“What are the best metal detectors on the market” is the most popular question beginner detectorists ask. Yet, there is no answer, because metal detectors differ so much in level, function, and features, that it is impossible to point to the “one machine to rule them all”. Therefore, this review is meant to guide you through the most crucial features and functions, and help to choose the most suitable machine for you.
Below, we provide detailed metal detector reviews and assessments, in full. This table of best five metal detectors in every category is provided for your convenience, so that you could quickly look through the available series and brands, and orient yourself in the features and functions you need the most.
Minelab Equinox 800 The best all-round metal detector in 2020
Garrett AT Max The best for coins and relic hunting
Nokta Makro Simplex Best metal detector for the money
Minelab Vanquish 540 The best user-friendly metal detector
Garrett ACE 400 (400i) Best entry-level metal detector
Beginner detectorists will find this section useful, because metal detecting, as any other in-depth activity, has a bunch of specific terms and notions newbies may fail to comprehend. Take a look at the following notions, and features they describe, to educate yourself on the most crucial aspects of metal detectors. As soon as you are familiar with these terms, any text about metal detecting will become easier for you to understand.
Seasoned detectorists may want to skip this section and jump immediately to the reviews.
Contain iron, and are being magnetic. Items made of iron are rarely valuable from detecting point of view.
Do not contain iron - like brass, gold, silver, nickel, tin, and lead. Items of those metals have more chances of being valuable.
Pre-set tunings that allow to tune the detector for a particular location, or target, in two clicks. Search modes can be “Park” or “Beach”, “Coins” or “Relics”, etc.
MF detectors have more than one operating frequency. Some allow to apply all or several frequencies at once, others allow to change frequencies one by one.
VLF detectors’ operating frequency is below 12 kHz. Those machines are good for detecting coins and relics.
PI detectors detect the target by sending impulses. The volume of the sound signal depends on size and depth of the target. Good choice of gold nuggets.
Has two coils - the outer transmitter coil is larger, the inner receiving coil (within the larger one) is smaller. Such symmetry provides quality discrimination, especially for shallow targets.
Has the transmitting and the receiving wires interwoven around one round coil.
DD coil has the shape of two Ds connected in a butterfly shape manner. Such configuration is considered optimal, as it provides stability in performance on many locations.
The type of settings that enables the detectorist to filter different types of metals. This way, the detector stops giving signals for metals you don’t want to dig out.
Allows the machine to adjust its sensitivity to soils of different chemical composition and level of mineralization. Without ground balance, you get false signals and shallower depth of reach.
Are settings to adjust sensitivity to different targets, and to the depth of potential target location.
We have divided the available metal detectors according to their types and purposes: Best All-Round, Best for Coins and Relic Hunting, etc. We therefore assess every machine within each category according to certain criteria, since comparing machines of different level and purpose makes no sense. Yet, you can get a comprehensive comparison, and make a reasonable choice, if comparing devices with similar purposes meant for similar user’s level of skills.
Whether a machine is all purpose or not indicates whether you will be able to use it on many locations for many targets, or only for specific ones.
Key features indicate what you will and will not be able to do with your metal detector. If you are seeking specific results - targets - key features are those you can’t go without.
Easy to use detectors are user-friendly, but this criterion is especially important for newbies. It also indicates the steepness of the learning curve.
A combination of features makes the machine more or less durable. The best waterproof metal detector is likely to serve longer than non-waterproof.
Most expensive does not mean best for certain tasks. Budget-friendly machines also show outstanding performance.
Being an All-Purpose machine is one of the most important criteria for a metal detector nowadays. The best all round metal detector is expected to function well on various locations – parks, fields, river banks, beaches – and find targets various in both size, depth, and quality. If you need a metal detector for gold nuggets, obviously you need a specific machine for this purpose, but we will talk about this below.
I believe All-Purpose metal detector should have the Multi Frequency technology, which enables it to spot jewelry and other small items on high frequencies, and relics on medium and low frequencies. Such machine should be waterproof (not just weatherproof), and offer several settings: manual Ground Balance, Frequency Shift, and high quality Discrimination variations (like Adjustable Iron Volume, Notch Discrimination, etc.)
In this section, we will talk about the three top metal detectors that fit the criteria mentioned above, but mind that they are costly. If you prefer best inexpensive metal detector, consider those reviewed in the Best for Coins and Relics section.
Minelab Equinox 800 is the best overall product among All Purpose metal detectors since it meets the main criteria in a nearly perfect way. This is a Multi Frequency machine offering five frequencies from low to high, which makes it able to spot variable targets. The frequencies can be used individually, or all at once. The DD 11 inches coil is an all purpose size and shape for different depths and targets. Plus, the machine is IP68 waterproof, which increases its durability against weather, and the key features provide wide range of activity for the user. Price is probably the least met criterion, but we cannot expect low price for a high quality machine.
Minelab Equinox 800 boasts generally positive customer reviews, and little surprise, since it has depth indication and high quality discrimination settings. Additional features that enhance the search are six search modes including special search mode for Gold; manual Ground balance, Noise Cancellation, Threshold, and compatibility with wireless headphones. Moreover, the software is updatable. The only potential issue is that the learning curve for using this detector is somewhat steep.
This is a Multi Frequency metal detector that offers three frequencies from low to high, but the drawback is that you can use only one frequency at a time. This technology together with nine Search modes makes it very handy for various locations and targets. It is also waterproof up to 16 feet, and has an 11” DD coil universal for different types of targets. In terms of being All Purpose and having Key Features for that, Nokta Makro Anfibio Multi is pretty much alike to Minelab Equinox 800, but easier to use, has has lower price.
This one is popular with detectorists, due to its nice Depth Indication, high Recovery Speed, variable settings for Ground Balance, and enhanced Discrimination features. In other words, this is an excellent durable all purpose machine for adequate money.
This metal detector by Garrett features only one frequency, but this is a universal one suitable for different targets and depth. Four Search modes combined with waterproof rank enable the user to hunt on various locations, making the machine pretty much All Purpose. Detector’s key features are Manual / Automatic Ground Balance, Notch Discrimination, and Frequency Shift. While its price is not particularly budget-friendly, Garrett AT Max is very easy to manage, especially as for a machine of this range of functions.
Additional features to pay attention to are Depth Detection and high quality Discrimination. The detector is equipped with a DD coil, and is compatible with wireless headphones. Also, other coils by Garrett can be used with this model.
Metal detectors in this category should also be All Purpose to a certain degree. However, in this case you can focus more on specific types of search and targets, and get a nearly All Purpose machine for smaller money, but with a decent set of basic crucial functions. If your priority targets are coins and relics, you don’t need a truly All Purpose metal detector. You are likely to be all good with a Multi Frequency best metal detector for coins, or Single Frequency best coin metal detector within the 6 to 12 kHz range. Multi Frequency is a bit more advantageous, of course, but both options work well for coins and relics detecting.
It is also important to consider water isolation, because coins and relics can often be spotted on the banks of rivers and lakes, which means you will have to search in shallow waters at least. So, while waterproof coil is a must, waterproof index IP68 will be a definite advantage.
This machine features single universal frequency in VLF technology, combined with 11” DD coil and waterproof rank up to 10 feet, which makes it pretty much All Purpose. The Key features criterion is also met – it has Manual Ground Balance, Depth Indication, Notch Discrimination, and frequency shift to avoid electromagnetic interference. Nokta Makro is famous for durability of its products, adequate price, and user-friendly design. Simplex+ machine is not an exception – it was met by detectorists with awe due to being so easy to use yet so packed with functionality. As time goes, it definitely becomes one of the best rated metal detectors. Moreover, to be honest, this machine is also Best Value and Best User-Friendly – in other words, it is one of the best metal detectors you can buy for your money.
Additional features and functions include four Search modes including Beach mode with Saltwater Discrimination, compatibility with wireless headphones, and updatable software.
This is another Multi Frequency machine, with operation frequencies ranging from low to high, making it All Purpose. Each frequency can be used separately, and they all can be used simultaneously, which is a great advantage. The coil is 11” DD and it is waterproof, but the rest of the thing is not. The machine has Depth Indication and Ground Balance, plus six Search modes, one of which is Custom. Garrett Ace Apex is durable and easy to use, according to customers’ feedback. And, compared to the previous position in the category, its price is more user-friendly!
Here, you will also have eight iron Discrimination segments, Target Notch Discrimination, and five levels of depth indication. Additional features include compatibility with wireless headphones, Frequency shift, and Noise cancellation.
This is a beginner level metal detector, so even newbies can expect it to be very user-friendly and simple to manage. It is powered by Multi-IQ technology featuring three customizable frequencies. There are four Search modes. The coil is 12” DD, but other coils also fit. The whole thing is not waterproof – only the coil. There is a quality Depth indication, but the Ground balance is fixed. On the other hand, the level of usability together with price make it very attractive.
One of the best things about Vanquish 540 is its 25 Discrimination segments that enable the user to effectively filter off trash. Other additional features are compatibility with wireless headphones.
With metal detectors for this category, we have to go specific. Best machines for beach, shallow water, and underwater search truly require a specific, narrow set of functions, and the user has to keep in mind that the narrower is the specification of the metal detector, the farther it will be from the “All Purpose” criterion. However, if shallow water and underwater search are your priorities, pay attention to the detectors represented in this section.
This metal detector is a giant among other competitors. Although it is not a new model, at all, the market still has no alternative model to replace the mighty Minelab Excalibur II, therefore, it can still be considered relevant. Just check this out – employing Broad Band Spectrum (BBS) multi-frequency technology, it has a whopping 17 frequencies, from very low to decently high, making it suitable for a wide range of potential targets. The machine is waterproof up to 200 feet, which is impressive. The coil is 10” DD one, and there are two search modes available – All Metal and Discrimination.
Additional features include Depth Indication, Automatic Ground Tracking and Threshold. There are waterproof headphones in the kit, as well. The metal detector is handy, but not easy to use, since it was not meant for beginner detectorists. The discrimination feature is outstanding here, because usage in salty and highly mineralized waters is expected, and exact discrimination makes this one of the best saltwater metal detectors. However, the price will also impress most people.
Pulse Induction technology combined with impressive 22 operating frequencies and three search modes make this metal detector close to All Purpose in water search. The coil is Mono type, 8 inches wide, and other coils are not compatible, unfortunately. Similar to Minelab Excalibur II, Garrett Sea Hunter Mark II is waterproof up to 200 feet. It has no Ground balance and no Depth indication, and it also has no Pinpoint mode. The Discrimination feature is outstanding, though, so you will get seamless operation in mineralized waters.
The machine is quite durable, easy to use, and at the same time, the price will be a pleasant surprise as for such a device packed with most crucial features for underwater search. Most customers are happy with its flawless underwater operation, and even higher than average weight is not a problem. There is an underwater headphones set, plus, the machine is mountable in different positions, which enhances the user experience.
This is one of professional metal detectors which is equipped with Multi-IQ technology and has four frequencies to your service – 5 kHz, 10 kHz, 15 kHz, plus Multi frequency. There are three search modes, and the coil is 11” DD type. Depth Indication and Manual option for setting Ground Balance make this metal detector handy and quite universal. The whole this is waterproof up to 10 feet, and at the same time, it is not really heavy. On the other hand, according to the Customers reviews, this metal detector shows itself seamlessly on the ground and underwater, although it was not created specifically for underwater search.
The Discrimination quality and speed make it easier to filter out trash, while manual Noise cancellation and a LCD display will be handy both underwater and on the ground. Generally, the machine is easy to manage with a bit of practice.
Gold prospecting is a highly desired metal detecting activity, but it is a hard one. Gold prospecting, in the majority of cases, suggests complicated conditions for both the detectorist and the machine. People have to cope with difficult terrain and digging through rocky soils, the machines have to deal with highly mineralized soils, “hot rocks”, and different depth of gold nugget location. So, gold prospecting, as well as underwater search, demands narrowly specialized and highly focused functions and features of the metal detector. Such detectors are not beginner level, and are not cheap, as well.
It is important to keep in mind that for gold prospecting, it is frequency that plays the major role, not discrimination. All frequencies starting from 18 kHz and higher are suitable for gold prospecting.
This top performance machine only has two drawbacks – the steep learning curve, and impressive price. In all other aspects, it is currently the best option for productive gold prospecting. The technology applied is Zero Voltage Transmission, combined with three Gold Search modes and three Ground Types modes. The machine is insensitive to noises and electromagnetic interference, which is hard to overestimate at gold-bearing locations.
The coil is 14×13” and is waterproof, allowing gold search in shallow water (good for gold dust). There are Depth indication and Manual Ground Balance available. Additional features include Pinpoint mode, enhanced sensitivity, and support of wireless technology. The machine is heavy, and not meant for beginners.
This metal detector has one valuable feature hard to overestimate – it enables the user to identify the chances of gold on the location before the user starts digging around. The technology is VLF, and the single operating frequency is 45 kHz. The search mode is also only one, but the 10” DD coil isolated for shallow water search provide decent variability in potential locations and size of targets. The rest of the machine is not waterproof, though.
The depth indication and Automatic Ground Balance tracking in combination with decent Discrimination feature make Minelab Gold Monster a preferred choice among good metal detectors, especially for noobs, because the machine is almost fully automated. Additional features include rain proof control panel, lightweightness, and Noise cancellation. Keeping its functions and features in mind, we have to admit that the price is very positive.
One of the best things about all Fisher products is that they are always as easy to use as possible. This is why this metal detector is marked as User-friendly, despite its professional level of functionality. The technology is VLF, and the single frequency is impressive 71 kHz. Three search modes are offered. The concentric coil is small, only 6 inches, and not waterproof. There is no Depth indicator, and the Ground balance is manual.
While we can already see that this machine does not really meet the All Purpose and Key Features criteria, it is very easy to use – mostly because there is no Pinpoint, no Audio tones, and no display. Also, the control box can be mounted on hip or on chest. The price is not very attractive as for a metal detector that has no this and no that, but the ease of use may compensate the expenses.
While metal detecting as a hobby is not something easy peasy from the very first step, noobs still stand a chance if choosing the right metal detector for beginner level. While price can seem to be the decisive factor, it is not, and the beginner detectorists should first check the learning curve and usability – in other words, how many functions the machine has, and how many of these functions have to be set and controlled manually. The more automated the machine is, the better. The next part is potential location and potential targets, but the newbie treasure hunters rarely know these, so, we might be wanting to look at All Purpose machines in the first place.
This machine has the word Simplex in its name for a reason. It has VLF technology with single frequency only, four comprehensive preset Search modes, Automatic option for Ground balance, and a Depth indicator. The electromagnetic interference that can cause false signals is cut by frequency shift, while signals from trash can be filtered with outstanding Discrimination. This way, the user gets clean and clear signals they are able to learn to interpret.
This metal detector is easy to use, and yet, the beginner user still has space to grow, because the detector is waterproof, and has a Saltwater search mode that withstands highly mineralized waters. The software is updatable online, and there is compatibility with wireless headphones. Surprisingly, the price is not very scary.
One of the outstanding advantages of this metal detector is its price. Having a Minelab machine for affordable money is a good option for beginner detectorists. The technology applied is Multi-IQ with three frequencies. The frequency range is customizable and combined with five Search modes, it provides decent flexibility in operation. The coil is 10” DD, and other coils are also compatible. The machine is waterproof and lightweight. It has a Depth indicator and Fixed Ground Balance.
Being “the middle brother” in the Vanquish series, 440 is okay for total noobs and for those with some expertise alike. Minelab provides high quality, and all features available make this very machine handy and affordable.
Garrett ACE as a series is generally handy, user-friendly, and effective, so beginners will find Garrett ACE 300 a good choice for entering the hobby – even including its price. The machine operates on VLF Single Frequency, with five Search modes and a Mono coil. The depth indication is present, and the Ground balance is fixed (which makes it convenient as best starter metal detector). This is an excellent budget-friendly machine, and even though its features are not very complicated, this best budget metal detector will bring finds and allow the user to learn and develop their skills.
This table shows compared indications of the depth of best metal detectors for various targets on various depths. The measurements were completed in All Metal search mode for all machines, batteries fully charged. For machines that have such features, a ground balance was applied.
Please keep in mind that the depth of reach of each machine can differ depending on the chemical composition of the soil, the level of mineralization, and the conditions of search on the location.
So, what is the best metal detector you may ask? As these reviews by categories prove, an efficient metal detector does not mean the most expensive one. The main criterion for a metal detector is to meet the requirements and be able to cope with the tasks you put as your goals. The general rule is the more features are included, the better, but for decent results and successful search sessions, basic functions will make you good to go. Relevance is also an important factor. Old models of metal detectors may have collected tons of positive comments over time, but the technologies are still outdated. If you are limited in budget and consider buying an old machine, better look for new metal detectors within the wallet-friendly segment.
Hi detectorists! I’m Michael Moore, founder of this website, and a dedicated treasure hunter since 2013. If you want to be posted about the most recent news and updates in metal detecting, releases, and trends, subscribe!
Choosing a metal detector for beginner is a responsible task, since in most cases, the success of the whole hobby depends on whether the newbie manages to choose a proper metal detector that meets their needs, and fits the purposes. You already know which metal detectors would be the best option for a beginner treasure hunter, but for a more informed choice, check out full review and guideline.
Choosing a metal detector for gold prospecting is one of the most complicated tasks, since numerous factors should be considered. If you are interested in gold prospecting, learn more about all possible nuances, and check out full review and guideline on metal detectors for gold prospecting. Make sure you keep in mind all the crucial nuances that can totally make or break your experience and productivity.
Kids are often fond of metal detecting, but choosing a machine for a child is not easy. Forget about wasting money on cheap Chinese brand imitations, because they will not bring any finds, and your kid will be left disappointed. There are budget-friendly and easy to use detectors by decent best metal detector brands that will fit your child. Learn more about choosing a metal detector for kids.
If you are looking for the best cheap metal detector, pay attention to younger models within Garrett ACE series, or Minelab Vanquish series. However, consider a reasonable combination of price and features you really need. Even the best metal detector for the money you can afford does not mean it will have the functions you really need for your locations, or your targets.
Those looking for the best beach metal detector should pay attention to Minelab Equinox 800 and 600, or Nokta Makro Simplex+. These machines show high level of performance both underwater and on dry soils.
Among best mid level metal detector range, those meeting the criterion are Garrett AT Max, or Garrett ACE Apex. Garrett products are generally those friendly for lower level of expertise, but allowing to learn along the way and enhance the skills.
High quality and expensive metal detecting equipment is only 50% of success, because the success also depends on skills of the detectorist and particular situations of the search. Also, some places simply have less targets to propose.
Machines that would fit this range are Minelab Vanquish 440 and Garrett Ace 300. However, if you would still put quality of performance over price, you could add a bit on top and purchase the next models in the series by Minelab or Garrett. Or, consider Nokta Makro Simplex as an option.
Fitting this range are Nokta Makro Simplex+, Garrett Ace Apex, or - just a tiny bit more expensive - Minelab Equinox 600.
Double-check the warranty, the weight, the number of automatic and manually tunable features. If you are looking for a waterproof device, check if it is all waterproof, or is it only the coil (you don’t want that). Check if there is a pinpoint mode. In case the machine is higher than beginner level, find out if it has a mobile app, or whether its software can be updated. There are all things that seem not to be connected to the search directly, but they will eventually influence your user experience.
In the segment of deepest reaching machines, the rule “more expensive = better” still works, but this rule is not absolute. If you can manage the settings correctly, your next best favourites are likely to be Minelab Equinox 800, Garrett AT MAX, and Nokta Anfibio Multi. In case you would like a budget-friendly option, take a look at Nokta Makro Simplex+ and Minelab Vanquish 540.
To spot gold and silver, or jewelry, especially on the beach and near the water bodies, consider Minelab CTX 3030. However, this option is quite expensive, so in case you need a more budget-friendly option, take a look at Minelab Equinox 800, Garrett AT Gold, or Nokta Makro Multi Kruzer.
The best metal detector is the one which enables you to get the most finds. The choice depends on your own skills, the locations you are more likely to search on, and the targets you are more likely expected to find. If you manage to combine those three criteria when choosing a machine, you will buy the best one specifically for yourself.