Types of Metal Detectors & The Eternal Question: How To Choose The Right One?

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Everyone entering the hobby of metal detecting starts wondering what metal detectors are available out there, and which one would be their perfect tool for finding the treasure of their lives. While the topics of metal detector types and choosing may seem trivial for more experienced detectorists, these are actually the eternal topics.

The most interesting nuance is that while the questions are the same, the answers will differ as time passes because brands make new machines, technologies evolve and change, and the generations of detectorists also change. Therefore, little wonder that the reviewers discuss them again and again.

One of the obvious answers to the “metal detector choosing” question is to find a complete review of the best metal detectors (source DetectHistory.com) and choose from the machines recommended. The types should be discussed separately, though, and this is what we do in this post. Classifications of metal detectors can be various and according to different aspects, so we offer some of the most widespread variations. Hopefully, this overview will be useful for all beginner-level detectorists!

Metal Detector Classifications

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As it was already said, metal detectors for hobby detecting and treasure hunting can be classified according to different criteria. These are the subtypes we consider the most practically applicable for a beginner to orient themselves:

  • by brands
  • by tech specs types
  • by users
  • by budget

When trying to learn more about metal detecting, some beginners tend to read everything and watch numerous reviews without any system, and eventually feel exhausted and overwhelmed with this massive volume of information, unable to settle the new knowledge in any systematic way in their heads.

However, if they start learning the types of metal detectors according to a list of clear criteria, one at a time, it all will start making more sense for them.

Metal detectors can be complicated, and even the theory of metal detecting as a hobby is pretty hard for a complete newbie. The beginner treasure hunter should really know their theory well when they start trying to detect it in practice. This is why learning the theory and checking out different types of detectors step by step is the success strategy.

Popular Metal Detector Brands

There are many brands out there, but their number is not even seemingly unlimited, as it may turn out in other markets, for example, the market of cosmetics, or the market of sweets. There are several reasons for this situation. Firstly, making metal detectors is hard, because while everyone can make a primitive or an average metal detector, the market already has plenty of these, and no one would buy them.

Secondly, to make higher than average metal detectors, the manufacturer needs technologies, and all existing technologies are already patented – except the ones that are already not but they are everywhere. Patents are very expensive in this industry, and even if a patented technology is purchased, building the actual machines is still even more expensive.

Thirdly, to make a metal detector not only high-quality, but also better in certain aspects, or even the one that has a unique feature or setting, the manufacturer needs to invent their own technology, or at least to conduct research and make the existing machine better in some aspects than the machines made by competitors. This is, again, hard and expensive.

As a result, there is only a certain number of internationally recognized brands in the market as of now:

  • Garrett
  • Minelab
  • Nokta Makro
  • XP
  • Fisher
  • Bounty Hunter

Choosing from these brands is always a good idea, because they have been tested by time and thousands of users, and they guarantee quality.

Features & Tech Specs

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Depending on the technologies used by the brands in making their metal detectors, the machines can also be classified according to their sets of features:

  • single frequency detectors
  • multi-frequency detectors
  • metal detectors for gold prospecting
  • waterproof metal detectors (waterproof/beach, underwater, or for diving)
  • deep-seeking detectors
  • best detectors for coins and relics

Another list of metal detectors subtypes can be made depending on the classifications that stem from the accessories or specific technologies, for example:

  • metal detectors with interchangeable coils
  • with DD search coils
  • wireless coil / headphones / control box
  • type of battery
  • waterproof headphones, etc.

To be honest, in order to be able to choose a metal detector depending on its features and tech specs, the user has to know many other aspects, including the user’s skill and the desire to learn, the targets the user is interested in, locations available to the user, etc. For more experienced detectorists, preferences for this or that technology, feature, or accessory is rooted in their practical experience.

Special Users Needs

Metal detectors for hobby treasure hunting should also obviously be classified into types according to users. The types go as follows:

  • metal detectors for kids
  • beginner-level machines
  • higher-than-average-level machines
  • expert-level machines
  • metal detectors for specific purposes (for professional divers, for professional gold prospectors)

Hobby detecting does not require any super-complicated skills and as a hobby, it can be pursued by kids, teenagers, women, and people of various ages, physical conditions, and health condition. But each group of users is strongly advised to choose a machine among those metal detectors recommended for them; for example, kids, teenagers, and people that are not much into sports are recommended to choose light-weight machines.


Experienced metal detectorists know that an expensive detector does not guarantee valuable finds, while a cheap detector does not obligatory mean a bad detector. However, while there is no reasonably justified upper limit for expensiveness, there is a reasonably justified limited range of cheapness.

If we are talking about non-second hand metal detectors, $250 or equivalent is the lower minimum price for a decent quality detector; this is an average price for the simplest-to-use, beginner-level machine by a well-known and reliable international brand. Everything that is cheaper – if not a second-hand machine of a good brand – is probably of low quality.

How To Choose a Metal Detector?

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As it has already been said, the thing that a wannabe metal detectorist is able to know for sure from the very beginning is their budget; but they cannot be sure much about the brand, tech specs, and features of their future machine until they gain more theoretical knowledge. Also, every future treasure hunter has to answer these questions:

  • What is the level of your current skills? Are you ready to learn more?
  • What are your preferred targets (coins, relics, jewelry, gold)? Do you know where you can potentially metal detect these objects?
  • What locations are available to you, or what locations do you have in mind for metal detecting? What are the peculiarities of these locations?

Answering these questions will help define the necessary tech specs, features, and brands that make the machines you need.