Treasure Hunting

Best Metal Detectors: Complete Guide

Do you really have to spend a lot of time searching for the best metal detector? Definitely! Although regular metal detectors are not too expensive, you are still spending your hard-earned money for it, so it makes perfect sense that you only look for the best one.

Looking for a metal detector doesn’t need to be complicated. You need to have a list of the best units available in the market. You should also know the right features to look for to compare each device.

Metal Detector Buyers Guide

Now that you know what to check when you need metal detectors for kids and gold hunting, let’s now focus on how to purchase the best metal detector that fits your specific needs and wants. Generally, a certain metal detector brand might be a great choice for some people, but other people would think that it is not a good choice. The thing is that the right metal detector will depend on several factors. Thus, we will help you understand what you need to check in a metal detector and understand what these features represent.

1. Intended Use

The first thing to consider when buying a metal detector is your primary goal. Ask yourself the following: Those are only some of the questions you need to answer when looking for a metal detector. Usually, metal detectors made for leisure purposes are affordable; you can even buy two to three metal detectors without breaking the bank. Check out our top budget-friendly metal detectors here. That is why most people would just go for them without realizing that these devices might not work for what they really intend to do. With that said, if you have more specific needs for your metal detector, you need to know the type of device for every situation. Here are some of the tips you can follow, depending on how you plan to use the metal detector.
  • Searching for Jewels and Coins
We all know that losing your jewelry in tall grasses or even in your backyard with well-trimmed grass would take you weeks or even months to find it. If you only know the general location, good luck finding it manually. To avoid being stressed out, some people buy metal detectors to help them look for lost coins and jewelry inside or outside the house. Fortunately, most metal detectors are made for such. If you have been planning to buy a metal detector for this particular goal in mind, you should avoid devices with high frequency. That is because they are often made for gold prospecting and have less depth compared with lower frequency detectors. It would be best to go for metal detectors with frequencies of less than15 kHz. You should avoid metal detectors with PI technology as well since they are often made for saltwater hunting and gold searching. For jewelry and coins, you can opt for a single frequency VLF metal detector.
  • Salt Water and Beach Hunting
Finding valuable metals is said to be more efficient when you do it near the shore or around salt water. There is no solid proof about this, but if you want to try your luck, you are welcome to do so. You should note though that you might need a device made specifically for saltwater hunting.
Metal Detector on the Beach

If you only plan to search the sand around the beach, then you can just use a regular metal detector. On the other hand, if you want to hunt in wet sand or the water, you have to use a machine with multi-frequency or a metal detector using PI technology. Single frequency metal detectors will work, but you won’t be able to get anything valuable.

  • Relic Hunting

Another common reason people buy metal detectors is to look for relics. Going around the neighborhood or going to old places to search for relics is a fun past time for the whole family, especially if you have kids with you.

You won’t need any special devices for relic hunting since regular metal detectors can already do the job. Nonetheless, if you are planning to go one step higher, there are certain features you have to check, including:

  1. A large coil (DD if it’s possible),
  2. higher frequency; about 10 to 20 kHz,
  3. an adjustable threshold,
  4. iron audio,
  5. and manual or automatic ground balance adjustment.
  • Hunting Gold Nuggets

Gold nugget hunting is a serious job, so if you’re planning to engage in this activity, your regular metal detectors won’t be able to help you find what you are looking for. Prospecting machines are costly, usually amounting to thousands of dollars.

Machines for gold nugget hunting have PI technology and can only be used in areas proven to have gold. If you just blindly use the metal detector on a random spot, you won’t be able to find anything even if you spend months going around the location.

2. Skill Level

Some may wonder, do you really need skill when using metal detectors? The answer is yes, you need to have skills plus experience in using a metal detector.

  • Zero and Minimal Experience

As we mentioned, if you don’t plan to engage in the activity seriously and you are just doing it for leisure purposes, you can just buy any metal detector. The more advanced features are not really worth it as you won’t need them when you are just looking for random metals in your area.

Similarly, even if you have tried metal detecting before and you finally decided to learn more about it, you should still start with an entry-level detector. You can’t jump to a more advanced machine in hopes of learning all of it.

If you don’t have a solid foundation in using metal detectors, you won’t understand how all of those functions work, even if the device comes with a detailed instruction manual or video tutorial. You might end up using it incorrectly or destroying it, wasting the money you invested in it.

Therefore, it is best to start with a metal detector designed for beginners and try to understand how the device works. Use it for a couple of months until you get the hang of it.

  • Experienced

Once you are very proficient in using the beginner devices or have been using metal detectors and hunting items on the ground for quite some time, you can proceed with the more advanced metal detectors. This way, you already know the basics and won’t be overwhelmed with the additional features.

Although they are more expensive than regular detectors, you might be bored with the basic ones and lose interest in the activity. After all, there is much to learn and hunt!

Overall, choosing a metal detector should always be dependent on your skill level. Experts don’t need beginner detectors, and newbies don’t need more advanced devices.

3. Technology

When choosing a metal detector, you do not simply buy anything you want. There are three different technologies used for metal detectors, and you need to know their differences to find the best metal detector that works for you.

  • Very Low Frequency (VLF) Technology

VLF is the most common technology used for metal detectors. If you want to hunt coins, jewels, and relics, this is the best type of metal detector to use. If you are a beginner, you should get a VLF metal detector as well.

  • Pulse Induction (PI) Technology

This type of technology is beneficial for areas with high levels of mineralization. If you are going to use a metal detector with PI technology, it will ignore the other minerals and report the metal objects on the ground.

  • Multiple Frequency (MF) Technology 

This type of technology is the most expensive among the three. They are often integrated on high-end metal detectors, and they are used by people who are serious with their gold or relic hunting.

4. Search Coil

If you’ve read a few articles about search coils or tried checking out reviews about different metal detectors, they always mention the size of the search coil. If you don’t know anything about this, you would think that larger coils are always better. Larger coils offer more depth, but is it always the best choice?

There are several factors to consider when you are choosing the size of the search coil. Ground conditions, as well as soil mineralization, will be the most important factors when selecting search coils.

  • Large Coils

Large coils can provide better depth, and they allow you to see more of the ground. This is a good choice for regular metal detectors.

If you are planning to hunt coins, jewels, or other valuable stones in mineralized ground, your detector will process more signals, and this will lead to missed targets. If this happens, you have to reduce the metal detector’s sensitivity, which would reduce its depth as well.

  • Smaller Coils

Smaller coils will only allow you to see less ground, and it will only process fewer ground signals. You can increase the sensitivity of the metal detector, though, for it to have the same depth as the larger coil.

Type of Stock Coil

Search coils are categorized into different configurations, as well. The most popular are double D and concentric.

DD coils will provide you with a better detection depth, and they can also deal with soil mineralization. Concentric coils are more affordable than metal detectors with DD coils, but they can still pinpoint the target effectively.

One important thing to remember about coils is that you cannot use any type of coil for your metal detector. If you want to replace your current coil or you want to use a smaller or a bigger one, you have to get it from the same manufacturer.

5. Weight

Weight is an important factor when looking for a metal detector because you usually carry the device by your hand. If the metal detector is too heavy, it will put a strain on your arms, so you won’t be able to use it for a long time.

The heaviest part of the metal detector is the coil, and the next one would be the console. These two parts are on the opposite ends of the device so that they can balance each other. Since the coil is supposed to be pointed downwards, it is okay that it is the heaviest.

For the overall weight of the metal detector, anything under four pounds is an excellent choice. If the kids are going to use it, it should only be about two to three pounds at most.

6. Additional Features

Aside from the main features mentioned above, there are a few other features you might want to look for in a metal detector.

  • LCD: This is not really a requirement, but it displays all the functions of the metal detector for more convenience and ease of use.
  • Volume control: This will allow you to adjust the volume of the beeping sound when the metal detector finds a metal. This way, you can choose to use or not to use headphones.
  • Adjustable stem: This is vital because you can adjust the height of the metal detector depending on your height. Thus, you will be more comfortable, and you can lend your detector to your loved ones.
  • Protective covers: These items will protect a specific part of the metal detector, making them last longer.

Metal Detector FAQs

Many of you probably have a lot of questions about metal detectors, and you are still worried if it can offer the kind of service that you need. Here are answers to some FAQs you can check to learn more about metal detectors.

1. How Deep Do Most Metal Detectors Go?

Typical metal detectors are capable of detecting metals up to six to 10 inches below the ground. There are instances where it can go up to 12 inches. The depth is usually affected by many factors.

One factor is the size of the object that you are trying to detect. The amount of discrimination set by the metal detector and composition of the metal also affect depth. The last factor would be the sensitivity settings of your metal detector.

2. Can You Find Diamonds with a Metal Detector?

If you plan to use the metal detector to detect diamonds accurately, then it is not possible because diamonds are non-metal gemstones. Nevertheless, you can use metal detectors to look for a trail where you can find diamonds.

You can look for diamond indicator minerals like chromium garnets, magnetite, and glassy green olivine. If you are looking for gold, it may also serve as an indicator that there are diamonds nearby.

3. Where Is the Best Place to Metal Detect?

You can practically do metal detecting anywhere as long as it is not in places where you cannot dig the items. You cannot do this on the road because if you accidentally found items below the cement, you won’t be able to dig it out.

You can start in your yard or someone else’s yard, but with their permission. You can go to the park to start metal detecting or on the beach.

4. Can I Metal Detect on Public Land, National Forests or Parks?

This is tricky because you cannot simply metal detect on any establishment or area. If you plan to do it in the forest or on the mountain or beach, then you won’t have any issues. For private properties, you can just ask for the permission of the owner of the property.

If you plan to metal detect on national forests, parks, and public land, you have to consider Federal, State, County, and City laws. It is better to educate yourself about this so that you won’t make any illegal moves while metal detecting.

5. Is It Illegal to Metal Detect in a Cemetery?

Well, it is not really illegal in a sense, but most of the professional detectorists suggest you should never do it in the cemetery. There are instances where some people who are metal detecting were thought of as grave robbers.

6. Is Metal Detecting Profitable?

 Although you might be lucky to find a gold nugget and sell it for a lot of money, it doesn’t happen often. If you decide to concentrate on metal detecting and leave your job, then you have a lot of financial problems in the future.

Metal detecting is usually a hobby, so it is not really meant to provide you with profits. As a matter of fact, you might spend the rest of your life metal detecting, and you won’t even find anything valuable that you can sell for thousands of dollars.


It doesn’t matter what reason you have when buying a metal detector. You should always find the best one as you are spending your money on it. Even if it is affordable, you need to make sure you find the right one as it can offer you the best experience.