Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I may earn a small commission if you purchase through these links.
Has your child shown an interest in metal detecting?
Are you taking your child out for their first coin hunt?
There’s no reason your kid should be left behind when you head out hunting for gold and treasure.
Although your detector may be too heavy and complicated for your child to use, you can always spend about $100 bucks to help get them in the game.
This lineup is a mixture of real detectors and better-than-average junior models that will keep them busy and ignite a passion for finding metal.
Best Metal Detector for Kids
There’s a difference in quality between kid detectors and adult ones.
First off, “toy” detectors are just that – toys. But, real detectors for the young child aged between 4-7 are easy to read, lightweight, and provides a decent level of detection performance. The price range for these models are under $100.
The next age group is from 8-12. You’ll spend a little more but less than $200, they have real features like an adult metal detector, and they’re easy to use and manipulate. If you’re searching for a metal detector that would work well for a teenager, you’ll be heading into the entry-level market for adults.
Appropriate detectors for this age group are:
The detectors in this lineup have been carefully considered, and they’ve been approved by the masses as a great choice for the beginner child. You’ll recognize a couple name brands, and there are a few underdog detectors that deserve some of the spotlight.
Don’t be afraid to start your kid off easy with a budget detector. As their passion for detecting develops, you’ll feel confident in purchasing a more expensive, high-performing detector down the road that they can grow with to improve their detection success.
Best Metal Detector for Kids Reviews
1. National Geographic Pro Series
- FIND BURIED TREASURE - Feel the thrill of discovery when you locate cool treasure like gold, coins, jewelry, and more with the advanced technology and powerful searching features of this Pro Detector. A fun outdoor gift for any treasure hunter!
If you’re unsure about the Nat Geo metal detector, it may prove helpful to know that Minelab made the Pro Series model. It’s probably the best metal detector for kids in the market, and with a price tag this low from the revered brand, it should be a done deal.
✔️ No assembly required
✔️ Volume adjustment
✔️ Adjustable sensitivity
✔️ Preset modes
❌ Fixed notching
The Nat Geo Pro metal detector is as easy as it gets with real features for the older child. It’s a turn-on-and-go type of detector that requires very little user data. It doesn’t have a numeric Target ID, but it does have four target category icons. The Iron icon covers the Target ID range for iron objects, horseshoes, nails, etc. The Aluminum icon covers tin foil and low conductivity coins like nickels. The Ring icon covers jewelry, pull-tabs, and low value coins, and the Coin icon covers both gold and silver coins and screw caps.
There are three preset modes that have fixed notching patterns. The first is essentially an All Metal mode with no discrimination. The second mode notches out the Iron icon, and the third mode notches out the Iron and Aluminum icons from detection. Each icon is also associated with an audio tone. Iron has a low tone, Aluminum has a medium tone, and the Ring and Coin icons have a high tone.
The extra features on this model that sets it apart from other kid’s detectors are the pinpoint function and volume adjustment. You can use headphones with the 1/8” jack or use the speaker on the rear of the control box and adjust the volume.
The entire detector retracts and folds down to a compact 22”. All you have to do is fold out the searchcoil and extend the lower shaft for the correct length – no assembly required, it’s ready to go out of the box.
2. Garrett ACE 200
The ACE 200 is one of the most affordable models from the brand, and it’s geared for tweens, older children, and even beginner adults. If you want the best without overspending on your child, stick with name brand.
Pros & Cons
✔️ One-touch operation
✔️ Target ID
✔️ 3 search modes
✔️ Adjustable sensitivity
✔️ Fixed discrimination
❌ No pinpoint
The ACE 200 has a one-touch operation display – turn it on and go. Of course, you can select the mode and adjust sensitivity, but that’s it. The detector has preset ground balance, so it’s been set for average conditions. You can use the four levels of sensitivity to reduce erratic behavior when there’s EMI interference, a lot of trash, or highly mineralized soil in the area.
The 200 has Target ID that young detectorists will learn to rely on. The numeric scale ranges from 0-99 and works cohesively with the Target ID legend that has five segments for quick identification. While there is no adjustable discrimination, the search modes have fixed notching. This means, in Zero-Disc mode, no metals/segments will be silenced. In Jewelry mode, iron will be notched out, and in Coin mode, both iron and pull-tabs will be notched out.
There is no electronic pinpoint on the ACE 200, so a handheld pinpointer may be needed unless you’re willing to head over and pinpoint for your child. This would also be a great opportunity to teach the code of ethics for digging the smallest hole possible and refilling it after retrieving the target.
The Garrett metal detector is simple to use, ready-to-go, and has preset settings to make it easier for the young user. This model should last them a long time to come before needing an upgrade.
3. RM RicoMax GC-1037
- 💰💰[4 Modes of Operation]- RM RICOMAX metal detector can detect metals including iron, aluminum, gold, bronze, silver and their articles in ALL METAL Mode. The DISC & NOTCH Modes make you can ignore unwanted metal improving the detection efficiency. Pinpoints the location of target accurately in P/P Mode.
If you’re buying from RM RicoMax, you may as well go with one of their better models over the Junior kid’s one. It has better quality and performance that even kids can take advantage of.
✔️ Target ID
✔️ Target categories
✔️ 3 search modes
✔️ Adjustable sensitivity
❌ No GB
The RicoMax detector has no obvious ground balance, so it’s likely been preset at the factory. The bad news? You can’t adjust for mineralized ground conditions, but the good news is it’ll work just fine for average ground for the average kid.
Unlike toy models, the GC-1037 has a large LCD screen with Target ID and a range from 0-99 allowing for a conductivity value to be displayed on the screen. This will help young learners to associate metals with these numbers to decide whether it’s worth digging up.
The target categories are organized for a coin shooter, so they are displayed as Iron, 5c, P-Tab, 1c, 10c, and 25c. You can discriminate by setting a value threshold where the detector will not relay a signal response from a target beneath the discrimination value. Disc mode is one of three modes, and the remaining two are All Metal and Pinpoint.
While adjustable user settings are limited, you can adjust for sensitivity to detect coins up to 8.7” deep. The RicoMax is lightweight, requires 2x 9V batteries, and it has adjustable volume. Since this isn’t a kid’s toy, it does have a headphone jack, so you can save battery life and hear audio signals more efficiently. Suited for both adults and older children, the RicoMax is a beginner’s detector with the fixings you need to detect confidently.
4. Bounty Hunter Gold Digger
Bounty Hunter is an excellent manufacturer that is owned by First Texas Products. Their Gold Digger metal detector is designed for both adults and kids. It provides easy detection with its analog system but is not without necessary features for real metal detection.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Sensitivity meter
✔️ Automatic GB
✔️ Adjustable sensitivity
✔️ Adjustable discrimination
✔️ Super lightweight
❌ No Target ID
The Gold Digger has a strength meter display instead of a digital display that we largely associate with Target ID. The strength meter moves in relation with a detected target’s conductivity, and you’ll also have to rely on a target’s signal response to interpret information. This can make a better detectorist out your child.
For example, in place of seeing numbers on a screen, a child will associate broken tones with pull-tabs and nickels, and high tones with coins without relying on a numeric number to provide all the information. Using headphones will also allow the child to hear faint signals that could be deep targets or low conductivity objects like gold.
Automatic ground balance is an excellent feature as it takes the most difficult adjustment out of the equation. You can adjust sensitivity with the power knob, and you can also adjust for discrimination of trash targets with the trash elimination knob.
Functioning at 6.6 kHz, the Gold Digger is actually a coin-shooter. However, the 7” searchcoil will also help to acquire sniper precision of small targets. Increase the sensitivity for greater depth and small objects, and you’ll soon be digging up treasures of all kinds.
5. Bounty Hunter BHJS Junior
The BHJS Junior is not a kid’s toy but a junior-sized metal detector made with simple controls. Sized just right, your 6-8 year old will be swinging and detecting like a mini-champ version of you.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Strength meter
✔️ Kid size
✔️ Adjustable sensitivity
✔️ Adjustable discrimination
❌ Speaker only
The BHJS is rated for users aged 6-12, but those older than 8 may find its basic features limiting if they’ve been detecting for a while. They may be ready for a digital display at that point. However, for the youngin’, the strength meter will provide instant confirmation that the detector has hit metal as it moves along the screen. With only one audio tone, this detector will make a digger out of your child.
There are only two search modes on the BHJS – All Metal and Discrimination. The Discrimination still only provides one tone, but you can eliminate trash targets with the trash elimination control. Moving it further in a clockwise direction will discriminate iron first, nickels and pull-tabs next, and then zinc and gold. Silver will not be affected by the trash elimination knob.
The other knob is adjustable sensitivity. This will come in handy to detect small targets and increase depth. If the detector starts to behave erratically, the child can turn down sensitivity to reduce false signals or chatter. With some practice, you’ll also be able to pinpoint with the 6.5” searchcoil.
The Junior detector is perfectly sized for kiddos. It weighs only 1.5 lbs and can be expanded from 20.5” to 31.5”. However, the only limitation is its inability to be used with headphones. Only the external speaker can provide audio. Easy to use, cheap to buy, and loads of fun. Perfect for the youngin’.
6. Dr. Otek Junior
- SUPERIOR METAL DETECTOR is the finest for children, junior or beginners metal searchers. Many people buy this for their kids as it's safe, harmless, lightweight and very easy to use. You also can't beat the affordable price. Perfect metal detector for kids.
It might look like a toy, but it’s a real detector that does its job of metal detecting. This is an excellent metal detector for very small children aged 4-6. They’ll enjoy the flashing lights and we expect you’ll think it’s neat too.
✔️ Touch screen
✔️ Flashing LED indicators
✔️ Audio tones
✔️ Adjustable and collapsible
✔️ Super lightweight
❌ Needs arm cuff or brace
Young kids need extra help holding a detector correctly, so you may want to rig up a system that helps them hold it in place. Other than that, the Dr. Otek detector is ready to go. It’s super lightweight at less than 2 lbs, and its adjustable length is from 28”-37”. It’s also collapsible, so it will be extremely convenient and compact to pack it up and take it on the go.
The detector likely has an operating frequency of around 6-8 kHz as its max coin detection on a U.S. quarter is 7”. Larger targets may be detected at up to 1.5 feet! The Junior has a touch screen display, and what kid doesn’t know how to work touch screens these days? Instead of a numeric indicator, it has both audio and LED indicators to match the type of metal found. There are multiple audio tones and three LED lights. Red means iron, green means nickels and pull-tabs, and blue means silver.
You can also access adjustable volume on the touch screen and a pinpoint mode to home in on targets. The detector functions in an All Metal mode, so no targets will be discriminated. The 8.3” searchcoil is waterproof, it only requires 1x 9V battery, and it’s backed by a 2-year warranty. Sounds legit, right? It ain’t no kid’s toy after all.
What to Look for in a Metal Detector for Kids
You’ll want to look for the same basic functions that an adult would require but at a smaller scale for a younger user. Things like performance features, weight, and ease-of-use must be considered. As such, knowing what to look for becomes extremely important to tell the real ones apart from the toys, especially when you’re spending in price ranges that interweave with toy and look-a-like models. After all, it’s not a toy gadget you want. A real detector for a mini detectorist is the goal.
Child’s Age/Skill Level
We touched on a child’s age and price range earlier, but let’s get into some specifics when shopping for your child. While a detector may be rated for a child between 8-12, if your child has had experience detecting before, they may require something a little more advanced. Flashing colored lights may not be enough to excite them. An entry-level metal detector for an adult that costs $200 or more may be appropriate for this child, but you must ensure that other features like weight and adjustable length will accommodate them.
Now, the difference between toy and real detectors comes down to quality and performance. Toy detectors may look the part, but it will lack visual data, accurate performance, and it may not be able to detect targets more than 1” below the ground’s surface.
Real kid detectors will just be miniature versions of an adult’s entry-level model. It has an appropriate operating frequency, a decent-sized searchcoil (but not too large/heavy), and will have preset ground balance, adjustable sensitivity, and some form of discrimination as the basics. Kids will require supervision and help with setting the adjustments, but the display should be easy to understand.
Length & Weight
Metal detectors have to be wieldable by a child in order for it to be practical and usable. Metal detectors aimed towards young child between 4-9 would do better with a detector under 2 lbs. Older children can handle the light weight of a detector weighing 2-3 lbs.
While most detectors have an adjustable length, it’s important to take note of the specs. A length where your child is standing upright and not leaning over to sweep is the right length. Most child detectors will be adjustable between 25”-57”.
Note: balance is important too. A detector with too large a searchcoil will be nose heavy and can put strain on the child. But, a detector with too large and heavy of a control box will make it top-heavy, again, causing strain. Weight may not be an issue if the detector is ergonomically balanced.
Let’s face it – kid detectors are going to have the minimum to ensure easy use by its young handlers. Knobs may be the easiest way to control a detector, but some models may have touch screens and buttons. If they incorporate touch features, the display will typically be a one-menu display that is easy to read, access, and adjust.
Metal Detector Features for Kids
Most detectors will have preset and automatic functions that allows a young user to “forget it” and get detecting. Preset ground balance, preloaded search modes, and fixed discrimination or notching.
- Preset Ground Balance: Ground balance (GB) is the detector’s ability to match its performance to the phase value of the ground. Microscopic minerals like iron and salt can cause it overload and behave erratically. Most entry-level detectors will have preset GB, so the user does not have to cater to this feature. It will suffice for conditions with low mineralization and less trash.
- Preloaded Search Modes: Advanced metal detectors will offer multiple search modes with customizable programs to fine-tune parameters for their hunting site and target metals. However, kid and entry-level detectors will have at least an All Metal mode. This does not discriminate any metals, so all metals will be heard with a response signal. Pinpoint is usually counted as a search mode as the ability to precisely locate a target is equally as important as detecting it. It also ensures you can dig the smallest hole possible.
- Fixed Discrimination/Notching: Discrimination may be adjustable, or it may be fixed. If the detector has multiple search modes, the discrimination may already be set for the mode and cannot be changed. Notching is the ability to silence out categories of the Target ID scale. Unfortunately, there is little leeway to customize what you may want to notch out in preset search modes. Like discrimination, the parameters may be set if additional search modes are available.
- Audio Tones: Most kid detectors will have at least one audio tone. If you want multiple, it may be limited to three: low, medium, and high. You’ll have to research the detector to determine how many tones it offers. While the ones in this lineup all have speakers, you’ll want to confirm if they have headphone jacks or if they come with headphones if you’ll be taking advantage of this type of hearing aid.
- Target ID: Not all detectors for kids will have a Target ID or VDI (Visual Display Indicator). Some budget models will have an analog system that incorporates a strength meter needle. This is fine for the recreational hunter that is learning audio and gets excitement from seeing the needle move. However, a Target ID scale offers more information that a child can learn from. It’s seen on almost all high-end models, so learning this system now may help to develop their skills when they’re ready to upgrade.
How Much is a Metal Detector for Kids?
Real metal detectors designed for kids start at around $50. However, these will have very basic functions, and some may be higher-end “toy” versions. It’s best to set your sights a little higher closer to the $100 price range to ensure you’re getting quality, even if it means you must repeatedly show your little one how to work it.
For older kids, say, 9-12, you could spend between $100-$200 on an entry-level model that will provide real features and will allow them to grow with their machine. After all, you’re trying to instill a passion for metal detecting, and the better models will help with that more than a toy can.
What is a Good Starter Metal Detector?
Overall, a good starter metal detector will be entry-level in quality and it will fit the budget. Bounty Hunter is an excellent brand as they’re specifically designed with affordability and beginners in mind. The best starter metal detector with an analog system would be the Bounty Hunter Gold Digger. If you want to upgrade to a digital display for younger learners, the National Geographic Pro Series and the Garrett ACE 200 should be considered.
Who Makes Bounty Hunter Metal Detectors?
First Texas Products is the parent company of Bounty Hunter. They are also the parent company for Fisher Labs and Teknetics – other well-known metal detector brands. First Texas Products metal detectors are all proudly made in the USA, and the company is based out of El Paso, Texas.
Are Cheap Metal Detectors any Good?
It depends on what you’re looking for, where you’re hunting, and how you will be using it. Budget or cheap metal detectors provide entry-level quality and detection of all types of metals. They are best used in ground conditions with low-mineralization and have preset settings to aid a beginner and make detecting easier for them. So, they’re good for the beginner detectorist on a budget.
However, users who spend a lot of time out in the field may quickly outgrow their cheap detector. Expensive models are priced according to the extra features or specialized functions they may have. They are best used for prospecting, hunting in high-mineralized conditions, and may be submersible. The extra perks may be worth the cost. But, for the average hobbyist who is just starting out, a cheap detector will be good for the job.
Are Kids Metal Detectors Just Toys?
Some detectors made for kids are toys, and then there are those that aren’t. Since both types of metal detectors may hang out in the same price range of under $100, it can be tricky to identify a toy model from a real detector. You must look for specific detector features that provides real performance and decent depth. Toy versions will lack even the simplest of real detector controls and may only be good for surface detection of 0-2”.
Real kid metal detectors may seem like a high-end toy to a child, but they can detect metal at depths of up to 7” (approx.). They allow for some user control, even if it’s limited, and they should be good enough to last to get them through the basic learning curve of metal detecting.
Plant the Seed
If you’re a serial hobbyist, you’ll understand how exciting it is to share your passion with others. Who better to share this with than your own children? Plant the seed while they’re young, and there’s no better way to do this than to get them their very own metal detector. Taking them out into the field is just as important as you’ll have memories to cherish for years to come.
Children’s metal detectors are inexpensive, easy to use, and they do their job. It will be one of the best investments that you can gift your child with. A passion they can share with you – priceless.
- 6 Best Metal Detectors For Beginners
- 8 Best Metal Detectors For Gold Nuggets
- 6 Best Underwater Metal Detectors – (Under $200 to $1,000+)
- 7 Best Metal Detectors For The Beach
- 6 Best Metal Detector Pinpointers
Last update on 2021-05-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API