least 40 channels – as per the FCC regulations.

Of course, if you’re a trucker, you’ll need a CB radio that can instantly switch to Channel 19 (Trucker’s channel) and Channel 9 (Emergency Channel).

Additionally, the best CB radios for truckers should pick up the NOAA weather broadcast frequency for any updates.

Note: Keep in mind that the designated highway and emergency channels depend on the country. For instance, Channel 19 is mostly used by truckers in the U.S and U.K but if you’re in another country like New Zealand, you would use Channel 11.

Sound Quality

When it comes to a CB radio, the sound quality is very important. There’s little point in having a radio that you can barely understand.

There would be little point to having a radio that you can barely hear what is going on.

On that note, if you want to choose a CB radio with the best sound quality, you ought to consider the following features:

  • Automatic Noise Limiter (ANL): The purpose of an automatic noise limiter (ANL) is to reduce impulse noise and filter background noise such as traffic and engine noise.
  • Squelch Control: Almost every CB radio sold today comes with a squelch control feature. Basically, it suppresses the static noises when you’re not receiving a transmission, so the CB radio is dead silent until there’s an incoming transmission.
  • RF Gain: This feature works almost like the squelch control by blocking background noise. Also, it filters out weak signals and improves CB radio reception when talking over a longer distance.
  • NB Noise Blanker: This feature is similar to an automatic noise limiter. It reduces impulses from the ignition system and other electronics. It also filters lightning and storm sounds. 
  • Hi-Cut Filter: Sometimes high frequencies can disrupt audio quality. A Hi-Cut filter makes sure that doesn’t happen.

Transmission Enhancers

Sure, the signal strength you receive on the CB radio depends on the antenna, but there are some certain features on a CB radio that could improve the transmission significantly.

Let’s have a look:

  • Single Side Band (SSB): A typical CB radio is limited to just 4 watts, but a CB radio equipped with a single side band can transmit up to 12 watts. In other words, it triples your transmission range. However, anyone you communicate with needs to also have an SSB equipped radio. You can switch back to standard 40 channels at 4 watts if needed. 
  • Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) Meter: This tells you if the antenna is properly tuned. It also helps you to avoid radio damage – the SWR reading shouldn’t be too high. Radios without the SWR calibration knob are designed to automatically calibrate this meter.
  • Clarifier: Some CB radios are fitted with a clarifier to adjust the frequency up or down.
  • Delta Tune: Most CB radios in the old days used to have a delta tune to fine-tune the frequency. Most modern CB radios don’t really need this feature nowadays. 
  • Dynamic/Mic Gain: If you’re the type to talk too soft or loud, you can use the dynamic/mic gain to adjust your voice on the output transmission and make it easier for other people to hear you.
  • Talkback: When you’re not sure how you sound, you can use the talkback feature to hear your broadcast transmission on the speakers. This is helpful when you’re adjusting your microphone volume.
A photo of a 'big' CB radio.

CB Radio Extra Features

There are still some small but important features that you should consider before choosing the best CB radio:

  • Bluetooth: Some premium mobile CB radios can be connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth. This lets you make calls or display information via the radio.
  • Backlit Display: Make it easier to see the display when it’s dark. Additionally, some radios can be dimmed if the lights are too much.
  • Digital Selective Calling (DSC): In case you’re in an emergency, a DSC feature allows you to send an automated distress call.
  • External Speaker Connection: Sometimes, CB radio in-built speakers can be too low. Choose a CB radio that can be connected to external speakers.
  • Public Address Capability: Connect to a PA horn mounted outside your truck to send out a communication. Look for a PA switch on the front and an output jack at the back.
  • Roger Beep: Most high-end CB radios include a roger beep sound whenever somebody releases the microphone key during transmission. This notifies the other side that you’re done talking.
  • S/RF Meter: If you want to monitor the transmit power and signal strength, a CB radio with S/RF meter lets you do that.

How To Install a CB Radio On Your Truck

Common Q&A

Q. Do I need a license to operate a CB radio?

A. No! As long as you’re using a CB radio with 40 channels, you don’t need a license to operate it. However, it could depend on the country, but make sure to double-check your local regulations.

Q. How far will my CB radio transmit?

A. It depends on the antenna and terrain. Usually, the average transmission range of most CB radios is 4 or 5 miles, but it’s not unusual for a trucker CB radio to have a range of up to 20 miles.

Q. What is the ideal antenna for my CB radio?

A. It depends on what range you want to transmit. There are plenty of different types of antennas for trucks on the market, but it’s important that you choose the best antenna to match up with your CB radio.

Q. Is it hard to set up a CB radio?

A. Not really. If you’re experienced or you’ve read the user’s manual, you will know what to do. However, if you’re not familiar with CB radio installation, it’s better to get it done by a professional.

Our Verdict on the Best CB Radios for Truckers

In a nutshell, we think Galaxy-DX-959 SSB CB Radio is the best CB radio overall.

Why?

  • First, it is manufactured by a reputable brand.
  • Secondly, it ticks all the boxes for everything you would expect in the best CB radio unit. 

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a low budget option, the Uniden PRO510XL CB Radio would be your best bang for the buck. 

That’s a Big 10-4!

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