There are many situations in which a handheld CB radio can come in very handy, especially emergency situations when cell towers may be out. There are various channels you can go to and many people have a particular channel they choose ahead of time where they will “meet” friends and family for communication.
CB Radio Frequencies
All CB radios use channel 9 as an emergency channel where an array of information can be broadcast. These channels are for emergency use only.
While there are many different features that can come in a CB radio, you will want to look for ones that will profit you the most for whatever circumstances you plan on using it. A mountable CB radio is used inside a vehicle or long-distance truck and can be used on long road trips, while a handheld model is better suited for backpackers, campers or anyone else on foot who may need to communicate regardless of cell tower availability.
Here are our Top Picks
Uniden 40-Channel CB Radio Review
The first portable CB radio we are going to look at is the Uniden 40-Channel CB Radio. This unit is perfect for long road trips when you might need to communicate with others. It features an instant channel 9 setting so that you can dial up that emergency channel with ease.
The signal/RF power indicator allows you to check the relative strength of incoming transmissions, which can tell you how close you are to the person you are talking with. The Uniden also has a feature that allows you to plug in an external speaker for better sound, as well as en external PA speaker, turning your CB radio into a public address system. You also have squelch control, channel display, volume control, mountain hardware, channel select buttons an easy to read display with large numbers.
The compact design of this unit allows it to be mounted virtually anywhere, weighing less than two pounds with easy handling. The display is also backlit, which makes operation in the dark no problem at all. The squelch control feature gives you the ability to tune out weak radio signals that sometimes tend to bleed into your conversation.
- Dimensions: 12.88 x 6.03 x 2.31 inches
- Weight: 2 pounds
- Features: Instant channel 9, squelch control, external PA jack
Cobra 29 LX 40-Channel CB Radio Review
Next is the Cobra 29 LX 40-Channel CB Radio. One of the most updated CB radios that Cobra has to offer, the features include a stunning multicolor digital display, spanning the majority of the radio’s face offering information on the radio’s current channel, signal strength, SWR levels and more. Since the display is so large, it can be seen with ease at night and can be set to blue, red, amber or green as color options.
Another very impressive feature of the Cobra 29 LX is its 10 NOAA weather channels with automatic scanning and alerts that will keep you up to date with any severe weather events that you might need to know about. Channel scanning gives you the ability to scan for active channels while a range of diagnostic features provide information on RF power, battery voltage and antenna condition.
This unit also has a PA capability as well as instant weather channel scanning, clock, timer, alarm, a nine-foot mic cable and a memory channel feature.
- Dimensions: 7.25 x 9.25 x 2.25 inches
- Weight: 5.6 pounds
- Features: Instant channel 9, 19, and weather channels, memory channel, PA, Radio check diagnostic.
Midland 1001Z 40-Channel CB Radio Review
The Midland 1001Z 40-Channel CB Radio is a handy, affordable little unit that will do just what you need it to do. The 40-channel, 4-watt radio is perfect for first time users as well as seasoned CB users alike. The CB/PA switch allows you to use the radio as a public address system when paired with an external speaker. Reception sensitivity is adjusted easily with the RF gain control and allows for clear communication. It is the perfect size to install in any car, truck or RV.
Since 4 watts is the maximum wattage allowed by law for a CB radio, you can trust that you will have the most powerful one around with this unit for the best communication range.
This Midland is a great long range CB radio.
- Dimensions: 5 x 7 x 2 inches
- Weight: 2 pounds
- Features: 4 watts of power, squelch and RF gain control, locking mic connector, instant channel 9
Midland 75-785 40-Channel Handheld CB Radio Review
The Midland 75-785 40-Channel Handheld CB Radio is a 7-watt input, 4-watt output hand held CB that features all 40 channels, just like a regular CB radio.
You can power this device with 9 AA batteries or the cigarette lighter adapter. The charge jack allows the NiCad batteries to be recharged without removing them from the radio. This dependable little unit features an automatic noise limiter as well as squelch control to allow for better reception and a lower noise threshold.
The durability of this radio allows you to take it just about anywhere, since it is made of such a rugged construction. Even though it is smaller and handheld, the features are all still there, including the maximum 4 watts allowed by law, for great reception and range. The bright LED display allows you to see with ease the information displayed and it also features a high/low power switch to trim power when you want to save your charge or your batteries.
- Dimensions: 7 x 2.25 x 2 inches
- Weight: .55 pounds
- Features: Small and handheld, 7 watt power in, 4 watt power out, 40 channels, different powering options, automatic noise limiter and squelch control.
Cobra HH 38 WX ST 4-watt 40-Channel CB Radio Review
Finally, we have a Cobra handheld CB radio. This is another hand held CB radio, like the Midland 75-785, but with a little more. Along with all 40 channels of the CB, it also features 10 weather channels to keep you alerted if there are emergency weather situations. The dual watch and full channel scan allow you to constantly scan for activity with a range of up to four miles or more. The high/low power switch can be used to reduce power consumption while the sound tracker system cuts noise by up to 90 percent, which are great features for a handheld radio.
In addition, the Cobra HH comes with a belt clip, wrist strap, antenna, 12-volt cigarette lighter plug and a handy operation manual.
- Dimensions: 2.5 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
- Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Features: Soundtracker system, NOAA weather and emergency radio, channel scan, dual watch, 4-watt power output, battery (9AA) or DC operation.
My Vote for Best Handheld CB Radio
My favorite pick of these five CB radios is the Cobra HH 38 WX ST radio. While it is a handheld, there are many places you can use this radio that you cannot use the mountable radios that stay in the vehicle. With this model, you can still use it inside a vehicle, but in the event that you need to exit that vehicle, you can take this communication device with you. This makes it a great hybrid radio: it can be a good CB radio for trucks or for campers and hikers. And since it has a four-mile range, you know that can get in touch with someone, from almost anywhere.
Unlike the other long range handheld CB radio model that we looked at today, this one features the 10-channel weather and emergency radio that is built in. That way, even if something doesn’t come across channels 9 or 19, you can still stay abreast of emergency and weather situations that could necessitate taking cover.
Of all the ones mentioned in this article, this would be the best across a wide variety of situations, so if you aren’t going to be mostly in a car, or mostly on foot, you might want to choose this one. It is a wonderful addition to a bug out or EDC bag for quick access when you need it.