We analyze consumer reviews to find the best products on the web. We buy products with our own money and test them in our lab. We also interview experts and conduct independent research to pick the winners. We have affiliate partnerships so we may get a share of revenue from purchases. It’s how we fund our Research Lab and bring you better reviews and comparisons. Read more.
Best Metal Detectors Updated November 2018
Ace 300 Metal Detector
Check Price at:
Experienced users won’t be frustrated or disappointed. This is the best metal detector for accuracy.
It has 5 search modes, 8 sensitivity depth adjustments, and a built-in pinpointer for finding coins and jewelry. You’ll also get protective coverings and headphones.
This is a difficult detector for beginners to get used to.
TK4 Tracker IV Metal Detector
Check Price at:
This metal detector is designed for extreme ground conditions and is one of the most affordable metal detectors on the market.
Use it straight out of the box. Featuring 3 modes, this hobby detector is easy for everyone to use. Customers say it’s well worth the money.
There’s no volume adjustment.
1140900 Pro-Pointer Metal Detector
Check Price at:
This waterproof pinpointer is great for the beach. It’s an excellent tool to use in addition to a standard metal detector.
This small but mighty pinpointer has an LED flashlight and a 360-degree side scanner to target small nuggets with wide sweeping motions.
It has a short battery life.
Beach Yard Junior Ground Metal Detector
Check Price at:
A colorful metal detector to get kids outside.
The user-friendly all-sun Junior Metal Detector will pick up a variety of backyard treasures during your next family scavenger hunt.
After you get through the surprisingly complicated assembly, parents may grow tired of the loud metal detector sounds.
Metal Detector with Pinpoint Targeting
Check Price at:
This all-terrain metal detector is an affordable choice for treasure hunting wherever you go.
We appreciate the adjustable stem, waterproof search coil, and built-in pinpointer. A carry case and collapsible shovel are also included.
It’s limited to 2 modes, so it may be less accurate and insensitive.
You’ll likely find a great deal of pocket change with a metal detector, but it’s rare that anyone hits the jackpot. Most folks do it for their interest in nature or as a hobby. We’ve chosen the best metal detectors for advanced hobbyists, curious kids, and metal detecting beginners. We consulted thousands of metal detector reviews and discovered the key features that are necessary to uncover all types of treasure.
Metal Detector Reviews Guide
It can be exciting to uncover old or forgotten items in your own backyard and if you’re a history buff, you’ll love the old coins and relics you find with your metal detector. Many users say it’s easy to lose track of time and end up walking outdoors with a five-pound metal detector for hours. Even adrenaline junkies can get their fix from metal detecting. There’s a rush that comes with digging in the dirt toward an unknown but possibly valuable object.
If you’re ready to buy a metal detector, view our metal detector comparison above that features our top picks. If you need more context on metal detectors, read our buyer’s guide below.
Terms to know
This part of the metal detector helps protect your arm from getting tired and keeps the unit steady as you move it back and forth. Metal detectors aren’t very heavy (most weigh about five pounds), but after hours of sweeping, this armrest can come in handy.
The control box is where you change settings, like sensitivity and notching, and where the target depth indicator is located. Most control boxes also contain the speaker and batteries. As you can imagine, this part shouldn’t get wet unless your detector is completely waterproof. Some manufacturers, like Garrett, will include a control box cover with your purchase.
Also called the stem, the shaft is the part of the detector that you hold. It connects the control box to the coil and is often adjustable, allowing you to set it at a comfortable level for your height.
This is the outer ring of the coil that emits an electromagnetic field. Transmitter coils are not found on all metal detectors.
This is the part of the metal detector that actually senses the metal. If metal is found, your detector will react to the transmitter and send a signal upward to the search coil—the inner ring of a VFL metal detector.
Discrimination filters select which of the conductivity segments in the discrimination scale are active or disabled. For example, if a segment is notched out, then metals with that level of conductivity will be masked and not produce a response. This should improve the quality of the treasure you take time digging up and differentiate steel from silver or gold.
A detector’s coil is rather wide. After you’ve detected an item, you can use a pinpointer to find a more exact location. A pinpointer may be built into your metal detector or it may be a separate device altogether.
A pinpointer is a useful accessory to any standard metal detector. After metal is detected, you can use a pinpointer to narrow the search parameters and target its exact location.”
Types of metal detectors
Very low frequency (VLF)—VLF metal detectors are the most popular type among hobbyists. They use two types of coils—transmitter and search coils. Once metal is detected, a VLF detector can estimate how deep it’s buried based on the strength of the magnetism.
Pulse induction (PI)—PI metal detectors use a single coil that acts as a transmitter and a receiver in a pulsing fashion. PI detectors aren’t great at discriminating between metals, but they perform well in highly conductive environments and they have a better depth field than VLF detectors.
Beat-frequency oscillator (BFO)—More affordable than VLF and PI detectors, BFO metal detectors are fairly simple. Radio waves from the large search coil communicate with a smaller coil in the control box, pulsing a thousand times a second. Audible tones are produced and you’ll hear the difference as you pass over metal.
Best metal detector for beginnersBOUNTY HUNTER TIME RANGER METAL DETECTOR
Bounty Hunter is a well-known brand for beginners. It’s easy to assemble and you can practically use it straight out of the box. It only has three modes to navigate through, which may limit an advanced hobbyist, but it makes for a more manageable learning curve for newbies. Many customers have given the Bounty Hunter Tracker as a gift to their spouse or child.
Invest in a pair of headphones to plug into your metal detector. This protects your privacy and your neighbor’s patience.”
7 Features we tested
Most metal detectors will have a headphone jack or a built-in speaker, so you can hear the change in frequency when you pass over metal. If you’re sensitive to noise, we suggest purchasing a metal detector with adjustable volume. Some, like the Bounty Hunter Tracker, don’t have this feature. Others, like the Garrett Ace 300, include a pair of headphones with your purchase. You may want to use headphones in loud environments, like the beach or other public spaces, so you don’t disturb others.
Some metal detectors don’t have a display at all. This may be perfectly fine for casual treasure hunting but for more precision, consider buying a metal detector with a screen where you can monitor the target indicator.
If you’re serious about metal detecting, you’ll want a metal detector with adjustable sensitivity. Use this feature to filter out invaluable junk and enjoy a more productive day of detecting.
This feature cancels out the metallic noise, like iron, that’s naturally found in soil. The Bounty Hunter Tracker is an example of a metal detector with a preset ground balance.
Notching allows users to adjust the level of discrimination, which filters out a lot of trash and junk like soda pop tabs. Without notching, you risk missing a real gem just because it’s under the line of discrimination.
If you’ve got your sights set on a full day of exploration, you’ll want a battery that lasts. If your detector is known for a short battery life, like the Garrett Pro-Pointer, then pack some backup batteries before you leave the house. Additionally, you may want to invest in a metal detector with a low-battery indicator light. Note: this feature isn’t universal.
Although the stabilizer can be somewhat supportive, a five-pound metal detector can be a real arm workout after a few hours of sweeping. Anything above five pounds is sure to shorten your day of metal detecting. Length also matters. Avoid crouching or bending down by buying a metal detector with an adjustable shaft, like the INTEYMetal Detector.
Best metal detector for kidsALL-SUN BEACH YARD JUNIOR GROUND METAL DETECTOR
The all-sun Junior Metal Detector is an activity you and your child can bond over outside. One great thing about metal detecting is that it gets you outside and moving. Searching the sandbox and backyard can yield old nuts and bolts, pocket change, or even some jewelry if you’re lucky. This metal detector may not be heavy-duty, but it will be an exciting tool for your little one.
Laws around metal detection
There are some rules around metal detecting that you should abide by, not only out of courtesy for others’ private property but also because the government says so.
Seek permission—preferrably on paper—from landowners before venturing onto private property.
Refer to your local parks department before you bring a metal detector to a public park.
Most state and national parks are totally off-limits when it comes to metal detecting.
Beaches are often exceptions to the rule and allow you to use a metal detector, but you should always double-check your state’s laws before metal detecting.
If you’re granted special permission to use your metal detector, there are likely restrictions on where you can and cannot dig as well as what you can and cannot keep.
Best waterproof metal detectorGARRETT 1140900 PRO-POINTER METAL DETECTOR
The Garrett Pro-Pointer can reach a depth of 10 feet underwater. It has a 360-degree side scanner, so you can detect more metal with every swipe. The LED flashlight is helpful when you’re sweeping murky waters. This handheld metal detector is very lightweight and has a lanyard loop so it won’t float away from you when you go dig. The Garret Pro-Pointer is a great tool to have in addition to your standard metal detector, especially on beach days.
Contact your local parks department before planning a day of metal detecting in a public park. These areas are often restricted and require a special permit.”
Frequently asked questions
What’s the best all-around metal detector?
The Garrett Ace 300 is the best metal detector. With five search modes and eight depth adjustments, this metal detector is designed for experienced users. Eighty-two percent of Amazon customers give it a five-star rating. Some success stories include: saving tires from gravel-topped nails, finding $20 in the yard, and uncovering a lost wedding band in the garden.
What is the best metal detector to buy for a beginner?
We recommend the Bounty Hunter Tracker as the best metal detector for beginners. It requires little assembly and it’s very user-friendly. With three simple modes to choose from, amateurs will get the swing of things in no time. If this is a gift for a child, the colorful all-sun Junior Metal Detector is a great option. Before you know it, your kids will be trading the TV for an afternoon of backyard exploration.
Can you detect gold with a metal detector?
Yes, most modern metal detectors can detect gold. Don’t get your hopes up, though. Finding a significantly sized nugget of gold is hard to come by. Most hobbyists aren’t in it for the gold for this very reason.
How much is a metal detector?
The metal detectors we reviewed range from $25 to $255, but high-end detectors can cost thousands of dollars.
Is it legal to metal detect?
It’s legal for homeowners to metal detect on their own land and on most beaches, but you’ll need written permission from landowners to use a metal detector on private land. Inquire at your local parks department before taking a metal detector to a public park. Metal detecting is prohibited in most state and national parks.