Best Handheld CB Radio Reviews: Most Powerful Portable CBs for Long Range

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It might sound crazy, but the truth is that most of us don’t need the best CB radio out there in the market.

Yeah, you read that right!

A portable CB radio which can give you noise-free communication for shorter distances is more than enough in many situations.

Ask yourselves whether you need a big CB while going for outdoor activities or for job site communications. The answer would be a loud “No”.

In these situations, having the best handheld CB radio in hand can have a tremendous impact. This is because portable CB radios are:

      • Very convenient and easy to use
      • Lightweight
      • Don’t need a CB antenna
      • Powered with battery

In the last few years, there has been an upward trend towards handheld CB radios rather than normal CBs due to their easy-to-use nature. The best part is that there are excellent portable CB radios known for powerful performance to give you long-range communication.

So, if you are looking for a convenient CB radio, this is the article you should read.

Without much further ado, let me introduce our picks of the top portable CB radios:

Most Powerful Handheld CB Radio: Our Top Picks

Model Features and Highlights

Midland 75-822: Best+Customer’s Choice

  • Great portability
  • Unparalleled long-range performance
  • Access to NOAA weather channels
  • Rugged design
  • Highly recommended for motorcyclists

Cobra HH50 WX ST: Second Best

  • Omnidirectional microphone
  • Latest product from Cobra
  • Up to 4 miles range
  • Channel scan feature
  • Rechargeable Ni-MH AA batteries

Uniden Pro 501 HH

  • Solid construction
  • Variable power output
  • ANL noise reduction
  • Large backlit LCD display

Cobra HHRT50

  • Flexible magnet mount antenna
  • Sound Tracker System
  • Illuminated display with backlight button
  • NOAA weather radio

Uniden Pro 401 HH: Best Budget Portable CB

  • Good griping design
  • Lightweight and easy to handle
  • Dual watch monitoring
  • Perfect for close-range communications

Uniden CMX760: Top Handheld CB radio for Offroad Use

  • Ultra-compact design
  • Rugged construction
  • 7-color backlit display
  • Best suited for off-road vehicles

Cobra HH 38 WX ST

  • Pocket-friendly
  • Ideal for job sites
  • Channel scan feature
  • Removable antenna, belt clip, and hand strap

Advantages of Portable CB Radios

Handheld CB radios are extremely popular among truckers, travelers, hikers and in a large variety of other fields. They are basically walkie-talkie model devices operating at a bandwidth of around 27 MHz, with access to around 40 channels. Most models also have access to 10 NOAA weather channels for emergency weather updates.

  • Handheld CB radios are highly compact, making them very easy to handle. These portable radios can be held for longer times without much pain in your hand.
  • The interface of portable CB radios is very user-friendly. The functions are convenient to access and easy to run.
  • Portable CB radios generally come with dedicated batteries. You can recharge or replace these batteries. You don’t need to look for a power source every time you need to use your CB.
  • A cigarette cord is provided with most portable models thus making them suitable for battery-free operation inside your vehicle. There are also models that come with rechargeable AA batteries.
  • When you want to use CB radio while walking, a handheld model serves you the best. No need to worry about power source or mounting!
  • Perfect companion while traveling in remote areas where cell phone signals cannot reach.
  • Assures hassle-free, fast and cheap communication.

Best Handheld CB Radio Reviews

Although being compact, portable CB radios deliver high-level performance and long-range communication without fail.

Some of the best and popular handheld CBs are reviewed here.

1. Midland 75-822: The Best

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The CB superhero with amazing performance and top-class features, Midland 75-822 is an updated version of Midland 75-785. Most versatile and popular portable CB best suited for motorcyclists and off-roaders.

Midland 75-822, undoubtedly is the top of the line portable CB you can find in the market. It is very easy to install and use. You will not have any issues with its range and performance.

The interface is extremely user-friendly. Midland 75-822 comes with a flexible antenna with a BNC connector. You can easily remove this antenna and transport it according to your needs.

The rugged construction of this radio is a major attraction. It won’t give you too much trouble even if you use it in extreme temperatures, humidity, vibrations, etc. This portable CB radio is designed in such a way that you can easily carry it in your hands. With the external headset jack, you can use it in hands-free mode too. These features make Midland 75-822 a great choice for motorcyclists.

Unlike Midland 75-785 model, 75-822 has access to all 40 channels including the 10 NOAA weather channels, emergency channel 9 and information channel 19. With the dual watch function, you can monitor channel 9 along with any other channel of your choice at the same time. Yeah, you can easily ride all the way, tension-free.

The CB radio can easily give 2-3 miles. However, with a long-range CB radio antenna, you can easily extend its range up to 10 miles.

The large and easy to read backlit LCD display is of great help during the night. The Automatic Noise Limiter circuit functions perfectly to eliminate all the unwanted interference from both inside and outside your vehicle.

This handheld CB radio can be powered with six AA batteries either rechargeable or replaceable. With the mobile adapter included you can power this device directly from your vehicle’s cigarette lighter power port as well. Midland also provides you a battery life extender feature with this unit. You will find the variable output feature truly useful to save battery.

2. Cobra HH50 WX ST: Latest in the Market

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Manufactuered by the reputed Cobra brand, Cobra HH50WXST is one of the latest handheld CB in the market. It is a solid built radio jam-packed with features. Ideal for those who are looking for an economical choice.

If you are someone fond of the latest gadgets, you have your portable CB radio right here. Cobra HH50WXST is the upgraded version of Cobra’s own HH38WXST. This is another long range handheld CB radio you will love using.

Cobra has employed a Sound Tracker noise reduction system in HH50 WX ST to keep away unwanted static and interference. It works surprisingly well and assures clear communication.

The channel scan feature scans all 40 channels in about 4 seconds and repeats the same until some signal is received. With this feature, you are free from manually searching for strong signals.

This portable radio is powered by rechargeable NiMH AA batteries. Using the recharging jack, you can charge them from the 12V port in your vehicle or any AC wall charger. It is a very convenient feature. A 12V cord is provided with the unit.

What’s more?

This is one of the best compact CB radios you can get. You can install it in your cars or SUVs without thinking about the space aspect.

You can use a combination mic or speaker with this device using the speaker/microphone jack. It gets better with the omnidirectional microphone. It is a very interesting feature that you will love in this portable CB. The mic is capable of picking up voice from multiple directions, making sure that no signal is left unreceived!

Other notable features are:

  • Dual watch to monitor two channels simultaneously
  • High/low power switch. Low power mode reduces battery consumption by up to 75%
  • 40 channel operation with NOAA weather alert
  • Illuminated multi-functional display

3. Uniden Pro 501 HH

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Uniden has been a reliable brand in the CB radio market for decades. Uniden Pro 501 HH is no different. This 40 channel handheld CB radio is set to amaze you with its exemplary performance.

Uniden Pro 501 HH has a solid construction. Its rugged design makes it withstand extreme environments. The large backlit LCD display adds to the aesthetics and ease of use.

Rechargeable (9 AA Ni-MH) batteries power up this device. If required, you can extend the battery life further by switching to the low power (1 watt) mode. Switch back to high power (4 watts) mode if performance is your priority. The cigarette plug adapter included in the package can be used to charge the batteries or to take power from an external source.

The built-in automatic noise limiter and the squelch control do their job perfectly. A clean reception and transmission are guaranteed. The stock mic works fine and the speaker is pretty loud and clear. The Dual watch feature is also added to monitor two channels simultaneously.

A w/BNC antenna connector, belt clip, and hand strap are provided with this device. You don’t need to spend any extras for these accessories.

4. Cobra HHRT50

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A very reliable and feature-rich handheld CB from Cobra. This portable CB is an upgraded version of the Cobra’s HH 50 WX ST.

Cobra has provided a highly efficient flexible antenna with this device. This antenna performs exceptionally well to achieve long-range communication. Being flexible, you can bend it to any extent without breaking. This is extremely useful. You can use this device inside your vehicle with the magnet mount antenna easily mounted on your vehicle’s rooftop.

The power output of your device is shown on the LCD display. Dual watch feature is included to continuously monitor two channels at the same time. Cobra’s Sound Tracker circuit is incorporated in this device as well to provide crystal clear communication. It works fairly good to eliminate unwanted static and interference.

NOAA weather alerts warn you of potential storms and extreme weather conditions. You also get access to emergency channels 9/19. The buttons for different functions are arranged nicely and are easy to push. A convenient backlight button is provided on the side to view your screen in dark.

HHRT50 is powered by rechargeable NiMH AA batteries. You can charge them with the recharging jack provided. Charging can be done from either an AC wall charger or the 12V port in your vehicle. While operating inside your vehicle, you have the DC power cord which can be plugged into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter.

5. Uniden PRO401HH: The Cheap Option

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A pocket-friendly handheld CB radio with solid construction and quality performance. Best suited for close-range communications.

This compact portable CB radio comes with a good gripping design that fits perfectly in your hand. Indeed Uniden PRO401HH is another CB in this list from Uniden’s PRO series.

It is lightweight and assures you easy operation with one hand.

Pro 401 HH is set to operate on all 40 CB channels allowed by FCC. The controls and jacks are placed on the top and the side in such a way that the users do not face even a slight inconvenience.

Other major attractions of Uniden Pro 401 HH are

  • Instant access to 10 NOAA weather channels 24×7
  • Automatic noise limiter to cut down background noise
  • Dual watch monitoring
  • Variable power output

Just like the 501 HH model, you can use rechargeable (9 AA Ni-MH) batteries to power up this device. You can also use (9 AA) alkaline batteries, but they are not included in the package. The battery lasts pretty long with this device. You can also extend its life by switching to low power mode.

To charge the AA Ni-MH batteries, a DC power cable is included. Additionally, the users get the provision to select rechargeable or alkaline batteries with the switch provided inside the battery compartment.

6. Uniden CMX760: Best Offroad Portable CB Radio

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An ultra-compact CB designed for those who love adventures. Best in business handheld CB radio perfect for off-roaders.

Uniden made this handheld CB especially for the off-roaders to make their communications hassle-free. Being ultra-compact, you can easily set up this device inside your vehicle. You don’t need to worry about space constraints. You can mount it on your dashboard or under the driver’s seat, wherever you are comfortable with.

The local/DX RF gain switch helps you attain the best reception by adjusting the sensitivity. Uniden has also provided all the controls on the microphone for easy operation. That is really cool!

The compact speaker is good enough for normal conditions inside your vehicle. However, we recommend you to use an external speaker if you are using this handheld radio in a noisy environment.

This device has a very strong built to combat extreme conditions. Thus it serves as a great companion when you go off-roading. The large 7 colors backlit LCD display is a wonderful addition to this CB, best suited for a night drive. A safe cable routing is ensured with the 8 ft. long extended mic cord.

CMX760 gives you access to all 40 channels. With the channel 9/19 switch on the mic, you can connect to channel 9 and 19 at a single touch. You can also keep updated with weather alerts with the 10 NOAA weather channels.

7. Cobra HH 38 WX ST

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HH38XST is a sleek and stylish compact CB radio from Cobra. If you are looking for a pocket-friendly portable CB radio with all essential features, Cobra HH 38 WX ST is a great choice. It is best suited for job sites and occasional Cbers.

This handheld CB has adopted the Cobra’s landmark Sound Tracker system for noise elimination. This circuit performs fairly to cut down up to 90% of the background noise. The built-in microphone works perfectly with this feature.

With the channel scan feature, it is very convenient to select channels in the range from the available 40 CB channels. Weather updates are provided 24×7 by the NOAA weather alert system. You also get access to channel 9/19 for emergency alerts and general information.

This handheld radio has a rugged design. It can easily withstand rough conditions. The full-function display is illuminated to assure convenience to use in the dark. To reduce power consumption, a Hi/Lo power switch is provided. Additionally, the channel scan and dual watch features included are just awesome to have at this price range.

Other features include:

  • Maximum 4-watt power
  • Up to 4-mile range
  • DC operation

The belt clip, wrist strap, and antenna of this portable CB radio can be removed and replaced. The antenna provided with the device is not that efficient. However, it will not give you a headache if you buy a quality extra antenna to achieve the best performance.

Best Portable CB Radio Comparisons

             Model            Dimension Weight Warranty Noise reduction NOAA weather system Rugged design
Midland 75-822 3.5 x 2.75 x 1.5 Inches 0.40 pounds 1 year Automatic Noise Limiter Yes Yes
Cobra HH50 WX ST 6.3 x 2 x 1.8 inches 0.64 pounds 2 years Sound Tracker Yes Yes
Uniden Pro 501 HH 2.2 x 7.2 x 1.8 inches 1.04 pounds 1 year ANL Yes Yes
Cobra HHRT50 6.3 x 2 x 1.8 inches 0.64 pounds 2 years Sound Tracker Yes Yes
Uniden Pro 401 HH 4.3 x 2.8 x 8.7 inches 1.01 pounds 1 year ANL Yes Yes
Uniden CMX760 6.0 x 4.0 x 4.0 inches 1.5 pounds 1 year ANL Yes Yes
Cobra HH 38 WX ST 2.5 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches 0.64 pounds 2 years Sound Tracker Yes Yes

Buying a Long range Handheld CB Radio

most powerful portable CB radio

When you have a plethora of feature-packed pocket-friendly portable CBs available in the market, choosing one among them cannot be an easy task. If you are in such a dilemma, the below guide will help you to a good extent.

  1. Size matters the most! A portable CB radio should be as compact as possible. It should perfectly fit in your hand, not giving too much pain after prolonged use.
  2. Portability and ease of use are major criteria to look for. It is decided by the weight and design of your radio. Never go for heavy radios as they are difficult to handle for long.
  3. Multi-channel access is important. Devices that provide instant access to NOAA Weather channels, emergency channel 9 and informational channel 19 are mostly preferred. These channels will keep you updated on almost everything you need to know on the go.
  4. Construction of your handheld CB radio demands attention. CBs that are designed to withstand extremely harsh environments comes on top of our preference list.
  5. The compatibility of your handheld CB with its accessories, especially external antenna is also important. Many times you will require an extra antenna to achieve a longer range. Go for the ones that come with suitable adapters.
  6. Noise reduction and squelch control features are must-have for handheld radios to achieve quality transmission and reception. Also look for features like channel scan, variable power output, and backlit display before making a final choice.

FAQ

How do I use a handheld CB radio?
Handheld CB radios are two-way radios like the normal CB radios. Users can either talk or listen at a time, not do both. It is also known as portable CB radio.

These are are designed for convenient communication while traveling on the road or on foot. You can use a portable CB radio either inside your vehicle or outside. If using inside the vehicle, you may need to mount the antenna on the roof of your vehicle to get better range.

How do I modify a handheld CB radio?
You can improve the performance of your CB with a few additional accessories.

Most handheld CBs may not give you the best long-range performance with its built-in antenna. But you can add a good quality external antenna to improve your device’s transmission and reception. Likewise, you can change the batteries and use repeaters to improve the performance of your radio.

Additional mounts and adapters can be used according to your needs.

When you add an external antenna, it is recommended that you also add an external SWR meter. It helps to optimize antenna performance and keep away potential damages to your radio.

What do the different talk buttons do on a handheld CB radio?
All Handheld CB radios commonly feature a PTT (Push to Talk) button. This button is used to switch from signal reception mode to signal transmission mode. This is very helpful when you have some important information to pass to your fellow CBers.

Truckers make use of this function very frequently to pass emergency messages to fellow truckers.

Which is more powerful, a mini CB radio or a handheld CB radio?
Both mini CB radios, as well as handheld CB radios, have a maximum legally allowed output of 4 watts in normal mode and 12 watts in SSB mode. Users can modify their CB radios to attain maximum range, but only below this prescribed output level.

However, you might find some good SSB driven mini CB radios; but there are no handheld CB radios having this feature. Here are some of these most powerful CB radios on the market.

How do I extend coverage for my handheld CB radio?
Coverage of a handheld CB radio can be extended by replacing your built-in antenna with larger antennas. Getting to elevated areas also boosts your radio’s range.

To increase your transmission power, you can use repeaters. A repeater essentially receives your signal and re-transmits the same with a higher power. Battery strength is another major deciding factor in your radio’s performance.

We also recommend inspecting the batteries regularly to avoid low battery levels influencing the signal strength.

How far should will I be able to talk on my portable handheld CB radio?
CB radios are usually capable of reaching up to 20 miles with the legally allowed 4-watt transmission.

With 4-watt output power using only the flexible built-in antenna that comes with your handheld CB, you can expect to transmit up to less than a mile only. However, you can boost this range by using an external antenna

. Normally users with portable handheld CBs will require to communicate within short ranges only. With a quality antenna and proper fine-tuning, you can easily achieve a range of up to 4 miles.

Conclusion

A handheld CB radio is the most portable, compact and easy to set up radio. These are designed to give you a convenient on the go experience.

Most of the handheld CB radios now available in the market have a rugged construction, access to NOAA weather channels and channel 9/19, noise reduction circuit and most other essential features. With these features, you can get outstanding performance from these devices.

If you are looking for a CB for a shorter distance, there is no better option than a portable CB radio. However, some of our top picks are the most powerful handheld CB radios in the market and can give you a high range too.

We hope we have given you the right options available in the market.

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