In this guide we’ll take a look at the best metal detectors for kids.
We’ve compared ease of use, weight, detecting ability, and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What Is The Best Metal Detector for Kids?
More Detailed Kids Metal Detector Reviews
Let’s kick off with my top recommendation. The National Geographic PRO series is the best metal detector for kids in my opinion.
This detector is made by Minelab – the gods of metal detecting. A great majority of professional detectorists trust Minelab to come up with the goods, and they frequently make appearances in ‘top metal detector’ lists.
If you’re looking to spend a bit more and get a quality machine this is the one for you.
The search coil is a respectable 10 inches square and reaches 12 inches beneath the soil. It’s smaller than adult versions to keep the weight down to 2.3 lbs for small arms, and to help them out it comes with an arm strap – essential for little people.
Light and compact doesn’t mean too small because it’s telescopic from 22 to 51 inches. It’ll reach the length they need right now, and grow with your kid. It also folds flat so you can stick it in the rucksack when they get bored.
The National Geographic PRO Series detector only has a few buttons which make the control panel very easy to navigate. There’s a clear and easy-to-read backlit LCD screen with easy buttons perfect for small hands and poor concentration.
The screen indicates battery life and the target’s depth – a handy feature that shows them how far to dig down.
It also has a find icon and the machine’s best guess as to what the find is. This is based on metal composition and helps filter out the trash.
Another great feature on the Pro Series machine is its pinpointer. You won’t always find this on cheaper detectors and it’s a great bonus. The pinpointer makes a loud noise the closer you get to a target meaning they’ll know exactly where to dig.
AND, seriously this detector is good enough for adults too, it has 3 predefined search modes each with four levels of sensitivity.
This allows your kids to filter out the trash. There’s an all-metal mode, no iron mode and all metal excluding iron and aluminum.
6 x AA batteries are required to get this excellent kids metal detector going. I highly recommend it for top quality.
- Perfect for beginners
- Easy to read and understand LCD Screen
- Light and Portable
- Made by Minelab a top brand
- Easy to control discrimination to filter the trash
- Only the search coil is waterproof - not great for ‘I dropped it!’ mishaps at the river
- It doesn’t work well in wet highly mineralized sands
The Canway GC-1028 is a really good kids metal detector that doesn’t cost the earth.
The LCD is backlit and simple to read- this is the first step to peace because a complicated interface just puts kids off.
There are two discrimination modes – we have ‘all metal’ which will detect anything metal – obviously! Plus DISC and Notch which filter out trash metals. This is a great feature that saves kiddy frustration and time digging up coke cans.
The pinpoint function, which isn’t usually found on machines of this cost, will help you find exactly where the target is. Press the pinpoint (PP) button and it’ll tell you how far to dig up to 8 inches.
There’s adjustable sensitivity too. Bump the sensitivity to pick up lots of signals and larger buried metal objects. This machine will search for large objects up to three feet below.
It has a waterproof coil so you can take a look around rivers and ponds, but do be careful not to drop the machine as the control box doesn’t like water.
The Canway measures 20.5 x 11.5 x 6 inches and weighs just over 6 lbs. It needs two 9V batteries.
- Good price for lots of features
- Sensitivity mode to look deeper
- Discrimination modes to filter junk
- Only two discrimination modes which might be limiting for older kids
In my opinion, the Dr Otek is the best cheap metal detector for kids of all ages.
This metal detector is great for adventurers who are just starting out. Its price means you can feel better if they decide metal detecting isn’t for them.
This detector has plenty of plus points alongside the bargain price. It weighs under 2.5lbs which is perfect for tired little arms. It’s also telescopic to suit a child’s growing reach.
I was surprised to see that Dr Otek’s metal detector has a waterproof coil for rivers and ponds (but be sure to keep the control box dry).
Good value detectors don’t usually have this feature and it bumps up the number of places you can go detecting – gold-filled rivers and streams await.
The LCD display is super simple for little people. A small bullseye appears when the coil is held over a metal target – and that’s it!
The coil will find a quarter at two inches, so the depth range isn’t great, but children don’t want to spend all day digging. It’s the perfect depth for dropped coins.
The detector has automatic ground balancing to help the hunt without unwanted mineral interference, and some adjustable sensitivity levels to ensure there’s plenty of pings and screeches to get their attention.
It’s pretty durable too and will withstand some smashing about, dropping onto hard ground, or smacking around a sibling’s head – you know what I mean.
- Great price
- Easy to read LCD screen
- Only the coil is waterproof
- Will pick up everything including junk
The Ground EFX is a tough well-priced metal detector for active kids.
This detector has a decent sized 6.5-inch circular coil that will find smaller objects like coins up to 5 inches, and large objects up to 24 inches below the soil.
It can be put in water up to 24 inches too – that’s not bad for a detector in this price range.
The adjustable volume feature pings loudly as you approach a target. This is a handy ‘pinpointing’ feature without the extra expense of an actual pinpointer and a bit of a result!
The Ground EFX metal detector has an iron eliminator function that helps filter out all the trash you’ll encounter.
Humans are messy species and we litter the ground with iron. The simple ‘turn-the-dial’ control eliminates these iron targets.
It’s pretty easy for children to understand the iron eliminator, but younger kids can just have this turned off completely to avoid confusion.
There’s a visual target indicator making it clear to your child that they’ve found something, as well as plenty of beeping. It makes the experience more exciting for them.
This detector measure 26 to 36 inches in length and weighs only 2 pounds. You’ll need 2 x 9V batteries to fire it up.
- It looks cool - a highly important feature for kids
- Tough and durable
- Submersible coil
- Depth detection of 24 inches
- It won’t work well in mineralized wet sand
- Not many features for older kids
This is a well-priced detector with a simple dial read-out for kids.
The Bounty Hunter BHJS has a 6.5-inch weather-resistant coil that’s rustproof – but you can’t put it in water.
This is a great choice for younger children as it only has one mode. When it’s found a target, it beeps. The simple life starts right here.
It means your kid can go and detect while you get some peace. So now you’re sold!
The power knob ups the sensitivity, so if they want to get further down into the ground they simply turn it right up. It’ll reach large objects to three feet and coins up to 5inches.
The closer you get to the target the stronger the signal and the louder the beeps become. This pinpoints the target without a pricey pinpointer.
It has some discrimination control too which at this cost is staggering. The discrimination is easily controlled via a turn dial. On low it’ll beep with every metal find, on high it’ll filter out iron and trash.
This is a good coin hunting machine in parks and on the dry sand.
- Easy to understand and use
- Discrimination against iron and trash
- Lightweight ergonomic design
- It’s not waterproof
General Advice for Parents
So your kid is the proud owner of a metal detector – fantastic. Their imagination will be running riot.
It’s down to you as a parent to find places to go and to figure out how that detector actually works – if you prefer to avoid tantrums and sulking.
My number one recommendation is to go where there are other activities available. Most kids have a short attention span – it’s not their fault, that’s just how it goes with kids.
If they’re able to take a break from the concentration required, such as having a run -round, a blast on the swings or paddle in the sea for example, your life will be much easier.
Also, take snacks. A child’s world revolves around decent snackage.
Where To Go Metal Detecting With Kids
You can head pretty much anywhere and you’ll find metal, but for proper finds, public areas are best. They are chock full of dropped coins, jewelry, keys, and phones. Modern treasure!
Head to your local park to detect around the benches, seating areas, kiosks and anywhere people have been active such as jogging routes.
It’s worth hunting beneath play equipment where children have been burying stuff and potentially leaving things behind too.
When your kid first gets their metal detector I’d recommend taking a sweep of your backyard.
Many detectorists have found dropped objects in their lawns and flower beds. It also gives you and your kid a chance to figure out the controls before you venture into public areas.
Bury a ring, a coin, a rusty nail and a soft drink can. See if your kid can find them and take note of the detector’s mode and discrimination levels.
This homework is invaluable for older kids that really want to find something worthwhile.
Younger children seem happy to find anything buried – so you can probably skip this step for under 8’s or so.
Do They Work At The Beach?
Yes, metal detectors work on the beach if you stay on dry sand.
If you venture onto wet sand or into the water your detector will start pinging out unwanted signals because it’s reacting to high mineralization in the water. Black sand that’s full of iron will also send out false signals.
Check out my guide to the best metal detectors for the beach here.
It’s not just kids detectors that do this, any detector that’s not specifically made with technology to beat saltwater conditions will do it.
But sticking to dry sand is a great place to hunt for treasure, so don’t feel down.
Cold-fingered, slippery sun-lotioned active beach folk drop jewelry frequently. Their valuables slip from sand-dumped bags too. The dry sand is a gold mine of lost objects and one of the best place to find stuff.
I’d definitely recommend taking your kid to metal detect on a dry sandy beach. It’s one of the pleasures of metal-detecting.
If it’s a windy day you might want to get some headphones to go with the detector. Crashing waves and strong winds makes it hard to hear ‘I’ve found treasure’ noises.
Will These Detectors Work in Water?
Most metal detectors are either weatherproof or waterproof. You’ll need to check the specifications.
If the coil is waterproof you can submerge it, but the rest of the machine won’t be.
This means you can hunt in shallow water like a river (gold territory!) a lake or a pond, but make sure your kid is aware that dropping their machine into the water leads to instant machine death! The control box won’t cope with water, and it’s easy to slip on wet rocks.
Weatherproof machines will fend off rain and damp grass. This is fine for dry sand, parks, and playgrounds in dry weather.
I’d recommend getting one that’s waterproof though.
What Will The Detectors Be Able To Find?
They find anything metal!
Generally, even the best metal detectors for kids are not as advanced as machines built for adult detectorists, and they will find every bit of metal up to a few inches below the surface.
So one of the key points about choosing a metal detector for an older kid is the discrimination capability.
This is how they filter out iron and junk so they don’t constantly dig up cans and rusty nails.
To begin with, kids will enjoy finding anything and it’ll certainly get them out in the fresh air, but after a while, they will get frustrated.
Adjustable discrimination that’s simple to use is worth its weight in gold because your kid will be able to find coins without stopping every five seconds for ring pulls and tin foil.
Finding coins is an amazing experience for children (adults too!) so it’s worth paying that bit extra for a better machine.
Like I’ve said the National Geographic and Canway are the best metal detectors for older kids, but if you’re looking to spend less or have younger children then the others are the best of the bunch.
Enjoy, take snacks, and if pickings are thin on the ground for younger children consider secretly burying a few coins to spark their interest.
It may feel like cheating, but if it sparks a life-long interest then I’d say that’s a good pay off!