Choosing the Best Metal Detector for Beginners
We all have an innate curiosity for the unknown, especially when it comes to discovering long lost objects. In a sense, there is an archeologist in each of us. We just need a bit of free time and the right tools to start discovering precious metal and historical artifacts. In this guide, we will not only look at the best metal detector for beginners, but also go through tips that will increase your chances of finding various objects.
This having been said, keep in mind that cheaper does not always equate to lower quality. We have tested dozens of metal detector models and have selected products that fit in all budgets and offer the best results. These are easy to use, durable, and efficient. While some may be considered entry-level products, they are not toys.
The best tool to use in order to find metals that are buried deep underground is a metal detector. These devices have been around for quite some time and are used by both amateurs as well as professional archeologists in order to find long-lost treasures. There are several types of metal detectors, however, the ones that are most common are the handheld models.
These use batteries and magnetic fields in order to detect if there is anything of value under a few feet of soil. This having been said, devices that are designed for professionals are bulky and heavy, making them difficult to use, but many manufacturers have also come up with models designed for amateurs.
How does a metal detector work?
The technology that metal detectors use in order to find precious materials and various objects has been around for several decades, however, manufacturers have continuously developed new features to make these devices more accurate and easier to use.
Generally speaking, a metal detector is a handheld electric coil. The device emits a magnetic field from the circular section, which then penetrates the ground and keeps traveling until it reaches an object made out of metal or which has enough metal in its composition to cause distortion. The search coil that is also positioned in the lower section then detects the disturbances in the magnetic field and the device notifies the user.
In terms of components, all metal detectors are largely identical:
- Battery – The batteries used in metal detectors are usually Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries and can power the devices for at least a couple of hours. These can be recharged using any standard power outlet;
- Control Box – This is essentially the brain of the device. The control box is where the transmit signal is generated and where the received one is processed when a target is detected;
- Search coil – The circular section that is attached to the lower half of the device generates the magnetic field and also acts as a receiver for the return signals;
You will also have to understand a few key concepts in order to ensure that you find the best metal detector for beginners. While we will not actually go into the physics and mathematical calculations, understanding what the device does on a technical level will help you better understand the information that manufacturers use in order to advertise their products:
- The frequency of the detector
The frequency is the most important characteristic of a metal detector and influences how well and fast the device can detect metals. The higher the frequency of the device, the faster it will transmit and receive magnetic pulses that help detect metallic objects.
This having been said, please keep in mind that higher frequencies make a detector much more sensitive to metals, however, lower ones will allow the magnetic field to penetrate deeper into larger objects. However, newer metal detector models have several emitters that are set to different frequencies, ensuring that they will not miss anything.
- Ground balance control
The ground balance setting controls how deep the field penetrates mineralized soil. Depending on where you use the metal detector, you may find that the soil contains salts or iron particles (beaches and red soil locations). These particles can mask smaller objects from detection and the appropriate ground balance setting is needed in order to compensate for this.
- Discrimination function and settings
The discrimination function affects the device’s ability to identify and select or ignore certain types of objects based on their conductivity levels. Practically, the discrimination setting can help ignore pieces of junk that may otherwise be considered targets, such as nails or cans.
What can you find using a metal detector?
Metal detectors can be used to find virtually any kind of object as long as it is conductive enough in order to affect the projected magnetic field. Basically, the more conductive the material is, the easier it will be for the detector to find it.
However, in order to be more specific, metal detectors can find any type of object that is made from the following materials:
If you’re looking to buy the best metal detector for beginner treasure seekers, keep in mind that the more advanced models can even detect trace amounts of these metals, so if you’re looking for a box that has only one iron screw, you should be able to find it without any issues.
The discrimination function mentioned above can be invaluable when it comes to choosing what kind of materials you want to look for. The setting can help you ignore iron and only target gold, or bronze. By modifying its receiver to ignore materials that have certain conductivity values, the metal detector can become blind to objects that you are not interested in.
It is also worth mentioning that the magnetic field created by the detector will go through almost anything, depending on the setting. This means that you will be able to find an iron buckle that is placed in a wooden box, however, you may have trouble detecting a gold ring that is in an iron container, provided that you set the detector to only target gold.
When it comes to the size of the objects, there are settings that affect what the device will detect and what it will ignore. Generally speaking, the smaller an object is and the deeper it resides in the ground, the more difficult it will be to detect. This is also influenced by the type of material that you are looking for. Metals that have lower conductivity will be harder to detect if they are deeper underground and in smaller amounts.
The main hotspots for metal detector enthusiasts
Old metal objects that are buried deep underground can be found almost anywhere in the world, however, not all of them have value. Treasure hunters and other metal detector users usually target specific places in order to maximize their chances of finding something of value:
- Beaches – Beaches, particularly historical beaches that have seen military action are great places to find war memorabilia. Here, you can find buckles, bullets, old canteens, and other items that have value to collectors. Although beaches usually hold iron, copper and brass items, you may also occasionally find jewelry, but precious objects are generally dropped by tourists and do not have any historical value;
- Archeological sites – Go to areas where you know that battles took place or where medieval or ancient settlements used to be. These are generally the most lucrative areas to go hunting for treasure, especially if you search where archeologists haven’t yet started digging. Specialists and history buffs tend to only focus on the actual sites, but there are many objects to be found in the surrounding areas;
- Deserted towns – There are quite a few of there all over the world and they may seem to have been picked clean by tourists or former locals, you can still find all sorts of objects buried in the ground. These may not be old, but this does not mean that they aren’t valuable. There is always the chance that you will find jewelry or rare collectors’ items in the backyards of deserted homes;
Depending on where you go looking for valuables, there is one extremely important thing that you should always ask yourself: “Is it legal?”
There is no simple answer to this question. The best course of action is to look at the laws that apply in your area and also to keep in mind that objects with great historical value may be claimed by the government, especially if you find them in an active archeological site. However, this only applies to historical artifacts; modern jewelry and precious material objects are yours to keep if you can find them.
What to look for in a great metal detector
There are hundreds of metal detector models that can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousand. The price tag is usually determined by the quality of the materials and the sensitivity of the device. Metal detectors that have more complex emitters and receivers are more expensive due to the fact that they can detect a larger variety of objects at the same time and recognize them separately.
However, beginners who are looking to buy their first metal detectors should focus on a device that either uses rechargeable alkaline batteries or Nickel-Metal Hydride ones. This having been said, keep in mind that the alkaline ones can only be recharged a few times before their capacity is reduced. The upside is that these can be replaced fairly easily. If you’re on a budget, get a model that uses alkaline batteries as these detectors are cheaper than the NI-MN ones.
In terms of features, think about how you will use the device. If you want to get a metal detector that you can take with you to the beach or in a forest, then a model that has only a couple of presets to help you distinguish between various metals should be enough.
You shouldn’t concern yourself with the quality of materials at this point. Even cheaper models are made from rugged plastics that can be dropped or lightly bumped against trees without breaking.
One last thing that you should take into consideration is the fact that some products come with various accessories such as battery chargers, car chargers, headphones, and travel bags. Some of these aren’t necessary for the operation of the metal detector, however, some are vital.
The most important accessory that you need will need is a pair of comfortable headphones. Some models include these but others do not and you will have to supply your own. These come in all shapes and sizes and you shouldn’t have trouble finding a pair that is both comfortable and affordable.
Top 5 Best Metal Detector for Beginners
Here are 5 of the best metal detectors for beginners. These are fairly inexpensive and may not have all the bells and whistles that premium models do, however, they are some of the most sensitive and efficient entry-level products.
1. DR.ÖTEK Junior Metal Detector – A light metal detector that comes with a touchscreen and a waterproof coil
The Junior Metal Detector from DR.ÖTEK has been designed to be child-friendly, however, it is a great tool for beginners as well. The device is extremely light and comes with an intuitive touchscreen that displays the type of materials detected and also lets the user control various features. Furthermore, the stem of the search coil is adjustable, making it easy to use by both children and adults.
- Waterproof coil – The coil can be fully submerged in water and will continue to function;
- Adjustable stem – The stem can be made longer or shorter in order to suit the user;
- Intuitive controls – The touchscreen is easy to use and can clearly show when the device detects something underground;
- Not entirely waterproof – The control box is not waterproof and must be protected if you intend to use the product when it rains;
- Primarily designed for children – The model is not a toy, but it does come close to one. The sensitivity of the device only allows it to detect coins at a maximum depth of 7 feet;
What makes it different?
While it may not be particularly useful for finding deeply buried treasure, the Junior Metal Detector from DR.ÖTEK is extremely affordable and can certainly find coins and lost jewelry, provided that it is not buried too deep. However, the touchscreen is what really makes it shine. It displaysall information in a way that untrained beginners can easily read and understand.
2. Kuman High-Accuracy Metal Detector – A model that comes with two detection modes, customizable sensitivity, and a shovel
This model from Kuman may seem bulky but its padded armrest is extremely comfortable and lightweight design makes it easy to use. Furthermore, it comes with a discrimination setting that enables you to filter out garbage that you do not want and a low battery indicator that will inform you when you should recharge or replace the batteries. In addition, the detector comes with a foldable shovel and a carry bag.
- Two detection mode – The discrimination setting can help you ignore objects and materials that you are not interested in;
- Included accessories – The foldable shovel is durable and light, making it a great companion accessory. Also, the travel bag is resistant to scratches and tearing;
- No included batteries – The device works with 9V alkaline batteries; however, you will have to buy your own;
- Control box not waterproof – Only the coil and the stem are waterproof, making it difficult to use the detector in humid environments or when it rains;
What makes it different?
This detector from Kuman is easily one of the best metal detectors for beginners due to how easy it is to use the additional features. Changing between the discrimination mode and the all-metal one is as easy as turning a knob. Also, regardless of where you go treasure hunting, you will need a shovel and the foldable one included in the package is a great addition.
3. URCERI CG-1028 Waterproof Metal Detector – A high-accuracy metal detector that comes with a variety of accessories
This is more of a kit than a simple metal detector. The package contains a high-accuracy, waterproof metal detector that comes equipped with an LCD screen, a foldable shovel, a pair of headphones, and travel bags for both the device as well as the accessories.
In terms of features, the detector comes with a discrimination option, as well as indicators that show the depth at which the target is, the battery level, the operating mode and the sensitivity level.
- Multiple accessories included – The device comes with everything needed to put it to use right out of the box. The shovel is durable, the headphones are comfortable and the carrying bags are made from a tear-resistant material;
- Large LCD – The screen is large enough to fit all the indicators, so you will be able to see every setting at the same time;
- Pinpoint searching – This mode causes the device to make a louder sound when you are closer to the target and a fainter one when moving away;
- Batteries not included – You will have to supply your own 9V batteries;
What makes it different?
The main feature that makes this URCERI model one of the best entry-level metal detectors around is the large LCD screen that is both easy to read and contains all the information that you need, without having to switch between display options Also, this is basically a kit, so once you buy it, the only other things that you will need are two 9V batteries.
4. Bounty Hunter TK4 Metal Tracker – A high quality, durable metal detector designed for rugged terrain
The TK4 model from Bounty Hunter looks more like a military device than a beginner metal detector. In terms of materials, the device is made from durable plastic and metal, making it ideal for rugged terrain. You can easily take it into the woods without worrying that you will scratch it if you accidentally bang it on rocks of trees.
There are two detection modes to choose from: discrimination and all-metal. The first one will generate two different types of sound in order to inform you what material it has detected and the second one will look for any kind of metallic object.
- Extremely durable – The coil, stem and control box are made from durable materials that can be used in any environment without degrading. They are hard to scratch, break or dent;
- Easy to use – The device is controlled using only two knobs and the target indicator is intuitive and easy to read in low light;
- Only the coil is waterproof – Using the detector at the beach is difficult as any larger waves that hit the coil can splash into the connection housing which is not waterproof;
What makes it different?
The TK4 is great for forests and rugged urban and rural areas. The coil of the device is waterproof so you can also submerge it into puddles, and it will still work. Furthermore, the device is very easy to use. It basically has only two knobs and one indicator, making it great for first-time users.
5. Sakobs High-accuracy Adult Metal Detector – A highly accurate metal detector that can filter out interference
The Sakobs Metal Detector is great if you’re looking for items that are deeper into the ground than what most other models can detect. The device is comfortable to hold, it can be strapped to your hand in order to make it easier to carry for prolonged periods of time and it comes with a True Discrimination Mode that can help you filter out materials that you’re not interested in by listening to the distinctive audio prompts that it gives you.
- Adjustable stem – The stem can be extended to 47.6 inches in order to make it easier to handle the device;
- Waterproof coil – The coil will still work if submerged completely;
- Upgraded Smart Chip – The model features an upgraded smart chip that can eliminate interference and increase the accuracy of the detector;
- Batteries not included – You will have to buy 9V batteries separately;
- Cannot penetrate some surfaces and may miss objects – The device cannot detect metals that are under a few inches of concrete;
What makes it different?
A lot of people consider this one to be the best metal detector for beginners, mostly because it offers a wider array of features that are actually useful. The model comes with 3 detection modes and 3 sensitivity settings. Also, it can find metals at a maximum depth of 7.7 inches, which is more than enough to find antique coins and jewelry.
All the products included in this guide are great choices for a beginner. They won’t break your budget and they all have quite a few features that will make your experience more enjoyable. This having been said, do not forget that you will also need headphones and spare batteries if you do not want to wait until the ones that they metal detector comes with recharge.
Look through them and remember that the best metal detector for a beginner is always the one that is the most useful and enjoyable to use. Don’t go for the most expensive one unless you are sure that you actually need the advanced features that they offer.
Overall, the products included in this list are efficient enough in order to help you find jewelry that you may have lost in the back yard or metal trinkets that may be buried beneath a few feet of dirt. So, get one and take it to the beach, a forest, or around a historical site and see what you can find.
If you ever decide that you need a more advanced model, look at what you can find online and compare the products that you browse through with what you have. Always focus on features that you actively use and you should be able to easily find an upgrade.
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