Best metal detectors of 2021

Measuring & Detection Tools

If you’ve ever noticed people wearing headphones while using a metal detector, that is so they can better isolate the sounds that the machine makes to quickly and accurately target buried treasures.

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Metal detectors

A metal detector is a fun gadget that you can use to find buried treasures, whether you are strolling along the beach or trekking across a field. It is also an invaluable tool that can help you find your keys if you happen to drop them in the grass on the way to your car. However, to be effective, you need a quality metal detector.

The best metal detectors of 2021 are high-tech devices that can “see” into the ground and discern valuables from junk. A powerful and accurate model, the Garrett AT Pro allows the user to pinpoint real treasures.

What to know before you buy a metal detector

How does a metal detector work?

Simply put, a metal detector uses a coil to create a magnetic field that penetrates the solid ground to locate conductive materials such as coins. Most metal detectors can detect a wide range of metals, including lead, iron, copper, tin, aluminum, nickel, brass, bronze, silver and gold. Since different metal signatures can overlap, lower-end metal detectors won’t distinguish between different types of metals as accurately as higher-end models.

Four key factors make detecting targets easier

Size: The larger a target is, the easier it can be to detect.

Shape: An object with a large, flat surface, such as a coin, will be easier to detect than a nail. However, the object’s orientation is an essential factor as a coin on its side may be challenging to detect.

Conductivity: Materials with greater conductivity, such as silver, are easier to find, while something like gold may be more difficult to detect.

Depth: The closer a target is to the surface, the easier it is to detect.

What to look for in a quality metal detector

Coil size

The larger the coil is at the bottom of your metal detector, the deeper it can penetrate the ground. On the downside, a larger coil can miss smaller targets. Choose your coil size based on how deep and how large the items you seek will typically be.

Number of controls

The more controls you have on your metal detector, the more you can fine-tune it to your specific needs. You will filter out junk and more accurately target the type of metal for which you are searching. However, the more options you have for control, the more difficult the metal detector will be to operate. 

Waterproof

If you plan on using your metal detector at the beach, it is vital to purchase a model that operates in the shallow surf or, at the very least, won’t be damaged if it gets splashed by an unexpected wave.

Screen display

The screen display on a metal detector can be a meter or a value. This is suitable for experienced users because it signals exactly what the device is detecting. However, the best metal detectors for kids will feature fun graphics, such as a smiley face, whenever it sees something valuable.

Accessories

Any free accessories that come with your metal detector are a bonus. This can include anything from headphones and a shovel to a carry bag and batteries.

How much you should expect to spend on a metal detector

The best metal detectors for beginners will cost less than $100. As you become more invested in your hobby, it is possible to spend several thousand dollars on a model. However, we do not recommend starting at the top. Begin with a quality model that fits your budget, and you can then upgrade as needed.

Metal detector FAQ

What is ground balance?

A. The ground contains many elements that can create interference and cause a metal detector to mask small targets. The best metal detector allows you to ignore signals caused by stray iron particles and other naturally occurring minerals so you can focus on detecting valuable targets. This type of control is called ground balance.

Does the frequency range of a metal detector matter?

A. A metal detector for the casual hobbyist will often operate in the 6-8 kilohertz range.  A model that works within this specific range is also the best cheap metal detector to buy because it will be suitable for most uses. As you drop below 6 kilohertz, the metal detector will penetrate deeper into the ground but miss smaller targets. If you move above 8 kilohertz, the metal detector can pinpoint smaller targets with greater accuracy, but it won’t penetrate as deeply. Additionally, a higher frequency model is more susceptible to ground mineral interference.

What is the best metal detector to buy?

Top metal detector

Garrett AT Pro

Garrett AT Pro

What you need to know: This special 55-year anniversary bundle is for an individual who is serious about taking their metal detecting hobby to the next level.

What you’ll love: This bundle comes with a metal detector, a smaller model used to pinpoint targets, and a box to keep your finds. The central unit features ground balance, a target analyzer, a continuous coin depth indicator, and more.

What you should consider: This metal detector is the highest-priced offering on our shortlist.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top metal detector for the money

Bounty Hunter Gold Digger

Bounty Hunter Gold Digger

What you need to know: For the beginner, this is the best metal detector for the money. 

What you’ll love: This model only has two critical controls that make it simple to use. The Trash Eliminator allows you to ignore objects that aren’t of value while the Power Level control maximizes detection depth.

What you should consider: The detection depth for smaller objects is only about 6 inches.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Staples

Worth checking out

Bounty Hunter Tracker IV

Bounty Hunter Tracker IV

What you need to know: This affordable metal detector is a step up from the Bounty Hunter Gold Digger, making it an excellent entry-level model for an adult.

What you’ll love: This metal detector has a discriminator/notch control so you can fine-tune your search. It detects small objects up to 8 inches deep and has a waterproof search coil for use in shallow waters. 

What you should consider: If this is your first metal detector, expect a bit of a learning curve.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Home Depot, Kohl’s and Staples

 

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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