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RS Recommends: The Best Metal Detectors

Get going on an actual treasure hunt right in your own backyard with these easy-to-use metal detectors


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Metal detectors used to be really bulky, heavy machines, but all that has changed in recent years. They’re now lighter than ever, more efficient at locating buried items and easier for beginners to get into at any age.

Depending on the detector, these can pick up all sorts of metals, including iron, aluminum, nickel, brass, silver and gold, sitting deep below the surface. It’s a fun hobby that lets you literally find buried treasure, and it can be great for both kids and adults.

How to Pick the Best Metal Detector

Before you start your treasure hunt, here’s what you need to know when choosing a metal detector.

Coil: This is what does the heavy lifting when it comes to locating buried metals. The coil is made up of wire wrapped around the end of the detector unit, transmitting an electromagnetic field into the ground when you sweep it.

Coil size matters depending on what you’re doing, and a bigger coil can generally cover a wider and deeper area, while smaller coils are more sensitive and better at pinpointing small areas, with less interference. If you’re planning to use this at, say, the beach, make sure your coil is water-resistant or waterproof so that it won’t get damaged when hit by incoming tides or scanning shallow waters.

Control Unit: This is where you’ll be altering all your settings and reading the meters when a detection pops up. Having a “Discrimination Mode” can be extremely efficient, helping to narrow down false positives so you don’t spend your time digging for useless items. To narrow it down further, some have specific LED lights to show what type of metal you’ve found, and designated tones and pitches to show signal strength too. Some can even let you adjust to the ground type you’re scanning on, like sand or soil.

Weight and Length: Because this will be strapped to your arm for long stretches, weight is crucial, specifically keeping it low and light. Under 5 pounds is a good weight for adults, and up to 4.5 feet of shaft extension is generally enough to comfortably scan.

Depth: This ranges widely, from a few inches to around 13 feet, and even more in professional-level detectors. But for the average hobbyist use, a few feet should be just fine.

Extras: You can also use these at home to find things like metal pipes in the walls and lost jewelry. A sealed battery cover is also a good idea to keep water out if this will be getting wet, and an auto-shutoff mode after a set amount of time helps to preserve battery life.

What Are the Best Metal Detectors?

1. Minelab Vanquish 540 Metal Detector

The Minelab bridges the gap between beginners and experienced treasure hunters, being extremely easy to use while having the quality and accuracy of a high-end model.

This takes care of things like ground-balancing automatically, and lets you tune out certain metals like iron for increased searching efficiency. It’s also lightweight (at only 2.9 pounds), easy to hold for long hunts and adjustable to accommodate a person’s height.

The 540 is great for all metals, on all soils, even wet sand and low water. Different detection modes let you focus on things like coins and jewelry, and when you’re done, the unit saves your settings for next time too.

Minelab Vanquish 540 Metal Detector


Buy: Minelab Vanquish 540 Metal Detector at $379.00

2. Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector

Headphones are included in this set. It’s ideal for beaches, and waterproof up to 10 feet in both salt and freshwater.

Garrett’s detector is a professional-level product, and is especially awesome for finding things like coins and gold, no matter what type of ground you’re digging through. The sound alerts let you distinguish what it’s detecting. And after a while, you’ll learn to ignore things like bottle caps and scraps.

The screen is also heavily detailed, showing you things like how deep the detected object is, getting your settings just right for the best search possible.

Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector


Buy: Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector at $581.62

3. DR.ÖTEK IP68 Waterproof Metal Detector

Right from the start, this one stands out from the bunch. It’s significantly smaller, but don’t let that mislead you. It’s still powerful and accurate, and waterproof as deep as 32 feet, making it a solid choice for divers. No headphones (or even sound alerts) are needed, as it works fully on flashing LED lights and vibrations. The MT6 scans a 360-degree area of detection. It’s about the size of a flashlight, and it weighs under a pound for easy use.

DR.ÖTEK IP68 Waterproof Metal Detector


Buy: DR.ÖTEK IP68 Waterproof Metal… at

4. National Geographic Metal Detector

This is a dual coil detector, with an adjustable sensitivity to cut way down on false positive finds, and pick up small objects.  An LED light makes it easy to know when it senses something, showing the user the exact spot to start digging.

The telescoping arm is fully adjustable and comfortable to hold, and the unit’s weight is just 1.4 pounds, which is perfect for kids. This also comes with a colorful guide explaining the history of metal detectors and how the coils work.



Buy: National Geographic Metal Detector at $44.99

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