The Best Metal Detectors

The romantic notion of finding buried treasure with a metal detector doesn't really go away as we get older. In fact, discovering a pirate's chest full of doubloons in the backyard is a fantasy that many of us indulge in more frequently than we care to admit. And even if you're not on the hunt for riches, tons of fantastic finds may still be uncovered with a metal detector. For those in the market for a metal detector, we've got you covered. We've whittled down the options to the best of the best, so read on to discover the perfect pick for you.

National Geographic Adjustable Metal Detector

Lightweight, Reliable, and Affordable

Leave it to National Geographic to come up with the best metal detector on the market.
Best Overall

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Of course National Geographic made it to the top of our list. Are you really surprised? NatGeo has been the foremost name in global exploration for over a century, and their legacy lives on with this quality metal detector. Available in both “Junior” and “Professional” builds, these adjustable instruments are reliable and easy to use. And although the “Junior” size is lightweight and compact, it’s still a trusty metal detector with a detecting depth of up to 12 inches through solid ground. These detectors even come with comprehensive learning guides to help get beginners on their path to discovery. Effective in a wide range of climates and environments, this option is waterproof and travel-ready. Considering the reliability of its design and the affordability of its price, the NatGeo detector is as good as it gets.

Pros

  • The “Junior” size option might be lightweight, fun, and easy to use, but it’s the real deal and not a toy
  • Both size options can detect metals as deep as 12 inches below the surface
  • The wider coil allows you to cover ground more quickly

Cons

  • The “Pro” size is pretty pricey, but worth it for those that want the best in reliability and design

Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV Metal Detector

Hunt for The Bounty

Another fantastic overall option, this pick from Bounty Hunter is a tried-and-true model that features everything we look for in a metal detector and more.
Runner Up

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Bounty Hunter is another highly-regarded name in the world of metal detecting. This company is a favorite among amateurs and pros alike. Countless lost wedding rings, sunken survey markers, and old coins have been rediscovered thanks to the brilliant design of these affordable metal detectors. The secret to their success is in their continued use of the classic target indicator. This display sports an analog multimeter that indicates the precise distance of the detected target. It’s accurate, effective, and easy to master. It also features a tunable sensitivity dial and several different search modes. Best of all, the Bounty Hunter TK4 has an incredible detection range of three feet, so you’ll be able to find those deeply-sunken treasures.

Pros

  • The design is accurate, reliable, and surprisingly weather-resistant
  • Super high value for the price, considering the quality of the instrument
  • Can detect metals as deep as 3 feet

Cons

  • This may give you the occasional false positive, but those may be avoided with some know-how
  • A bit of a learning curve, but anyone can master it with some practice

Sakobs Metal Detector

Fine-Tune Your Settings

With numerous search modes and a high level of adjustability, this option from Sakobs is the perfect pick for those that like to fine-tune their instruments.
Best Adjustable

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Obviously, every metal detector sports some degree of adjustability, but with the Sakobs Metal Detector, you get to enjoy the widest range of adjustability out there. This option has a bright LCD display with numerous modes so that you can fine-tune the strength on the fly. It also has Discrimination Mode, which will only detect certain types of metals, and Notch Mode, which allows you to eliminate a target from the detector. And the adjustability doesn’t just extend to the software. This lightweight detector can be extended or shortened in length to match your personal stature. Better yet, the waterproof search coil has a large surface area, so you can discover more treasures with fewer passes. Best of all, this affordable kit includes a rugged carrying case and a lightweight spade.

Pros

  • Intuitive and user-friendly design hosts numerous adjustable settings including three detection modes
  • The length is adjustable as well, so it’s a great option for both adults and kids
  • Fantastic value for the price, especially considering the included accessories and durable design of the coil

Cons

  • The LCD display isn’t waterproof, so if you do use it in the shallows, you’ll have to be careful

Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector

Everything A Pro Could Need

This option from Garrett has tons of premium features and accessories (as well as a premium price).
Best Professional

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Those that want a professional metal detector that would impress even the most wisened of archaeologists should consider this premium pick from Garrett. The AT Pro might have a high price tag, but that’s the price you’ll have to pay for the absolute best in discovery. Waterproof through-and-through, this detector can be dunked in lakes, oceans, and even mucky swamps. And besides sporting the best in rugged hardware, the AT Pro also has top-of-the-line software. Featuring a vast range of adjustable settings, this option takes the cake for user control and customizability. And just to sweeten the deal, Garrett throws in a pair of their MS-2 Headphones and a 2-year warranty.

Pros

  • The waterproof design holds up through all sorts of weather conditions and can even be submerged into 10 feet of water.
  • The discriminator feature can really distinguish between different types of metal
  • Super small learning curve means this professional machine may be used by just about anyone

Cons

  • Not the latest-and-greatest from Garrett, but the most tried-and-true model
  • The price is fairly high
  • The headphones aren’t the absolute greatest, but they’re just a bonus accessory

Bounty Hunter Gold Digger Metal Detector

Save Some Money, Find Some Money

Another option from Bounty Hunter, this super inexpensive metal detector is surprisingly effective.
Best on a Budget

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Metal detectors can be pretty pricey. But for those shopping on a budget, there are still options out there that are reliable and effective. The Gold Digger from Bounty Hunter is a brilliant little detector with a couple of surprise features. It’s only 2.2 pounds in weight, so it’s a great gift for youngsters and adults alike. And believe it or not, this affordable option has useful discrimination controls so that you can distinguish between different types of metals. Heck, it even has a built-in speaker so you can still use it when you’ve forgotten your headphones. If you’re strapped for cash but still eager to hunt for treasure, go with Bounty Hunter. Who knows? You might even find something valuable, in which case the Gold Digger pays for itself.

Pros

  • Easy to use and reliable detection
  • The low price fits into most budgets
  • Comes with a pair of headphones

Cons

  • Not waterproof, nor the most rugged

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you detect with a metal detector?

Metal detectors can detect most metals and metal alloys, though some will generate a weaker signal than others. Because they use electromagnetic waves to penetrate through surfaces, metal detectors are most effective at detecting conductive metals. These include gold, silver, and copper. Non-conductive metals are harder to detect, but under the right conditions (and with a quality metal detector), they may also be discovered. These include iron, zinc, and lead. Steel is notoriously difficult to detect with a metal detector, though with the strength cranked up high and a little bit of luck, you can discover just about any type of metal out there.

What is the discrimination feature?

Most of the options on our list include a setting called “Disc”. This feature allows you to “discriminate” between certain metallic signatures. This way, you can search for alloys and metals of a specific type. For example, you can filter out aluminum objects if you’re searching for silver.