Best Bullet Antennas
Bullet antennas are becoming increasingly popular as replacements for factory vehicle antennas, and it’s easy to see why: they offer great reception for your car or truck; they’re small and strong so they will resist damage better, and yes: they just look cool!
There are multiple brand names vying for dominance in the bullet antenna industry– names like Ronin, Spartan, Antenna X, VMS and Herdio— but while bullet antennas can share multiple similarities, there are distinct characteristics from one brand to another. Identifying the right one for your vehicle can be an exercise in frustration, consuming a fair amount of trial and error.
Our team at Valid Pick has developed this guide to save you the aggravation and help identify the best bullet antennas available today. That way, you can quickly and easily pick the right one that matches your taste and criteria.
Comparing the Best Bullet Antennas
How We Picked
There are several factors we considered when testing these products individually, as well as determining what distinguishes them from– and in comparison to– each other.
First, we reviewed the signal strength of each bullet antenna individually as well as against numerous other antennas, keeping a close eye, particularly on the sample set. Then, we reviewed and determined their quality and durability.
We also compared essential criteria like each antenna’s anti-theft and anti-weather qualities. Hardly anything is more maddening than enjoying your new bullet antenna, only to find it stolen. Or finding that it breaks easily the first time you go through a car wash, or undergo conditions like heavy rain and snow.
Lastly, we considered price and ensured our picks were in line with market pricing that wasn’t off-balance and overpriced compared to other options.
Our Pick – Ronin Factory Bullet Antenna
Our extensive tests, data gathering, and copious comparisons made it clear that the Ronin Factory bullet antenna is the one to beat; the clear-cut winner based on its performance across various data points.
This factory bullet antenna also has an anti-theft design that makes it difficult for intruders to steal, and the aluminum body design bolsters its durability and extensive signal strength.
Ronin Factory is a lifestyle brand that offers apparel and lifestyle products, designing products that run the gamut of apparel, everyday carry items, and truck accessories. They are also keen on charity and are known for their many (and constant) giveaways. However, car owners, enthusiasts, and industry folk know them especially as the foremost truck accessory manufacturer and lifestyle product promoter.
Ronin Factory, with its headquarters located in San Diego, California, is a relatively young company, founded in 2017. Within a few years of founding, it had already established itself in the automobile accessory space, alongside a solid reputation for its promotional chops that include its methodical (and effective) affinity for giveaways.
What Makes Ronin Factory Bullet Antenna the Best?
The following features in our findings make Ronin Factory bullet antennas the best option:
- Attention-grabbing appeal, such as its .50 caliber ammo-inspired bullet antenna
- Easy to install
- Made from all-stainless hardware
- It is carwash safe
- It is weatherproof
- Aluminum anodized black finish for extra durability
You should have no trouble adding some attitude and style to your pickup truck with this product. It is built to be compatible with the Dodge Ram series and the Ford F-series, including Raptor, F150, F250, F350, and Super Duty.
Installation is a simple and straightforward affair. You can simply unscrew the old antenna and screw this one on the mounting hardware. It also comes with all necessary hardware tools for installation, including the Allen wrenches.
The body is comprised of stainless hardware steel made from 6061 Aluminum construction with a hard-anodized black finish, that prevents the chipping and fading of the antenna at all times.
AntennaX 50 Cal Black Bullet
The 5.5-inch all-black 50-caliber bullet antenna from AntennaX is one of the more stylish bullet antennas available in the market.
A low-profile antenna made from the T-6061 billet aluminum material, known for its solid sturdiness that makes these types of antennas last longer. The billet aluminum body is infused with a black anodized finish that can resist chipping, scratching, or fading over time.
Installation is super-fast and a snap. It will quickly screw into an existing antenna mount, made of a bolt-on part of the device. This means there is no wiring required for installation. The installation process should take less than a minute to do. Less time, easy work.
AntennaX is headquartered in Florida and is known for making various car audio and video accessories as well as electrical equipment of high caliber (pun not intended), and its 50 cal bullet antenna has the same degree of high quality as its other products.
What Makes AntennaX 50 Cal Black Bullet One of the Best?
Here’s what makes the AntennaX 50 Caliber Black Bullet one of the best options in the market:
- It is made from T-6061billet aluminum
- An anodized body that prevents chipping and scratching
- Simple installation
- Excellent reception
- Stylish in design
VMS Racing 50 Cal Bullet Antenna
The VMS Racing 50 Cal Bullet Antenna is made from heavy gauge metal, which makes it highly durable.
This 5.5-inch bullet antenna doesn’t require modifications, adjustments, or a lot more work during installation. It comes with a hard-anodized finish for a long-lasting effect, and provides an excellent upgrade to your car. With the screw-in installation, it takes less than a minute to install.
The bullet antenna is compatible with the Dodge Ram series 1500, 2500, 3500, and other models between 2009 and 2019.
The antenna is made with aircraft-grade materials, and unlike other antennas made from cheap materials, this one is made with 100% CNC aluminum that doesn’t chip or fade.
Billet aluminum comes as blocks and formed in various methods, including continuous casting or extrusion, or hot-rolling ingots. Parts made of billet aluminum are usually made from solid blocks, in contrast to casting the parts directly. That means they are created by removing excess material from the billet, essentially carving it out of solid aluminum, making it strong and highly durable.
Each antenna is equipped with the appropriate adapter studs and spacers to fit a screw-in antenna base correctly, although it will not fit into vehicles equipped with a retractable power base for antennas.
Like most other units, the signal strength will depend mainly on the vicinity of your car to the source station, as well as the stability of the signal.
Founded in 2002, VMS is known for its Black Hawk drag race wheels, telescopic antennas, and racing tow hooks. VMS Racing is also well known for its aftermarket performance parts and truck accessories.
What Makes VMS Racing 50 Cal Bullet Antenna One of the Best?
The general features that make the VMS Racing 50 Cal White Bullet Antenna among the best as confirmed by our testing are its base features:
- Made with billet aluminum
- Anti-fade and anti-chip material
- Screw-in antenna design
- Black rings on antenna for added benefits
- Comes with adapter studs and spacers for easy installation
Things to Consider When Buying a Bullet Antenna
Just like any other car accessory, a little more prudence goes a long way when choosing the suitable bullet antenna for your car. You want to ensure that the bullet antenna is compatible with your specific car or truck’s make, model and year, while corroborating your choice with feedback and published material to mitigate the risk of breakdowns.
The main factors to consider when choosing the best bullet antenna are as follows.
- Size of antenna
- Build material
- Compatibility with your automobile
- Security features such as anti-theft and weather-resistance
- Ease of installation
- Miscellaneous factors.
Size of Bullet Antenna
The size of your bullet antenna matters because it can determine how well the antenna performs. Shorter antennas, for instance, have been found to lose signal more frequently than longer antennas, even though this will also depend on your location and even the compatibility of the antenna with your automobile (more of this below).
On the other hand, bullet antennas that are too long may be prone to accidents and damage. The proper approach is to ensure that the bullet antenna you choose is compatible with your car so it can be properly secured without incident or drama; and neither too long nor too short to suffer physical damage or signal loss.
As with size, the material used in designing a bullet antenna also determines its performance. Most antennas are made from stainless steel and different grades of metal. You can also find them in rubberized and plastic configurations that help increase durability. Black anodized-finish metals are tougher than ordinary stainless steel, while aluminum materials are much lighter.
Make sure you go for the extra coating on the exterior to strengthen the antenna against weather and other factors that can cause damage.
Unfortunately, bullet antennas are not universally compatible. They do not all fit into every car brand. Hence you must pay careful attention to lists of compatible car brands and models when making your choice.
Generally, this should not be a problem because the list of compatible car models is often displayed on the package of the antenna.
You want to ensure that your bullet antenna is well-secured everywhere you go; it has a bullet for its form factor, after all. Consequently, be on the lookout for security features like anti-theft design and wash-proof materials. Brand manufacturers do come with varying levels and styles of security features, but they all provide a similar collective purpose.
Even then, while any security feature is generally a good thing to have, keep your eye on the added cost and whether it is justified in having a material benefit to your actual requirements.
Ease of Installation
For convenience, you should avoid bullet antennas with complicated installation. Fortunately, a wide range of bullet antennas come with different installation options and varying degrees of complexity (or ease).
For instance, some manufacturers include all necessary hardware tools for installing the antennas. If wrenches are a requirement for installation, the manufacturer should provide them, instead of the onus of having tools falling on you as the customer.
The antennas that are the easiest to install require a simple process of unscrewing the old antenna, then attaching the new one. It should take just a few minutes and even less grief, to install your ideal bullet antenna.
Various factors such as price, budget, and customer support are critical in deciding the bullet antenna that is most suitable for you. It would be best to be flexible with your budget, but don’t compromise on quality in exchange for lower prices.
The availability of accessories such as installation wrenches may save you money, but such accessories should not be needed if the product was such that it didn’t need the use of such tools in the first place, simply because setting it up was going to be a straightforward affair of unscrewing the old, and screwing in the new.
As with any product, give careful consideration to stable and available manufacturer support. Being excited about your bullet antenna but needing help and waiting in a long queue for support for an inordinate amount of time is not something to easily tune out of.
Bullet Antennas- Frequently Asked Questions
Here are common questions about bullet antennas.
Question: How Do I Know that a Particular Antenna is Compatible with My Car?
Aside from the lists of compatible car brands and models on the package of a bullet antenna, there are several ways you can check for its fit or compatibility.
The products come in different sizes for common cars and are pre-designed with lock-tight features that should fit the models for which they’re intended. And its packaging or vendor should be able to tell you if your automobile is a fit. Otherwise, press the vendor for more info, or contact the manufacturer directly.
Checking online such as the manufacturer’s website or via a Google search can work. So will social media where you can join groups (like FB Groups), forums, and other resources where you can ask the community. Just make sure it is a reliable source because some people pretend to be experts but are actually only expressing their ill-informed opinion, except only that they say it in a way that makes them sound like an expert, to your later detriment.
Question: Anti-Thread Locking vs Shorter Length, Which Should I go for?
This is a difficult situation and a matter of tradeoff, where you need to choose between security and better signal strength. Since shorter antennas often lose signal strength more frequently than their longer brethren, they may not be suitable for car owners who rely on constant signal availability or demand it as a matter of choice.
Let your particular circumstance, unique situation, or personality be the basis for making a decision. For example, if you live or go to work in a place where the crime or theft rate is significant, or any other situation where your parked car could be at constant risk, then features that would keep your antenna secure would be critical, and be the top priority.
Otherwise, particularly if you make frequent or long rides, or are a heavy radio user and not in an area of high risk, then reception and signal quality should be paramount. In such situations, a longer antenna with no anti-thread locking, for example, could be suitable, if necessary.
Question: What are Common Issues that May Affect the Performance of My Car Antenna?
There is a wide range of causes that can affect the signal strength and conductance of your car antenna. These include loose connections over time, poor reception, the fidelity of the radio signal, or just a downright faulty antenna, or one of questionable quality.
Unavoidable factors like wear and tear on stainless steel or copper wire may also reduce the performance of any car antenna. Otherwise, other causes that affect performance include beam width and length, radiation efficiency of radio source, antenna bandwidth, and external signal interference.
Sometimes, faulty installation may cause the antenna’s performance to drop. When the antenna does not sit firmly inside the unit head, for example, or it has accumulated rust, or underwent damage in other ways. In cases like corrosion and weather damage, you may have to replace the antenna entirely.
Question: What are Caliber grades in Bullet Antennas for?
Like their namesakes in the firearm industry that served to inspire their concept and product model names, bullet antenna calibers are grades used in categorizing their performance, capabilities, and versatility. Not surprisingly, like the ammo and form factors that bullet antennas share in the world of firearms, the larger models usually pack more power, enable the product to contain more material; packing more bang per square millimeter if you will.
Bullet antennas are different from other types of car antennas because of their bullet-style design, and some are ringed at different points to boost their performances.
Generally, caliber grades represent the class or category that the antennas belong. And a 50-caliber bullet antenna, for example, is a more powerful product than a 40 or 30-caliber bullet antenna.
As bullet antennas grow in popularity, it can be an arduous, frustrating exercise to find the one that meets your needs exactly. Plus, while the specific attributes that constitute the product should be the primary driver for making your decision, you can’t underestimate the necessity of considering external factors (weather damage, theft risk, proximity to or signal strength of the source, to name a few), and how these may affect what bullet antenna you finally decide to buy.
This guide should help you realize the critical factors involved, as well as directly citing recommendations– like our pick of Ronin Factory’s bullet antenna for earning high marks in reception, build quality, price, multiple extra features, and overall quality– to save you the trouble of painstakingly rummaging through divergent views and sources yourself, even though that is still recommended. To distinguish between the signal and the noise, if you will.
Bullet antennas are a sensible upgrade from factory antennas, but their appeal doesn’t end there, because even unintended consequences can also have a positive effect on them, like how they’re also great conversation starters to name just one; while uninterrupted enjoyment of their use during your commute can never be overestimated.