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The 7 Best Handheld CB Radios to Get

For most civilians getting into radio usage, CB radio is the first stop. Over-the-counter legal and with absolutely no licensing requirements for use, you can quickly and easily add a fully self-contained communications capability to your survival repertoire for very little money – and get on the air the same day.

And, for most of us, portability is the name of the game, and for saving both weight and space with a CB radio, nothing beats a good handheld. Keep reading, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about seven great handheld CB radios.

Cobra HHRT50 Road Trip

  • Pros: Logical upgrade of the HH50WXST, magnetic antenna mount works wonderfully.
  • Cons: Knobs still don’t inspire confidence regarding durability, chargers not included.

This offering from Cobra is basically an upgraded HH50WXST, one designed for over-the-road use.

By including a magnetic mount antenna for your vehicle, this handy setup overcomes the primary obstacle of using handheld CB radios while on the highway: they simply aren’t powerful enough to punch through automobile bodywork without a serious degradation in signal quality, both transmitting and receiving.

With the antenna placed outside the envelope of the automobile body, that problem will be a thing of the past, and you’ll enjoy significantly increased range and marvelous clarity, made all the better by the same technology featured on Cobra’s other handheld offering in this category.

There’s lots to like, and the increased cost is well worth it if you’re going on the road regularly.

The only downsides? The knobs still don’t seem to be particularly durable, and that makes me a little nervous when it comes to rough handling, especially outside the car, and Cobra still hasn’t included wall chargers.

One of my favorites on this list, and a great all-around option. Get it here.

Cobra HH50WXST

  • Pros: Very rugged, feature-rich, noise suppression system is excellent, twin frequency monitoring.
  • Cons: Could really use a better antenna to maximize range, knobs don’t seem as durable as the rest of the unit.

One of the premier handheld CBs from Cobra Electronics, a well-known purveyor of radios and other electronic systems, in many ways this is the ideal handy talkie for folks who want to get on the air with CB while staying on the go.

With a bevy of controls and features that allow you to switch from high and low power modes, and optimized for the use of rechargeable batteries, which are included, the HH50WXST gives you access to the usual 40 CB channels but also 10 NOAA-specific weather channels so you can keep an ear on any possible bad or severe weather in your area.

My favorite feature on this CB is what Cobra calls the SoundTracker system, a type of noise suppression technology that is alleged to cut upwards of 90% of all communication noise

I couldn’t say if it cuts 90% or not, but I can promise you this is a remarkably clear CB, especially for one with a modest range like most handhelds.

Another great feature that I like is the ability to monitor two channels at once, great for keeping up on an emerging situation or just listening for updates from two different people that you’re traveling with.

The only downsides? Cobra didn’t see fit to include a car charger or a wall charger, and the knobs at the top seem a little flimsy compared to the casing on the rest of the unit.

Cobra C75WXST

  • Pros: Great noise suppression system, very convenient to use in a vehicle or at a desk, hotkeys for quick access to emergency channels.
  • Cons: Remote configuration is not truly portable like a handy talkie.

A unique offering when it comes to handheld radios, you might think of Cobra’s C75WXST as a vehicular handheld, meaning all of the controls are on the handset itself, allowing great heads-up functionality and excellent control with just one hand.

Offering Cobra’s always great noise suppression system and clever hotkeys that allow you instant access to emergency channels, 9 and 19 specifically, there’s a lot to like about this radio if you don’t actually have to take off on foot.

If you want to control your CB in the palm of your hand but are always in your vehicle or seated at a desk, this one’s a great, and unique option.

Cobra HH 38 WXST

  • Pros: Feature-rich for a very modest price, rugged, great noise suppression for a mid-range radio.
  • Cons: Stock antenna is truly awful.

An interesting offering from Cobra, the HH38WXST is packed with features for a modest price, though among mid-range offerings it is on the pricey side.

As expected, you can access NOAA weather channels alongside all of the usual 40 CB bands, keep an eye on two channels at once using the dual monitoring feature, and scan to find out who’s talking in your area. This set also features a convenient belt clip for easy carry.

All in all, this is a great handheld radio held back by one fatal flaw that’s easy enough to correct, and one you’re probably expecting considering how loaded with features it is.

The stock antenna is pretty awful and greatly limits the range and performance of the radio. It’s an easy thing to pop a new antenna on it, of one kind or another, but if you’re going to do that, why wouldn’t you just go with a higher-end Cobra in the first place?

This is a great option if you have a couple of spare aftermarket antennas on hand already. Purchase here.

Uniden PRO501HH

  • Pros: Classic styling, NOAA weather alert feature, dual-channel monitoring.
  • Cons: Fairly large, consistently limited range.

Uniden is a known quantity brand in the world of radios and other communications technology, and the PRO501HH is a great offering.

With a large screen in this format that has a high contrast but easy on the eyes orange backlight for nighttime reading, it also has the ever-useful dual channel monitoring found on nicer units and also has a special NOAA weather alert feature that will notify you of potential severe weather even if you aren’t actively monitoring the NOAA channels.

This is just a really nice, all-around CB if a handheld is what you were after, but it’s let down only by a couple of things.

This is a pretty large and bulky unit, another one that uses 9 AA batteries, and it has a surprisingly limited range even in relatively good conditions. You should only expect to get about a couple of miles from it. Get it from Amazon.

Uniden PRO401HH

  • Pros: Good performance for a budget model, very affordable.
  • Cons: Lack of backlight makes the screen very hard to read in suboptimal light, no channel memory, no access to NOAA channels.

You can think of the PRO401HH model as Uniden’s stripped-down, budget offering compared to the PRO501HH.

And that’s exactly what it is! It lacks the styling cues but is just as big, and is feature-sparse compared to its more expensive and better-performing stablemate, though this might be just the ticket for folks who want to get back to basics or just need a backup radio.

You’re giving up the backlit screen, the NOAA warning functionality, and even access to the NOAA channels.

It doesn’t have channel memory, and it doesn’t have dual channel monitoring. What it does have is access to the 40 usual CB channels, a high or low power setting, durability, and reliability.

Nothing wrong with that, and if your funds are severely limited you can do a whole lot worse than this model.

Midland 75-822

  • Pros: Very compact, useful control input lockout feature to prevent accidental activation.
  • Cons: Susceptible to static when using other antennas, control layout not very ergonomic.

A super compact and reasonably priced offering from Midland, the 75-822 is a convenient and easy-to-use handheld that can make use of an antenna attached directly to the unit, or a remote antenna that can be mounted to the top of your vehicle for increased range.

One feature that I’m sure preppers will love is the keypad lockout, which prevents accidental inputs of any of the controls when activated. This is especially handy if you’re stuffing the radio in a pouch or placing it in a holder, or if you just have it rolling around on the seat for the time being.

It also has a versatile power supply, taking six double A’s as standard or using an optional, and included, car adapter for direct power. It can operate in both high and low power modes for battery conservation.

All in all, definitely a handy package, and a versatile one that can be used on foot or in the car, but maximizing the range on this little rig requires the use of an added antenna, and this model is notably staticky with all kinds of car antennas. Unfortunate, because it’s a good all-around performer otherwise. Get it here.

Midland 75-785

  • Pros: Straightforward design, sturdy, affordable.
  • Cons: Very large and bulky for a handheld, rudimentary screen only displays two digits, low range for high power requirements.

If you want a true handy talkie that can go with you anywhere and ride in a pouch on your hip or on your pack, Midland’s 75-785 might be a good choice.

When it comes to CB radios, this model is about as basic and straightforward as it gets. With an old-fashioned LCD screen that can display just two digits, it can let you know what channel you’re on, and that’s about it.

This four-watt radio has a noise-limiting feature which will improve clarity and reception when your signal is anything but ideal, and it also has a surprisingly nice mic for good transmission clarity. But this is a big, bulky unit, almost as big as some handhelds from the mid-’80s!

Accordingly, it runs on 9 AA batteries, but it can use rechargeables and charge on the go using a vehicle adapter, included.

It’s very affordable and can get you on the air for very little money, but it has a disappointingly short range considering how much power it gobbles up. Consider an antenna upgrade mandatory if you want to get the most out of it.

The post The 7 Best Handheld CB Radios to Get appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

By: Tom Marlowe
Title: The 7 Best Handheld CB Radios to Get
Sourced From: www.survivalsullivan.com/handheld-cb-radios/
Published Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2024 13:33:38 +0000