How to Start Metal Detecting

Written By: Marc McDermott
Last Updated:

If you’re new to the metal detecting hobby, there’s a lot you need to know! First, let’s briefly talk about the type of equipment you’ll need, then we’ll talk about places to hunt and research. Later in this guide, I go into depth on each of these topics.

There is so much equipment you can choose to utilize to make your hunts more productive, but let me simplify it for you.

When you’re first starting out and not sure if you’ll even like the hobby (or if budget is a concern), you’ll want to get yourself an entry-level detector.

That’s really all you need to start. Some folks will say you need a ‘pinpointer’, extra coils, diggers, pouches, carry bags, scoops, covers, gloves, towels, probes, etc.

The amount of equipment is endless. While those things are all very useful for the experienced hunter, when you’re first starting out all you really need is a detector.

After all, you don’t want to be spending loads of money upfront if you’re not sure you’ll like the hobby. We’ll talk more about accessories later in this article, but for now, let’s stick to entry-level detectors.

At the time of writing this guide, a quality entry-level metal detector will cost you anywhere from $160 to $400.

Anything over $400 I consider to be midlevel.

Just to put this price into context, some detectors can cost up to $10,000.

Yes, $10k.

But machines that cost this much are meant for gold prospecting in areas where there’s known gold in the ground like on old claims.

For detectors that are more all-round machines, the maximum you’re going to pay at the moment is about $2,500 – and that’s for the most advanced technology will all the bells and whistles.

The brands you want to look at when choosing any level of detector are:

  • Garrett (most popular with beginners)
  • Fisher
  • Teknetics (same company as Fisher)
  • Minelab (most advanced technology)
  • Whites

A lot of folks will go with the Bounty Hunter brand when first starting out because they’re so cheap and can be found at stores like Walmart.

But quite honestly these machines are very low quality and won’t give you a great experience.

For a few extra bucks, you can get a detector that’s so much better. And what’s great about this hobby is that most of the equipment holds it’s value like you can’t believe.

So worst-case scenario you don’t like the hobby, just put your detector on eBay and get (most) of your money back.

So what entry-level machine should you get?

Here all the most popular entry-level models currently available for each of the brands I mentioned above:

Yes, there are cheaper models available in most of these brands, but these will give you the most bang for your buck.

You really can’t go wrong with any of the above machines when you’re first starting out.

Next chapter: Is metal detecting worth it?