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Good Metal Detector for Beginners: 6 Cheap Starter Reviews

Updated on December 5, 2014
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Beginner Level Metal Detectors: Top Easy-To-Use Options

Throughout history, man has made objects out of various types of metal. Most of those items have been lost in the sands of time. But what if you could find them again? A metal detector is a simple, fun way to locate treasures lost for ages.

Whether you're looking for coins, historical artifacts or precious metals in their natural form, a good entry level metal detector will make the hunt a lot easier.

So what if you're new to the activity? Don't be intimidated by the process, it's actually pretty easy to dive in and get started. The first step is to find the best metal detector for beginners, and that's what this article is all about.

We'll be looking at a collection of the best basic beginner metal detectors around, with an emphasis on devices that are easy to use and have a manageable learning curve. If there are any cons you need to know about I'll be sure to mention them.

Ready to get started?

The Mojave Nugget is a 156 ounce chunk of natural gold found by a metal detector prospector in southern California
The Mojave Nugget is a 156 ounce chunk of natural gold found by a metal detector prospector in southern California | Source

Metal Detector Treasure Hunting for Beginners: Tips & Tricks

When it comes to successful treasure hunting, a bit of planning and research can really pay off.

The best metal detector treasure hunting locations generally fall into two categories: historical sites and high traffic areas. For historical relics, the best sites are those where - hopefully - no one has previously hunted. Do your research on the net, or at the local library. Look for historical maps and records of historical activity to locate sites with potential relics. Look for information about previous discoveries, what kind of economic activity took place there?

If you're 'coin shooting', in other words looking for coins and jewelry and such, high traffic areas are great. For the beach, head out after the crowds at the end of the big long weekend, or at the end of the tourist season. Look for the “towel line” where everyone was sunbathing, or try the entrance pathway to the beach and parking lot.

For sporting and fair grounds, bring out your beginner metal detector after large events and stick to the high traffic areas such as entrances and exits. Beer gardens and under the bleachers are great spots.

With these points in mind, letʼs uncover 6 of the best, entry level metal detectors available today!

Tracker IV: A cheap, basic metal detector, perfect for beginners

If you want an affordable metal detector for treasure hunting, the Tracker IV by Bounty Hunter is a fantastic entry point into the hobby.

It's cheap enough to make it economically accessible, but it is more than powerful enough to zero in on some amazing finds.

It features a number of options that make it a great metal detector for coin shooting and jewelry hunting. You can switch between an all-metal mode, a discrimination mode which cancels out signals from basic iron, and a two-tone system that helps you differentiate between things you want and things you don't (like soda can tabs, for example).

It has a ground balance that avoids interference from natural earth minerals. It will detect coin sized objects up to 8 inches down, and larger metal objects to a depth of 3 feet.

It's light enough to not be a burden, and the counterbalanced arm is comfy enough to use all day long.

The Tracker IV is one of the best metal detectors for beginner treasure hunters, and the price is very reasonable. It has great customer reviews, so check it out!

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Compadre: A basic unit, one of the best metal detectors for kids

The Tesoro Compadre is a treasure hunting metal detector that a beginner will love. It's one of the most basic units around, and the controls are simple to pick up on.

It's not a toy, but the simplified interface makes the Compadre one of the top metal detectors for kids (adults will love it too). It features a single knob, which you turn to increase the discrimination. When it's first turned on you'll be operating in a basic, all-metal mode. Turn the knob further if you're in a more trash filled location to zero in on the good stuff.

It also features an adjustable pole, so you can customize the length to fit the user. That's another reason why it's a great choice for children or adults.

The coil is around 6 inches across, which is perfect for detection around obstacles, and it has great sensitivity. It's able to detect coin sized objects to a depth of 7 inches (at least). It's a fantastic metal detector for beginner prospectors, as it can pick up on nuggets very nicely.

It will likely require some practice to perfect, but the Compadre is a fun and affordable beginner metal detector that's easy to use.

Ace 250: A feature-rich and affordable entry level metal detector

Garrett is another well known manufacturer of metal detectors, and they have a whole range of products for every level of expertise. I have chosen the Ace 250 because it has some of the best features available under the $250 price point.

The Ace features five operating modes: all metal, jewelry, custom, relics, and coin. In addition, you have the ability to modify these discrimination patterns in the field, as you go, so you can “teach” the unit how you want it to perform given the conditions and your targets.

The Ace 250 comes with a large 6.5” x 9” coil to cover more ground faster and has a top quality pinpoint feature. Once a target is located, this feature can be used to locate the target directly under the centre of the coil for more accurate digging.

A bonus with this detector is the large, informative display. It can distinguish between all the various coin denominations and will display which coin has been located and how deep it is. Different audio tones work in conjunction with the display to let you know what kind of metal you're looking at. It has individual indicators for iron and foil, gold, silver and bronze, and it is even sensitive enough to differentiate out aluminum pull tabs! It's a metal detector built for treasure hunting.

Beyond is interactive display and precise sensitivity, the Ace 250 conveniently breaks down into three pieces with an overall length of just 24” for easy transport. It operates on 4AA batteries, weighs only 2.7 pounds, and has an adjustable arm cuff. You can adjust the length too.

The Garrett Ace 250 is one of the best beginner metal detectors, and at under $300 it's a feature rich device.

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Fisher F2: Among the best cheap metal detectors for beginner users

One of the great things about Fisher is that they not only make great beginner level metal detectors but have been in the underground utility detection and security metal detection industries for almost a century. The feature-packed F2 is probably their most popular entry-level metal detector.

Similar to the Ace 250, the F2 has a great interactive display but goes further featuring the ability to select any or all of eight different metal-type target identifiers. It has a good depth indicator as well. The sensitivity and discrimination are both adjustable on the go and this is the first on my list to feature 4 different audio tones for different metal types, so you can hear what is being detected without always having to look down at the display.

The F2 also has pinpoint technology for faster, more accurate target location and excavation, plus a large two digit sensitivity and target value display instead of the more common sliding bar indicator. It comes with a large 8” coil to cover a lot of ground.

The F2 runs on two 9-volt batteries, breaks down into four pieces for easy transport, weights just 2.6 pounds, has adjustable length and arm rest, and it comes with an industry leading five-year warranty.

Overall, F2 and the Ace 250 are very similar in peformance and price. The F2 has a MSRP of $249 but I found it on Amazon for around $200. This great priced coupled with slightly more advanced features and a longer warranty give the F2 the edge in my mind.

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Silver uMax: A powerful metal detector for treasure hunting anywhere

Donʼt let the name “silver” fool you, this powerful detector is an all-metal, all-terrain discovery machine. As with all Tesoro detectors, the real difference is in the display and the controls. Tesoro prides itself on not having succumbed to the digital display age and the Silver uMax is not different in this respect.

The controls are dead simple: just one toggle switch and two turn knobs with no digital display; everything is audio. One knob sets the level of discrimination between various metal types, the other the sensitivity for signal strength and depth penetration. The toggle selects between battery test, discrimination and all-metal mode.

With its proprietary Max Boost technology, the gain can be cranked up giving the Umax a leading 8-10” of powerful detection for small objects. It's one of the best treasure hunting metal detectors for that reason.

Because there is no display to visually show target and signal strength, this unit will take a little more time and practice to master, but once you have had a few turns around your practice “garden” and have the audio dialed in to your favourite targets, the Umax will be a top performer for you.

Its deceptively simple design and strong detection depth and accuracy make it a higher end unit. It's not out of the operational ability of beginner, but this metal detector requires a little time to master. It will pay off!

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X-Terra 305: A 'ground balanced', easy to use metal detector for starters

The X-Terra 305, by Minelab, is the highest end detector we'll be looking at today. It's feature rich and perfect for hobbyists, coin shooters and all ages use.

The primary feature of note with the X-Terra is the extreme level of ground balance control you have. You can fine tune it to filter out any noise that might be hindering your search. That's especially useful in mineral rich ground.

It also has noise cancelling technology, which helps you key in on the items you're looking for without being distracted by stuff you're not.

You have three tones you can play with, and you can ascribe multi tones to different types of metals, giving you a wide array of notifications to play with. You can even adjust the level of volume, to give a louder tone to a particular target.

Want to search using a different frequency? The X-Terra allows you to swap out your coils, so you can use a different one for different applications.

There is a graphically represented pinpoint option, and a very sensitive depth indicator which updates in real time.

It's a great metal detector for kids because the shaft length is easily adjustable, and though it's a bit more intense than some of the alternatives above in terms of features, it is simple enough for a new user to get started quite easily.

The X-Terra 305 is a good beginner metal detector with a lot of great features and upside. It's lightweight and runs on four easy to find AA batteries.

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Top Beginner Metal Detector Tips: Know Thy Equipment

Want to have a successful outing? Once you get your device it's important to know its features, capabilities and limits. A lot of that comes from use and hands on practice. Don't let the low price of these kits deter you — even basic, cheap beginner metal detectors for treasure hunting can net you some fantastic finds!

A good idea is to do some test hunting in the sand at the local park, beach or volleyball court. Take a selection of test targets and bury them at various depths and familiarize yourself with how your detector reacts.

This is the perfect time to experiment with and adjust the various settings your detector is equipped with. Knowing how your detector reacts to various targets in various conditions will go a long way increasing your quality hit rate while decreasing the time you spend digging up garbage!

Thanks for reading!

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