Searching for a compact CB radio that will fit perfectly inside your vehicle without taking up too much space? Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place since we’ll be reviewing seven of the best compact CB radios you should consider before making a purchase. In addition, we’ll also be guiding you on how to select a great compact CB radio so that you can know what to look for in compact CB radios.
While some people usually deem smaller CB radios to be less powerful, it turns out that that is not always the case. This is because there are a good number of compact CB radios like the Uniden Pro520XL (our top pick) which are capable of delivering impressive transmission and reception in both long-range and short-range communication.
With that said, let’s first understand a few things about what compact CB radios are and how we picked the seven best compact CB radios.
What is Compact CB Radio?
Compact CB radios are far more than mere small-sized CB radio systems that save you some space in your vehicle. In reality, they are CB radios that focus on having only the basic features so that they can remain small, compact, and hassle-free.
Though compact CB radios are generally small CB radios, this does not always affect their power or capabilities. At times, even though most of the compact CB radios only have basic features, they can still rival the regular and averagely-sized CB radios
How We Picked These 7 Best Compact CB Radios
Of course, the first thing we considered had to consider was size. All these CB radios are small, and you can tuck them in some tight spots in your vehicle.
Since picking the most feature-packed CB radio would have led to a list of the most expensive CB radios, we mostly focused on radios that had useful day-to-day features and those that have good reviews for their quality and design.
Reviews of Top 7 Best Compact CB Radios
Uniden’s Pro520XL is a marvel. This CB radio packs essential features that make it ideal for a beginner but remains powerful enough for a pro user. The radio delivers 4W of power and has other impressive features such as the Public Address (PA) function. You can comfortably switch between the PA and CB system using a switch on the radio.
- ANL Switch
- S/RF Meter
- PA/CB Features
- Two-color LED Display
- RF Gain and RF Meter
The inclusion of the external speaker jack gives you the ability to hook up an external speaker and get even better audio quality from the radio. While noise is a factor that affects all CB radios due to electrical disturbances from a running engine, the Uniden Pro 520XL comes with an ANL switch which when turned on helps in reducing noise and static.
In addition, the heavy-duty radio also features a large two-color LCD display. It might seem unessential, but with the two-color display, you get to choose which of the two colors you are more comfortable with at night.
You will also love the fact that the radio comes with squelch control which lets you adjust the signal strength and sensitivity of the radio. The RF gain equally gives you the ability to get the right sensitivity whenever receiving a signal.
- Lightweight and super compact
- Easy to use and install
- Does not come with antenna
Midland Radio 75-822
One thing you are likely to adore about the Midland 75-822 is its rugged construction. While its rugged construction makes it appear durable, Midland made sure that the radio is powerful as well. Unlike other compact CB radios, the 75-822 comes with one special feature which you are likely to find in only a few radios – it is a two-in-one CB radio!
The Midland 75-822 can be converted into a super portable and lightweight device after purchasing additional accessories. However, out of the box, it still has a minimalist look and feel. It can deliver 4W of output power just like the other compact CB radios and comes with 40 channels.
- Built-in ANL
- Squelch Control
- Two-in-one / convertible
- 10 NOAA Channels
- Large multi-function backlit LCD display
Its large backlit LCD panel makes it stand out since it is fairly easy to read things on the display whether during the day or at night. It might not be the largest LCD panel we’ve seen on a compact radio, but considering that it is a two-in-one device, it is a marvel how Midland managed to squeeze in the LCD display.
You also do get an external jack for your headphones in case you are in a noisy environment. The radio also has the ANL and squelch control features which can be used to improve reception and overall quality of communication.
- Good reception for a compact radio
- Decent sound quality
- Two-in-one (when purchased with the correct accessories)
- Needs a good external antenna
If you love the remote mount design, then you are bound to like the Cobra 75WXST. It is a super compact CB radio that is sadly overshadowed by the better selling compact CB radios. However, it has all the features that anyone would want in a CB radio.
It has an illuminated LCD display panel that is bright and clear enough for anyone to use. In addition, the radio also uses a sound tracker system which we found neat. It can cut noise up to 90%, and this means that you will get good audio quality from the radio.
- Sound Tracker System (eliminates static)
- Illuminated LCD
- Channel scan
- 10 NOAA Weather channels with Instant Channel 9/19
- 4 memory locations
Like other CB radios, the Cobra 75WXST also has a maximum power output of 4W. It does have a neat little feature called the dual scan which lets you scan two channels at the same time.
- Easy to install and remove
- Great for CB radio newbies
- Great for 4 by 4 vehicle owners
- Internal speaker is not powerful
Cobra’s 19DXIV is also another underrated CB radio that is compact, professional, and just about ideal for anyone. It offers you the best communication range it can within the 4W maximum power output limit and comes with RF gain controls that help the radio to pick up signals.
- RF gain controls
- Backlit LCD Display
- Squelch Control
- PA System
- Channel 9/19 buttons
Its stylish design will be the first thing that draws you to it. With its modern design, it could easily pass off as a sophisticated radio, but it is ideally a CB radio that lets you communicate easily and efficiently with other drivers on the road.
It has an LCD display that is backlit, and this makes it great for using at night when there is minimal light. Additionally, you can use its RF gain to adjust the sensitivity of the receiver so that you get good audio quality. This is not the only feature that improves audio quality though.
The microphone of the Cobra 19DXIV comes with a 9-foot coil cord which is long and convenient. In addition, it is also made of heavy-duty material which gives the radio an overall premium look and feel.
- Easy to use and to mount
- Versatile with PA and CB system
- It may be too basic for some users
Uniden Pro 505XL
It is a highly reviewed compact CB radio that has all the features that you would normally get in a full-sized CB radio. This little gadget comes with a large backlit LCD display, a built-in external speaker jack, and mounting hardware which makes it easy to install.
- Built-in Signal/RF power indicator
- PA/CB system
- Built-in external speaker
- PL-259 antenna compatibility
- Instant channel 9/19
By now, you know the importance of having both PA and CB functionality on a compact CB radio. Uniden’s Pro505XL makes sure you get the benefits of both worlds, but with some attractive advantages.
This CB radio’s signal indicator shows you how strong the signal currently is so that you can make necessary adjustments to improve the overall audio and signal quality. In addition, changing from the CB to the PA mode is quite simple. Simply toggle the little switch on the front faceplate of the radio.
The backlit digital display is also a great addition to the 505XL as it was not present in earlier models. The Uniden Pro505XL’s display can show you your current channel and the signal strength while transmitting or receiving.
It has an instant channel 9/19 button, but what is even greater is the fact that you can hook up this radio with a third-party antenna. This is all thanks to the CB using the PL-259 cable connection.
- Super compact and lightweight
- Includes external speaker jack
- Comes with backlit digital display
- Lacks ANL switch
- Not the best microphone
It may be yet another compact CB radio from Midland, but the Midland 1001LWX is different from the earlier Midland 75-822. You should grab this radio if you are looking for something affordable and one that has easily configurable features.
- Adjustable RF gain control
- Built-in Weather Scanning
- RF Gain
The radio has an in-built weather scan system which lets you get updates from any of the 10 NOAA weather channels. In addition, it comes with an adjustable RF gain control like the Midland 75-822.
Coupled with the RF gain control, the ANL feature on the radio further ensures that there is no noise during transmission or when you’re receiving a signal. Being a super compact CB radio, it is amazing that the unit is also capable of delivering up to 3W of audio output power. Like the other CB radios though, it can still max out at 4W output power.
- Easy to install
- Has a compact and rugged design
- May be too basic for some users
- Does not have advanced features that other compact CB radios have
Uniden BEARCAT 980SSB
The Uniden Bearcat 980SSB and the Uniden Pro 520XL seem to be sailing in the same boat when it comes to looks and features. The Uniden Bearcat 980SSB is a full spectrum CB radio that packs features such as noise cancelling and ANL.
- 10 NOAA Weather Channels
- MEM/SCAN Feature
- Large multi-color display
- BearTracker warning system
- Instant channel 9/19
The Bearcat 980SSB comes with a large and easy to read display which is quite useful considering that the radio is small. We also really liked how innovative the radio is. Whereas other brands still have corded microphones, this radio has wireless microphone compatibility.
The radio equally lets you save your favorite frequencies in its internal memory via the MEM/Scan feature. We found this particularly useful for bikers and truck drivers who do not always have the luxury of choosing different channels while driving.
Other than that, the Uniden Bearcat 980SSB’s BearTracker warning system is also quite handy and can help you stay out of trouble while on the road. The system can detect and let you know of any nearby public safety transmissions.
- Fairly easy to use
- The display is large, bright, and allows up to 7 colors
- It is easy to mount
- You can use a wireless microphone with the radio
- Basic microphone
What to Consider Before Buying Compact CB Radios
Buying regular CB radios isn’t always the same as buying a compact CB radio. In theory, you are to assess the same features that you would normally consider when selecting a regular CB radio.
However, since compact CB radios are tiny, they cannot have all the features that you might find in regular-sized CB radios. Luckily, since we have an idea of why you’re looking for a compact CB radio, we’ve outlined a few things you should consider.
It is ironic that you should consider size even though we are talking about compact CB radios. As we saw earlier, there are compact CB radios that are far smaller than others. The Midland 75-822 is a good example since it is noticeably smaller and more compact than other radios we reviewed. It is also a two-in-one meaning that you can buy extra accessories to make it suitable for your needs.
Compact CB radios may be small, but not all have rugged designs that can withstand anything you throw at them. You will obviously be looking to install the CB radio in a tight location in your vehicle. Choosing a compact CB radio with a rugged and durable design will ensure it does not give in due to poor air circulation which can cause overheating.
Design and quality tend to go hand in hand in most cases, but in this case, the brand of the radio matters as well. It is always best to go for compact CB radios from trusted brands like the ones we have reviewed. However, if you do decide to go with an unknown brand, ensure that the quality of the compact CB radio is good by reading its reviews to get a feel of what you can expect from the radio.
This may be the most challenging part of buying a compact CB radio. Since they are small, it is almost impossible to pack in all the features that users may want in a regular-sized CB radio. As such, it would be up to you to find the perfect balance by going for CB radios with the set of features that you need.
Here are a few of the features you should look out for when selecting a compact CB radio:
Backlit Display – If you intend to use the CB radio at night, it is best to grab a radio with a backlit display. It will enable you to easily use the radio even in low light conditions.
Chanel Scanning – Bikers who are limited by space and need to change the channel will find great advantages in a CB radio with channel scanning.
Weather Channels – If you don’t mind getting local weather updates, then you should get a CB radio with access to the local NOAA radio stations.
All in all, the best compact CB radio is more of a matter of personal taste. You should strive to pick a radio that has all the features you need first before considering other features. This is because many of the compact CB radios will be similar in many respects. However, if you were after something decent, professional, and compact, then the Uniden Pro520XL will serve you well.