What is the best metal detector?

In-depth buyers guide to help you choose the right metal detector for you
Marc McDermott

If you’re looking for the best metal detector that matches your budget, experience level, and type of hunting, then this guide is for you. I’ve tested all the major brands and helped thousands of hobbyists find the right equipment for their treasure hunting adventures.

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Best entry-level metal detectors

PhotoMetal DetectorBest for…Price
Nokta Makro SimplexBest performanceCheck Price
Fisher F22Best value Check Price
Garrett ACE 300BeginnerCheck Price
Garrett AT ProBest of the bestCheck Price

Nokta Makro Simplex

What we like:

  • Mid-level detector performance for entry-level price
  • Powerful DD coil
  • Fully submersible to 10 ft
  • Built-in rechargeable battery
  • Wireless audio when used with compatible headphones

What we don’t like

  • Controls not as basic as other entry-level detectors

Fisher F22

What we like:

  • Weatherproof
  • Iron Audio
  • Fast Recovery (Processing) Speed
  • Digital Target ID
  • Lighter, easier to use
  • 5 Year Warranty

What we don’t like

  • No adjustable ground balance

See our full F22 review here.

Garrett ACE 300

What we like:

  • Easy to use
  • Digital Target ID
  • Adjustable Frequency
  • Enhanced Iron Resolution

What we don’t like:

  • No adjustable ground balance
  • No Iron Audio

See our full ACE 300 review here.

Garrett AT Pro

What we like:

  • Fully waterproof and submersible to 10 ft
  • Manual and auto ground balance
  • Proportional audio
  • Iron audio

What we don’t like:

  • Waterproof headphones sold separately

Best relic hunting metal detectors

Photo Metal Detector Best for… Price
Minelab Equinox 800Best valueCheck Price
Minelab CTX 3030Best of the bestCheck Price
Fisher F75 LTDAdvanced usersCheck Price
Teknetics T2Lowest priceCheck Price

Minelab Equinox 800

What we like:

  • Fully submersible up to 10ft (or 3 meters)
  • Multi-frequency for better target ID
  • Wireless headphone capability
  • Switch between frequencies based on your needs
  • Weighs under 3lbs
  • Value for money

What we don’t like:

  • Included headphones aren’t waterproof

Minelab CTX 3030​

What we like:

  • Superior discrimination and target ID
  • Don’t need to buy separate land machine
  • Lots of coils available
  • LCD display
  • Digital Target ID

What we don’t like:

  • Price
  • Can’t be used for diving

Fisher F75 LTD

What we like:

  • More search coil options
  • 65 tone ID’s vs the T2’s 6
  • Static all-metal mode
  • Boost mode for enhanced sensitivity and depth
  • Cache mode for deep, large objects

What we don’t like:

  • Price

Teknetics T2 Classic

What we like:

  • Low price for such a powerful detector
  • Large LCD screen
  • Expanded iron range
  • Can also be used for basic gold prospecting

What we don’t like:

  • No backlight
  • DD coils only
  • Does not save settings when turned off

Best waterproof PI metal detectors

PhotoMetal detector Best for…Price
Fisher CZ-21Best performanceCheck Price
Garrett Sea HunterBest valueCheck Price

Fisher CZ-21

What we like:

  • Fast response time
  • Audio boost mode
  • Pinpoint button
  • Easy to hip mount
  • Clear tone on deep, faint signals

What we don’t like:

  • No threshold adjustment
  • Concentric coil

Garrett Sea Hunter​

What we like:

  • Interchangeable coils and headphones
  • Has large 10×14 accessory coil
  • Independently sealed battery compartment
  • Pulse Delay for heavy iron beaches

What we don’t like:

  • No volume control

Best waterproof multi-frequency metal detectors

Photo Metal Detector Best for… Price
Minelab Excalibur IISaltwaterCheck Price
Minelab CTX 3030Most versatileCheck Price

Minelab Excalibur II

What we like:

  • Excellent iron discrimination
  • Multi-frequency machine that can also be used for diving
  • Very accurate tone ID
  • Submersible to 200 ft

What we don’t like:

  • Iron null delay can make you miss good targets
  • Hardwired headphones
  • Requires additional kit to hip mount
  • No tone on deep, faint signals. Just threshold change.

Minelab CTX 3030​

What we like:

  • Superior discrimination and target ID
  • Don’t need to buy separate land machine
  • Lots of coils available
  • LCD display
  • Digital Target ID

What we don’t like:

  • Price
  • Can’t be used for diving

Best freshwater metal detector

Photo Metal Detector Best for… Price
Garrett AT ProBest valueCheck Price
Garrett AT MaxMost featuresCheck Price
Fisher 1280xWater-onlyCheck Price

Garrett AT Pro

What we like:

  • Fully waterproof and submersible to 10 ft
  • Manual and auto ground balance
  • Proportional audio
  • Iron audio

What we don’t like:

  • Waterproof headphones sold separately
  • Single frequency

Garrett AT Max

What we like:

  • Can also be used for gold prospecting
  • Better ground balance options than AT Pro
  • “True All Metal” mode
  • Wireless headphones included

What we don’t like:

  • Waterproof headphones sold separately
  • Single-frequency

Fisher 1280x​

What we like:

  • Fully submersible to 250 ft
  • Volume control
  • 75+ hours battery life
  • Low 2.4 kHz freq. which is great for coins

What we don’t like:

  • No LCD display
  • Not ideal for relic hunting or gold prospecting

Gold nugget hunting (prospecting)

Prospecting machines can range from $500 all the way up to $10,000.

Most of these machines will be PI and should be used in areas where gold is known to be found.

If you want the best gold prospecting detector, go with a Minelab. They can’t be beaten.

Read our complete guide on the best metal detectors for gold.

Best metal detector for kids

What is the best kids metal detector? All the same rules above still apply, the only real difference, is going to be weight.

Depending on how old the child is, you might want to start with a detector that’s not super heavy.

You may also want to get a machine that’s relatively easy to use with not a lot of settings. Stick to the basics.

Read our complete guide to choosing the best metal detector for kids.

Buyer’s guide

This buying guide will go into detail on the best metal detectors and explain what to look for when choosing.

But first, some hard truth.

There is no universal “best” metal detector.

The question you should be asking is, “what is the best metal detector for the type of hunting I want to do, where I live, my experience, and my budget.”

To answer that question, there are a few factors that may or may not affect your decision-making process.

The purpose of this article is to break everything down in real terms, so you have a much better idea of which detector is best for YOU!

Skill level

First and foremost, let’s talk about your experience metal detecting.

Have you ever detected before?

If yes, you skip this section and move on.

If no, then you’re probably going to want to start with a beginner metal detector that’s easy to use. There’s no quicker way to become frustrated with the hobby than buying a complicated detector you don’t understand.

All metal detectors detect metal – just like all cars drive down the road. What makes one detector better than another (like cars) is the additional features and enhancements.

Look for a beginner detector in the $150-300 range. Anything below that isn’t really considered a detector – it’s considered a toy.

This may be the biggest factor of them all, especially when you’ve never tried a metal detector.

Not everyone has $800 to drop on a hobby they aren’t sure they’ll even like.

Most new hobbyists tend to spend $150-$300 on their first detector. Luckily, that buys just enough machine to get you hooked.

Intended use

The type of hunting you plan on doing makes a major difference in what machine you buy.

While most machines are designed as all-around detectors for coin, jewelry, and relics, there are also specialty machines for different uses.

Coin and jewelry

Most machines are designed for coin and jewelry hunting – especially those priced under $600 or so.

One thing you want to make sure of here is that you do not buy a machine with too high frequency – i.e., one designed for gold prospecting (you can read our guide here on the best metal detectors for gold nuggets).

As long as you stay under 15 kHz, you’ll be just fine for coin shooting. Frequency and depth have an inverse relationship, so the higher you get, the less depth you’ll get on coin-sized targets.

You’ll also want to avoid a pulse induction machine – or PI for short. These are built more for saltwater hunting and gold prospecting.

For all-purpose coin and jewelry hunting, stick to a single frequency VLF detector when first starting out.

Read more about the best metal detector for coins.​

Relic hunting

The same rules apply for relic hunting. Most all-round machines will do just fine for relic hunting.

If however, you’re looking for a more advanced relic hunting machine, you’ll want to look for features like these:

  • Large search coil – preferably DD
  • Slightly higher frequency (10-20 kHz)
  • Adjustable threshold
  • Iron Audio
  • Both manual and auto ground balance
  • Best Relic Hunting Metal Detectors

Saltwater beach hunting

If you plan to do most of your hunting in and around saltwater, you’ll need a specialty machine.

Note that you do NOT need a specialty machine if you’re hunting on the dry sand of a saltwater beach.

If hunting in the wet sand, surf or water, you’ll need a machine that’s either PI or multi-frequency.

Do NOT buy a single frequency machine for saltwater – despite the marketing material of the company!

Will they work? Sure. But you’re depth will be severely limited to the point where it’s not even worth it to detect.

While either PI or multi-frequency will work, there are some pros and cons to each.

See our complete guide on best beach metal detectors.​

Pulse induction in saltwater

Pulse induction machines are not designed to discriminate. So if you plan to hunt beaches where there’s lots of trash, go with a multi-frequency.

PI machines also tend to be a bit heavier since many are built for diving. So you’ll also want to buy something like a chest/shoulder harness to bear the weight.

The major benefit to PI machines is their superior depth in highly mineralized areas like saltwater beaches. You just can’t beat it.

Most serious beach hunters use pulse induction.

When choosing any detector for the beach, it goes without saying that you want a machine that’s fully waterproof and submersible – which most detectors are not.

All you need is to be hit by one wave while digging your hole, and the machine is toast if it’s not waterproof.

Multiple frequency in saltwater

The benefit of using a multi-frequency detector in saltwater is that you can discriminate out unwanted targets.

You can also use the same machine for all of your hunting as opposed to the PI where you should only really use it for beach hunting.

The only real con to using a multi-frequency machine on the beach is that you won’t get the type of depth you would with a PI – although it will still be excellent.

Freshwater hunting

Freshwater hunting is a MUCH easier beast to tackle.

The only factors you need to consider here is that you get a fully submersible machine with good discrimination – that’s really it.


There are a few different technologies you should familiarize yourself with when choosing which detector to buy.

I will summarize each below very broadly:

Very low frequency (VLF)

Very low frequency (VLF) is the technology built into most detectors – pretty much any machine under $1,000.

These are signal frequency machines used for coin, jewelry, and relic hunting. If you’re just starting out, get yourself a VLF.

Pulse induction (PI)

Pulse induction (PI) is a technology used in specialty machines for areas of high mineralization – i.e., salt water beaches and gold country.

These machines will punch through ground minerals like salt and iron and will report on all metal objects without the ability to discriminate.

Multiple frequency (MF)

Multi-frequency (MF) detectors are typically machines that go for over $1,000 and most commonly found in the high-end Minelab detectors.

These are best if you’re serious about metal detecting and have the budget to back it up.

They’re also great for doing both saltwater and all around detecting without having to buy two machines.

I use the Minelab CTX 3030 for this very reason.

Search coils

Another thing to consider is the stock search coil that comes with your detector. There are a few points you should consider when choosing a coil.

Stock coil size

Generally speaking, the larger the coil, the better the depth.

So common sense tells you to buy the largest coil, right?


There are other factors to consider. First, ground conditions and mineralization play a huge role in which size coil to use.

While large coils get better depth, they also see more of the ground which means your detector has to process more signals in mineralized soil which can lead to very bad falsing, poor target ID and missed targets.

When that happens, you’re forced to reduce your sensitivity, and thus reducing your depth.

A smaller coil would see less of the ground, process less ground signals and allow you to increase your sensitivity to the point where you could be getting the same depth as you would with the larger coil in neutral ground.

Make sense so far? Ok, let’s confuse this further now…

Not only would a smaller coil give you comparable depth in mineralized ground, but it would also give you better target separation so you can better identify multiple targets under your coil (picking up good targets amongst trash).

And speaking of target separation, let’s talk about coil configuration.

Stock coil type

There are several types of coil configurations – the most widely used being the concentric and the double d (DD).

Without getting into too much detail, DD coils will get you better detection depth and deal with ground mineralization better than a concentric.

Concentric coils are typically more cost-effective. The only real advantage it has over the DD (in my opinion) is that it can be easier to pinpoint your target. Pinpointing with a DD coil just takes more practice.

Accessory coil sizes

Ground mineralization aside, there are a few other reasons why you might want to have additional coil sizes in your bag.

If you’re hunting small, tight areas like playgrounds or very rocky areas like in gold country, then you should consider a smaller coil for better maneuverability. These coils are called sniper coils.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to cover large, open areas like beaches and farm fields, a larger coil might be a better option.

Just remember, larger coils will be a lot heavier so you may need to get some type of harness if you want to detect more than 30 minutes.

Screen vs. no screen

Most experienced hunters detect largely by sound, but an LCD screen (VDI) comes in handy.

It can tell us things like depth of the target, what it thinks the target is, where our sensitivity and discrimination are set, battery life and many other things, depending on the detector.

Some folks think it’s silly to own a machine without a screen, while others are just fine with a Tesoro-type detector that features only knobs.

The Fisher F5 integrated both of those worlds. It has a screen and knobs. For those who like the best of both worlds, that may be a detector worth looking into.

Metal detectors without a screen are commonly referred to as beep and dig machines since there’s no display telling you what the detector thinks it has found in the ground

Detector weight

Some metal detectors are light as a feather while others are built like bricks and can be quite heavy.

If you have elbow or shoulder problems or another ailment that limits physical activity, it’s recommended to get a lighter detector.

Fisher and Tesoro have reputations of being the lightest in the industry. Mid and high-level machines like the AT Pro are quite a bit heavier but still not a monster.

When considering your first machine, pay close attention to how much it weighs, especially if you plan on treasure hunting for several hours at a time.

Additional research

YouTube Research

Once you have narrowed your choices down to two or three detectors, watch them in action on YouTube.

There is nothing like seeing them and hearing the owners talk about them to give us a great idea what the machine is like and how it works.

YouTube features everything from reviews to testing to actual hunting scenarios, and everything in between.

Read reviews

This one may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people purchase a detector ‘completely blind’, so to speak, having never read a single review on the machine.

So, if you are thinking of the Fisher F22, for example, type Fisher F22 reviews into your search engine and read as many as you can find. They truly do help.

You can also find my in-depth review of the Fisher F22 by clicking here.​

Whether watching youtube videos or reading online reviews, take everything with a grain of salt.

Don’t let a negative review affect your buying decision. Most negative reviews are a result of someone buying the wrong detector.

Remember, the ‘right’ detector depends on factors like skill, budget, use, location, etc.

A perfect example of this is when people say the AT Pro is awesome in salt water.

Look at where they’re located. Are they near the Gulf of Mexico where salt levels aren’t as extreme as the Atlantic and Pacific oceans?

They almost always are.

Another example is when people try to use an entry level detector in areas like the pacific northwest where the soil is extremely mineralized.

It’s not that the detector is bad, it’s just the wrong application.

Quality brands

I typically recommend you stick to the known brands for their quality and customer support.

Those brands are:

  • Fisher
  • Garrett
  • Makro
  • Minelab
  • Teknetics
  • Tesoro
  • XP
  • Whites


You should also understand how the warranty works for the brand you decide.

Most brands will have a warranty ranging 2-5 years except for Tesoro which is lifetime.

If you’re buying a water machine, the warranty is usually much less (1-2 years).

Also if you decide to buy used, make sure the warranty is transferrable as some brands do not allow this.

Accessories included

Finally, you might also want to consider any accessories that might come with your detector – especially if you’re trying to stay on budget.

If you’re new to the hobby, some accessories you’re going to find yourself buying at some point are:

  • Pinpointer
  • Headphones
  • Digger
  • Pouch
  • Carry bag
  • Scoop (if beach hunting)

Don’t be fooled by some retailers who include cheap accessories with their detectors – especially with pinpointers and diggers. We call these ‘dollar store accessories’.

Usually, these items are about the same quality as you’d find in the dollar store – despite the retailer claiming “hundreds of dollars in value!”

Final thoughts

Metal detecting is a hobby you can grow into overtime. There’s no need to buy the most expensive detector right away and have no idea what you’re doing.

Don’t overthink your first purchase. This article talks about a lot of factors to consider, but it’s not intended to scare you away from your first purchase.

As long as you stick to your price point with one of the major brands, you really can’t go wrong.

I hope this guide was helpful and that you now have a better idea of the best metal detector for YOU!

Good luck and happy hunting.

105 thoughts on “What is the best metal detector?”

  1. good article and very truthful. I went thru many articles and much time to come up with basicly the same conclusions well done

  2. I bought a metal detector about a year ago, and have found that a lot of cool places are off limits . the mission in san diego is one such place I have tried but not on the mission itself but along the river in front of it the next day there was a fence put up with a no trespassing sign! anything where there is some history is off limits. I bought a whites pro mxt still learning.

    • Hey Dennis. Your best bet will be to get permission on private land.

  3. Great article Mark, I have had a whites classic for 20 years and it’s finally time to upgrade. I have been scavenging the Internet for articles to help my decision with my next purchase. Your article was well put together answering questions that were great food for thought and direction, thank you.

    • Thanks Kirt, best of luck to you!

  4. whoever has done this article is pretty switched on to metal detecting and has given proper information to new beginners to start from scratch no biased brand naming like most other reviewers who prabably get perks for name dropping

    • Thanks Jason!

  5. your web is inspirational by far, so far, so good!: for inexperienced entusiastic –
    still, a lot to learn, to experiment and hope.
    hope is dangerous, but, without it, no future, and present is in danger.
    A – nation, would not survive without Hope and without Faith.
    thank you for your wonderful tour,i will hear from you again and pass the word to somebody who truly wants to learn.
    mr. orwig, its my pleasure, thank you!
    yours truly, marko

    • Cheers Marko!

  6. i used an arado 120b for 18 years, detected once a week for 18 years, it took about
    7 months to master the machine, after mastering the arado i VERY RARELY dug up rubbish.
    90% of discrimination happens in your head, the machine gives you the information and the decision is yours, i am aware the learning curve takes a long time but it was well worth the effort. retired now but still many many roman coins including a silver dinari
    of otho and a few full and half sovereigns, in fact name it and i have probably dug it
    with the arado, was a cult machine in the eighties, not mentioned now.

  7. Found your article informative and objectiv. I intend to start with an intro unit for primarily beach use. But I live in the Pacific Northwest – oregon coast to be exact. What unit do you recommend for that environment?

    Thanks for your help

  8. Great article but just seems there are no places to search. Most everything is private land with owners who are hard to locate or not willing to let you detect.public land similar and or all picked over and over. My coinmaster collects dust.

    • Hey Mack. The best places to hunt is private land so you just gotta double down on seeking permissions. You might also want to think about joining a local club who will often have outings on private land. Hope this helps!

  9. Great article with some useful points. I’ve been using a C-scope TR.770D (I bought it second-hand for £30-00 with some warranty still on it!!) for about 35 years and think its due for a change. I have been looking at XP for the lightweight use but am being drawn to the Garrett AT Pro. As semi-retired I have to think about cost. Does anyone know if the newer AT Pro International is any better than the AT Pro? Nearly all of my searching has been on the UK south coast beaches but I’m looking for permissions for inland searching. I’m also looking forward to doing some rallies in the future.

    • Hey Keith. The AT Pro and the AT Pro International are the same machine. The International just has software features to account for more iron in the soil.

  10. Hi Mark,

    I love your article and really appreciate the time you took to put it together. But I still don’t feel confident to answer my own question. Much of where I want to detect will be fields and pastures that have quite a bit of hard red clay near the surface. I’m a newbie so my adventure hasn’t started yet. In the case of red clay would I be wanting a PI machine? Thank you for you help!

    • Hi Susan. No you don’t want a PI but you do want something with adjustable ground balance. Also for fields I would get something with a large coil to cover more ground with each sweep. Take a look at the Garrett AT Pro or AT Max.

  11. Great article. How about the Garrett’s 400?

    • Hey Jose. The 400 is a good machine for the money – only thing it lacks is adjustable ground balance.

  12. Great article… Why didn’t White’s make any lists? I was thinking of buying a Treasure Pro with a DD coil. I’ve seen a lot of great reviews for it.

    • Hey Brian. I only review products I have experience with and I’ve never used a White’s. But I’ve also seen good reviews.

  13. Hi Mark

    Like your site a lot, I an learning plenty from reading your pages

    Do you think the new Minelab equinox 800 can match / surpass the At Pro as an all rounder ? I am awaiting the first reviews from the public however the specs look amazing.

    I am in the market for a good all round detector and like the idea of a waterproof machine for the beach and river, I am also just as likely to explore a few fields some clay some heavy peat, even a few trashy public areas, I live in the Swansea / Gower area so various places to go.

    I am not the type to fiddle around resetting everything preferring pre set beach coin field settings with minor tweaks.

    These detectors are at the top end of my budget, any advise greatly accepted.

    Best regards

    • Hey Rick! I’m also trying to get my hands on an equinox but the specs do look pretty nice. I really like that it’s a multi-frequency. If it ends up being as good as it looks, the AT Pro will have some issues. Although the equinox goes for $900 hear in the states.

  14. Hello Mark,
    I am very impressed with your knowledge, and willingness to help other people, for free.
    That being said, I too am going to buy my first metal detector, and I am attempting to learn what machine is best for “my area, and intended uses”.
    I live in Massachusetts, and do intend on doing some searching at beaches, but very little. However, I live in an area that dates back to the mid 1600s, (1650). Therefore, most of my searching will be in wooded areas, and around some fresh water ponds, and streams. Not diving, just around the water.
    I am willing to spend up to about $750.00. What type, and brand would you suggest?
    Thank you in advance for any help you provide.
    Jim Jose

    • Hey Jim. For those uses and budget, I would look at either the Garrett AT Max or Teknetics T2 Ltd.

  15. Great info – thanks for providing. Shopping for first detector. Just purchased a 40 acre farm in Missouri and want to find metal but also arrow heads. What should I look for in terms of specs? I’m assuming the detector just sees an arrow head as a normal rock? Thanks!

    • Hey John. For a big piece of land like that, I would make sure you get something with a large coil to cover more ground faster. Also a metal detector won’t pick up arrow heads unless they are made of metal.

  16. My 12 year old son would like to start metal detecting. I am an only parent and my budget is quite Limited. I would like to spend anywhere from $100 to $200 for his first one. I don’t want to buy him garbage but I can’t afford the very best what do you think a great beginning metal detector would be? Any help that you can give me would be greatly appreciated thank you and God bless. PS. We live in Ohio so we’ll do lots of field but we also travel to Florida lot and possibly be able to do beaches waterproof does not have to be an issue cuz I’m sure I can afford that. Thank you

    • Hi Jeremy. I’d probably go with the Tesoro Compadre with the 8″ coil. Great detector, very lightweight, and in your budget. Hope this helps!

  17. Great article. Thanks for the in-depth reviews. I’m interested in starting to explore the world of metal detecting. I’m currently living in Europe (Germany). Based on what I read, the Garret 400i might be a nice starting point for me. Any other thoughts or recommendations? Thank you. MD

    • Yes the 400 is a great choice. What is your budget?

  18. Mark,

    Outstanding advice and I know we are all benefitting from your willingness to share your experience and knowledge on a subject that many of us are just now beginning to explore.

    I’m looking for your recommendation on a detector that provides decent waterproof protection (fully submersible not required but potentially used while raining). I would likely be detecting in beach areas as well as relic hunting in former semi-mountainous now grass-covered battle site areas.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks much.

    • Thanks Dan! What is your budget?

  19. Hey Mark,

    The information you have posted is awesome and very informative. Thank you for that. I am like others, getting started in metal detecting. I live in Colorado so the idea of potentially going for GOLD is in the thought process. We also have open land, BLM, and forests. Tons of rocks and hard clay. Interested in checking the shallows of lakes and streams as well. Kind of interested in the F22 but not sure if is good for gold. I would like to keep a budget of 500 or less. Recommendations??

    • Hi Scott. The f22 is not meant for that kind of detecting. $500 budget is tricky for your location and intended use. Are you just planning to detect for gold or coins and relics as well?

  20. at pro or e trac. i live in the midwest looking for coins and jeweiry. Would like a detector that can distinguish what my find may be. Price of detector is no problem ( i do hunt a lot of trashy areas, abandoned city houses )

    • Etrac for sure. But if money is no issue, then get the CTX 3030.

  21. Awesome article, thanks for the info. You mentioned the tricky soil of the PNW, I was look at the Fishcher F75 Ltd, do you think that would be worth it for up here?

    While money is always a consideration, I would prefer to pay more now than spending a bunch more on upgrades later.

    Thanks for the advice!

    • Yes, the Fisher F75 would be a great choice.

  22. Hi Mark, Thanks for writing the article. I’m looking at getting my 14 yr old son a metal detector for Christmas. We are novices and are probably more on the budget-oriented side. We live in the Rockies near the Colorado Mineral Belt and would likely use for gold prospecting. Possibly some use in and around water. Which machines do you recommend we consider?

    • Hi Timm. What is your budget?

      • Prefer under $300 but would consider up to $500.

        • Ok then I’d get the Fisher Gold Bug if gold is what you’re after.

  23. Dear Mark,Great article! Thank You for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us. We have a budget around 500$ and are looking for the right metal detector for our 17 year old son. He would be using it in the areas of coastal New England, Maine/New Hampshire as well as Florida, inland near fresh and brackish water or on beaches there. Waterproof and durable are important considerations. Gold finding would be in the form of rings at the beach. Otherwise he’s mainly interested in anything with history that he could find. He is very good at figuring out technology and probably would like one with a display. What are your suggestions and what extras are definitely needed for an enthusiastic beginner? Thank You

    • Hi Tonia. Sounds like you want the Garrett AT Pro since it’s the only waterproof machine in that price range. I’d also get a sand scoop for the beaches.

  24. This was great article! I have always wanted to get into metal detecting, kind of a treasure hunter and all round puzzle lover. I don’t have a large budget no more than $150 live in North Texas but do visit texas Mexico border every couple of years. Would love the ability to do shallow water hunting no more than a couple feet. Have never used a detector and have no idea what any of the beeps and squelches would mean, what do you think would be the best option for me?

    • Hi Laura. In that price range I’d go with the Tesoro Compadre.

  25. This article was very informative and interesting. I currently am a very novice metal detector but I do own an e-trac. I didn’t really see anything about this particular detector. Was it a good choice? I want to get into detecting very seriously. I was thinking of giving this detector to my son. I’m interested in buying the best detector possible for old coins, jewelry, and possible gold coins with no price ceiling. What is the best detector I can buy? Thank you

    • Hey Greg. The Etrac is an awesome machine. Only machine better is the CTX 3030. Hope this helps!

  26. Hey Mark, I did see you recommended the etrac for one person but said if budget wasn’t an issue then you would recommend the 3030. Is the 3030 that much better and why? And if budget isn’t an issue is there another detector that is even better than the 3030? Thank you, Greg.

    • The 3030 has a lot more features than the Etrac, plus its fully submersible. Right now there’s no better all-around detector than the CTX 3030

  27. Hi Mark,

    Great article!!

    I’m looking to get started with metal detecting in New England. I’ll definitely be doing some salt water beaches (on dry sand) and rocky forest areas and campgrounds. What do you think of the Fisher F22 vs the Fisher F44? Is there any other you would recommend? My budget is $500 max.


  28. Your article is very helpful with lots of info. I am looking for a detector for my husband to use mainly out at our cabin in western Maryland about a mile from the Pennsylvania state line. We are on the side of a mountain and the ground is basically all rocks/shale. We have Indian burial mounds in 3 locations just on our property alone but I saw in some comments that the detector will only pick up on metal arrow heads. My budget for this first time buy is limited to $200. What would you recommend for our type of ground? There are also several streams/creaks around with Deep Creek Lake being about 20 minutes away. Not too sure he needs submersible type but maybe water-resistant, if there is such a thing? Thanks!

    • Hi Alicia. The detectors I’d recommend are out of your budget so I’d focus on a beginner machine like the F22 or ACE 300.

  29. Hi, all very solid advice as many have stated. I am at the point where I don’t want to waist money to get what features I am wanting or have to purchase two machines to cover my wants. I know detectors such as Garrets 250 comes up in a lot of reviews ad a good beginner and on. I want a detector that will not just do a so, so job but one that wont be wasting my time when I am out there. I am looking for I say a medium level detector that will let me do regular detecting and also will provide a decent signal for hunting for gold coins , jewelry as well. I have several locations where I m able to hunt for such items, I know these items are there and some ha already been found over the last few years by a couple of us thus far. This summer we are now also planning on doing a little prospecting on some creaks and land that is also known and listed to have gold. I am not sure on the exact sizes but I am thinking it is going to be mostly fine gold deposits with possible small nuggets. So my question is , is there possibly a two in one unit available that wont force me to sell my blood in order to get it. Hopefully in a price range of $300 to $500 range. A Brand and model if one is available would greatly be appreciated and if not, whatever is out there at a lower price range on that scale. Thanks so much for your time. Donald

    • Hi Don. In that budget range, you might want to look for a used Garrett AT Gold?

  30. Hi Mark.
    Used detectors. I’m looking at the AT pro or something comparable.
    Other than a transferable warranty, what other information would you be looking for and specific questions would you ask a seller. Thanks and I found your information useful and helpful.

    • I’d get the original receipt and serial number. You can call Garrett with the serial number to verify the warranty.

  31. Hi Mark,

    I have to agree with everyone, your article was extremely helpful! I am thinking of buying my 1st metal detector and am still a little confused over which would work best for the area I would like to search. I love by a dry riverbed and am interested in looking for relics as well as small pieces of gold. I believe the area is also high in other minerals. Is there a detector that would allow me to search for these items at a reasonable cost for a beginner?

    • Hi Mikki. What is your budget?

  32. Hi Mark,

    I have been saving for a few years to buy the right metal detector however they have been getting more bells and whistles as the years go on and now I’m unsure which is right for me. Even though I travel around a lot, and my hunting conditions are always changing, jewelry and coins are my top targets… then relics and so on. What I would like to find is a detector that did it all (beaches, rivers, mountains, divable, ect.) but I’m not sure if that exists. Do I need multiple detectors? Or can I get away with multiple coils? Also I would like a really dependable brand with a good warranty.. I was always looking at Whites but I didn’t see that in your list. Any advice would be greatly appreciated…Oh, and I would like to stay $3000 or less if possible.

    • Hey Tony. I’d get the Minelab CTX 3030. It’s the best all-around detector on the market. Only submersible to 10 ft though so won’t work for diving.

  33. Hi Mark,

    Thank you very much for the very comprehensive and detailed article. this certainly helped me. I was looking to buy an ace 250 but then realised that it won’t work for me. I live in Cape Town and will use my device for beach hunting but I also have a love for History, and will also go to different fields and historical places around South Africa, (whenever I get a chance).
    Based on your article I would have loved the CTX 3030, but seeing as that is just a tad over my budget, I’m thinking of rather going for the Garret AT Pro which seems to be an all-rounder. but will it work in saltwater conditions?
    If not the AT Pro, which would you suggest for:
    saltwater conditions
    freshwater conditions
    Field conditions
    not necessarily gold prospecting (South African law does not allow for nugget prospecting) although I can probably salvage rings etc.
    relic/coin hunting. (budget less than $1k)

    thanks in advance,

    • wait for the minelab equinox to come out.

  34. 1 just retired and I want to get into metal detecting. I was going to get the new whites treasure probe, but I see they just came out with mx7. supposed to be mxpro bot down priced . but it goes deeper than the treasure pro. what is your opinion?

    • hey anthony sorry but I don’t have any experience with White’s so I cant say.

  35. Very informative article. Right now I’m in the market for a all around detector with a 500$ budget. As for location it will be mostly in the Canadian sheild in heavy woods, around swamps and lakes and rivers and there is lots of rocks and boulders. It is also very rich in minerals and granite. The rest of the time will be spent in fields with sand and bleu clay. What would you recommend

    • I’d probably get an AT Pro.

  36. Thank you so much for the article. Would you consider The Garrett GTI2500 to be an out-dated machine? Any thoughts? I am stuck between the Fisher 75 Special edition, GTI2500 and the AT MAX.

    • Yes I would say it’s outdated. What kind of hunting do you want to do?

  37. Hi Mark,

    My family and I live in southern Arizona. We have tossed around the idea of buying a metal detector to take with us when we go out four wheeling. We like remote areas and typically try to find old mine sites (gold, silver, copper). So we are looking at steep, rocky slopes which can have high levels of iron and quartz. Would like to do some prospecting, but would also like to find artifacts. So, with that in mind, what would you suggest as the best all around detector for us. Would like to keep it under $1000 if possible.



  38. Mark: I have been hunting for 50 yrs and have always updated my
    White’s detectors about every 5yrs. I have the v31 now. I love these machines I have thought about updating again and am about to purchase the Etrac. This after detecting with club members and comparing results.
    Thanks for your information.

  39. Hi Mark,

    Awesome site and I hope you can assist me! I am looking for my first metal detector. My family and I live in Bucks County, Pa (just outside Philly and about 1/2 hour south of Princeton). The area has a rich history, including Washington crossing the Delaware to fight in the battle of Trenton. Of course, most of the land is privately owned and finding areas to detect could be an issue. However, the local parks do allow for some detecting with permission. There is also some olf and abandoned railroads, creeks where covered bridges once existed. I am sure I can find some areas to search. I want to pursue this as a hobby with the potential of finding older coins and relics. And, a bag of gold if I am lucky (lol). I am guessing most of the hunting would be land but there are bodies of water, creeks, etc. so my thoughts are perhaps go with a very good land/water model. I have no problem spending a little more on a unit if improves my odds. Thanks for your assistant. Melz

    • I’d lean toward the AT Pro or AT Max.

  40. Thank you for the professional and insightful article, Mark!! I am starting this hobby at 50 years old! As a retired teacher, I found your information, tips, and expertise extremely valuable! I also like the honest reviews and set up of your post. Thank you and happy hunting!!

  41. Mark:

    Your explanations and examples were very helpful, but I cannot decide between a VLF or PI system.

    I need a detector to find a Samsung smartphone that I lost in the woods. I rented a detector, but the head was 8″ in diameter and it picked up on the mineralization. I got a lot of false-positives, and didn’t find my phone.

    Would I need a PI head to deal with the heavily minerlised soils in the search area? My lack of experience is evident.

    Given my comments above, would you kindly recommend the type of machine that would give me the best results, please?

    Please advise.

    Kindest regards,

    Peter Johnston

    • If you just want to find a smartphone, any detector should do it. If you’re getting falsing, turn down the sensitivity. Assuming the phone is on the surface, you shouldn’t need that much sensitivity.

  42. Hi Mark thanks for very informative selection criteria. I am looking for Gold flakes/small nuggets in a very mineralized iron ore area and quartz veins also to search in shallow streams. Budget from $600 – $1600 . Kindly advise several unit options in your order of preference.
    many thanks

  43. Mark,

    Interested in starting to metal detect. Good article and great information. Was wondering what to get for my area. Currently in southern Tennessee, silt and clay loam down to about 31 inches deep. Budget can be as high as $1000. Would like to search for what I can find but probably relics or the like. Lots of old land to search around here. Any help or guidance is greatly appreciated.

    Don Kepple

    • Hey Don. Take a look at the new Minelab Equinox. I haven’t reviewed it yet.

  44. Great article. I was curious if a low end Garrett would be good for detecting underground pipes and water lines. I know there are other method for doing so, but I’m in an odd situation with the possibility finding an underground bunker.

    • No you need a 2-box detector for that. Look at the Fisher Gemini III

  45. Great article thanks.

    I’m new to this so I’m after entry level. Do you have an opinion on the F22 DD? Is it worth extra orshould I stick with the F22?

    • If you have the extra cash, then yes I’d go with the DD.

  46. Hello Mark, which Metal detector would you say is good all around, water proof, depth, dry/wet sand, all metals, relics, gold, silver nuggets, etc
    A Metal Detector that i can use to find everything on water and land.
    Many thanks

    • I think probably the new Minelab Equinox, but I have not reviewed that yet.

  47. Very helpfull tips….thanks Jason….

  48. What a load of rubbish!! In reading this article it’s obvious you know nothing about the best metal detectors what a joke the Garrett at pro best metal detector 😂😂😂 the at pro has very limited depth on coins and other nonferrous Targets you haven’t even mentioned the best detector which is the minelab etrac by a country mile

    • John. I would invite you to read the guide in full. If you had, you’d know that ‘best’ refers to the best detector for a combination of budget, skill, experience, intended use, location, etc. Most people cannot afford an Etrac – so it’s not the ‘best’ detector for them. If you were hunting for gold nuggets in Arizona, would you use an Etrac? No. If you’re wading in shallow water, would you use an Etrac? No. If you’re a newbie and have no idea how a detector works, would you use an Etrac? No. I could go on. I personally use a CTX 3030 because it’s the best machine that fits my needs. Everyone’s situation is different so I try to recommend the best equipment accordingly.

  49. What an excelleNt, well written and easy to understand article. I cannot comment yet on the detectots because i’m almost a newbie 😀.
    Thank you mark

  50. Thank you for the info, very helpful.

  51. This article was excellent. Appreciate your time and help.

  52. Brilliant

  53. I want to thank you for taking the time to to share your knowledge and experience with with us. I am going to be buying my 1st metal detector. It’s going to be used in the PNW and in NV and AZ as well as AR. Probably not much beach use. I have learned a lot from your site.

  54. Hi,
    What do you think about Nokta?

    • I haven’t tested their machines yet, so I can’t say either way.

  55. Thank you so much for this wonderful article!

  56. Great information for the beginner and seasoned hunter

  57. Exactly! Fisher F22 will be a good alternative for Garrett Ace 150-250-350. Because it seems to have a faster speed recovery.

  58. Really great information thank you. Before I read up I was leaning towards an XP Deus but now am debating vs the Garrett AT Pro. If you had any experience with the Deus brand I would appreciate hearing your opinion. Cheers.

    • Hey Scott. The brand itself is great. I’ve done business with them in the past. I’m not a huge fan of the screen size on the DEUS but that’s just a personal opinion.

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