CB radios reached their height of popularity in the 1970s, but they remain a mainstay of two-way communication between truckers, hobbyists, and emergency first responders the world over. CB radios have a fairly limited range however—generally around 10 miles. This is because they are confined to only four watts of power.
This is why an aftermarket CB antenna is a must. With a powerful CB antenna, you can boost the effective range of your radio considerably. Note that you cannot buy simply any antenna (like a factory truck antenna) and get the results you need. You need a very long antenna for a CB radio, which is why you need to purchase a specialized CB radio antenna. These antennas are coiled so that they offer you the length you need without too much height.
Below, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the best CB antennas you can buy.
|Cobra HG A1500|
What Types of Antennas are There?
There are a number of different antennas you can buy for your CB radio, each with its own pros and cons. Here is the breakdown.
These are built using a fiberglass rod, and are very durable and thus ideal for offroading. The range you get will depend on where you mount them and what kind of conditions you are dealing with. Average range: two to seven miles.
Magnet Mount Antennas
These antennas attach to your vehicle using a magnetic base. Installation is a breeze, with the downside being that you need to mount them quite high. This can pose hassles when you are driving. Average range: three to seven miles.
102” Whip Antennas
If you are looking for a high range, a whip antenna can give you what you need. They are some of the most powerful CB radio antennas you can buy, but they are also extremely long, which can be inconvenient. Average range: Around 10 miles (sometimes more).
These are more formally known as “center-load antennas.” They are commonly known as trucker antennas because they tend to be used on semi-trucks. The bottom third or so is a stainless steel shaft, with the coil sitting above. The top of the antenna is a steel whip. Average range: seven to 10 miles.
No-Ground Plane (NGP) Antennas
Need to install a CB radio antenna on a boat or RV (or any vehicle without a metal chassis)? A No-Ground Plane (NGP) antenna is what you are looking for. There are two unfortunate drawbacks: they are expensive and they only have a short effective range.
Factors Influencing Range
As you doubtless noticed when reading above, every type of antenna has a minimum and maximum likely range. Why is there so much variation? Because numerous factors influence transmission and reception capabilities.
Antenna Length & Type
If all other factors are equal, longer antennas will give you a higher range than shorter antennas. Certain antenna builds also tend to provide a higher range. If you have a fiberglass antenna and a trucker antenna of the same length, the trucker antenna will give you the better range.
The higher you mount your antenna, the better your range will be.
If you get your CB radio antenna all set up and you are not getting the range you expect, it could be that you made mistakes during the installation process. Learning how to properly install your antenna is essential.
CB radios are line-of-sight devices. That means that to maximize their range, you need a clear line-of-sight with no obstructions. Your reception in a flat, unobstructed desert or prairie will be far better than your reception in dense woodland or city setting.
You may get a higher range from a top name-brand product than you would from a lesser known brand.
If you happen to have a single side band (SSB)-enabled CB radio, you can transmit on 12 watts of power instead of the standard four watts. This can triple your range, regardless of the antenna you are using.
There are several accessories you can buy for your CB antenna which can augment your radio’s capabilities even more.
When you are buying a coaxial cable for your CB antenna, try and get the RG8X. This type of coax is thicker than the RG58. It will offer better performance and will last longer than the RG58.
CB radios come with built-in speakers, but they are low in power and hard to hear in noisy environments. An external speaker solves this problem.
Make sure before you start using your CB radio that you have tuned your antenna using the SWR meter. You also need to do this anytime you move your radio to a new mount location. Doing this will maximize performance and prevent damage to your system.
CB Antenna Reviews
Now that you know a little bit more about the different types of CB antennas out there, you are ready to select the best CB antenna for your needs. Below, we have compiled some quick mini-reviews of some of the most popular and highly rated CB antennas for sale on Amazon.com.
You now have a starting point in your search for the best CB antenna for your vehicle. Think carefully about what kind of range you need and what kind of mount you prefer and then take a closer look at the antennas from our mini-reviews as well as our comparison chart. You may think of an antenna as an extra, but for most CB radio users, it proves to be a vital accessory. A CB antenna is what allows you to get the most value out of your CB radio!
Cobra CBRHGA: Super easy to install
All magnetic CB antennas are pretty easy to install, but this one from Cobra is even easier than most. Just click the pieces together, slap the magnet on the roof of your car and plug it into your CB radio and you’re good to go.
- Only 3 feet tall. You’ll see a big improvement after installing this short but powerful CB antenna.
- Impossible to knock off. The CBRHGA can withstand the strongest winds and the most intense storms.
- Rubber coated base. The CBRHGA’s rubber coated base prevents it from damaging your paint job.
- Comes with a wrench. The package contains an allen wrench, which is all you need to install this antenna.
- Pre-tuned at the factory. You can probably improve the performance a bit if you adjust it yourself, but the factory set up on this antenna is good enough to get started immediately.
- Long distance communication. Even in when there are lots of obstructions, you can still communicate effectively from up to 10 miles away.
- Heavy duty construction. The whip and hardware are made out of stainless steel.
- Even though the CBRHGA is quite good for a magnet mounted antenna, it’s still not as good as professional grade CB antenna products.
- The thin protective rubber coating doesn’t do well in cold weather. The base begins to break down and crack after a couple of winters.
Wilson 305-38: Taller than most magnetic antennas
If you’re looking for the convenience of a magnetic CB antenna but you want just a bit more range, check out the Wilson 305-38. It’s bigger and more powerful than most other magnetic CB radio antennas.
- A foot taller than most magnetic CB antennas. The extra length gives you significantly better performance and range.
- High performance magnet. The 305-38’s magnet is powerful enough to hang on to your vehicle even if you like to drive fast.
- Aerodynamic design. Even though the whip is thicker than most CB radio whips, it doesn’t get tossed around in the wind thanks to its aerodynamic, wind resistant design.
- Big, heavy magnet. The base of the magnet is nice and wide and it weighs 10 ounces.
- No scratches. Like most CB radio antennas that feature a magnetic base, the 305-38 features a scratch resistant rubber protector that prevents it from messing up your paint job.
- The Wilson brand name. Most CB radio enthusiasts agree that Wilson is one of the best manufacturers of CB radio parts and equipment.
- Easy to install. If you don’t like reading instructions, just watch one of the many free YouTube videos that shows you every step of the 305-38 installation process.
- When it’s dry, the 305-38’s magnet works quite well. But when it starts to rain, it will slide off your vehicle if water penetrates the seal.
- Though this antenna is one of the best performing magnetic antennas on the market, it’s also quite expensive compared to the competition.
K40 K-30: 15 feet of coax cable to work with
If you have to do some creative electrical work to hook your CB radio up to your antenna, a few feet of extra coax cable comes in handy. The K40 K-30 comes with 15 feet of coaxial cable, which is more than enough for most types of CB radio setups.
- Installation is super simple. Magnetic antennas are great for CB radio users who don’t want to fiddle around with complicated clamps or mounts.
- Strong magnet. Some people prefer mounted antennas because they believe magnetic antennas fall off easily, but the K-30’s super strong magnet allows it to stay attached to your car or truck no matter what.
- Cool color scheme. This black and red antenna matches just about any color vehicle, but it looks especially good on dark paint.
- It handles high powered CB radios. This antenna can handle up to 300 watts of AM broadcasting power.
- Comes with an extra long coax cable. With the K-30 you get a jumbo sized 15 foot coaxial cable.
- Great performance. If you invest in a K-30 antenna, you can kiss static filled transmissions goodbye.
- PL-259 compatible. PL-259 is the most common connector type found on CB radios.
- The K-30 provides great value and ease of use, but if you want the best performance possible you’ll need to pick up a hard mounted CB antenna.
- If you don’t know how to tune this antenna, you probably won’t get very good range out of it. Either learn how to tune it yourself or take it to a shop before you use it for best results.
Midland 18-2442: Easy to tune
The Midland 18-2442 is super easy to tune. All you have to do is loosen a set screw and move the antenna up or down.
- Simple tuning system. Some CB radios can only be tuned by experts, but anyone who can loosen and tighten a screw can tune the Midland 18-2442.
- Easy installation. Like most magnetic antennas, all you have to do is attach it to a metal part of your car and hook up the wires.
- Won’t rattle or fall off when you drive. Even at high speeds, the Midland 18-2442’s super strong magnet ensures that this antenna won’t wiggle, fall off or rattle.
- It won’t damage your vehicle. This antenna comes with a rubber seal that’s designed to protect your vehicle’s paint job.
- Great value. Even though the 18-2442 is built by a brand name manufacturer, it’s actually cheaper than most other CB radio antennas.
- Quality construction. Midland is known for making great electronics products and the 18-2442 is no exception.
- 2 mile range in urban environments. The 18-2442 outperforms other CB antennas when it comes to sending and receiving transmissions in cities.
- If you don’t regularly maintain this device, it’ll eventually start to rust. The whip is not rust proof.
- The 18-2442 performs well for what it is. However, you can get much better performance out of a professional grade CB radio antenna.