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How do I Choose the Best Handheld CB Radio?

By James Back
Updated May 16, 2024
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A CB, or Citizens Band, radio transmits and receives on special channels designated by airwave regulators for CB use. There are several things to keep in mind when choosing a handheld CB radio, including intended use, durability, expected battery life and recharge time. Depending on its use, size, weight and cost may be important factors as well. Licensing isn't typically required in most places in the world and the radios are usually set up to meet specific government guidelines, so these issues shouldn't be concerns in the selection process. Choosing the best handheld CB radio generally involves finding the model that best matches your intended use, while including the desired features.

One of the most important considerations in choosing a handheld CB Radio is how you intend to use it. A CB radio intended for everyday jobsite communications typically has different requirements than one used for emergencies or occasional backpacking trips. It is important to identify which features are important for your intended use. Durability and fast recharge times may be important considerations for handheld CB radio equipment on a constructions site, while size, weight and battery life may matter more on backpacking trips.

Handheld CB radios are typically limited to a maximum of four watts of transmission power, though this may vary by country. As a result, transmission range doesn't usually vary between models. In the United States, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has designated 40 channels on the 27 Mhz band for public use and has maximum transmission range limits of 5 miles (8.04 km). Most handheld CB radios are capable of exceeding this limit, however. Licensing isn't typically required in most countries, but government rules and regulations for use should be observed.

When choosing a handheld CB radio, extra features may come into play when making the best choice. Some options include digital channel displays, flexible antennas, noise cancelling microphones and high-low power settings. Many models also are capable of receiving weather updates and warnings from government weather services, such as the National Weather Service in the US. Battery life is an important factor for many applications, and many handheld CB radios now include car chargers and recharging stations that allow recharging without removing the batteries from the unit.

Once you have determined what features you need in a handheld CB radio, there are many resources available to aid you in your final selection. Online retailers typically publish product features and specifications. Some retailers also include a number of user reviews and testimonials. One of the best places to find information about a potential product is to check online CB radio forums. Users are usually more than willing to share their personal experiences and opinions of particular brands and models. One you have determined which handheld CB Radio best fits your needs and intended purpose, the final step involves finding the lowest price. It is easy to compare prices from several vendors online.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Soulfox — On Mar 18, 2014

There are still some advantages to carrying a CB radio for emergencies. Think about the last time you were in a very rural area and couldn't get cell phone reception. Now, imagine being in that area with no reception and no cell service.

Yeah. Uh oh.

In that case, a CB radio that doesn't rely on a cell tower could be a life saver. Cell phones are very common, but there is still a problem with them out in more remote areas where no one has bothered to build a cell tower because few people would take advantage of it.

By Logicfest — On Mar 17, 2014

How often are CB radios used when everyone and their dog has a smartphone or at least a regular cell phone? What is the advantage of a CB radio in an emergency situation?

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