Metal detecting is more than just a hobby, it’s a consuming passion. You’re not just driven by the desire to find gold. You want to unearth a lost page of history never uncovered before and make a fortune in the bargain. And this is why you turn to a metal detector to help you in your quest.
Sensing your growing urge to go find the lost treasures in your area, we compiled a list of the absolute best metal detectors for beginners. Topping our list is undoubtedly the Fisher F22 Weatherproof Metal Detector with Submersible Search Coil. We’re not going to say it helped us find the lost ark, but its visual IDing feature along with its weatherproof quality were great assets that helped it win our hearts and admiration. The exceedingly fast retune speed and ease of use make it an ideal choice for beginners.
To make the review well-rounded and worth your time, we covered 15 of the best metal detectors for beginners. These are
- Fisher F22 Weatherproof Metal Detector with Submersible Search Coil
- Garrett Metal Detectors Ace 300 Metal Detector, GAR1141150
- Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector
- Minelab 3720-0002 Equinox 800 Metal Detector, Black
- Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV Metal Detector
- Bounty Hunter Gold Digger Metal Detector
- Bounty Hunter BHJS Junior Metal Detector
- White’s Coinmaster Metal Detector – 800-0325
- Garrett ACE 200 Metal Detector with Waterproof Search Coil and Treasure Sound Headphone
- ounty Hunter Land Ranger Pro Metal Detector
- Garrett Ace 400 Metal Detector with Waterproof Coil and Headphone Plus Accessories
- NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PRO Series Metal Detector – Ultimate Treasure Hunter with Pinpointer, Large Waterproof 10″ Coil – Lightweight and Collapsible for easy travel
- Ultimate Metal Detector For Adults – Waterproof Pro Detectors With Pinpointer For Kids – High Accuracy Professional Handheld Relic Hunter With Arm Support & Folding Shovel – Perfect Present
- Treasure Cove TC-3020 Fortune Finder Digital Platinum Gold Silver Metal Detector Set for Adults with High Accuracy Waterproof Coil
- Teknetics Delta 4000 Metal Detector
15 Best Metal Detectors for Beginners Reviews
We begin our hunt with Fisher F22. And you couldn’t find a better metal detector to take with you on your adventure. If finding lost relics, precious metals, and gold coins are your passion, Fisher F22 is only too eager to help you out.
As a beginner taking your very first steps on a path that will hopefully stay with you for many years to come, you need a detector that doesn’t bog you down with the details, doesn’t require fiddling with complex settings, and doesn’t waste your time as you pursue your consuming hobby.
The Fisher F22 does exactly all of that and more. For starters, it’s very easy to use. Out of the box, you switch it on and it’s ready to go exploring. Then you have the superfast return speed feature. You won’t have to stand around while the machine scratches its head trying to figure out if there’s something underneath your feet or not.
The detector is lightweight and won’t burden you with cumbersome features that only experts use if ever. The digital target ID pinpoints the exact location of your hidden object and estimates its depth to the best of its abilities. And did we mention that it comes at an affordable price that won’t burn a big hole in your pocket?
- Lightweight and affordable.
- Superfast return speed.
- Digital target ID.
- Easy to use.
- Large screen.
- Loud audio prompts.
- No ground balance adjusting feature.
- Needs batteries taken out when storing.
While Fisher F22 captivated us with its simple interface and low price, Garrett excel in other ways that are hard to ignore. In the world of metal detecting, the Garrett name is well known and trusted by pros and amateurs alike. The Ace 300 is the Indiana Jones of the metal detectors. It will go where no other detector dares to go.
This is not hyperbole. The Ace 300 has a submersible coil that will search underwater and find all the sunken goodies from your grandma’s diamond earrings she lost in the lake half a century ago to Captain Blackbeard’s golden tooth washed near the beach.
And if that’s not enough, the detector comes with 3 free accessories. You get Easy stow headphones, a search coil cover, and the Ace environmental cover-up. Add to that the five search modes, sharp electronic pinpointing, and the pulse-width modulation and you know you got in your hands a powerful machine that you will get to appreciate more as you hone your skills.
Since you’ll be searching underwater, then adjusting depth is important. You also get 8 levels of sensitivity to help you focus on the exact treasure you’re seeking and eliminate all other distractions that would waste your time.
- Submersible search coil.
- 3 free accessories.
- 5 search modes.
- Depth adjustments.
- High price tag.
- Not that easy to use for a total beginner.
Since Garrett is such a famous brand, we, of course, had to try more of it and see if we could find the lost family heirloom that went down with the ship. You know what that means, right? The AT Pro also goes underwater and sniffs around for things long lost centuries ago.
But to say that the AT Pro is for underwater exclusively will do this versatile machine a lot of injustice. This, after all, is a pro which means it works on almost any terrain you have to explore and find if there are valuables hidden underneath the surface or not.
This machine comes equipped with the Garrett technology which is designed for all types of hunts and pursuits. From hunting coins and jewelry to relics and gold nuggets. You name your goal and the machine will find it for you, or at least it will die trying.
The enhanced audio features make it easier to hone in on your target. And since the AT Pro comes with two modes, standard and professional, you know this is a keeper that will grow with you as you gain more experience.
- Garrett technology for diverse targets.
- Enhanced audio features.
- Standard and professional modes.
- Submersible search coil.
- Headphones not durable.
- Doesn’t work well in brackish water.
While still searching for the golden watch my great grandfather had lost and left a map with an X marking the spot off Miami Beach (of course I won’t tell you where) I came across Minelab 3720-0002. Right off the bat, I fell in love with it. Not only did it work totally underwater without a hitch, but it also had this convenient mode to look specifically for gold. I was all set to hunt for that elusive watch.
At 2.96 pounds, this metal detector is too lightweight to cause you any arm, shoulder, or elbow problems no matter how many hours you spend searching every day. If you read our reviews of backpack vacuums, beach carts, or reciprocating saws, you’ll know that the weight of the machine really matters for long-term use.
But that’s not all that made this one of my all-time favorite metal detectors. The 3720-0002 comes with 8 search profiles that are fully customizable. Each of these profiles has two modes that you can set and save for later use. This gives you a total of 16 saved profiles that will come handy as you widen your search area and add in other items of interest such as gold, coins, and relics.
- 2.96 pounds in weight.
- 8 customizable profiles.
- Fast recovery speed.
- Accurate target ID.
- Gold detecting mode.
- Rather expensive.
- Battery runs out of juice rather quickly.
Having had enough of the waters of Miami Beach and still haven’t found the precious gold watch that my grandpa swore was somewhere at the bottom of the ocean waiting for me to find it, I decided to turn my attention to more attainable goals. The Bounty Hunter TK4 looked like the ideal companion on my perilous journey.
What makes it ideal, I hear you ask. And that’s a great question. Well, the TK4 is well suited for harsh conditions and inaccessible terrains that no mortal dares approach. Since the TK4 is only a machine, it’s up to you to take it along with you as you seek your elusive treasure.
The discrimination mode is one of the best I have seen so far. It can separate the gold from the chaff, literally, and save one a lot of time and effort. The two-tone audio mode keeps you alert when the detector finds something of interest.
The adjustable ground balance worked well with the discrimination mode, and since this was the first detector that had that feature, we were really excited and our progress made much speedier. It makes it easier to eliminate the false positives and zoom in on the real thing.
- Adjustable ground balance.
- Two-audio modes.
- Discrimination mode.
- Works in harsh conditions.
- Moisture and wet terrains trigger many false alarms.
- High learning curve.
When gold is your goal, what better piece of equipment to carry with you than the aptly named Gold Digger? This is a metal detector that has more than just a promising name, however. It’s not just focused on gold. You can still find other precious items such as iron relics that are just as valuable as gold if not more.
With its high sensitivity and depth precision, the Gold Digger is able to detect small coins as far as 6 inches deep. That gives one an idea of how powerful this tool is. For large items buried 2 feet under, this hunter won’t have trouble locating them and alerting you to unearth them.
The adjustable ground balance eliminates trash as you search the beach or your backyard for lost coins and valuables that have been buried there for years. The included headphones eliminate the surrounding noise when you search in crowded places.
- Adjustable ground balance.
- Headphones included.
- Eliminates trash.
- Headphones break easily.
- Garbage switch doesn’t work.
The Bounty Hunter proving such a big hit, my niece decided she wanted to come along and look for her private treasure. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that one can’t just find Santa Clause’s secret stash, the one where he hides all the presents for all the children in the world, with a metal detector. So I bought her the BHJS.
As a metal detector for children, this one is easy to operate and has all the audio tracks of a video game. This means that once it detects something it goes off. The audio alert goes louder as the signal goes stronger. Needless to say, my niece had a great day on the beach chasing her targets. She found a few dimes and a couple of nickles. Who knew that nickles were still in circulation.
She had a little trouble with the discrimination control. Many times she thought she had made a big discovery but it only turned out to be a soda can. The weather-resistant and waterproof enclosed coil was a big help but when she found a hole and wanted to go down it chasing an imaginary white rabbit, we called it a day and went home.
- Easy to use for children.
- Target indicator.
- Entertaining audio alerts.
- Discrimination control isn’t very effective.
What we liked most about White’s Coinmaster was the display screen. It is big enough to read from a distance and the digits and information are well organized. This comes handy when you got your arm stretched and you’re trying to figure out whether you struck gold or just a pile of junk.
The target ID feature not only displays the location of the object but also alerts you with an audio notification that wakes you from your dreams of vast riches. The all-metal mode is rather convenient when you know that your area isn’t packed with garbage.
Weight-wise, the Coinmaster is one of the lightest metal detectors we’ve tried apart from my niece’s machine. It’s only 2.5 pounds and is easy to carry, handle, and use. It is both durable and water-resistant making it suitable for many terrains.
- Easy to operate, handle, and carry.
- Only 2.5 pounds in weight.
- Large LCD display screen.
- Durable and water-resistant.
- Speaker is faulty out of the box at times.
- Quality assurance isn’t that great as many features don’t work.
We tried and loved Garrett Ace 300, so when we saw the Ace 200 we assumed it was an old model or something. But, boy, were we wrong? The Ace 200 is not only a separate model that has its own distinguishing features and handsome looks, it even has its own online following.
Some people develop an affinity with a brand or a model and won’t let go of it. The Ace 200 deserves all the hype it gets. The latest version comes with a revamped digital target ID display that shows digits on a scale from 0 to 99. This gives you a lot more precision as you approach your hidden object. The warmer you get, the louder the device goes.
The Camlocks give the stem more stability allowing it to pick up signals and process them with more speed and accuracy. And for all this high-performance, the device is surprisingly cheap than other metal detectors in the market of the same caliber.
- Digital target ID.
- 0 to 99 scale.
- Affordable price.
- Headphones break easily.
Another Bounty Hunter that has been making the rounds lately and causing a stir among detecting enthusiasts the world over is the Land Ranger Pro. Like its namesake in the auto world, this one is rugged, reliable, and able to tackle inaccessible terrains.
It wasn’t a coincidence it was called the Land Ranger. Unlike many metal detectors we have tried, this one delivers on what it promises. It zooms in on the target with surprising speed and shows the estimated depth with good accuracy.
The adjustable ground balancing has been taken to the next level thanks to the power of computers. The detector does all the heavy lifting, so to speak, leaving you to do the digging. Since the finding is the hardest part of this job, the Land Ranger is only too happy to take up that difficult task with admirable success rates.
- Depth indicator.
- Ground grab.
- Adjustable ground balancing.
- Steep learning curve.
We returned to Garrett because we were kind of missing quality detecting underwater. There’s something exciting about wading into water pointing a high-tech device and waiting for it to go off like crazy. Maybe it’s a personal preference because I know people who wouldn’t go treasure hunting underwater no matter what.
The Ace 400 is a revamp of the now-discontinued Ace 350. Now, the 400 retained many of the best features of the 350 while adding a classy layer of technology and wrapped the whole thing in a glossy case and dangled it in front of our hungry eyes. So naturally, we took the bait.
Metal detecting underwater is a lot like fishing. The vast expanse of water holds promise and unlike the slippery fish, you don’t get any struggle from the submerged coins and other valuables people lose in lakes and rivers everywhere.
The iron detector lets you know beforehand that this is junk, not gold so you can move on and look elsewhere.
- Iron detector tone.
- Free accessories including a headphone set.
- Electronic pinpointing.
- Too loud audio alerts.
The first thing that piqued our interest and intrigued us was the name. For a TV channel fully dedicated to uncover the wonders of nature and reveal the hidden secrets of tombs and mummies, National Geographic is a household name. So naturally, we expected a lot from a metal detector that carries the channel’s name.
And we loved it. It’s lightweight weighing only 2 pounds and can be collapsed into 22 inches. That makes it easy to handle and even a child could carry it for a while without getting tired or overwhelmed with the features.
Besides the ease of use, the detector has a 10-inch large coil that works well both on land and underwater. It also has 3 detection modes and 4 sensitivity levels for more advanced users.
- 2 pounds in weight.
- Compact and easy to use.
- 10-inch large waterproof coil.
- Can be overwhelming for a novice user.
There are metal detectors for children and there are metal detectors that both adults and children can use. But the Ultimate Metal Detector from New Home Innovations specifies that it is for adults. Does that mean that it’s a bit tricky to use and requires some brainpower?
Not really. It turns out that the detector can be used by both adults and kids. I haven’t seen kids use it so I can only attest to its performances in my hands and I’m fairly certain I can pass for an adult. At least my birth date proves it.
You can use the detector underwater because it’s waterproof and you can use it on land as well. It’s quite easy to use and the only problem I had with it was its bulky size. You also need to wear headphones because the audio alerts are loud and intermittent which can be disconcerting for people around you.
- Shovel isn’t durable.
The ground control is the best feature of the Treasure Cove TC-3020. We liked the way the detector was able to process the signal pretty fast and discard all junk focusing only on the high-conductivity coins we were targeting that day.
The waterproof coil also makes it suitable for underwater detecting. But since we didn’t have a chance to test it in water, we’ll talk about our experience on dry land. The three modes in the device allow you to target gold, silver, or iron. Once locked, the device will ignore all other signals except the one you seek.
- Auto ground control.
- Three modes for different metals.
- Takes time to customize it to your specific needs.
Teknetics Delta 4000 is a nifty tool worth every penny you pay for it. The target ID and large LCD screen make it easy for anyone to go metal detecting. Even if this is your first excursion, with the Delta 4000 in your hands you increase your chances of stumbling into something more than a few small coins.
The depth indicator is decent and though it has a limited depth that doesn’t exceed 8 inches, it still manages to pinpoint targets in that range with good accuracy. It doesn’t use much power and a single battery gives you 25 hours of functionality.
- Large LCD display screen.
- Decent depth indicator.
- Target ID system.
- Settings have to be set every time you switch it on.
- Picks up many false signals along the way.
Things to Consider Before Buy
Whether you’re hunting for relics, for gold, or for the odd ancient coin that might fetch you a lucrative price, you need to pay attention to the weight of the metal detector in your hand. Even in the most convenient of conditions where the landscape is dry, even, and pretty much accessible, you still need a lightweight detector.
Metal detectors vary widely as far as their weight is concerned. Some won’t burden you with extra weight while others will pull on your arm and shoulders and leave you aching and sore. Think of your poor elbow fixed at an awkward angle as you drag that heavy detector for hours on end. Lighter is always better for both beginners and experts.
Wherever you go hunting for precious metals, chances are you’ll find the ground rich with other base materials that get in your way. A high level of iron or salt registers on your metal detector as something worth investigating and looking into. Now you don’t want that distraction. You want your detector to zoom in on the gold not the rusty muffler from an obsolete truck.
Ground balance does just that. It examines the content of the ground you’re exploring and ignores all the rich deposits of cheap metal and materials. In most cases, a preset setting will see you through your novice days in metal detecting. But if your area is particularly tricky, you might need a detector with an automatic ground balance setting.
Ability to Change Coils
As we’ll see later when we talk about coil sizes, it’s important that your detector allows you to change the coil. The size of the coil correlates with the detector’s sensitivity and ability to pinpoint the exact depth and location of your target.
Now some other conditions might interfere with the quality of the signal and the accuracy of the data the detector collects. The nature of the landscape, the topography, metal deposits, and weather conditions, all are factors to take into consideration. Different coil sizes work better with certain conditions. So you might need to change coils on the fly to get a good read on your target.
Threshold and Discrimination Settings
As we mentioned when talking about ground balance, the earth is full of metals. Unfortunately, not all these metal are relevant for your quest. But your detector might not be able to make a distinction between iron and gold. In that case, you have no use for the detector and you’d have better luck searching the bottom of a deep lake in the dark for something you have no clue what it looks like.
Your metal detector should have discrimination settings that allow you to choose what type of treasure you’re hunting based on their conductivity. Searching for coins tells your detector to only look for objects with high conductivity and to discard all other items with low conductivity.
A depth indicator tells you how deep your prized find is underground. Usually, your detector displays this number on the screen. Now you should take that piece of information with a grain of salt. If the depth on the screen is estimated at 1.2 feet, you might need to dig a little deeper.
Just remember that this is an estimation and so far no metal detector has been able to pinpoint the exact depth of the object. So think of it as a mere suggestion. If you can’t find your object at that depth, just keep digging and you’ll find it a little below.
Screen vs. No Screen
Metal detecting experts might only need their ears to find what they’re looking for, but as a beginner, you would need your eyes as well. So while a no screen detector might be lighter and look more professional, it won’t help you find much as it only emits audio signals to alert you that you’re standing over the biggest archeological discovery in the century.
The screen is a convenient way to get an idea of the object you’re digging for. This saves you precious time and keeps you from accidentally damaging your find while unearthing it. Once you get comfortable with your detecting skills, you can do away with the screen and rely on your ears.
Stock coil size
A large coil gives you better depth detection and can find objects buried deep beyond the reach of other detectors with smaller coils. But that’s not the whole story. There’s more to detecting than processing great depths. You also have signal interference from unwanted metals and plain garbage.
So while the large coil will cover more ground, it also gets more signals than you need. So if you’re searching through a garbage dump or the beach, for example, you might settle for a detector with a small coil size. A cleaner search area would call for a large coil where you’re less likely to waste precious hours digging up a crushed beer can.
For a beginner, the frequency of the detector shouldn’t be a concern. We only mention it here because you might hear an expert talking about their frequency and then feel like you’re left out or something. Most beginner metal detectors have a frequency range between 5 and 10 kHz.
The frequency of the machine tells you how many times the detector is searching for a target in a specific area. You don’t need to worry about it since it’s an advanced feature that only experts use and rely on in their search for the Holy Grail.
After weeks of trying different metal detectors, my family heirloom lies somewhere at the bottom of the ocean. I may have not found the treasure I was seeking, but I spent a delightful time finding other things from coins to oldish trinkets.
I tried many metal detectors, more than the 15 that I covered here, and I chose the Fisher F22 Weatherproof Metal Detector with Submersible Search Coil as the best of the best. It has a superfast return speed that saves you time and effort. It is easy to use, has a large LCD display screen with an intuitive menu, and on top of that, it’s also affordable.
I highly recommend the Fisher F22 for every metal detecting enthusiast no matter how inexperienced they are.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare