Best SWR Meter for CB & HAM Radios: Top 6 of 2021 Reviewed

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A good SWR meter for CB & HAM radios can test a wide range of frequencies at multiple power settings.

Precise, lightweight, and capable of handling large loads without shorting out.

On the other hand, a poor-quality SWR meter with finicky controls, poor power ratings, and a bulky exterior isn’t good for much more than a paperweight (and who even uses paperweights anymore?).

To help you separate the good from the bad – we’ve reviewed the Top 6 SWR Meters for CB & Ham Radios of 2021.

Buy with the confidence that you’re buying one of the best SWR meters for CB & HAM radios on the market. Let’s jump straight into the reviews.

best overall rating
Daiwa SWR Meter
  • Wideband frequency range and 1.5kw power rating
  • High 50-ohm impedance
  • Strong tolerance & dependability
premium choice rating
MFJ SWR Meter
  • Effective for both amateur & professional use
  • Huge power & SWR range
  • Wide frequency range in HF, VHF, & UHF
great value rating
Astatic SWR Meter
  • Mountable for permanent use or mobile transportation
  • High resistance handles most standard loads
  • Small & lightweight

Top 6 Best SWR Meters for CB & HAM Radios

Daiwa HAM Radio SWR Meter – Best Overall

DAIWA CN-501H 1.8-150 MHz Cross-Needle SWR/Power Meter W/ SO239s
  • Frequency Range: 1.8-150 MHz
  • Power Range (forward): 15w/150w/1.5 kw
  • Power Rating: 1.5kw (1.8-60 MHz) 1KW (144 MHz)

The CN-501H model by Daiwa is easily one of the best meters for CB radios we could find, featuring an ultra-wide frequency range of 1.8 – 150MHz.

Its cross-needle configuration allows you to monitor SWR, reflected power, and forward power all at the same time without needing a separate procedure for recalibration making it the highest-performing multifunctional SWR meter on the market today.

The CN-501 is fully switchable depending on your power needs for either a 20 or 200-watt reading. Its forward power rating scales from 15 watts to 1.5 kilowatts, or up to 144MHz.

The SWR power meter is easy to read and is highly accurate compared with similarly-priced SWR meters, making the Daiwa stand out among the competition.

It’s built with standard female UHF connectors and will work for all VHF/UHF bands commonly used for CB & HAM radios. There is no more effective and reliable tool for emergency responders than a multi-band, hand-held scanner, making the Daiwa a great model for anyone working in EMS or fire departments.

The side cover has a rubbery compound that makes it non slip. The side cover is perfect for people who are always on the go and want to carry their meters anywhere. It’s highly durable and can withstand daily use.

This is the perfect CB radio SWR power meter for hobbyist or professional use. It’s easy to read and was very accurate compared with other meters. For the price, there are few better CB radio SWR meters you can get today.

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What We Like
  • Wideband frequency range
  • High 50-ohm impedance
  • Strong tolerance & dependability
  • Compact & easy to carry
What We Don’t Like
  • Plain interface & design

MFJ Ham Radio SWR Meter – Premium Choice

RF Power & SWR meter for 1.8-525Mhz - HF / VHF / UHF 200W
  • For Amateur / Ham Radio, Commercial, Marine, AIR & CB Two-Way Radios.
  • Reads Power & SWR up to 200 Watts. 5 Watt, 20 or 200W power ranges.
  • Frequency Range of 1.8 to 525Mhz covers, HF, VHF & UHF!

The MFJ Enterprises RF Power and SWR Meter is the ideal tool for the serious amateur radio operator. The meter is calibrated to read SWR correctly out to 1.8 GHz, which makes it a great tool for all sorts of modern communications.

It’s also calibrated out to 525 MHz, giving you accurate measurements to help you make better contact with your fellow hams. It has everything you need in a powerful multi-purpose meter, and nothing you don’t.

This meter has a front panel layout that lets the operator select power ranges or make SWR readings intuitively. The unit is also equipped with front panel features that allow the operator to select frequency bands or make SWR readings intuitively.

It also has a rugged injection-molded black front panel that perfectly matches any transceiver and gold plated center pins designed to provide superior performance above 525MHz.

The meter accurately measures SWR between the transmitter and antenna and supplies accurate output in real-time so that the operator can simultaneously monitor both power level and correct antenna feed system adjustment as needed.

The precision luminous field strength indicator (FSAI) delivers powerful information easily and immediately. It lets you easily see exactly what your antenna and transmitter power settings are doing with minimal training, experience, or manual learning needed.

The result is an accurate meter that looks natural on your radio.

Given that the MFJ Ham Radio SWR Meter is easy to read, easy to use, and incredibly accurate, there’s no question that it lives up to its increased price point. Its durability both inside and out set it apart from competing SWR power meter products, so if you can shell out the extra dough, you’re getting the best SWR meter that’s built to last.

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What We Like
  • Effective for both amateur & professional use
  • Huge power & SWR range
  • Wide frequency range in HF, VHF, & UHF
  • Backlit display
What We Don’t Like
  • High-end price

Astatic Compact SWR Meter – Great Value

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Astatic 302-01768 PDC7 Compact SWR Meter
  • Compact 3 Function Test Meter
  • Indicates the Condition of Any 52 Ohm Antenna and Coax
  • Designed to be Used for Base Operations or Mobile Operations

The Astatic PDC7 Compact SWR Meter is a compact 3-function test meter that tests for SWR, field strength. and RF power. This product is designed to be used for base operations or mobile operations giving it great versatility for its low price point.

This model can be permanently installed and comes with 2 outlets; one from the radio and the other to the antenna. However, its compact size makes it the best SWR meter for carrying on the go, too.

The main unit is powered by two alkaline batteries (not included). It’s designed to operate between 26 & 30 Mhtz and calibrated to work with a resistance of 50 ohms, so it’s built to handle most standard loads. Simple, functional, and powerful!

It’s easy to set up, but once you try it, you’ll find out how sensitive the dial is. Setting the dial improperly results in erratic readings and non-zero meter readings until you unhook and reset the base station.

A poorly configured SWR meter can result in a sporadic indication of signal strength when a radio transmitter is present, thereby confusing the receiver as to what spectrum conditions are occurring. However, all of this means that the Astatic’s dial can be fine-tuned to exactly the frequency you need with a little bit of careful attention to detail.

The Astatic Compact SWR Meter is an incredibly versatile tool. Even though its manual controls can be tricky, they are just as effective as, if not more than, competing meters.

With the right settings, the meter’s readings will be more uniform, and that’s not even talking about the plethora of other applications it can be used for — ranging from an antenna analyzer, a repeated measurement tool, and even a wave generator. For the price, there’s no better SWR power meter for HAM radio and CB radios.

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What We Like
  • Mountable for permanent use or mobile transportation
  • High resistance handles most standard loads
  • Small & lightweight
  • Great for tight budgets
What We Don’t Like
  • Fewer features than higher-end SWR meters
  • Sensitive dial is hard to fine-tune

Surecom Ham Radio SWR Meter

Gam3Gear Surecom SW-102S SO239 Connector Digital VHF UHF 125-525Mhz...
  • VSWR. Forward and reflected power direct digital readout, without any calibration. NOTE: DOES NOT compatible with Digital Radio
  • Maximum measurable power range up to 120W.
  • Low insertion loss (0.3 decibels or less) structure allows it to be permanently connected.

The Surecom SW-102S SO239 Connector Digital VHF UHF 125-525Mhz Power & SWR Meter with Ground Plate is a high-performance transmitter power meter. This unit reads both direct and reflected power as well as VSWR for all UHF and VHF frequencies up to 600MHz.

The Surecom SW-102S SO239 Connector Digital VHF UHF 125-525Mhz Power & SWR Meter with Ground Plate is available in a compact, rugged design that is ideal for portable use. It will provide accurate measurements over the entire range of frequencies.

Easily the best SWR meter by Surecome, this is a powerful device available at a great price. This is a strong, well-built SWR meter with great sensitivity and battery life.

It has all the functionality of a two-meter meter, including frequency and power indication for field strength radio power use.

Apart from giving you the SWR of your antenna, the backlit LCD screen on this excellent low power amateur radio antenna provides actual transmit frequency and transmitted power with every transmission.

The back-lit LCD display on the unit is easy to read with a thoughtful UI.

This handy device can immediately test the strength of your signal in a variety of situations. The frequency readout is completely accurate with a solid band and minimal noise to distract from the reading.

SWR and PWR readings are within the expected ranges. The only drawback is that the battery life is slightly weak, so you may need to carry backup power sources on the go.

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What We Like
  • Reads all VHF & UHF frequencies
  • Compact & durable
  • Accurate readings in all ranges
What We Don’t Like
  • Simple & feature-bare
  • Low battery life

Driver’s Product SWR Meter for CB Radio Antennas

Driver's Product SWR Meter for CB Radio Antennas Heavy Duty Metal with...
  • EASY TO INSTALL! Compatible with all CB radios that have standard SO-239 connection, handheld models included
  • Works on the CB frequency range of 27 MHz
  • SWR readings ranging from 1:1 to 1:3 and has a 52 ohm impedance rating

The SWR meter is a must for any CB radio operator. It allows you to easily measure the strength of your CB signal and adjust your antenna accordingly.

This Driver’s Product SWR meter has an LED display that shows you the frequency, mode, battery voltage, and RF power output when you press a button on the unit. It’s easy to read at a glance!

It easily switches between AM/FM/SSB/FRS/GMRS/MURS frequencies with one simple push of the button. You can use it on both VHF/UHF bands to check any CB radio or HAM radio.

This could be a great meter because it helps you easily see your SWR on the fly. However, since it only measures SWR, you’re missing the key point of this multi-meter. Failing to test for power output can leave you clueless.

It’s good to see that it has heavy-duty construction — even with the small size of this product — but power testing will yield more helpful information for users.

It’s no surprise we recommend the Driver’s Product SWR power meter as one of the best SWR meter pieces for CB radio enthusiasts. Some consumers have been having problems with old-type meters and jamming signals.

Buyers have been thrilled about this new and improved SWR meter that can offer crystal clear accuracies between 1:1 and 5:1 with the user’s choice of measuring frequency. However, since it lacks a little bit of important measurement information, it doesn’t quite measure up to the Daiwa or MJF SWR power meters.

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What We Like
  • Reads multiple frequency bands including VHF & UHF
  • Portable & easy to use
  • Allows quick adjustments on-the-fly
What We Don’t Like
  • Doesn't test power output
  • High price for low functionality

Workman SWR2T SWR Meter for CB Radio Antennas

SWR METER for CB Radio Antennas with 3' Jumper cable - Workman SWR2T &...
  • SWR Test Meter CB Radio Frequency Range 27 MHZ
  • SWR 1:1 to 1:3 / 52 ohm impedance
  • SO-239 Input and Output Connectors W/ Heavy Duty Metal Case

The Workman SWR2T Meter is designed to be used with CB radio antennas, including the SWR2T and CX-3. This SWR meter has a unique dual-frequency internal design.

The meter automatically switches from the first radio frequency (27 MHz) to the second CB radios’ frequency (50 MHz) when you connect an antenna that has the right impedance for each band.

Both frequencies are displayed on a high-visibility LCD display. When you switch back, the CB/SWR/HAM radio meter automatically switches back to 27 MHz.

The included 3-foot coax is one of the best perks of this meter for CB radios, as it makes it easy to use right out of the box. If your CB does not include this feature (which most inexpensive and some expensive versions do), you will likely fry your CB and get crappy reception.

The SWR meter is a very easy-to-use tool, but instructions could use some work. There are a lot of how-tos for using this tool online, and these help illustrate the SWR meter’s simple user-friendly interface.

As for its size, a SWR meter is a small device that can be easily affixed to the end of the antennas. It’s designed to measure the gain or weakness of an antenna and is also used in amateur radio or radio DX transmissions.

A good SWR meter will offer accurate readings with a soft arc and a well-calibrated knob. We wouldn’t describe the metal frame of our model in that way, but its build quality is what you’d expect at this price point.

As a result, while the Workman SWR2T S W R meter does its job, it’s not one of the best SWR CB/HAM radio meters out there due to its lack of user support and cheap build quality.

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What We Like
  • Automatically tunes into common frequencies in each band
  • Includes coax cable
  • Low price point
What We Don’t Like
  • Poor instructions & end-user support
  • Durability concerns

About Blake Sutton

Blake has worked as an electrician for over 10 years, receiving his Journeyman Electrician license in 1998. Looking to take his professional electrical career further, in 2008 he received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) from the University of Texas in Austin. Blake now works full time as an electrical engineer, specializing in power systems.