Metal Detector Reviews For All Skill Levels
Whether you’re a beginner or a very experienced detectorist, finding the best metal detectors for your current skill level is important. Not all metal detectors are the same.
Below we’ve gone ahead and created a full buying guide for yourself, it will help you regardless of what you want to specialize in or your current skill level. Not sure where to begin? Try our beginner section.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one certain detector that is the best for all things, some are designed to be the best for looking for gold, some underwater, and some are designed for children.
There are many different “types” of detectors, designed for certain tasks, if you want to find out the best for the following please click on our specific guides:
- Best Metal Detector For Kids
- Best Detector For Gold
- Best Underwater Metal Detectors
- Metal Detectors For Beginners
- Best Pinpointer
Whilst there are generally good detectors that are good at everything, this is something that is aimed towards the general hobbyist, which will be most of you admittedly. So let’s take a look.
When looking for the best metal detector on the market you should also consider your budget, if you want to save money make sure to click on “Check Price” to see the latest offers.
There are many variables that you need to consider when looking to purchase a detector, read our detector buying guide at the bottom for more help. To find out more information we’ve given each a brief summary below, alternatively, you can read our full reviews by clicking on the links.
1. Minelab Equinox 800
If you’re a traveling enthusiast, you will find the Minelab Equinox 800 to be the ultimate metal detector for you. In addition to being fairly easy to use, it boasts the latest technology and is able to detect coins and other relics, as well as gold nuggets.
Even though learning to use a new device always involves a learning curve, you would find the Equinox 800 to be fairly simple. After switching it on, you would have to do noise cancellation, select the type of environment you’re in, and get going on your journey.
The detection modes in the Equinox 800 are Field, Park, Gold, and Beach. The device is calibrated in each mode in its optimal parameters so that you may have an exceptional experience searching in that terrain. Further, every mode has two custom profiles following aggressive and conservation settings.
At first, you’d find yourself detecting a lot of bottle tops, Aluminum cans, etc. However, once you get used to the display of the Equinox 800, you’d be able to identify worthwhile targets, such as gold coins and jewelry.
Weight And Design: The Equinox 800 weighs just a little over 1.3 kg. It features an ergonomic design that would be easy on your hands during long hunts.
User-Friendly Menu: The device features a user-friendly main menu with easy settings.
Multi-IQ: This is the multi-frequency technology, showcasing five frequencies: 5, 10, 15, 20, and 40 kHz.
Tracking, Manual, And Auto Ground Balance: It has an entire range of ground balance, specifically from -9 to 99. All of the detection modes except for Gold have default settings of zero. When you use Automatic Ground Balance, the device will determine the optimal parameters for the particular soil conditions. The Tracking Ground Balance would adjust the ground balance as you move through rapidly changing soil conditions. Moreover, you may use the Manual Ground Balance too.
Adjustable Threshold: the device has a Threshold Level adjustment range from 0 to 25. If you’re someone who loves hearing the constant hum while detecting, you’d really appreciate this feature!
Manual And Auto Noise Cancel: With the Equinox 800, you’d be able to cancel out noise, either manually or automatically, without readjusting the ground balance and lowering the sensitivity of the device.
Adjusting Recovery Speed: The Equinox 800 features eight recovery speeds. The recovery speed is the time the device requires to bounce back after detecting a ferrous item. It is an important feature, as a slow recovery speed may cause you to miss out on good objects within proximity.
- Total Weight: 2. 96 lbs (1. 34 kgs) 8 Custom Search Profiles: Each Detect Mode Features 2 Custom Search Profiles so you can Save your Favorite Settings in Each Mode : 3 Year Limited for Detector, 1 Year for Battery Operating Frequencies: Multi, 5kHz, 10kHz, 15kHz, 20kHz, 40kHz Fast & Accurate Target ID: Fast Recovery Speed with Accurate Target ID
- Simultaneous Multi-Frequency For Maximum Performance, Plus a Wide Range of Single Frequencies Get Even More Control of your Audio with Advanced Settings; You Decide How Much Target Info you Hear Wireless Audio Compatible with Ultra-Fast Wireless Audio with the WM 08, and Fast aptX Low Latency / Bluetooth Headphones
- Gold detecting mode: operates the high single frequencies of 20 kHz, 40 kHz or multi to detect gold nuggets in mineralized soils
- Waterproof design: Equinox is fully submersible, ideal for detecting at the beach and in rivers, streams and lakes (3M/ 10-feet)
- Factory included accessories: ml 80 wireless headphones with hard shell case wm 08 wireless audio module USB charging cable with magnetic connector USB charging cable for headphones auxiliary cable Equinox quick start guide
2. Garrett AT Max
When it comes to having a reliable metal detector for your treasure hunts, you can never go wrong with Garrett metal detectors!
Let’s talk about the Garrett AT Max—a follow-up to the Garrett AT Pro. Even though the new design is not meant for replacing its predecessor, it adds several extra features that hunters who want to up their game would love to have. With that being said, the Garrett AT Max is easy-to-use and offers hunters more control over the device.
The AT Max is a waterproof VLF detector, powered by four AA batteries. If you’re a serious hunter, you would appreciate AT Max’s depth for both shallow water and land.
The Garrett AT Max features 8.5”x11” PROformance DD search coil. The coil provides sufficient depth and target separation. If you want, you may also get another specialized coil, such as the sniper coil. Even though it is specifically not for gold detection, the AT Max is suitable for detecting relics, gold coins, and jewelry. The detector also allows you to minimize interference and improve detection success at great depths.
The detector allows you to fine-tune your settings, go deep, and hone in your hunting skills. The advanced features of the Garrett AT Max, the waterproof and submersible design, makes it one of the best metal detectors in the market for serial hunters.
Frequency: The Garrett AT Max hums at the frequency of 13.6 kHz.
Four Search Modes: The Garrett AT Max features four modes, including all-metal for sensitivity and depth, a zero discrimination mode, a coin mode, and a custom one.
Waterproof: The Garrett AT Max is a waterproof device up to 10 feet.
Audio: The detector makes use of wireless technology and features Garrett MS-3 Z-Lynk wireless headphones.
Ground Balance: In the AT Max, you’ll find both manual and automatic ground balancing. When you’re on a terrain that rapidly changes or is highly mineralized, you may want to consider using the Automatic Ground Balance to avoid a lot of fuss. Moreover, the manual feature in-ground balancing allows you to adjust the ground balancing your way.
LCD Screen: The Garrett AT Max has an LCD screen that has a backlight. This feature allows you to keep hunting even when the sun goes down.
Textured Handle Grip: The detector has a textures, non-absorbent handle grip so that you don’t accidentally drop the detector when it gets wet from sweat or rain.
- Enhanced Z-Lynk Pinpointer: Pro-Pointer All Terrain Z-Lynk Pinpointer integrates with the included MS-3 Headphones to hear sounds directly through your headphones
- Wireless Z-Lynk MS-3 Headphones Included, Enhanced Detection Depth, True All-Metal Mode
- LED Backlit Screen, Frequency 13.6 kHz, adjustable Ground Balance, Auto/Manual: High Resolution 175 pts Auto Ground Balance, Iron Audio, Iron Discrimination Segments: 44
- Threshold Adjustment, Electronic Pinpointing, Waterproof to 10 feet (3m), Freshwater / Saltwater Search Modes, Digital Target ID, Audio Tone ID
- Notch Discrimination, 8 Sensitivity Adjustments, Fast Recovery Speed, Target Depth ID, 8.5x 11" DD PROformance Coil
3. Garrett Ace 250
The most popular detector on the market
The first metal detector on our list comes from Garrett, a lot of our most popular detectors are from Garrett but let’s focus on the 250 here. It is the most popular detector being sold in the world at the time of writing.
Although this isn’t the detector I’m currently using, it is something that I used for over 5 years whilst I was learning the ropes. It is a fantastic bit of kit, ideal for the entry-level it offers everything that you need. Most will provide kits that also give you an accessory that you could need.
The Ace 250 weighs less than 3 pounds, whilst also very comfortable for you to use. It is targeted at people who are new to the hobby, it also has enough features to keep experienced treasure hunters happy. So don’t let the fact that it is targeted to entry-level persons put you off, it kept me going for 5 years!
Some of these features include; adjustable sensitivity and depth settings, pinpointing, custom notch discrimination, 6.5×9″ ACE coil.
- Push Button Controls – You have 6 buttons available to you on the main LCD screen that comes with the 250, these control the power, discrimination, mode, sensitivity, pinpoint, and eliminate.
- Large LCD Display – The large screen helps when just starting out as everything is clearly laid out for you.
- Battery Life – Up to 30 hours battery life you should never get caught short when out hunting for treasure.
- Sensitivity – Unlike with the basic selection of detectors this model allows you to turn up or down the sensitivity. If you have experience detecting you will understand that sometimes you can’t stop finding stuff that isn’t actually there, mostly because of trash so you can turn down the sensitivity to be more accurate.
- Pinpoint – This allows you to target certain objects, for example, coins. This is probably the most common thing you will find and also what most people are actually searching for.
- Graphic Target ID cursor
- Accept/Reject notch for specific target detection and to ignore unwanted items
- Electronic pinpoint for easy target recovery
- Sensitivity Control : Adjusts to 8 Levels of Sensitivity for Differing Ground Conditions
- Continuous target depth indicator
4. Garrett Ace 400
My personal choice
This is my current choice for when I go out metal detecting if you’ve been following this blog for a while you know I started out with the Ace 250.
Consider the Garrett Ace 400 the bigger brother to the 250, it is more expensive however you get more features and is the natural next step for any avid detector. In my personal experience, this is the best metal detector I’ve personally owned.
This model comes with a similar layout to pretty much all the Ace range from Garrett, doing this keeps things simple. At this level there is no need to make things overly complicated, it also makes the transition much easier.
Fitted with the “Iron Resolution” this is an added feature that helps you figure out whether you’re detecting trash or a coin, for example, the amount of time I’ve wasted even as an experienced detector by digging up trash!
- Iron Resolution – Saving you time by operating out the trash before you actually see it.
- Sensitivity – The 400 comes with a higher frequency than the 150, 250, and 350 coming in at 10kHz.
- Guarantee – Garrett is a company that always stands by its products, I’ve never needed to use the warranty however it gives me the peace of mind that there is something in place just in case.
- Weight – Although it comes in heavier than the 250, it is still under 6 pounds.
- Garrett 2 Year Warranty
- New Garrett Keeper finds box
- Garrett Pro Pointer AT
- Vaughn Garrett's Favorite Finds Book
- Includes Coil cover, Rain Cover, Clearsound Easy Stow Headphones
5. Fisher F4
The best fisher has to offer
The newest release from the well respected Fisher brand, so you know it’s going to be a quality product. Fisher has started to make a real name for themselves with the technically brilliant products.
Everything they release has great specifications, the Fisher F4 is no exception. Able to detect metal 15 inches underground that is truly remarkable. Luckily it will tell you roughly how deep also, sometimes you may just not be in the mood the go down that deep!
When using this product we were able to figure out what metal we were digging up way before we even decided if it was worth it. It is the autotune with ground balance feature that allows this.
- Deep seeking autotune – This is what helps you the user differentiate between different alloys, which is perfect if you’re targeting a particular find such as coins.
- 11″ Bi-Axial Search Coil – A very large scanning area will mean fewer passes and also lowering your chances of missing something.
- Simplicity – Although fitted with some advanced features it is very easy to use, one of the few advanced models that a beginner could use.
- Weight – This comes in at a staggering 2.6 pounds, remarkably light for such an advanced machine.
- High deep seeking auto tune with manual ground balance - visual target id by category
- Numeric 0-99 readout - 11 segment digital target id - 4 tone audio id
- One touch notch - one touch pinpoint with numeric depth readout
- 11” Bi-Axial Search Coil
- Recommended for: coin shooting, relic hunting, beach hunting
6. Garrett AT Pro
Garrett’s waterproof detector
The first metal detector that comes with a water submersible coil, this is important for anybody looking in rivers or any pool of water. Most come with rainproof coils but very few with fully submersible coils. This detector can be used up to depths of 10ft!
Enter the Garrett AT Pro which comes highly recommended to anybody who we’ve spoken to who actually uses this product, it looks the part too. Garrett has taken a step away from their traditional yellow and black color scheme with this, opting for all black. It looks sleek.
- Water submersible coil – This is a real game-changer when it comes to usability. There really aren’t many places this detector won’t thrive.
- Pro mode audio feature – allowing you to change the frequency of the noise is great for anybody that struggles to hear higher-pitched sounds.
- Warranty – You can be really confident putting this machine through its paces here with the rock-solid guarantee that Garrett offer.
- WATERPROOF TO 10 FEET OR 3 METERS Ideal for use in both fresh and saltwater AT Pro will ground balance to saltwater.
- Includes NEW Garrett MS-2 Headphones
- Includes Batteries Installed.
- As seen on the TV Show Diggers
- Includes Garrett 2 Year Warranty
7. Garrett Ace 150
The Garrett entry model
The Ace 150 is the base entry model of the Ace range, this is ideal for beginners who have no prior experience in metal detecting. It can’t get much simpler to use. It comes with 3 buttons and also 3 different detection modes.
The buttons are mode, sensitivity, and power. The power button explains itself however what is remarkable about this product is it is priced at the entry-level yet you’re still able to adjust the sensitivity and also change between the 3 modes which are silver, coins, and gold.
Whilst you may not be able to see the battery levels like the other models featured in this list, it does come with a low battery indicator so you know when you need to wrap up your hunt.
- Lightweight – This product is light enough that even children can use it.
- Low Battery Indicator – Allowing you to wrap things up before you start to get faulty or not be able to detect as far.
- Guarantee – Backed with Garrett’s strong warranty.
8. Garrett ATX
Military-grade metal detector
Most of us here are hobbyists and the Garrett ATX would be overkill for anything we wanted, however, due to the ease of access we had to include it. This detector is truly remarkable, I cannot think of anything I would personally change on it, whilst only using it briefly it impressed me massively. It is truly one of the best out at the moment. No best metal detectors list would be complete without it, however most will find it is overkill for what they want, but if you have the budget, why not?
It wouldn’t feel right to not include this piece of equipment on this list, I will list the features below but I will add this isn’t for a beginner. Whilst it is simple to use it would be really overkilling and too expensive for somebody’s step into metal detecting.
With the cost in excess of $2000 we expected there to be a longer warranty with this particular item, it may be because of the sort of work it is capable of it’s hard to see any company that would be the warranty for too long but we expected it to be longer.
- Advanced Ground Balance – This helps when working on the ground with heavy mineral or alkaline water, this can trip up more basic detectors, however, this can filter out false readings.
- Flexibility – This product’s coil is also waterproof, it is built to work in any environment.
- Adjustable – The ATX is fully adjustable so no need to feel uncomfortable as you can set it to the perfect length for you.
- Modes – You have 25 different modes and 13 sensitivity settings for each so a lot to play with!
- ATX with 12" DD coil
- Land headphones (waterproof headphones sold separately)
- Soft storage/travel case
- Garrett Detector Sling
- AA alkaline, rechargeable batteries and charger
9. Bounty Hunter Digger
Ideal for beginners or children
We love Bounty Hunter metal detectors here, they have such a vast range and they’re value-packed! The cheapest by far on this list this detector is perfect for anybody who is looking at exploring a new hobby or just something to entertain the children.
This is a perfect metal detector for children, we all know children can have short attention span’s so you will not be spending $100’s on something they may not enjoy. We may be a little biased and assume they will love it too, whether or not they’re humoring me but my grandchildren love coming with me.
- Depth – It is able to find objects up to 6 inches underground depending on the ground quality.
- Headphones – Included with the product, this helps you listen in noisy environments.
- Operates at 6.6kHz
- Weatherproof – You don’t have to worry about the coil being rained on as it’s weatherproof.
- Trash Eliminator – This helps differentiate between trash and valuable objects
- Rugged metal detector ideal for detecting treasure in extreme ground conditions
- Motion All-Metal mode, Discrimination mode, and 2-Tone audio mode
- Preset ground balance neutralizes response to mineral content in the ground
- Disc/notch control distinguishes between targets and unwanted metals
- Rugged metal detector ideal for detecting treasure in extreme ground conditions
Metal Detector Buying Guide:
What Should I Look Out For?
Weight: This is important if you’re going to be out detecting for hours on end, even a 10pound weight will feel like a ton if you’re out long enough. Consider how important weight is going to be for you based on current fitness level and also what sort of time length you’re going to be using it for.
If you’re doing it as a hobby in your retirement you might be (Not always) at a different fitness level to a 30-year-old who is looking for something to get into for the weekend.
Depth: How far down are you willing to dig, if you are mainly going to the beach and it is easier to dig down 10 inches then you should look at getting a metal detector that can match that. Or perhaps you’re looking to go to parks, where you cannot dig down deep as I don’t think the local authority will be happy about a foot hole in their parks!
Usually, you will spend more if you’re wanting a detector that can detect further down, so choose based on where you’re going to be using it if you want to save money.
Features: This will vary depending on the model, make sure you do your research and find out what model does what you want. Different brands and models come with different features as standard. The days of just a simple detector are mostly gone, so plan accordingly.
Warranty: If like me you are planning on putting your detector through its paces, in water, heavy winds, and bitter cold (I can’t wait to move back home!) you should look for a model with a good warranty. Although we only review models that have a good warranty as we won’t stand by products that we do not think are worth the money. It’s still something you should consider if you do not buy a tested and reviewed detector through us.
Remember metal detecting should be fun, don’t take it too seriously and you’ll be just fine.
Best Metal Detectors for Different Skill Levels
As far as an all-around choice for beginners, there are several models that will do the job while you familiarize yourself with the hobby. Not all models created for beginners are equal. There are inexpensive models as well as higher-priced ones you can choose from. Some of the best multi-purpose models for beginners include:
- Fisher F2: Operates on 2 AA batteries and offers 4 modes to help with locating jewelry, coins, artifacts, and a custom setting. It offers an ultra-lightweight design, 10 levels of adjustable sensitivity and 20 levels of volume to adjust.
- Garrett 250: Great for gold and other treasure hunting, this model is comfortable yet easy to use. Offering some of the better features, this series is aggressive and offers a rugged outdoor technology. This is great whether you are a beginner or a more advanced hunter.
- Bounty Hunter Platinum: This easy to use and as simple as hitting the power button and you’re ready to go. Making this model for beginners was a great move as it offers more than you can utilize as a beginner allowing you to be a great treasure hunter. This is a great way to break into treasure hunting and some of the features you’ll enjoy include a lightweight design making it easy to carry and also the ability to have a comfortable detector. This allows for long afternoons hunting for the true enthusiast.
Great models for those who are more experienced can include the Minelab GPX5000. This detector though will run you as much as $5,000! No, that is the right amount of 0’s, and while this may be steep for some, there are also other models to choose from. However, being as this is a great model for experts, it seems to be a great investment. That’s because when you start getting more experienced, you start targeting certain things and this has it all. Other models, you can choose from include:
- XP Deus
- Garrett ATX
- Makro Deephunter
- Garrett AT
- Makro Racer
- Fisher F70
- Minelab CTX 3030
What Is The Best Metal Detector For Gold?
When it comes to choosing a detector to help with hunting for gold, one of the better models happens to be the Garrett ATX. There are controls on this model that help tailor your search to what you are looking for. This model won’t take very long to learn how to use and many people begin using it straight from the box allowing them to begin hunting right away.
Another great choice for gold hunting is the Fisher F75. This model offers an ergonomic design that is lightweight making it easy to carry. There are double-filter modes which are great for searching in areas that have a lot of trash or other clutter. It offers a multi-purpose setting which is great for coin hunting as well. This metal detector works in all modes and has a 2-way adjustable armrest which allows you to have the perfect fit making it comfortable to carry with you.
If the prospect of finding gold excites you (can’t think of anybody who it wouldn’t), check out the latest gold prices.
We’ve Also Reviewed A Good Metal Detector For Children!
Even the little ones can enjoy this sport with you. It can be a great bonding time for you and your little ones. Metal detecting is for more than adults and getting the kids involved can be a great activity to get them up off the couch and in the great outdoors. Finding equipment for children can be just as easy, and the best part is there are some that are designed for them. Some of them can run a few hundred dollars but for the most part, you can pick up something for as little as $50 or less. These are easy to carry for little hands and are lightweight. An ideal solution would be to get the Bounty Hunter model, under $100 and it offers most of the features you’d expect from a more advanced machine, these options might not be the best metal detector out there, but for the price, they offer great value for money.
Water Treasure Hunting Detectors
Going exploring in the water can always lead to great finds if you know where to look. However, the trick here is to find a piece of equipment that can withstand the water. For the most part, people assume all detectors can be used in the water but this is not true. If you want to use it in the water, consider the Garrett AT Pro. It’s waterproof and has the bells and whistles you’ll want to help find even the greatest finds at the deepest levels of water. Some detectors have coils that are waterproof and this is important. Make sure the model you choose is waterproof so any warranty on the machine doesn’t become null and void.
The market is full of world-class and innovative machines that are going to make your treasure hunting fun and exciting. You’ll be able to find great finds from coins to silver or gold. This can be a great way to pass the time by or to begin a great collection to serve as a conversation piece. Be sure to do your research and enjoy a well-loved hobby that is becoming popular all over the world. It is important to take the time to find a detector for you, getting something too complicated too soon is just asking for the confusion!
Buying Guide: Getting The Right Metal Detector
Metal detecting is one of the most enjoyable hobbies out there. It allows you to enjoy your surrounding environment, learn more about History and Geography, exercise, and maybe even earn some extra money. It’s appropriate for all ages, body types, genders, adaptable to different countries and types of ground, and it’s an activity that can be enjoyed alone or as part of a group. If you want to try metal detecting as your new hobby, this guide will help you choose the perfect equipment to start with.
First things first: answer these questions
Trust us, this will make your search a lot easier. The quest to find the perfect metal detector might be extremely daunting if you don’t start the right way. So, before starting to look at dozens of different types of metal detectors and end up giving up, drown in confusion, or buying the wrong kind of equipment, stop, sit down, and answer some basic questions:
- Where will I go? / What is my search area?
- What am I expecting to find? / What do I want to look for?
- Do I have any experience or knowledge about metal detecting?
- How much can I / do I want to invest in this hobby?
- Am I looking for a well-established brand?
The answers to these four questions are tremendously important and can give you a nice, solid basis to start from.
The first question is probably the most important. There are different types of grounds where you can look for treasure, ranging from deserts to the sea. However, as the type of location changes, the most appropriate type of equipment is also different.
While searching in the desert or in the mountains may not seem so different (although there are differences), searching on beaches or underwater, for example, presents very different challenges that will reflect on the choice of equipment.
So, the first thing to do is decide where you want to go hunting. For different types of soil, without specifying too much, you can just choose an all-purpose detector. However, if you’re planning to go anywhere near water (even if it’s not specifically on water) then you need to take certain precautions and have an appropriate piece of equipment.
Regarding the second question, if you have a specific type of hunting in mind (like, say, gold prospecting), that already narrows down a lot of the metal detector choices and you can start searching based on that.
On the other hand, if you don’t know or haven’t thought about what kinds of items you’ll be looking for, you can just do a quick research and find out what the most common types of items in your search area are. Based on this, you can look for metal detectors that are specialized in detecting those types of items. If you don’t have any preference or information about common targets in your area.
After answering the first two questions, you’ll begin to narrow down your options. You can further narrow them down by assessing your skills and knowledge level regarding metal detecting.
If you know nothing about the subject and are looking for something simple, entry-level metal detectors are your best option. If you know a little about it and are looking for slightly more advanced but not professional or overly complicated pieces of equipment, you can go for mid-level detectors. However, if you already know a lot about the subject or want to build solid knowledge, experience, and seriously invest in this hobby, you’ll probably need a high-end or professional-level detector.
Last but not least, consider your budget. The last question helps you narrow down the options even further, this time on the cost category. Establish a limit for your purchase, that you can’t or don’t want to surpass. If your budget is not that permissive, there are very affordable good-quality options out there, particularly for entry- and mid-level metal detectors. Usually, the higher the equipment level, the more expensive it is. So, if you’re looking for professional-level equipment, be prepared to invest accordingly.
After answering these questions and considering those parameters while doing a simple equipment search, all the equipment options on your list will be equally valid on a basic level. After that, you can start looking at basic features and decide which detector might be best for you. We’ll help you with that.
Consider the most important features
Buying the best detector should not be an impulsive action. You need to calmly sit down and analyze variables, specifications, and most importantly your needs. After establishing your basic needs (which you already did if you followed the steps above), comes the time to look at what a metal detector is, how it works, and what is the most important for you to have.
This is the feature that allows your metal detector to detect objects from afar. Most metal detectors will have the sensitivity settings set according to the manufacturers’ specific recommendation for that model but will also allow you to adjust sensitivity manually. This comes in handy if you’re planning to hunt in very different types of soil: you might need to adjust sensitivity due to different soil compositions or specific areas.
All types of soil have a certain metal content in them. The ground balance feature allows a detector to quickly adapt to the contents of the soil you’re searching on, so it’s not constantly set off by any traces of metal. For a standard type of hunt, choosing a metal detector with an incorporated automatic ground balance is a simple and efficient option, but if you’re doing a sensitive search like gold prospecting, you’ll need a manual ground balance feature so you can personally adapt to ground conditions.
This feature is what allows a metal detector to distinguish between targets. Low discrimination (or none) will set off the detector for every type of metal, while higher discrimination allows you to ignore iron, deep, and/or smaller targets like nails, trash, or even coins. It saves time if you’re looking for specific large items, but if you prefer certain types of searches like relic or coin hunting, discrimination won’t do much for you (you’ll want to see all metal objects). Nonetheless, getting a detector with a discrimination feature is advisable; you can learn to adjust it for specific targets in any type of hunt and, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to use it.
Operating technology and frequency
Different models of metal detectors may work in different ways and have different kinds of operating frequencies. The frequency is the measure of how many times per second your detector is able to send signals into the ground. The lower the frequency, the deeper the equipment detects. On the other end, the higher the frequency, the more sensitive the equipment is to finding small targets. So, it all depends on the types of targets you’re looking for, and how deep they are buried. If you’re looking for gold or small targets, higher frequency detectors are the most appropriate (although their scan depth will be lower); however, these are also more susceptible to interference by ground minerals.
Moreover, different models may use different operating technologies. Single-frequency detectors, like BFO (Beat Frequency Oscillators) and VLF (Very Low Frequency) detectors are the most common and, as the name indicates, can only work at one frequency at a time.
Multi-frequency detectors, on the other hand, can work using multiples frequencies at the same time. Models using this type of technology are usually more expensive, but also more suitable for certain kinds of activities since they have high sensitivity. For example, many PI (Pulse Induction) detectors can work in multi-frequency, making them good choices for activities like gold prospecting or beach hunting (except if the sand is black – meaning high iron content, which will interfere with the findings).
This feature allows you to distinguish between different types of targets and give you an indication of what you’re probably detecting at the moment. Modern detectors now usually have a visual ID feature, in which you can see an indication of the target on a screen. Others may have tone ID, in which you hear different types of sounds according to the type of target.
This is one of the most important; how deep your detector can search for targets. Depth is usually higher for lower frequency metal detectors, as well as those with larger coils. In your search for a metal detector, consider the types of targets you’re looking for and how deep you estimate them to be buried – this will give you an idea of how much depth perception you’ll need.
People often overlook this feature when searching for a metal detector, which is a rookie mistake. Detectors with larger coils provide better ground coverage (they cover more ground surface than smaller coils) and depth search. However, they are also heavier and harder to maneuver underwater so keep that in mind (if you choose this type of coil, chest harnesses can help you deal with the weight).
On the other hand, smaller coils cover less ground surface area at a time but are far better to use in highly mineralized soil (because they don’t process as much ground signals as larger coils) and provide better target distinction when you’re looking at several targets located very close to each other.
Once you get familiar with the basic features and purchase the best metal detector, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with the way that specific model works. This means that you’ll probably need to test and tune it as you go along. Fortunately, most manufacturers have recommended settings for each feature, that you can use when you are starting. After a few hunts and getting used to handling your equipment, you can start experimenting and (if necessary) adjust the feature settings to levels that best suit your needs.
Specific/specialized metal detectors
If you’re planning on searching for very specific targets or in very special locations, there are certain features that you will specifically need in a detector. Let’s review some of the most common special cases out there.
Beach and underwater models
Beaches have saltwater, which is highly mineralized – therefore, you’ll need specific models that won’t suffer interference from all those extra minerals. Multi-frequency and/or PI is required if you plan to go anywhere near the water (these models tend to be a bit heavy, so consider using a shoulder or chest harness). Also, the model needs to be waterproof and submersible; otherwise, any slight contact with any unexpected amount of water (like a big wave or just accidentally dropping the detector) will fry your equipment. One great piece of equipment is the Garrett AT, which is also suitable for both salt and freshwater hunts.
If you’re sticking to dry sand, then you can consider single-frequency, all-purpose detectors.
For underwater models, it’s the same advice as above. Multi-frequency and/or PI detectors, fully waterproof and submersible. Also, the coil size shouldn’t be too high, since it’ll make it very hard to move the detector underwater.
Gold prospecting models
The best detectors for gold prospecting are usually PI and work at higher frequencies, as the impressive Garrett ATX model. For gold prospecting, essential features include (besides PI and high frequency), relatively small coils or coil shapes specifically designed for gold prospecting. These types of high-end specialized equipment can detect gold much more efficiently than your average all-purpose detectors, but they are usually more expensive. One fairly good and affordable detector for gold prospecting is the Fisher Gold Bug Metal Detector.
All-purpose metal detectors
These types of detectors, if they are good quality pieces of equipment, are usually fairly good at finding almost every kind of target (except for the special cases mentioned before, when you should take special care and find specialized equipment). In this category, you can find all kinds of equipment, within all kinds of price ranges, design, and technology.
In conclusion: don’t panic
Getting started is always the hardest part. So, don’t panic when looking at all these different parameters, choices, and information. Try to assess your needs in the best way you can, and then choose one model that you think will suit you. If you feel incredibly lost, ask for professional opinions, but don’t fret. Especially if you’re a beginner, your first choice most likely won’t be a perfect choice and that’s fine. Learn as much as you can, gain further experience and, if you feel it’s necessary, switch to another equipment later on. But for now, it’s important to pick one and just start. Happy relic hunting!
Metal Detector Reviews – Choosing The Best Detector Brand For You
Buying expensive equipment can be a daunting task as it is an investment so to speak. However, you want to make sure you aren’t spending so much time researching one that it becomes overwhelming and you just give up. Reading reviews is a great place to start, but you need to determine what you’re looking for first of all. This is important as there are several different models available to choose from.
How Often Are You Going To Use It?
Think about how often you’re going to use it first of all. Is it going to be something you do every weekend or a once in a while adventure? This is the first placed to start. Many detectors available these days are amazing and no matter which one you purchase it’s going to be a great investment. As with anything, the more money you choose to spend the more features and bells and whistles you’ll find.
Consider where you’ll be using it. Are you going to be near the coast, near a property that is known for gold prospecting, or in a place where antique relics and other objects are known to be found? There are specialty detectors that you can purchase that will help with more in-depth searching or simpler ones for simpler items that you can find with a stroll along the coast. Most detectors, for the most part, will work for detecting quite a lot so if you are a beginner starting out with a relatively cheaper one can be as rewarding as the bigger more lavish ones. Some have different speeds and some may weigh a bit more than others.
What About Your Budget?
Keep your budget in mind as well when choosing the detector for you. Prices vary from one brand to another and the good news is that typically you can find the perfect detector for you regardless of what you have to put towards it. Decide how much you can spend first and then dive into looking for a model. This eliminates temptation and disappointment that you can’t start with one of the higher-end models. Some people get involved in the hobby and spend too much and later on decide it’s not their cup of tea. Others, decide that this is what they want and then they can, later on, spend more money on a better model.
What Can You Do with Metal Detectors?
Some people haven’t experienced detecting and therefore have a hard time knowing how to get started. Using a metal detector is a great hobby that many people all over the world are picking up. Many people have a lot of questions though when it comes to getting started. How do you use them? Which one to choose? Where can you use one at? These are just a few common ones. I’ve made a guide on metal detecting which will give you everything you need to get started. I can’t wait to hear what you’ve found!