In this guide we’ll look at the best metal detectors for saltwater.
We’ve compared pulse induction vs very low frequency, waterproofing, audio and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What is the Best Saltwater Metal Detector?
More Detailed Saltwater Metal Detector Reviews
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Minelab Excalibur II Metal Detector Review
Minelab Excalibur II is a top-of-the-range multi-frequency machine and the best metal detector for saltwater.
Using Minelab’s multifrequency tech the Excalibur II utilizes 17 simultaneous frequencies. This ensures it can cope with mineralised ground, wet sand, and saltwater.
It’s waterproof to a depth of 200 feet so perfect for wreck diving and seabed searches.
There are five pre-set modes of beach, dive, jewelry, relic, and coin to help you get on your salt water adventure as quickly as possible.
The beach and dive settings are the modes you need for saltwater, but if you ever fancy a day on land your Excalibur II will work a treat.
As well as multi-frequency it has great variable discrimination, automatic ground rejection, and sensitivity controls. These work together to pull off the best saltwater search performance around.
All-metal pinpoint helps you grab the treasure in shifting sands and wave conditions.
The coil is a hardwired DD wide scan and the battery pack is sealed with a NICas 13V system. This will last 14-19 hours between charges.
Headphones are important in saltwater because the ocean is noisy and there are always people around. The Excalibur II comes with the best headphones for saltwater metal detecting – waterproof Koss 8ohm headphones.
This top-class metal detector has an adjustable shaft, a dive shaft measuring up to 91 cm, and it weighs 5.1 lbs.
The Minelab Excalibur II is simply the best metal detector for salt water because it does the basics properly and has plenty of extras for an enjoyable experience.
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Aquascan Aquapulse AQ1B Diver Metal Detector Review
The Aquascan Aquapulse is a great piece of kit and many consider it the best saltwater metal detector on the market.
This is a pulse induction machine so it’s best used in salt water rather than land detecting unless it’s wet sand you’re searching.
It has a coil on a telescopic arm and can find metal buried up to three meters. Aquascan says it’s the most powerful currently on the market.
The search coil measures eight inches and is more than good enough to jump straight in, but you can buy extra coils to help locate exactly the metal you’re looking for.
The sensitivity threshold helps reject ring pulls and other trash buried in the sand and mud which is good news as the ocean tends to collect up our trash.
It has rechargeable NiMH batteries with 8-10 hours of use and an adjustable shaft for easier dive searches.
This diver’s metal detector is submersible up to 100 meters and has been used by professionals to track underwater cables, pipes, and recover lost anchors. It’s utilized by archaeologists and the police – the Aquapulse has great credentials.
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White's TDI BeachHunter Metal Detector Review
White’s is a popular brand and has a die-hard following of fans. It has one of the best metal detectors for saltwater on its books – the TDI BeachHunter.
The BeachHunter is a pulse induction metal detector that’s been specifically made for saltwater and gold-hunting
It’s waterproof up to 7.5 meters and has a great feature in its adjustable pulse delay that ramps up the sensitivity. This will help you find very small gold pieces in highly mineralized conditions.
It has ground balancing, dual-tone audio, adjustable volume, and threshold controls which make it particularly suited for different metal searches on tricky grounds.
The coil is a large hardwired 12-inch dual-field which is actually two coils in one.
The inner coil is small and more likely to find small targets while the outer coil gets deep into mineralized ground – it’s the best of both worlds and will pick up targets that others have missed.
A heavy-duty NiMH rechargeable battery extends the run-time to six hours and it has a backup pack running on 8 x AA batteries.
Weighing in at 5.2 lbs the Beachhunter comes with a chest and hip mount, so if you tend to get tired after swinging your detector all day this is a good buy.
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Garrett Sea Hunter Mark II Metal Detector Review
Garrett makes great detectors and the Sea Hunter Mark II is their best saltwater metal detector.
This is a pulse induction machine with an all-metal deep-seeking mode and two discrimination modes which is unusual for PI machines.
You’ll find ‘standard trash discrimination’ and ‘discrete trash elimination’ settings so you can choose your level of discrimination and prevent digging for trash. It also enables you to ignore signals from non-trash metals you want to ignore.
It’s waterproof up to 65 meters and has one-tone audio on a 0-10 threshold. Plenty of reviewers say the softer tones are better to dig.
The Sea Hunter Mark II comes with a small round concentric 8” PROformance mono search coil that’s great for pushing between rocks and through seaweed. It weighs in at 5.1 pounds and has a diving length of 28 inches and neutral buoyancy so it won’t sink.
The 8x AA batteries last up to 22 hours which is pretty impressive given the run time of others.
This is a great reliable choice if you’re undecided. Garrett always gets it right.
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Fisher CZ-21 Metal Detector Review
Fisher’s CZ-21 metal detector has everything you need for the sea and more. It’s one of the best metal detectors for salt water and fresh water up to 250 feet.
This excellent machine is a VLF multi-frequency detector operating on 5 and 15 kHz to catch all metals in salt water.
One of the best features on the CZ-21 is its three-tone ID to help distinguish between metals. It’ll notify low for iron, mid for gold, and high tones for silver or larger pieces of gold.
Easy-to-use manual ground balancing to help beat salt water, adjustable discrimination, and three search modes of all-metal, motion, and pinpoint make this a flexible machine for sea and land use.
When you’ve hit a target use the stand-alone pinpoint button to put the detector in a no-motion-required, all-metal mode which locks onto the target. This is great in shifting sand and wave conditions where your target is likely to move.
The coil is a 10.5″ open search coil that’ll get into the smaller places but still covers plenty of ground too, it’s a catch-all size.
The Fisher CZ-21 weighs 5.7 lbs and is one of the best when you want to hunt on ground and in the water.
What To Look For in The Best Saltwater Metal Detector
Which Frequency Is Best?
Salt amplifies normal ground minerals causing a standard VLF machine to false, bleep, and become so jittery it’s unusable.
A saltwater metal detector must be able to handle the highly mineralized conditions wet sand and the sea throw at it. A standard machine isn’t going to cut it if you’re serious about saltwater detecting.
Here’s what you should go for
Pulse Induction (PI)
PIs are considered the best saltwater metal detectors as they punch through amplified mineral signals to reach metal. This means you can hunt without the problem saltwater creates.
If you want a machine that can search different terrains then a PI machine isn’t going to work so well.
Out of salt water conditions and highly mineralized grounds a metal detector needs better ground balancing and discrimination settings than a PI can offer.
If you want a multi-terrain machine, but don’t want to give up your salt water dreams you could try a top of the range very low frequency (VLF) detector or a multi-frequency.
Very Low Frequency (VLF)
Top-of-the-range VLF metal detectors have excellent ground balance that can cope with highly mineralized ground. Tune your detector to ignore the salt and you’ll get fewer falses.
You won’t find this kind of tech on an entry-level machine – there’s no guarantee a basic machine will work well on salt.
If you have an unlimited budget and want both land and salt water capability try a multi-frequency machine.
Multi Frequency (MF)
Multi-frequency machines use VLF tech but they push out several frequencies simultaneously and have discrimination and ground balancing capabilities
to override the issues salt creates.
There’s no denying that VLF and multi-frequency machines aren’t as good with salt as PI machines, but they are more flexible.
Die-hard detectorists have PI detectors for salt water and a VLF/MF for land searches.
This may sound obvious but the best detector for saltwater needs to be entirely waterproof, not just the coil. It only takes one accident and a non-waterproof machine is history.
Never underestimate the motion of the ocean. It only takes a few inches of moving water and shifting sand to sweep you off your feet, and saltwater creeks are notorious for slippery rocks.
If your metal detector is dunked and destroyed, you’ll have to buy twice which will be more expensive than getting a fully waterproof machine in the first instance.
Finding out your battery is low after only a few hours is not only annoying, it’s expensive. This situation is amplified if you’re planning to get wet because drying off to re-change the battery means you won’t want to go detecting that often.
Choose a detector with long battery life and save yourself the frustration.
Shifting sand and wave motion makes a pinpointing function really useful.
Chasing about with a scoop is a waste of time and it’s really quite annoying. Find your target first time with a decent built-in pinpointer.
Which Is The Best Saltwater Metal Detector For Me?
You can’t go wrong with one of my best saltwater metal detector recommendations.
Choose the Aquascan Aquapulse for diving, or a multi-frequency Minelab Excalibur II or Fisher CZ-21 if you’d like to search on land as well.
If you’re a salt water junkie then White’s TDI BeachHunter and Garrett’s Sea Hunter Mark II pulse induction machines are excellent choices.