Best Metal Detector for the Money for Beginners


Best 2016 Beginner’s Metal Detector for the Money

I am NOT a dealer and do not make any money from my recommendations.  I update this page as things change or improve.

Here is a metal detector that I would recommend to a beginner doing general metal detecting in most turf environments.  I don’t have experience on the beach, so cannot speak to that environment.

  • Garrett AT Pro metal detector (~$600-$650) – rugged, light, waterproof and quick to learn. Holds its value well.  This detector “holds its own” with $1500-1800 metal detectors.  All the right stuff at a great price.
  • Gray Ghost Original metal detecting Headphones (~$80) – rugged and comfortable.  Last for years.  Worth the extra $40 or so over the cheap alternatives.  You must have good headphones.
  • Garrett Pro Pointer pinpointer (~$115-125) – This makes detecting so much more fun.  Rarely available used.  The alternative brands are not as good.  This is the one to buy.  It can be resold in a day if you don’t continue the hobby.  I like the orange one.
  • Extra battery – ~$80 – not necessary but can be a lifesaver in the field.
  • Nail apron or belt  bag – anything will do as long as it has two compartments (one for treasure, one for trash.)
  • Small digging tool (may be in your garage.  Please don’t use a full-size shovel.)  Also, getting caught with a broken digging tool can ruin your day, see below for some “buy it for life” alternatives.

Metal Detector Kit and Bundle “Fluff”

Unfortunately most metal detector manufacturers have a “Minimum Advertised Price” (MAP) that really limits what the detector dealer can show online, so you really need to speak to someone.   So many will add perceived value with metal detector accessories.  Unfortunately (and naturally) these add-ons are often very cheap and poorly made.   When possible, buy the metal detecting equipment from a good dealer, speaking on the phone after giving them your specification.  Be wary of “if you like this, you’ll love this” diversions.

Most kits have extras you don’t need …but exist to make the kit more attractive on websites – I would not take this stuff into account unless it’s basically “free.”   This is my experience, and my opinion – I’m sure there are some good kits out there.

  • detector bag (they never get used and are cheaply made with horrible zippers – they are not airline friendly.)
  • covers for the coil (I have never, in 30 years, used a cover.  The detecting coils are made for abuse already.)
  • backpacks (junk… especially the zippers) … just buy a well reviewed backpack on Amazon if you need it.
  • hats (they are often very cheaply made) .. my XP hat is the worst-made ballcap I’ve owned, but my Minelab hat is much better.
  • belt  bags (ditto, buy one separately.)
  • cheap headphones (junk!)

“Buy it for life” Metal Detecting Digging Tools

If you don’t have a small trowel or something already, go ahead and invest in a very good one.  These are the ones that are “buy it for life” quality – and they do have good resale if you don’t like the hobby.  Note: the 31T is hard to ship.
  • Lesche 31T Serrated T-Handle Shovel ($65) – these are awesome “small” shovels (31″) that are a pleasure to use and cut very clean plugs.  Here’s my review of metal detecting shovels if you’re wondering about them.  You’ll see them in all of my videos.  Easy to sharpen.
  • Lesche Model 76 Digging Tool ($60) – this is  the “standard” hand digger used by 50% of detectorists.  It is the size of a a garden trowel, but it is strong.  Easy to sharpen.

Learn first, buy second – the metal detecting forums are great.

Don’t take my word for it!   Hit the forums and interact with other diggers for a few weeks before buying anything.   Friendly metal detecting forums “all about detectors” section is good for discussing your upcoming purchase.  Register and join, ask questions, ask opinions!    But remember everyone has their favorite machine and people are biased…  you should always ask people if they sell detectors when they offer a recommendation.

Metal Detecting Dealers who have earned my trust in 2016  (please shop around!)

  • Treasure Mountain Metal Detectors  – I ordered 5-6 things from Ed Huffman in 2016 and they all arrived fast and at good prices.  Ed was great at communicating about my order and all went well.  I think I would go to Ed for a new detector.
  • Metal Detecting Depot – They were great but seem to have shut down.
  • Kellyco – If you know exactly what you want, they can be very competitive on price, but beware the pressure “cross sell” or “kit upgrade.”