Are you on a budget of $200 or less and want to get the most bang for your buck? After extensive testing with over 10 years of metal detecting experience, our top pick is the Garrett ACE 200. Whether you’re just starting out, or looking for a backup machine, the ACE 200 is a terrific choice for your treasure hunting needs.
Our pick: Garrett ACE 200
If you’re looking for an easy-to-operate metal detector that can help you get your feet wet in this hobby without making a massive investment, the Ace 200 is a solid pick.
This guide will cover in detail what we believe to be the five best metal detectors priced under $200. For other types of machines, read my complete guide to the best metal detectors.
Metal detecting can be an expensive hobby, with some machines costing thousands of dollars.
But luckily for you, you can also try your hand at metal detecting with an inexpensive starter machine that costs less than $200.
While these machines won’t have all the bells and whistles of their more expensive counterparts, they’ll be enough to score some great finds.
Finding the right metal detector for you is a subjective matter – you may love a detector your friend didn’t like at all.
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to choosing a metal detector you like. Just go with whatever feels right to you.
To help you make your selection, let’s look at the pros and cons of each detector.
Garrett Ace 200
The ACE 200 has all the essential features you’ll need in a detector to get you started in your quest for treasure.
This detector is part of Garrett’s immensely popular Ace series of detectors.
The Ace 200 is an upgraded version of the company’s Ace 150 detector. It has several great features that will enhance your detecting experience.
It has four sensitivity adjustments, which is helpful if you’re hunting in an area with a lot of ground mineralization. That can also help when you have other nearby interference like power lines.
This detector has three search modes that will help you hone in on coins and jewelry, and it has a zero-discrimination mode that will let you hunt all metals.
It has a coin depth indicator, so you’ll know what kind of depth range you’re dealing with.
It has digital target identification on a scale of 0 to 99 which will help you decide if you want to dig that signal by giving you a good indication as to what type of metal you’ve found.
Pulse-width modulation audio gives you a sharper audio which helps you distinguish targets.
There are three audio tones (high, medium, low) to tell you what kind of metal you’ve likely found.
In addition to these features, there are some other components that make this a great detector to snatch up at this price.
It’s lightweight at under 3 pounds, which is a big deal if you’re going on an all-day hunt.
Having a lighter machine will stop you from having sore arms the next day.
Although it may not look like it, metal detecting can be physically demanding if you do it a lot.
The Ace 200 comes with a 6.5- by 9-inch search coil, which is a good size for general relic hunting.
As you get more into the hobby of metal detecting, you’ll find there are different sizes of coils available for various applications.
This coil is not so small that you lose depth when looking for your targets, but it’s also not so big that you have trouble separating targets when you find multiple signals in the same area.
Another great thing about this coil is that it is waterproof, which means you’ll be able to hunt in very shallow water like creeks beds or the shorelines of lakes.
Be aware, though, that the control box of this detector is not waterproof, so you never want to fully submerge it underwater.
The length of the Ace 200 is adjustable from 42 inches to 51 inches, which means this detector will work for you no matter what your height is – perfect for kids and adults alike!
The biggest drawbacks to this machine are that it doesn’t have adjustable ground balancing or built-in electronic pinpointing.
Ground balancing is great to have if you are hunting anywhere where there is heavy mineralization in the soil.
But for beginning metal detecting, you’ll be okay without it in most places you dig.
Ground balancing is a feature you shouldn’t expect in a metal detector that costs less than $200.
As for the built-in pinpointing, you may want to invest in a hand-held pinpointer at some point.
I couldn’t believe how much quicker I could locate my targets by using a hand-held pinpointer – it has helped me tremendously over the years!
Fisher metal detectors have an excellent reputation and with good reason – they are sturdy, well-built machines that get the job done.
The Fisher F11 is one of the detectors in the company’s popular F series, which is known for having great recovery speed.
That’s important when you are digging in areas that have a lot of targets – both good and bad.
Recovery speed will help you separate signals and prevent a bottle cap from making you miss a coin because your detector was too tied up registering the bottle cap signal and couldn’t recover in time to let you know there was another target too.
But recovery speed is just one of the quality features about the F11.
You’ll be able to swing this detector all day and wake up the next day ready for another hunt because of how lightweight it is. It only weighs 2.3 pounds.
It has three hunt modes – jewelry, coin, and artifact.
The 9-segment visual target identification will save you a lot of time and frustration.
It will help you weed out junk signals, and you’ll be able to pass on targets that you likely wouldn’t have wanted anyway, like nails and pull tabs.
This detector has four-tone audio identification, giving you another quick and easy way to distinguish between metals.
The sensitivity control offers six different levels, giving you more control when dealing with soil mineralization and anything else, like power lines, that may interfere with your search efforts.
The one thing I’m not crazy about is the 7-inch coil. With all the features this detector offers, it would have been my number one pick if the coil were larger.
That would give you additional depth while searching and you’d be able to search properties faster.
Minelab Go-Find 40
This user-friendly detector color codes its signals to show which type of metal you’ve found.
A green LED shows that you’ve likely found non-iron metals, which is what you want when you’re looking for good targets.
A red LED shows an iron target that you’ll likely want to pass on because it could be a simple nail.
It has automatic ground tracking that helps cut down on interference in the ground that will lead to false signals.
At only 2.3 pounds, this detector will be easy on the arms.
It’s a retracting detector, which means with one simple press of a button, you’ll be able to easily store this detector in your trunk without taking up much space.
That’s always nice because it means you’ll never have to be on the road without your metal detector.
It’s nice to have one on hand whenever the opportunity to dig presents itself!
The Go-Find 40 has a big 10-inch coil which will make quick work out of the grounds you are searching.
Tech wizards out there will like that this detector has a Bluetooth function which will let you use your Smartphone with your detector.
You can let all your Facebook friends see your finds, you can play music as you hunt, and you can even control your detector with your Smartphone function.
Plus, you’ll be able to identify coins just by using your phone with an app.
You can store where you’ve found your items by using the app – you’ll be able to zoom in on Google Maps to see the precise location you found some of your best hits.
That way if you ever want to go back to search the area again, you’ll know exactly where to go. It’s like having a modern-day treasure map!
If you aren’t into technology, many of the unique features of the Go-Find 40 won’t matter to you.
Most of the Smartphone additions won’t help you find any more signals, but they sure are fun!
One con to this machine is that although the coil is waterproof, the control box isn’t.
It’s not even weatherproof, which means you’ll want to head indoors at first sight of rain.
The Coinmaster is a quality detector that brings a lot to the table, but it should not be confused with the White’s Coinmaster Pro, which is a step up from the regular Coinmaster.
It has a fully adjustable five-range discrimination mode.
That feature gives you different signals for the targets you find and lets you block out the ones you want to skip.
It has a waterproof 9-inch coil.
That size of the coil will be great for all-purpose metal detecting, and you’ll get good depth with it as well.
You can see a depth reading on your screen, so you’ll know how far you have to dig to unearth your treasure.
The water-resistant control box means you can hunt in the rain.
This detector only weighs 2.5 pounds, so you’ll be able to go on extended hunts with minimal discomfort.
The only real drawback to this machine is that the discrimination isn’t quite as powerful as it is on metal detectors made by Garrett and Fisher.
Tesoro metal detectors are always a good bargain.
They give you great features without the bells and whistles other detectors offer, and that’s why they can keep their prices down.
You’ll notice that I ranked this detector fifth in the table above, but with a rating of 5/5.
No that’s not a typo.
The reason for this is that it’s a very good machine that’s super powerful, but I know it’s not for everyone. Thus I kicked it down to #5 on the list.
Before we talk about what the Tesoro Compadre offers regarding features, let’s talk about what it doesn’t have.
One of the most obvious things missing from the Tesoro is a display screen.
I love having a screen to look at – I like seeing a depth gauge showing me how deep to dig.
With the Compadre though, not having a depth gauge isn’t a big loss because it likely won’t pick up targets more than 6 inches deep if you opt for the 5.75-inch coil.
But, if you don’t want to lose the depth, you can get the Compadre with an 8-inch coil for the same price.
The company gives you two choices to better meet your metal detecting needs.
The other thing that’s not so great about this machine is that it only has one tone, which can be a drag because it’s harder to distinguish between types of metal that way.
With all the negatives out of the way, let’s talk about what makes the Tesoro a good purchase.
For more on the Compadre, read our complete review here.
First of all, if there’s metal in the ground, it will find it – as long as it’s within 6 inches or so.
Tesoros are metal magnets, and they are every bit as good as more expensive machines when it comes to finding signals.
The Compadre uses Tesoro ED-180 discrimination to cut down on unwanted signals in trashy areas.
This detector feels like a feather when you’re using it because it weighs just over 2 pounds.
You’ll almost forget what hard work metal detecting can be at times!
If you are intimidated by how hard to operate some metal detectors are, you’ll love the simplicity of this machine.
You just turn it on and go.
Here is another outstanding feature of the Compadre and it’s one that helped land the Compadre on this top five list – it’s backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
That’s a fantastic deal for a metal detector of this price.
That’s a wrap
Hopefully this list will help you select your entry-level metal detector.
I wouldn’t stress out too much about your decision because these are all great machines.
Good luck in your search for treasure!
You may also be interested in our guide to the best coin metal detectors.