A metal detector is a machine that detects changes in a nearby magnetic field to locate objects with a metallic composition. You will receive signals via audio pulses via headphones or visible indicators on an LED screen.
What you should look for
Generally, beginner treasure hunters should look for metal detectors that are:
Not too expensive
High price tags don’t always attract impressive performances.
Easy to use/learn
Simplicity makes the experience fulfilling.
These take the stress off of your arms and wrist.
The metal detecting market is overcrowded with options, and beginners face lots of confusion when picking the right metal detector for their needs.
By reading this post, you’ll make a more cost-effective choice for your metal detector. Even if you’re a beginner, this post will guide you on setting apart the best from the regular.
The factors that beginners should consider
You can be a beginner in metal detecting at six years of age or when you are 50 years old.
Moreover, you can get into treasure hunting for various reasons, including:
- Marketing and branding
- Commercial treasure hunting
- Fitness and health
- Relic hunting and historical discoveries
The following are factors beginners should consider and look for when buying metal detectors:
Your passion and knowledge level about metal detecting
If you’re not sure how to use it, then buying one of these is going to be tough on your wallet until you get the hang of things. The best thing you can do is watch some YouTube videos or read articles like this to learn how it works and the basics.
What do you want to find?
If you’re looking for a machine that will help you uncover coins, make sure it has a discriminate mode (otherwise known as an ‘all-metal mode’) that lets you identify items like pull-tabs and bottle caps. The discrimination mode is what helps machines sort the signals from different metals.
Your ideal metal detector for finding gold is different than the one suited for finding coins and items of steel or bronze. Moreover, some metal detectors find nuggets while others find massive ores. Each metal detector has its distinctive capacity and is best suited for a particular type of mission.
Where will you be hunting?
The location you go hunting for buried treasures determines the kind of metal detector you need. For example, neighborhood reading doesn’t need the water-proof qualities of beach metal detectors that people immerse into deep waters.
What can you expect to find?
Before you purchase a metal detector, do a good bit of research to understand how it works and what you can find with the machine.
For example, someone wanting to dig up war relics needs a metal detector with audio and visual target identification.
What are some key features of a beginner metal detector?
Metal detectors come with a variety of features, but here are the most important:
- The ability to adjust ground balancing or sensitivity
- Ability to change frequencies or ‘picks’ so that you can avoid interference from other metal detectors
- Features that find targets in different ground conditions, like water and mineralized soil
If you read saltwater beaches and desert climates, it would help take special care of your equipment. It would also help to well-understand the metal detector’s properties and if it’ll do the job you want.
Additionally, understand what you’re looking for, and determine if your budget can afford certain features. The more you know, the better decisions you’ll make in buying the suitable metal detector for your needs.
Basic Metal Detector Terms and Terminology
It’s the ability to differentiate between different types of metal.
It’s a form of discrimination, blocking unwanted frequencies from being listened to through headphones.
Digital Target Identification
It’s an audio function. It allows you to hear a numeric breakdown of the conductivity from the ferrous/non-ferrous composition of the object.
It is the process of calibrating a metal detector to ignore mineralization in the ground.
A metal detector can detect small targets. In general, lower frequency detectors are more sensitive to small objects but less powerful on large ones, and vice versa for high-frequency detectors.
The operating frequency is the number of times per second that the detector sends and receives a signal.
Higher frequencies detect smaller objects, but they often cause mineralization interference in highly mineralized soils.
It’s the pitch of the sound produced when an object is detected through headphones, matching the metal’s conductivity.
It’s a metal detector’s operating mode (i.e., motion or beach, plus others like all-metal, pinpoint, etc.)
It is a type of mineralization that causes most detectors to emit a false signal at their highest possible target ID in the discrimination setting. It especially applies to high-frequency detectors.
It’s a device attached to the handle of a metal detector used for detection, commonly referred to as the ‘search head.’
Categories of Metal Detectors for Beginners
There are many different kinds of metal detectors available, and each represents a vast amount of innovation over their predecessors.
Thus, there are many means to categorize them, including:
- Model number
- Several other characteristics
Probably the most common way metal detectors are categorized is by how they operate.
You can do it in two broad ways:
- How it detects changes in the environment (passive or active)
- What type of mineralization it targets (Ferrous, N.F, or Coin)
Passive metal detectors are simply that; they detect changes in the environment around them but do not give off any signals themselves.
Active metal detectors, on the other hand, use sonar to emit a signal. They then receive it back after reflecting off the target (or lack thereof.)
Ferrous metal detectors target iron, steel, and other related metals.
Hobbyists commonly use these detectors due to their high degree of sensitivity.
N.F.C metal detectors target non-ferrous metals like:
- Others with low levels of iron content
Professionals like archaeologists and treasure hunters often use these types of metal detectors.
Vacuum metal detectors can target both types of metals. However, the discrimination effect is minimal compared to that of a dedicated machine.
Ferrous metal detectors are unique in that they are often able to function underwater. It makes them particularly useful for recovery divers, treasure hunters, and law enforcement.
They also detect areas of old or deteriorated sheets. Other detectors couldn’t find anything due to the increased mineralization.
Ground balancing is the process of calibrating a metal detector’s ability to ignore mineralization in the ground, like iron ore or manganese dioxide.
The most common method includes:
- Using an all-metal mode
- Moving the search head slowly over the area that you wish to detect targets
- Listening for changes in the audio tone
The more ground balancing a detector has, the less prone it gets to extraneous noise from ‘noise’ or junk metal in the environment.
Best Beginner Metal Detector Reviews
Fisher F22 (4.5/5)
The Fisher F22 is a great value-for-money entry-level metal detector. It can be used by children and adults thanks to its weight of fewer than 2 pounds.
It uses an all-metal mode. Thus, you’ll hear a different sound when it detects a metal object from the nugget shooter mode.
There are two power settings, which you can configure with four modes for different purposes. It uses a 5-inch waterproof search coil.
Bounty Hunter Land Ranger Pro (4/5)
The Bounty Hunter Land Ranger Pro comes with five tuned search modes, divided into two main categories:
- Coin shooting
- Treasure hunting
The added features suit those planning for treasure hunting, not just metal detecting and coin shooting.
The Land Ranger Pro is perfect for beginners and children because of its weight: only two pounds.
Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV (4/5)
The Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV is a professional-grade metal detector for those who go out more frequently.
It comes with a 4-inch search coil and five controls: depth, all-metal mode, tone, pinpoint, and sensitivity.
Some of the beginner-friendly features include:
- An easy-to-see display
- An LED battery indicator
- Adjustable shaft, stretching from 25 inches to 38 inches
Nokta Makro Simplex+ (5/5)
The Nokta Makro Simplex+ is not as good as the previous metal detectors for beginners, but it has gained multiple positive reviews.
It features notch discrimination and automatic ground balance. These two features make it an excellent detector for those who plan on hunting in areas with a lot of iron.
Garrett ACE 300 (3/5)
The Garrett ACE 300 is more suited for those who plan on going out frequently, not just with family and friends.
It comes with three search modes:
- The all-metal mode provides a different sound than what is familiar to most people.
RM Rico Max GC-1037 (4/5)
The RM Rico Max GC-1037 is not super accurate compared to other metal detectors for beginners.
However, it has gained a lot of positive reviews too.
- Top-notch discrimination
- Automatic ground balance
- An adjustable stem that you can extend from 21 inches to 38 inches
National Geographic Pro Series (4/5)
The National Geographic Pro Series metal detector is more suited for treasure hunting, not coin shooting. It’s also ideal for you if you go out regularly.
- A four-tone audio mode
- An adjustable stem
- A waterproof search coil
I recommend you look into getting a waterproof metal detector if you’re planning to go metal detecting on the beach and in shallow water.
I’ve covered all you need to know about the best metal detectors for beginners. The options are plenty, and you need keen analysis to make the best pick for your plans and needs.
Before you pick a metal detector, ensure it’s suitable for the frequency on which you plan on detecting. You also have to consider factors like pricing and ground balance.
The choice is all up to you now!