In this guide we’ll take a look at the best metal detectors for the beach.
We’ve compared water resistance, operating frequency, features, and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What Is The Best Metal Detector for the Beach & Salt Water?
More Detailed Beach Metal Detector Reviews
Fancy detecting around a shipwreck? The Fisher 1280X is one of the best beach metal detectors around and fully submersible down 250 feet!
This beach metal detector is one of the rugged boys that can be taken into the water with no worries at all. It’s particularly suited to divers, but it’s also great for wet sand, the towel line and freshwater rivers.
The Fisher 1280X is available with an 8 inch or a 10-inch search coil that have concentric round open coils. That covers a fair bit of width without compromising the search functions.
The control box is easily removable so you can attach it to your hip or chest for hands-free searching – and the search pole is adjustable too.
There are barely any complications with this machine. It’s really a turn it on and go set up that automatically tunes itself into the surrounding environment
You don’t need to worry about fiddling with fine tuning or ground balancing unless you want to.
This is an underrated safety feature because open water can be dangerous. If you’re fiddling with the tuning and a large wave catches you out it can be worse than a soaking.
If you like deciding upon your own settings then you can adjust the sensitivity, discrimination, and volume easily on the control box.
Some users recommend setting the sensitivity to around 8 and the VLF discrimination a bit lower – around 3 – for the best result in saltwater. Salt water is more challenging than freshwater so you may want to play around. Overall though, it’s one of the best saltwater metal detectors on the market.
The Fisher 1280X measures 12 x 6 x 21 inches and weighs 5.8lbs.
You’ll need 8 AA batteries which are housed in a rough and tough control box.
- Turn on & go - it’s that simple
- Submersible up to 250 feet
- Good reputation for reliability
- Manual or automatic tuning
- Heavier than others
- Not a lot of extras but some like it simple
The Garrett AT Pro (that’s AT for all-terrain) has an 8.5 by 11-inch DD search coil that’s fully waterproof. It’s a great size that covers plenty of terrain but still catches the small targets.
The AT Pro has superb ground balancing whether you choose automatic or manual settings. It has a continuous coin depth indicator telling you how far to dig, and works on a 15kHz frequency to find the small stuff.
The audio is top notch as you’d expect from Garrett.
Choose between proportional or tone roll audio and combine this with the 0-99 target scale ID to indicate what’s beneath the surface without digging.
It also has a high-res iron detector to filter out trash which can be set from 1-40 on the meter. This helps you ignore the tin foil but still find relics.
Super fast recovery time means you aren’t standing around bored whilst someone else finds the gold.
This metal detector comes with Garrett ProPointer AT which is better known as the Garrett Carrot.
This is a bright orange waterproof pin-pointer that tells you the exact location of your find. It’s invaluable underwater or in moving tidal sands that ensure your target slips away.
The pinpointer has three manually adjustable sensitivity modes, a true silent mode, and you can take it into the water up 10 feet. Plus it only weighs 6.5 oz.
This pinpointer is a really useful piece of kit that you’d probably end up buying separately.
The Garrett AT Pro measures 21.3 x 14.4 x 8.7 inches and weighs only 3.03lbs. You’ll need 4 AA batteries to light her up.
The machine has loads of features. It’s perhaps the best metal detector for beach and land.
- Waterproof up 10 feet
- Great sensitivity
- All-terrain so you only need one detector
- 8.5" x 11" DD submersible search coil
- Superb adjustable ground balancing
- The screen is difficult to see in bright sun
- Could be more straightforward to use
Tesoro’s Sand Shark comes highly recommended – it searches out the smallest targets and deals with high mineralization.
The shifting nature of sand means that targets can fall deep below the surface, so if you’re in the water or on the towel line you need a machine that gets deep. Tesoro’s are well-known for their depth factor.
The Sand Shark has four control knobs:
It has two modes and if you’ve used another Tesoro model before it’ll be simple to pick up this one.
The modes are VCO and Normal (all metal) VCO stands for Voltage Controlled Oscillator and increases in pitch and tone as you approach a target. VCO mode is great for pinpointing.
Normal mode will increase in volume but the tone remains the same.
This is a pulse induction machine and is has a controllable pulse width. This means as you turn up the dial the sensitivity is increased to pick up smaller and deeper targets.
The threshold is the constant hum you will hear as you detect. This hum is disturbed by a target tone. The knob allows you to adjust the background threshold.
Speaks for itself!
All the knobs are simply displayed on the large box and controlled by a fast microprocessor.
The Sand Shark has interchangeable coils and is waterproof to 200 feet. It measures 21.1 x 11.5 x 4.7 inches and weighs less than 4.5 lbs.
You’ll need 8 AA batteries to power her up.
This is a great bit of kit and one of the easiest to use.
It’s well known and has great online reviews. If you’re looking for the best beach metal detector, look no further.
- Waterproof to 200 feet
- Great depth and sensitivity
- Pretty simple with a bit of practice
- Pulse induction
- Two distinct operating modes
- It takes a lot of batteries
- It relies on interpreting sounds
The Garrett Ace 300 is often touted as a beginner’s machine, but it’s a cracking piece of kit that not only includes all the features you need for successful metal detecting with a waterproof search coil too.
The ACE 300 search coil measures 7x 10inches which is larger than some beach metal detectors, but still achieves good depth.
The featured depth indicator shows how far down you need to head to dig up that treasure without back-breaking and heart-breaking bottle top digs.
This detector runs on a frequency of 8 kHz for better sensitivity to low and medium-conductivity targets. 8 kHz means you’ll pick up pretty much everything, but with the flick of a switch, you can select a relevant search mode.
There are five modes – jewelry, custom, relics, coins, and no discrimination.
Other targets will still show up on the digital readout when you’re using a search mode, but the audio won’t alert you to it. This helps you to focus on what you really want to find without missing a lump of gold along the way.
The audio consists of three tone IDs pinging out low, medium and high tones so you know what you’ve uncovered without beginning the dig.
As well as audio, the Target ID screen shows a target numerical scale from 0-99. Low-frequency metals such as iron will fall lower on the scale, coins around the middle and gold registers high.
The ACE Garrett 300 weighs 2.8lbs and measures 22x11x6 inches. You’ll need 4 AA batteries to power up.
This is a well-made budget option with a waterproof search coil.
- Easy to use
- Simple search function
- Depth indicator
- Waterproof search coil
- Good value for money
- No volume control
- Maybe too simple for experienced detectors
- Better in freshwater than saltwater
Advice for Choosing the Right Beach Metal Detector
If you fancy metal detecting on the beach you’ll be in good company.
Beaches are popular with detectorists because of their open nature and high yields, but if you want to detect on the wet sands you’ll need a machine that can deal with the high mineralization of saltwater and black sand.
Before we get into the science please be aware that if you want to search dry sand at the beach you do not need a specific beach metal detector.
This is because dry sands don’t have the mineralization that wet, salty sand does.
But, if you want to search in salt water and wet sand, such as the surf and the damp towel line, a standard metal detector is going to drive you crazy squealing and popping over every grain of sand you touch.
Black sand will also wreak havoc your machine even if it’s dry. That’s because black sand is chock-full of iron which is conductive and sends a signal to your detector.
If you have a single frequency machine you’ll need to put it onto low sensitivity settings to make any sense of the audio or readouts, but this also means you’ll miss out on finds.
Multi-frequency or pulse detection machines are the best metal detectors for the beach; in-particularly salt water and black sand.
Multi-frequency detectors are more expensive because they use superior technology that can pass through minerals and hit the target.
If you only want to buy one machine, but want to use it on dry land and the beach, choose multi-frequency as it will have a better discrimination range.
Pulse induction is a specialty machine that serious beach hunters need to get hold of. The Sand Shark recommended above uses pulse induction.
This technology gets great depth and holds up to high mineralization and wet sands without a problem.
If you’re only interested in beach metal hunting (or gold prospecting) then go for pulse induction.
Water Resistant, Waterproof, or Submersive?
So what’s the difference? Stand by…
Water resistant has the lowest water capability – it will keep the rain out.
Obviously, this isn’t suitable for hunting in the surf or a river. However, it will probably deal with damp grass.
Waterproof is one up on water-resistant. It will deal with splashes and water immersion no problem, but check out how much depth the proofing gives you.
Some of the better detectors go waterproof to three feet for example. A waterproof machine will almost certainly only have a waterproof coil not a waterproof control box unless it explicitly says so.
Submersive detectors can go fully underwater – The Fisher 1280X recommended above is a good example. Divers and serious swimmers will want one of these.
Check out my advice on the best underwater metal detector here.
To keep safe on the beach choose a fully submersible machine or a waterproof one and don’t fall over.
It’s very easy to hit a target and in your haste to dig put the detector down. Then a larger than average wave breaks and your machine is caput.
What a waste of cash! Imagine the temper tantrum that would follow.
The Importance of Coil Size
Bigger is better right?
It’s the motion of the ocean that counts, and this holds especially true at the beach.
Let’s take a look at the importance of coil size.
Smaller coils are better at pinpointing a target which is helpful in a sea of shifting sands.
They are also better at discriminating between metals, so if you’re on a beach in high season and it’s littered with aluminum cans and tin foil you can set the machine to ignore the trash with better results than a large coil.
Large coils obviously cover more surface area and they can achieve greater ground penetration, however, if you’re in water the currents will grab that extra weight and drag you around.
Before long you’ll be aching and thinking of heading home.
Useful Accessories for Beach Metal Detecting
Accessories maketh the outfit – they can also maketh and breaketh a metal detecting hobby.
Whilst accessories are not essential they can ensure your day is more productive and enjoyable- and that’s what it’s all about.
More an essential than an accessory at the beach in my opinion.
A sand scoop works like a colander. You dip and drag in through sand and water to grab a target before it drifts out to sea again.
You can also use them to dig instead of a trowel and if you choose a long-handled version you don’t even need to bend down.
If you’re digging in rocky areas get a sand scoop with a pointed tip to make it easier.
Handy for figuring out exactly where the target is in a shifting environment.
Your metal detector will say ‘hey – there’s something! It’s roughly….here’ but the pinpointer will show you an exact location, so you don’t dig a never-ending water-filled sand hole.
Beaches are noisy places even when they’re empty. The crashing waves and wind can make your metal detector pings and tones all but obsolete.
Invest in some decent headphones, waterproof are best at the beach for obvious reasons, so you can hear the weak signals that indicate pirate gold.
If you’re wading through water or you’re on slippery rocks wearing a chest harness can make it safer.
Going hands-free in the water can help you if you’re washed over or need to grab those non-waterproof headphones!
A harness will also take the weight off your shoulders for a while. I’ve said it above but wave action can drag your detector around and tire you out.
We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside
Metal detecting at the beach is productive and it’s great fun.
Most of us like the fresh air, the sand beneath our feet – and the excitingly high likelihood of shipwrecked pirate booty.
If you want to search in the surf or go even deeper into open water, then a specialist beach detecting machine will help you out.
You can search the dry sand with standard metal detector but I promise it won’t be long before you’re lured into the wet stuff – where the other detectorists are hauling home sacks of gold doubloons.
Be safe and keep your wits about you when you’re on the beach, especially if the tide is coming in.
It’s all too easy to become immersed in your detecting that you end up immersed in water too.
Don’t forget your sunscreen and happy hunting! If you’re lucky you’ll find enough coins to buy an ice-cream.