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Are you a beginner?
You may be better off starting with a cheaper metal detector.
For $500, you’ll get a high-performing machine, but if you don’t know how to use it, you may have bitten off more than you can chew.
But, if you know more than a thing or two about them, you may be ready to pull the trigger on such a buy.
At this point, you’ll be comparing features, getting specific about the specs, and deciding what field of metal detecting you want to pursue.
If you’re sure you are ready for the upgrade, read on about how you can better improve your detecting to detect the rare finds.
Best Metal Detector Under $500 In 2021
This price range is full of metal detector variety from relic hunters to coin-shooting pros and multi-frequency metal detectors.
Some of the top brands offer their entry-level models in this price range, and you can be more specific about who you choose to do business with.
You can also be choosy about what metal detector will serve your purposes best. While you won’t have pulse induction or gold prospecting metal detectors this affordable just yet, you will have the best VLF has to offer and a slim but good array of multi-frequency machines to choose from.
These are the top metal detectors at this price point that have nailed performance and value against cost.
Best Metal Detectors Under $500 Reviews
1. Garrett ACE Apex
The hot and latest arrival from the brand is the new Apex multi-frequency metal detector. It really shouldn’t be in this price range, but you won’t find anyone complaining about the low price.
Pros & Cons
✔️ 6 frequencies
✔️ Audible target ID
✔️ Z-Lynk compatible
❌ Special searchcoil
The Garrett ACE Apex is the brand’s new multi-frequency metal detector. Unlike other multi-frequency detectors at lower price points, this one actually offers both single frequency and simultaneous frequency operation.
You have 5, 10, 15, and 20 kHz frequencies that can be used individually and then together for Multi-Frequency Mode, and then a combination of particular frequencies for Multi-Salt Mode. That’s right, you can take the APEX to any terrain including the beach. Saltwater ain’t got nothin’ on the Apex.
The Audible Target ID is a hybrid audio system that uses a blend of binary and proportional tones to relay the most accurate information that can be gathered from a tone.
You can also buy the Apex with Z-Lynk headphones for wireless capability and zero delay. There is a lot more to expect from the Apex such as auto ground balance, adjustable backlit display, discrimination and notch, and much more.
2. Teknetics T2 Classic
The Teknetics T2 is a do-it-all detector. It may be perfect for coins and relics, but there was a period of time when it was popular for gold nugget prospecting.
Pros & Cons
✔️ User adjustments
✔️ Easy to use
✔️ Ground balance
✔️ Max depth
✔️ Battery life
❌ Exposed electronic compartment
The T2 rose to fame during the African Gold Rush, and it’s back in the market and ready to do it all. It has a 13 kHz frequency that is excellent for general-purpose use. Even with its many adjustable settings, the interface is incredibly intuitive and easy to use.
In ideal conditions, it has no issue detecting coins at depths of 15”. You can manually ground balance the T2 or kick it into auto for computerized adjustment. You can adjust the gain and threshold when you’re hunting for relics. You can discriminate, pinpoint, and select between multiple tone options all within 40 hours of one battery cycle.
There isn’t much the T2 can’t do. However, this is one high-tech gadget that you want to treat with respect. You can hit all types of terrains but be cautious not to expose the battery/speaker compartment box to wet ground and where dirt will easily enter – this is its Achille’s heel.
3. Bounty Hunter Time Ranger Pro
Sleek new clothing and a new, high frequency equals the Time Ranger Pro. You may think you know it all about the Pro model if you owned a Time Ranger, but there’s a reason why this is an upgrade.
Pros & Cons
✔️ 19 kHz frequency
✔️ Enhanced V-Break
✔️ Ground Grab
❌ Similar to Fisher F19
The Time Ranger Pro is closer to being a twin brother to the Fisher F19 than it is to the Time Ranger. But, the Pro model has an advantage, it’s cheaper and has a different searchcoil.
The Time Ranger Pro comes with an 11” DD searchcoil. It also has a 19 kHz frequency. It also features FeTone which is the ability to adjust the volume on ferrous targets without it affecting volume on non-ferrous targets. You can also set the “break” to how you want to identify “junk” items for any given terrain. This sounds a lot like a relic and treasure hunting metal detector – it is.
You’re in the pro realm for hunting down artifacts with the Bounty Hunter metal detector, and don’t be surprised if you start picking up some gold nuggets along the way.
With Ground Grab, let the computer do the work to adjust for minerals in the soil – don’t you worry yourself about it.
The BH Time Ranger Pro takes your relic hunting to the next level without having to break the bank. It’s a winner that might land you some treasure.
4. Nokta Makro Simplex
Nokta Makro has been astounding the market with their releases since 2014. One such detector that earns a gold medal is the Simplex+.
Pros & Cons
✔️ Digital display
✔️ Wireless compatible
✔️ Iron volume
❌ Not for diving
The Simplex metal detector is an all-round favorite across the board. It’s rated to be submersible to 10 feet, but beware, it’s not your diving metal detector. Even so, it’s awesome that it still has a digital display that can be seen underwater and it works under the surf with wireless waterproof headphones!
If that isn’t enough to impress you, hold on. The Simplex lacks nothing. You have automatic and manual ground balance. A dedicated Beach search mode. Iron volume to adjust the volume on iron targets without having to mess with discrimination or notch. Yes – you can notch out segments with the Simplex.
You can also use the LCD backlight display for low-light or night conditions. Use the vibration feature for underwater or for hard-of-hearing hobbyists. Even though it’s a fish of a metal detector, you can hit the fields, parks, and desert with it.
By now, I don’t have to ask. I know you’re impressed.
5. Garrett ACE 400
You may not be ready for all the user adjustable features of many models in this price range. If you need something a little simpler but not without quality, the Garrett ACE 400 has you covered.
Pros & Cons
✔️ 5 search modes
✔️ Target ID
✔️ Digital display
✔️ Iron audio
✔️ Accessories included
❌ Preset ground balance
The ACE detectors are designed for beginners. This would be a good starter metal detector for a brand-new beginner. With preset ground balance, a newbie won’t have to worry about trying to perform this procedure.
Why the 400 over the ACE 300 and ACE 200? It’s not too much more expensive and the upgraded features you acquire provide overall better durability and performance. You have a digital display that shows a numerical target ID scale. This is a key feature that many advanced metal detectors use and is necessary to learn.
You also have Iron Audio where its grunts can immediately tell you if it’s iron or not – you don’t even have to dig. It’s also handy for identifying adjacent targets in the ground – the grunts on iron are unmistakable.
You also get a few accessories in the standard package. Headphones, searchcoil cover, control box cover, and your first set of batteries.
The ACE 400 may be a basic metal detector, but it has what its siblings don’t. Worth the extra price? Yeah, it is.
6. Fisher Gold Bug Pro
Do you want to prospect for gold but have a budget that’s not exactly within gold metal detector range? Fisher comes to the rescue with the Gold Bug Pro.
- High frequency
- Ground Grab
- Target ID
- Motion all-metal
- VCO audio
- No volume control
If you find yourself needing to mess with volume, you’ll need volume adjustable headphones. The Gold Bug uses VCO audio, so to really hear those weak and deep targets, you’ll need volume control through your muffs.
What is really exciting about the Fisher detector is its higher frequency of 19 kHz and 5” biaxial searchcoil for narrowing down on those small nuggets and getting in and around tight and awkward spots.
It also features Ground Grab with ground phase values and allows for calibrating to mineralized soils. You have Target ID and a scale for measuring metal type that helps you get clued in faster as to what you’ve detected. If you’re more of a “dig it all” kind of hobbyist, then you’ll appreciate the motion all-metal mode. It’s also the mode in which you can Ground Grab and make the most of the VCO audio.
The Gold Bug Pro lends itself to finding gold jewelry and gold nuggets. It’s competitive in quality and performance for its price point and provides a budget-friendly alternative to the high-end prospecting detectors. If you don’t want to strike out coins and relics during your hunt, it’s good for that too!
What to Look for in a Metal Detector Under $500
You should know a thing or two about metal detectors if you’re willing to spend this much money on one. At this price point, you can afford to be picky. Here’s how you set the parameters to being a choosy shopper.
Who Should Buy a $500 Metal Detector?
Brand-new beginners and older kids that are new to the hobby are better off buying a metal detector for under $200. Adults looking to buy for themselves with a little more cash in their pocket should look to the $300 price range.
To spend $500 on a metal detector means you’ve had some experience, even if it’s minimal, and you may already own a budget model and are ready to upgrade.
Metal detectors between $300 to $500 are considered the high-end of the entry-level market. Many are calibrated to find coins and jewelry. These will be easier to use and are generally aimed towards beginners or coin-shooters.
However, there is more of a variety of quality metal detectors that can help you expand the types of targets or terrains you have in mind. You can find beginner multi-frequency metal detectors, all-terrain metal detectors, and underwater or amphibian metal detectors in this price range.
Old hands will also look to this budget for a lightweight, grab-n-go, all-purpose metal detector that provides just enough user adjustments to satisfy their needs.
VLF VS Multi-Frequency VS Pulse Induction
VLF are single frequency metal detectors, and they’re the most affordable and common type of metal detector technology in the market. This is the primary tech of choice for metal detectors in this price range.
Multi-frequency technology incorporates multiple frequencies that are in simultaneous use. This is more expensive than VLF and you will see some entry-level multi-frequency metal detectors in this price range. There aren’t many, but they exist.
Pulse induction is known for its maximum depth detection. It’s the most expensive type of metal detecting technology and is not available for $500. You will need to kick it to the next price range to get an idea of what an entry-level PI detector looks like.
Most of the metal detectors that cost around $500 are best suited for all-purpose hunting, namely, coins, jewelry, and some relics. The metal detectors will have additional features that allow for adjusting user settings. This means you can be more specific about how you want your metal detector to perform in various terrains for specific targets.
Coins & Jewelry
Almost any metal detector with a frequency below 15 kHz will work great for coins. The majority of coin and jewelry metal detectors will have an operating frequency around 6-7 kHz, and they are specifically calibrated for detecting these types of targets.
While many coin and jewelry metal detectors work good for relic hunting, you do want to get more specific with the specs. Look for a frequency between 10-20 kHz, a large DD searchcoil, iron audio, and adjustable threshold. These can be found in this price range, so the pickings are yours.
Gold prospecting metal detectors are not common in this price range. You would need to increase your budget for a metal detector that offers a high frequency, usually of 20 kHz or higher. Some gold machines are multi-frequency, so if you can find a multi-frequency metal detector in this price range, it may perform well for gold nuggets. PI are great options but are expensive.
Being able to balance for minerals and hot rocks will also be a telling feature of a gold prospecting metal detector.
Single VLF metal detectors aren’t suited for beach hunting. Primary reason? Saltwater. Black sand, wet sand, and saltwater have minerals that interfere with detection. They cause false signals, inaccurate target IDs, and noisy “chatter” that will eventually wear you out.
You will want a multi-frequency or PI metal detector for maximum beach hunting performance. If you’re staying on dry, white sand, your VLF metal detector may very well do just fine. Ground balancing is a must-have feature on a beach metal detector.
Dedicated underwater metal detectors do not typically have a digital display. They will likely have a knob interface with an LED light or vibration system. This provides ultimate waterproofness when detecting underwater. They can be rated to be waterproof from 40 to 200 feet.
Waterproof metal detectors can be rated for submersion up to 10 feet and will have special connections that provides submersible capability. You will need wired waterproof headphones as wireless headphones and wireless modules are rarely waterproof. They may or may not have digital displays.
What is the Best Metal Detector on the Market?
The hard truth? There is no “best” metal detector. Each metal detector is calibrated to detect a particular type of target better than they do other types of targets. There is no one metal detector that “does it all” at maximum performance without compromising somewhere.
The real question is, what do you need out of a metal detector and how much can you spend?
If you can determine what your budget is, where your area of interest lies, and how skilled you are in this moment, you can appropriately choose a metal detector that is best for you.
Which Metal Detector has the Best Depth?
There are multiple things that affect depth. If you’re talking about metal detectors and how they can achieve depth, it would depend on a number of things from frequency to the size and shape of the searchcoil.
Generally, multi-frequency metal detectors can gain good depth due to the different frequencies simultaneously at work. However, pulse induction metal detectors are superior in mineralized ground. They tend to be heavier, are poor at discriminating, and they’re very expensive.
If you want maximum depth, you’ve gotta pay for it.
Are You Ready for It?
Five hundred bucks is a lot of money for anyone to spend. It’s also especially significant to a first-time buyer. Unfortunately, you’re still not out of the entry-level market with this budget.
Who is this price range for? It’s for beginners that have had some experience but are still amateurs to the hobby. It’s for second-time buyers that are looking for an upgrade from their $100 model. It’s also for advanced users that are looking for a hassle-free model to have fun with.
If you have the pit at the bottom of your gut that is nervous about spending so much, you may want to check out our Under $300 lineup. There is no place for buyer’s remorse here.
You’ll know if you’re ready to pull the trigger on a $500 metal detector if you feel excited about the upgrade and fed-up with your inferior model that’s broken or collecting dust.
Are you ready for it?
- 10 Best Metal Detector Reviews (Our Top Picks)
- 5 Best Metal Detectors Under $200
- 6 Best Metal Detectors Under $300
- 6 Best Metal Detectors Under $1000
Last update on 2021-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API