If you’re just getting into the metal detecting hobby, you’ll find there are plenty of options to consider. How do you know what type of detector is right for you? How much should you spend?
Is the most expensive metal detector right for everyone?
In an effort to provide clarity, we’ll address the specifics behind the tech that helps you to find more gold and treasures without the junk. While budget is a very real limitation when shopping for the best metal detectors, this lineup has a range of high-quality models at every price point. Whether you’re looking for an upgrade or you’re just starting out with your first buy, this lineup covers them all.
Best Metal Detectors
To get straight to the point, there is no one, best metal detector. What may be best for you just won’t work for someone else. The best detector has the features you need and an interface you can understand and maximize to make the most of your detecting goals. Buyer preference is king and will determine what the best model looks like for you.
But, there is a tier of quality that you can expect that can be determined by price. The most basic of entry-level metal detectors are within the $100-$200 price range. This is aimed for older children or those who are just getting into detecting for recreational use to find a range of objects from junk to coins.
The upper entry-level price range is from around $200-$400. Detectors at this price point have the basics, plus some, to allow beginners to get an idea of what is expected for successful detecting. Intermediate and expert users can spend anywhere from $700 to thousands of dollars for a high-end detector.
It’s important to evaluate what your detecting goals are, where you plan to use it, and how much you want to spend. The detectors in this lineup offer some of the best features for their price, and they will give you an idea of where to start.
1. Makro DeepHunter 3D Pro
If you’re hunting in the most difficult conditions expecting to get high performance and data that no other metal detector can provide, you won’t find one for under $1000. However, if price is not an issue, the DeepHunter 3D Pro is the detector you want.
Pros & Cons
✔️ 3D graphic display
✔️ Selectable frequency
✔️ 2 search modes
✔️ Metal & cavity detection
✔️ Deep Ranging
The DeepHunter 3D is a very different kind of instrument as it goes beyond a metal detector’s normal functions of detecting metals. With the graphic 3D display, you also have visual display interpretations of voids and cavities within the earth to possibly discover deposits, precious metals, and more.
It essentially functions in two modes, a non-motion and motion mode. The non-motion mode incorporates use of the graphic display to slow down detection for larger objects or cavities at extreme depths.
There are many screens, scales, and other visual data that will be displayed to help gather as much information as possible before you dig. The motion mode incorporates traditional audio information for all the “normal” types of detecting you will be doing for coins, jewelry, relics, and small nuggets of gold.
There are two available frequencies: 12.5 kHz and 17.5 kHz. They can only be used one at a time, and therefore this is not a true multi-frequency detector. In non-motion mode with the specially-designed T100 coil, you can detect as deep as 4 meters.
Of course, there will be a lot of factors that will influence depth, but many user adjustable settings will allow you to fine-tune for accuracy, sensitivity, and depth to get the best possible results.
Unfortunately, the high price may mean the DeepHunter will forever remain on the wish list. But, if you can pull the trigger on it, you may make your money back on the veins you’ve detected that are full of gold.
2. Minelab CTX 3030
The CTX 3030 is one of the best metal detectors in the market designed for intermediates and experts, professional use, and of course, gold. Along with its expensive price tag comes expert-grade tech in the form of pulse induction, simultaneous multi-frequency, and discrimination.
Pros & Cons
✔️ FBS2 Technology
✔️ Smartfind 2D Discrimination
✔️ Target Trace
✔️ Sensitivity & Volume Gain
✔️ Built-in GPS
No one is going to spend this much on the CTX unless they’re serious about detecting and they already have some skills under their belt. There is a steep learning curve, so it’s best to learn as much as you can from other sources besides the supplied user manual.
The CTX is known for its FBS technology. This is the tech behind the rectangular frequency waves that improves communication between the coil and the detector. This is important to highlight because there are 28 frequencies from 1.5-100 kHz that are in simultaneous operation constantly.
This allows you to achieve ultimate depth and extreme thoroughness with every sweep to find targets of all conductivity levels and size.
While pulse induction detectors are known for their ability to work in highly mineralized soils, their ability to discriminate is pitiful compared to a VLF. However, the CTX 3030 has Smartfind 2D Discrimination to help provide some level of target metal identification.
Incredible target separation, adjustable features, and built-in GPS are just some of the extra features you’ll learn to use on this premium detector.
Is the CTX 3030 worth it? It’s still the go-to detector for many serial hobbyists and professionals today.
3. White’s Spectra V3i HP
The Spectra V3i is White’s Electronics pride and joy detector. It’s their most premium model they have to offer, and many have picked this up as their high-level detector for everything from coin shooting to prospecting.
Pros & Cons
✔️ HD color display
✔️ Multiple search modes
✔️ Auto & manual GB
✔️ Adjustable Settings
❌ Not for beginners
The Spectra’s price point may be the first reason that it wouldn’t be a beginner’s first choice. It’s feature-loaded, and there are many user adjustable settings that can encourage user-error which will inhibit max performance. Intermediates and experts will be better prepared to use the V3i to its max.
What makes it so special is its true multi-frequency technology. It has three frequencies that can be used simultaneously and individually – 2.5 kHz, 7.5 kHz, and 22.5 kHz. This allows you to get specific to fine-tune the detector for your target objects. The full-color HD display is where all the visual data will be interpreted. It allows you access to Polar Plot, Sweep Analysis, SignaGraph screens and more.
You also have both manual and automatic ground balance and a Ground Probe feature that provides all the numbers you need to know about ground phase, strength, and signal strength.
This can be especially important to know when you’re hunting in rapidly changing or challenging areas. Fortunately, the V3i provides nine, preset search modes that covers coins, beach, meteorites, prospecting, silver, and more to help with the parameters needed for successful detection.
With so much to offer and three frequencies to take advantage of, the V3i is a high-end, multi-purpose metal detector that can conquer the challenges of land-based detecting.
4. Garrett ATX
The ATX is a military-grade detector made for the harshest terrains and designed to be in the hands of a professional. With the best features of its kind, the Garrett metal detector will satisfy the demands of the most hardcore detectorists out there.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Pulse Induction
✔️ Depth Detection
The ATX operates on pulse induction technology that is known to punch through mineralized soil to see all the good stuff buried deeper than what a VLF could uncover in the same grounds. It can also be submerged under water to a depth of 10 feet for maximum detection beneath the surf.
Impressively, the ATX DeepSeeker also offers discrimination. You have 25 discrimination/delay settings and an Iron Check feature that provides audio for iron targets. You can also ground balance and use Ground Track to maintain maximum performance regardless of the conditions.
No grounds will be off limits with the ATX. You can go underwater, wet sand, black sand beaches, salt beds, and hot rocks.
The adjustable length of 68” to 20” is extremely convenient. Not only can it be passed around between multiple users, it’s collapsible for storage and transportation, and the rear-mounted hinge that allows folding back of the search coil makes it extra unique and compact.
The ATX is built like a tank and weighs one too. But, its many features provide excellent performance that lightweight and cheaper detectors just can’t compete with. Only the skilled and experienced will know how to wield this professional detector.
5. XP Deus
The XP Deus is not a new detector, and it’s known by many for its multiple features and its unique 3-element platform. It has a lot under its hood, and only those willing to put the time learning it will prosper.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Selectable frequency
✔️ 3-Element design
✔️ Wireless headphones
✔️ 10 preset modes
✔️ Multiple adjustable settings
The Deus is not a multi-frequency detector as many have misunderstood. It’s a selectable frequency detector with the searchcoil as the detector. Frequencies are 4, 8, 12, 18, and 25 kHz. They can only be used individually and not simultaneously.
The 3-element design is truly unique. Each main component, the searchcoil, remote control, and headphones have independent electronic circuitry. The searchcoil is the detector where the signal processing happens.
It can communicate to the remote control or the headphones for data interpretation. This means, you can use the remote control and the headphones or use either independently of each other. The headphones feature the same functions as a control box.
The Deus is preloaded with 10 search modes with preset parameters for hunting in gold fields, wet and dry beaches, and many more. Additionally, you ground balance with multiple methods, discriminate, adjust threshold and speed recovery, and much more.
The Deus is still a single frequency detector, but it has a lot more that provides maximum detection power than the typical budget model. However, it’s a detector built for the expert, and there’s room to grow to further fine-tune its performance and customize profiles.
Worth it? Only if you’re any good.
6. Minelab Equinox 800
Minelab has the reputation of pumping out high-end and high-performing metal detectors that are hard to beat. The Equinox 800 is one of the best of the best that you could purchase for under $1000.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Multiple GB methods
✔️ Adjustable threshold
✔️ Auto & manual noise cancel
✔️ Adjustable recovery speed
❌ Battery hog
If there’s a feature-loaded detector for under a grand, the Minelab earns the gold. Since there’s a heck of a lot to learn, beginners may have a harder time with it. But, its many features are what sets it apart from the crowd as you can fine-tune the Equinox to truly customize the ultimate detector.
It’ll eat battery life within 12 hours if you’re running it to the max. Good thing is, it’ll charge quickly, or you can use it with a power bank.
One of the features that makes it such a high-performer is its Multi-IQ technology. It’s a multi-frequency detector with five frequencies that can be used simultaneously or individually: 5, 10, 15, 20, and 40 kHz. You can deep hunt for coins or go on the high end and comb through for small gold nuggets.
You also have multiple methods of ground balancing that includes Tracking, Auto, and Manual, and yes, you can ground balance to saltwater! The Equinox is waterproof and can be submerged up to 10 feet.
Multiple user settings are adjustable from threshold to noise cancel and even recovery speed. With them, the expert user can ensure no target is missed or masked due to depth or nearby ferrous targets and much more.
Minelab has an authoritative reputation in the metal detection industry, and their detectors often prove to be the best in the market. There’s not much that you can’t do with an Equinox 800 in your hand.
7. Garrett GTI 2500
If you’re a serial coin-shooter, the GTI may be the upgrade for you. With a frequency in the Goldilocks range, it can detect all sorts of coins for an afternoon of fun or even for competitions.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Graphic Target Imaging
✔️ All Metal Mode
✔️ Fast Track Ground Balance
✔️ Last Mode Switching
✔️ Electronic PinPoint
VLF (Very Low Frequency) technology is not a disadvantage, but the GTI is advertised as a deep-seeking detector. To get maximum depth from the GTI, you’ll need the Eagle Eye searchcoil that sees deeper for large targets. The Eagle Eye is purchased separately or raises the cost of the package.
The GTI 2500 has Graphic Target Imaging. There are multiple scales and icons to become familiar with in order to interpret the data, but you can determine the type of target metal down to the coin denomination and other vital information. With this type of info displayed on the screen, you can effectively detect while in a true All Metal Mode without discrimination. You won’t have to compromise on sensitivity to accurately determine what type of metal is detected.
With Fast Track Ground Balance, you can enhance your detection within Auto Ground Balance for automatic updates as ground minerals change beneath your feet. You won’t have to worry about losing your settings while moving between modes to quick-check a target since the GTI “remembers” with Last Mode Switching. Home in on a good target with the built-in, electronic PinPoint.
The GTI is the type of metal detector that can be effective in any type of detectorist’s hands. The beginner will learn and grow with it, and intermediates and experts will be satisfied with its performance for all their needs.
8. Nokta Makro Anfibio Multi
This brand is quickly gaining a high-end reputation. The first detector to be released after the official announcement of the Nokta and Makro merger was the Anfibio Multi. As a fully-packed detector under $1000, it has incredible value with the most bang for the buck.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Selective frequency
✔️ Single Menu Display
✔️ 9 search modes
❌ Not Multi-Frequency
There are many that get multi-frequency and selective frequency confused. This often leads to a misconception that the Anfibio has true multi-frequency capabilities when it does not. While the Anfibio has three frequencies, 5/14/20 kHz, they can only be selected for operation individually and not simultaneously. This is still a great feature to fine-tune the frequency setting for your metal target.
To make things simple, it has a Single Menu Display. Say goodbye to having to access multiple screens to achieve an outcome that can now be easily changed on a single screen. You will have to familiarize yourself with the icons and symbols needed to understand the display, but once that’s mastered, you’re ready to go and spend more time detecting and less time fiddling with the interface.
There are multiple search modes that provide all-metal detection to 99 Tones and Beach, Deep, and Cache modes. There is also an option to push depth detection to its max with the EUD (Extreme Underground Depth) function that allows you to see past high-mineralized soils. Take things to the next level by submerging the Anfibio up to 16 feet below the surf.
The Nokta Makro metal detector is one of the best multi-purpose detectors in the market for the price. Good for gung-ho beginners through to experts, the Anfibio will see you through all your detecting goals without exceeding the budget.
9. Garrett AT Pro
The AT Pro comes at an excellent price point for detectorists of all skill levels. It’s made the buyer who wants a dual-purpose detector in one detector. On land or in water, the AT Pro can see you through both types of terrain.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Pro Mode
✔️ Iron Audio
✔️ Auto & Manual GB
✔️ Electronic PinPoint
❌ No back-lit display
The AT Pro is fully waterproof and is submersible up to 10 feet below water. It comes with a waterproof cable and jack connector, but the headphones themselves cannot be submerged. You’ll have to purchase waterproof headphones separately. The control box also doesn’t feature a backlit display for improved visibility at night or below the water’s surface.
While the AT Pro may be priced closer to the entry-level price point, it’s geared for both beginner and skilled users. It has six search modes that includes three professional modes for pros. Additional target information can be accessed by experts with the Proportional Audio and Tone Roll Audio features. There is no doubt that an experienced set of ears can hear the changes that helps to determine more target data.
With Auto Ground Balance, beginners will have an easier time in questionable soil conditions. With Manual Ground Balance, experts can fine-tune their detector for the soil conditions that get noisy. You can also use the integrated PinPoint feature to accurately determine a target’s exact location.
There’s not a whole lot left wanting with the AT Pro, and as a detector that can be used by all types of users, it’s a winner.
10. Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV Review
- Rugged metal detector ideal for detecting treasure in extreme ground conditions
As one of the best-selling metal detectors of modern times, the Bounty Hunter Tracker 4 proves that an expensive model isn’t always the right detector that does it for all. At its insignificant price point, it’s earned its right be honored as a metal detector that is at the top of its class.
✔️ 2-Tone Audio
✔️ Target Strength Meter
✔️ 3 Search Modes
✔️ Preset GB
There is something primitive about the Tracker 4, and it may be its analog system that is easily indicated by its Target Strength Meter. Many find the moving needle a feature that plunges them back into the past of the good ol’ days.
Even though it’s a best-seller at its price point, it’s still an entry-level metal detector with the basics. The basics include two tones, low and high. It’s extremely easy to interpret as ferrous targets will be notched out, small targets like nickel and aluminum may be indicated with low tones, and high-conductivity targets like silver, quarters, and copper coins will be indicated with high tones.
There is an All Metal mode with no discrimination, Tone Mode with some discrimination and two tones, and DISC where you can increase discrimination to silence out trash items.
Beginners using the TK4 won’t have to struggle with Ground Balance. The GB is preset for average ground conditions found around the country, but experts will find this limiting. But, as a detector that’s cheap and worth its salt for providing an afternoon of fun with family and friends, it’s worth it.
What to Look for in the Best Metal Detector
Beyond price, there are also other factors that will influence your choice of what you consider to be the best metal detector. If you’re not sure of what specific features you need to know about, they’ll be pointed out to you in this buying guide. Your Qs will be answered with As right here.
Experts – well, they already know what they’re after and likely already own more than one detector. You can skip this part.
Beginners are often told to start with entry-level metal detectors and there’s good reason why. Starter detectors will have preset settings to eliminate potential frustrations with having to adjust settings they don’t yet understand. They’re also priced significantly cheaper than advanced models, and budget is always a legitimate factor when buying a metal detector, especially when you’re not sure yet what extra bells and whistles are right for you. The best price range for a true beginner is between $100-$300. These models will offer real features and are far above “toy” and budget versions in quality.
Intermediates may be looking for their next upgrade from their beginning detector. By now, they should know what they want in their next model whether it be multiple ground balance methods, adjustable threshold, or a higher frequency. The other coin of the intermediate user is the intermediate or mid-level tier of detectors. They offer more features than a beginner one but is still user-friendly and somewhat limited than a professional-grade detector. The price range may start at $500 for an intermediate detector but can also sport price tags of $1000 for something with more trappings with some expert-level features.
What you plan to use your detector for may affect your buying choice. While most detectors are made to be general, all-purpose models, some are more target specific to improve your detection success rate.
Gold Metal Detectors: Gold detectors are made with specific settings to enhance detection of small gold nuggets and hunting in the challenging terrains where gold is known to be found. These types of quality detectors start at $700 and can run into the thousands as multiple frequencies, pulse induction, and many other technologies are used.
Coin & Jewelry Metal Detectors: Detectors made to find coin and jewelry make up most of the models on the market. They’re typically priced below $600. They’re almost always a VLF (Very Low Frequency) single frequency detector. While many have a frequency under 20 kHz, most in this price range will have a frequency of 6-8 kHz that is excellent for finding coins.
Relic Metal Detectors: Relics and artifacts are typically found with the same coin and jewelry detectors, but if you want to get more specific settings, look for a frequency that can cover both high and low conductive targets as steel, iron, and brass are the primary metals of historic relics. You may want to consider a detector with iron audio features and an adjustable threshold to acquire more target information to avoid trash items. Multiple ground balancing methods may be essential, especially if you’re hunting for relics in high-mineralization such as battements in the South East of the United States.
Then there are also underwater and beach metal detectors that require their own parameters to provide maximum detection and success. Do some research on your hunting sites, evaluate if having an all-purpose or specific metal detector will serve you best, and of course, consider your budget limitations.
How does your metal detector operate? Each type has its own benefits and can improve your detection success if you know how to maximize its potential.
VLF: VLF (Very Low Frequency) induction balance detectors make up most available models in the market. They’re the affordable type of detecting technology available. Although they can only operate with a single frequency at a time, they excel in providing both discrimination and notching, and they don’t tend to light-up grounds with high mineralization like hot rocks. If you’re looking for a specific type of metal and target, these features can be very useful. While low frequencies are especially good for detecting coins and highly conductive targets, high frequencies are known for their ability to detect very small, low conductive targets like gold nuggets. This might have you wondering if there’s a detector that can offer both?
Multi-Frequency: Multi-frequency detectors offer the capability of using more than one frequency simultaneously, thus, more information is gathered that can’t be acquired by single signal analyzation alone. Depending on the type of frequencies offered, you can achieve the benefits of both low and high frequency detection to achieve greater success in detecting your target object.
Pulse Induction: Pulse induction (PI) detectors are expensive and desired for their maximum depth detection and impervious operation in high-mineralized soils. Its ability to handle hot rocks and other areas where gold can be found and its ability to detect the smallest nuggets proves to be an essential technology in metal detecting. They’re often seen as specialty metal detectors that are best used for gold prospecting or for use in saltwater. However, PIs are very sensitive detectors and they don’t always offer reliable discrimination.
Obviously, there are multiple pros and cons to choosing the right operating principle that will determine what type of metal detector is right for you. You must consider where you’ll be using it most of the time, what your primary target object is, and how much you want to pay for your choice of detector.
There is an intimate relationship between the searchcoil and its depth penetration abilities. Your detector will come with a searchcoil and it may or may not be compatible with other searchcoils.
First off, a concentric searchcoil is round in shape and is the cheapest type of searchcoil available. It excels in fast pinpointing as they’re easy to use to lineup the center with the target’s location. DD searchcoils are waterproof and often provide better depth detection in noisy ground.
A larger size means more depth, but it also compromises sensitivity. They may be able to “see” more of the ground, but “noise” or false signals from the ground may interfere with detection. Sensitivity is then reduced, and it means you will miss small targets or fail to separate targets that are adjacent or within proximity to each other.
Smaller-sized searchcoils may see less of the ground but they may work better with ground minerals while also providing high sensitivity to detect and separate small targets.
With analog detectors going “out-of-date,” digital is stepping in with the newest and latest technologies to make detecting easier with advanced features. However, many detectors lack an LCD screen as a waterproofing design. They incorporate control knobs and provide audio tones and/or LED lights to interpret signal data.
LCD screens are all the rage. They can even be advanced to provide color, HD quality with graphics, and can generate multiple charts and scales to interpret signal data. However, most will provide a numeric Target ID, so you can quickly determine what kind of metal it is. Using this along with the audio tone can tell you if it’s a target worth digging up. All models will have their own Target ID measurements, depth indicator scales, discrimination and notch segment scales, and other various icons and symbols on the display.
You’ll also have to consider how much battery time is consumed to run all the programs and features that are used to operate the detector. More juice means short operating time. But, a detector with a long running time without the features you need may be pointless.
Adjustable length, weight, and balance are essential to consider. There is a correct way of holding a metal detector. An adjustable length ensures that you can achieve a correct standing position to make the right sweeping motions and reduce strain and fatigue. Balance incorporates all components of the metal detector from the searchcoil to the arm cuff.
Sometimes, a detector can be heavy, but if balance and ergonomics are right, that weight is distributed so as not to negatively affect your posture and detecting time. There are metal detectors that can be as light as 2 lbs, and some weigh over 5 lbs. Confirm as much of the specs as you can before you buy. You might also want to consider hip and chest mounts to help with weight issues for long detecting sessions.
How to Pick a Good Metal Detector?
Picking a good metal detector comes down to personal preference. If you can first set a budget, you will have an idea of the features available to you within that price range. Consider detector type, features, size/weight, searchcoil, and it’s included accessory package.
How Deep Can a Metal Detector Detect?
There is no definitive answer to this. There are several things that can affect depth detection that can include target metal, ground soil conditions, user technique, and more. However, metal detectors are typically calibrated to detect coin-sized objects at 7” or more and to provide accurate discrimination and Target IDs at 5” or more.
Which Metal Detector Has the Best Depth?
The best depth is typically achieved in quiet ground conditions where there is little mineralization and trash. Many detectors may be able to achieve a depth of 8” or more on coins and some can also be detected at 16” if all other factors are ideal. However, in high-mineralization ground, pulse induction detectors, like the Minelab CTX 3030 and the Garrett ATX, generally offer greater depth.
How Much Does a Metal Detector Cost?
Metal detectors significantly vary in price range. Some budget options are found between $70-$90, although most quality entry-level detectors will start at $100. Then, there is an upper-end of the entry level price range that is somewhere between $200-$400. Mid-range detectors are between $500-$900, but most high-end models will cost over $1000.
Are Cheap Metal Detectors any Good?
Many cheap metal detectors under $100 are usually designed for children, or they have the most basic technologies and features. If you’re an adult or buying for an older child, it’s best to spend a little bit more for the upgrade in quality. There are more than a few quality metal detectors within the $100-$200 price range that have basic features and are sufficient for beginner and recreational use.
No One Detector Fits All
What may work for someone else may not be the right pick for you. Additionally, what may fit you today may not fit you tomorrow because metal detectors do not fit the one-size-fits-all approach. It’s best to consider the detectors that fit the budget and provides the basics for you today with maybe a little room for growth as you develop your detecting skills.
For experienced detectorists, the best detector will be the one best suited for your next adventure. You may already own multiple models, and you may need an underwater or prospecting detector to complete your collection. What is it you’re hunting and where is it you’re going? The answer to these questions may guide you to choosing the best type of metal detector where you can’t go wrong.
Last update on 2020-07-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API