CB Radios For Truckers – A Review Guide + Top Picks

CDL Truck Driver on CB Radio

During the CB craze era, the CB radio was like the internet for truckers.

Every truck driver had one.

Everything went down on the CB radio and if you didn’t have a radio in your truck, you were better off living under a rock.

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 nowadays and it’s different.

The CB radio is not as popular as it used to be back in the days.

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

How you would 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. Remember not all places in the country have cellphone reception.

To keep up with one of the most important tools of the trade for the professional truck driver, we’ve decided to review the best CB radios for truckers.

Let’s dive in.

CB Radios For Truckers – Our Pick of the Best Overall CB Radio

Galaxy-DX-959 SSB CB Radio

CB Radio For the Semi Truck Driver
  • It can transmit up to 12 watts 
  • It reduces noise using a noise filter 
  • It features easy to read meter 
  • Thanks to the SWR on the meter, you can avoid radio damage
  • It comes with roger beep and dimmer control 
  • Digital channel display makes it easy to read 

Best Bang For The Buck – Trucker CB

Uniden PRO510XL CB Radio

Trucker's CB Radio
  • It’s very cheap 
  • It can be plugged to an external speaker 
  • It uses automatic noise limiter and squelch control to block background noise 
  • 2 year warranty deal 
  • The box is packed with microphone, CB radio, mounting bracket, mounting hardware and user’s manual 
  • It’s fitted with S/RF meter to monitor activity 

Honorable Mention – CB Radio For Truckers

Cobra 29Lx Professional CB Radio

Top Trucker CB Radio
  • It includes NOAA Weather Channels 
  • It comes with a clock and alarm 
  • It’s a mid-range budget CB radio 
  • It can automatically run diagnostics 
  • The microphone is very durable 
  • Easy to read display 
PS

5 Benefits of a CB Radio For the Truck Driver

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 and there is a major accident ahead but you don’t know about it.

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

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

However, a CB radio can save you all that trouble.

Truckers who use a CB radio, use it to find out about nearby accidents, roadblocks, weigh stations, speed traps and traffic.

Ask any experienced truck driver who has been on the road long enough, and they will probably have a story about 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 usually bring a CB radio for the ride.

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

Well, it doesn’t have to be a dangerous road, but there is a high chance you will find sometime find yourself in remote places with no cellphone service.

Think of how handy it would be to have a CB radio to get updates on the road or weather.

3. It’s Cheap

Talk about cheap.

Most CB radios on the market are sold for less than a hundred dollars. That’s pretty cheap!

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

As long as you buy the best CB radio, you can utilize it for a couple of years with little or no maintenance before you need a replacement unit.

Did I mention, they’re easy to hook up?

4. A Community of Truckers

Back in the old days, truckers used to collaborate via the CB radio when approaching a speed trap and avoid getting a ticket by driving 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, like during the 1970’s.

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 people talking 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 so that you will 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 could be very useful to keep tabs and ensure operations work out smoothly.

Older Model Peterbilt Custom Large Sleeper Berth

Types of CB Radios

Mobile CB Radio

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

It’s usually designed as a small rectangular box with control knobs and a wired microphone at the front.

Needless to say, the features on the control section 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, although, you have to attach it to a mounting bracket to hold it tightly.

Handheld CB Radio

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

Most handheld CB radios run on batteries or you can connect them via the 12V cigarette plug on your vehicle.

Even though they’re smaller than a typical CB radio, you can connect it to 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 but 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, all in one handset CB radios are not ideal for trucks. They’re better suited for smaller cars.

CB Radios For Truckers

Base Station CB Radio 

If you’ve ever been on the road and you communicated with folks sitting at home, they’re probably using this type of CB radio.

A base station CB radio is designed with a built-in power cord that is plugged into a wall socket; usually a 110V outlet.

For that reason, a base station CB radio is not ideal for truck drivers, but it’s intended for residential homes.

Be that as it may, it can also be used on warehouses by receivers to coordinate with nearby truck drivers.

So Which is the Best CB radio Type?

In essence, the mobile CB radio is the option for truckers because of the designated installation space.

You see that overboard above your windshield’s visor?

In most trucks, it looks like it was built specifically to fit a mobile CB radio.

Top CB Radio Brands

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.

On the flipside, 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 and it has subsidiary offices in Europe, U.S.A, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Old School Old School Kenworth K100 Cabover Red White Truck K100 Cabover Red White Truck

How To Choose The Best CB Radio

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 want to choose a CB radio that can instantly switch to Channel 19 (Trucker’ss channel) and Channel 9 (Emergency Channel).

Additionally, some of the best CB radios for truckers should be able to pick up 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 for trucking.

Sound Quality

When it comes to a CB radio, the sound quality is very important.

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. Hence, the CB radio is usually silent and the speakers activate only when there is an incoming transmission.
  • RF Gain: This feature works almost like the squelch control by blocking background noise. Also, it can filter out weak signals and improve the CB radio reception when talking over a longer distance.
  • NB Noise Blanker: This feature is similar to an automatic noise limiter. If you have it on your radio, it will reduce impulse type noises from the automotive ignition system, lightning, and storm sound.
  • 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 4 watts, but if you choose a CB radio equipped with a single side band, it can transmit up to 12 watts. In other words, it can triple your transmission range. However, if you triple the transmission range, you won’t be able to communicate with other folks unless they also have an SSB equipped radio. Then again, you can still switch to the standard 40 channels at 4 watts if you can’t find other truck drivers with SSB.
  • Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) Meter: The SWR meter is important because it tells you if the antenna is properly tuned. Besides that, it can help you to avoid radio damage; the SWR reading shouldn’t be too high. Although, you would need to check your SWR reading using a CAL knob. Otherwise, some CB radios that don’t have the SWR calibration knob are designed to automatically calibrate the meter.
  • Clarifier: Some CB radios are fitted with a clarifier to adjust the frequency up or down. However, this feature is not all units.
  • Delta Tune: Most CB radios in the old days used to have a delta tune to fine-tune the frequency. The technology has changed nowadays and most modern CB radios don’t really need a delta tune to stabilize the frequency.
  • 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 would be helpful when you’re adjusting the microphone volume or dynamic.
Big CB Radio

Extra Features on the CB

We’re not done yet!

There are still some small but important features that you should consider before choosing the best CB radio. What are we talking about?

  • Bluetooth: Some premium mobile CB radios can be connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth. That means you can make calls or display information via the radio.
  • Backlit Display: Most CB radios come with a backlit display to make it easier to see the control, especially when it’s dark. Additionally, some radios can be dimmed if the lights are too much.
  • Digital Selective Calling (DSC): In case you’re of an emergency, a DSC feature allows you to send an automated distress call.
  • External Speaker Connection: Sometimes, the volume on the speakers in-built to your CB radio is too low. The best solution would be to choose a CB radio that you can connect to external speakers.
  • Public Address Capability: It’s possible to connect a CB radio to the PA horn mounted outside your truck to send out a communication. Just 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 is a helpful feature to notify the other side that you’re done sending the message.
  • S/RF Meter: If you want to monitor the transmit power and signal strength, a CB radio with S/RF meter will enable you to do that.
1979 Kenworth Cabover

Galaxy-DX-959 SSB CB Radio

  • Type: Mobile CB radio
  • SSB: Yes
  • Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Dimension: 9.25 x 7.9 x 2.35 inches 

CB Radio For the Semi Truck DriverGalaxy DX959

What We Like

  • It features Single Side Band
  • It includes S/RF meter
  • Roger beep alert
  • Noise filter
  • Backlit LED display with dimmer control
  • Automatic SWR circuit
  • It comes with mounting bracket
  • It can be connected to an external speaker and public address system

What We Don’t Like

  • No Bluetooth connectivity

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. (Sometimes known to old school truckers as Big CB Radios)

More succinctly, it can triple 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.

Hence, if your antenna is not properly tuned, it would be easier to find out and avoid damage to 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 that doesn’t make it any less effective.

Most truckers don’t need Bluetooth on a CB radio anyway.

Uniden PRO510XL CB Radio

  • Type: Mobile CB radio
  • SSB: No
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Dimension: 12 x 5.8 x 3 inches  
Trucker's CB Radio

What We Like

  • Low budget
  • S/RF meter with backlit display
  • Very good sound quality
  • It can be connected to an external speaker
  • Two-year warranty
  • Precise frequency control
  • Includes mounting hardware and brackets

What We Don’t Like

  • No Single Side Band (SSB)

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

Don’t underestimate it though. It’s designed with an automatic noise limiter (ANL) and squelch control to eliminate background noise whenever you’re talking.

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

Thanks to its superheterodyne circuit, it delivers precise frequency control.

As for the warranty, you will be covered for 2 years in case of any repair problems.

Unfortunately, this Uniden PRO510XL CB Radio 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
  • Dimension: 7.25 x 9.25 x 2.25 inches
Top Trucker CB Radio

What We Like

  • LCD display
  • Clock and alarm setting
  • NOAA weather channels
  • Radio check and frequency display
  • Improve 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 to help you schedule time.

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 you won’t have a problem if you 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. Similarly, it can automatically reduce the static thanks to the noise blanker.

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
  • Dimension: 3.5 x 15 x 8.5 inches 
CB For Truckers

What We Like

  • 7 color digital display
  • It 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
  • Dimension: 2.25 x 6.25 x 9 inches 

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
  • It improves voice clarity

What We Don’t Like

  • No Bluetooth

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 foot long so you wouldn’t sweat when communicating with your buddies. 

It’s even more attractive when you think about the RF gain to adjust the transmission.

Also, you can improve voice clarity using the dynamic boost and reduce static by activating the switchable noise blanker. If the internal speaker is too low, you can just switch to the external speaker.

The thing about this product is that it was 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
  • Dimension: 9.4 x 2.6 x 6.7 inches  
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 just in case you’re looking for something portable 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, remember the antenna you’ve installed is what gives you a good range and not the CB radio.

Despite its small size, it comes with everything you would find in bigger units; from the automatic noise limiter, squelch control to a backlit display that is easy to read at night.

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

We’ve noticed the price is a little bit high for a handheld CB radio.

C’mon, some mobile CB radios are cheaper than that.

Then again, it’s worth it considering if you pair it with a headset, you will be less distracted.

Midland 1001LWX CB Radio

  • Type: Mobile CB radio
  • SSB: No
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Dimension: 9.8 x 9.2 x 2.5 inches 
Midland CB Radio For Truckers

What We Like

  • It’s 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
  • Dimension: 9 x 7.25 x 2.5 inches 
Galaxy DX939F Best CB Radios for Truckers

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 will alert you if the antenna is not properly tuned to prevent damage to the radio.

However, what’s really impressive is that you can read the incoming signal strength on the decibel scale.

In essence, it would be easier for you to know weak and strong transmission with a quick glimpse at the meter.

Other than that, you can use the talkback feature to hear yourself talk on the speakers so you could adjust the volume and audio clarity.

It turns out, it’s more expensive than most CB radios.

On the other hand, we could argue that it’s one of the few CB radios that give you a precise reading of everything that affects its performance; from the transmit power, signal strength to the standing wave ratio.

How To Install a CB Radio On Your Truck

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXNPTPySi94

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

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, Uniden PRO510XL CB Radio would be your best bang for the buck. 

That’s a Big 10-4!

Truck Driver Standing Beside Blue Peterbilt

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