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Best metal detectors for beginners – top 5 picks

Best metal detector for beginnersIn this post, I listed 5 of the best metal detectors for beginners. They’re good entry-level devices that will pay their cost in a reasonable amount of time.

You can use them to find jewelry, gold rings, watches, car keys, coins, survey pins, iron pipes…

They can find targets a few inches deep even under concrete.

So let’s get started with a quick overview:

Bounty Hunter TK4

The bounty hunter TK 4 is by far the most popular metal detector for beginners. Maybe because it’s affordable.

It has a simplistic screen, which only displays the signal strength and it has a low battery light.

If the batteries are still full, the light will flash once when the metal detector is turned ON.

If it’s completely discharged, the indicator will stay ON. I think a battery gauge is better than a simple indicator.

The bounty hunter runs on two 9 volts alkaline batteries.

It has two knobs and a switch. The first knob on the left enables you to adjust the sensitivity and to turn ON/OFF the bounty hunter.

I will explain further what the sensitivity means in the following paragraphs. So stay tuned!

The knob on the right side is for adjusting the discrimination level.

By using the switch you can choose between three discrimination modes: all metal, discrimination and tone mode.

Don’t get intimidated by this new terminology. I’ll explain them in an easy way later on.

I was newbie too and it took some time for me to understand what these things mean.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.

Now let’s go back to the hunter TK4…

It has a built-in loudspeaker. But you can use it with ¼ headphones. They extend the battery life.

If you want to use your usual earbud/headphones with 1/8 inches connector, you need an adapter.

The detector can produce two tones: a low and a high tone.

The stem’s length and the search coil’s angle are adjustable.

So adjust them to fit you so that you maintain a comfortable posture.

The armrest is padded and the handgrip is cushioned for more comfort.

It has a stand to lay down the metal detector on the ground while you’re digging the goodies.

The search coil is waterproof. Therefore, you can use the detector in shallow water. But not underwater.

Its size is 8 inches. If you want to upgrade, you can easily replace it with a coil that has a different size.

The depth that the bounty hunter can reach depends on the object’s size.

For example, a coin-sized object can be detected up to 8 inches deep.

If it’s a large object, the device can detect its presence up to two feet underground.

Some manufacturers say that the ground balance in their devices is automatic. But I think it’s preset. I’ll explain the difference in the following paragraphs.

Fisher F22

The Fisher F22 is also a popular choice for beginners. It’s good for detecting jewelry, coins, and artifacts…

It has a pinpoint button, which is very similar to the Garrett ACE 300 (a popular device that I’ll present later on in this article).

It is fitted with a 9 inch waterproof search coil, so it can be submerged under water.

On the other hand, the control box is only weatherproof not waterproof.

Weatherproof can withstand being splashed with some rain but cannot be submerged.

Waterproof devices can be submerged under water.

So If you live near lakes, creeks or your area is rainy, this metal detector may be a good choice for you.


The headphones’ jack has a rubber cover to prevent the water from getting in. And the coil’s connector has an O ring.

It has a nice little screen, which displays the target ID, a number based on the buried metal’s conductivity. It’s between 0 and 99.

You can also identify the metal’s nature by looking to the upper part of the screen.  You’ll find nine segments divided into three parts.

The first one on the left is for iron, the second one (from 2 to 5) is for gold and the third one (from 6 to 9) is for silver.

It’s important to note that some objects have very close conductivities.

So if you see that a target is within the second part it doesn’t mean necessarily that it’s gold. It could be pull-tabs.

The Fisher F22 has 4 tones to help you identify the buried metal in conjunction with the info displayed on the screen.

It runs on two AA batteries that can last somewhere between 25 and 30 hours depending on many factors. Use alkaline batteries only.

The volume is adjustable. You can set tones for ferrous and nonferrous targets at different volumes. This may help you discern them even better

The sensitivity is adjustable like all the metal detectors in this post.

Your settings will be saved even if turn OFF the Fisher F 22.

It weighs only 2.3 lbs. Having a lightweight detector enables you to use it for long hours without feeling tired.

The shaft is adjustable. And the control box is more compact than the ACE’s.

The screen displays the estimated depth of the buried metal.

It’s an estimation. It is not always accurate because it’s calibrated with coins sized objects.

It has three preset discrimination modes: jewelry, coins and artifact, and a custom mode.

White’s Coinmaster

The screen of the White’s Coinmaster looks a little bit odd. It’s like the old Tetris console (I don’t know if you still remember it). But it does the job anyway.

It displays the sensitivity level, which you can adjust it with the SENS button.

You can discriminate certain targets by using the DISC button. But it has no preset discrimination modes.

You have five levels of discrimination.

Whenever you discriminate an item, you’ll see a symbol of a speaker with a line drawn through it under the undesired metal.

The target ID helps identify the buried metal before digging it. The White’s coinsmaster will display a cursor under the target’s icon in the legend just above the screen.

It has no notching. This feature can be found only in the pro version of the coinsmaster.

It has a depth indicator in the lower left corner of the screen and a low battery indicator.

Like the Garrett ACE 300, it has a pinpoint button. You press it and sweep the coil slowly following the strongest audio signal.

The target will be just under the center of the search coil.

The manual I found online isn’t very helpful and it’s not detailed the way it should be.

The shaft and the armrest are adjustable. But, the volume isn’t.

It operates by a pair of 9 V batteries which could last for 20 hours.

Like the rest of devices, it has an onboard speaker that will emit a beep when it detects a metal object.

It can also be used with 1/4 headphones.

It has a waterproof 9-inch search coil. The control box is water resistant (not waterproof!).

It’s a standard metal detector. It’s designed to detect coins and jewelry.

The ground balance is preset and the frequency isn’t adjustable, It’s 8 kHz.

With the stock coil, it weighs 2.5 pounds. You can mount a smaller one if you hunt in trashy areas.

But for someone who is stating out, keep the original coil. Learn how the basics of metal detecting, you can upgrade later.

Teknetics Delta 4000

The Teknetics Delta 4000 weighs about 2.6 pounds. It has an 8-inch concentric search coil and, as always, it’s waterproof.

Its length is adjustable. It has an arc stand to support the detector when you set it on the ground.

The armrest is padded and the handgrip is cushioned.

It runs up to 25 hours on a single 9 volts battery. The operating frequency is 7.8 kHz.

It’s equipped with an LCD screen which displays much useful information.

The target ID helps you identify the buried object if you understand what the numbers mean.

In addition to that, there are some icons on the screen that will help you get an idea about the target’s nature.

You can know whether it’s iron, foil, aluminum… and you if you’re interested you can dig and recover the buried metal.

It has a depth indicator, a battery gauge, a built-in speaker, and a ¼” headphones jack.

The Teknetics Delta 4000 has a built-in pinpointer which appears to be a standard in these entry-level metal detectors.

By using the MODE, MENU, the (+) and (-) buttons you can adjust the sensitivity, the discrimination, the volume, and notch some undesired targets.

Garrett Ace 300

The Garrett ACE 300 has more features than the bounty hunter 4.

It has a more advanced screen that displays a lot of useful information.

You can know the depth of the buried metal even before digging it.

You can know whether it’s 2, 4, 6 or more than 8 inches deep.

But remember this is an estimation based on coin-sized objects. For larger targets, they may appear to be shallower than they really are and vice versa.

The screen displays also the battery status, which is better than the simple low battery indicator of the bounty hunter 4.

Above the screen, you find a legend that has two parts.

In the lower one, you find ranges of conductivity: 10 to 25, from 25 to 40 and so on…

In the upper one, there are symbols of common objects that you can find buried underground.

Now, how do you read it?

Very simple…

In the screen, just under the legend, you’ll find two scales. The upper one has a cursor and the lower one has simple black squares.

When you detect something, this cursor will appear under the metal’s symbol on the legend which tells you its probable nature.

For example, if the ACE 300 detects a nail, the cursor will be illuminated under the iron region colored in red.

If you see the cursor under the pull-tab symbol, then the object could be a pull-tab, a ring or another piece of jewelry….

This why I told you the probable nature. The screen gives you an estimation of what the buried object could be.

And you can decide whether to dig it or not.

Depending on the accuracy of the readings, this can be a time saver.

If the screen displays that the buried metal is a nail (iron), you don’t have to waste your time digging a hole.

You can save your efforts for other more valuable targets like coins and jewelry.

In the center, you find a target digital ID. It’s a number between 0 and 99 based on the object’s conductivity.

But you have to learn the meaning of each number.

They’re not as clear as the icons above the screen and they may be redundant for a beginner.

As the bounty hunter tk4, you can identify the targets using tones.

If you hear a bell-tone audio signal, then the target has a high conductivity.

In this case, without looking to the screen, you’ll know that the digital ID will be greater than 75.

If you hear a medium pitched tone, you can know that the target digital ID is somewhere between 33 and 75

I think that you get the idea.

The display shows the sensitivity level and the selected discrimination mode.

There are four preset discrimination modes, which are the coins, relics, jewelry, and zero-disc modes.

There’s also a custom mode which allows you to program your own discrimination mode.

The other modes are customizable too. However, once you turn OFF the metal detector, your settings will be lost.

Only when using the custom mode your settings will be saved.

What’s the point of using these modes?

They allow you to focus on only one type of metal objects.

For example, if you’re looking for gold, you can select the jewelry mode. If the device detects the presence of a nail, it will not emit a beep.

You can know which mode is currently selected by checking whether there’s a black rectangle around it or not.

Or by looking at the lower scale (remember the black square that I told you about previously?)

If a metal isn’t discriminated, you’ll find a black square under it.

The ACE 300 has 6 buttons.

The first on the left allows you to select the discrimination mode. Another one to adjust the sensitivity level.

The DISCRIM button allows you to move the ID cursor from left to right.

And if you press the button just under it you can adjust the discrimination mode.

It will eliminate or activate a black pixel on the lower scale.

This button has also another function. It allows the user to adjust the frequency.

Press it and hold it then press the (+) on the DISCRIM button to increase the frequency.

To decrease it press the (-) side of the button.

For a beginner, you don’t have to worry a lot about adjusting the frequency.

The power button is self-explanatory.

The ACE 300 has a nice feature, which helps you pinpoint the target.

When you detect the presence of a buried a metal, the screen will tell you how deep it is.

But it doesn’t tell you exactly where it is located. The only thing you know is that it’s under the search coil.

The coil’s size is 7″ x 10″. This means that you have to dig a big hole. This is not an easy task.

This is where the central button of the Garrett ACE 300 comes into play. It will help to pinpoint the target.

Simply press and hold the button. And sweep the coil front to back and side to side slowly.

Keep the coil’s height steady. The volume of the audio signal will increase proportionally when you get closer to the target.

You can always keep an eye on the screen. You’ll see that the digital ID displays PP which means that it’s in the pinpoint mode.

The cursor scale will indicate the strength of the signal. The closer the target the greater the number of the illuminated segments.

The maximum is reached when the center of the coil is exactly above the target.

Personally, I prefer using a separate handheld pinpointer.

The grip of the ACE 300 is padded. The armrest has an arm strap to keep the detector in place.

On the back on the control housing, you can plug in 1/4 inches headphones jack.

The search coil is waterproof but the control housing is not. So keep it away from water.

It runs on four AA batteries.

Terminology

Throughout this article, I used some terms that may sound weird for someone new to the hobby.

In this paragraph, I’ll try to explain them in an easy way.

I hope that after you read this, you fully understand these words.

The best metal detector for beginners shouldn’t be too confusing with many dials to deal with. But there few of them that you should understand.

Ground balance

The soil isn’t homogeneous. It contains many materials like minerals. These objects could interfere with the metal detector giving you false signals.

Ground balancing is a feature that allows the detector to ignore them and give you more or less accurate readings.

For many of the entry-level detectors, the ground balancing will be preset. Which means that it’s adjusted for the average ground conditions.

The automatic one, as its name suggests, will be automatically adjusted to follow the change in the soil’s composition.

Discrimination and notch

The detector will emit an audio signal whenever it finds a metal within range. These metals could be valuable like gold and it could be rubbish like rusty iron nails.

If you want to save time, dig fewer holes, and focus only on finding good targets. You can discriminate or notch bad ones.

This way, your device will only beep when it detects something interesting like jewelry or coins.

That’s it, it’s so simple.

Sensitivity

Your device uses electromagnetic fields to find buried metals.

The problem is that electromagnetic fields could be emitted by many other things like your mobile phone and power lines.

Little pieces of junk metal can cause false signals too.

That’s why you need to adjust the sensitivity until the false signals disappear.

Wrap up

To conclude, if you want an entry-level metal detector, pick The Garrett ACE 300. It easy to use and have useful features like the LCD screen.

Other may recommend the Fisher F 22, the Coinsmaster or the delta 400 as the best metal detector for beginners.

But, I like to keep things simple. If you can afford it, go for the ACE 300.

If you’re low on budget, the bounty hunter TK4 is a good choice too. You can use it to learn the basics of metal detecting.

And then decide, if you liked the hobby, you can upgrade to a more advanced device.

If you think this hobby isn’t for you, you didn’t lose anything. The bounty hunter is affordable and it can pay for itself if you find some coins and jewelry.

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