10 Best Metal Detectors | December 2016

10 Best Metal Detectors
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Best High-End
★★★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★
We spent 39 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 are a hard core treasure hunter, you'll find the right metal detector for your needs from our comprehensive selection. Our top picks include models for most needs, from deep water diving to beachcombing to 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
The Bounty Hunter TK4 is a good choice for those who just want to add a little excitement to beachcombing or meadow walks without paying top dollar. This budget unit is balanced to neutralize response to natural mineral content.
  • rugged design for all-weather use
  • makes a great gift for teens
  • no volume control
Brand Bounty Hunter
Model TK4-PL
Weight 3.8 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0
9
The Treasure Cove TC-3020 Fortune Finder has three audio tones, so you know what kind of metal is being detected, and a wide 8-inch search coil that offers decent coverage. It's not the most advanced model available, but it's hard to complain considering the price.
  • comes with a sand sifter
  • works well in muddy conditions
  • bit too heavy for all-day use
Brand Treasure Cove
Model TC-3020
Weight 7.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
8
The Fisher Labs F4 gives you a depth readout of found items and displays the type of metal it detects, so you know how far you have to dig and whether or not it is worth your time tracking down the source of the alert. Its large 11-inch coil covers a lot of ground, too.
  • intuitive control panel
  • adjustable sensitivity
  • has a hard time sensing gold
Brand Fisher Labs
Model F4
Weight 5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
7
The Bounty Hunter SS2 Sharpshooter II is a good first metal detector for those who aren't sure how much they will enjoy the hobby. It is sensitive enough to find small items, like jewelry and coins, which should help keep you motivated, and costs roughly $200.
  • visual reference of detected metal
  • touchpad controls
  • four preset search modes
Brand Bounty Hunter
Model SS2-PL
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
6
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 metals, and has a maximum detection depth of 15 inches.
  • lightweight enough for all-day use
  • only requires 4 aa batteries
  • no backlighting on the display
Brand Teknetics T2
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
5
The Garrett AT Pro is one of the best all-around models. Though they may find it 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.
  • detects small items to 8 inches deep
  • loud speaker for headphone-free use
  • distinct high detection tones
Brand Garrett
Model AT Pro
Weight 6.3 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0
4
As its name implies, the White's Surfmaster DF Water was designed to be used in water, even if that means submersion down to depths of 100 feet, so it's ideal for deep water divers. It's also resistant to salt water corrosion and should last through years of regular use.
  • high gold sensitivity
  • pulse indication detection
  • neutrally buoyant 12-inch coil
Brand White's Electronics
Model 800-0323
Weight 8.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
3
Turn beach days into paydays with the Garrett Sea Hunter MK-II. It features a microprocessor operation system, so you can quickly and reliably identify metals. A 3-piece stem design allows it to be easily packed up when the hunt is done.
  • submersible for underwater use
  • multiple stem configuration options
  • includes headphones
Brand Garrett Sea Hunter MK-I
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.5 / 5.0
2
The Fisher F2 comes as a package that includes a 4" and 8" coil, both of which are waterproof; a pinpointing device to home in on your finds; and even a battery, so you can get started searching immediately. All you'll need to provide is a good place to treasure hunt.
  • numeric display distinguishes metals
  • high sensitivity response
  • provides a depth measurement
Brand Fisher Labs
Model F2
Weight 4.8 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
1
The White's Spectra V3i HP is a serious metal detector designed for hardcore treasure hunters, or for archaeological or law enforcement applications. It comes packed with features like an HD color screen and target ID settings.
  • 10 turn-on-and-go hunting programs
  • works with wireless headphones
  • onboard quick reference guide
Brand White's Electronics
Model 800-0329-HP
Weight 6.4 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

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 23, 2016 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.


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