Alright, the day has come. It’s time to pick a new detector. Maybe you’re looking for one that complements a model you already have. Or, you’re a beginner looking for their first, an expert looking to upgrade, or somewhere in-between.
That’s great. I’ve got you covered. My name’s Boomer and I’ve been enjoying this wonderful hobby for a couple of decades now. My dad got me into it when I was young. I’ve had the treasure hunting bug even since.
Below I’ll go through the top three products we’ve reviewed. Each of these listings will be unique, give you a list of the pros and cons, the benefits, as well as any downsides. Each product serves a slightly different purpose, and is built upon stronger or weaker technology.
With that being said, all of the units below are great. Great brands, great equipment, great longevity. These will work brilliantly for you and last for years. Without further ado:
#1 – Garrett Ace 350, Ultimate Treasure Hunter Package (w/Free DVD, Headphones & More)
– top-rated beginner to intermediate detector
– a wide-range of useful features and functions
– highly rated, four and five star reviews
– ultimate treasure hunter package accessories
– advanced 8.5″ x 11″ DD search coil
– greater depth and better target separation
– optimized for maximum detection depth
– easier to find coins, jewelry, and relics
The Garrett Ace 350 is the big brother of one of the most popular products on the market, the 250, placing it number one on the list. The 350 has a larger, improved search coil technology, making it easier to cover larger areas more quickly. The arm holster and grip is comfortable to use for hours at a time, especially when you get used to how heavy the unit is.
While the bigger size and improvements are welcomed, this could be a possible downside if you’re looking for a more lightweight unit. I got used to the extra bulk over a few sessions, and the improvements Garrett has made to this product greatly make up for the added weight.
The higher frequency brain and coil are paired with Garrett’s enhanced iron resolution technology, which helps cut down on false positives, based on the unique control you have of iron discrimination levels. I was really impressed with how well this works, especially once you take it out for a few times and work with the sensitivity settings.
If you have the budget, this is by far the top choice for a beginner to intermediate unit, based on what’s available on the market today. It’s features are specific, robust, and the ultimate treasure hunter package is the perfect complementary combination. Make sure to watch the DVD and read the accompanied owner’s manual before taking your unit out. It’ll save you a lot of frustration in the field.
#2 – Garrett Ace 250, Discovery Package (w/Free DVD, Headphones, Covers & More)
– number one, budget beginner-intermediate detector
– easy-to-read graphic display and adjustable settings
– highly rated, four and five star reviews
– discovery package includes most important accessories
– performance 6.5” x 9″ Ace coil
– custom notch discrimination settings
– easy-to-use pinpointing features
– adjustable sensitivity and depth settings
The Garrett 250 is one of the top, most popular units on the market today. It soared in sales after being introduced within the last couple of years. The rugged, strong design makes for a product that’s going to last you for years to come, with features that rival most of the higher-end products.
Priced a bit lower than the 350, the 250 has a couple of fewer features, including the search coil (which is slightly smaller). The on-board display reads quite similarly, with mode adjustments on the left for ease-of-use. These include jewelry, custom (based on your own settings), relics, coins and zero. Each are explained further in the included manual and DVD.
One of the “possible” drawbacks of the 250 is the pinpointing mode, but only if you’re not familiar with how to use it. There have been some complaints about it not being accurate. However, after reading the manual and testing it in the field on a few separate occasions, I’ve really grown accustomed to liking this mode. Long story short, learn how to use the features included.
From the testing I’ve done, and the reviews I’ve researched, most users agree that this unit works really well up to a depth of seven to eight inches below the surface, which is great for the price range, making this an exceptional product. If you’re looking for beefing up your range and features, look above at the 350 “big brother” version. With more budget comes more power.
#3 – Garrett AT Pro Waterproof, Submersible: Digger’s Special (w/Free DVD, Headphones, Cover & More)
– finest land and water detector on the market today
– perfect setup for finding relics, coins, and jewelry
– many of the same, premium features as the AT Gold
– extremely highly rated, four ½ and five star reviews
– digger’s special pack includes important accessories
– 8.5″ x 11″, Waterproof Search Coil
– digital target ID, 0 to 99 scale
– manual ground balance (for mineralization)
– adjustable sensitivity and depth settings
– advanced target separation feature
The Garrett AT Pro is, by far, the finest, most effective land and water units on the market. It was specifically designed to do both jobs exceptionally well (and it does). As you’ll see, the price tag is getting up there, hence when it’s farther down the list, but the features are all there (and then some). Worth every penny.
If you plan to do beach, creek, or river detecting, while switching to land at times, this is going to be the product you’ll want to invest in. The large, DD search coil comes in handy in all situations, while the manual ground balance is unique, and isn’t offered on many models these days.
Some other great hunting spots includes swimming holes, ponds, and streams. You can feel confident gearing up and submerging the Garrett AT Pro in up to 10 feet of water. The waterproof control housing and connectors also help protect the unit in murky, dusty and humid conditions.
The AT Pro is creeping into intermediate and professional territory, but that doesn’t mean a beginner with a bigger budget couldn’t get started on this model. The price puts it farther down on my list, but it’s actually one of my favorite units. The digger’s special is a great add-on, too.
A Few Notes on Different Factors, Pricing and Customer Reviews
I’ve taken many factors into consideration when putting together my top five reviews list, including coil size, construction, product material, detection technology, ease of use, durability, brand, value packages, required equipment, specific uses, and more.
Where possible, I’ve simplified certain terminology and details about the technology behind the unit, to help make it easier for you to decide which is right for you. Pricing is important, we all have a budget to stay within, but it really shouldn’t be the main factor you focus on.
As a general rule, I recommend units in the $200 to $500 range, all the way up to $1000+. If you’d like more targeted equipment for a particular type of detecting, you may want to check out our types sub-section, which goes into detail about the most effective products for specific environments and situations (like beaches, coin shooting, gold nuggets, etc).
More on the Product Features I’ve Taken Into Account
The coil of a detector refers to the end closest to the ground, usually a circle or elliptical shape. The most efficient coil size for most canvassing ranges between 6 and 10 inches. The smaller the coil size, the more sweeps it will take to cover the area. As a general rule, the larger the coil the better.
A depth indicator comes standard on most medium to high-end units, and is a vital piece of the new technology available. Back when I first got into this hobby, everything was much more prehistoric than the features and technology we have today. The industry has come along way over the last couple of decades.
Many brands also come with a pinpoint mode or function, which will sound a continuous tone, which gets louder the closer you are to the object you’re detecting. This is very important when you’ve located an area, but aren’t exactly sure where to start digging. On some units, the tone even changes pitches slightly. You’ll get more familiar with these tones once you’re more comfortable detecting. The more time in the field you spend, the better.
There’s also newer technology that can help analyze the difference between trash and specific kinds of metals (like silver, jewelry, gold and more, based on its magnetic properties), that can help narrow down your search upfront. This is usually displayed with a graphic on the on-board screen, or by specific tones that change pitch on the more advanced products. Higher frequency units also improve these capabilities, which is another added benefit.
I’ve seen most of these newer, improved technologies be quite accurate. Although, don’t be afraid to still go with your gut. Your intuition has a way of knowing if you should dig or not.
How Much Control is Really Necessary These Days?
Like I was mentioning before, when I first got into this hobby, most everything you did was manual in nature. There were no screens to help show you depth, nor was there much in the way of settings (besides overall sensitivity).
So here’s my little spiel on control: for your first, or an upgrade, look for a good all around metal detector, and make sure to read through the manual on how to adjust it. Most packages also come with a DVD to help you get familiar with your unit. Watch this more than once.
This way, between the manual and the DVD, you’ll know exactly what you’re adjusting, what needs to be set a certain way for specific conditions, and when to adjust the sensitivity and range settings.
With that being said, many of the preset settings are great for everyday hunting. Some units even have more specific modes for different kinds of metals and area precision. I touch on these settings above in the reviews, which are great for even the advanced detectorists out there. Again, each unit will have information in the owner’s manual about how to adjust these settings.
Why Should I Get Into This Hobby?
This is a common question I’ll get asked from time to time, and it really requires a personal answer from you. Metal detecting has long been seen as a hobby, but you can also unearth some buried treasure, trinkets, or maybe enough to start a whole new life (ask me how I know; I’ve heard many stories). Myself and my good friends take trips all planned around hunting.
I know for me, it’s a mix of both: my passion for the hobby, as well as the thrill of the search. I love learning about different units (yes, I’m a little bit of a geek, guilty as charged), the excitement of a new dig, and the chase, as well as looking into different areas to detect in. When you relax into it, enjoy the ride, and listen to your gut, I’ve always appreciated my results at the end of the day.
Plus, it’s great for exercising, being out within Mother Nature, and getting plenty of sun. I’ve always kept in great shape over the years when I’ve been detecting, which I credit to all of the walking and “getting your hands dirty” type of work that’s involved for this hobby. Plus, I do enjoy a nice workout in the gym every once in a while. It’s about keeping that balance.
How Much Should I Spend on a New Unit?
As I mentioned before, price shouldn’t be a major deciding factor to base your purchase off of. Granted, your budget has to stop somewhere, but the $200 to $500 (up to around $1000 for an expert level unit) range will set you up with leading, newer technology, and a model that’s precise, durable, built-to-last, and easy to use, with plenty of settings to tweak and adjust.
Now, if you’re looking to go even higher, you’ll most likely need to be an intermediate or expert user, or simply a beginner with a big budget. Many of the more expensive brands and models are geared toward gold hunting, coins, and the beach. For any type of water hunting, investing in the proper equipment (waterproof and resistant) is vital for the longevity of your detector.
What Do I Do When I Think I’ve Found Something?
Congrats, this is one of the most exciting parts of the hobby: digging for your target object. Once you know you’re in the right area, and your unit is picking up a reading, you’ll want to use the depth indicator to get a better idea of how far down the object of your desire is.
Some product depth indicators have graphic diagram displays, while others have more precise numeric readings based on simple measurements. You’ll get more familiar with this process once you have invested in the best metal detector for you, based on reviews, as you go through the manual and get into the field with it.
From there, you’ll need to pick your spot and begin your dig. This will be both exciting and slightly tedious, so remember to enjoy the entire process. Even if it’s nothing of value, I always like to pick it and feel good about cleaning up the environment, even if it’s a handful of trash. I like to think it goes a long way for nature when done by many detectorists.
Finding a Club & Picking the Right Mentor
As you’ve probably noticed, there are different kinds of hunting styles, some more simple than others. When you first begin with any new hobby, there’s going to be a period of time where you’re learning, getting familiar with your equipment, and also figuring out the strategies that you prefer to hunt with.
One of the easiest ways to smooth out this transition is to find a club in your area. There are plenty online that you can research and get into once, you’ve purchased your own unit. The other thing to keep in mind is how important it is to find a mentor that can help you learn faster.
Thankfully, my dad had been into the hobby for many years, so he helped me learn the ropes (but he also learned and detected on older technology). It wasn’t until I found a club and made some new friends that I became even more comfortable with hunting and detecting, while I continued to learn over time.
I highly recommend the same for you. Put yourself out there, and, paradoxically, it’ll make the transition even more enjoyable, and much more fun.
Scroll Up & Pick from the Best Metal Detector Reviews Now
So now you know more about the technology, what you should base your choice on, the different types of technology, coil size, shape, depth indicators, other useful terminology, and much more. You’ll all set, consider yourself ready. It’s time to take the plunge and pick a unit up above.
Any of the top five products above will be a great choice, from the novice to the expert, you’ll get a lot out of it, and you’ll likely catch the treasure trinket hunting bug for a lifetime. I know I sure have. It’s ridiculously fun, quite addictive, and you never know what hidden treasures might be lurking right in your own backyard. You’d be surprised what I’ve dug up over the years.
If you have any questions, you’re welcome to get in contact with me anytime. I’d be happy to get back to you with an answer about settings, a specific brand, or whatever you have in mind.
Enjoy and happy hunting,