Getting a suitable metal detector is important for enjoying the hobby of metal detecting in the long term. There are many models of metal detectors out there, ranging from very cheap to costing thousands of dollars.
As a beginner to metal detecting, it’s not advisable to buy expensive detectors with functions that overwhelm and confuse.
On the other hand neither should you buy the cheapest metal detector, as it may lead to disappointment and later in giving up the hobby.
This short “beginners guide to metal detecting” will focus on helping you understand the basics of metal detectors and how to find the best detector for you. We don’t sell any metal detectors ourselves, so you can be assured that all of the information in this guide is independent and unbiased.
So what’s the Best Metal Detector to get for a Beginner?
Many people that start metal detecting give up within their first few tries. There are many reasons for beginners to quit metal detecting, but the main reason is (They purchased the Wrong Equipment).
Before you start your treasure hunting adventures, you should learn the basics and take some time to find the best metal detector for learning. Don’t make the mistake of buying a detector only because it has high reviews on Amazon. Some might even make the mistake of starting with a metal detector just because it has the most features.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to the Garrett Ace 250 (#1 Best Metal detector for Beginners)and the Garrett Ace 200 and explain why I think they are clearly the best metal detectors to start with. I’m also including the Bounty Hunter Tracker IV as a third option.
All 3 of these detectors are mainly used on land but also have waterproof coils, so they can be used near water too. Their prices on Amazon are in the lower range compared to other models, which I think is the sweet spot for starter metal detectors.
Of course Garrett are pioneers in metal detectors and have been making them since 1964. The Bounty Hunter metal detectors come with a 5 year limited warranty against defects. Both products are proudly Made in the USA and can be purchased online from Amazon and offer 2-Day Free Shipping with Amazon Prime.
The best “metal detector for beginners” on the list is the “Garrett Ace 250″. The Garrett Ace 250 is an entry level detector that can easily be purchased on Amazon. The “Garrett” company focuses on bringing all the best features of high-end metal detectors in an entry level unit.
Some good features found in this detector are the large LCD screen, 6.5×9 inch waterproof search coil ( which is interchangeable), graphic target id and electronic pinpoint. It has multi discrimination modes and recommended for detecting coins, jewelry, relics and any metal via it’s preset customs settings.
- Large Display: “Easy-to-read” screen and buttons; great for beginners of all ages
- Waterproof Search Coil: The 6.5 x 9 inch search coil can be fully submerged in water
- Electronic Pinpointing: Able to precisely locate targets with speed and accuracy
- Five Search Modes: 5 different search modes to choose from, including a “custom” mode
- Made in the USA: 2 Year Warranty and Support on Metal Detectors
The “Garrett Ace 200” is the second best metal detector I recommend for starters. It’s a step lower than the Ace 250 but still has every feature you need to begin metal detecting.
The newer product line features improved audio and stronger cam-locks for better stem stability. It has the 3 most common search settings and a new digital target ID with a 0 to 99 scale.
- Large Display: “Easy-to-Read” screen and 3 large buttons. Displays target information and depth
- Waterproof Search Coil: The waterproof search coil can be used on land and water
- Improved Audio: Includes Pulse-Width Modulation audio for sharper and more responsive audio
- Three Search Modes: 3 Different search modes to choose from; Coins / Jewelry / Zero-Disc
- Made in the USA: Garrett provides a 2 Year Warranty on metal detectors and are made in the USA
The third detector is Bounty Hunter Tracker IV or Bounty Hunter TK4. It’s the most basic metal detector on this list, in terms of features, not in terms of performance. It can detect all kinds of metal but lacks a digital display that the previous models have.
With a waterproof, 8-inch search coil, the Tracker IV features three different operating detecting modes. Other features include discrimination mode which rejects iron and other trash items, and tone discrimination that alerts you different audio pitches for different types of metals.
The Tracker IV does not have the LCD screen, featuring instead, a large Sensitivity Meter. It’s equipped with “Ground Trac”, a feature that automatically balances the machine to the soil conditions. Which is a very convenient feature for beginners.
- 3 Modes of Operation: Can detect all types of metals with the “Motion All Metal” mode
- 8 inch Search Coil: It has an 8 inch waterproof search coil with an adjustable rod
- Ground Trac: Automatically balances the detector depending on the soil conditions
- Built-in Speaker: Also includes a standard 1/4 inch headphone jack
- 5 Year Limited Warranty: Made in the USA
The Bounty Hunter TK4 is an excellent choice for both young and older, starter, treasure hunters.
How to Begin Metal Detecting
If you’ve ever dreamed of finding buried treasure, or are just looking for a stimulating hobby to keep you active, it might be time to buy that metal detector you’ve been thinking about.
Metal detectors are relatively inexpensive (most are between $100- $300) and can provide hours and hours of distraction and entertainment. Plus, you might even find some coins or other treasure that could pay for the metal detector several times over!
Metal detectors are easily portable, and can be taken to the local park or even on vacation. You can hunt for treasure on the beach while your spouse is out shopping or golfing.
Metal detectors can also be used for more practical purposes, such as finding septic tanks, tools, equipment, metal pipes, and other items that might be buried on your property. They can also be used to find items that you’ve lost, such as jewelry, coins or other valuables. There are even metal detectors that you can use underwater to find the ring that was lost in the lake or river.
A major benefit to metal detecting is related to our health. If you’re looking for a reason to exercise more often or a good way to make hiking and walking more fun, you should give metal detecting a try.
Looking for that perfect Gift idea that you know will Wow everyone? Imagine the look on their face when they unwrap your gift and see a brand new metal detector! Forget about boring games, toys or clothes, and think of all the countless adventures a metal detector can offer.
Beginner’s Guide to Metal Detector Components
Metal detectors are generally fairly straightforward devices with a wide range of similarities among brands and models, and most have the same four components:
- Control box- this enclosure is placed at the top of the metal detector and contains the ‘brains’ of the metal detector- the circuitry, controls, speaker, batteries and microprocessor. Often there is a display unit with a jack for headphones built into the control box.
- Coil- also known as the ‘search head’, ‘loop’, ‘antenna’ or ‘search coil’, this is the round disc at the bottom of the metal detector that is the sensing part of the unit. Most are waterproof but double check to be sure before you get it wet.
- Shaft- this connects the control box to the coil and is often adjustable so you can set it at a comfortable level for your height. As the name suggests, it’s the rod that makes up the body of the metal detector. Usually can be broken down for more convenient transportation.
- Stabilizer- this optional component is usually an arm brace that keeps the unit steady as you sweep the metal detector back and forth.
Most metal detectors can detect objects up to 12 inches below the surface, but the exact depth varies depending on the following reasons:
- Type of metal(s) in the object you’re looking for,
- The size of the object you’re looking for,
- Makeup of the soil (certain minerals contain more iron and can cause interference),
- Object’s halo (items in the ground for a long time affect the conductivity of the surrounding soil),
- Interference from other objects in the ground,
- Most importantly, the type and quality of the metal detector itself
Some specialty metal detectors can detect items up to 5 feet below the surface, and the more advanced metal detectors provide displays that pinpoint the type of metal it has detected and how deep in the ground the target object is located.
Best Places to Start Metal Detecting for Beginners
Although most metal detectors are quite similar in their components, there are a few important features and functions to consider when finding the metal detector that’s right for you. But before you get too far into the features and functions, you should identify the most likely environments you will be using your metal detector in.
You also need to consider what you’ll be looking for with your metal detector. Some of the most common places and uses for metal detectors include:
- Coin shooting – looking for coins after a major event, such as a ball game or concert, or just searching for old coins in general. Can be considered an urban environment. Headphones might come in handy to cancel out background noise.
- Prospecting – searching for valuable metals, such as gold nuggets. Gold is very commonly found downstream in rivers as well as on beaches near the ocean. Your metal detector should be waterproof if you want to prospect for gold.
- Relic hunting – searching for items of historical value, such as weapons used in the U.S. Civil War. Old or abandoned homes are common places to find old Civil War relics. You can find Bullets, Guns, Knives and all kinds of old coins.
- Treasure hunting – researching and trying to find caches of gold, silver or anything else rumored to have been hidden somewhere.
Identifying and defining your intended use will give you a head start on which metal detector will work best for you. If you’ll be using your metal detector in several environments, that’s fine too, because then you know you’ll need a metal detector with some versatility.
Once you’ve defined the most likely environments and search targets, it’s time to compare some of the other features and functions.
Metal Detector Functions and Features
Depth: although the actual detectable depth will depend on the factors mentioned above, some metal detectors are designed to work further underground than others.
Some metal detectors allow you to adjust/maximize the searching depth and then display the depth of the found object(s). If this is important to you, make sure to find a metal detector that will perform to the depths you require.
Alerts: there are audio, visual, and tactile alerts to let you know when the metal detector has picked up a signal.
The most basic metal detectors will have the same beep tone and audio signal regardless of the metal detected, and the better metal detectors will have distinctive beep tones and audio signals based on the type of metal detected. The best metal detectors will even give you a higher pitch as you approach the target, and some metal detectors even have a vibrate mode.
Ground Balance: many metal detectors have varying options and degrees of sophistication in allowing you to cancel, or adjust for, the minerals in the ground so that the metal detector will not alert you in error.
On the most basic level, you can manually adjust the ground balance; the higher-end systems utilize microprocessors to cancel the ground minerals and track changing conditions automatically.
Detection Mode: many metal detectors allow you to change the settings based on what you’re looking for. The four most common detection modes are coin, coin/jewelry, relic (buttons, buckles, bullets, etc.) and prospecting (gold).
Some metal detectors specialize in one or two modes, and others let you search in just one mode or in all modes simultaneously. Being able to set a mode for a specific situation helps eliminate error signals and increases the odds of a ‘hit’.
Sensitivity: most metal detectors allow you to adjust the unit to be either more or less sensitive to ground minerals, ‘trash’ and other objects based on the environment that you’re searching in.
This is very helpful because you can cut down the false signals when appropriate based on the environment.
Display: the display of a given metal detector is a factor of the features and functions it has. The more advanced metal detectors will display the most information because they capture more information.
For Beginners, I always recommend metal detectors with an easy to read Digital Display. Digital displays come standard on many units, made by well known companies, like Garrett and Bounty Hunter.
Battery Life: Most metal detectors use small ‘AA’ batteries and have power supplies that allow for between 20-30 hours of operation.
If battery life is important, make sure to find a metal detector that matches your needs. Consider carrying extra batteries with you as a backup before heading out.
Size and weight: metal detectors can vary up to a few pounds, which can make a difference during extended detecting sessions.
Most online retailers, such as Amazon, include the weight for each unit in the description to consider before buying.
Other Metal Detector Features
There are dozens of other features of metal detectors available in the market today. Some are specific to certain manufacturers, and others are generally available across multiple brands and models. Some features are worthwhile, and some are more marketing hype than added value.
As you do your research to find the metal detector that’s right for you, you’ll have to weigh whether or not any additional bells and whistles are worth paying for, especially if you’re still a beginner to metal detecting.
Some other features include:
- Portable rod that breaks down into several pieces for easy transport
- Waterproof and water resistant units (including the control box)
- Salt and freshwater versatility
- Enhanced sensitivity to gold
- Iron target analyzer that determines the probability of the target being iron
- Detachable control box with hip or chest mount available
Benefits of Buying a Metal Detector Online
Naturally, the choice of the best metal detector for you will be based on your particular situation, budget, and metal detecting goals.
Shopping for a metal detector online is a great way to research and compare several types, models and brands of metal detectors to make sure you find what that will work for you based on your desired features. Online shopping can also be done 24 hours a day and can be a lot more convenient and efficient than driving across and around town in person to various sporting goods stores.
Once you know what specific features and functions you want from your metal detector, you’ll just need to find some or all of the metal detectors that match your needs and begin comparing them by other factors:
Price: of course, price should be a consideration for any purchase you make, including metal detectors. All other things being equal, it usually makes sense to go with the metal detector store that offers the lowest price. However, don’t make price your only criteria for choosing the best metal detector for you. Find out if any of the metal detectors are new or refurbished.
Selection: finding just the right metal detector for your needs is important, and there can be a significant difference in selection among metal detector sites. Don’t just stop on the first site and pick something- do a little bit of browsing among sites first. Some sites only sell their particular brand of metal detector, while others sell a wide range of metal detectors from the top manufacturers.
Customer service: the better the online metal detector store, the better the customer service they will provide. Look for sites that have extensive FAQ sections, have a friendly interface, and several options to contact customer service (via email, chat, or by phone, etc.). Find out the hour’s customer service is open and how long the response time is.
Shipping: shipping costs add to the total cost of anything you buy online, including metal detectors, but this cost is usually offset to some degree because you typically don’t need to pay sales tax as you would in a retail store. Compare shipping costs among online metal detector sites as they may vary; some sites will charge you separately for shipping, and others will include it in the final price. If applicable for your particular order, you might want to find out if shipping insurance is included or available as an option.
Warranty: when comparing metal detector warranties, check for warranties of the web site AND of the metal detector itself. Is there a guarantee on the delivery date/time, or a guarantee on the overall satisfaction of the site’s service? How will returns/exchanges be processed? In addition, make sure to find out how the unit will be serviced, both within and beyond the warranty period.
Online Product Reviews and Opinions: To go a step further in finding the right metal detector for you, it might pay to ask your friends, family and colleagues if they have had any experience- either good or bad- with specific metal detector brands or models. In addition, you should find out if any of the metal detector brands or models has earned the endorsement or certification of any legitimate, third party entity.
Online reviews are another great source of information of the pros and cons of specific metal detectors.
Finally, you may consider brand name as a criteria. Generally, the best-known and most successful businesses are those that do a good job, earn repeat business, and build a good reputation over the course of time.
In conclusion, we hope you have found the information we have put together for you useful. We recognize that this guide was in no way exhaustive, and that there is more information about how metal detectors work than what is included here. We suggest that you use the information in this guide as a starting point in your search for the right metal detector for you.
There you have it, three recommended starter metal detectors for beginner treasure hunters. They should get you started in the exciting metal detecting hobby and who knows, you may hit it lucky by finding treasure in your first hunt.
Nevertheless enjoy and happy metal detecting!