As the Spring and Summer come about, one activity becomes more and more common. That, in a nutshell, is treasure hunting.
The world of hunting treasure can be a fun one, but we do not handle this the same way pirates used to centuries ago. Rather, we have some of the best metal detectors in history to help us out.
Each year, metal detectors get more and more impressive compared to the random types you used to see an old man on the beach carrying around. In fact, while some like that still exist, a lot of others are specified to find certain material. Some are able to be underwater too!
It used to be that they could only detect a small number of materials around you. Now that they are built so much more advanced than before, they can actually detect stuff that is buried relatively deep.
Of course, the best ones ended up becoming higher priced for a long period of time. Today, prices have lowered to make the field competitive. We’re going to show you the best metal detectors for the money, but first, we want to show you what to look for in a metal detector.
Table of Contents
What To Consider When Buying A Metal Detector
What are some important factors to consider before buying? We thought you’d never ask!
The frequency a metal detector uses can be just as important as anything else you’ll see on this list. The average frequency you’ll see usually drifts between 3 to 100 kilohertz. Now, this is a wide margin for sure. The reason it is so wide is that so many metal detectors are formed to simply hunt for surface stuff while others are made for deeper material.
In fact, some are designed specifically for finding gold or coins only. Clearly, the wide margin of “Khz” levels are present due to each type having their own specific needs.
We’d recommend usually something 3 to 20khz for coins while for gold, you may want something 25 to 50khz or better.
Of course, if you want something that can be perfect for anything, then you want to find something anywhere between 50 to 70khz. This is due to the fact that it is mid-range and therefore will be less expensive than the high-end.
On top of that, it’ll pick up most stuff that the average person will be looking for.
One thing a lot of people are frustrated by when it comes to metal detectors is that they tend to pick up a lot of the same stuff. While finding a lot of gold bars would be ideal, this is not something you should expect to see. Buried gold, for the most part, is pretty much going to be found around 1% of the time.
If you do spot any gold, it’ll likely be a gold wedding ring or something along those lines. These will often be found in the sand on a beach or on a random sidewalk. It was dropped or fell off and obviously not buried.
More than anything else, bottle caps will be the most common thing you will see. Yet this can be an annoyance, so some metal detectors have a metal or specific metal discriminator. This is a notch you can adjust on the detector that will help it avoid picking up another bottle cap, for example. It essentially ignores these specific targets, thereby making your experience a little more fun.
To some, these two will seem to operate very similarly to each other. What makes Target-ID different from the Notch Discriminator? Simple. While the notch discriminators merely help you avoid certain items, such as our bottle cap example, Target-ID operates a bit differently.
The Target Identifier is essentially present for you to get a rough idea of how your detector will respond to different targets. This gives you an exact idea of how the sounds will be as well as how strong it’ll pick them up. Basic versions offer a signal strength a particular person can use that will offer a small or rough measurement of the possible size and conductivity connected to an object.
Some detectors will actually present categories of Target-ID, which will give you an idea of the metal type. Others may even offer a numerical target identifier, usually on a 0-99 scale. This will determine how close you are to something that you identified for the metal detector to keep an eye on.
Some will be stronger than others, signal-wise. This is due to the fact that target identification was added in to help when it came to depth objects happen to be in. You want to know how your machine will operate the closer it comes to something, of course.
Basically, you’ll see the main difference comes down to how one discriminates to prevent from detecting a particular object. The other is made to find a specific object.
Depth Indicator & Ground Balance:
Depth indicators are going to vary wildly from one metal detector to another metal detector. Every detector made for teens to adults will have a basic coin depth indicator. These are usually going to be barely in the ground, or only slightly buried. As a result, they won’t take much digging. However, there are others that have a much larger depth.
These detectors will be able to determine if something larger is buried in a given area.
Ground balance, on the other hand, is something that has to be set in most advanced metal detectors. Beginner versions have a pre-set version of this already supplied. Like white balance with a camera, many lesser versions have a pre-set type that essentially adjusts to the best version the detector, in this case, feels is needed.
Many metal detectors will pick up a lot of minerals in the ground. Since we have metal in the ground within some minerals, a lot of detectors will pick up a lot of chatter. This acts like a treasure you’ll want to dig up, but instead, you’re fooled by the ground chatter. This is why the advanced types have an adjuster.
With this, you can adjust the ground balance to make it avoid this ground chatter so that it only picks up foreign objects not native to the ground itself.
This is big for people who consider themselves to be professional treasure seekers. Metal detectors obviously are doing their job by picking up metal objects in the ground. Things like Iron make sense for the detectors to, well, detect. By adjusting ground balance, you avoid unnecessary stuff.
A metal detector will have a basic search coil. Of course, some will be larger than others. Most are under the impression that the larger the coil is, the more effective it’ll be. In reality, while the size can matter somewhat, some are simply made to be more effective at their size. Therefore, this is not always important.
What might be important to some is the “type” of search coil used. This can be a wide array of types, but you’ll often see these pop up the most:
- Concentric Search Coils
- Imaging Coil
- Mono Coil
- Double D Coils
- 2-Box Coils
These differ based on how they employ the Transmit & Receive material. They will operate slightly differently based on where the two coils are at as well as if there is a need for more than one, to begin with.
A concentric coil, for example, has the transmit coil on the outside while the receive coil is on the inside.
The imaging coil is the same as the concentric, except it simply has another receive coil.
Mono coils simply have the transmit & receive coils together within the same coils. Hence the “mono” name, of course.
Double D coils look like two D’s, giving it the name. They also are able to reduce ground interference, which is why some feel they are better than the previously mentioned search coils.
The 2-Box coils are very different from the others. With these, the transmit and receive coils are separated by several feet. It offers a wide 3 to 4 feet search margin and makes the metal detector lighter to carry around too. This is the detector most used for recovering items deeper in the ground.
Where To Go Treasure Hunting
What makes treasure hunting worth your time? It is clear that hunting treasure can only be considered a good thing. What could really be better than discovering stuff that could be worth something? Of course, we should make sure to expand on this just a bit by saying that you should never randomly hunt for or dig on someone’s property that isn’t your own.
Unless given permission, anything you take from their property is considered theirs. They can sue to get it back, regardless of how small or large something might be. Thus, the best places to do this are on land you or your family owns. Yet you can also hunt for treasure on some public land or those not owned by anyone in particular.
Before using a metal detector in any public park, find out if there are restrictions. I can tell you now, national parks are off-limits! Don’t even attempt to carry a detector in one. Also, any place considered a historic site is probably a definite “NO“.
Ask first at state parks. Some of them allow metal detectors as long as a few basic rules are followed. Many, however, don’t allow them. So it’s better to be safe than sorry and just ask beforehand.
The best place to hunt for treasure is often the open sea. Inside international waters, nothing can actually be owned by any specific nation.
The reason pirates used to get in trouble was that they often attacked ships carrying property owned by people or certain countries. This includes merchant ships that used to be filled with gold and silver. Had they found their treasure only, they would have committed no crime. To this day, the same laws are in place. Piracy has been outlawed by most nations too.
While some countries will give pirates a trial, others do not bother with this and will either kill the pirates where they stand or publicly shoot/hang them. This is why you need to be careful about how you go about hunting for treasure. Committing illegal acts, taking stuff that does not belong to you, is the wrong way to be.
If people leave something behind on the beach, that is their loss. Chances are if they were going to come back for it, they likely would have done so. If you want to do the nice thing, you can take any major piece of treasure you find, such as wedding rings, to the local authorities. Many will have something known as a “claim period.” If no one claims the ring, in this case, within that specific time, you get to keep it.
However, small hunting of treasure, especially on a camping trip, can be a lot of fun and completely legal. You just need the right gear.
When we were considering metal detectors to recommend, we wanted to factor it out using specifics. This means we wanted to find metal detectors that worked well for beginning treasure hunters vs experienced. We wanted to find some that were great for underwater adventures as well as those made to find gold or coins only.
Yet we also wanted to also find one or more to recommend that could be perfect for people on a budget.
We managed to come up with a list of 7 impressive metal detectors that fit what we mentioned above. In the end, we’re pretty sure you’ll want at least one or more of them. Now, let’s get started on the best metal detectors for the money!
Best Detector For Beginners
This was a slightly complicated detector to find. There are a ton of great beginner versions, but this often depends on the type of beginner you are as well as the age group you're connected to. We felt that any metal detector that could be used by a child should be eliminated from contention. That means we had to consider only those that a teenager and up could realistically operate.
This led us to a few different types but we settled on one.
The Fisher F22
- Price: $$$$$
- Features: Weatherproof, Fe-Tone, Visual Target-ID
The Fisher F22 is labeled as a beginner model, but it actually goes above and beyond the call of duty. They have added so many features to this metal detector that it may end up being considered useful for people who consider themselves professionals. Yet this is a beginner version because it is essentially not going to be as strong as high-end versions.
Fisher does make more expensive and higher-end models, but they still put a lot into their beginner version. The reasoning seems to be, like any company, that they are trying to sell you on various cool features. Since the higher-end types will have more advanced versions of the same features, you'll always scale up when the time comes.
This is to get you used to what each of the features can actually do.
For example, the Fe-Tone will allow you to do what notch discrimination does. However, it is only going to affect so much. For this metal detector, it merely affects the iron audio. This can be extremely helpful, however. It allows you to avoid a common thing you'll see in the ground so that you are not digging at every single iron sound that goes off.
On top of this, this model also has a Target-ID that is visual and operates via category. This is usually seen in higher-end models, so it is nice that they offered a version of it in a beginner type.
It is also weatherproof. This means rain, snow, or clear day...you can be outside using this metal detector at any time. Although, we do not advise doing so during a thunderstorm. It is metal and clearly that is not good to have due to lightning often targeting these objects.
As an all-purpose detector, the main thing you should keep in mind is that it will detect a lot yet again, it is still made for beginners. This means that it won't pick up certain things some higher-end ones will. It may also not work as efficiently.
However, reviews for the Fisher F22 are very positive. Therefore, you'll likely never have any major issues with it.
Best Budget Detector
One thing we refuse to do is highlight cheaply made products. However, we feel there is a difference between a cheaply made product and one that goes for a lower price compared to others. Due to so many versions, good metal detectors will not always be high in price. This is especially true of those made for specific needs.
However, those that are all-purpose can also be lower in price too. Yet when you see this, you'll also likely see a version that is cheaper due to a lack of features or signal strength. Therefore, one should keep that in mind before they purchase one. In spite of this, we wanted to find the best detector we could for the price. This was what we found.
- Price: $$$$$
- Features: Notch Discrimination, 3-Operation Modes, Anti-Interference
SUNPOW has managed to make a terrific metal detector at a cost that is certainly affordable for most people on a budget. The cost the company has it for is just barely over the $100 mark. This is pretty good, especially for all the features they packed into it. In fact, this actually has more features than the Beginner model we referred you to.
The SUNPOW company is relatively new. They have been around since 2011 but have quickly become a pretty notable name on Amazon due to the company citing them as their best value, especially in the metal detecting sector.
The first big feature to mention is its 3 operation modes. It can work on an All-Metal mode to detect things like iron, aluminum, gold, bronze, silver, and other all-metal products. This even comes with a PP function too. The second is Notch Mode or Motion Mode. With this, you can select targets by setting the Disc ACC/Rej. The third is Disc Mode, which allows you to detect valuable metal objects while also rejecting a large number of junk targets.
The DSP Chip has been upgraded, improving the range and overall sensitivity of the metal detector. It is also very waterproof, with an IP68 waterproof level score for the coil. This will allow you to use this detector around streams, rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water.
The price and budget start to show itself when it comes to depth. In All-Metal mode, you maximum depth you can reach is 8.7 inches. The ground balance is pretty good and can be adjusted to fit the environment you're in. However, it does not always operate as it should here and may have trouble in more complicated environments. This is not uncommon for any machine really but can be an issue for metal detectors.
The improvements made from the previous model are easy to notice if you used the last. The size from 47.3 inches to 55.2 inches may be the easiest to see. The stem is also adjustable, making it easy for anyone of almost any size to use. They even added an improved armrest design.
It uses around 8 AA Batteries, which isn't really all that bad for a metal detector. Plus, these batteries are cheap to replace.
If that is not enough, SUNPOW has also offered a great 2-year warranty with a free replacement policy in place. This offers you a low risk, making it easier for people to buy due to great peace of mind. That said, we think you'll love it, especially if you're on a tight budget.
Best Detector For The Beach
Likely the most common place you see metal detectors is the beach, right? There is a clear reason for this. People leave stuff behind all the time, so others come around and find stuff. To be fair, everyone should know by now that you should not take anything too valuable with you to the beach. It has become less of a thing to find very valuable stuff here over the years, as people have seemingly learned their lesson.
However, some people wear their wedding ring wherever they go. This includes the beach. If nothing else, they will wear their wedding band. We cannot possibly tell you more to stop doing this. However, if you choose not to listen then a beach metal detector will likely find your rings and the user will keep them. That said, for the beach, a metal detector does not have to be high priced or expensive.
The most important thing you need here is something waterproof and able to see at a small to medium depth. This is what we found...
Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV Metal Detector
- Price: $$$$$
- Features: Rugged, Low Cost
The Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV is one of the best detectors for the money on the market today, in our opinion. The things it can do should be considered commendable at the price asked of it. This thing specializes in finding random objects all over the place. This is why we feel it'll work very well for your needs at a beach.
The prices will differ a bit due to where you get it, so keep this in mind.
It is a rugged metal detector for sure, one that has proven it can find hidden treasures in multiple extreme conditions. It operates in 2 modes, All-Metal and Discrimination Mode. It even uses a 2-tone audio mode that will give you added sensitivity. This can help you find or track larger objects up to 3 feet in depth.
The disc/notch control manages well and will know the differences between your targets and unwanted metals. It accomplishes all of this on a relatively good 6.7khz operating frequency.
It does have a pre-set ground balance, but it responds relatively well with what is around it.
This is the best possible beach detector due to everything it can accomplish. While not completely waterproof it was made with the beach in mind, so water won't affect it.
Best Underwater Detector
Now, THIS is the kind of metal detector that you have to be very sure can handle its water. These cannot be fully submerged into the water but they are made to work well here. When we say "underwater," people assume a James Cameron-like expedition, but that is not the case. Metal detectors are not designed to take fully into the water.
This is why you need one that can at least have the coil underwater for a long period of time. Of course, the ones that can go the furthest or handle the longest time in the water will end up being the highest priced of the bunch. These are also more expensive depending on how much depth they can handle. Since we want the best for you, we tracked down what many believe is the absolute best in this field.
Garrett AT MAX Waterproof Metal Detector
- Price: $$$$$
- Features: Enhanced Z-Lynk Pinpointer, Wireless Headphones Included, 13.5khz Operating Frequency, Waterproof
The Garrett AT MAX metal detector is 100% waterproof and comes with tons of features. It is one of the best detectors on the market, period. In the world of underwater metal detectors, it might be the absolute best. As a result, it is a bit expensive. However, you're going for quality over anything else here.
This metal detector has a very useful and enhanced Z-Lynk Pinpointer. This is able to work with your included MS-3 headphones to help you hear sounds that the Z-Lynk points directly at. The overall headphones are built well too, with included enhancements to help with detection.
There is a true, All-Metal Mode that will be better than most other metal detectors. They even included a very useful LED Backlit Screen that will help you massively with finding things. On top of this is the useful and adjustable ground balance, making it easier to adjust to the exact balance you need.
We're even given high-resolution 175-point ground balance that can be kept manual or turned onto auto at any point. There is a discrimination mode for Iron only, as it can easily detect Iron. The electronic pinpointing is terrific, but the fact that is waterproof for up to 3 feet is even better. This is the same in both freshwater & saltwater, in case you were wondering.
The LED system allows you to set the digital Target Identification and even Audio Tone ID! They also had to add in an impressive Target Depth ID too.
The Notch Discrimination has up to 8 different sensitivity adjustments as well as a fast recovery speed. The coil is a DD version, meaning it'll be pretty impressive in this area. All of this comes with a relatively strong 13.6khz operating frequency!
Best Coin Detector
Chances are, if you are like most people, you are naturally going to be out for coins than most other stuff. Sure, the cool treasure would be awesome to find. But if you can find a lot of coins, those surely will add up! That said since most of the metal detectors are pretty much all made to pick up the average coin while detecting, you do not anything big here.
Due to this, we tracked down a really good option for you to consider. It is one that we believe will work well and could be considered one of the best detectors for tracking down coins. Check it out!
ToolGuards Metal Detector
- Price: $$$$$
- Features: Waterproof, Cleared For All Terrains
ToolGuards is not exactly a major brand, but the company has made a metal detector that can work on land and in the water. It is completely waterproof, making it perfect for taking to the beach. This metal detector may have been made in the last year, but they purposely designed it to be vintage it seems.
This is seen pretty well in a vintage screen, which is in place over that of a normal LED screen. They also added an adjustable knob that will be helpful in adjusting the metal detector to fit your exact height. Since it can do this, it is actually a detector cleared for all ages...up to a point. Your little toddler might be a bit too young for it, but pre-teens and up should be fine.
ToolGuards also designed it to be comfortable. This is why they included a supportive armrest. The entire detector is incredibly light too, making it completely easy to carry around for extended periods of time.
It also comes with a great 1-year warranty!
Overall, there are not a ton of features with this metal detector. However, due to only needing it for coins, it is likely the best to pick. In the end, you do not need much to accomplish that.
Best Gold Detector
This is an area where you will need a much better metal detector. Of course, metal detectors for gold are going to be designed in a different way compared to those made for coins. You want to find a detector meant for good depth combined with good discrimination and target-ID abilities, which is not exactly hard to do...but is at the same time.
The reason for this is that you can easily find one that can do all of that but yet it still cannot be considered the best metal detector for gold tracking, as weird as that sounds. This is why we had to look further, in order to track down a detector that could find gold anywhere, if any exist. That helped us land on this particular metal detector. Take a look!
Minelab 3720-0002 Equinox 800 Metal Detector
- Price: $$$$$
- Features: Waterproof, High Frequency, Gold Detecting Mode
Minelab is one of the top brands in the world. Everyone knows when you buy one from them you're getting top-notch quality that can rarely be matched. The only drawback? The price! However, you're hunting for gold, remember? That. means this thing will pay for itself with all the gold you'll be finding.
First, we should point you to the power that this unit possesses. It operates on multiple different operating frequencies. That includes 5khz, 10khz, 15khz, 20khz, and finally 40khz. This makes this likely the absolute best metal detector for tracking gold. Mostly because you can reach so many levels that it is much easier to detect gold or anything else for that matter.
Detect Mode offers 2 different, customizable search profiles. This will allow you to save your favorite setting types rather than having to set them each time you use it. The accurate Target ID is tremendous too. Due to all the custom options, you have more control than ever over your audio, strength levels, and much more!
You can even use the multi-frequency system simultaneously with others for maximum performance!
Headphones are included and they are incredibly high performing. The audio is ultra-fast and completely wireless, allowing you to use the headphones for other things. Of course, they work completely on Bluetooth technology.
The part that you. might be most concerned with is the GOLD DETECTING MODE. The high single frequencies are able to detect gold nuggets in multiple different types of mineral soils. This means you can use it anywhere and it'll be able to find gold if any is present.
Naturally, due to all the money put into it, it's 100% waterproof and can be taken on the beach or anywhere else you choose to take it.
A warranty is included for everything. The detector itself has a 3-year limited warranty, the battery operating frequencies are given a 1-year warranty though. Meanwhile, the headphones are not covered in the warranty itself.
Best Detector For Depth
This is likely the big one. Depth can be the one thing that makes the price go from relatively low to very high. That means you have to be aware that when you look for one that can reach lower depths, you're also going to end up paying more. Now that this is known, usually, the Double D or 2-box search coils are best for depth. Yet there are some metal detectors that can work just as good or better.
Good depth for a typical detector ranges from 6 to 10 inches. Anything beyond that, you're going into the top-notch depth territory. To most, this will come down to preference. However, we feel that we found the perfect detector for depth. Let's dive into it!
Teknetics T2 Classic Metal Detector
- Price: $$$$$
- Features: 15-Inch Depth Search, Bi-Axial Search Coil, Trigger Actuated Target Pinpointing, Waterproof
Teknetics has given the world one of the best detectors that money can buy with the T2. One would assume that it would cost far more than others we've referenced. In reality, it is actually somewhat cheaper. This particular unit is able to search for an incredible 15 inches in depth, which is within the industry best.
It also runs on FASTGRAB Instant Ground Canceling, which allows more control over the ground balance. Essentially, it does this by giving you the manual override. The Trigger Actuated Target Pinpointing is also tremendous and includes variable audio pitch. We're also given double filter discrimination modes for searching through multiple areas.
The open frame bi-axial coil is 100% waterproof, allowing you to take it pretty much anywhere. The best thing about this metal detector is that it has top tier target separation capability detection. This allows it to detect targets at major depths.
It also uses its energy sources efficiently, as it can work more than 40 hours on just 4-AA batteries. That is the kind of proper energy use we love to see.
All of this comes with an easy to use, menu-driven user interface. This allows you to know what you're doing at all times and makes sure to tell you how things are going and even helps you target materials better than most other metal detectors.
We cannot recommend it enough when you need to go into the depths of the Earth!
Treasure hunting with a metal detector can be loads of fun, especially with the best detector for your situation.
Although the units listed are our picks, there are many great detectors out there besides these. Hopefully, we've given you some insight on what to look for when shopping for one.