best cb radios for truckers

Top 7 Best CB Radios for Truckers: Reviews & Buying Guide

They might not be as popular as they once were some years back, but they are still a trucker's favorite tool. Getting information regarding traffic or weather conditions ahead of your journey because of CB radios is amazing.

Choosing one today, however, is not a walk in the park since there are many options to choose from. We thus decided to come to the rescue by picking out seven of the best CB radios for truckers. However, if you're in a hurry to buy one, it's best that you go with the Uniden Pro 520XL.

CB radios do not always have the same features. As such, you need to know which radio has the useful features you need. The trick is to find a radio that satisfies your needs first rather than one that is feature-packed. Of course, there's still no harm in picking the most feature-packed CB radio if you can afford it.

How we Reviewed These 7 Best CB Radios 75

Comparison Table

Best Overall Radio

Uniden PRO520XL

uniden pro520xl
  • Affordable
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Good for beginners
Most Feature-Packed

Galaxy-DX-959

galaxy-dx-959
  • Good reception
  • Long range
  • 5-digit frequency counter

Reviews of 7 Best CB Radios for Truck Drivers

Uniden PRO520XL

Extremely popular among many truck drivers is the Uniden PRO520XL, a marvel of a CB radio that effortlessly delivers power and gives you control. This heavy-duty radio comes with all the features that you need while on the road. 

The radio is able to deliver up to 4 watts of transmit power. This makes it powerful enough to give you decent sound quality through its Public Address (PA) function and its built-in speakers.

uniden pro520xl

Quick Summary

  • Weighs 1.63 lbs.
  • 40 channels
  • 2-year warranty
  • 4W transmit power
  • Includes mounting hardware

Why We Liked It

PA/CB Features

We already mentioned that the Uniden PRO520XL has a PA function. However, coupled with the convenient PA/CB switch, shifting between the two modes becomes seamless. This is great since it minimizes time wastage while allowing you to enjoy the benefits of both functionalities easily.

S/RF Meter

The display unit of this CB radio shows a variety of helpful information to the user. One of them is the radio frequency meter which helps you know the strength of an incoming radio frequency. Some new radios lack the S/RF meter, and that's why we were pleased that the Uniden PRO520XL didn’t leave it out.

ANL Switch

An ANL switch helps to filter out unwanted noises so that the resulting audio is clear. It will lack any noise, overtones, or distortions that may otherwise make you miss important information during a broadcast.

PROS

  • Easy to install
  • Affordable
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Lightweight
  • Great noise reduction features

CONS

  • None

Uniden BEARCAT 980

Uniden's BEARCAT 980 packs nearly the same features as the PRO520XL, but with a few interesting variations. On the outside, it does look like any other full spectrum CB radio that has helps you stay connected via the 40 channels available. 

However, this radio boasts with its large and easy to read display as well as its wireless microphone compatibility. By default, its microphones are also noise cancelling. This means that getting noise-free communication is quite possible on this radio. 

Evidently, the radio is great because its features are mostly for both your convenience and your comfort.

uniden bearcat 980

Quick Summary

  • Weighs 4 lbs.
  • Instant channel 9
  • 40 channels
  • NOAA weather channels
  • Dimensions: 3.5" (W) x 15" (L) x 8.5" (H)

Why We Liked It

MEM/SCAN

This feature allows you to scan through all the frequencies and even add a few of your favorite frequencies to its internal memory. For a truck driver, this is quite helpful since you can always locate and tune to channels you had saved earlier.

Large Display

The BEARCAT 980 has a nice LCD display that displays information such as the current channel and transmission/reception status. It also lets you change the color of the display. You can choose from up to seven colors.

BearTracker Warning System

Uniden's BearTracker warning system notifies you any time it detects public safety transmissions along the road.

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Has the option for a wireless microphone
  • Compact and easy to mount
  • Bright and large display

CONS

  • Average stock microphone

Galaxy-DX-959

The Galaxy DX-959 was built for CB radio enthusiasts that love accuracy and precision. Truck drivers are bound to enjoy the radio's five-digit frequency counter on the radio's large display. 

It equally comes with Galaxy's proprietary Galaxy Noise Filter (GNF) which further ensures that you get nothing but clean audio quality. You will like how Galaxy managed to carefully lay out the radio's functions in a driver-friendly way since some manufacturers have little regard for this.

galaxy-dx-959

Quick Summary

  • AM/SSB/PA modes
  • Weighs 4.4 lbs.
  • 60dB over S9 signal strength
  • 13.8V DC power supply
  • 40 channels

Why We Liked It

Power

On AM, the Galaxy DX-959 is capable of outputting a maximum of 4W. This is the allowable maximum as laid out by the FCC. However, the radio can pump out up to 12W on SSB.

Plenty Noise Filters

Automatic Noise Limiters (ANLs) are becoming mainstream nowadays, but that does not mean that they aren't important. The DX-959 has both the ANL and the GNF which is a slightly more advanced high frequency noise filter. Used together, you can expect the radio to pick up both strong and weak signals better than some of the other CB radios in its range.

Talkback

The DX-959 also features a talkback feature that lets you hear your voice through the radio in real time. It offers a great way of testing the radio's capabilities.

PROS

  • Long range
  • Great reception
  • Backlit display
  • Easy to use

CONS

  • A bit large

Cobra 29LX

Cobra's 29 LX is a modern CB radio that is perfectly balanced for both professionals and amateurs. It has a large 4-color LCD display that is easy to see. Using its adjustable dimmer, you can also dim the lights coming from the radio to a level you are comfortable with. 

The radio also allows you to automatically scan all available channels easily. What's more is that it even scans the channels that are store in memory.

cobra 29lx

Quick Summary

  • Weighs 5.6 lbs.
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • 4-pin microphone
  • Comes with mounting hardware
  • 4-color LCD display

Why We Liked It

Adjustable Dimmer

You can control the lights from the radio and even choose a color that you find comfortable either during the day or at night. Since you will be traveling for hours, the 29 LX's adjustable dimmer will be super handy.

Radio Check Function

The Cobra 29 LX comes with three diagnostic functions that can tell you if there's a problem with either the battery, the RF power, or the antenna tuning. This is an important feature since it will prevent you from shifting too much of your attention to the radio while you are driving.

Automatic Channel Scan

Like the radio check function, the automatic channel scan helps you stay focused by doing the hard work of scanning through all channels. You can, however, make things easier by pre-selecting your channels and saving them in the radio's internal memory.

PROS

  • Large multi-color display
  • Easy to install
  • Great transmission and reception

CONS

  • Non-backlit buttons
  • Basic microphone

Uniden BEARCAT 880

While the Uniden BEARCAT 980 succeeded the BEARCAT 880, this does not make the BEARCAT 880 less of a reliable CB radio. It is powerful and boasts a rugged design that enables it to stand out from the rest. 

It also comes with a large and easy-to-read display which has up to seven different backlight options. This feature-packed radio is ideal for anyone who would like a taste of some of the best features that a CB has to offer.

uniden bearcat 880

Quick Summary

  • Weighs 2.2 lbs.
  • Uses SO-239 UHF antenna connector
  • Instant channel 9/19
  • 6-4 PIN MIC adapter
  • 4W output power

Why We Liked It

Clear Reception

Background noises are almost minimal in this radio. This is all thanks to the blanket/noise filter which reduces background noises while you're using the radio. The noise canceling microphone equally contributes to the overall audio quality of the radio's broadcast.

Antenna Compatibility

Since the Uniden BEARCAT uses the standard CB PL-259 connection, you can technically replace the stock antenna with any other that fancies you. For a truck driver, this will give you the ability to choose antennas that are easy to install on any part of your vehicle.

7-Color Backlit Display

Uniden BEARCAT 880's easy to see backlit display shows all the necessary information such as the TR/RX indicators at a glance. Adjusting different settings on the radio thus becomes easy since you have plenty of ways to make the display more comfortable for your use.

PROS

  • Simple and compact
  • Has ANL and NB features
  • Compatible with wireless MIC

CONS

  • Screen scratches easily

Cobra Electronics 29LTDCHR

This one of a kind CB radio may appear to be all about looks, but you shouldn't let its stylish finish deceive you. The Cobra 29LTDCHR can deliver 4W of power which can give you the best range for communicating. 

It also comes with features such as the PA capability, SWR calibration, and an instant channel 9 button which all make it a great radio to own. In addition, it makes your work super easy by including an antenna warning indicator that will alert you whenever it needs recalibration.

cobra electronics 29ltdchr

Quick Summary

  • 4W power output
  • 9-foot microphone cord
  • Weighs lbs.
  • SO-239 UHF antenna connector type
  • 40 channels

Why We Liked It

Adjustable Dynamike Boost

The Cobra 29LTDCHR comes with the Adjustable Dynamike Boost which increases the radio's microphone sensitivity for even better voice clarity. This can be a useful feature when you are in a noisy environment.

Noise Blanker

If static noise has always been a problem, the noise blanker on the 29LTDCHR will help by reducing the amount of static that is usually caused by your vehicle's engine while it is in operation. This means that you can comfortably use the radio without having to look for an area without electrical interference.

RF Gain

The radio's RF gain works in a similar way that the Adjustable Dynamike Boost works since it adjusts the reception sensitivity range. You thus get clearer signals on your radio.

PROS

  • Can use wireless microphone
  • Great reception
  • Useful antenna warning light
  • Affordable
  • Good sound quality

CONS

  • Poor stock microphone

Midland 1001LWX

Midland's 1001LWX prides itself in being an affordable CB radio that still has the same features you would normally find in the more expensive models. It has an in-built weather scan and comes with an adjustable RF gain control for adjusting sensitivity range. 

Other than that, it equally has the ANL for improving signal reception. While these features may not seem far too different from those found in the other radios, they are more magnified on the 1001LWX for one main reason. The unit takes up little space, and this makes it perfect for installation in tight spaces.

midland 1001lwx 40

Quick Summary

  • 4W power output
  • 3W audio output
  • 45dB + 1000uV selectivity
  • 40 channels
  • Weighs 1.6 lbs.

Why We Liked It

Small and Compact 

The radio uses up minimal space. This means you could still fit this radio in your vehicle even if the slots available are small.

Automatic Channel Scanning

The Midland 1001LWX has an auto channel scanning feature that searches for active channels and locks into those with strong signals.

Minimalistic Design

All the necessary buttons can be found on the front panel of this CB radio. Coupled with the radio's small size, it would be ideal for any driver who prefers a simple CB design.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Compact
  • Easy to install

CONS

  • Some users may find it too basic
  • Relies on manual scanning of weather channels

Radio Attributes to Look for Before Buying

Channel Scanning

 A receiver that can scan the full band is more convenient than one that does not. It will help you stay focused on the road while driving.

Instant Emergency Channel

This refers to channel 9/19. You should ensure that your radio has either a button or a switch to instantly change to an emergency channel.

ANL

Radios with ANL offer better noise reduction and thus allow you to hear conversations or updates clearly.

NOAA Weather Alerts

CB radios with NOAA weather alerts are important since they provide real-time weather updates. They thus help by alerting you of bad weather conditions ahead of your journey.

Backlit Display

A backlit LCD display may seem insignificant during the day but becomes super useful at night.

Buying Guide: Things You Should Consider

Ideally truckers should mostly be keen on three things whenever they wish to buy a CB radio. These three things include:

  • The antenna
  • The features of the radio
  • The customer reviews

Antenna

You may have a decent CB radio, but without the right antenna to go with it, you could be easily frustrated. When looking for an antenna, you need to remember three main rules:

  • Higher is better
  • Longer is better
  • Place the coil of your antenna above the roofline

There are high chances you are not going to like the stock antenna and microphone that come free with many of the CB radios in the market today. So, you should always strive to get an antenna that is compatible with your radio and one that meets the three conditions above.

Features

It goes without saying that you need to know the features you want in a CB radio first before buying one. For truck drivers, any feature that affects range or audio clarity is crucial since you will be constantly on the go and there is no guarantee that the signal will always be good. As such, you should consider a radio with features like ANL, automatic channel scanning, and NOAA weather alerts.

Customer Reviews

While a radio can be flawless, customer reviews will provide insight on how other users like you coped with the radio. In specific, reviews from truck drivers will be more important. In addition, it is also worth mentioning that you might need to take some reviews with a grain of salt. This is because it is not always easy to tell whether the reviewer is a new or accustomed to CB radios.

Final Verdict

There really isn't a right or wrong when it comes to picking the best CB radio. This is especially true if you know the features you want in a radio. However, picking an all-rounded CB radio like the Uniden PRO520XL could also be an easier option in case you simply want a good and reliable radio.

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