Over 50 hours of research and analysis went into our investigation to determine the best metal detector for most people and the Garrett Ace 250 Metal Detector came out on top. For those with a specific task in mind or for hobbyists looking to locate some hidden goods, this model is sure to help you find what you’re looking for. Even compared with models in the same price category, the Ace 250 outperforms and comes with more features to avoid trash and pinpoint the object’s location. While it may not be ideal for more serious enthusiasts, for the average user the Ace 250 is a perfect choice.
The Garrett Ace 250 Metal Detector was the clear choice for our top pick. Its lightweight build and comfortable arm rest make this model a very comfortable option, but it’s the features that really make it shine. With 12 element notch discrimination, adjustable sensitivity, a coin depth gauge, and electronic pinpointing the Ace 250 is sure to satisfy the majority of metal detector users. Its many great features and mid-range price make this device perfect for the average hobbyist.
Right behind the Ace 250, we selected the Teknetics Delta 4000 Metal Detector as our runner-up. This metal detector is a lot like our top pick with similar features including adjustable sensitivity, a depth indicator, and a discrimination mode to help you avoid junk. It also has some differences that set it apart, like its 2-digit numerical target ID system. Though the Ace 250 outperforms it by just a bit, the Delta 4000 is a great metal detector that deserves to be mentioned as well.
More advanced enthusiasts may benefit from a higher-grade device. We recommend the Garrett AT Gold Metal Detector as our step-up pick. This all-terrain metal detector comes with many of the same features as the previous two models listed but with more advanced capabilities. The AT Gold also has some additional features, like adjustable ground balance, and comes with a DD search coil rather than a concentric one. If you do a lot of searching or require a higher level of performance, investing into this model is something to consider.
On the other hand, if you’re just starting out or hoping to keep within a low price range, the Bounty Hunter Tracker IV Metal Detector is an inexpensive model that has all the necessary basic features to locate metal objects and eliminate some of the junk items. This metal detector’s solid performance and low price makes it a great option for aspiring hobbyists with a budget.
Why you should trust us
Since we don’t have access to a wide selection of metal detector models or an appropriate setting to properly test them, we relied on research into metal detectors in general, scrutinizing information from manufacturers and experts, and reviews from users to determine which models perform best. Over 50 hours of analyzing dozens of models went into this list so we could find the best metal detector for the majority of users.
Referencing manufacturer information about each model and their corresponding manuals was helpful to get an idea of what features they come with and what the build of the device is like. Reading the description of a product written by the manufacturer doesn’t always reflect the actual functionality of a device so reviews and Youtube videos from average and expert users helped give a clearer picture of how well the metal detectors work. We looked at metal detectors from every angle and put in the hours to compile a reliable list of the best units on the market.
How we picked
We selected the metal detectors on this list for their overall quality, ease of use, and great performance.
The features on the metal detectors were key in determining which were best. Those models with more features were generally considered better than those with fewer. Some models have only the basics and these did not rank as highly as units with more features that make searching for and locating objects easier. For example, detectors with no-motion pinpointing were preferable to those without because it makes determining the precise location of the found object much simpler and quicker. Devices that allow more customization were also considered more highly since they can create an experience more tailored to the user and their environment which results in a smoother, more enjoyable hunt.
Most detectors come with multiple operation modes and, as with features, we opted for models with more modes over those with fewer. Some metal detectors simply have all-metal and discrimination modes while others have built-in modes for finding specific items (coins, jewelry, relics, etc.). More modes give the users more options which is certainly preferable.
The display also played a part in our selections. Not every metal detector has information clearly laid out on the display and some don’t have any display, digital or analog, all. While display wasn’t the most important thing we looked at, a clear and informative display did help distinguish models with similar features and performance.
After considering all of these aspects, we looked at the Amazon ratings and reviews as well as reviews from experts on various reputable metal detector websites. If a model was described as having a long list of features and a solid build but was reviews negatively by users, it was not selected as one of our picks. After all, it’s the actual performance of the product when being used that really counts.
Who should buy this?
If you’re interested in coin shooting, relic hunting, or gold prospecting, you’ll want to buy a metal detector. Which type of detector you purchase will depend on what items you’re hoping to find and how dedicated to the hobby you intend to be, but some kind of metal detector is necessary to take part in any of these activities.
Metal detectors are not only used by hobbyists though; some purchase a metal detector for specific tasks. If you’ve lost keys or jewelry in grass or just finished renovations and think there may be stray nails on the lawn, a metal detector can help you locate and retrieve them. Locating property pins is another popular use. If you want to locate any sort of metal items, a metal detector is something you might consider purchasing.
Type of metal detectors
There are two types of metal detectors that make up the majority of the market today: very low frequency and pulse induction. Very low frequency (VLF) detectors are the most common type and are considered passive. They function by simply recording differences in the ground’s magnetic field caused by buried metals near the surface. These units are cheaper and use less energy to operate than the pulse induction detectors. They’re great for hobbyists and carrying out simple tasks but may not cut it for more extreme searches as they can detect small items at a maximum of twelve inches deep and many models claim just eight inches.
Pulse induction (PI) detectors are less common but are the better option for advanced enthusiasts and those conducting underwater hunts. These devices are considered active because they send electromagnetic signals deep into the ground which energize metals, minerals, rocks, and other components temporarily. This causes a shift in the signal which can be picked up by the electronic device and an alert is sounded. PI metal detectors require more energy to operate but are able to detect small objects beyond twelve inches deep. They’re also more effective when it comes to detecting gold and rejecting unwanted targets.
There are also a few different types of search coils for metal detectors. When purchasing a new detector, the unit usually comes with either a concentric (or coplanar) coil or a double-D coil. Concentric coils are the most common. The coil itself can be circular or elliptical and the electromagnetic field produced is cone shaped. Pinpointing is easy with concentric coils since the field is strongest in the center but the conical shape of the field means that ground should be covered with care as targets can be missed otherwise.
Double-D (or DD) coils are often elliptical in shape and look like two D’s back to back. The electromagnetic field produced by DD coils appear narrow and somewhat conical from the front and more rectangular from the side. This shape covers ground more uniformly so the user doesn’t have to overlap as much of the area. The DD coil is less affected by ground minerals than the concentric coil but pinpointing can be a bit trickier since the field isn’t strongest in one particular spot.
Our top pick: Garrett Ace 250 Metal Detector
The Garrett Ace 250 Metal Detector is affordable and offers all the features needed to satisfy the average user. This model’s stem is adjustable to be anywhere between 42″ and 51″ long so it’s suitable for users of varying heights. With its light weight (2.7 pounds), remarkably comfortable armrest, and up to 30 hours of battery life you’ll be able to comfortably use the Ace 250 all day.
The Ace 250’s coil measures 6.5″ by 9″ and creates a 10″ scan area. This means you can cover ground more quickly, and the electronic pinpointing will ensure you find precisely where the object is within the large scan area. The coil is a basic concentric search coil but, instead of circular, it is an elliptical shape. This shape is more easily maneuverable and contributes to the larger search area. Coin-sized objects can be detected up to eight inches deep, which is the same depth detection as the runner-up, step-up, and budget picks.
The Ace 250 has fairly basic features but their beautiful performance earn this device the top pick position. The sensitivity of the detector is adjustable to help weed out false signals from ground minerals and the discrimination feature can also be adjusted to ensure you only find what you’re looking for. The Ace 250 also includes an elimination feature to stop the device from alerting you to specific detections.
There are also additional modes that assist the user in finding particular items. Along the left side of the display screen, there are five modes to choose from: all-metal, jewelry, custom, relics, and coins. The all-metal mode will simply alert all detections while the jewelry, relics, and coins modes will narrow the detection down to those items that are likely to fit the category. The custom mode allows the user to set the outlines for what they’d like the find in case none of the other modes quite fit thesearch. To determine where the detected items are located, the opposite side of the screen shows a depth indicator that estimates the object’s location.
The high functionality, ease of use, and mid-range price make the Ace 250 a fantastic metal detector, especially compared to models in the same price category. We looked at customer reviews and unit specifications to see how it stood up against other models like the Fisher F2 and the Teknetics Delta 4000. The Teknetics Delta 4000 is rated slightly better than the Ace 250 but with drastically fewer reviews overall and fewer features, it wasn’t quite fit for our top pick. With all things considered, the Garrett Ace 250 Metal Detector stands out as the best option for most users.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The main flaw with the Ace 250 is the pre-set ground balance. Adjustable ground balance can be adjusted according to the varying mineral content in the ground in different places but with pre-set balance there is just one standard setting that may not exactly fit the soil in your search areas. This isn’t a dealbreaker, though, because most similarly priced metal detectors have pre-set ground balance as well and it can be worked around by adjusting the device’s sensitivity. Users can still carry out successful searches and locate valuables with pre-set ground balance.
Runner-up: Teknetics Delta 4000 Metal Detector
Along with the Ace 250, our runner-up is among the best mid-priced metal detectors available. The Teknetics Delta 4000 Metal Detector weighs 2.3 pounds and the stem can be adjusted to suit your height. With up to 25 hours from one 9 volt battery, this unit won’t die out during a long day of coin shooting.
The Delta 4000 comes with an 8″ concentric search coil that can detect coins up to eight inches deep. On the right-hand side of the device’s digital display, a clear depth indicator gives a reading as to where the located item is and the large 2-digit numerical target ID system will give an estimate as to what kind of metal is hidden underground. The 3-tone audio discrimination is also helpful in determining what has been found.
Like our top pick, this metal detector has pre-set ground balance but the sensitivity can be adjusted to work around the minerals in the soil. There are three operating modes on the Delta 4000: all-metal, discrimination, and pinpoint. The first two modes determine which metals will set off the detector and the pinpoint mode makes finding the detected item much easier.
Choosing between the Delta 4000 and the Ace 250 for top pick was difficult. Both detectors have fantastic performance and the reviews on both products’ Amazon pages were highly positive. However, the Delta 4000 has fewer reviews overall, which may paint a skewed picture, and it has slightly fewer features than the Ace 250. For these reasons, it is runner-up instead of top pick.
Step-up pick: Garrett AT Gold Metal Detector
The previous two models are great detectors for most hobbyists, but for a more dedicated user who intends to do a lot of searching, a more expensive detector is beneficial. We recommend the Garrett AT Gold Metal Detector.
Like the lower-priced models, this model is lightweight and has an adjustable length. However, instead of a concentric coil, the AT Gold has a DD search coil that users agree offers a better performance. Not only is the coil submersible, but the whole unit is waterproof up to 10 feet (or 3 meters) deep so it’s great for use on land and in water.
Another feature that sets this model apart is the adjustable ground balance. It allows the user to either automatically or manually adjust the device to work around the mineral content of the soil in the particular search area for more accurate detection. The experienced enthusiasts at WhatMetalDetector.com say that this kind of custom configuration is key for relic hunting making the AT Gold great for tracking down hidden historical treasures.
There are several other modes to help locate items too, including high-res iron discrimination to avoid junk and multiple audio modes to determine what kind of metals are being pinged. Finally, the depth detector and electronic pinpointing will ensure item location is easy so you can get right to digging.
The AT Gold is one of the highest rated models in this price range (and in general) by beginner and experienced users alike. The only negative reviews found for this detector are on its Amazon page and they simply state it wasn’t what the user was looking for. All other reviews praise the AT Gold for its ease of use and impressive performance.
Budget pick: Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV Metal Detector
Not all users require the features that come with the step-up pick and it’s possible to get all the basic necessities in a low-price model. The Bounty Hunter Tracker IV Metal Detector has an adjustable stem and 8″ concentric search coil making its basic build very much like the top and runner-up picks. It also has a discrimination feature, sensitivity control, and locates coin-sized objects up to eight inches deepóall common functions of metal detectors in any price category. It doesn’t have adjustable ground balance but a pre-set balance like the top pick has.
Of course, for a much lower price, some things are not included. One notable difference between other models mentioned and the Tracker IV is the analog display. The analog display doesn’t show as much information as a digital one might, but it does still have a target indicator to alert the user to metal and the knobs make reading the selected sensitivity and discrimination levels straightforward. Digital display is certainly not necessary for a successful search as the analog display gives enough information to locate the pinged item.
The lower price also comes with lower quality. It’s a great basic detector and definitely the best option for those on a budget.
Best for kids: Bounty Hunter BHJS Junior Metal Detector
For younger kids, a standard metal detector may be too heavy and too complex. There are a few models available specifically designed for children to use and the one we recommend is the Bounty Hunter BHJS Junior Metal Detector. It has basic sensitivity and discrimination features and the clear display is simply two knobs and a target indicator meter. This model is easy enough for a young child to operate on their own.
The Junior is great for an introductory product that allows your child try out a new hobby.
Best for finding gold: Fisher Gold Bug Metal Detector
If you’re planning to use your metal detector specifically for gold prospecting, you might want to consider a detector that is designed for that purpose. The Fisher Gold Bug Metal Detector is made to be especially sensitive to gold and reviews indicate it’s among the best for prospecting. The expert at DetectorProspector.com explains that although any metal detector can be used to search for gold, certain detectors, including the Gold Bug, do perform better than others in finding gold.
The price is upper-mid range and comes with more advanced features like computer assisted ground balance and no-motion pinpointing. Otherwise, the sensitivity, discrimination modes, and target ID system are quite similar to those of other models. The Gold Bug stands out for being highly sensitive to gold compared with less specialized detectors and users agree that it makes finding even small nuggets much easier.
Best for underwater use: Garrett Sea Hunter MK-II Metal Detector
Most hobbyists stick to land but for those who want to take their search underwater the Garrett Sea Hunter MK-II Metal Detector is perfect for the job. This model is a bit different from the others mentioned on the list as it’s a PI detector instead of VLF. Using pulse induction allows the unit to ignore the minerals in the environment better which is especially handy when using it in salt water. It also makes the device able to detect coin-sized objects up to 15″ deep which is much more depth than most VLF detectors.
The Sea Hunter, like all metal detectors, has discrimination and sensitivity features to make searching more successful, but it’s the model’s underwater capabilities that make it really special. Not only is it submersible up to 200 feet, the box can be detached from the stem and attached to the diver’s wetsuit using straps included with the detector. This unique construction makes it the perfect metal detector for deep dives. It has even been endorsed by professional treasure hunters Mel Fisher and Bob Marx.
The metal detector market is full of high-performing units. We’ve named a few that we found to be highly rated by the majority of its users or particularly effective for certain purposes, but there are many more viable options available as well. One of these is the Fisher F22 Weatherproof Metal Detector. Made by a company that is very reputable in the metal detecting world, this model comes with a 9″ elliptical search coil that is fantastic for all kinds of searches and its excellent discrimination and four modes of operation ensure a more successful hunt. Its display is clear and easy to read and the whole unit is weatherproof so it can be used on rainy days without fear of damage. Users love this unit.
The Tesoro Silver uMax Metal Detector is another model that has pleased many users, but it’s certainly not for everyone. It uses microprocessor technology to offer great sensitivity and discrimination, but it lacks in display; the unit simply has two knobs for adjusting, no digital window or analog meter to show settings, depth, or target ID. For visual users this could be problematic but many people do report that they’ve gotten used to interpreting the audible pings and enjoy using this model. The lack of display doesn’t have to interfere with successful searching.
Along with the models that are built well and perform beautifully there are also detectors that are less satisfactory. White’s Coinmaster Metal Detector 800-0325 is a low-price unit at that has all the standard features including an all-metal mode, discrimination, depth reading, and a target ID system.
The American Hawks Explorer Metal Detector is a good example of getting what you pay for. This model is even cheaper than our budget pick. Its performance is acceptable but not impressive by any means and many users complain that the discrimination is poor. The body of the detector is a frequent topic in the reviews with many mentions of it falling apart or breaking. In some instances a great detector can be found for a low price, but user reviews indicate this is not one of them.
Wrapping it up
Among the many models we looked at, the Garrett Ace 250 Metal Detector stood out as the best detector for most users because of its ease of use, remarkable performance, high user ratings, and list of features. Our runner-up, the Teknetics Delta 4000 Metal Detector is another great option with similar performance and fantastic user reviews. If you’re interested in a more advanced model and are willing to spend a little more for it, the Garrett AT Gold Metal Detector offers exceptional performance and extra features that will make you search more enjoyable and more successful. For those on a budget who would like to get into the hobby, we recommend the Bounty Hunter Tracker IV Metal Detector for solid performance and all the necessary basic features to help you find valuables.
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Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.