No matter how simple or sophisticated your metal detector is, a standard feature to look for is one that has a control box (with or without a readout panel). In novelty and very basic metal detectors, the control box simply houses the electronics for the search coils and uses a simple tone emission system. However, if you plan to invest into a decent model, then at the very least you should look for one that has a basic readout panel on the box to help indicate from which direction the metal is being detected, (Bounty Hunter’s Gold Digger is an excellent example of this very basic design, and is also a rather popular novice level model).
While not included in every model, most enthusiasts will agree, headphone jacks are a necessary feature to have. Given that sometimes the signal can be quite faint, using headphones can help dampen outside noise interference and help you better focus on the audio ques of the detector. Not only can the use of headphones be a boon to the seeker, they can also be a form of politeness by not making others listen to the normal tones of the metal detector (dogs and other animals can sometimes get upset and start making noises themselves in response to the beeps). When shopping for a metal detector, be sure it has a headphone jack.
Stabilizers come in many styles but all offer the same feature; added stability when handling the metal detector. Some stabilizers are simply built into the handle, offering added wrist support for the user by means of a brace that extends from the handle. Other stabilizers are made to more evenly distribute the weight of the box, making it easier to carry. No matter what form of stabilizer is used, even feather-light models need something to help support the user’s wrists (since grasping anything for extended periods of time can cause strain). Look for models that are rated as not only being high quality in terms of their detecting abilities, but that are also comfortable to use (White’s Coinmaster Pro is an example of a professional quality detector that is praised for being comfortable enough to hold all day).
The backbone of the metal detector, the shaft can be made from a variety of material (commonly durable composites or aluminum). While the material it is made from can be rather diverse, one feature regarding the shaft the most will agree to, is that it needs to be adjustable for the height of the user. As metal detectors are designed to be swept just off the ground, the overall length of the shaft (if its not adjustable) can leave some users either stretching or stooping to try and reach the optimal distance from the ground (Xcellent Global’s MD-301011 is a prime example of a highly popular, entry to experienced level model, that is highly adjustable). Consider models that are either rated for the heights of the intended user(s), or look for models that have an adjustable shaft.
While the shaft is the backbone of the metal detector and the control box is the brains, the detecting coils are the heart of one. They come in many different styles (circular, ovular, solid, open, etc.) and all perform the same basic job; searching for some form of metal. The distinction between standard and professional grade models is often a matter of how sensitive the coils are, or how many different types of metal they can detect. Depending on what you are wanting to search for, or your experience with metal detecting, look for models that list the ability to detect what you need it to.
By far, one of the most popular brands of metal detectors, Bounty Hunter produces several different series of detectors. They make everything from the Bounty Hunter Junior (a smaller, beginner level model) to the Discovery 3300 (fully featured professional model). Not only do they have an extensive collection of metal detectors, they also have some of the most competitive pricing in the market today. Combining reasonable prices with high quality detectors, it is little surprising at how popular they are. If you are looking for a reliable, and easily affordable metal detector, Bounty Hunter is a brand to consider (the basic Gold Digger model is one of the best selling entry level models on the market).
As a name in metal detecting for over half a century, Garrett metal detectors come in a wide range of styles and uses. From military grade mine detectors to security detecting frames for buildings, Garrett is a truly professional and commercial metal detecting company. Their line of personal/sporting grade detectors is packed with the same level of technological advancement and quality materials as the same used in the fields of war by soldiers (ACE 150, 250, and 350 series are some of their best selling personal models). If you are serious about the search and want something that can handle all manner of environment and terrain challenges, a Garrett detector could be considered a worthwhile investment.
As a company that is dedicated to the beach comber, Treasure Cove metal detectors are a well known name among weekend explorers. They make a selection of reasonably priced, professional quality metal detectors that are backed by a two year warranty. Their collection of detectors consists of thirteen different models spread across divisions that are broken down by the experience of the intended user. In comparison to other brands, like Bounty Hunter, Treasure Cove detectors are just as popular among consumers.
Somewhat of a “left field” selection, the Xcellent Global metal detector is sometimes sold under different brands, or simply listed by its model (MD-301011). No matter what prefix is given for it, one thing remains the same; it is a highly popular, well priced, professional quality metal detector. If you want a good beginner model, but also want something that you can continue to use after you get adjusted, then consider something like the Xcellent Global MD-301011. It has many features common to professional level detectors, but still have an easy to use set up that beginners can learn with easily.
Wild Game Innovations
The Ground EFX line from Wild Game Innovations is hard to miss with their vivid color schemes. While their selection is a bit more limited than some companies (they only have five models-still more than some), they believe in simple quality of quantity. Their selection of detectors are designed to meet beginner, intermediate, and professional level needs, all while remaining fairly affordable. Each one features a comfortable and secure grip, durable yet lightweight construction, and advanced technology powering the coils and box. If you like outdoor tech that is made by a company that specialized in outdoor sporting and hunting equipment, then the Ground EFX line is sure to please.
Relatively new compared to most of the other companies on the list, Barska has slowly been making a name for themselves over the last two decades. They are known for constantly evolving on their designs and while they don’t specialize in just metal detectors, they do make sure that what they produce uses some of the most up to date technological advances. Another thing that Barska metal detectors are known for is their accessory options. Everything from additional support slings to other tools associated with metal hunting can be purchased along with a Barska detector, often times they are sold together as a bundle. If you like simple, efficient, and quality devices, consider a detector like the Barska Winbrest Pro (which is entry level priced but professional quality in construction).
Noise Canceling Headset
While there are many items that can be counted as an accessory, items that are most related to the metal detector themselves are what really help distinguish standard from professional quality models. Noise canceling headsets are considered a vital feature to anyone who plans to use their device in a noisy, populated area (such as at the beach or park). While these are sometimes found from companies not related to the detector, some of the best are added as a luxury feature with the detector (Treasure Cove and Bounty Hunter both offer these with their professional series, or as an added item for other models).
Shoulder Strap/Carrying Bag
Stabilizers are a standard feature to any metal detector, but security straps and carrying bags are considered luxury, or professional quality items. Companies like Barska and Garrett are known for offering added security straps and carrying cases with both their standard and professional quality models. If you plan on using your detector for long periods of time, or over rough terrain, consider models that offer an extra level of support and security.
Most models are run on battery power, which means you either need to plan your trips to fit in with the battery life or bring extra batteries. Others try to utilize power saving technology, which runs on smaller amounts of energy (AA versus 9 Volts), or include power saving features, such as automatic timeout when not in use. Some companies that offer professional quality models, such as Garrett, offer rechargeable batteries that can help keep the search going on day, even with heavy use.
While all metal detectors perform the same basic tasks, professional quality models can be flexible in what they search for. Some specialize in a broad selection of metals and minerals, while others are designed for particular types of metal, such as the kind used most in coins. An example of a professional quality detector that can be used for a variety of metals is the Bounty Hunter Quick Silver, which has four preset modes for searching. Consider what you want to look for and compare models that list either specific metals, or has flexible modes that can locate them.
Digital Control Panel/Readout
Common in the both beginner and professional level metal detectors, digital panels and LED screens are features are one element that many consider a necessity for the serious seeker. All the top brands carry models that utilize ultra clear screens and easy to read panels. If you have trouble seeing, or plan to hunt in less than well lit areas, consider models that have back-lit digital readouts for accurate results.
Despite the fact that most personal metal detectors are used outdoors, especially at places like the beach, not all models are truly weather or water resistant. Some are only partially resistant along the head and shaft, while others are completely intolerant to rain or submersion. If you plan to be using your metal detector in humid, wet, or very watery environments, look for models that guarantee weather or full waterproofing (Garrett ATX and Shark series are two examples of waterproofing to look for).