Are you looking to buy a kids metal detector but are overwhelmed by all the choices? This article will break it all down and help you choose the right machine.
So, what is the best metal detector for kids? After extensive testing with over ten years of metal detecting experience, our top pick is the Bounty Hunter Tracker IV.
Kids 4-9 years old
Here are my recommendations for the first age bucket (4-9 years old).
|Rating||Metal Detector||Best for…||Price|
|Good||Bounty Hunter Junior||Most affordable||See Today’s Price|
|Better||Bounty Hunter Tracker IV||Best value for money||See Today’s Price|
|Best||Bounty Hunter Quicksilver||Most features||See Today’s Price|
Kids 10+ years old
|Rating||Metal Detector||Best for…||Price|
|Good||Fisher F22||Easy to use, lightweight||See Today’s Price|
|Better||Minelab X-terra 305||More settings to customize||See Today’s Price|
|Best||Garrett ACE 400||Powerful, also recommended|
|See Today’s Price|
Before we dive into the specifics of each detector, it’s important to note that there are two different kinds of metal detectors for kids – toys and REAL detectors.
The toy detectors will not be discussed in this article as they are pretty much useless in my opinion and not really intended to find anything.
The focus of this article is on real metal detectors that can be used to find treasures like coins, jewelry, relics, etc.
It’s also important that many of the articles you find online on this topic give recommendations for detectors that are outdated and no longer even in production.
This post will always remain up to date so you can be sure you’re getting the best, most current recommendations.
Like anything else, metal detectors range in price based on features and technology.
Some of the most important things to consider when buying a kids metal detector are:
- Age of child
- Weight of detector
- Simplicity of Controls
- Let’s start with age.
Generally speaking, a child as young as four can use a metal detector. I typically like to recommend a kids metal detector based on two age buckets: 4-9 and 10+.
Notice my top three choices in this category are all the same brand? That’s because the Bounty Hunter brand is specifically geared toward the beginner and kids market. The parent company of Bounty Hunter (First Texas Products) also owns two other brands that make detectors targeting the professional markets (Fisher and Teknetics). Other brands in the kid’s market tend to be very cheaply made and poorly designed.
I ordered my picks based on good, better, and best. The rest of this article will go into detail for each model and talk about some of the features to look for when buying a metal detector for kids.
If you’re looking for other types of detectors, read my complete guide to the best metal detectors.
Bounty Hunter Junior
The Bounty Hunter Junior is as simple as it gets and is by far the most popular (and cheapest) metal detector for young kids. It has both adjustable sensitivity and adjustable discrimination. So if you have a very young child just looking to get his feet wet in this hobby, this machine might be for you.
As you can see from the photo above, there are two knobs and a meter – that’s it. The knob on the left powers the machine on and adjusts the sensitivity. The knob on the right adjusts the amount of discrimination.
Discrimination is a great feature to have because it gives you the ability to ignore low conductive metal objects like iron. Imagine the disappointment on your child’s face when they dig up an old rusty nail! The discrimination feature will prevent that from happening. Finally, the meter is a visual indication of how strong your signal is. This can help you determine how deep the target may be in the ground.
This detector is super light and weighs just over one pound is has an adjustable height of up to 2.25 feet – perfect for any child detectorist!
Bounty Hunter Tracker IV
The next step up from the Junior is the Tracker IV. This detector has some nice additional features not found in the Junior model such as:
This gives you the option to use headphones to hear the audio signals rather than the regular speaker that’s built into the control box. Headphones are not needed, but great to have if you’re worried about disturbing others in public spaces. They also help save on battery life.
Preset ground balance
Metal detectors detect all types of metal, including the microscopic metallic minerals in the ground, such as iron. A factory preset ground balance feature allows the detector to ignore these negative ground signals, so you’re not always getting false signals which can become very frustrating after a while.
Three search modes
This detector comes with three search modes of operation (discrimination, all-metal, and tone).
I don’t want to get into the specifics of each mode and how to use them, but I will say that having multiple search modes allows you to customize better the detector for the type of hunting you’re doing that day (i.e., coin, jewelry, relics). Please don’t be intimidated by any of these techy features I’m talking about.
Remember that almost any detector you buy can be used as a simple ‘turn on and go’ detector – meaning you don’t have to use any of the most advanced features right away. Also, consider that buying a detector with more features will allow the child to grow into the machine and be able to use it for years to come.
Bounty Hunter QuickSilver
The Quicksilver is my top choice in this age group if you have the additional budget to buy this model. It has all the features of the previous two detectors detailed above, plus a few more, including:
LCD screen digital display
The LCD screen and digital display is a nice improvement over the analog meter because it shows you valuable information such as your current discrimination settings, target ID, battery level, and target depth.
Visual target ID
The QuickSilver also has a visual target ID feature that will tell you the type of metal you’ve found.
The first two detectors we talked about only have an analog meter that shows you the strength of the signal, whereas this detector will try to guess what the target is (coin, jewelry, trash, etc.). This is a great feature to have, so you spend more time digging good targets instead of trash.
Another great feature of the QuickSilver is the depth indicator. Again the machine will take its best guess (based on several factors) as to the approximate depth of the target in the ground, so you know how deep to dig.
The last new feature I’ll mention in the Quicksilver is its three audio tones. Unlike the Tracker IV, which only has two tones (low and high), the Quicksilver is a three-tone detector (low, medium, high) which means you can more easily differentiate trash from treasure!
Shopping for a child aged 10 and up? While any of the above machines will also work in this age group, you should consider getting something a little bit nicer that leans more toward the professional-type detector.
Here are my recommendations for this age bucket (10+ years old).
Want something a little bit nicer with a few extra features? Take a look at the Fisher F22. If you read other articles on this website, you’ll see that I always recommend the Fisher F22 as the best entry-level metal detector.
Remember at the beginner of this article how I mentioned Bounty Hunter’s parent company also owned other professional-grade detector brands? Fisher is one of them, and they make (in my humble opinion) the best all-around metal detector for beginners.
With additional discrimination features, modes, and target ID capabilities, the F22 is loaded with features while remaining very affordable. The only downside to this detector for kids is that it weighs just over 4 lbs which can be a little heavy for younger kids (compare this to 2.2lbs of the Compadre).
Minelab X-terra 305
If your budget can swing it, the gold standard for kids metal detectors has to be the Minelab X-terra 305.
While the F22 will be the best bang for your buck, you can spend a bit more money and get a detector with superior technology which your child can grow into and use for years.
This is an excellent metal detector – even for adults. It is widely accepted in the detecting industry that Minelab has the best technology and performance in their detectors. In fact, I personally use their top-of-the-line treasure detector, the CTX 3030. While Minelab typically serves the very high-end market of treasure hunters and gold prospectors, their entry-level X-terra 305 is a great option for kids and can get them started on the “Minelab path.”
Now that we’ve gone through things to consider as well as my top recommendations for each age group let’s talk about some common questions I get from folks shopping for a detector for the first time.
Do these metal detectors come with a warranty?
Absolutely. Bounty Hunter and Fisher (same company) offer a five-year warranty except for the Junior model which is only a one-year warranty. Minelab offers a three-warranty while Tesoro offers a lifetime warranty.
What can you find with a kids metal detector?
This is surprisingly a popular question, with an easy answer. Any metal detector (no matter the cost, and that’s not a toy) will detect anything that is metal. Some detectors cost more than others because they have additional features and technology that allow you to get better depths, better target ID, and detect in various terrains and conditions where the ground might be highly mineralized.
Will my kid’s detector work at the beach?
Yes. All of these detectors will work at the beach. This is a very popular question because many people will buy a detector for their child to take on vacation. Any metal detector will work just fine on the beach with one caveat. It would be best if you stayed on the dry, white sand.
Venturing off into the water, the wet sand, or even pockets of black sand will cause the detector to false. But this is normal and will happen with virtually any detector that’s not specifically made to handle these conditions. Even some $600 mid-level detectors cannot handle these ground conditions on saltwater beaches. That’s just the way metal detecting technology works.
The only other thing I’ll mention about using a detector at the beach is that you might want to use headphones. One reason is so you’re not disturbing others, and another is because sometimes the audio can be difficult to hear with all the wind and crashing waves at the beach. Headphones make it much easier to hear what your detector is telling you.
Will my kid’s detector work in water?
Yes, but again with some caveats. We already discussed that these machines would not work in saltwater, so let’s talk about freshwaters like creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes.
All these detectors are waterproof up to the control box – meaning the coil and rods. This means you can hunt in very shallow water if you wanted to. This limitation is true of almost any detector, except, of course, those built specifically to submerge in water.
So, while you can certainly hunt in shallow water, be aware that if you happen to slip on a wet rock and drop your detector, it will most likely be ruined. Something to consider when choosing to detect in or around a water source.
Is metal detecting good for kids?
Yes, metal detecting is a great hobby for kids to pursue. It’s a great combination of exercise, education, and being outside.
Can kids go metal detecting?
Absolutely kids can go metal detecting! The key though is to make sure they first understand responsible metal detecting and then outfit them with the properly sized detector.
Are metal detectors safe for kids to use?
Yes, metal detectors are safe for kids. However, I would not recommend your child detect in or near any water as they can easily destroy the machine.
How do you use a kids metal detector?
There’s not much you need to know with a kids metal detector as there are so few features. Just remember that the coil should be swung as close as possible to the ground and needs to be in constant motion. Each sweep should be about two seconds. Think “low and slow”.
Are kids metal detectors just toys?
Usually, if the detector is priced under $100, it should be looked at as a toy versus a “real metal detector.” There’s nothing wrong with a toy metal detector for a child. Just don’t expect them to perform as well as more expensive detectors. They’re a great way to see if your child likes the hobby.
How fast with my child outgrow a kids metal detector?
Unless you’re buying the most basic detector like the Bounty Hunter Jr, the only way your child will outgrow his machine is he becomes interested in the hobby and wants to upgrade to a better detector for better performance.
Where to go metal detecting with kids?
Some of the best places to go metal detecting with kids are in your own backyard, neighbors’ yards, local parks, schools, churches, and beaches. Just be sure you have permission!
That pretty much covers the basics of buying the best kids metal detector. You really can’t go wrong with any of the detectors I’ve listed above.
Summary: best metal detectors for kids
- Bounty Hunter Junior: most affordable detector for younger kids
- Bounty Hunter Tracker IV: the best value for money for younger kids
- Bounty Hunter Quicksilver: the most advanced detector a younger kids
- Fisher F22: our top pick for older kids
- Minelab X-terra 305: for older kids who are tech-savy
- Garrett ACE 400: for older kids, and can also be used as an adult
You may also be interested in our complete guide to coin metal detectors.