Here you sit and think about maybe purchasing your first detector…. We have all been there and I know how it feels. I remember the time I went out to purchase my first Video Camera and I did not understand ANY of the buzzwords or anything about them. I had to come up to speed fast and learn how to dozens of features that stupefied me. I used several methods. I am more of a hands-on person than the precise book reader who would spend months reading dozens of book and websites about something before making a choice. I console myself with the phrase “I am a man of action” that makes me feel better when I have blundered again.
I have learned much the hard way and I hope to help you with your decision and point you in the right direction.
First you need to think about these 3 things:
1. Your geographic location.
2. What you hope to find with a metal detector
3. Whether or not you want to hunt salt water beaches or in salt water
Your geographic location is extremely important because it determines to some degree what kind of detector you will need as the soil has different mineralization in different locations.
You need to have some idea as to what you want to hunt for. For instance if you live in states that have had quite a bit of Civil War activity or Colonial settlers in the area you may want to hunt relics or very old early American coins. If you live in states that have had gold or silver mining then you may want to hunt gold nuggets and that would require a special type detector.
Most detectors simply will not compromise between dry land hunting and salt water beaches because they chatter too much near the water to use effectively. If you think you really must do this then there are a very few choices and only a few detectors that will give you fair performance under both conditions. I should say that the best of beach or shallow water hunting provides much gold and silver as people loose jewelry at the beach everyday that the sun shines in summer. However there are geographical considerations for beach hunting also and in several places where there is too much black sand or iron then you must choose a certain type of detector to use there.
Have I got you confused enough? there are still more things to consider but the first thing you have to do is talk to some of the folks around your area that hunt or visit a treasure hunting club nearby. It is always important to see what they are finding and then if something appeals to you then narrow your choices.
It is important to get as much information as you can from the detector manufacturers themselves about there product, but ignore the message “our detectors go deeper” as false propaganda. You can obtain this info at your local detector shop or on the internet. Major US brands include White’s, Fisher, Garrett, and Tesoro. All these are American companies and they build quality products. The exception to the all American detector is Australia’s Minelab detectors they make some of the best detectors in the industry and there are people who would have nothing else.
Now if you have done all this and truly cannot decide exactly what or where you want to hunt then you have decided on a general type of detector that is good at coins or most other types of targets as well. Now I do not sell detectors or push any particular kind but I will try to give you a hand up so you do not have to spend thousands of dollars paying for detectors that do not work for you only to finally discover there really was one detector that would work well for you.
If you hunt beaches in the Northeast farther up the coast than North Carolina you might consider a pulse type of detector and there are several makes that work well for this. However PI detectors are not the only that work well in this area, also that the Minelab Excalibur works great there, although the other non-pulse or VLF types will not do well.
If you have determined that you live in a highly mineralized location like parts of Colorado you might like the Minelab Explorer or E Trac.
For the south west and other “gold fields” there are a number of gold nugget detectors that work well but you get what you pay for. With the Minelab GPX 4800 and 5000 being top of the line but costing you $4000 to $5000, the Garrett AT Gold along with the Fisher Gold Bug 2 and Minelab Eureka Gold units are also very capable gold detectors and are only in the $600 to $900 range
If you hunt for deep old relics then use the Garrett GTI 2500 or Minelab CTX 3030
If you live or plan to hunt the lower mineralized area on land you should think about the Garrett ATX, Fisher CZ’s, White’s Spectra Series, or better Tesoro models.
If you plan to hunt the salt water beaches and water hunt in lower mineralized areas like Texas then choose the one of the Fishers, Garrett Infinium Ls, J.W. Fishers Pulse 8X or any of the other top pulse units.
If you plan to hunt low mineralized areas on dry land and also hunt the beach and very shallow water then try the Minelab Sovereign GT or one of the Fisher CZ series. Some Fisher models have a salt mode that makes them available for salt or land operation and the CZ6a is splashproof(not waterproof).
There is a special class of detector that has more adjustments, setting, programs and knobs and displays than any other, for the precise person who will go into the field and obtain as much pleasure from playing with his detector as finding anything.
Garrett makes some of the best “turn on and go” detectors like the ACE 250 and ACE 350 or the Garrett AT PRO are for people who do not want to play with the buttons but just to find something.
So, you have gotten this far only to discover that this is going to cost too much money! Well I wouldn’t lead you wrong and let me say that I paid for my moderately expensive detector the first year I bought it with my finds. After that I have bought several very expensive detectors and I am well on my way to paying them off too. If you just hunt for an hour on Sunday though you will never pay it off and it would require you to spend more time at it but at least it would defray the cost of an upper echelon metal detector. However the are many high quality metal detectors in the sub $300 range, it that is more you speed you would do well with the Garrett ACE 350, (if you are a fan of Garrett’s 350 you really should have a look at their new top detector in the Ace line up, The Garrett Ace 400 was released in 2016 we did a full review you can check out HERE)or Tesoro Compadre, Fisher F2.
Lastly the best news, you do not have to pay retail unless you want the local shop to help you with your choice, but if you do then you should buy one from a reputable local dealer. There are several discount dealers on the internet where you can save substantial amounts on your first detector so DON’T BUY THE CHEAPEST ONE!…. If you are able too, you should at least buy a quality moderate priced detector around $500 and don’t be afraid to purchase a more expensive one, go read the metal detector reviews and you will see some are truly worth the extra money . There are classified places on the internet to sell them if you want to sell it and if you like you can save even more money by purchasing a used unit. Be warned that some manufacturers will not honor a used detector and it might not be guaranteed. Fisher and Minelab generally accepts a second hand purchase as do some others.
I have discussed some of the specific detailed functions about purchasing a detector on another article and you should follow up with it. The detectors that I have suggested here are not exclusive and others also may work as well.