realistic cb radios reviews

Top 5 Realistic CB Radios: Reviews & Buying Guide

If you are new to the CB radio world, you might be wondering what kinds of realistic CB radios exist in the market. However, chances are you may be laughing a few moments later after realizing that Realistic is a popular CB radio manufacturer that produces amazing CB radios.

So, what is the best Realistic CB radio you can buy today? Well, if we had to point one out, we would go with the Realistic TRC-247 which also doubles as our top pick. However, since we found other great Realistic CB radios, we found thought we could include them here as well. 

We also included a buying guide that can help you pick out other great CB radios in case you couldn't find a Realistic CB radio of choice.

Great question. First off, getting a CB radio from Realistic means that it is coming from Radioshack. It is a popular chain of stores that is known for its distinct and quality electronic equipment. You can thus expect to get a quality CB radio that will give you great performance.

​Have a look at Our Best CB Radios Comparison Table

Best Compact Realistic CB Radio

Realistic TRC-521

trc 521
  • 40-channel operation
  • Dual watch functionality
  • Squelch control
  • RF gain control
Most Feature-packed Realistic CB Radio

Realistic TRC-480

TRC-480
  • PA functionality
  • Squelch control
  • RF gain control
  • Instant channel 9

Reviews of Top 5 Best Realistic CB Radios

Realistic TRC-521

In as far as looks go, the Realistic TRC-521 is perhaps the most compact and modern-looking CB radio. It has four control knobs on its front faceplate which incorporates a small LED display that indicates the current channel.

trc 521

Quick Summary

  • 40-channel operation
  • Dual watch functionality
  • NOAA Weather Channels
  • RF gain control
  • Squelch Control

Best Features

Dual Watch Functionality

This radio lets you monitor two different frequencies at the same time, and it has a convenient little button next to the channel knob that lets you activate it. As such, you can monitor one of the 10 available weather channels while listening to a channel of your choice.

Squelch and RF Gain

Other than the volume and channel knobs, the TRC-521 comes with both RF gain and squelch control. This means you can adjust the radio's sensitivity and instruct it to only pick up strong signals around you.

NOAA Weather Channels

You can also get weather updates on the radio since it comes with 10 available NOAA weather channels. These can be helpful whenever you wish to receive either traffic updates or weather updates about your local area.

PROS

  • Comes in a simple and compact design
  • Easily adjustable squelch and RF gain
  • Has a backlit LED display that shows current channel

CONS

  • Does not have ANL or NB hence might struggle with noise

Navaho TRC-492

The Navaho TRC-492 is physically larger than the TRC-521 and for good reason too. It features plenty of controls that would have otherwise been impossible to fit on the TRC-521's face plate. In addition, it has a larger display panel which means it can show more diagnostic information about the radio.

trc 492

Quick Summary

  • Instant channel 9/19
  • NB/ANL functionality
  • Multicolor backlit LED display
  • PA functionality
  • RF gain control

Best Features

Squelch Control

The TRC-492 features a squelch control knob that determines the kinds of signals that the radio can receive. Turning it far right will allow the radio to pick up even faint signals while turning it to the far left means that it will only pick up the strongest signals.

RF Gain Control

This control adjusts the TRC-492's sensitivity. Turning it far right will increase your receive distance so you should probably leave it on to get the best range possible.

Multicolor Backlit LED Display

The control knobs on the unit are not backlit, but the LED display is. As such, you can easily tell the current channel even in low light conditions. In addition, it also has LED indicators, but sadly you cannot change their colors as you would with the LED display for the channel.

PROS

  • NB and ANL help in noise reduction which result to clear audio
  • Backlit LED display useful in dark lighting conditions
  • Decent internal speakers
  • Instant channel 9 and channel 19 buttons available
  • Features a headphone jack

CONS

  • It is slightly bulky compared to a few of the other Realistic CB radios on the list

Navaho TRC-458

Though larger than the TRC-492, you'll be surprised to know that both the TRC-458 and the TRC-492 have nearly the same control knobs. However, since the TRC-458 is an SSB radio it comes with a few different buttons for the modes as well as an S/RF meter scale.

TRC-458

Quick Summary

  • AM, LSB, USB modes
  • PA functionality
  • 22W SSB, 15W AM
  • RF gain control
  • NB and ANL

Best Features

SSB Radio

You'll get more power from the TRC-458 primarily because it is an SSB radio. It comes with three different modes (LSB/AM/USB) and has a power output of 22W on SSB while the AM mode has a 15W power output.

Squelch Control

The TRC-458 could not lack squelch control. It allows you to partly control the quality of radio signals that the TRC-458 can pick up.

PA Functionality

You can use the radio's PA functionality in case you wish to broadcast a message. However, you may need to purchase a CB external speaker for this purpose.

PROS

  • It comes with the benefits of SSB such as extra power
  • Simple to use radio with easily adjustable knobs
  • Durable body construction (uses Uniden 858's chassis)
  • Has an easy to read backlit meter on its front facing plate

CONS

  • The radio is bulky
  • Uses components from Uniden hence its performance

Realistic TRC-480

Compared to the Navaho TRC-458, the TRC-480 is a smaller and more compact radio even though it cannot match up to the TRC-521. It has plenty of buttons on its front faceplate, but we really didn't mind them because they were neatly arranged.

TRC-480

Quick Summary

  • PA functionality
  • Squelch control
  • RF gain control
  • NB/ANL functionality
  • Instant channel 9

Best Features

Adjustable Dimmer

While the radio features a small LED display that only shows the current channel, you can control the brightness of the display by adjusting the dimmer appropriately.

SSB Radio and Modes

The TRC-480 may not necessarily offer the best performance, but you can expect a little more from the radio since it has a power output of 12W to 15W on SSB. It also comes with three different modes – AM/LSB/USB.

Clarifier Control

The radio features a clarifier which is a small control that allows you to compensate for variations in frequency. As such, you can receive SSB signals on the radio exactly the same way it was in the original audio.

PROS

  • Easily accessible control knobs
  • Has a backlit LED display for showing the current channel
  • It can fit in some small and tight spaces
  • Comes with the perks of SSB functionality
  • Requires little to no "warm up time" when turned on

CONS

  • Some people may find it a little outdated

Realistic TRC-459

Its design may be unfamiliar to most people who are used to compact CB radios that can easily fit inside a vehicle. The TRC-459 is a large CB radio with plenty of control knobs and sliders for adjusting different features of the radio.

TRC-459

Quick Summary

  • Memory scan
  • Variable squelch control
  • PA functionality
  • SSB transceiver
  • Multi-step dimmer

Best Features

NB/ANL

While you can never get rid of noise completely, the NB and ANL features of this radio will help reduce it. You only need to press the NB/ANL button to cut out those annoying hash type noises so that you can enjoy clear audio quality.

Clarifier

Fine tuning is easy on the TRC-459 thanks to its clarifier control. It lets you tune the radio to the same frequency as any other station that you may want to communicate with.

LED Indicators

The radio has plenty of indicators that give you a clue about what is going on. The PA and CB indicators, for example will show whether the features have been activated. On the other hand, it comes with indicators for SWR, transmission, reception, and all the three modes it can support.

Variety of Controls

The TRC-459 almost has ever control you can imagine. Instead of knobs, the radio has sliders that let you control the volume, squelch, and RF gain conveniently.

PROS

  • Features a useful digital clock
  • Has a wide display panel that has lots of helpful LED indicators
  • Offers a wide variety of controls compared to what the other radios offer
  • Comes with a convenient microphone jack
  • Has automatic channel scan feature

CONS

  • It is an old model CB radio and may thus appear outdated to some people
  • It is bulky

What to Consider Before Buying a Realistic CB Radio

Though it might not seem like it, there are a few things you should consider even when selecting a CB radio from a single brand like Realistic. While many of the considerations equally apply to selecting other brands of CB radios, you will find these ones super ideal when in search of a great Realistic CB radio.

Frequency Range

The difference in frequency range in CB radios means that some are capable of transmitting signals for longer distances compared to others. Of course, these may be costlier, but if you are in dire need of longer transmit distances, then it would be wise to pick a Realistic CB radio with a larger frequency range.

Design, Weight, and Size

CB radios come in different shapes, sizes, and designs. As such, you can get the perfect radio for your vehicle. If you have space limitations, you can choose the smaller and more compact CB radios. However, if you need advanced CB radio features, you are more likely to get them with the bigger CB radios.

Multichannel Communication

You get up to 40 channels with typical CB radios, but you can have more if you get a radio with programmable channels. The benefit of having such a radio is that you get to communicate without having to worry about interference from other users. In addition, you get some little privacy since the extra channels are less crowded than the regular 40 channels.

PA Functionality

It isn't a must-have, but you should definitely consider getting a CB radio with a Public Address (PA) when you want to amplify your voice. This can come in handy in rescue situations where you need to talk to a crowd or when you are calling out for help.

Keep in mind that you will be needing a PA horn to make use of your radio's PA feature. Nevertheless, it is still comforting to have a radio with PA capability that you do not use rather than a radio without PA functionality in the first place.

Conclusion

Selecting the best Stryker CB radio is not easy because all of the Stryker radios we reviewed are great in their own way. However, things can get a little easier if you focus more on the features that matter to you. In addition to the features, it is also important to consider size and design especially if you intend to stick to one particular CB radio brand like Stryker.

Leave a Comment: