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Complete Guide to CB Coax

Posted by Pat Haggerty updated

It may not seem very sexy, but coax is important stuff. Select cheap coax and you may save a few bucks today, but you'll be kicking yourself in 6 months when your coax fails right before a weekend trail ride or at the beginning of an important work day.

Different Types of Coax Connections

PL-259 Connections (Barrel Style)

The PL-259 coax connection is the most popular in the CB world. It has a barrel / screw-on type look, as can be seen in the picture below. 

All CB coax will have a PL-259 connection on at least one end as this is the standard type of connection that plugs into the back of all CB radios. Depending on the coax purchased, the other end of the coax could be another PL-259 style end or, alternatively, a ring-style or even lug-style connection.

PL-259 Coax Cable End | Right Channel Radios

Ring Style Connections

Ring-style coax ends are another popular way to connect the CB coax to the mount. Compared to PL-259 connections, they have two significant advantages.

First, they have a lower profile and allow the coax to come off the mount at a 90 degree angle versus straight down. This is advantageous for tight mounting situations.

Secondly, because they're made exclusively of plastic, they tend to hold up to the weather and moisture better than the metal made PL-259 connection. The chances of them becoming rusted or stuck are significantly less.

Ring-Style Coax Cable End | Right Channel Radios

Lug / Terminal Style Connection

While it's not as popular as a PL-259 or ring-style coax, the terminal style connection is used in a few unique circumstances. Terminal style coax connects using a small o-connection and is often used when a very clean and sleek mounting application is required - like for a side or ball mount that utilizes both the inside and outside of a mounting surface.

Terminal Style CB Coax Cable End | Right Channel Radios

FME Screw-Off Ends

When routing coax cable, you'll often be working with small firewall opening or holes. In these cases, it's really a pain to have a large PL-259 connector that's too big to fit through the smaller opening. It forces you to either remove the PL-259 connection and re-solder it on once routed OR drill a larger hole.

FME connections are great because they allow you to remove the PL-259 connection (see picture below) for easy routing of the smaller diameter coax. Then, once the cable is successfully routed, you can simply screw the cable back together using the FME connection (instead of messy soldering) and you're ready to go.

It's the best of both worlds: large PL-259 or ring-style connections with the convenience of tiny cable routing.

CB Coax Cable with FME Connection | Right Channel Radios

Different Quality Grades of CB Coax

RG-58 (Standard Coax)

This is the standard grade coax included with many kits, mounts and packages. It has average shielding and an average thickness exterior with the cable diameter measuring about 0.20".

For RG-58, we recommend Firestik's coax - either this ring-style coax with FME connector (very popular) or their standard dual PL-259 CB coax.

RG-8X (Premium Coax)

RG-8X is like a standard coax on steroids. It has a stranded center, which makes it less likely than a solid center (found on cheaper coax) to snap when bent and pinched. It usually also has beefier insulation and is just thicker in general measuring in at around a 1/4" diameter.

If you'll be using your coax in heavy-duty conditions and want something that's more likely to hold up to abuse, we recommend going with RG-8X coax.

For a great heavy-duty choice, consider this 18' PL-259 RG8X CB coax cable.

RG8X CB Coax Cable | Right Channel Radios

RG-59 (Dual Antenna Coax)

If you're running dual antennas, you must use RG-59 coax. Any other type of coax won't work with your dual antenna setup.

Some people will purchase regular coax cable and try to use a T-connector to install everything. While everything will wire up, your dual antenna system simply won't work properly. You can see all of our RG-59 style CB coax here.  

RG59 Dual Antenna Coax Cable | Right Channel Radios

Other Quality Factors

Stranded Centers

Most cheaper coax utilizes a solid center carrier wire. Because it's just one piece, if it breaks or splinters, your coax is worthless and can no longer carry a signal. One door slam and your coax could be toast. 

With a stranded center made up of many smaller carrier wires, you're much less likely to lose your signal. Even if one of those strands break, you have numerous backups that will ensure your signal gets through.

All RG8X coax will have a stranded core. To know if RG-58 or RG-59 does, check the product description or see if it includes a "A/U" designation, which indicates a solid core.

Hand Soldered vs. Machine Soldered

You may also hear the term "hand soldered" ends when reading about coax. This simply means that the PL-259 ends were soldered on by human hands and not by a machine. This usually indicates that the connection and work will be of superior quality and less likely to be faulty and/or break in the future.

Our Top Coax Recommendations

18' of RG-8X Premium Coax

One of our top recommendations is 18' of extremely durable, high-quality RG8X CB coax. If you'll be abusing your coax or just really want it to hold up well, this is the coax for you.  


RG8X CB Coax Cable | Right Channel Radios


18' Firestik Ring Style w/ FME Connector

This super convenient ring-style CB coax end and FME make installation simple. While not full RG8X, it does have a stranded center for enhanced durability.  The ring-style coax connection is weather resistant and won't rust, while the FME connection makes it easy to route the coax through small holes in the tub and/or firewall.  

Ring-Style CB Coax Cable with FME Connector | Right Channel Radios


See All Our Coax By Type


Pat Haggerty

About the Author

As the owner and operator of Right Channel Radios, Pat Haggerty has been helping customers find the best radio solutions since 2008. He is highly knowledgeable in all mobile radio options and setups, including CB radios, GMRS radios, and HAM radios. His wide library of how-to and help articles is frequently referred to as one of the best resources for CB radio installations and technical support online. When he's not assisting radio enthusiasts online or on the phone, you can find Pat enjoying all that Montana's trails have to offer on his skis, mountain bike or Land Cruiser.

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