If you want to get a perfect signal from your CB and Ham radio, you need to tune it. And to tune it, you need the best SWR meter.
Any standing wave ratio meter is easy to use. It is also very helpful. An SWR meter a good indication of the level of standing wave ratio. These meters give you an opportunity to configure the communication channels perfectly.
MFJ RF Power & SWR meter
Astatic 302-PDC2 SWR Meter
Workman HP201S SWR Meter
What are the Best SWR Meters?
The SWR meter will give you fine-tuning to get the most from your CB or Ham radio. It will also measure the voltage SWR and show its effectiveness while minimizing interference. This means you have to choose the best in the market to harness its maximum potential. This quick summary should help you know the unique features of each SWR meter.
Best Overall SWR Meter: MFJ RF Power SWR Meter for CB Radio
It has well-marked scales for easy reading and interpretation and a ratio meter to show the average, peak, and direct power.
Best for CB Radio: Astatic 302-PDC2 SWR/RF/Field Strength Test Meter
Its test meter enables you to test the SWR, field strength, and RF power in any CB radio.
Most Versatile: Workman HP201S SWR Power Meter
This excellent meter works with 50 ohms antennas and can be adjusted to different power levels of 5, 50, 250, and 1000 watts.
Best for Ham Radio: E56 Astatic PDC1 100 Watts SWR Meter
It is ideal for any coaxial and 50-ohm antenna as it has adjusting switches, including a forward and reverse.
Easy to use: MFJ-259C HF VHF SWR Antenna Analyzer
This device instantly reads the antenna impedance, and SWR and also the 2-line LCD display is simple to interpret.
Most Convenient: Signstek Professional Dual Band SWR Meter
It has simple features that work absolutely well to measure SWR with a high sensitivity level.
Best Value for Money: Astatic 302-01768 PDC7 Compact SWR Meter
The quality and features of this device match its price, making it a worthy investment.
Best Performance: MFJ-884 Cross Needle SWR Meter
Its indicators cover a wide display angle, and it has 3- color scale to easily read the reflected, average, and direct power.
Most Durable:Tenq 1051 VHF UHF Digital SWR Meter
It is made of a strong metallic case that is resistant to falls.
Most Portable: Workman SWR3P SWR Power Meter
It is small in size, measuring 5×2.5×2.5 inches which makes it compact and easy to carry around.
Best SWR Meter Reviews
1. MFJ RF Power & SWR Meter for CB & Ham Radio
This swr meter review covers a more advanced radio test meter. This MFJ meter is built to use with amateur CB, Ham, commercial, marine, and AIR two-way radios.
Offering 200 watts of power, it’s frequency range of 1.8 to 525Mhz, and works with HF, VHF & UHF bands. So if you have a CB radio in your house or car, and a marine radio in your boat, this meter can test both of them!
This uhf vhf swr meter is a handy 7.5 x 4.2 x 3.1 inches. I like to use it because it is has a well-marked black and red scale that’s easy to read against the white background. This scale allows me to quickly calculate the coefficient, power, and turn off the test meter.
This hf swr meter shows you the peak, average, direct and reflected power.
- This Cb & Ham radio swr meter covers all frequency bands from 160m up to the 70cm band.
- The meter test the HF, VHF and UHF bands.
- This standing wave ratio meter shows the direct, reflected, peak and average power for more informative measurements.
- The meter body is made of metal, has rubber feet, and additionally it is protected by a strong speckled black paint, so it will stand up to use in salt water (marine) environments.
- This uhf swr meters offers 5, 20, and 200 watt power ranges.
2. Astatic 302-PDC2 SWR/RF/Field Strength Test Meter
We can confidently say that this is the best SWR meter for CB radio. It is versatile and lets you test three things: RF power, SWR, and field strength.
If the antenna you are using is 50 Ohms and you need to tune in a CB radio, the 302-PDC2 test meter is exactly what you need.
I like this test meter because it does not take up much space, and it includes a mounting bracket and hardware. And at only 12.8 ounces, it is lightweight, making it even easier to use.
- The test meter tests SWR, RF power, and field strength.
- It is designed to test any 50-ohm antenna and coaxial cable used for CB radio operation.
- Included with the test meter are a mounting bracket and hardware.
- 10 watt and 100watt switches.
- Forward and reverse switches.
3. Workman HP201S SWR Power Meter for CB Radio
The Workman HP201S is an excellent SWR meter which takes up little space (just 6 inches). You can use this SWR test meter with 50 ohm antennas. You can also use this SWR power meter to tune AM and sideband radios.
This meter adjusts to a wider range of power, offering 5 watts, 50 watts, 250 watts and 1000 watts. Also, the backlight makes it easy to read the meter.
- Tests RF power and SWR for 26-30 MHz radios.
- It can be set to 5, 50, 250 and 1000 watts.
- The test meter is designed for 50 ohm antennas.
- Backlit, so it’s easy to read.
4. Е56 Astatic PDC1 100 Watt SWR Meter
This is another project from the well-known Astatic company. The PDC1 is a 3-function analog SWR meter which is ideal for indicating the status of any 50 ohm antenna and coaxial cable for CB radios.
On this device you can find a switch for 10 watts and 100 watts, as well as forward and reverse switches. It is very lightweight at 8 ounces, and measures 6.5 x 5.1 x 3.2 inches, so it’s compact. In addition to the switches, the housing is equipped with radio connectors and an antenna connector.
Using the Astatic PDC1 is also very easy. To do this, just turn on the PWR switch and press the transfer switch on the microphone. I rate this as the best SWR meter for ham radio because that’s all this meter is built for, and it’s so easy to use. This is a great little unit for new ham/CB radio owners.
- Astatic PDC1 is a 3-function analog test meter.
- The meter tests 50 ohm antennas and coaxial cable used to operate CB radios.
- Astatic PDC1 tests SWR and relative power.
- This is a small, lightweight and easily portable test meter.
5. MFJ-259C HF VHF SWR Antenna Analyzer for Two-Way Radios
This is the second unit I tested from the MFJ company. The MFJ-259C SWR analyzer is a unique antenna analyzer that evaluates an antenna’s performance almost instantly.
With the purchase of this analyzer, you can read the SWR antenna, as well as the impedance, rate factor and loss in the coaxial cable, cable length, and distance to the short (or open), and everything in the 0.53 to 230 MHz frequency range.
The MFJ-259C analyzer is large, so it is very easy to read the required readings. It has three screens that display information quickly. This unit replaces the company’s earlier MFJ-259B model.
And yes, this model runs on batteries. But don’t worry, this meter will give you a low battery warning.
- MFJ-259C analyzer instantly reads the SWR and impedance of the antenna.
- This digital SWR meter works independently of a radio; a frequency counter is built into the analyzer.
- The two-line LCD display is easy to read.
- MFJ-259C is suitable for amateur radio amateur antennas, CB, Two Way and others in the range from 0.53 to 230Mhz.
- It requires 10 AA batteries, which are not included.
6. Signstek Professional UV Dual Band SWR Power Meter
Do you need to measure your radio or antenna’s power output and SWR? If so, the Signstek Professional can help you.
The use of this meter is a truly a pleasure, because it is very easy. For example, to measure the output power, you only need to turn on the key to the right, set the range, and turn on the transmitter to 15, 60, or if you want to break the meter, 200 watts.
And if you need to measure SWR, you just need to switch the function key to the left, set the radio to the transmission mode, and the meter will give you the reading.
The Signstek Professional meter is very sensitive, so avoid any vibrations and mechanical shocks.
It is a simple and convenient meter, which has no extra features, is high quality, and works well.
- Signstek Professional operates at three power ranges: 15 watts, 60 watts and at maximum power200 watts.
- The measurement accuracy is from ± 5 to 10%.
- Signstek Professional UV Dual Band Standing-Wave meter measures both the power output and standing wave ratio.
- The body is well built, and the connectors are very high quality.
7. Astatic 302-01768 PDC7 Compact SWR Meter
They say that an ideal purchase can be considered an ideal ratio of price and quality. If you need a quality device for an economic price, the Astatic PDC7 would be the ideal option.
The Astatic 302-01768 works with a CB radio and any 50 ohm antenna. Also, you need a coaxial jumper cable (not included).
The maximum power consumption of this meter is 50 W and it’s designed for home or mobile use. It only weighs 9 ounces, and at 4.8 x 3.1 x 6.2 inches it’s small and easy to carry with you in the car.
When working with this swr power metter, I noticed one important feature. It does not return to zero until you disconnect the meter from the radio and antenna. Just remember that, and the meter is simple to use.
- This test meter measures the standing wave ratio, field strength and RF power.
- Any 50 ohm antenna can be measured with this meter and coaxial cable.
- The meter is intended for both base and mobile operations.
- The maximum power meter is 50 watts.
8. MFJ-884 Cross Needle SWR Meter Review
The latest and best cross needle SWR meter is the MFJ-884 Original. This model offers comfort, compactness, and functionality.
To begin with, the size of this meter is only 5 ½ x 3 ⅛ x 5 inches. As you can see, the meter is quite compact and will not take up much space in your car.
It is also easy to use. First, the meter has a backlight. Second, you can see the indicators on the display at a wide angle, and best of all, it has a three-color scale, which allows you easily see the SWR, forward and reflected power all at the same time.
The MFJ cross needle swr meter has air-dielectric connectors with gold-plated center pins. Nothing can provide better performance than that.
- MFJ-884 Original standing wave ratio meter has a three-color scale on the screen.
- The meter requires 13.8 watts of direct current and 110 watts of alternating current.
- The meter body has SO-239connectors.
- MFJ884 meter operates within 525 MHz.
- It measures peak and average, direct and reflected power readings.
- Sturdy metal body with rubber feet.
9. Tenq 1051 VHF UHF Digital SWR Power Meter for 2-Way Radio
TENQ is a great brand known for its high quality digital swr power meter. The Tenq 1051 model is an excellent confirmation of this.
To use this uhf vhf swr meter, you just need to connect the output of the transceiver to the TX connector. Connect the load or the antenna to the ANT connector, press the red button to turn it on, and wait a couple of seconds for diagnostics.
The digital swr watt meter has a UV indicator and it is displayed in the sequence “+ XXX P” (throughput), “- XXX P” (feedback power), “XXX Γ” (value of CWS). Each mode takes 2 seconds to turn on.
If you want to hold the current display, press the red button. Press it again to continue. A nice bonus is that you can use this meter in the dark, because the TENQ 1051 SWR meter has a blue backlight.
As you can see, this 2m swr meter is quite simple and functional.
- TENQ 1051 swr power meter automatically shuts off if the power is not measured within 8 minutes, has a backlight and many modes.
- The maximum power is 120 watts.
- The frequency range of the TENQ 1051 is 145 MHz for VHF and 435 MHz for UHF.
- It works on 3 AAA batteries.
- The 1051 comes with a hand strap.
10. Workman SWR3P SWR Power METER for CB Radio
The SWR power meter is made specifically for CB radio and measures either 0 -10 or 0 -100 watts. On each side of the meter is anSO-239 UHF connector to connect to a radio (jumper cable required) and antenna. The frequency range is 1.7 to 30 MHz.
The case is durable because it is metallic and has all the necessary connectors. And the meter size is a compact 5 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches, which is about the average size for products of this type.
This is a good basic meter that’s easy to use.
- The housing is equipped with an SO-239 UHF connector at each end for connecting to a radio and antenna.
- The meter works in the frequency range from 1.7 to 30 MHz.
- It has a metal body of 5 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches.
- The SWR/Power meter also includes a field strength antenna.
SWR Power Meter – Buying Guide
Standing wave ratio meters come in different shapes and sizes, despite the fact that all they all have the same basic function.
How can you find the best SWR meter for your needs? It’s important to buy an affordable and useful SWR meter, which will fulfill its main function, soI will try to draw your attention to the most important aspects to look for as you read our SWR meter reviews.
VSWR and SWR
Should you choose a meter with VSWR or SWR? For many people, this question is no easier than the Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be” question. The good news is that VSWR and SWR are the same thing. And is the reason is that in both cases, the standing current and voltage waves are set, the power is reflected.
This is an important aspect when choosing a standing wave ratio meter, but the absolute value of sensitivity is not defined by anyone. It is clear that a good SWR meter should not have excessively high sensitivity, because it could damage the transmitter.
Which standing wave ratio meter will you find in the store? It will be a meter with a 100 uA full scale deflection. The fact is that this is the most common value for a SWR meter and it is OK.
Be sure the connectors are good quality so you will get an accurate reading. The SWR meter must have a connector for the antenna (usually labeled ANT), as well as a TX connector for the transmitter (to be connected to the radio).
There are several types of swr power meter e.g HF, UHF, VHF, 2m 70cm swr meter, 2m swr meter etc. Each has a different frequency range. You must be sure that this range is what your equipment uses, because if you use the SWR meter out of range, it will not be sensitive enough.
Why Do You Need an SWR Meter?
The fact is that many people are deeply convinced that tuning the radio can be done successfully done without using a standing wave ratio meter. This is a big misconception.
The standing wave ratio meter is needed to measure the voltage standing wave ratio. You can use it when you tune the radio. When configured, the meter will show you the degree of inconsistency between the transmission line and its load. Plus, you can use the standing wave ratio meter to measure the effectiveness of the impedance matching effort.
It is important to use the SWR meter when you tune in a CB radio or a handheld mobile ham radio , because it will allow you to minimize or eliminate interference. An SWR power meter will help you keep the radio and antenna safe.
FAQs on SWR meter
What does a standing wave ratio meter do?
Technically, it measures the standing wave ratio (SWR) in your communications transmission line, such as in your CB radio setup. With your ham or CB radio, it tells you how much RF energy is reflected back to your transmitter, in comparison to how much RF energy you’re sending out with your radio.
Basically, it tells you how well you’ve set up your antenna for efficient transmissions and communications.
How do I use an SWR meter?
There is nothing complicated about using an standing wave ratio meter, you just need to follow a few steps:
- Use a low-power channel (or a clean channel) if you do not know the characteristics of an antenna or SWR meter;
- Your goal is to find at least one standard two-way contact, to do this, spend time listening to the signal;
- Reduce the transmitter’s output power so as not to damage the transmitter if SWR is low;
- Set the mode switch so that a constant output is set (CW, AM or FM) – it will allow you to set a steady reading;
- Set the SWR meter (switch to the Forward position) and turn the adjustment knob (or CAL) to the down position. It is important to prevent overloading the meter;
- Adjust the direct reading (using the same adjustment knob or CAL);
- Reverse the measurement and read the SWR value;
- After you receive the coefficient value, you need to stop the transmission of the signal quickly in order not to interfere with other radio stations and not to break the transmitter.
And it is important to remember: if you want to use a large number of channels, check the SWR readings for channels 1 and 40, because the values will change. And when you measure at full power, shut down the standing wave ratio meter right after that.
How do you read a SWR meter?
There’s a dial on the standing wave ratio meter ranging from 1 to 10 (and beyond). If the indicator is at the 1, then you’re transmitting 100% of your CB radio’s signal.
If you have the meter at the 3 level, then you have a 3:1 reading. This means your antenna is only transmitting ⅓ of the radio signal.
What is a good SWR reading?
Expecting a 1:1 reading may be a tad unrealistic, but in general you can be satisfied with a reading that’s less than 2:1. At 2.0 and beyond, you may want to think about improving your transmission setup. If you’re at 3:1 and beyond, then you really have problems you need to fix.
What is a bad SWR?
Ideally, you will get a 1: 1 ratio. And accordingly, the situation when you get a 2: 1 or 3: 1 ratio is not the best. It turns out that the lower the difference, the better. That is 1: 1 – very good, 2: 1 – normal, 6: 1 – everything is bad.
Can you tune a CB without a SWR meter?
In theory, you can. But it’s a hit or miss operation as you never know for sure if you’ve gotten it right.
With the SWR power meter, you have a definitive measure you can work with, so you know for sure how effective your antenna is at transmitting your radio’s signals. You won’t really know without the standing wave ratio meter.
Does coax length affect SWR?
In practical terms, the coax cable length doesn’t really matter when it comes to your SWR. If it does affect the SWR, the difference will be extremely minimal.
Can you leave a SWR meter in line?
Yes, you can. In fact, many experts recommend this practice. It’s especially useful for a base operation so you can keep tabs on your transmission efficiency.
You do have to make sure that the connections are secure. This is crucial if you’re mobile, or else it can get in the way.
How do you calibrate a SWR meter?
You should calibrate your SWR meter to make sure it gives you accurate readings. It’s easy enough to do this, as many SWR power meters come with a calibration function.
When you’ve connected the standing wave ratio meter to your radio, turn on the radio and pick a channel you don’t normally use to talk. If you typically use channel 18, then pick channel 17 or 19 so you don’t mess with other people’s conversations when you do your testing.
Press the mic button on the radio, but don’t talk. Instead, turn the SWR power meter’s calibration knob all the way to the right so the needle can point to CAL on the dial. Once that’s done, take off the finger from the mic button and then switch the function on the SWR meter from CAL to SWR.
Does SWR affect reception?
The short answer here is that SWR doesn’t affect how your radio setup receives signals. SWR only denotes how your radio antenna sends out signals. It’s about transmission, not reception.
Why is my SWR reading so high?
One common reason is that you may have connected your SWR incorrectly. That can give you extremely high SWR readings
However, if you did this right, then you have a problem with your antenna. It shouldn’t be mounted next to metal or glass. There may be broken wires inside the antenna. You may have insufficient ground on the antenna mount. You may also have installed your antenna stud incorrectly.
There may be a problem with the coax cable as well. There may be a short in it, or it’s been too tightly coiled so as to cause a signal feedback.
Can high SWR damage a radio?
It’s theoretically possible for your setup to reflect enough heat to your final RF transistor. The damage won’t be immediate, though, and it will be minimal if you fix the problems right away. However, over time the heat can result in damage to your radio. The de-tuned final amplifier can cause a high current or voltage problem in the final stage of the transmitter.
What is return loss?
By getting information about the SWR you can find out the “return loss”. This means a loss of power in the signal that the break in the transmission line shows. “Return loss” is expressed in decibels.
“Return loss” suggests that how much power was transferred to the load. If all power has been transferred. The return loss will be infinite. And if not all the mobility has been transferred, the return loss will be zero. To measure return loss, you need to use a standing wave ratio meter with feeders or transmission lines.
There are many standing wave ratio meters available and they come at different price points. Some meters measure several bands, including UHF and VHR frequencies.
Actually, the best SWR meteris a very relative thing. That is why before buying an standing wave ratio meter you need to know the exact characteristics of your antenna and radio.
Check our reviews to discover the newest models on the market and find the perfect one for you!
1. We reviewed some popular power supply for ham radio & CB radio here
2. We reviewed some top beginners ham radio here
5 thoughts on “10 Best SWR Meter Reviews – Top List For Ham & CB Radios”
Good description of proper meter use
Thank you, Jon.
Probably the best instructions I’ve seen on swr meter. I don’t believe too many really know what they’re doing with their meters, or more importantly, why. Thanks
I found that MFJ RF Power & SWR Meter is unavailable now. I quite like it. Do you know how much does it cost? I don’t see the price