Even if you’re not from the mid-west, you’ve heard of CB radios. You’re sure to have seen them in movies and commercials – those walkie talkies truckers use. And they always seem to have weird nicknames or handles to maintain anonymity – the government initially required licenses for CB radio, and not every trucker could be bothered.
CB stands for Citizen’s Band. It’s the most common way for truckers to communicate with each other, their customers, suppliers, and fleet managers. It’s a crucial survival tool when you spend months on the road, so let’s identify the best CB antenna to clarify your signal.
Best CB Antenna Comparison Chart 2020
Wilson 305-38 Magnet Mount Antenna
K40 Magnetic CB Antenna
Solarcon A-99 CB Base Station Antenna
Tram 703-HC Center Load CB Antenna Kit
Wilson 305-492 T2000 CB Truck Antenna
Midland 18-2442 Mobile CB Antenna
FireStik FL3-B FireFly Antenna
The Best CB Radio Antenna Reviews 2020
1. Best CB Antenna for Your Semi Truck – Wilson 305-38 Magnetic
- 300 Watts Power Handling Capability (ICAS)
- Large 10 oz magnet
- Heavy-Duty Coil Uses 14-Gauge Copper Wire
Little Wil is considered one of the world’s most powerful magnet CB antennas. It says so right there on the pack. But you don’t have to take their word for it. You can check out some of the listed benefits before we dig into our personal opinions. This magnetic CB antenna works well for semi trucks because they’re mostly for urban driving so you don’t need much clearance.
But even though it’s a ‘little antenna’ it still packs a good 36 inches in height. Because it’s magnetic, you can use the ideal mounting position – in the middle of a metallic car roof. Plus, as long as you’re not driving in tree-lines areas, the magnet will stay safe. Even then, it’s a large 10-oz magnet with a 3.5-inch bottom-loaded diameter so it can withstand regular road conditions.
Some truckers and drivers are unsatisfied with the 10-mile range on their CB radios. So they’ll jerry-rig an amp or power booster, even though it’s illegal in the states. So if you’re not opting for longer-range ham radio, you’ll want an antenna with extra power to handle your modifications. Little Wil stays intact up to 300W before meltdown, so it’s a smart buy.
This antenna covers the standard CB range of 26MHz to 30MHz. The outer shell is made of high impact thermoplastic so it’s waterproof, heatproof, and weatherproof, suitable for roof-top mounting. And the magnet easily clips off when you’re in low-hanging regions. The low-loss coil is durable, heavy-duty 14-gauge copper, and the 36-inch whip is made of stainless steel.
You might worry magnetic mounts will mess their paintwork. Especially if your route needs you to regularly remove and remount your antenna. This will happen often if your drive under bridges or loading onto docks and trailers. Little Wil has a plastic sleeve under his magnetic base so he won’t mess your bodywork. But because he’s on the shorter side, boost him with a roof mount.
- Its large 3.5-inch 10-oz magnet can withstand average driving conditions.
- The whip is 36 inches tall.
- The antenna can handle power up to 300W.
- This antenna is best suited for rooftop placement. If your roof isn’t metallic or if you need a hood or bumper mount, the coil will be below the roof, diluting your signal.
2. Best Magnetic CB Antenna – K40 Magnetic CB Antenna
- Auto & Truck Maintenance
- Country of manufacture: United States
- Manufacturer: K40
Even if you’re clear on your CB slang and Q-codes, you may still feel a little lost at the CB antenna store. For example, while this particular CB antenna is designed by a US company called K40, the model name for the antenna itself is K30. Be clear on that or you may end up buying the wrong thing. A good hardware store clerk will correct you and explain your mistake.
A bad one will sell you the much more expensive K40 and probably refuse a refund once you realize your mistake – it’s triple the cost! That said, some drivers use their CB radio every day. Others only use them temporarily during road trips, outdoor festivals, hikes, or off-road trips. This probably means you want to remove your CB radio (or its antenna) the rest of the time.
You also want an antenna that’s easy to install. K30 fits the bill because all the hardware is included. Use the Allen key to screw the antenna onto its base then just ‘plant’ it on the car roof. This 300W antenna works with standard 4W or 5W CB radios. But it can also work with higher ham radios and other receiving and/or transmitting devices. It’s not built for car radios though.
How come? Well, most car radios – just like ham radios – use FM channels. CB radios use AM so they need compatible antennas. Luckily, the K30’s magnetic mounting system means you can install it on any metallic car component. It works best when mounted on the roof because the whip is only 35 inches. You may not get enough clearance if you mount it on the hood.
Other than that, the K30 has the same features as many magnetic CB antennas. It sits on a 10-oz magnet and comes with a 15-foot co-ax. The co-ax is pre-connected to ease installation. Your K30 antenna wire is 14-gauge copper and the whip is 17-7-gauge stainless steel. But the antenna is designed with a perfect 180° tip so it doesn’t need an anti-static ball at the top.
- It’s a US-made brand with a 5-year warranty.
- The antenna has a base-loaded coil and a 35-inch whip.
- You don’t need tools or drills to install it.
- In hilly areas, the range can shrink to as little as a mile, so consider getting a longer back-up antenna or running a two-radio system for the hilly sections of your drive.
3. Best CB Base Station Antenna – Solarcon A-99 CB Antenna
- SOLARCON A-99 17.5' Omni-Directional Fiberglass Base Station CB Antenna.
- Handles 200 Watts PEP
- For 10M-12M Amateur Use too.
The taller your CB antenna is (vertical height), the better your clarity and volume of signals. Longer whips catch more messages. And antennas that have similar proportions to wavelengths mean stronger transmission and farther reception. CB radios use either UHF or 27MHz, so their wavelength is roughly 40 feet. That’s why so many antennas measure 10 feet.
10-foot antennas are about ¼ of a CB wave, and this Solarcon antenna sits snugly at the ½ wave point. (¼ wave and ½ wave antennas are the most common kinds.) Its fiberglass mast is 18 feet and can accommodate up to 2,000W. This makes it a compatible antenna for ham radios, which hover around the 1.5kW space. CB radios need a lot less technical skill than ham radios though.
This 18-foot Solarcon mast is subdivided into 3 sections you’ll need to assemble correctly. It’s a DC grounded antenna with effective SWR tuning. And because it’s a top-loaded antenna, the coil is at the upper tip and attracts signals and receives broadcasts while repelling static. The antenna is insulated to withstand up to 14,500V without shorting out or melting down.
While fiberglass antennas are commonly recommended for off-road driving, this one seems uncomfortable long for a truck. That’s because it’s not designed for tarmac or murram. This antenna is designated for base stations, where it can rise high in the air unobstructed. It’s meant for stationary mounting. Otherwise, that whip would cause a lot of damage on the road.
Also, when you buy this antenna, make sure the radial kit is included. It sometimes comes bundled but you may have to buy it separately. And yes, you do need those radial spokes to hold your extra-long antenna in position. You could hoist it on a shorter mast first before stretching it to full height. This will help you fine-tune your channels more effectively.
- The antenna has 4 radials that measure 6 feet each.
- It’s made of hardy fiberglass to outstand harsh weather and outdoor conditions.
- The mast measures half a wavelength so it gives heightened clarity.
- Fiberglass antennas often come as a solo purchase. You’ll have to buy the mounting hardware separately (mounting bracket, co-ax, screws, etc.)
4. Best CB Antenna for Your Pick-up Truck – Tram 703-HC CB Antenna
- Covers all CB frequencies
- Includes 3.5" magnet mount, shock spring, stainless steel whip & 17ft RG58 cable with PL-259
- Great for all your needs
When you’re driving on a busy highway or a bushy off-road trail, the position of your antenna coil matters. Top coils may snag shrubs, branches, or even street lights. Bottom coils are often magnetic so you may not get the range you want. But center-loaded antennas are perfect for pick-up trucks because the truck chassis is lower, so a center-coil is safely out of the way.
It’s not high-enough to collide with eye-level street signs and overpasses, but it’s not a base coil that might be blocked by your car window, roof rack, or other components. It’s a happy middle ground, pun intended, and is so popular with semis that its nickname is ‘The Trucker’s Antenna’. Tram 703-HC is a top contender in its class, with a 200W capacity and a 2-foot mast.
Its visuals may seem puzzling. The plastic coil casing isn’t quite in the middle, it’s about two-thirds up the mast. but the whip section is extendable. And the antenna does seem to have a coil at its base. But that’s not for reception purposes – it’s a spring loader for additional suspension.
This magnetic antenna sits on a 10-oz base that measures 3.5 inches across. The antenna connects using a 17-inch co-ax. The antenna uses a PL-259 cable and the whip has an insulated tip to scare off static. Center-load antennas are sometimes tricky to tune. You can use a set screw and SWR meter to fine-tune your Tram. It works on handheld transmitters and scanners too.
- The shock spring reduces breakage by absorbing road vibrations.
- It’s center-loaded so it’s ideal for cityscapes, highways, and urban spaces.
- It comes as a complete kit with its mounting magnet, hex screw, co-ax, and coil.
- It can be a little tough to tune and gets quite static-ky.
5. Best CB Antenna for Your 18-Wheeler – Wilson 305-492 T2000 CB Antenna
- 5" Shaft and 49" Stainless Steel Whip
- Rated at 3500 Watts
- Standard 3/8" x 24 Chromed Brass Ferrule
Trucker’s antennas aren’t just for semis. If it’s a truck and it lives on the highway, it needs the right voice. And center-loaded trucker’s antennas sing the best notes for these CB enthusiasts. And of course, an extra-long truck needs an extra-long antenna so this one packs a generous 51 inches. It’s half the height of the ‘best industry-standard 102-inch antenna’ so it’s fairly good.
Its silhouette is the opposite of the Tram, with 5 inches below its ‘center load’ and 49 inches above, so it’s not a bottom-coil model. Some people just call it the Trucker 2000 or the Wilson 2000. (For some reason, nobody seems to call it the Big Wil, which would be a great nickname.)
This powerhouse of an antenna can transmit up to 3,500W so the plastic housing is enlarged to fit a larger coil and enable more power. The antenna has a brass ferrule to keep it in place but you have to buy the mount separately. Make sure you buy one that’s strong enough to support the enlarged coil load. Also, this works best for roof mounting, to keep the coil above the roofline.
However, this trailer antenna supports a whip that’s close to 50 inches on a 5-inch shaft, and that can feel a little flimsy. The base above the coil has a plastic reinforce though, and that partially keeps the whip from flailing about while extended. Also, because your 18-wheeler is almost 80 feet long, the extended cabin partially offsets your vertical antenna height.
- It’s an extensive antenna with a 3,500W capacity.
- The antenna weighs about a pound, sufficiently hefty for an 18-wheeler.
- The coil casing is enlarged to facilitate extra power.
- The 5-inch shaft can fit any standard 3/8-inch mount, but you may need a specialized or reinforced one because of trailer length and coil-casing weight.
6. Best Mobile CB Antenna – Midland 18-2442 CB Radio Antenna
- Center Load Mag Mount Antenna
- 17-7 Stainless Steel Whip
- Prewired with Cable and Connector
Handheld CB antennas have a certain look and silhouette … and this isn’t it. That might be because this particular mobile CB antenna is designed to work with the Midland Mobile CB. It may also be because the product name is a little misleading. When most industry experts talk about mobile CB antennas, they’re referring to handheld radio models or walkie talkies.
But if your CB radio is car-mounted but has a handset you can carry out of the car, this may be a good choice. You can install this Midland 18 2442 on the car transmitter, then get a more typical mobile CB antenna for your handset. And whichever CB radio you end up buying, it helps to have a handheld back-up for rescue missions, exploratory hikes, or toilet trips in the wild.
The Midland is a magnetic antenna so it easily clips to your hood or car roof. The whip is made of center-loaded 17-7-gauge stainless steel. And while the ball housing is more of a slim cylinder than a ball, it’s sturdy enough to support the antenna, since slim whips don’t need as many curls. The base of the antenna has a spring coil for added suspension while you drive.
And the upper section of the whip is telescopic, which is ideal when you’re exploring the terrain and stray too far from the car. You can extend your whip up to 17 inches high and re-establish your connection. The wiring is pre-connected to the magnetic disc base, allowing one-step mounting.
Also, the magnetic disc is smaller than other CB models, so try mounting it at the back of the car. The smaller disc may not be strong enough to survive rooftop conditions. Plus, maybe your portable Midland CB is a ‘helper’ to your primary CB. So you can safely put your main antenna on the roof or at the front then mount your mobile CB antenna at the back to avoid interference.
- The connectors are pre-wired to make installation easier.
- It as an external spring coil for mobile mounting.
- The antenna is built to work with Midland mobile CB units.
- This only works with mobile CB radios that have car-mounted transmitters. If the transmitter is equally portable and clips on your belt as you work, there’s no suitable port, jack, or metallic surface large enough to mount this antenna.
7. Best Fiberglass CB Antenna – FireStik FL3-B FireFly CB Antenna
- Easy-tune 'bare-hands tunable tip'
- High-performance coil design
Whip antennas are stick thin, pun intended, so they often whip around in strong winds or fast cars. Fiberglass antennas are flexible to reduce damage, but they’re also sturdier than metal whips. The FireFly may be thicker than metal whips, but it’s slimmer than its fellow fiberglass antennas. And this skinny silhouette helps you reduce wind noise and clarify sound quality.
This FireFly has a distinct black rod with a gold-colored tuning tip that’s remarkably easy to use. You can order it in red, white, or blue to suit your patriotic spirit (or your car’s color scheme). The tuning tip is sometimes called a set screw, and it easily twists on and off. The top coil sits inside the tuning tip, which is why you can tune it – signals are always strongest at the coil.
Because the FireFly is a 3-foot model, it won’t be as effective as larger ones. On the other hand, it’s lightweight fiberglass, so you can mount your 3-foot rod on a mounting system designed for a much shorter antenna. This shipping box will only contain your fiberglass rod though. You’ll have to buy a mounting system and co-ax cable separately or use your existing ones.
It helps to remember this CB antenna is flexible but not retractable. And while it’s slim enough to fit standard mounts, it may be too long and top-heavy for a magnetic mount. Besides, its tail end is threaded, so find a mounting port that matches. It comes with a 5-year warranty and it’s available as a 3-foot or a 4-foot model. That extra foot is huge, so be sure what you’re ordering.
- Unlike many brands, you can tune the tip of your Firefly.
- The fiberglass tube is flexible so it’s less likely to break in the wind.
- It’s lighter and slimmer than many of its fiberglass rivals.
- This isn’t a telescopic antenna so mount it in a spot with sufficient clearance. Plus it doesn’t come with a mount or a co-ax.
What to Consider When Buying a CB Antenna?
Two-way radios come in multiple styles and settings. But when you’re shopping for your truck, you want the best CB antenna for your route. One that easily picks up your favorite station, even as you cross borders, counties, and towers. So let’s review some must-have CB antenna features.
Material and Load
The best CB antenna length is 102 inches (or 2.5m or 8.5 feet). Ideally, you want as much of this distance to stretch past the car roof. The sections below the car roof have a lot of metal and other materials that may disrupt your radio signal. But accommodating all that height can be tricky.
So most antenna manufacturers use a coil system. The wind parts of the antenna wire in a coiled mass to reduce vertical height while maximizing the signal. Top-loaded antennas are generally made of fiberglass and have their coil at the top. These are best for off-road use.
Steel antennas are mostly mid-loaded and are ideal for truckers and highway driving. Bottom-loaded antennas could be magnetically mounted. The coil is housed in a plastic case at the bottom of the antenna. They come with mounting hardware included, unlike other types.
Mounting Position and Style
The five most common places to mount your CB radio antenna are on your bull bar, roof, front bumper, hood, or rear bumper. Roof placement is best, especially if the antenna is centrally positioned to avoid interference. But if you’re driving off-road, under bridges, or in areas with height restrictions, this could be a problem. You may want a magnet that easily slips off the top.
But the mounting style isn’t all up to you. Your mechanic or dealer may dictate where the antenna goes. Many off-road services won’t agree to the extra work of roof mounting if your truck already has mounting hardware on the bull bar. So consider the right mounting style for you. Options include the trunk, mirror, roof gutter, fixed roof mount, or magnetic roof mount.
The mounting position will also affect your co-ax length and style. Rear mounts need longer cables, just as an example. And if you opt for a no-ground plane antenna, it gets a better signal because it won’t be interrupted by all the metal in your car. These are best for RVs, boats, or vehicles without a metallic chassis. But these NGP cost more and have a far shorter range.
Usage and Preference
Truckers and delivery teams use CB radios as part of their daily routine, so if you’re in that space, you need hardy, all-weather antennas. You may also have more than one radio – ideally a car-mounted stationary CB radio and a hand-held mobile one. Mobile CB radios rarely come with antennas so you’ll have to buy one separately. And they’re far shorter than stationary car CB radios.
But hand-held CB radios have a far shorter range than car CBs, which can get from 2 to 10 miles depending on the brand. Some truckers boost the power in their antennas, so they may want more powerful antennas to match. But CB radios are legally restricted to 4W in the UK and 5W in the US, so if you want a wider range, get a ham radio with a matching antenna instead.
Another element of usage and preference is gain. If you drive hilly routes and are largely off-road, you may want a 3dB antenna whose signals have a more spherical arc. 9dB and 12dB antennas have a longer reach, but their transmission arc is more elliptical. You may hear people say frequency is a factor, but CB radios use UHF or 27MHz. Most antennas cover 26 to 28MHz.
Far and Clear!
Before we sign over and out, here are top recommendations and why we chose each one:
Best Antenna Overall: Wilson 305-38 Magnet Mount Antenna
- Little Wil is ideal for driving in low-height spaces.
- He has a 36-inch whip and a 5-year guarantee.
Best Budget Antenna: K40 Magnetic CB Antenna
- It’s easy to install with no tools required.
- Its tip design is built to ward off static.
Best Antenna Upgrade: Solarcon A-99 CB Base Station Antenna
- It’s an omnidirectional residential antenna.
- It’s compatible with ham radios.
Do you have a CB radio in your truck? Show us a photo of the antenna in the comments!