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A Beginner’s Guide on How to Choose a Metal Detector

A Beginner’s Guide on How to Choose a Metal Detector

Here at High Plains Prospectors we sell metal detectors to all levels of detectorists all across the country.  One of the biggest mistakes we see is people over-buying on their first metal detector purchase.  Don’t get me wrong, we love selling high dollar metal detectors.  But what we love doing more is helping people get into the hobby and stay in it. 

One of the things that deters beginners is discouragement.  This can be a result of digging up a bunch of garbage and never finding anything interesting or valuable. This can be overcome by letting them know that even the most experienced detectorists dig up more trash than treasure. 

Discouragement for beginning metal detectorists can also be a result of confusion derived from not understanding what the metal detector is telling them.  After a couple trips out of not finding anything nor having any clue what their detector is telling them, they think, “This isn’t for me,” put their metal detector in the attic and let it collect dust.

We want to prevent that from happening.  So, below is a guide on how to avoid this pitfall and become a successful metal detectorist right out of the gate.

Begin with a Budget in Mind

Typically, someone wanting to get into metal detecting will have a certain amount of money they are willing to spend.  Understanding the basic items you will need in order to make your hunts fun and effective is a good place to start.  Obviously, you will need a metal detector.  More on that later. 

In addition to a good metal detector, you will want to purchase a pin pointer.  It is not an absolutely necessary piece of equipment, but it makes the recovery of targets much faster.  Quick recovery leads to a willingness to dig more targets, and the more targets you dig will result in the recovery of more valuable or interesting items.  It’s simple math.  Dig more = more potential to find valuable targets.  Bottom line on this subject is to BUDGET IN A PIN POINTER!

For example.  Let’s say you have a maximum budget of $650.  And you read about this awesome metal detector called the Minelab Equinox 600 and it retails for right at $649.  If you came into our shop, we might suggest that you opt for a more simple metal detector  like say a Minelab Exterra 705 instead and add a Minelab Pro Find 35 Pin Pointer instead.  I might even suggest they go with an even simpler machine and leave room for the other items they will need to be more successful hunting.

Read my blog article: FAQ:  What Are The Essential Tools for Metal Detecting? where I discuss the other pieces of equipment that will help you be more successful at metal detecting.

Don’t Over Buy a Metal Detector

What does this mean?  It means, as a beginner, don’t buy a metal detector that is beyond your level of experience.  The more complex (and typically more expensive) metal detectors throw a bunch of information at the user.  This information may be in the form of audio or visual cues. 

For visual indicators, some detectors have more complex displays that show a range of potential targets with an indicator beacon along with a range of numbers that may help you discern what the underlying target is, how deep it is, how ferrous it is, possible size, shape, etc. 

In terms of audio information, some detectors simply have three tones and that is it.  While other metal detectors throw several levels and even layers of tones at you and may be considered very “chatty”.  The overwhelming number of sounds in combination with the visual cues is enough to overwhelm some users.

A good rule of thumb is to start out with a simpler machine and, if you eventually learn it and want to upgrade, do so. Choose a machine that doesn’t have as many tones and has simple visual indicators.   Most reputable dealers will allow you to trade in your machine if you decide to upgrade to a more advanced metal detector in the future.  I know we do!

To view our demo metal detectors or used trade ins available visit our Demo Page at:

Surf around our website at to shop for the finest metal detecting and gold prospecting equipment available!

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  • Josh Turpin