How to Choose the Best Beginner Metal Detector

Choosing the best beginner metal detector can be overwhelming for a new metal detectorist. There are many metal detector brands, models, and options to choose from. Knowing what to look for will make this an easier process.

Some of the things that will affect your decision on what the best beginner metal detector is are the price, the features, and how you plan to use the detector. If you are planning to use the detector for gold prospecting or in the water you will probably want one specialized for those needs. But for most beginners, a general purpose metal detector is most likely what you want.

You will need to decide on a budget. A top of the line metal detector can cost thousands of dollars, while a beginner metal detector can be had for much less. Expect to spend a minimum of $100-$150 for a decent metal detector. Any metal detectors priced below this are likely to disappoint you in their performance. For $100-$150 you can get a detector that is sufficient for many beginner detectorists’ needs. They will be simple, which can be good for a beginner, but will lack many features of more expensive units.

Some of the most popular beginner metal detectors go for around $200-$300. They are popular because at this price point you can get many of the features that more advanced metal detectors have, but at a budget price. You can find detectors in this price range with features like depth indicators, target ID’s, and pinpointing. As you continue to go up in price you will get more features for your detector.

Here are some of the features that you might be interested in when you’re looking for the best metal detector.

Target ID

Metal detectors with a target ID feature let you know the type of item that the target is before you dig it up. These usually put items into categories like iron, foil, nickel, tab, zinc, dime, and quarter. This is very useful for helping you to avoid spending time digging things you aren’t interested in. It’s especially useful in trashy areas where there are many pull tabs or iron objects around.

Do keep in mind though that target ID’s are far from perfect. A lot of trash will show up in ranges that you want to dig and some good items can fall in categories that are usually trash. For example, pull tabs often can show up in the nickel range, and gold items will usually show up in the same range as tab, nickel, foil, or iron.


This is a feature that many people find very handy. Once you have found a target, you can use a pinpoint feature to help you determine the exact spot in the ground that the target is. This makes it easier to extract the target and will allow you to make smaller holes. There are other ways to accomplish this, like by swinging the detector over the object from multiple directions or by using a handheld pinpointer, but many people prefer using the pinpoint function on their detector.

Depth Indicator

Some metal detectors will have an indicator on them that tells you how deep an object is in the ground. This is useful for knowing how deep of a hole you need to be digging in order to get the target.

Ground Balancing

Some soil contains a large amount of iron or other minerals that can confuse a metal detector. The signals from the soil can be stronger than the signals from the targets making the detector difficult or impossible to use. Ground balancing is a feature that removes the effects of the minerals in the soil. This is a feature that many beginner metal detectors lack, and for most beginning metal detectorists this probably isn’t needed. But if you live in a highly mineralized area it may be an important feature to have.

Best Metal Detector Frequency

What is the best metal detector frequency? To know this, you need to know what frequency is and the pros and cons of higher and lower frequencies. The operating frequency of metal detectors can vary widely. They usually fall in the range of 3 kHz to 100 kHz, but some can even be higher or lower than these.

But what does the frequency mean? What is the best frequency for a metal detector? Higher and lower frequencies each have their own advantages. Knowing what the advantages and disadvantages are and what you want to use your metal detector for will help you to decide what is best for you.

Metal Detector FrequencyFirst, what does the frequency mean? Metal detector frequency is measured in kilohertz (kHz). A frequency of 8 kHz means that it transmits and receives 8,000 times per second. 16.3 kHz would be 16,300 per second. Lower frequencies also have wave lengths that are longer, and higher frequencies have wave lengths that are shorter.

Low frequency detectors are better at detecting highly conductive metals like silver. The longer waves are also better at penetrating the ground so they can lead to getting greater depth. But it is not as good at finding objects that are small or have low conductivity. This kind of metal detector will typically be in the range of about 5 kHz and below.

High frequency detectors are better at detecting objects with low conductivity like gold and iron. They are also better at detecting small objects making it easier to find things like small gold nuggets or small pieces of jewelry. But the higher the frequency, the less depth it can get and the more sensitive the metal detector is the mineralization in the ground. This could make the detector useless in some soil conditions if the frequency is too high. This kind of metal detector will typically be above about 15 kHz.

Most metal detectors fall somewhere in the middle of these extremes. This allows these general purpose metal detectors to be better all-around by getting most of the benefits of each extreme while minimizing the disadvantages of each.  This type of metal detector will typically range from about 5 kHz to 15 kHz.

So what is the best metal detector frequency? Companies that make metal detectors have been trying different frequencies for years in order to find the best metal detector frequency. But the problem is that there is no “best” frequency. There are only ranges of frequencies that are better for different purposes. Knowing this will help you to choose a detector that works best for your needs.