Consumer Guide: How to Choose A Cheap Metal Detector

Before purchasing, make sure you read up on how to choose a cheap metal detector, what the top products are, and what prices are considered good.

A picture of a product called the Whites Surfmaster Df Water Metal Detector

Don’t Go Dirt Cheap

Whether you are looking for a replacement unit for your old one, or buying your first ever hunt buddy, there are a few factors that you must consider first. Chief of this is the price range, a factor that depends primarily on your level as a metal detector hobbyist. Avoid the dirt cheap devices as low, low price does not necessarily mean a good deal. In metal detecting, there are characteristics that are reserved for toys. Even for a serious newbie, a price cap matters. And a closer look at the quality will make a big difference in the long run. One thing to really consider, is whether a hand held metal detector is a better alternative.

Having tackled that, we add that proper digging tools are important in this activity. Moving on, the next factor to consider is your type of metal detector. There are all-purpose models for those who are only starting out. But when you have specific targets -- coins, relics, jewelry -- then you can focus on finding a specialized machine. Next, you have to consider the location. Are you going to hunt in saltwater beaches? How about a hot ground area? Salt and iron figure much into your decision-making, as some models may not perform well in places with high concentration of either or both.

Price and Functionality

Entry-level machines come at hundreds of dollars. As a newbie, you can definitely work something out with these starter gadgets. Those priced beyond the entry level are considered mid-level. Of course, there are the more advanced ones that can reach thousands. You have to expect at the minimum that your entry-level detector can determine your targets based on depth and signal strength. You should also be able to minimize interference caused by electromagnetic waves and minerals in the soil. And of course, there should at least be an LCD display. You don’t want to do a blind survey of the field. Your unit should be able to inform you of the target ID, sensitivity, and battery level. A product with an audio feature definitely fits the bill as well. A highly-functional one, for instance, will help you ID iron discriminating tones. Thus, you can dig up only the stuff that you want.

Now, the other thing you have to check for is the capability in water. You might think that you need a 100% waterproof detector during a hunt by the beach. But know that 99.99% of metal detectors sport coils that can be submerged in water. A good example is using a Fisher F22, a popular model among beginners, in a stream or a river. Though it is not fully waterproof, it can still do the job. However, this is not recommended if you are going all-out hunting in water. We are just presenting a scenario where your all-purpose machine can perform with standard functionality. Last but not the least, you have to consider sensitivity and frequency. Sensitivity allows you to adjust to the depth at which your detector returns a signal. Frequency, on the other hand, refers to the number of times your device is using up energy in the ground in search of a target.

Find On Amazon. See More

Brand, Design, Etc.

As with any other machine, brand reputation comes up in conversations. Some people, especially beginners, would ask us “which brand do you recommend”. And you should, too. Some brands are better than the others. And in metal detecting, we also have our favorites. Fisher, Garrett, and Bounty Hunter are among the best. As we already mentioned, Fisher has F22 for newbies. Garrett also has ACE 300. These are within a very good proce range right now, which is a good price point for entry-level metal detecting. We consider F22 the best cheap metal detector as its technology is something that does not normally figure in entry-level machines. It is weather-proof (rain-proof) but should not be fully submerged in water. It also has Iron Audio, a feature that lets you distinguish between a bottle cap and a true coin. In close second is Garrett with its ACE 300. We also recommend Tesoro Compadre, Teknetiks Eurotek Pro, and Bounty Hunter Time Ranger.

When it comes to design, a lightweight metal detector comes in handy, especially when you are a seasonal hobbyist. The advantage of such a tool is that it allows you to handle it for a longer time, as it does not tire you fast. No worries, though. Newer models now tend to be lighter than older ones. You must check for weight whenever buying a metal detector. Comfort is also key. You can get injured or feel sore after using a detector for a while. It is best to consider those that boast arm paddings. A harness or bungee system also lessens the strain caused by the machine on your arm. You must also take note of the added features. The Iron Audio in F22 is an advanced example. GPS and WiFi are also good add-ons. But in our humble opinion, you must always look for the warranty above all else.

Our Verdict

When looking for a cheap metal detector, you must conduct a thorough research first. You should check out comprehensive guides such as this article. No matter how short or long you have been doing this, you must not forgo research. This way, you will be able to gauge the pros and cons of potential models. This includes the price of each product. Understand that cheap does not always refer to dirt cheap. It can also mean affordable and of good quality. The best cheap metal detector model starts at an affordable price. Everything below it may be considered a toy -- not that your kid cannot have one. Some of the best options in our opinion are these White's metal detectors.

The functionality of the metal detector goes hand in hand with its quality. You should always check if a unit matches the location, geography, and type of treasure that you are looking for. This way, you will be able to narrow down your choices. Of course, do not forget about the specs. Not only should you go for design. Also factor in the notch, ground balance, sensitivity, and frequency of the metal detector. If you want to learn more about what brands and products are available, feel free to read our reviews. Explore the site for tips and tricks, and more, about metal detecting.