Best Metal Detectors of 2018

Anna Burleson ·
Entertainment Writer
Updated
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After about 21 hours of testing nine metal detectors on seven different types of metal, the Teknetics Delta 4000 is our best overall pick because it’s accurate and easy to use. The Delta 4000 has a large LCD screen that is easy to figure out for beginners, and the machine only weighs 2.3 pounds, so your arm doesn’t get tired using it. It picked up 82 percent of the items we buried and correctly identified little more than half of them. We discovered most metal detectors aren’t incredibly accurate when it comes to the depth of buried objects, and the Delta 4000 got it right 32 percent of the time, more often than most of the machines we tested. This metal detector is perfect for anyone new to treasure hunting as well as seasoned hobbyists.

Best Overall
Teknetics Delta 4000
The Teknetics Delta 4000 is an accurate metal detector that picked up more buried objects than any of the others we tested.
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Best Budget
Bounty Hunter Quick Draw Pro
The Bounty Hunter Quick Draw Pro is intuitive and accurate while costing less than many metal detectors on the market.
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Most Accurate Depth Readout
Bounty Hunter Titanium Camo
Of the metal detectors we tested, the Bounty Hunter Titanium Camo was the best at estimating depth.
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Product
Price
Overall Rating
Treasure Hunting Performance
Capabilities
Ease of Use
Help & Support
Correct Object ID
Depth Accuracy
Object Detected
Coil Construction
Detection Depth (inches)
Discrimination and/or Notching
Pinpoint Mode
Object ID
Ease of Use
Weight (pounds)
Volume Control
Warranty
$199.00 Amazon
8.7 8.5 9.5 9.8 5
A+
C+
82%
Concentric
11
A-
2.3
5-Year limited
Check Price
8.7 10 9.5 8 2
A+
A+
86%
Concentric
11
B
2.5
2-Year limited
$214.35 Amazon
8.2 7.8 9 9.5 5
A+
B
57%
Concentric
9
A
2.4
5-Year limited
$299.00 Amazon
7.1 6.3 8.8 7.5 5
B+
D
64%
DD
11
-
B
2.6
5-Year limited
$342.01 Amazon
7 5 8.3 10 5
C+
D-
50%
Concentric
11
-
A
2.3
5-Year limited
$222.01 Amazon
6.9 5.3 7.8 10 5
B-
D
46%
Concentric
9
-
A
2.3
5-Year limited
$339.95 Amazon
5.6 4 10 3.8 2
D+
F
39%
DD
11
B-
2.9
-
2-Year limited
$251.10 Amazon
5.2 4.3 3.5 7.3 10
D
N/A
50%
Concentric
7
-
-
-
B-
2.2
-
Lifetime
$202.33 Amazon
5.2 4 8 5.3 1
F
F
50%
Concentric
10
-
D
2.3
-
1-Year
Best Overall
The Teknetics Delta 4000 is high-tech and accurate while still being easy to use. You can start hunting for treasure right away with this metal detector.
It has a large LCD screen that is easy to operate and shows you how to change the machine’s volume, sensitivity and several other functions. It has discrimination and notching capabilities as well, so you can personalize this metal detector to hunt for specific kinds of metal. The screen readout also lets you know whether the metal you’ve found might be a quarter, dime or piece of iron, which is useful for novice hobbyists who haven’t memorized target ID numbers. The Delta 4000 has an 11-inch concentric coil, which means its search field is shaped like a cone and comes to a point 11 inches underground. Most of the metal detectors we tested struggled to pick up objects accurately deeper than 6 inches, and the Delta 4000’s instruction manual notes accuracy will decrease with any object under 8 inches. In our tests it picked up 82 percent of the objects we buried. Of the objects it picked up, the it correctly identified 54 percent of them. Many of the metal detectors we tested didn't show an object's depth very accurately, but the Delta 4000 was right 32 percent of the time, the third-highest accuracy rate in our tests. This metal detector was easy to assemble and didn’t require a screwdriver or any other tools. It weighs 2.3 pounds, and while it doesn’t come with a Velcro arm strap or any other extras, it is comfortable to hold.
Pros
  • It has volume control.
  • The large LCD screen is detailed without being cluttered.
  • It found most of the metal objects we buried.
Cons
  • Like most metal detectors, its depth readouts weren’t very accurate.
  • It is a relatively expensive metal detector.
  • It had a hard time finding buried metal beyond 10 inches.
$203.52Amazon
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Best Budget
The Bounty Hunter Quick Draw Pro is an effective and affordable metal detector. Its 10-inch concentric coil is effective down to 9 inches underground, and the detector’s large screen is easy to read and navigate.
This metal detector comes with discrimination and notching capabilities so you can narrow your search to certain types of metals. It also has pinpoint mode to help identify your treasure before you dig it up, and it displays an object ID on the screen so you know whether you’ve found a nickel versus a silver dollar. You can adjust the volume, which is a nice feature. The machine weighs 2.4 pounds so it won’t wear your arm out. In our tests, the Quick Draw Pro detected 57 percent of the objects we buried at varying depths of 2, 6, 10 and 12 inches. It correctly identified 54 percent of the objects it found, which is the highest accuracy rate of all the detectors in our lineup. While the depth readout only shows three arrows noting whether a target is shallow, deep or on the surface, it was generally accurate 36 percent of the time, the second-highest score of any metal detector we tested. This metal detector is ideal for someone who wants to start getting into treasure hunting without spending a lot of money.
Pros
  • It’s more affordable than many metal detectors.
  • It had the second-highest depth accuracy rate of the metal detectors we tested
  • It has pinpoint mode, discrimination and notching.
Cons
  • It can only search down to 9 inches.
  • It didn’t pick up any of the silver in our tests.
  • The depth readout isn’t very specific.
$199.57Amazon
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Most Accurate Depth Readout
The Bounty Hunter Titanium Camo did the best at correctly determining how deep an object was buried in our tests. The large LCD screen uses notches to show how far beneath the surface objects are buried, and this device got it right 46 percent of the time.
It has an 8-inch concentric searchcoil, but the instruction manual says it can detect up to 11 inches deep, noting that the accuracy suffers below 8 inches. We have to include the fact that this metal detector arrived at our lab missing a piece of the arm. One of our technicians brought in a similar piece from another metal detector, and we were able to test. Even so, the Titanium Camo picked up our buried objects of various metals 86 percent of the time, the most of any metal detector we tested. The Titanium Camo weighs 2.5 pounds and has notching and discrimination capabilities so you can look for specific kinds of metal. The screen is easy to read in all kinds of light and is also quite easy for even the newest of hobbyists to figure out. You can switch between eight sensitivity levels and get between 20 and 25 hours of treasure hunting from one 9-volt battery. While most metal detectors don’t give very accurate depth readings, the Titanium Camo fared the best in our tests and was an easy, fun metal detector to use.
Pros
  • It found more objects than any metal detector we tested.
  • It gave the most correct depth readings of any metal detector we tested.
  • It is easy to use.
Cons
  • It only has an 8-inch coil, so object ID accuracy suffers with anything deeper than 8 inches.
  • It arrived missing a piece.
  • It failed to pick up copper.
$249.95Metaldetector.com
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Lightest Metal Detector
If you’re worried about arm fatigue while you’re treasure hunting, the Tesoro Mojave is the best choice.
At 2.2 pounds, this is the lightest metal detector we tested. It has a 7-inch concentric searchcoil, so it can search about 7 inches underground. It doesn't have a LCD screen or target ID display, but that's part of what makes this such a light piece of machinery. You can change the sensitivity, discrimination and ground condition with dials on the detector's control panel and expect 15-18 hours of use from one 9-volt battery. In our tests, the Mojave picked up 50 percent of the objects we buried. On top of everything this metal detector comes with a lifetime warranty.
Pros
  • Lifetime warranty.
Cons
  • It has a very small searchcoil.
$251.10Amazon
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Most Thorough Readout
The Garrett Ace 400 is a high-tech metal detector with a comprehensive control panel.
The LCD display shows you whether an object is most likely jewelry or a coin so there's no need to memorize target ID numbers. It also shows you how many inches deep an object is buried rather than a series of lines to interpret yourself. You can easily change the detection mode for searching for jewelry or coins or set your own custom search mode. The buttons are all labeled, and the battery life is displayed too, eliminating any guesswork. The Garrett Ace 400 includes four AA batteries, headphones, a weather guard for the LCD screen and a commemorative coin. The headphones really come in handy because you can’t turn down the volume on this metal detector.
Pros
  • The control panel is easy to read.
Cons
  • It is one of the heaviest metal detectors we tested.
$339.95Amazon
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Why Trust Us? 

Our experts have six years of experience testing metal detectors, so they know you want one that is accurate, lightweight and easy to use. For our most recent round of testing, we spent three full work days digging around in the dirt, measuring, burying, testing and then digging again to find out how accurate these metal detectors are. We assumed experienced treasure hunters would already know what they wanted from a metal detector, so we approached our reviews from the perspective of someone who is fairly new to the hobby. This meant taking note of how intuitive each machine was to put together and use.


Each metal detector took a little getting used to, but we persevered. Some didn’t have any volume control, which meant we dealt with a lot of beeping and other various screeching noises as we tested each one carefully. In the end, our arms were sore and our fingernails were dirty, but we had a clear understanding of which metal detectors worked and which ones didn’t.

How We Tested 

Ideally, we would bury a bunch of objects outside in a field or garden. But this round of testing was scheduled during wintertime, which meant we were fighting frozen ground, cold temperatures and snow outside of our lab. So, we got creative.

We got a large flower pot and filled it with potting soil and spent the larger part of three work days using the metal detectors. We gathered a bunch of items to test: a large brass key and ring, silver coins, a 1919 penny, some modern-day pennies, iron nails, a small aluminum lid as big around as a soda can and, thanks to one very generous lab tech, a gold wedding ring. We tested two kinds of pennies because the old coins were made mostly of copper while new ones are made of zinc. We buried each object at depths of 2, 6, 10 and 12 inches and then tested each metal detector thoroughly, using pinpoint mode if the machine had that capability. In the end, we had 252 metal readout data points and 224 depth data points to work with.

We know you’re not supposed to use metal detectors inside because other machinery can interfere with readouts, but we grounded each machine and made sure it wasn’t picking up any extraneous metal. A few of the metal detectors we had would experience interference when in close proximity to each other, so just to be on the safe side we only had one on at a time during testing.


Finally, we crosschecked the readouts from each metal detector with the accompanying instruction manual to see whether it had correctly identified the objects we buried and accurately estimated the depth. The brass key and ring we buried were picked up by our detectors as aluminum or zinc, but we decided to call that an accurate reading because the conductivity is close and brass wasn’t a readout option on any of the metal detectors we used. Using that data, we calculated how many times each detector got it right and assigned a corresponding grade. In general, most metal detectors picked up the fact that an object was buried in the dirt, but many of them lacked target ID accuracy and depth accuracy. 

What Key Features to Look for When Buying a Metal Detector

Coil Construction: Concentric vs. DD
Metal detectors come with either a concentric coil or a DD coil, which is the flat mechanism on the bottom of the detector that finds metals. These coils can be either circular or oval shaped depending on the machine, and their size directly correlates to how deep they can search. For example, a 9-inch coil can search about 9 inches into the ground.

A concentric coil emits a cone-shaped search field, which means the search field narrows to a point. We scored metal detectors with DD search coils higher because their search fields are shaped like a blade. This means the field is about half to two-thirds the coil's diameter, making it more accurate deeper into the ground than a concentric coil.

Discrimination & Notching
Most metal detectors have discrimination and notching capabilities. Discrimination comes in handy because it allows you to filter out metals you don't want to find, like soda can pull tabs and other trash.

Notching is a more specific kind of discrimination. Machines with this capability can isolate and ignore certain metals based on conductivity. For instance, if you kept finding nails and soda can pull-tabs that were reading at target IDs between 25 and 35, you can use notching to eliminate that range of numbers and only get readings for values below or above.

Etiquette
Every metal detector we reviewed came with an explanation of metal detecting etiquette in the instruction manual. It’s very important to go treasure hunting legally, safely and respectfully. You should never go on private property without the landowner’s permission, and be cognizant of other people when on public land, like a beach. If you do find anything interesting buried underground, be sure to refill any holes you dig and never destroy any natural resources. 

How Much Do Metal Detectors Cost?

If you’re serious about metal detecting as a hobby, there are high-tech metal detectors for as much as $10,000. If you’re new to the field or just want to try it out we don’t recommend spending that much. The nine metal detectors we tested cost an average of $307, which is a relatively reasonable price. Children’s metal detectors, which tend to have small searchcoils, are an inexpensive option for youngsters and we found several available for $50 or less.