Most Powerful CB Radios
CB radios facilitate short range communication on a two-way public channel.
They are, in most basic terms, a box with a mic, dials, and antennae. They operate on SSB and, or AM frequencies. These frequencies can be accessed by anyone in possession of a CB radio.
They are most commonly used nowadays by truck drivers and CB enthusiasts. They are sometimes monitored by and responded to by the emergency services, mainly the police force. This is because there is a dedicated channel for emergencies on the road.
While the technology has given way to more modern advances, such as mobile phones and hands-free communication, the world of CB still exists and thrives. There are thousands of CB radio models in circulation.
It can be tiring to trawl through and figure out which CB radio will give you the most value for your hard earned cash. So, that’s where we come in.
This is a helpful, informative, researched guide. It’s going to cover the ten most powerful CB radios currently available. It will also take a look at what’s important when considering a CB purchase.
The CB Radios
With no further delay, here is our list of the ten most powerful CB radios. They are all strong contenders for best in show.
- This radio gives access to all 40 CB channels. It works on SSB and AM and is also PA capable.
- Channel 9 is pre-programmed for emergencies, and channel 19 is set aside for truck drivers to communicate through.
- It has an integrated SWR meter, so you can monitor antennae function with ease.
BEARCAT 980 is a small sized radio that can be mounted and placed easily. It doesn’t take up a lot of room. But, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in features and function.
It measures 3.5 × 15 × 8.5 inches. You can store it easily and mount it easily too.
Please don’t let the size put you off! The display on this model is undefeated. It is clear, bright, and bold. You can adjust the brightness settings to maintain optimum visibility regardless of weather or time of day.
You can even pick from seven color options for the display screen. So you get that personal touch.
- Clear Display: The display on this CB radio is one of the most accessible around. It features big and bright numbers. It is also completely adjustable in terms of hue, brightness, and even color.
- Noise Cancelling Mic: The noise cancelling mic works with the ANL filter to provide an even clearer sound. It also means background noise will be all but eliminated. The less interference, the better the incoming and outgoing sound quality.
- Small for some: Some people may be put off by the small size of this radio. Especially if you happen to drive big trucks for a living, a small radio might not be an attractive option.
One of the best things about the Galaxy DX 959B is its five digit digital display. The numbers are very clear and easy to see at a glance.
The dials are clearly labeled and easy to access and use as well. There are more dials on this CB than other models, as it boasts more features than what is typical.
Four Scale Meter
Which brings us to the four scale meter.
- Sound meter: This keeps your eardrums protected. It ensures that you never peak above the recommended sound levels for your ears.
- Wattage: The rules for AM radio state it shouldn’t exceed 4 watts. SSB is more powerful than that, sometimes four times more.
It shouldn’t exceed 12 watts. Going over these figures can be illegal and dangerous. Thankfully, the in-built SSB and AM reader will help you avoid it.
- SWR: SWR meters read your antennae to assist in diagnosing signal issues.
- AM Reader: Last but not least, you can also keep track of the AM modulation percentage.
AM, SSB & PA
- You can access all 40 CB channels, with the preset emergency, weather, and truck driver channels already there.
- It functions on AM and SSB.
- It is also possible to adapt this model to PA, should you wish to.
- Galaxy Noise Filter: The Galaxy noise filter is essentially doing the job of any ANL filter.
- It also filters out background interference noise and makes sure that any noise coming in or going out is vetted for clarity and crispness.
- Safety Features: This CB radio is built for safety. It has all the tricks and tips and dials to give you a fair warning before you exceed any FC regulations regarding CB usage or cause damage to your model or yourself.
- Lack of Customization: There is one color choice on the Galaxy display. Even if you can adjust the brightness, that is what you’re limited to. Thankfully, this doesn’t affect the overall function of the CB.
McKinley provides access to the standard 40 CB channels.
You get the preset and repurposed channel 9 for emergencies and 19 for truckers. You also get handy weather channels for updates regarding road conditions, strong winds, snowfall, ice, and more.
There are seven different channels dedicated to weather updates, so you’re in the loop wherever you are.
The channels are AM, FM, USB, and LSB.
Display and Features
LCD can be altered for brightness and also color. The background color and light enabled clearer digit readings.
The LCD is complemented by the dials on the front of the CB. These include volume control, on/off push button, frequency dial, and menu button.
You also get the handy roger-beep function. This is an automated beep to signify the end of a transmission when you finish talking.
- User Friendly: This CB is really easy to use. It would be perfect if you were just starting out. Though it lacks SSB, the display and dials are very clear and obvious.
- SWR: SWR makes the whole CB experience smoother. It is essentially an in-built diagnostic tool designed to create the finest tune possible.
- Manual Squelch: Manual squelch is a noise suppressor. Lots of CB radios come with an in-built noise filter, but with the McKinley, it’s up to you to figure out.
ANL Filter is an in-built feature on this CB radio. Noise limiters filter out background noise and contribute towards a clear and focused sound receiving and transmitting.
SWR Meter which can be connected to the antenna to read incoming signal glitches and other problems you might encounter. It helps you to understand which frequencies give you a finer sound.
Roger-Beep to alert your correspondent to the end of your side of the transmission. A clear beep tone that sounds out when you finish talking, so there is no confusion on either side.
Channels and Frequencies
AM & SSB can be accessed across 40 channels. You can enjoy all the seven weather channels readily available, so you’re always up to date with any major weather alerts.
The front of the CB radio has a mix of seven small dials and push buttons, one large dial, a mod/pwr/SWR display, five switches, and a small screen that displays the channel number.
The smaller dials and push buttons control volume, mic gain, RF gain, RF power, brightness, talkback, and clarifier.
The five switches are SWR, ANL, PA, LSB, and tone.
There is a small screen with a two digit display to show the channel you’re currently tuned into.
- Good Sound Quality: The sound quality is off the charts for this powerful little CB radio. The added bonus of the Galaxy Noise Filter makes sure background interference is not a problem during your transmissions.
- Limited Design: There are definitely flashier CB radios out there. This is not one of the best looking devices. But, what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in features and capacity.
Channel Selector (without having to tune)
President has made this CB radio with preset channels. You get all the usual 40 channels, plus preset weather, emergency, and truck driver channels already tuned in. You can access them with just a push of a button, and it saves having to fight with the tuning system.
Display and Function
The Bill radio has an LCD screen. They are often clearer than other types of digital displays. You can change the color of the display, with seven different color options, including orange, green, three different shades of blue, purple, and yellow.
The screen is complemented by a simple interface. There are only a few dials on the radio, making for simple and easy to follow controls. There is a six digit frequency counter and a large two digit channel display.
It has an ANL filter, volume controls, roger-beep, and a jack for external speakers.
- Easy to Use: Bill is a straightforward design. That makes it very approachable for beginners to the world of CB.
- Lack of SSB: You only have access to AM frequencies. This can really limit the sound capacity of the radio overall and cut you off from people tuning in with SSB CB radios.
SSB, AM, FM & PA
All 40 channels come as standard. You can use the radio on SSB, AM, or FM frequencies. There is also LSB and USB access, for a more refined tune.
The radio is PA capable.
Display and Features
The front panel is big and clear. There is a six digit frequency counter, alongside a two digit channel display. It is LCD, with an orange background and black digits.
10-meter radio means that you get a radio with an influx of power. This means you can access a higher watt, within the recommended, legal limits.
- Big Screen: A big screen is always a good thing. It means the display is clear, you’re not struggling to see the digits, and there’s no struggle to change channels and functions.
- Old Fashioned Aesthetic: Despite all the great features and boost in power, this CB radio looks a bit like it belongs in the past.
Six digit frequency counter with large and easy to read digital letters. More digits mean better frequency access and a clearer user experience.
Automated SWR is a real attribute. You don’t have to plug anything extra into the antenna, and you get diagnostics in real-time without any effort on your part.
Roger-beep is a feature that should be on all CB radios, It serves as an end of transmission, and eliminates all confusion regarding turn-taking and communication errors.
AM and SSB give you access to the 40 channels. You can preset these yourself so that you don’t have to tune in every time and can access your favorites with no effort at all.
- Headphone Jack: Not many CBs have the headphone jack feature. It’s there in case you want the added utility of in-ear audio.
- Feet: This is a great little stand that makes the radio sturdy and freestanding.
- Old Model: This is not the most recent version of CB radio available.
Weather channels and alerts
Weather alerts are a top tier feature for people who spend their lives working on the roads. It can be essential in bad weather to be aware of road blockages and general conditions.
There are also emergency alerts on the preset channel 9, reserved for crisis calls.
PA capable means that you can address a bigger crowd if the need arises. There is a jack port for external inputs.
Wireless mics with a strong connection range mean for a safer, hands-free experience. This is especially relevant for truck drivers and the like. A wireless mic is an innovation when it comes to CB usage on the road.
SWR, ANL, 4 watts, and GPS
The SWR meter means you always know what’s wrong with your signal.
ANL creates a crisper, finer sound. You also get the standard 4 watts for your signal going out and coming in.
GPS feature means that the CB device automatically picks up local alerts. You don’t have to retune as you go, every new area you reach, updates straight to your radio.
- Customize it: 7 different colors to chose from. What’s not to love?
- Everything Backlit: All display dials and display features are backlit in the nighttime. It’s less of a distraction and therefore much safer for drivers. It also protects your general eye health, as it reduces unnecessary vision straining.
- Fewer Decibels: Quieter than some, this is limited to 40DB. Though that can be seen as a safety feature (and it should), it also means you lose out on sound with this model compared to others.
This is the only CB radio on the list that is completely handheld. It doesn’t have a rectangular box interface like the others. It is small, and light.
40 channel access
You still get access to all 40 channels. There is an LCD display with a two digit channel count.
The antenna is attached through a strong magnet. It is a strong one, but you can’t really attach an SWR meter and there isn’t one built-in. That being said, there are no complaints from us about Cobra’s capacity for interpreting incoming and relaying outgoing messages.
- Duo Channel Monitoring: A really cool feature that doesn’t occur in lots of CB radios is duo channel monitoring. You can tune into, and listen to, two channels simultaneously.
- Noise Filter: There is a great noise filter on this little radio. This makes the sound quality better and clearer, as it detracts background noise and incoming noise trespassing.
- Inconvenient: This is a small device. The magnetic antenna can be easily lost or broken, and it can be easy to lose track of in a large truck environment.
CB Radio Guide
CB radio has 40 channels in total. Anyone with a CB can access any of these channels. However, it is common knowledge among CB users that certain channels are for specific purposes.
We won’t dive into all 40 channels. Instead, let’s take a look at the channels that have common purposes.
First up, channel 4. As with every channel, it can be used by anyone. But, it’s most commonly used by 4×4 drivers.
Next, channel 9. Channel 9 is one to remember. It is the channel dedicated to emergencies. That means any emergency and emergency services use 9 to communicate vital information. It is one to steer clear of unless, of course, you have an emergency yourself.
Channel 14 is popular with walkie-talkie users. It is for general chat and liaising.
Channel 19 is most frequently used by truck drivers. They use it to communicate with each other on the road. There is even specific jargon for truck drivers that is quite colloquial and hard to follow if you don’t know it. It’s best to avoid 19 if you don’t drive trucks for a living.
The remaining channels are for general use. Anyone can chat on them. You access them through tuning into a specific frequency.
It is worth noting that any frequencies not associated specifically with CB radio are illegal to access, and are controlled by other agents. For example, the government and the military control certain frequencies.
There are heavy sanctions for misusing CB frequencies, including a $10,000 fine!
From time to time, you may suffer from a weak radio signal, which can hinder communication and cause noise disruption.
There are a few things you can try before throwing the towel in.
1.Choice of location: This isn’t always an option if you are, for example, driving a truck. However, some locations yield better signal results than others.
If you are struggling with a weak signal or choppy frequencies, you could try moving.
2.Antenna: The antenna directly receives frequencies and translates them to the CB transmitter.You can get antenna signal boosters, longer and stronger antennas, and adjust their position to try to attract a stronger signal.
3.Increase watts: Most CB radios will be able to transmit and receive signals in around a four-mile radius, at a push. However, if you opt for a CB with SSB enabled, your signal will push further afield.
Top Tip: It is illegal on standard CB radios to exceed 4 watts, so make sure you’re up to date with the rules to avoid fines and penalties!
4. Install SWR meter: SWR stands for standing-wave radio. An SWR meter analyses your CB output. You connect it to the CB antenna and let it do its thing.
You can’t boost your signal with an SWR meter alone, but you can find out exactly what’s happening with your frequencies.
Noise interferences are a familiar problem for CB radio users.
Some radios come ready made with their own noise filters.
Noise filters act to suppress the incoming noise in order to create a more clear receiver.
These are known as ANLs. Or, automatic noise limiters. Though it is more functional on AM channels, so not always appropriate for some CB channels.
There are, with some CB radios, in-built filters. However, if your model doesn’t have one, there are other products you can try using.
PA, or public address, is a way to reach a larger audience with your CB.
Think of it as a speaker. It amplifies the volume of your broadcast, making it much louder than normal.
With a PA attached, you can talk to people other than those on the other end of the line. You can talk to people outside of your truck or vehicle, loud and clear.
Not all CB radios are PA compatible. So if that’s what you want, you just have to do a bit of research and spec checking before you make a purchase.
When talking about display features, we are referring to the front of the CB radio.
This is all about the dials, the numbers, and the outputs.
Lots of CB radios have been given a modern makeover in their overall aesthetic. You can find CB’s with digital numerical displays with anything up to five digits. This is where you can see the HZ frequency that you’re in tune with.
Dials wise, you should be looking for a device with at least a clarity control for the fine tuning and therefore better listening experience.
You may also want a display dimmer. This adjusts the hue and brightness of the screen. It’s useful for night-time drivers, as naturally, you don’t want your eyes distracted
SSB and AM
CB radios run on AM and some, not all but most, have SSB as well.
AM is limited to four watts. SSB can push four or five times more than that. It can also fine tune HZ to create a much clearer, less distorted incoming and outgoing sound frequency.
SSB gives more clarity and precision to all 40 channels that CB radio uses.
When you use AM, it is harder to get a specific HZ ratio. Your audio quality is therefore depreciated.
We have already touched on the uses of SWR meters. As we’ve seen, they are a useful little tool for detecting signal and frequency issues.
They attach to your antennae through coaxial cables and read then analyze the incoming data.
They are not a necessity for using a CB radio successfully, however, they are a necessity for understanding signal problems and accessing the optimum frequency HZ.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Makes a CB Radio Powerful?
SSB function, strong antenna, SWR meter, and at least 4 watts. These are the things combined that make for a powerful CB radio and therefore a crisper communication with a solid range.
What is the Average Range for CB Radio?
Generally speaking, a 4 watt CB radio can reach up to anything around four miles. This range can be increased by up to 5 times by a radio that is SSB capable.
Any one of our top 10 most powerful CB radios will give you a great CB experience.
Certain strengths outweigh others. If you are looking for a strong signal, and strong communication with little interference, read through the advice in this guide and chose your CB accordingly.
All of these radios have been tried and tested and well-reviewed.