Metal detecting is a great hobby to find some awesome treasures hidden underground. You can find some old relics or gold nuggets dating back to the 16th century. However, you need to be extra careful when choosing an entry-level metal detector. Some items marketed as beginner metal detectors could end up being toys.
You also need to identify the right device loaded with features to help you locate valuable items instead of trash like nails and old trashcans. This necessitates a device with discrimination features. The drawback is you will need to spend extra on serious features. If you are ready to take your metal search to the next level, then we have the ideal best beginner metal detector in the market.
Choosing The Best Beginner Metal Detector
Now that you have decided to join the club and included metal hunting as a worthy hobby to pursue, you need to find a serious metal detector. Not something pricy or expert level – this needs some experience to get used to – go for something that is budget-friendly while still hosting some of the features common in high-end models.
Before you can go to a store to purchase the best beginner metal detector, you may need to factor the following.
What are you looking for?
This may seem like an obvious question, but it is one of the most important decisions you need to make before proceeding with metal hunting. Metal detectors are designed to operate in a wide variety of terrains, and what you discover will depend on the detector’s features. Metal detecting targets mainly fall into jewelry, coins, relics, or gold nuggets. Most of the cheaper models are great for coins and relics, but you need something with a higher frequency for gold prospecting.
If your plans are not for gold prospecting, then any of the metal detectors we have described will do a pretty good job.
Location of hunts
Once you have settled on metals to hunt for, the next factor is where you are going to be prospecting. Soil composition varies. Some places you will find saturated with black soil that is highly mineralized. This poses challenges for your detector as it is ticked off by a small frequency of metal. The downside to this is that you may find yourself prospecting for trashcans or nails. Having a metal detector with an iron differentiating mode helps you save time pursuing worthless items.
This is also the case when you go metal hunting in sandy beaches. The water has high iron content, which makes your search more difficult. To mitigate the problem of highly mineralized soils, you will need to lower the device frequency but then reducing its depth.
Having a manual ground balance setting really helps in reducing the iron chatter. But, such devices are highly priced and are mostly not available for beginners. However, you can find some entry-level devices with the feature.
Lastly, you need to ensure you have a device with a waterproof coil for prospecting in shallow waters. What you need to note is that the control box itself is not waterproof, so you need to be careful not to expose it to weather elements.
Metal detector features
When you decide to go into the market in search of a metal detector, you will find various terms being used to describe an array of features. You will hear sales agents talk about discrimination, ground balance, or target identification. These terms can be confusing, and we are going to demystify them.
Ground Balance: This is a great feature when you are working in highly mineralized soils. It helps you discriminate against signals from iron objects like old nails and trashcans. The problem is some of the beginner models will either come with no ground balance feature or have a pre-set ground balance that is only ideal for soils that are averagely mineralized. If you want more from this feature, then you should go with a device with an automatic ground balance. This allows the device to adjust its settings depending on the soil conditions. The downside is you will need to pay higher for such devices.
Frequency: What you are looking for will determine the frequency of your device. Higher frequencies are more sensitive to objects meaning your device will always be beeping to a small signal. Lower frequencies have the advantage of depth. So you need to find a balance between the two. Items like gold operate at higher frequencies hence the need for a more powerful device.
Discrimination feature: When you start prospecting for gold nuggets, you will notice you are always frustrated as your device keeps picking up old nails and bottle caps. To mitigate this problem, metal detectors will come with discrimination modes that allow the device to ignore signals from irrelevant stuff. This allows you to focus on more valuable items hence saving you time.
Lightweight design: When you are new to metal hunting, you need a device that does not tire you, and that is easy to swing around. The design should be in such a way that it does not put too much strain on your wrists or shoulders. Most beginner metal detectors will have an average weight of around 2lbs.
Depth indicator: This great feature tells you how deep you have to dig. Since most beginner metal detectors are used for relic prospecting, you will have them having a coin depth indicator as a basic.
Target Identification: Before you start digging, it is vital you know what item you are searching for. It would be frustrating to start digging for something valuable only to be confounded with some old nails. The Target ID is a set of numerical numbers from 0-99. With the number, you can get a clue of what lies underneath. Items like gold will be displayed with higher numerical numbers.
Waterproof search coil: The size and shape of the search coil is a key determinant in the kind of items you will find. Most of the entry-level metal detectors will come with a waterproof submersible coil for prospecting in shallow waters, but the control box will not be waterproof. Larger coils offer great advantages for depth, but they may make the device heavier. Small coils offer more specific target identification and are easier to move around.
The 5 Best Metal Detectors for Beginners
1. Fisher F22 Weather Resistant Metal Detector
The Fisher F22 is one of the best entry-level metal detectors for beginners. It comes with easy to understand dials and an intuitive re-tune dial that allows you to move on to the next target if the first one does not meet your expectations. You actually get some of the features you find in some of the higher-end models. Weighing at a modest 2.3lbs, it is quite lightweight for metal detectors of all sizes.
To get you started, the Fisher comes with a 9” waterproof coil. This allows you to take your prospecting to shallow waters and beaches. With reliable discrimination, you should be able to sort out the relics and artifacts from the trash, hence saving you time.
When it comes to differentiating items, the Fisher F22 comes with category IDs and a digital readout target from 0-99. Items like gold while are displayed as high numbers for easy categorization. The iron audio is a feature that allows you to adjust the volume for high-value targets. With the feature, you can easily separate the junk hence saving you time.
The LCD screen has visible display options and is simple enough to understand. What makes the Fisher outstanding is you can set the audio for high pitch. This means you can ignore low-level targets and simply focus on those worth your time without shifting your focus to the ground. You also have a depth indicator that shows you how deep you will need to dig for a target and a battery level indicator to show you when it is time to refill your batteries. The device measures 22 X 8 X 5 inches and is powered by 2 AA batteries. Other cool features include ten sensitivity levels, full numerical ID, and pre-set discrimination patterns.
Fisher 22 is an overall cool device to get your metal detecting hobby stated. You get value for money due to the array of features found in devices that are more complex. As is expected, you miss out on manual ground capabilities found in high-end models.
What we liked:
- A large LCD screen that is easy to operate
- Waterproof coil suitable for multiple terrains
- Multi-tone audio with iron audio feature
- Ergonomic design that makes it easy to maneuver around varying terrain
- Fast tune capabilities
2. Garrett ACE 300 Metal Detector
Garrett is renowned for producing high-quality metal detectors, and the ACE 300 does not disappoint in terms of product specifications. What is confusing is that the Garrett Ace 300 poses serious competition to the Fisher F22 in the best beginner metal detectors. Firstly, you get the kind of features like coin depth indicator, adjustable notch discrimination, and a numerical target ID that you often find as basic in high-end models.
Once you have identified the ideal area for metal hunting, you can choose from the pre-set modes like relics, coins, and jewelry, and iron. You also get a pinpointing mode that helps you eliminate valuable items from the trash. You can use the Garrett Ace 300 for your beach hunting and shallow water prospecting.
It is quite irritating trying to find something valuable when you are near power lines and areas with lots of magnetic interference. To solve this problem, the Garrett Ace 300 comes with a frequency adjustment option. This will help you separate the noise.
The 7 X 10-inch search coil handles a frequency of 8 kHz – which is adjustable for better differentiation of targets. You can increase the frequency when you are searching for high-value targets like gold. It is submergible, so you do not need to worry about device destruction during prospecting in shallow waters. You can also change the audio from low, medium to high. With a 0-99 numerical scale, you will have the high-value targets like gold showing up at higher numbers.
The depth indicator allows you to know how deep you can go with your digging. Included in the package is a free pair of headphones with adjustable volume controls and a search coil cover. Also, you get an ACE environment cover-up. The Garrett Ace 300 measures 22 X 11 X 6 inches and weighs 2.8lbs. You need 4 AA batteries to operate it. Overall, this is a decent device for those just getting started in metal hunting. However, you will miss out on manual ground balance common in high-end metal detectors. It is also prudent to avoid prospecting in salty waters.
What we liked:
- Adjustable frequencies for easy targeting
- Depth indicator informs you how deep targets are
- Five search functions
- Target ID scale
- Pinpointer for identifying valuable items
3. Minelab X-Terra 305 Metal Detector
Minelab X-Terra 305 is an entry-level metal detector from a world-class company known for developing high-quality products. You get some cool features that are common in the high-end models. Firstly, you benefit from the innovative True Digital VFLEX technology that allows you to have better control of your frequency through coil change. This model offers compatibility with 7kHz and 18.75 kHz coils.
It is unusual to find manual ground balance settings in most beginner metal detectors. The Minelab X-Terra 305 is an exception and even offers an adjustment of 0-20 users. This makes mineralization adjustment a breeze. You can choose the quietest channel through a noise cancel function that allows up to 3 manual settings. In addition, you have a selection of up to 3 tone IDs. This helps you sort out your targets – no more digging for nails and trashcans.
One of the key benefits of purchasing the Minelab X-Terra 305 is that you get the benefit of some technologies developed by the company for their high-end market. The device works great in iron discrimination, and you do not have to worry about ending up with a pile of nails. You also get the benefit of threshold adjustment and two pre-set search patterns.
Overall, this is a decent device for beginners and older teens who are getting started to the art of metal hunting. The price is affordable, and you get value for money due to Minelab reputation for producing quality products.
What we liked:
- Minelab innovative True Digital VFLEX technology for multiple frequencies
- Noise cancel function
- Manual ground balance setting
- Made from high-quality materials
- Ability to choose from up to 3 tone IDs
4. Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV Metal Detector
This is a budget-friendly metal detector that delivers what it promises. It comes in a rugged design suitable for tough conditions. Search capabilities are delivered through an 8” concentric coil that is submersible. Operation of the Bounty Hunter TK4 is delivered through a discrimination mode, motion all-metal mode, and a two-tone audio mode that gives the hunter the ability to detect objects 3 feet deep. The operating frequency is set at 6.7 kHz.
You can easily switch through the three modes – tone discrimination, all-metal, and full discrimination. This allows you to narrow your search in highly mineralized areas. The dials are easy to learn, and you should get started metal hunting as soon as possible.
While this is not the lightest metal detector in its category, the bounty hunter TK4 comes with an ergonomic design that makes it easy to maneuver. You can easily swing it from one location to another without putting too much strain on your wrists. You can turn on the adjustable sensitivity down incase you encounter highly mineralized soils.
The Bounty Hunter TK4 comes with automatic ground balance, which is a great addition considering its price. With the feature, the device will adjust itself depending on the mineralization qualities of the soil. The problem with highly mineralized soils is you get many false signals.
The Bounty Hunter weighs 3.7lbs (which is a bit heavier than its competitors) and measures 28.2 X 10 X 6.2 inches. Two 9V batteries power it. Also, part of the kit are a pair of headphones, pinpointer, and carry bag.
It also features in our best cheap detectors guide.
What we liked:
- Simple device to get you started in metal hunting
- Waterproof submersible coil
- Automatic ground balance
- Ergonomical design great for swinging during searches
5. Teknetics EuroTek PRO Metal Detector
The Teknetics comes with a simplistic screen with an 8” concentric coil. This enables the device to take your treasure hunts into shallow water surfaces. What stands out for the Teknetics EuroTek is its iron target indicator that allows you to separate targets in iron saturated surfaces. The device is lightweight, making it ideal for teens and beginners serious about metal hunting. You also get a variable iron discrimination feature that allows you to adjust from 0-39. This protects your search from fruitless pursuits where you uncover only nails.
Another cool feature that stood for us was the iron LED alert light. The moment swings the device around iron nails or trashcans; then you will get an alert via the iron identifier LED. The pinpointing feature also stands out as it prevents you from constantly swinging the device to get a solid signal. In addition, you get three-tone audio identification for distinguishing targets. Depending on the mineralization of the soil, you can fine-tune the device adjusting its sensitivity. This is a great feature considering the price tag.
The Teknetics weighs 2.4 pounds, measures 50 X 8 X 14 inches. It requires one 9V battery for operation.
What we liked:
- Pinpoint mode
- Iron identifier LED helps sort out iron trash
- Adjustable sensitivity accommodates varying soil surfaces
- Waterproof coil
Concluding our Metal Detector for Beginners Guide
The best metal detectors for beginners offer metal hunters the perfect opportunity to fine-tune their craft. While during this stage, most of the prospecting is relegated to relics and old coins, you can find an occasional gold nugget. You will need to carefully examine the geographical area you are hunting to increase the odds of finding something valuable.