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President McKinley CB Radio Review

If you’re in the market for a new SSB CB radio, you may be wondering if the President Electronics McKinley is the right model for you. In this article, we’ll take a close look at the features and performance of the McKinley to help you make your decision.

President McKinley CB Radio
President McKinley
President McKinley
9.8/10Our Score

The President McKinley USA model is a well-made, DIN fitting SSB CB radio that’s packed with features.

Key Features

  • 40 Channel AM CB Radio with SSB
  • ASC – Automatic Squelch Control
  • LCD Display (multi-color)
  • RF Gain
  • Mic Gain
  • Fine / Course Clarifier
  • Weather Alert
  • Built-in SWR meter with power reading
  • Front Mounted Speaker

Also in the box

Mounting bracket, 6-pin microphone, power cord, mic support and owner’s manual.

What’s Great

When you first set eyes on the President McKinley CB radio, you’ll be impressed by its solid build quality. This is a radio that’s built to last, and it shows in every detail. From the heavy-duty casing to the robust buttons and switches, everything about this radio screams durability.

It is nice to see that it is SSB (Single Sideband) equipped thereby offering a little extra distance and some DX opportunities.

It’s DIN mountable so it will fit nicely into a dashboard although there is an additional mounting bracket in the box in case you want to mount it in the standard way. As you’d expect from a DIN mounted radio the speaker is positioned at the front of the radio which provides a much more direct, and clearer sound.

The LCD display is large and clear plus you have control over brightness and contrast. I tend to leave everything on full but it’s nice to know it is dimmable for those that find it a bit too bright in a vehicle at night. You also have a choice of three colors to choose from; orange, green and blue. That’s not as many as some modern radios but at least there is a choice.

The Dual Watch feature allows you scan between the current channel, 9 and 19. There is also a scan feature that allows you to cycle through the three memorized channels.

I do like the NOAA weather channels on modern radios. It is definitely handy on long trips and something we didn’t have in the old days.

The Automatic Squelch Control (ASC) is another modern feature.  You can enjoy the reduced noise by having the squelch up knowing that it will reduce automatically if quieter signals come in.

Gone are the days where you have to calibrate the SWR meter. Just push the channel sector six times to go into SWR mode.

The radio will key itself automatically and give a number which tells us what the SWR is.

Note that because there isn’t a decimal point on the display in that position (it uses the channel display) it might prove confusing if you didn’t know. But, 10 means 1.0 and 25 means 2.5 – you get the gist, I’m sure.

You will hear slow bleeping if the SWR is bad and a continuous tone means the SWR is good. All this means you can have this going inside your vehicle while you are outside adjusting the antenna

But, as I always say, I prefer to use an external SWR meter (or, more often, antenna analyser) to set up my radios for the first time. However, you can manage without one and just use the one on the radio.

In use, the reception is great and I got reports of good audio. With the VOX control you get to use the microphone without the need to push the PTT button. Sensitivity can be adjusted to avoid surrounding noise triggering it.

I’ve noticed that some popular SSB radios experience frequency drift in SSB mode while the radio “warms up”. I found no such issues with the McKinley.

What’s Not So Great

The multi-function buttons certainly save space but they do take some getting used to. Key up the mic (push the PTT) and hit the function button located and it turns the channel selector knob in to a RF Power control. Hit the button again and that same knob and that same knob now controls the RF gain.  Not that hard but when you are in a vehicle it’s obviously not as easy as just turning a dedicated knob that you’d find on a more traditionally styled radio. However, this is a minor point really as they are generally set and forget.

Now the FCC has approved FM transmission it would be nice if the McKinley and other full-featured radios were equipped with FM mode.

Talking of the FCC – this radio (like most others actually) will err on the side of caution so factory settings for modulation fall quite short of 100%. Likewise for the SSB output. These are adjusted inside the radio.

Modulation = AMC pot inside the radio

Sideband power output = ALC pot

Please don’t touch these unless you are very sure what you are doing. To do it right you need testing equipment so take it to a tech if you don’t have experience. It’s a relatively quick job for them and therefore not expensive. Just know that you get get a bit more out of the unit with a tweak.

The microphone isn’t fantastic but if you’ve read any of my other reviews you’ll know I am not a fan of stock mics anyway. Opting to get a decent power microphone is something you are unlikely to regret. It’ll take the good audio on this radio up to something that is nothing short of excellent.

Verdict / Bottom Line

The President McKinley CB Radio is a great product for anyone in the market for a new DIN fitting CB radio. It has all the features that one would need and then some, making it great value.

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