What is the best metal detector?

choosing the best metal detectorYou’d like to get into metal detecting, but you aren’t sure which detector to go with.

So, what is the best metal detector to buy?

Well actually there is no best metal detector per say – it’s really more a question of, “what is the best metal detector for the type of hunting I want to do, where I live, and my budget.”

To answer that question, there are a ton of factors which may or may not affect your decision making process. This article aims to address the major points; the rest is up to you!


This may be the biggest factor of them all, especially when you’ve never tried a metal detector. Not everyone has $800 to drop on a toy they aren’t sure they’ll even like.

Most new hobbyists tend to spend $150-$250 on their first detector. Luckily, that buys just enough machine to get you hooked.

Some popular starter detectors to look at are the Fisher F2, Garrett ACE 250 and the Tesoro Compadre.

Don’t worry if you can’t afford a high end Minelab right away; get an intro model and go find some stuff.


You may not realize it yet, but some detectors won’t work well in certain terrain while others will do just fine.

For instance, if you choose an entry-level machine that does not have manual ground balancing, it won’t do well at the beach due to the salt (more on this here).

Most detectors will do a decent job at an average park or playground, but may stumble in highly mineralized or trashy areas.

If you plan on doing beach hunting exclusively, make sure the metal detector you get has a ground balance option and preferable a multiple frequency machine such as the E-trac and CTX 3030.

If you aren’t in it for coins and instead want to find ancient relics, then you will need a detector that goes deeper, like the mid-level Fisher F5 or the aforementioned Tesoro Vaquero.

Read up on the detector you want to see what its plusses and minuses are as far as depth and other capabilities.

Screen vs. no screen

garrett at pro vs tesoro vaquero

Most experienced hunters detect largely by sound, anyhow, but the screen (VDI) comes in very handy. It can tell us things like depth of the target, what it thinks the target is, where our sensitivity and discrimination are set, battery life and many other things, depending on the detector. Some folks think it’s silly to own a machine without a screen, while others are just fine with a Tesoro type detector that features only knobs.

The Fisher F5 integrated both of those worlds. It has a screen and knobs. For those who like the best of both worlds, that may be a detector worth looking into.

The AT Pro has no knobs but is a powerful machine with a great reputation.

Metal detectors without a screen are commonly referred to as beep and dig machines, since there’s no display telling you what the detector thinks it has found in the ground.

On the Tesoro Vaquero, for instance, many users thumb the discrimination knob while swinging over the object until the sound goes away. Then they look where the knob is for an idea what’s underneath the coil.

One drawback to detectors with screens is they usually require a second battery. One operates the coil while the other sends power to the LCD display. Most of the beep and dig type detectors just use a single battery.


Some metal detectors are light as a feather while others are built like bricks and can be quite weighty. If you have elbow, shoulder problems or another ailment that limits physical activity, it’s recommended to get a lighter detector.

Fisher and Tesoro have reputations of being the lightest in the industry. The AT Pro is quite a bit heavier but still not a monster.

Wen considering your first machine, pay close attention to how much it weighs, especially if you plan on hunting for several hours at a time.

YouTube is your friend

Once you have narrowed your choices down to two or three detectors, watch them in action on YouTube. There is nothing like seeing them and hearing the owners talk about them to give us a great idea what the machine is like and how it works. YouTube features everything from reviews to testing to actual hunting scenarios, and everything in between.

Read reviews

This one may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people purchase a detector ‘completely blind’, so to speak, having never read a single review on the machine. So, if you are thinking of the Fisher F2, for example, type Fisher F2 reviews into your search engine and read as many as you can find. They truly do help.

I hope this article shed some light on what is the best metal detector.

Like most hobbies, there is a ton to learn at first and it can be quite overwhelming.

But metal detecting is also very rewarding. With practice and patience, you’ll be finding the good stuff in no time.

If you need more help choosing the right metal detector, contact us here.