CB radios are a great purchase, but they won’t do you much good if you’re not willing to also invest in the best CB antenna money can buy. Here’s why: CB radios are confined to four watts of power and have a limited range, somewhere around 10 miles. A quality antenna will not only boost the range of your radio, enabling you to communicate across a greater distance, but it will also reduce issues associated with loss of signal and interruptions. The harsh truth? The factory truck antenna that you already have won’t cut it.
There are plenty of factors you should consider before purchasing a CB antenna, including how tall it needs to be, how further you want it to reach, and where/how you plan to mount it. Whether you use your CB radio as a hobby or for communication needs, you should make sure that works flawlessly. Read on for a quick buying guide about what to pay attention to when doing your research, along with comprehensive reviews to help you find the best CB antenna for your needs.
WHICH TYPE OF CB ANTENNA SHOULD YOU GET?
There are three main types of antennas you can choose from: fiberglass, whip, and base-station.
Fiberglass antennas are generally the most popular models on the market. They’re made of fiberglass poles wrapped with copper wire. These models are relatively cheap and you can mount them lower on the vehicle.
Whip antennas consist of a stainless steel whip which you can to tie down when the antenna isn’t in use. They’re base or center loaded and you need to mount them higher on the vehicle – like on the roof of the vehicle, for example. While they are not as efficient as other models, they work just fine to cover basic communication needs. Magnet mount antennas are very popular, as they’re easy to install and come with everything you need to get them up and running - the coax, magnetic mount, and whip antenna. To set up a magnet mount antenna all you need to do is clean the area where it will go and place it vertically on your vehicle.
Finally, base-station antennas are usually used in fixed locations. These are made from fiberglass (with a length of 12-18 feet) or aluminum, but are not generally recommended for a mobile CB operation. They also need to be mounted high for best results. However, you can rely on them to work flawlessly.
Nowadays, you can find antennas with wire wrapped around the main shaft to form a coil. This enables the antenna to be shorter and more practical. At the same time, the antenna will be less efficient - that’s why you need to be extra careful of where you place it. The placement of the coil on the antenna is known as the load position, leaving you, again, with three main options.
1. Base-loaded CB antennas have coil wrapped around body at the base. Thicker coil will give it a higher Watt capacity. Since the coil needs to be above the vehicle, there aren’t many effective mounting positions. The police are known for using base loaded antennas since they are the most durable and practical of the bunch.
2. For center-loaded CB antennas, the coil is placed near the center and it’s usually protected by a plastic cover. The rest of the antenna resembles a long whip. Center-loaded CB antennas are popular among truckers – they can function better than a base-loaded model, but may not last you as long.
3. If you’re looking for the best CB antenna available, you should go with a top-loaded one. Typically made of fiberglass, this type of antennas as the coil wrapped around the upper half and covered with a protective shield. The only downside is that these antennas have a lower Watt capacity. However, they can handle the standard four Watts limitations of CB radio – so they’re perfect if you’re just looking to cover the basics. This makes them a common choice for all types of vehicles, from trucks to cars to RVs.
WHAT’S THE BEST CB ANTENNA LENGTH?
As you might have already guessed, the taller the antenna, the better its range. The best CB antenna length is somewhere around 8.5 feet. However, that’s way too tall to be practical. That’s where the coil comes in, enabling you to make great use of a shorter version. After all, even if you mount the antenna as high on your vehicle as possible, you still want to avoid damaging it when driving – for instance when clearing bridges or parking structures.
Worried about your antenna being too long or being mounted too high? Consider getting tool-free quick disconnect accessories for the model of your choosing.
HOW TO GET THE BEST PERFORMANCE FROM YOUR CB ANTENNA
Once you’re settled on a certain model of CB antenna, you need a good mounting location. The higher it goes the better range you’ll get, but generally you want most of the antenna to clear the roof line of the vehicle to avoid signal interruptions. Also, it’s important to keep it vertical and protect it against damage. That way, it will last you much longer. You can mount it on the roof or hood for best results. We don’t recommend the bumper or fender, since that’s pretty low on the vehicle and can lead to poor transmissions and dropped signals.
The coax cable is also essential, as you’ll have to run it from the back of the radio to the antenna. The farther your antenna is from your radio, the more cable you’ll need. If you have to run the can through a window or some other obstacle, we recommend you invest in a model with detachable connectors.
When your antenna is set up, you’ll want to tune it in order to maximize your radio’s transmission and reception abilities. To put it simply, tuning refers to adjusting the height of your antenna until your radio works as efficiently as possible. Of course, this will vary depending on the model you landed on and the placement of the antenna. An external Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) meter will come in handy during the process.
Start by measuring how your system performs with the help of the SWR meter and continue to make regular adjustments and readings until you improve the signal output. That translates to getting the lowest SWR reading possible. If you’re using a magnet mount antenna, you can move it around as needed, but you may have to tune it again after every move. As it usually happens, even a magnet mount antenna comes with pros and cons.
BEST CB ANTENNA – FINAL TIP
While there are plenty of popular models of CB antennas on the market, the most important thing is to consider your type of vehicle and the future placement of the device before making a purchase. While it’s better to have a longer antenna, buying one will do you no good if you can’t find a practical spot to mount it.
If you’re just getting started with this whole CB business, a magnet mount antenna might be a better option for you, since they’re user-friendly. Like with any good camera, a good antenna won’t rise to its potential if you can’t really figure out how to use it. If you’re sure you’re ready to handle more, we look for the best CB antenna on the market below, so read on for some shopping inspiration.
TOP 5 CB ANTENNA REVIEWS
Wilson 305-492 T2000 Series Black Mobile CB Trucker Antenna
The WILSON 305-492 2000 TRUCKER CB RADIO ANTENNA is extremely efficient. Here are its pros:
- Durable stainless steel whip
- This is a center-loaded coil antenna
- The whip is 49”
- The whip is flexible
- The shaft is 5”
- The antenna ranges 26MHz to 30MHz
- The Wilson 305-492 handles 3500 watts
- There is a standard 3/8”x24 Chromed Brass Ferrule
- The coil has a large housing which means more power
- This is a set of two antennas
- Easy to set up and use
As for the cons, we only need to mention that it may take you some time to trim this antenna down to the right length. All in all, if you want the best CB antenna available, you can't go wrong with this one.
Solarcon A-99 CB Base Station Antenna
A reliable fiberglass option, the Solarcon A-99 CB Base Station Antenna makes for a great investment Here are the pros on this one:
- The Solarcon A-99 is an Omni-directional fiberglass station CB antenna
- Handles 200 Watts PEP
- The antenna is a vertical type
- Tunable for lowest SWR reading
- It works with GPK-1 ground place
- The antenna is insulated up to 14,500 Volts
- The mounting plate is heavy duty
- The antenna may take great wind loads
- Comes with a useful instruction manual
- Easy to assemble
- You need a good ground for the antenna
- Great price
As for the cons, here are our comments:
- Needs optional mounting mast and coaxial cable
- Shipping may take a while, depending on your location
- Can be hard to tune
- It’s a bit difficult to set it up and take down
- You need to use vise grips and a crescent wrench to screw for the mid-section to bottom
PREDATOR K-1-9 COWTOWN CB RADIO ANTENNA
Made in the US, the Predator K-1-9 Cowtown CB Radio Antenna is a reliable option easily qualifying as one of the best CB antenna models out there. Here are the pros:
- Built of long-lasting machined aluminum
- Made in the US
- The whip is 58”
- The whip is made of durable stainless steel
- The whip is very flexible and resistant to moderate damage
- The coil is 22.5”
- The shaft is 9”
- The antenna gives you a frequency range of 26-28 MHz
- Handles 10,000 Watts
- The connector is 3/8
- There is a lifetime manufacturer warranty
- The antenna is very light and resistant
- The large corona ball reduces noise and static build-up
- Parts of the antenna are replaceable so you don’t need to buy a new one if something breaks down
- This is a base thread standard
- There is a coax cable available for the antenna
- Easy tot tune
- No rusting
As for the cons, we only need to complain about the footprint. The antenna is quite large, so you it will take up a lot of space on your car’s hood.
Workman Viper Cb Radio Mobile Antenna Silver
Apart from the good word of mouth, it’s the stylish look of the Workman Viper CB Radio Mobile Antenna Silver that really caught our eye. Here are our pros:
- Handles 25kWatts
- Stainless steel whip
- The antenna is made of premium grade aluminum
- The snake comes with glow in the dark eyes
- There are 3/8×24 bottom threads
- The range of the frequency is from 26 to 30 MHz
- The antenna gets to you in two pieces which are very easy to assemble
- The attached coil is molded to look like a snake
- The antenna has a black finish
- Resistant to rust and corrosion
- Great performance
- Well made
- The antenna tunes easily
On the other hand, there are some issues with this antenna:
- The black finish is poorly applied and doesn’t last for long
- The snake's glow in the dark eyes aren't as spectacular as you might expect
- The antenna performs well, but it’s not the best on the market
However, given the reasonable price, you get a solid, quality product. It may not be the best CB antenna out there, but it works very well. As a fun bonus, the snake will surely turn heads.
CB Distributing Firestik LG4M2-B 4 ft. Side Mount Antenna with Ngp Kit -Black
If you need to get an antenna for your bike, the Firestik LG4M2-B 4 ft. Side Mount Antenna with Ngp Kit is a good option. Here are the pros:
- Single side mount type
- This is a no ground plane kit
- You get a 12 feet coax cable
- There are 122 cm mounting bolts
- Good performance and good range
- Easy to install
- Excellent customer support
However, if you truly are on the market for the best CB antenna available, you should be aware of the cons:
- The housing looks kind of flimsy
- The antenna doesn’t come with a manual
- You need to add a spring to strike the antenna
- You can only install this on a non-metal vehicle
All in all, we can't really complain given the affordable price.