The 10 Best Metal Detectors

Updated December 13, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether you just want an interesting hobby that could make you a bit of cash on the side or you're a hardcore treasure hunter, you'll find the right metal detector for your needs among our comprehensive selection. Our picks include models suitable for most environments, from deep water diving to terrestrial beach combing and field hunting. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best metal detector on Amazon.

10. Treasure Cove TC-3020

The Treasure Cove TC-3020 has three audio tones, so you'll know whether it's reacting to gold, silver, or something else. Its 8-inch search coil offers decent coverage, and while it's not the most advanced model available, it's not a bad place to start.
  • comes with a sand sifter
  • works well in muddy conditions
  • a bit heavy for all-day use
Brand Treasure Cove
Model TC-3020
Weight 7.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Fisher Labs F4

The Fisher Labs F4 gives you a depth readout of found items and predicts what elements they might contain, so you know roughly how far you have to dig and whether or not it's worth your time to track down the source of an alert.
  • intuitive control panel
  • adjustable sensitivity levels
  • not effective for finding gold
Brand Fisher Labs
Model F4
Weight 5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Sea Hunter MK-II

Turn beach days into paydays with the Sea Hunter MK-II. It features a built-in microprocessor designed to help you quickly and reliably identify objects. A 3-piece stem design allows it to be easily packed up when the search is done.
  • submersible for underwater use
  • includes attachments for diving
  • takes some time to get the hang of
Brand Sea Hunter MK-II
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Bounty Hunter TK4

The Bounty Hunter TK4 is a good choice for those who just want to add a little excitement to their beach wandering or meadow walks without paying top dollar. This budget unit is balanced to neutralize its response to naturally occurring mineral content in the ground.
  • rugged design for all-weather use
  • makes a great gift for teens
  • lacks volume controls
Brand Bounty Hunter
Model TK4-PL
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

6. Surfmaster DF Water

As its name implies, the Surfmaster DF Water was designed to be used underwater and is safe for submersion to depths of up to 100 feet, so it's ideal for divers. It's resistant to corrosion from saltwater and should last through years of regular use.
  • highly sensitive to gold
  • attractive black and yellow design
  • not great for terrestrial use
Brand White's Electronics
Model 800-0323
Weight 8.2 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Teknetics T2

The Teknetics T2 is right in the sweet spot when it comes to functionality and features. It has a double filter discrimination mode that makes it suitable for searching in areas with a lot of undesirable metallic content, and can find objects buried up to 15 inches deep.
  • lightweight enough for all-day use
  • requires only 4 aa batteries
  • no backlighting on the display
Brand Teknetics T2
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Garrett AT Pro

The Garrett AT Pro is one of the best all-around models. Though it is a little pricey, it is simple enough for beginners, yet it has enough features to keep seasoned hobbyists happy. It offers high resolution iron discrimination, so you don't waste your time.
  • safe to use in water
  • loud speaker for headphone-free use
  • uses distinct high-pitched tones
Brand Garrett
Model AT Pro
Weight 6.7 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. National Geographic Pro Series

From the company behind the magazine that has inspired countless expeditions and adventures, the National Geographic Pro Series is the perfect travel companion. It collapses to a fraction of its size for storage or transport and weighs just over two pounds.
  • choice of four sensitivity levels
  • depth range of up to 12 inches
  • fun for the whole family
Brand National Geographic
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. White's Spectra V3i HP

Don't be put off by the White's Spectra V3i HP's high price tag. It's a truly professional-grade model that's fully customizable and also comes with nine presets that help you search and determine what lies below the surface, so it's a fine choice for beginners as well.
  • includes wireless headphones
  • crisp full color display
  • backed by a 2-year warranty
Brand White's Electronics
Model 800-0329-HP
Weight 6.4 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

1. Land Ranger Pro

Operating somewhere between beginner models and professional-quality ones with correspondingly high price tags, the Land Ranger Pro is a great choice for the avid hobbyist. It has an onscreen key that helps predict what it's reacting to, so you can avoid blind digging.
  • 11-inch waterproof coil
  • adjustable height for comfort
  • easy to balance to soil contents
Brand Bounty Hunter
Weight 4.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

One Man's Trash Is Another's Treasure

If you spend a lot of time at the beach, then you've probably come across those people with long, stick-like instruments examining the sand. If you have any interest in treasure hunting, then you may consider yourself among the beachcomber elite looking for the next big find by the sea. If you've ever been stopped by airport security, then you're probably aware of the use of metal detectors in at least some form. Regardless of the situation, the ability to detect metal is an important function in society from a hobby, research, and safety perspective.

Metal detectors are most useful for finding metallic inclusions hidden inside objects made from other materials and for finding objects buried deep underground that cannot be detected with the naked eye. A typical metal detector is a lightweight, handheld device with several parts that include a stabilizer, control box, shaft, and a search coil. Most detectors also have a headphone jack for listening to the device's audible beep alerts when it finds something. The stabilizer keeps the detector steady as you sweep its search coil back and forth over the ground.

The control box contains all of the detector's internal circuitry, controls, its speaker, and microprocessor. The search coil detects the metal and it is connected to both the shaft and control box. The shaft is often adjustable to accommodate different user heights. Once the unit is powered on, the user simply waves the search coil back and forth over the ground. When the coil passes over a target object, an audible signal occurs. The closer the detector is to the piece of target metal, the higher the signal tone will be in the speaker or headphones.

While metal detectors can utilize several types of technology to operate, the most popular method is very low frequency (VLF) technology. A metal detector using very low frequency leverages both a transmitter and receiver coil. The transmitter contains a coil of electric wire through which a current is sent in one direction and then another. This directional change occurs thousands of times per second. The number of times a current switches directions in one second determines the metal detector's frequency. The receiver consists of another coil of electric wire that acts as an antenna used to both pick up and amplify frequencies originating from objects buried underground. The electric current running through the detector's transmitter coil generates an electromagnetic field.

Whenever the current changes direction, so does the polarity of the magnetic field. The magnetic field from the transmitter coil continues to push down into the ground and back out again. While this occurs, the field interacts with any conductive objects it encounters underground, allowing those objects to generate their own magnetic fields. When underground objects emit these magnetic fields, the receiver coil picks up the interference they produce and transmits it directly to the detector's audio system where it is picked up by the user (through a speaker or headphones).

A Full Range Of Choice

Context matters in one's decision to invest in a metal detector. From an archaeological perspective, the device allows researchers to find and preserve historical artifacts at sites that would otherwise be extremely difficult to detect. That said, if you're a scientist with a passion for history, then finding the most cutting-edge metal detector will be important.

Some of the best detectors include high-definition color screens and the ability to pick up multiple frequencies. If one prefers the freedom of movement without extra cords, then a metal detector with the ability to interface with wireless headphones is another important feature to consider.

Some metal detectors are even submersible up to one hundred feet for underwater use, so if you snorkel or consider yourself a recreational diver and wish to go treasure hunting in the ocean, durability and a waterproof design will come in handy.

The larger the search coil, the easier it can be to find what you're looking for. Many detectors offer search coils between eight and twelve inches in diameter, which allows you to cover a large search area more quickly.

A Brief History Of Metal Detectors

The invention and popularity of the metal detector took shape during the latter part of the nineteenth century around the same time major strides were being made in the field of electrical engineering, thanks to figures like Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison among others. By the mid-1800s, scientists, scholars, and gold miners began experimenting with machines that could locate metal underground. In 1874, a Parisian inventor named Gustave Trouvé invented a handheld device for locating and extracting metal objects (e.g. bullets) from patients.

Inspired by Gustave Trouvé, Alexander Graham Bell devised one of the first dedicated uses of a metal detector in his efforts to locate the bullet responsible for killing United States' twentieth President James A. Garfield in Washington D.C. in 1881. Garfield was shot in the back by American writer and lawyer Charles J. Guiteau. While Bell's metal detector functioned properly, it was unable to locate the lodged bullet due to the interference caused by the metal coil springs in Garfield's bed. Although Bell's invention could not save Garfield, his invention became the prototype from which all future metal detectors would be constructed.

The first metal detectors of the twentieth century were large, difficult to use, and operated through the use of vacuum tubes. Many of these detectors were later used in Europe to discover undetonated bombs and landmines after World War One and Two.

In 1925, Gerhard Fisher was granted a patent for the first portable metal detector following his discovery that radio beams were being distorted by local ore-bearing rocks while studying navigation systems. Fisher sold his first device to the general public in 1931. Between the 1950s and present day, detector technology has continued to be refined and improved, thanks largely to detector enthusiasts, hobbyists, and scientists adding the use of transistors, discriminators, improved search coils, and wireless technology to make metal detection easier than ever before.

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Last updated on December 13, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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