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Top 5 - Best Metal Detectors for Beginners

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Top 5 - Best Metal Detectors for Beginners

Before You Get Started Metal Detecting Check Out This Advice!

Everyone is a newbie at some point.  Choosing the best gear for metal detecting is the first step when initially getting into the hobby of metal detecting.  In a past article titled, A Beginner’s Guide on How to Choose a Metal Detector, I discussed the basics of choosing a metal detector while not specifically getting into which metal detectors were good options for beginners and why. In that article I discussed general things you should consider when putting together your metal detecting gear kit.  I discussed important overall metal detecting gear considerations.

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In this article, I plan on expanding on the previous article focusing specifically on which metal detectors are good considerations and the reasoning behind my recommendation.  I have chosen one metal detector from the Top 5 Metal Detector Manufacturers and ones that I (or someone in the shop) has had experience using and ranked them in order in terms of popularity, positive feedback, and the three qualities I discuss below.

Bear in mind, this article is written for adults not children.  I will follow up this article with one directed towards the best metal detectors for children.

The three main things I like to consider for new metal detectorists are:

1.  Affordability/Budget 

2.  Ease of Use

3. Scalability

Affordability/Budget

Budget is usually the first consideration for any purchase.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, it is a good idea to look at the entire, metal detector package and work the other necessities into your metal detector purchase.  Additionally there is no need to overspend.  But, it is also very important not to under spend.  Doing so can result in dissatisfaction with your experience to the point you may not continue with the hobby - which can be a very fulfilling experience if you do it correctly.

Ease of Use

You will want to purchase a metal detector that is easy to use and not too overly complicated.  The more you spend on metal detectors the more bells and whistles you get (i.e. more audio output, faster response time, more visual display).  There is no need to overdo it...in fact, overdoing it can result in confusion to the newbie.  On the other hand, it is also important to buy a metal detector with sufficient output so you can begin to learn the metal detector and have sufficient audi and visual indicators to help you learn how to determine what the target might be prior to digging it.

Scalability

I like to recommend people to a line of metal detectors that they will be able to grow with.  For instance, if you pick a brand of metal detector, purchase an introductory model, and find out that you really enjoy the sport, and decide to upgrade, it is nice to be able to progress to a model that will give you similar visual and audio cues so you are not completely relearning target identification.  So, when determining where to start with your metal detector, make sure you choose a line that will offer scalability.  

So, without further ado here are my top 5 selections of the best metal detectors for beginners.

#1 Garrett Ace 400 Metal Detector

 

I chose the Garrett Ace 400 metal detector as the ultimate beginner's metal detector because it meets all of the criteria considered when deciding to buy your first metal detector. 

At $339 it meets the affordability litmus test. If you can get all this for under $400 you are doing good. And, there are several package deals available with extra goodies that can get you up and metal detecting with everything you need for under $400.

In terms of ease of use, the Ace 400 takes the cake.  It provides 3 audio tone IDs along with Iron Audio so you can determine if the target is potentially iron.  That is just enough to differentiate different types of targets but not too much that it might overwhelm a new metal detectorist.

The visual display output of the Garrett Ace 400 metal detector provides a perfect amount of information to help the new metal detectorist make sense of what they are hearing through their headphones.  With 12 target ID segments that can be notched out to discriminate certain targets, 4 hunt modes, and a 1-99 target ID display there is enough information coming at you to eventually learn the minuscule differences between certain types of coins.  This metal detector also provides a 4 segment dept indicator.  One of the most important features that this starter metal detector has over some of the lesser metal detectors is a pinpoint function.  It also comes with an 11" double-d coil, which helps with target separation but still maintains a substantial depth. 

In terms of scalability, Garrett metal detectors function relatively similarly across the board.  Stepping up from the Garrett Ace 400 to the Garrett AT Pro metal detector is an easy ascension - similar audio and visual ques but a much more powerful metal detector with more versatility. 

"What if I want a metal detector that has all of the power and versatility I need but  is simple to use as a beginner...something I can grow into?"

The Garrett AT Pro metal detector is your answer to this question.  It has a standard mode and a pro mode.  The standard mode makes it function much like the Ace series and the pro mode takes it up a notch...the best of both worlds.

A powerful brand name supporting the Garrett Ace 400 is the number one reason I chose this as my number one pick.  We deal with detector issues frequently and there is not a brand around that provides the customer support that Garrett Metal Detectors does.   Some might consider me bias since I prefer to metal detect with a Garrett, but experience with the company and quality of product is what put the Garrett Ace 400 at the top of my list of best metal detectors for beginners.

#2 Fisher F22 Metal Detector

I choose the Fisher F22 metal detector as my second choice for many of the same reasons as I chose the Ace 400 above. 

At $219 the Fisher F22 metal detector certainly comes in as one of the most affordable metal detectors for beginners and even at this price point, it has plenty to offer a newbie.

Usability of the Fisher F22 is perfect for a person new to metal detecting.  It offers a 9 segment visual target id and features a large 2-digit numeric target ID.  It has 4 modes of operation (Jewelry, Coin, Artifact, and Custom).  The F22 provides a 4-tone audio ID to help the user determine targets prior to digging and it features an adjustable iron audio. One additional thing I like about this detector is it has an audio adjustment.

The Fisher F22 metal detector does have a pinpoint function, which I think is crucial for anyone who spends any amount of time swinging a metal detector. 

The one hold back on this detector is that it has a concentric coil however it is an elliptical coil so you can get into tight places and more easily separate targets with the small tip of the ellipse.

In terms of scalability, moving upwards to some of Fisher's more powerful metal detectors is also an easy step.  Moving up to the Fisher F75 for instance will provide similar functions but a much more powerful and versatile metal detector.

Fisher Reserch Labs' metal detectors (now owned by First Texas Products) has been in the metal detector game longer than any other brand.  Although it has changed hands since Gerhard Fischer invented the first hand held metal detector and started selling them on a commercial scale in 1931, they still stay near the head of the pack in terms of innovation and quality.

#3 White's TreasureMaster Metal Detector

The White's TreasureMaster metal detector is a great metal detector for beginners.  At $369 it is at the upper end of affordability. 

For ease of use it offers all the basic audio and visual displays needed for the detectorist to discriminate targets.  Much like the two detectors previously mentioned, there is a quality target ID indicator which displays as a double digit ranging from 1-99 so you can dial in on targets more accurately as you learn the machine.  Unlike the F22 and Ace 400, the target segments, however range from iron to precious metals and is displayed in an arched graph on the display unit. The display also has a depth indicator.

In terms of audio output this metal detector is different than the others above.  It offers what we refer of a broad-range "rolling" tone.  Whereas the others mentioned thus far offer a very distinct number of tones, this detector emits a

The White's TreasureMaster allows you to discriminate or "notch" out certain targets and adjust sensitivity.  One cool feature of this detector is that it automatically ground balances (adjusts to ground composition and mineralization) as you metal detect. It does have a pinpoint function but the downfall of this machine is it comes stock with a concentric coil.  So, target separation is more difficult.  You can, however, purchase a DD coil for anywhere from $150-180 for this detector.  

In terms of scalability, you can easily move from this introductory White's metal detector up to the next level, which would be perhaps the White's MX Sport.  Transition to this mid-level metal detector would be a relatively easy step.  However, the step beyond that, to say the White's Spectra V3i, would be another story.  It is a very complex machine with a lot of gadgets, modes, etc.  The visual output is completely different than the intro and mid-level metal detectors.  

#4 Minelab X-Terra

 

The Minelab X-Terra 505 is my fourth pick for a beginning detectorists.  At $349 This is a high quality metal detector offering all of the minimal requirements discussed above.  It has a large two digit digital ID display as well as the standard target ID segments that can be notched out or set to one of three customizable preset hunting modes or all metal mode.

For audio output, you have a choice of 1,2,3 or 4 tone ID’s plus multi-tone target ID (19) response options increasing your flexibility in deciding how target signals are represented.

The Minelab X-terra 505 comes stock with a 7.5" concentric coil 7.5 kHz, which is a drawback.  The cool thing about this detector however is you can change the frequency simply by changing the coil.  Minelab offers a 9" DD 18.75 kHz coil that works with this machine for about $165.

Minelab's Tech Specs for this detector can be found by clicking this link.

The main drawback I see is the scalability from this machine to Minelab's higher end machines...which is a HUGE step in price and technology making transitioning into one of their higher-end metal detectors a little more challenging.  Some of the higher-end metal detectors from Minelab are upwards of $8,000!

Minelab is currently one of the most popular names in metal detecting - and for good reason.  The Minelab brand of detectors is typically at the forefront in terms of research and development and new detector technology.  They are always releasing new technology and trying to bring the cost down at the same time.  

Check out my blog about the new Minelab Vanquish article by clicking here...it didn't make the list yet because we haven's had a chance to use it but I am guessing it will once it is released.

 

#5 Nokta Makro Simplex + 

Okay, I will say, that the only reason Nokta Makro Simplex Plus metal detector is #5 on my list is that it hasn't been out too awfully long....so it needs to prove itself before it can move up the list.  We have, however, done a few field tests with it and had a lot of luck hunting old sites we have metal detected before and had a lot of luck and it has received great feedback thus far. 

Watch our Unboxing and Field Test of the Simplex + Metal Detector:

At $254.12 for the standard model and $339.15 for the model with wireless headphones, the Simplex Plus metal detector offers a lot of modern technology at an introductory price...and IT IS WATERPROOF up to 10'!  This is the only waterproof metal detector on the market in this price level.  

Additionally at this price the detector comes with Bluetooth technology and can pair with the available headphones as well as Bluetooth hearing aids.  The metal detector also vibrates, making this an ideal detector for the hearing impaired.  In addition to this the detector's display has an option to turn on the back light and it comes with a bright little LED light that points to the coil for underwater, early morning, late evening, or night time metal detecting.

This detector comes in a relatively high frequency (12 khz) so it would be suitable for finding smaller gold pieces.  It has a relatively easy frequency shift so you can avoid EMT and other detector interference on the fly.  

This detector has 4 built-in search modes including all metal mode and iron volume adjustment so you can turn off the iron audio or reduce its volume....a pretty cool feature.  It also provides a double digit target ID readout display and you can notch out segments to avoid trash targets.  It also has a depth gauge readout on the display.

Audio tones for this detector or similar to the White's TreasureMaster in that it has a "rolling" audio versus distinct tones.  All of these things provide a detector that gives vast amounts of information to assist the user in determining targets pre-dig.

I love the shaft on this detector.  With the flip of a couple easy-to-use levers, it goes from 56" down to 26" so it is perfect for backpacking and will fit basically anybody from an infant to a giant.

The team at Nokta/Makro are always innovating and provides regular firmware updates for this detector.

The main drawback I see is the battery is built in on this metal detector.  This can be a problem if you are on a long hunt and don't have a way to charge it (like hiking or camping)...although there are ways to resolve this issue by keeping a solar charger or some other type of charger with you.

 

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  • Josh Turpin