I remember how I was choosing my first metal detector. Yesterday I was just dreaming about it and now I’m already studying all these frequencies, VLF, discrimination, DD coils and VDI. Frankly speaking, I felt lost. Reading forums and watching videos clarified everything a bit, but they weren’t of much help. It was an experienced seller of metal detectors, who helped me make up my mind and recommended a good device for me.
Now, I’ve tested far more than one metal detector and I want to share this experience with you.
I‘m warning you – this is quite a long read, but if you are looking for the best metal detector, you can just go and see the another huge article, article about gold detectors you can find here, and here about underwater metal detectors.
However, I’d advise you to make yourself a cup of tea and read the article attentively. Here I’ve collected all the stuff; at that I’ll try to describe it using the most easy and understandable language.
After reading these recommendations, you won’t have to surf the Internet and read forums asking one and the same question everywhere. All you have to do is to read this article till the end and then you will get the idea what kind of the device you need for the start.
If this hobby turns out to be really your cup of tea, you will sell this device and get yourself a new improved model, if not – you still can sell it as well.
Within the past year I used several metal detectors which I borrowed from my friends, so I can recommend the devices you should pay your attention to.
Let me remind you the main idea of treasure hunting – it’s not a metal detector who finds something, it’s you. The metal detector is a tool that helps you and gives a signal where the target is, but to dig or not to dig – this is completely for you to decide.
Though, the more you dig, the more you find.
- 1 What is the best metal detector for a beginner?
- 2 Conclusions
- 3 How does a metal detector function?
- 4 What kinds of metal detectors are there?
- 5 Characteristics of a metal detector
What is the best metal detector for a beginner?
Beginner level of metal detectors means not the detection depth (as customers often mistakenly think) or the number of findings. Such models are equipped with a standard set: discriminator with preset and user set masks, pin point, average sized coil.
Most of the settings are set automatically. On one hand, it sufficiently eases the process of learning how to go metal detecting, but on the other hand the user doesn’t have a chance to set his own search parameters.
Yet, it is better to start from using metal detectors for first level. This will let you start treasure hunting right away without detailed studying of the device manual and deep understanding how the things work here.
Metal detector for beginners is a device that you can turn on and go searching for your treasures at once. These are the models that are presented in my rating. It is based on my personal experience and opinion, so please keep this in mind.
Of course, most of the models are the same as the best. But there are some models that are not in the list.
Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV – best budget metal detector
Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV review
- Very affordable
- Very simple (3 operation modes, several settings)
- Light weight (2,98 lbs;1,35 kg)
- Automatic ground balance (one for all types of soil)
- Minimal number of settings
- No VDI
Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV — is a best device for those who know how to get the biggest bang for their buck and still good metal detector for beginners. I’ve been rather leery of the device till I tested it.
Yes, it is very simple, though it has quite a lot of fans for whom this metal detector became the first one in their practice. Yet I keep recommending another model made by the same company, but if its price exceeds your budget, you can get Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV without any doubts. The device is cheap and at that it really works and can detect something – it’s not just another useless toy.
This metal detector is quite beginner-friendly ; it has 3 operation modes (discrimination mode, tone discrimination and All-Metal mode), several settings and a screen with a needle indicator.
The device has automatic ground balance that allows working at highly mineralized soils. It is a multi-purpose model which is suitable for any kind of soil and can be used on the beach since its 8″ concentric coil is water-resistant.
Tracker IV is light weighted and easy-to-use, so it won’t be a burden during a long journey. You can go treasure hunting with it and you won’t get tired. The device has ¼” plug connection for headphones. It is powered by 2 batteries. Full charge is enough for 35 hours of continuous work.
Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV decidedly deserves attention. It is cheap, but at that it is capable of detecting something. It is an interesting option, though provided with a bit larger budget you can get much better models. Of course, this device won’t be considered as the one worth buying by experienced amateurs and professional treasure hunters due to its minimal number of settings and characteristics.
|Bounty Hunter Tracker IV
|2,98 lbs (1,35 kg)
|8” weather resistant coil
|Operating Frequencies (kHz)
|2 discrimination levels
|VDI (0 to 99 scale)
Minelab Vanquish – best entry level metal detector
Minelab Vanquish review
- Made by Minelab
- Multi-IQ technology
- Turn and go
- Four models (for every skill and budget)
- Ground search metal detector, only its search coil is waterproof
This device is a 2020 novelty in the world of metal detectors designed by Minelab. Here you can find a detailed review, technologies it uses, the device models, and the difference between them.
I’d recommend considering this product line.
First of all, I think so because this is the first metal detector in the world that uses a multi-frequency technology Multi-IQ and, at the same time, belongs to budgetary and medium price brackets. The technology ensures stable signal detection on any kind of soil (complex soils, sea beaches), and the target is detected through several frequencies at the same time.
Before Vanquish was designed, Multi-IQ was used only for expensive metal detectors.
Secondly, Vanquish belongs to a category of metal detectors that don’t require any special skills to use them (‘turn on the device and go’). They are easy to use, small-sized, and convenient.
Thirdly, there are four models in the product line. They vary from the inexpensive and simple one to the Pro version of the device that has two search coils.
Fourthly, Minelab is a renowned company that has a technical support department, offers warranty for its devices, and ensures high product quality.
In a word, if you are a beginner detectorist, I do advise you to take a closer look at this product line. The quality meets the price almost completely in case of this model. Besides, you can select the device model that fits your budget. Just don’t buy the first model, since its functionality is significantly lower while the price isn’t that low.
|Minelab Vanquish 540
|760 mm (30″) – 1450 mm (57″)
|Included, 4 x AA NiMH rechargeable
|Wired 3.5 mm (1/8″)
|V12 12″x9″ Double-D
|Operating Frequencies (kHz)
|Coil to 1m/3-feet
|Coin, Relic, Jewellery, Custom, All Metal
|VDI (0 to 99 scale)
|Monochrome LCD with red backlight
Nokta Makro Simplex – best metal detector for beginners
Nokta Makro Simplex review
- 2300 mAh battery accumulator
- Wireless headphones
- Waterproof up to 10 feet (3 meters)
- Noisy (especially on the beach with black sand)
This is another detector made in 2020 (in 2022, an improved alternative appeared – Nokta Makro The Legend, last on the list), and this device is a good alternative to the Vanquish product line.
Nokta has been on the market not that long, but it designs metal detectors that can compete with the leading devices on the market, as well as they offer better functionality.
For example, you can compare the functions of this metal detector with those of all other devices given below. Or you can just trust me when I say that models designed about 3-5 years ago can’t compete with this device at all.
This is Nokta, who dramatically changes the market, and even Minelab has to consider this.
Simplex Plus is an easy-to-use device that will definitely be appreciated by beginner diggers. The metal detector has four pre-set search modes: All metal, Beach, Field, Park.
The device search coil is 11 inches large, and it provides a good response on any kind of soil due to the frequency shift function.
This device model is equipped with a 2300 mAh battery accumulator that provides continuous operation of the metal detector. Due to this, you don’t have to get any extra batteries. The device package set also foresees and unit by means of which you can connect wireless headset to the metal detector.
The main difference between this device and Vanquish product line is that you can use this metal detector not only for beach hunting but for underwater one as well. The device is designed to have a waterproof shell that is submergible up to 10 feet (3 meters) deep.
The handle vibrates when the device detects a valuable target in the ground. Such a feature allows underwater treasure hunting without using a display and headphones.
To cut a long story short – are you a fan of beach hunting? This is a device for you. It won’t be a perfect one, but many beginner metal detectors fail during beach hunting, especially on black sand. However, you won’t find anything better for this price.
|2.9 lbs (1.3 kg)
|25″ – 52″ (63 cm – 132 cm)
|2300 mAh Lithium Polymer
|11″ (28 cm) DD Waterproof
|Operating Frequencies (kHz)
|up to 10 feet (3 meters)
|4 (All Metal / Field / Park /Beach)
|VDI (0 to 99 scale)
Garrett ACE APEX – best metal detector for coins
Garrett ACE APEX review
- Famous american brand
- 4 frequencies – 5, 10, 15, 20 kHz
- Really large LCD
- Wireless headphones
- Rainproof control box
Garrett Ace Apex is the first and only Garret metal detector that has a real multifrequency operation mode. This mode allows operation using 4 frequencies at the same time – 5, 10, 15, 20 kHz. Besides, you can work using just one of these as a single operation frequency to keep to a minimum electromagnetic noise affecting the device.
As for Garrett Ace Apex advantages, we can mention a large LCD, embedded battery, collet fixtures on the shaft, and backlighting. The Li-ion type battery ensures the device operation time of 15 hours.
Garrett Ace Apex provides a complete set of functional characteristics peculiar to modern metal detectors but still beginner-friendly. These are automatic and manual ground balance functions, improved discrimination with VDI number in the center of the display, target depth indication, frequency shift, and the ability to connect a wireless headset.
|Garrett ACE Apex
|2.5 lbs (1.13 kg)
|43″ to 56″ (1.09 m – 1.4 m)
|6″ x 11″ DD Viper™ or 8.5” x 11” DD Raider™
|Rechargeable Lithium Ion, built-in; 7.5Wh, 30 g
|Yes, Z-Lynk Wireless Technology
|Single Frequency Options
|5, 10, 15 and 20 kHz
|Simultaneous Multi-Frequency and Multi-Frequency Salt
|6″ x 11″ DD Viper
|Rainproof control box
|Yes, 20 selectable segments
|Iron Discrimination Segments
|6, with International and US Coins modes
|Large Digital Target ID
|0 to 99 scale
|Auto, 175 pts
|Sensitivity – Depth Adjustments
|VDI (0 to 99 scale)
Nokta Makro The Legend
Nokta Makro The Legend review
- Manufactured in 2022
- Multifrequency (4 kHz, 10 kHz, 15 kHz, 20 kHz, 40 kHz)
- 4 search modes (Park; Field; Beach; Gold Field)
- Wireless headphones
- Two packs (with different coils and accessories)
- No idea really
This is a modern metal detector (manufactured in 2022) that combines all search types in it, including underwater treasure hunting up to 3 meters deep. This device will do for beginners since the pre-set search modes (Park, Field, Beach, Goldfield) are quite well-adjusted, and they don’t require any deep knowledge of metal detecting basics.
A significant advantage of this metal detector is its ability to operate both using multi-frequency when all the frequencies work simultaneously and using a single frequency.
- 5 kHz
- 10 kHz
- 15 kHz
- 20 kHz
- 40 kHz
- Multifrequency (3 modes)
Also, we should mention that the device has wireless headphones included in its package set. They use Bluetooth technology.
|Nokta Makro The Legend
|Multi (3), 4 kHz, 10 kHz, 15 kHz, 20 kHz, 40 kHz
|100 Hz – 1200 Hz Adjustable
|4 (Park / Field / Beach / Gold Field)
|Custom User Profiles
|Automatic / Manual / Tracking
|The Legend WHP:
Waterproof DD Search Coil 28 cm / 11″ (LG28)
The Legend PRO PACK:
Waterproof DD Search Coil 28 cm / 11″ (LG28)
Waterproof DD Search Coil 15 cm / 6″ (LG15)
|1.4 kg (3.0 lbs.) Including The Search Coil
|63 cm – 132 cm (25″ – 52″) Adjustable
|5050 mAh Lithium Polymer
If you take a closer look, lots of great models are missing in my rating. However, I’ve tried to include in it the devices manufactured over the last few years that are time-proven and still popular among the treasure hunters.
I do hope, that my rating and recommendations on how to choose a metal detector will help you to make up your mind about which device to buy.
This review is based on my friends’ and my own experience in treasure hunting. At least you should remember, that it’s not a metal detector who finds treasures, it’s you and I’ve just created a list of the most worthy assistant devices you can use in this process at the beginning of our career as a treasure hunter.
How does a metal detector function?
Any metal detector has two basic elements: a coil and a control unit. The coil forms an electromagnetic field that is sensitive to metal objects (like iron or gold).
The control unit processes the signal obtained from the coil properly and also it is responsible for control and adjustment of the device. The electric power that the device uses is obtained from accumulators or batteries.
The transmitting coil emits electromagnetic waves that easily penetrate through neutral medium. In case when a metal object is encountered the waves reflect from it and the device receives a reflected wave.
The control unit processes it and emits a sound of certain tone range by this informing the user that a target was detected. The sound may vary from a deep tone to a thin one, which depends on the metal conductivity and the settings.
Quality model also provide you with some additional info on the screen, for example: metal type (iron, copper, silver, gold), target depth.
What kinds of metal detectors are there?
Metal detectors are first of all divided into ground and underwater ones. These groups partially intersect – ground metal detectors may have waterproof coils and control units which allows using them over the coast land for treasure hunting.
With underwater metal detector you can also go detecting on the surface (for example, on the beach). As for the professional metal detectors, in most cases they are multi-purpose ones.
Except the above mentioned, there is a very conventional division of metal detectors in terms of who is going to use them – beginners, amateurs or professionals. The difference here is first of all in the price and number of features the device has.
If you are just starting to get to know the treasure hunting process, I advise you to take your time and not to buy a high-end device with lots of functions.
The best thing in the beginning is to get the experience and skills first, as well as to answer yourself a question ‘is this really the hobby I like?’
Characteristics of a metal detector
In this section we’ll explain the main settings and values, so I recommend it for reading if you haven’t dealt with metal detectors before. Ground metal detectors are the most spread ones and they have maximal number of functions.
The most important ones are its frequency, discrimination, VDI, pin point, ground balance. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
The frequency. Coil emits signals of certain frequency. The detection depth is very important and this parameter to a large extent depends on the detector operation frequency.
Here we have a dilemma, since low frequencies penetrate the ground well, but they poorly detect small targets and the situation is completely the opposite with high frequencies.
Low operation frequency (5—9 kHz) is the best for detecting large objects that lay deep in the ground; however, small ones that are close to the surface can be missed by such a detector.
High frequency (18—100 kHz) is used to detect coins, gold nuggets and other small objects, but this kind of frequency poorly penetrates the ground, especially is it is dry.
As a rule all metal detectors use 6-8 kHz frequency. These frequencies are multi-purpose ones, they are capable of detecting both large and small targets.
This is the process of excluding some unwanted targets from the detecting range according to their electrical conductivity. When using this option the device will ignore false signals generated by various rubbish (nails, cans, beer bottle caps) and it will detect and inform its user only about targets worth digging.
Even a simple model must have a discrimination function. How precise this function works is another aspect. Naturally, discrimination function of cheaper and simpler devices has poorer productivity and produces false signals more often.
Depending on how close a metal detector level is to professional one its discrimination settings vary. The closer it is to beginner level, the more simplified the discrimination process is and, correspondingly, it can be less precisely adjusted.
Discrimination function set in a certain way is a mask. Various masks allow the metal detector to ignore particular types of metals.
For example, if you are walking around a farm field the discrimination should be set to ignore iron, if around the beach – set discrimination mode to ignore metal bottle caps.
Many models have some preset masks – for coins, relics, jewelry.
However, they always have the ability to set the discrimination mask by the user, which allows you to set it to look for your specific range of targets. Though, not all models of metal detectors have such an ability.
If a detector is equipped with a display, at all times it has a discrimination scale viewing that shows, as a rule, indication of the object from 0 to 99.
What does it mean? The closer discrimination indicator is to zero mark, the less is electric conductivity of the detected object.
In terms of electric conductivity of pure metals the metal detector discrimination scale should look like this: iron/nickel/zinc/aluminum/gold/copper/silver.
Such a scale is present in almost all metal detectors, but usually the scale has not only the names of metals, but also objects made of them.
This approach is completely valid considering that in most cases not pure metal, but its alloy is used to make any object, no matter whether it is a jewelry item, a coin or a bottle cap.
Depending on what metal was used as an addition alloy the electric conductivity of an object itself changes.
For example, gold jewelry depending on its manufacturing process includes zinc, nickel, platinum and even copper as additives. First three metals my have electric conductivity close to that of iron, i.e. even less than that of aluminum, that’s why when detecting a gold jewelry item on discrimination scale you will see the value between aluminum and iron; correspondingly, a sound indication you’ll hear will be of a deep tone.
If copper was used more often than other addition alloys during the manufacturing process, the signal will be of more thin tone (if the device is equipped with polyphony) and the indicator will show presence of the metal in a range from aluminum to copper.
Static mode – it helps to identify exact location of the target in the ground which helps to dig it out. This function significantly increases comfort of treasure hunting process and decreases the time required to dig out the target.
Mots of valuable findings are of small size (a coin, a ring, a cross pendant). Such a difference in size between the target and the coil multiplied by a swing (a pass coil above the target) provides you with quite an approximate location of the target.
When metal detectors didn’t have a pin point function, exact location of the target was defined by means of a ‘cross’ – it was performed by swinging the device coil two times drawing a cross in the air.
The point of the signals intersection was considered as a place where the target rests.
But when the pin point function appeared, this process significantly simplified. Now, it is enough to turn on this function and slowly move the coil over the place where the target should be and you’ll get its exact location (the signal tone reaches its maximum at this point and you can see it on the screen). In the pin point mode you can also see the target depth.
It allows to adjust the device sensitivity to find valuable objects in highly mineralized soils. As you remember, the coil detects signal distortions obtained from metal objects.
At that the distortion type completely depends on the metal object conductivity and this is the way how the metal detector can define the type of metal the target is made from.
However, the ground distorts signals as well, at that the level of distortion fully depends only on the level of soil mineralization.
Thus, if the soil is highly mineralized, there is a lot of interference and so called false ‘phantom’ signals appear; on their background you just won’t hear signals from targets that are small or lay deep.
To avoid this the ground balance function was designed, i.e. it allows to adjust the device so, that it can successfully detect metal objects ignoring soil mineralization.
There is a fixed, automatic and manual balance function. Let’s study each of them in details.
Fixed is a delivery preset value. This is a very rough setting that suits most ground types. The device with such settings demonstrates stable performance on any ground, but at that the detection depth decreases if compared with the devices having automatic or manual balance function.
Advantage of metal detectors with a fixed ground balance can be considered as the ability to use it without having any special knowledge, experience and knowing how to set the balance manually.
As for the disadvantages – such a device can’t be adjusted to certain soil properties and that’s why you shouldn’t expect some overwhelming results, since the device won’t have proper sensitivity and depth.
Automatic ground balance allows a detector to adjust this function automatically. The user just performs some simple manipulations with the coil which take just 10-20 seconds.
The device microprocessor processes the signal obtained from the ground and adjusts itself to work on a specific search area. Experienced treasure hunters know that in some areas ground characteristics can change rather often and that’s why you have to adjust the device again every time you change the location.
The benefit that the user gets from having automatic ground balance function is, that it is impossible to make a mistake in the device settings.
Manual balance differs from the above mentioned functions in the fact that the user decides how to adjust the ground balance.
The process is like the automatic balance setting, but the user has to define soil mineralization level himself relying on the instrumental data.
To do this the user has to have a lot of experience and knowledge, since if the settings are wrong, you won’t find anything and vice versa – provided with properly set ground balance you will get the best results.