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.