Best Metal Detectors of 2023
Choosing the Best Metal Detectors of 2023 is not as difficult as it sounds as metal detecting became a hobby has had a major surge in popularity thanks to social media apps where videos of exploration and metal detector finds have racked up almost 3 billion views. If you’re interested in getting started, there are lots of options for great metal detectors. While a lot of models are designed for experienced hobbyists and can cost several hundred dollars, there are budget and beginner-friendly versions available with simplified controls and lightweight designs for introducing you to metal detecting. There are even starter kits for small children who want to start metal detecting.
Experienced coin hunters and search and salvage professionals can spend thousands on high-end, very sophisticated metal detectors capable of finding objects buried several feet underground and even deep underwater. To help you figure out where to start when shopping for a metal detector, I’ve put together a list of the five best available to buy. I’ve broken down their features and price points to help you decide which is the right fit for your experience level as well as your budget.
Best Entry-Level : Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector
A good entry-level metal detector includes features and settings that help you get started right away. These models usually only work best in a single type of environment (beach, freshwater, saltwater, desert terrain). So, before too long, you may find yourself looking for a different device to expand your search range. The AT Pro balances user-friendliness with more advanced features, while also being able to handle almost every type of terrain you might search.
This model comes with common features such as preset search modes, Iron Audio and Garrett’s digital target ID feature, which helps identify materials on a range of 0-99. It also boasts a higher search frequency of 15kHz that lets it find materials with higher precision — and even identify gold nuggets under certain circumstances.
The most notable feature, however, is its two audio settings (Standard and Pro), which are essentially toggles between the basic tones one might hear with standard metal detectors and a “professional” audio mode that provides a more nuanced sequence of tones depending on which materials you’re detecting. Unlike many of Garrett’s less advanced models, the AT Pro allows for manual ground balancing, which helps you fine-tune your search settings in highly mineralized soil like saltwater beaches.
This model usually costs around $700, which is a fairly significant expense. Still, novices with spare funds and other treasure hunters looking to step up their game will find the AT Pro to be a solid long-term investment.
Best for low prices: Garrett ACE 400 Metal Detector
Metal detecting can be a fun and rewarding (read: lucrative) hobby, though it certainly has a learning curve. Mostly, that means sorting through dud finds before you get any actual valuable treasure. Luckily for those looking to get started, Garrett’s ACE 400 has many features that eliminate much of the guesswork.
It comes with five preset detection modes to help you target specific items: coins, jewelry, relics, “zero-disc” (all metals), and a custom setting that will locate items you may have found before and don’t necessarily fall under other preset categories. It also includes a Digital Target ID feature, which displays the conductivity of detected items on a scale of 0-99, along with a printed reference scale on the top of the display.
Another important feature is its Iron Audio function, which allows you to locate junk iron targets and avoid digging up unwanted items. As a nice bonus, the ACE 400 is very light (only 2.9 pounds), meaning it could even be used by children.
Its main downside is a lack of manual ground balancing, which helps you fine-tune your search in highly mineralized soil (think: saltwater beaches, or ground full of naturally occurring metals). Even so, it’s a good option for most beginners, who will want to master the basics of metal detecting before trying to handle such technical adjustments.
Best all-terrain detector: Minelab CTX 3030
If you’re serious about metal detecting, you’re going to need a machine that can operate in any environment while also providing the most accurate readings possible. Minelab’s CTX 3030 is hands-down one of the best metal detectors for any situation.
In terms of basic functionality, its multi-frequency feature allows it to produce cleaner signals from objects hidden deep underground, even beyond 8 inches, which is where most standard detectors begin to struggle. This feature also means that you will be able to pick up distinct signals from multiple items at the same time, quickly helping to determine if the current search area is worth your time.
This model comes with preset search modes, including some that are standard to other detectors, such as coins and relics, but also beach, silver, and high trash modes. There are five additional custom mode slots so you can further customize your search preferences. The CTX 3030’s LCD display provides a wealth of background information on your search, such as item depth, conductivity, and iron content.
Most notably, this device features a GPS function that automatically logs areas you’ve searched before and allows you to pinpoint them on a computer map, even offering the option to add notes and pictures to previous searches. As a result, it’s easy to keep detailed search logs. High performance and a multitude of features does come at a price, however, yet even at $2,500 serious metal detector enthusiasts can certainly get their money’s worth.
Best for underwater:Minelab Equinox 600
Minelab Equinox 600 Multi-IQ underwater metal detectors are the fully submersible gadget that provides you with the maximum output through minimum efforts. This multi-frequency device is able to go 10-feet under the water and find you the valuable antique pieces no one has ever seen before.
Whether it is a river, a lake, or a stream, rest assured this detector will do its job with the greatest precision.
The 6 detection modes allow you to effectively search for the desired metal and rightfully expect to find it by switching between the regimes. It is compatible with the wireless audio, which enables you to use your Bluetooth headphones in order to cancel out the outside noise.
In the view of the lightweight and rugged construction of the device, you can spend hours metal hunting regardless of the surrounding environment.
Best for finding gold: Nokta Gold Kruzer Metal Detector
Though the days of old-timey prospectors wielding pickaxes and dressed in long johns are long gone, gold prospecting is alive and well today. Specialized metal detectors make the task of finding gold nuggets considerably easier. Nokta Gold Kruzer is a powerful unit that can help you find gold nuggets big and small in difficult, high-interference terrain.
What makes this unit particularly useful for gold prospecting is its 61kHz operating frequency, which helps identify highly conductive gold nuggets more easily. It also sports four distinct operating modes, which allow you to make adjustments for different environments and circumstances: relatively clean soil with little interference, terrain full of hot rocks, and terrain full of other metals and minerals that can disrupt the signals that gold produces, and a “micro” mode for areas littered with small, easily masked bits of gold.
The Gold Kruzer is also highly weather-resistant, so it’s ideal for places where sudden rain or dust storms would otherwise cut a search short. Features such as preset modes and discrimination settings — common to other metal detectors — are available as well, making it viable for all types of metal detecting, though gold prospecting remains its strong suit.
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