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You should feel excited if you have a few hundred dollars to spend on your first metal detector.
This price range offers a lot more performance bang for the buck versus cheaper alternatives.
In this guide, you’ll be able to identify what features come with this price point, what brands offer detectors in this price range, and who should be buying a $300 metal detector.
Best Metal Detector Under $300 In 2020
As seen in other small budgets, most of the machines will be VLF single-frequency metal detectors. They’re calibrated for detecting coins, but they make excellent relic, jewelry, and gold detectors – gold jewelry that is.
In this price range, you’re seeing some competitive brands enter the picture such as Minelab, Garrett, White’s, and Fisher.
These will be their bottom-line, entry-level metal detectors priced and designed specifically for beginners.
The advantage of spending $300 versus $100 or $200 for a metal detector is the better quality that allows for more precise and accurate detection.
To give you an idea of what entry-level looks like at this price point, here is a lineup of metal detectors that do it best.
Best Metal Detectors Under $300 Reviews
1. Fisher F44
The Fisher F44 is an awesome metal detector that provides a long list of features that many other alternatives can’t imagine competing with.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Digital display
✔️ Iron audio
✔️ Ground balance
✔️ 5-year warranty
❌ No included accessories
If you’re a beginner, the F44 is a worthy detector to start with. It might be a little difficult to learn all its features right away, but you will grow with it and will find plenty of use for it for a long time to come.
It has a digital display complete with numerical target ID, depth indicator, adjustable discrimination, and five search modes.
You can adjust for sensitivity to 20 levels, adjust threshold for hearing even the weakest and deepest targets, and you also have a ground balance feature. Ground balance has been preset at the factory for hunting in any of the discriminate modes, but Ground Grab is automatic when you’re in all-metal mode.
You also have a both a headphone jack and volume control on the Fisher detector, so there’s no need to buy headphones with volume control. And, yes you will need to buy headphones as it doesn’t come with any accessories save for the waterproof 11” semi-elliptical searchcoil.
2. Minelab Vanquish 440
This brand is known for their Multi-IQ technology, and you can bet that their entry-level metal detector sport the advanced tech.
Pros & Cons
❌ Battery life
As you can see, the Vanquish 440 has all the good stuff. A digital display, target ID, target depth indicator with five levels, and four search modes. There are also 10 levels of sensitivity, 10 volume levels, 3 tones, and 12 discrimination segments.
What you really want to know about is the Multi-IQ tech. This machine is designed as an all-purpose, all-terrain metal detector. The individual frequencies at work have not been disclosed, but what we do know is that multiple frequencies are simultaneously working the ground. Silver or gold, park or beach, dry or wet, the Vanquish is working hard.
You can tell it’s working hard because it uses a ton of juice to work. The Minelab detector takes 4x AA alkaline batteries, and you’ll only get about 10-12 hours operation.
This is plenty long enough for one or two days worth of hunting, and I mean, dedicated hunting. Just keep extras on you for the just-in-case moments. For multi-frequency tech at this price, it’s worth it.
3. Minelab X-TERRA 305
The X-TERRA is a single frequency metal detector, but for a machine from Minelab, you know it’s not as simple as it may seem.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Target ID
✔️ Ground balance
✔️ Adjustable threshold
❌ Buy additional searchcoils
The X-TERRA 305 is anything but simple. It may not have Multi-IQ like its more advanced siblings, but it does take single frequency technology to the next level with VFLEX. In-coil tech essentially boosts the detector’s performance with any given frequency, and by this, I mean you can literally switch out the searchcoil to operate the X-TERRA at a different frequency.
Obviously, things can get expensive real quick since you’ll want every compatible searchcoil to provide maximum results for any given terrain and target type. You may as well buy a multi-frequency machine for the price, but why when this is so affordable and one more searchcoil could very well suffice?
It has multiple features you’ll love from 12 discrimination segments, manual ground balance, and adjustable threshold.
This is a high-end metal detector wrapped up in low-price packaging.
4. Bounty Hunter Land Ranger Pro
The Land Ranger Pro is one of the best metal detectors offered by Bounty Hunter Why? Let’s check it out.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Visual target ID
✔️ Max depth
✔️ VCO audio
✔️ Enhanced V-Break
✔️ Ground balance
❌ No accessories included
All the money you’re dumping into the Land Ranger Pro is going into the Land Ranger Pro, so no junk accessories are to be expected. Yes, you’ll need to buy your own, and you can make sure they’re worth it and that they complement the setup.
Quality headphones will be essential because the Bounty Hunter metal detector uses VCO audio. This is essentially oscillating audio that allows you to train your ear to varying signals. This is a key skill that advanced detectorists have under their belt – trained ears.
Additionally, this affordable Bounty Hunter metal detector offers automatic ground balance – essential if you’re hunting in noisy soils. You can also adjust the break where the detector provides distinct tones on metal types and where VCO takes over.
The Land Ranger Pro offers a lot of growth and potential. The key question is, are you ready for it?
5. Garrett ACE 300
The Garrett ACE is not as advanced as some of the other models in this lineup, but it does offer a user-friendly platform that is better suited to first-time metal detector buyers.
Pros & Cons
✔️ 5 search modes
✔️ Digital target ID
✔️ Frequency shift
❌ Preset ground balance
The ACE 300 is a good detector that is an appropriate buy for a brand-new beginner. To cater to rookies, ground balance is preset at the factory for average soil conditions across the country.
To provide some complexity to the design, you do have the ability to toggle between the various search modes, discriminate further with Iron Masking, and learn how Target ID can be a valuable tool in identifying various metals.
While the ACE 200 has a fixed frequency, the 300 comes in with frequency shift. This means you can slightly change your operating frequency when nearby metal detectors or EMI interference affects performance.
You can also learn how to pinpoint with the searchcoil. This can be a difficult technique to learn, but you’ve got to start somewhere if you want to be a proficient hobbyist.
The ACE 300 certainly offers more, but it keeps everything streamlined so that a beginner can understand what they’re doing when they need to do it, and obviously, how to find more of the good stuff.
6. White’s Coinmaster
The Coinmaster is a basic metal detector, but it would make a good beginner model for someone who wants to learn the art of coin-shooting.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Digital display
✔️ Adjustable sensitivity
❌ Preset ground balance
This is the one of the cheaper metal detectors in this price range, so it won’t have as much as the expensive ones closer to the $300 mark. However, it’s easy to use, ultra-lightweight, and ready to go.
It has a digital display with the pertinent information you’re after: possible metal type, depth indicator, sensitivity level, discrimination, and battery indicator.
Even though you have All-Metal and Pinpoint as the only search modes, you can adjust All-Metal mode for discrimination. There are 8 discrimination segments found at the top of the display, and you can fine-tune the settings to focus only on coins.
The Coinmaster is a starter model that would be suitable for an adult or a child. Finding coins and trinkets is its specialty, and it’s what you need if you’re on a budget.
What to Look for in a Metal Detector Under $300
Things are getting real when you have a budget of a few hundred bucks. You can expect more, get a little more specific, and make an informed buy when you know what you’re looking for.
Here are a few ideas on how to shop the $300 market.
It’s so easy to spend just a little bit more and then a little bit more on a better and then even better metal detector. But, if you’re a beginner, don’t break the bank doing it. You want to buy a metal detector that’s appropriate for your skill level with just a tad more to offer.
Buying too much of an advanced model and dipping your toes into the next price range will mean buying a detector that is too advanced to be used appropriately. You may get frustrated with a very good machine, but it’s user error that limits a detector’s maximum potential.
This is an excellent price range for a beginner looking for a quality metal detector to start with. Less is more in this case.
Get Feature Specific
Frequencies of 6-7 kHz are the entry-level standard and there will be many in this price range that will work just fine for coin, relic, and jewelry hunting. However, higher frequencies are better suited to gold prospecting. Lower frequencies are excellent for maximum depth.
If you’re getting specific about what type of frequency the metal detector has, it’s best to be activity-specific. Decide what your metal detecting goals are, and then look for metal detectors that are best suited to the job.
There are still some detectors in this price range that have preset ground balance, and this is done specifically to simplify performance for the brand-new beginner. However, this is a preference at this point as you can get a detector with the ability to provide computer-assisted ground balance.
If you know you want to head into shallow waters, make sure the searchcoil is submersible and not just “weatherproof.” You may want a coverup for the control box to protect the electronics.
Submersible and underwater metal detectors are in a league of their own.
If you know you’ll be heading to the beach, you’ll want a multi-frequency metal detector. At this price point, those are rare to find, but they’re out there. These are good for beach hunting because they can cancel out minerals while also detecting metal. Unlike pulse induction metal detectors, they are much better at discriminating.
This may not be a big deal to you, but whether the batteries are convenient to buy, whether you need only two or eight, or whether it has a built-in battery that requires charging can be a big deal down the road.
Pay attention to the battery type and battery life the detector offers. It could mean the difference between only changing out batteries every other week or after every use.
Note for Advanced Hobbyists
This isn’t just your beginner price range. Spending $300 on a metal detector can appeal to intermediate and expert hobbyists simply for simplicity.
These metal detectors have good quality, some can have advanced technologies, most are lightweight, and they’re all suitable as general-purpose metal detectors.
Seasoned detectorists will opt for a lightweight, easy-to-use, no-fuss model for recreational use when the mood strikes. Not every hunt will be a 3-day long prospecting journey or a deep forest treasure hunt.
Sometimes, a metal detector that is affordable, ready to go, and offers a good set of adjustable features is the one that will see action more often than not.
What is a Good Starter Metal Detector?
A good starter metal detector for a beginner will be under $300. It will have accurate features with some user adjustment capability.
The adjustments will help a beginner learn to fine-tune their machine to the terrain and for a desired target type. Too many preset settings and a beginner won’t learn how to develop necessary detecting skills to improve performance and success.
These metal detectors will fall between the $200-$300 price range and will have better overall quality and features than cheaper alternatives.
What is the Best Inexpensive Metal Detector?
It’s tempting to define inexpensive as under $100, but for a metal detector worth buying, you’ll need to look the $200-$300 price range.
These metal detectors have advanced technologies, multiple adjustable settings, and good build quality to improve durability for use in various terrains.
You should consider brands such as Garrett, Minelab, and Fisher. They offer the best inexpensive metal detectors in the market.
Is the Garrett ACE 300 a Good Metal Detector?
The Garrett ACE 300 is an excellent entry-level metal detector for a beginner. It has the essential features a metal detector requires to be proficient and will help a beginner develop basic and necessary detecting skills.
It also comes with included accessories such as a control box coverup, searchcoil cover, and headphones – everything you need to get detecting out of the box.
This is Where Quality Starts
This is the price range where real metal detector quality starts.
You can get excited with the options in this market as they have more features than cheaper alternatives. The extra perks are not for looks, status, or to increase the price. These features are for improving detector performance.
Better performance means being able to fine-tune your settings, achieve good target separation and fast recovery, and being able to hunt where your leads take you and not be limited.
Ultimately, better performance equates to digging up better finds.