In this guide we’ll take a look at the best metal detectors for beginners.
We’ve compared ease of use, features, detecting ability and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What Is The Best Metal Detector for Beginners?
More Detailed Metal Detector Reviews
The Garret Ace 300 is recommended everywhere as ‘hands-down’, the best beginner metal detector.
This machine is simple yet informative and a great place to begin.
It has a large 7 x 10-inch search coil for better depth and discrimination and runs on an 8kHz frequency that you can adjust. 8 kHz means you’ll pick up pretty much everything if you listen closely, but uping the kHz finds objects with greater conductivity such as gold.
The search coil is submersible which is a great benefit as you can search in fresh water for dropped jewelry.
Know what you’re searching for? Simply flick a switch to the relevant search mode. There are five to choose from – Jewelry, custom, relics, coins, and no discrimination.
The modes work by turning off segments from the Target ID scale. Other targets will still show up on the digital readout but the audio won’t alert you to it.
And speaking of audio – there are three tone IDs of low, medium and high so you know what you’ve uncovered without beginning the dig.
The digital target ID function is really handy and not always featured on beginner models. Target ID will provide you with a numerical scale from 0-99. High-frequency metals such as gold register a high reading whereas low frequency like iron will fall lower on the scale.
This helps you pinpoint valuable stuff rather than junk and tin foil.
When you are ready to dig the depth indicator shows how far down you need to go. This is a handy pro and makes the hobby of metal detecting so much more pleasurable.
This package also gives you free headphones, a search coil cover, and an ACE environmental cover-up.
The ACE Garrett 300 weighs 2.8lbs and measures 22x11x6 inches. Its light, ergonomically designed, easy to swing and sturdy enough for the more professional hobbyist.
You’ll need 4 AA batteries to power up.
- Great for beginners
- Depth Indicator
- 5 search function to help pinpoint the finds you want
- Multi-tone audio
- No adjustable ground balance
- Need to avoid salt water
The Fisher F22 has a 9-inch search coil that’s waterproof and a superfast re-tune speed. Fast re-tune speed means once you’ve found and rejected a signal you can move onto the next without fuss.
Only the best entry-level metal detectors retune themselves quickly, which the Fisher F22 does with ease. It’s a major plus point that reduces boredom.
Discrimination levels are reliable. You can choose between jewelry, coins, artifacts, and custom. This helps you locate the types of objects you most interested in.
Category ID numbers further help you along by indicating the type of metal you have found, such as iron or gold, and the two digit number target gives a readout of 1-99. High numbers indicate gold, low numbers usually mean junk-type iron.
All this is all displayed on a large LCD screen with simple controls.
Audio is a helpful feature and the Fisher F22 had four audio tones you can set to preference.
Audio tones alert you when you’ve found a target. If you set the audio to a high pitch for gold and bass for silver you don’t even have to look at the screen, just keep your eyes applied to the soil.
Other menu controls include a target depth indicator which shows how deep to dig for the target, and a battery level indicator so you’ no caught short.
It measures -22 x 8 x 5 inches and weight 2.3 pounds – very lightweight and maneuverable. You’ll need 2 x AA batteries to power the detector.
- A waterproof search coil for all weathers
- Multi tone audio
- A large easy to use LCD screen
- Fast retune capability
- Good discrimination modes
- No manual ground balance
The Bounty Hunter TK4 (great name!) is one of the best starter metal detectors on the market.
It has an 8” concentric coil that’s waterproof and fully submersible, but the control box is not. Look out for those larger waves and stay standing in fresh water.
The Bounty Hunter has three search modes – all metal, tone discrimination and full discrimination. They don’t take too much understanding so technophobes will get the hang of them quickly. Especially as it has the coveted autotrac ground balance – more on that later.
The modes are switchable. Choose which you want and off you go. All metal will obviously detect everything, full discrimination will ignore low-value targets like iron, and tone discrimination will emit a different tone for each find.
Out of all of my recommendations, I find this one easiest to hold and swing. Its ergonomic set up really suits me and lots of reviewers agree. I’m not sure why because it isn’t the lightest, but it’s certainly well balanced.
If you’re looking for exciting treasure over trash turn the adjustable sensitivity down. Turn it up, and the detector will alert you to everything – sometimes even minerals in the soil.
A good trick is to hold the detector over an item you want to find, maybe a coin for example, and see how far you can turn it down before the detector doesn’t register.
So, the ground balance – this is a real bonus on an entry-level model.
Automatic ground balance sets the Bounty Hunter to your soil conditions and figures out whether it’s highly mineralized or not.
This is a great feature that will save you time and aggravation. Highly mineralized soils tend to give out lots of signals that metal detectors love to pick up. Ground balance means your machine will behave.
The Bounty Hunter measures 28.2 x 10 x 6.2 inches and weighs 3.7 lbs. You’ll need two 9V batteries.
- Great for newbies & kids
- Good value for money
- Easy to use
- Sensitivity control that actually works well
- Waterproof coil
- Automatic ground balance
- No volume control
- No pinpoint mode
Waterproof with 8-inch concentric coil the Teknetics EuroTek PRO is capable of hunting for treasure in wet conditions and in freshwater streams.
Stopping every few feet to dig up iron is what makes or breaks this hobby, so it’s important to get yourself a detector that can discriminate well.
The Teknetiks PRO has variable iron discrimination that you can adjust from 0-39, and FEtone which allows you to adjust the tones emitted from targets. This gives you a better indication of what’s under the soil before you sweat it out digging down.
This machine really doesn’t like iron! It also has an iron identifier LED that lights up when you swing it above yet more coke cans and trash.
Pinpointing is easy too – in some basic models, and more expensive ones, you need to continually move the machine over your suspected target to get a signal, but this one has pinpointing capability that allows you to hold it steady and locate the target easily.
3 tone audio identification can ping out audio tones set to differing metals, so set gold to high for example and listen for the high pitched tones.
There’s an adjustable sensitivity so you can fine-tune the machine to suit the soil conditions and your preferences. Very high sensitivity will pick up small earrings for example, but also iron particles in the soil. Not all entry models have this so it’s a top-rated bonus.
Last but not least it has a large no-nonsense LED screen that’s simple to understand.
The Teknetiks Pro measures 50 x 8 x 14 inches and 2.4 pounds. You’ll need 1 x 9V battery to power up.
Lots of serious hobbyists recommend this machine saying its underrated, and that they keep one as a back-up in case their million dollar machine breaks. That’s got to be a good review!
- Easy to use
- Good adjustable sensitivity
- Pinpoint mode
- Waterproof coil
- Large LED screen
- No ground balancing
- Need to assemble from the box
The Tesoro Compadre is one of the easiest metal detectors to use so if you’re a technophobe or buying for a kid this is a great choice.
There’s no confusion and no difficulty figuring out what to do because all you can do is turn the dial!
The dial sets discrimination on the Tesoro Compadre. Start off on the lowest setting and you’ll pick up everything. To discriminate and leave behind junk keep turning the dial.
Tesoro is well-known for discrimination abilities – it seems to be their ‘thing’.
The coil set-up is interesting because you can choose between an 8 inch or 5.75 inch. Bigger may be best because it cuts down on time spent searching an area, and it’ll find targets buried deeper in the soil, but the 5.75 inch coil is better for junk areas because it’ll have more focused discrimination.
The coil is waterproof, but the control box isn’t. Do not get the control box wet by falling over or standing in a prolonged rainstorm!
This detector may look a bit old fashioned but it does the job better than many of its flashy companions. You’ll spend less time digging for junk, and more time digging for treasure.
The Compadre only weighs 2.2 pounds. You’ll need one 9-volt battery to power her up.
- Excellent target pickup
- Quick recovery time
- One tuning knob for simplicity
- Great discrimination modes
- Compadre doesn’t have a screen
- One tone audio for every target
How Dedicated Are You To Metal Detecting?
New to the hobby? Welcome and good gold to you.
As with all hobbies, it takes a while to get hooked, but metal detecting is one of those that can give you a bug fast.
We’ve been practicing for this all our lives with Easter eggs hunts and now as grown-ups, we can continue the treasure hunting fun.
In 1874 Gustav Pierre Trouve built the first metal detector that was huge and not particularly successful. These days we have machines that weigh 2lbs and discriminate between different metals but we can still be unsuccessful.
The basics haven’t changed over time and taking potluck is all part of the game.
Still, it makes sense to buy an entry-level machine until you are sure this is the hobby for you.
It doesn’t take a professional metal detector to find treasure. It might help especially when it comes to specifics such as gold nugget hunting, but an entry-level machine will do you proud until you want to upgrade, and they go for a good price on certain auction sites.
Metal detecting is popular because although it’s seen as a solitary pursuit it can also be social.
For example, metal detectorist clubs arrange hunts and compete against each other in time trials, they hold show-and tell-meetings, and swap tips on internet forums.
Metal detecting is a zoning out solitary hobby and a social one – it’s whatever you want to make of it.
What Do You Want To Find?
Every squeak, hum, squeal, or flashing LED is a signal telling you what might lie under the soil, but maybe there’s something that really floats your boat?
Plenty of detectorists specialize. There’s no end of internet forums showing off collections.
Here are the main groups:
An entry level metal detector will pick up all of these metals, but if you want to find a certain type of object, say gold, you’re more likely to find it with a specialized detector that runs a high frequency. Check out the best metal detector for gold here.
If you want to look for jewelry, rings in particular, you’re likely to find these at the beach where cold fingers shrink and slippery sun cream means jewels work free.
In this case, you’ll need a fully waterproof detector with excellent ground balancing because black sand is highly mineralized, and this can set the detector squealing and popping without a break.
Relics are often made from iron and these can be picked up with pretty much any machine, there’s a lot of iron out there though, so make sure you do your homework and find a site that was host to a battle or barracks.
If you’re looking to get rich, it’s probably not going to happen unless you are really, really lucky, but it’s the thought you might find something amazing that keeps metal detectorists heading out in all weathers.
Where Will You Be Searching?
Do you have some location ideas?
If not, here are a few suggestions – but always check for permissions first.
The beach: Surfers often lose St Christophers, and cold, wet fingers mean rings just slide off.
Your yard: Simple, easy with no permission required – who knows what’s been left behind over the years.
Parks: Dropped coins and jewelry are waiting for you near the kiosks and benches.
Historical sites for buttons and weaponry discards from the civil war. You’ll need to consult an old map and historical records for this but it’s exciting – a real treasure trail where X marks the spot.
Lots of folks are excited at the thought of prospecting for gold nuggets and wiping out their mortgage in one fell swoop. This is not an easy task, and if you don’t go where gold is known it’s nigh on impossible.
One Final Piece of Advice
The simple rule for trying to find the best metal detector for beginners is to buy the best you can afford and really get to know how it works.
A budget detector is capable of alerting you to a gold ring and may end up paying for itself, but only if you can understand what it’s saying to you. Luckily budget machines have less faff and are simpler to understand.
It’s the thrill of the hunt that keeps us all searching, and you get a good time feeling whether you spend $200 or $2000.