Good Metal Detectors

by Sondra Bernzweig

Here are some thoughts on equipment selection from a national expert! The best metal detectors are not only able to find metal objects, but they are also easy to use. There is a detector for both beginners and more experienced users, so you will surely find one that suits your needs.

Good Metal detectors that are among the best on the market include:

  • Best Overall - XP Deus 2 Waterproof Multi-Frequency Metal Detector
  • Best Entry Level Detector- Garrett Ace 400 Metal Detector
  • Best Relic Hunting Detector - Nokta Makro Gold Kruzer Waterproof Metal Detector
  • Best Waterproof Detector - Garrett Pro-Pointer AT Waterproof Metal Detector
  • Best Gold Nugget Detector - Fisher Gold Bug Pro Metal Detector

When purchasing metal detection equipment, there are many different factors to take into consideration. What you will use the detector for is the first thing you need to decide. If you are looking for a detector to use in your backyard, then you will need a different metal detector than if you are planning on using it for metal detecting on the beach. Let's look at each model to see what places them above the competition.

Where to Begin in Selecting a Good Metal Detector?

Each and every day, I am asked -- "Tell me which detector is the best detector made?" I think that is a fair question, considering that when people buy a metal detector, they will spend considerably more than $1.98! There is, however, a basic flaw in the question. The question should be modified to ask, "Tell me, which is the best detector for me?" This last question is best answered with a series of questions.

Have you ever used a detector before? If this is the first detector for you, then you should consider your usual purchasing habits as they relate to other items. Do you generally buy top-of-the-line products with many features, or do you like simplicity? A good example might be a camera. Do you like a "point and shoot" type, or do you like to be able to make a lot of adjustments? Think of this when looking at detectors.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Metal Detector

Another thing to consider is your budget. Detectors range in price from around $100 to over $2000. The most expensive detectors are not always the best, but they do offer more features than the less expensive ones.

A metal detector's ability to detect different types of metal is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing one. Some detectors are better at finding gold or silver, while others are better at finding relics or coins. You need to decide what type of objects you want to find before you purchase a detector.

Types of Good Metal Detector Features

Metal detectors are divided into two categories: Very-Low Frequency (VLF) and Pulse Induction. VLF detectors are used to find many things, including currency, copper wire, relics, jewelry, and, most importantly, gold. They utilize a low frequency to seek underground objects. Pulse induction or PI metal detectors instead use a reflected pulse of energy to find metal.

The size and weight of the detector are also important factors to consider. If you plan on using your detector for long periods of time or in large areas like national parks, you will want one that is lightweight and comfortable to use. For responsible metal detecting, just remember to submit a metal detector permit application before treasure hunting in these areas.

Which Metal Detector is Good For Me?

How much money have you budgeted for this detector, and how much time do you expect to devote to this sport? These two issues should be considered together. If you plan to detect many hours a week, you probably want a detector with more electronic features than if you plan to spend an occasional few hours at the shore or in a park. The price of a metal detector will increase in relationship to the number of features it has. You can have a lot of fun with a basic detector, but if you expect extensive use and don't get enough features in your detector, you will be out shopping again before you know it.

How Much is a Good Metal Detector?

Have you considered the cost of the accessory equipment you will need for use along with it? Aside from the detector's price, you will need to buy some of the following items, such as a headphone with volume controls, trowels, beach scoops, a coil cover, and a detector bag. Good headphones are especially important since they extend the signal's sound, make your detector's batteries last longer, and keep the beeping from annoying others. There are no better nor more comfortable metal detecting headphones than the Whites Pro Star Headphone.

Where Will You Use Your Metal Detector?

Where do you plan to use this detector? There are different types of detectors for coins and jewelry, for relics, prospecting, and use in the water. Some detectors can overlap in their application, but generally, they are special purposes. Nowadays, the most common type of detector purchased is a general purpose coin, jewelry, and relic detector. This will have a discrimination adjustment and sensitivity control, at the very least. All detectors have waterproof coils. (But remember, if you fall into the drink with a land detector, you're out of luck!) Additional features may include various types of meter displays, a manual ground balancing adjustment, and more sophisticated discrimination adjustments called "notch." Some detectors may be microprocessor controlled.

Some detectors are intended primarily for use at the shore or in the water. This type of detector will not have a meter display, and targets will be found via the audio signal. This allows fewer openings in the control box because the most important fact of life in a beach detector is that it doesn't leak!

Types of Good Metal Detectors

Detectors intended for prospecting gold or silver frequently will have no discrimination and always require manual ground balancing or ground tracking for best results. The frequencies of these detectors are the most appropriate for locating precious metal ores. If you want to have a dual-purpose prospecting/coin shooting detector, look for a prospecting detector with discrimination.

There is one other type of detector which is used for extreme depth situations. These are called "two box detectors," with limited general purpose use. Detectorists who use this type of equipment are looking for a cache, veins of ore, or pipes or cables. These deep-seeking units will metal detect many feet or meters down. Sometimes called deep-seeking treasure detectors, they will find a larger metal object.

Our List of Good Metal Detectors

Best Overall Detector - XP Deus 2 Waterproof Multi-Frequency Metal Detector

This model covers various metal detecting activities, from shallow water treasure hunting to diving. The Gold Field program, for example, is designed for highly mineralized gold-bearing ground. Since gold nuggets are frequently discovered as the ground or ferrous items in these difficult locations, the detector is set to "all-metal" for deeper detection.

Some specifications for the XP DEUS 2 are:

  • 4 to 45 kHz operating frequency
  • Waterproof detector and 9" or 11" waterproof coil
  • Fast multi-frequency technology
  • 5-year warranty

Best Entry Level Detector - Garrett Ace 400 Metal Detector

The Garrett Ace 400 is a great basic metal detector for the beginner looking for buried treasure. A great detector for finding coins, copper wire, valuable metals, relics, and jewelry, it is easy to use and has many features. This detector is ideal for wide-area and depth detection with its electromagnetic field. The display is bright and simple to read, so you'll know what your targets are before you dig. This Garrett metal detector has many easy-to-use features, so you are successful without going overboard.

Some specifications for the Garrett Ace 400 Metal Detector are:

  • 8.5" x 11" DD PROformances transmitter coil.
  • Discriminate iron targets with Iron audio
  • 10 kHz adjustable frequency
  • Target ID Legend with 0-99 scale
  • Digital Target ID (LCD screen)
  • All Metal Mode
  • You can search in five different ways (Jewelry, coins, relics, custom, and zero discrimination).

Best Relic Hunting Metal Detector - Detech Relic Striker

Find jewelry and relics anywhere with the Relic Striker. This lightweight carbon fiber pole features manual and automatic ground balance. As standard, this model includes Detech's patented 18x15" Symmetric Electromagnetic Field SEF search coil ships standard with this model. In addition to providing improved ground balance, pinpointing, and target identification, this coil is also easy to use and effective in finding targets well beyond the range of most relic detectors.

Some specifications of the Detech Relic Striker are:

  • Search Coil: Waterproof 18" x 15"
  • Operating Frequency: 4.8 kHz
  • Audio ID: 2 Tone
  • Sensitivity Adjustment
  • Ground Balance: Auto or Manual
  • Warranty: 2 Year

Best Waterproof Detector Pinpointer - Garrett Pro-Pointer AT Waterproof Metal Detector

Charles Garrett founded Garrett metal detectors in the early 1960s, and the company has been producing quality detectors since. The Garrett Pro-Pointer AT underwater metal detector is a key example of a quality Garret metal detector designed for pinpointing targets. It is completely submersible, just like the popular Garrett AT Pro and AT Gold metal detector models. The Garret Pro-Pointer AT is designed for treasure hunters who demand the ultimate in all-terrain pinpointing. The Pro-Pointer AT can be used in any environment, including saltwater and snow.

Some specifications of the Garrett Pro-Pointer AT are:

  • Operating frequency of 11.5 kHz
  • Manual Ground Balance
  • Holster Included
  • 9" (22.9cm) Length

Best Gold Nugget Detector - Fisher Gold Bug Pro Metal Detector

The Fisher Gold Bug Pro is a powerful gold prospecting metal detector that offers a high-frequency ideal for finding even small gold nuggets. It has an easy-to-read LCD display for information on ground conditions and potential targets. VLF metal detectors are versatile detectors that can be used to find a variety of objects, including coins, jewelry, precious metals, and, most commonly, gold nuggets. VLF detectors use a frequency that is lower than most detectors, making them a good option for those looking to find a variety of objects.

The key features of the Fisher Gold Bug are:

  • An operating frequency of 19.2 kHz
  • Water resistance: Waterproof Search Coil
  • Receiver coil size: 5"
  • Technology: VLF detector
  • Warranty: 5 Years

Some honorable mentions include:

  • Nokta Simplex
  • Bounty Hunter Platinum Pro
  • Fisher F75
  • Fisher F22 metal detector

Another mention of a good metal detector and a lower-cost option would be the Bounty Hunter Legacy 2500. The Legacy 2500 model is a step above entry-level and has the easy-to-use features needed to find treasure detecting - even the first time out. We would recommend the Legacy 2500 over the older Bounty Hunter Tracker IV, sometimes called the Bounty Hunter TK4.

The Tracker IV is less sensitive and has no visual target ID as found on the Legacy 2500. A greater sensitivity level for more depth and better response on different metals make the Bounty Hunter Legacy 2500 the way to go.

What Metal Detector Is Right for You?

What kind of physical shape are you in? Metal detectors can have very different configurations and can therefore be a different physical experience for each person. Some detectors can be taken off the pole and hung from the waist or other body parts, while others cannot. Some people prefer a good hefty solid feel to their detector, and some look for the lightest weight possible. What is best for your friend may in fact, be totally inappropriate for you. Remember to think about how you will feel after several hours of metal detecting.

Sorting the Good from the Bad

Investigate new detectors before you assume that purchasing an older used detector is a good deal. You may be pleasantly surprised at the many features new entry-level detectors have for a very reasonable price. You don't want to end up with someone else's castoff if you could have a new detector for a comparable price. While you are agonizing over the selection of a detector, the following fact should be kept in mind. Don't worry too much. If it turns out you like the activity and gets "hooked," the first detector you purchase will not be your last!

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© National Society of Metal Detectorists Vol. 1 No. 3 January 1994 Publication of Tesoro Electronics, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Tesoro Electronics, Inc and the Author Sondra Bernzweig - Revised Detector Electronics Corp. September 2022