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Updated September 28, 2022
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Buying the Best Metal Detector in 2022

Author Andrew H
Published on May 02, 2022
by Andrew H

This metal detector buying guide will help you decipher some of the complexities involved in purchasing the best metal detector that’s right for you.

Benefits of Owning a Metal Detector

- Locate lost items like a wedding band or car keys, find your water main under snow or overgrowth, or clear your gravel driveway of puncture hazards.
- You can metal detect from childhood to old-age.
- It can be a profitable hobby.
- You can hunt for historically important metal relics, gold, jewelry, silver, and coins.

What is Metal Detecting?

Detecting is a hobby that a person can partake in at nearly every stage of their life, and it knows no geographic or topographic limitations. No matter your age or locale, metal detecting is a fun and sometimes profitable endeavor. Whether you are hunting for jewelry on Miami Beach, detecting gold veins in Black Hills, South Dakota, or just trying to find the gold wedding band you lost gardening, there is a metal detector for you.

How do Metal Detectors Work?

Metal detectors work by emitting an electromagnetic frequency through the detector coil on the end of the unit into the earth. The buried object will then transmit its own frequency back to the detector, as long as it is composed of ferrous and non-ferrous metal. These signals are measured in kilohertz (kHz). Each type of detectable object will send a unique return signal, and the better detectors are more predictive at indicating what you have located.

Since the devices operate exclusively on this scientific principle, many of the differences between MDs lie mainly in their features and construction.

Difference Between Metal Detectors

Even the cheapest unit will emit a signal if it scans a gold wedding ring buried at the beach, but that same detector may not be capable of differentiating between a silver coin and a chunk of iron. Very basic, inexpensive devices may result in lots of digging and very few treasures. More ornate MDs can all but tell you what the object is.

Underbuying can lead to frustration and abandonment of the hobby, which is a waste of your investment dollars. Even if you are new to the endeavor, consider buying slightly-above entry level for the best possible experience. Garrett is an excellent brand in the intermediate price range.

In the next section, I will cover some of the features to consider if you are in the market for a metal detector.

Budget

The first consideration for your purchase is budget. The price of these devices is largely-determined by overall construction, features, and accessories. As an example, most signal coils are waterproof, but not all electronics are 100% waterproof. If you live in a wet climate or your treasure hunting focus is on the beach, you might want to pay a little extra for a fully-waterproof model.

Price Range

Prices range from $150-$700 for a solid detector for an enthusiast. Fully-waterproof models average in the middle to the top of that range. Hunters located in the desert southwest may see no need for a waterproof model.

Very basic, analog detectors like Bounty Hunter start in the $60 price range, and are ideal for a child, beginner, or someone who is in search of a valuable lost item with no interest in delving further into the hobby beyond solving a specific problem.

Battery Life

Battery life can be critical if you plan on taking the device on a primitive camping trip, for example, but may not be worthy of consideration if you are metal detecting in close proximity to your house or near a power outlet. Not all MDs are rechargeable.

Detector Coil

Coil size, shape, and type is also noteworthy. The larger the coil, the deeper and more accurate its detection ability. More expensive models often feature multiple coils, which is useful in varying conditions, terrain, and preferred detection target. The typical 11” coil is adequate for nearly all endeavors.

The electronic components and their functionality are the biggest determinant in the price of a metal detector. Variable frequency electronics allow you to change the kHz range. This is important if you are facing interference from other detectors set to the same frequency, or you are experiencing buzzing feedback from high-voltage power lines. The higher-end models offer varying frequency settings, and some will rove through different frequencies automatically.

Headphone Capability

Headphone capability is a major consideration. Some detectors offer their own headphones in the accessories package. Other models have Bluetooth capabilities to sync with your preferred headphones. In high-noise environments like the beach or near traffic, they can be instrumental in detecting even the faintest signal emitting from the device.

Some detectors are offered with accessory kits, with anything from soft cases, pinpointers, headphones, shovels, trowels, other hand tools, and extra coils. You will certainly need most of these items, as the tools necessary for a smooth treasure hunting session are highly-specialized. To purchase these crucial items a la cart could prove to be pricey. For a beginner, I would advise purchasing a mid-range detector that comes with accessories. If you fall in love with the hobby, you can upgrade these as needed.

Weight & Usability

The weight of your metal detector is key, and should be considered as an integral part of your decision.

Some reviewers have complained that they are either too tall or too short, and have to hunch or hold the detector at an uncomfortably high level. Most units are equipped with an adjustable shaft. If you are under 5’7” or over 6’3”, take this into consideration as well.

The control boxes vary from analog needles with old-school knob controls on the entry level models to full-color LCD touchscreen panels on the more expensive brands. The more complex the electronics, the more difficult the detector is to use. Keep this in mind if you are a novice.

One final consideration before making your selection would be the battery type. The lower-priced units run on double A or 9 volt batteries, and the more expensive variants are equipped with a rechargeable lithium battery.

In closing, I wish you happy hunting. If you discover a cache of gold doubloons, keep me in mind around the holidays.

FAQ

Q: Will a metal detector signal all types of metal?
A: No. Only ferrous and non-ferrous metals. A metal detector cannot detect stainless steel.
Q: Can I find ancient arrowheads?
A: No. Most Native American arrowheads are made from stone or flint.
Q: What is a pinpointer?
A: A pinpointer is a carrot-sized metal detector that is a critical accessory to a positive experience. It enables you to pinpoint exactly where the target object is in relation to a dig pile, saving you endless hours of sifting.
Q: I have a cheap metal detector, and all I seem to find is aluminum cans and pull tops. Is there a solution?
A: Consider a better detector with a discrimination feature. This enables you to eliminate certain return frequencies, and gives you some control of the objects that get signaled.