is the BEST metal detector?" This is the most common question I get, (
followed by "What is the DEEPEST metal detector?")
. The answer is....
There is NO BEST metal detector.
That said, the best metal detector is the one you'll be able to use properly. Although it doesn't take a rocket scientist to operate a metal detector, in order to use one successfully, you should be absolutely sure you are going to buy it from a reputable dealer who has a showroom to demonstrate the products and does no shady deals in parking lots or parks. This is the only way to make sure you get the right machine for you and that you will have personal support whenever you need it.
So let Big Valley Metal Detectors help you to choose the best metal detector to meet your personal needs and budget. After I got the above question numerous times I decided to add a 'Best Detectors' page as a guideline, which helps all who visit my site avoid mistakes in choices brought on by the voluminous amount of information and opinion on the internet. Yes, I have my opinions, but those are based on my experience as a detectorist and a multi-line dealer.
Below are general
purpose metal detectors. There are many more, and if I have not mentioned
the one you are interested in, it is not necessarily because it is no
good. More than likely I just decided to keep this page from attaining
a daunting length. Also, this is one of the last pages to be updated
on a regular basis, as I spend more time with my customers in person,
and the web really does come last. Just give me a call and I'll give
you my honest assessment if you don't see what you are interested in. If you want to find a 6 lb gold nugget like the one recently found in Butte county, California, you need a metal detector that can hunt for gold. Please go to my Best Gold Detectors page for that.
All pricing catagories mentioned here will usually refer to normal internet prices.
Often better deals are available: just call or come by to see what's new.
Comments: Garrett has a new machine in their AT line-up. This is a pulse-induction machine, and seems to be well thought out, keeping the roaming treasure hunter in mind. Due to its radically changed design, you'll find it much easier to store and transport. See a video about it here.
Now back to our regular format....
Range: to $350.00
Comments: Released during the latter part of 2007, the Fisher F2 has a lot going for it in terms of performance, selectivity and features. At this price point, the F2 currently dominates the field.
I’m in agreement with Ralph @ Sun Ray Products; the Fisher F2 represents the BEST value in a metal detector under $300.00.
There is a good reason this is a popular seller at Big Valley. The
Compadre’s 12 kHz circuit will see the smallest fine jewelry
deeper than almost any other metal detector on the market. And...
it has the quickest target response on the market today thanks to
its two filter circuit and 5.75” loop size. You can even use
it for electronic prospecting since it’s sensitive to gold nuggets
from match head size on up. It boasts excellent audio characteristics.
While most other metal detectors play the guessing game as to trash
vs. good targets, the Compadre, like the rest of the Tesoro line,
has analog audio with lightning fast target sampling. A target response
that exhibits a smooth, continuous tone is one worth going after.
Choppy, sputter or harsh audio responses are almost always trash.
I am so confident in the Compadre’s ability to sniff out elusive
gold rings, it remains one of my preferred choices in a rental for
lost valuables. One knob operation and the industry’s strongest
warranty (lifetime) makes it a formidable detector presence in the
under $200.00 range. See
the Tesoro Compadre here
White’s Coinmaster and Coinmaster Pro
Comments: great entry level machines. White's has nailed these machines, and they are a great for anyone exploring metal detecting as a hobby, but who does not wish to commit more than a few hundred dollars to start with.
Garrett Ace 150 and 250
Comments: From 2004, the White’s Prizms dominated the lower end of the professional market. So Garrett Electronics came out with the Ace 250, which rivaled the White’s Prizm IV in terms of features and performance. The Ace 250 offers more sensitivity and better visual discrimination resolution than the $179.95 Ace 150. My only complaint is the size of the screen… a bit TOO small and hard on the eyes compared to the larger screens of the Coinmaster and Fisher series. See Garrett Ace 250 here and see Garrett Ace 150 here
prime in the Ace line-up is the Ace 350. And right now, there is a holiday pack for added value. Check it out!!! It features their 11"
DD coil. A higher frequency and improved iron discrimination make
this machine a real winner in the serious entry level class of machines.
Garrett Ace 350
See Garrett Ace 350 here
Range: $400.00 to $900.00
Comments: finally!!!! A Prizm with ground balance along with the spider coil that comes stock with this nice machine. It makes all the difference! This metal detector is smooth, deep and hard to beat at this price point. The Prizms also enjoy compatibility with the Jimmy Sierra Bigfoot. You can purchase a Bigfoot loop through Big Valley Metal Detectors.
Comments: The Prizm T6 with advanced ground tracking, and so many features, you must see it to believe it. Part of the secret to the Prizm's effectiveness is it's ultra-smooth audio circuit and loud alert. In March 2009 the 4x6 shooter search coil was introduced. Customer response was very favorable, with reports of digging up dimes (smallest USA coin) at 9"! One of my favorites with the highest fun factor in the metal detecting industry in a detector under $700.00.
Comments: Fisher, acquired a few years back by First Texas, who during the year prior to that hired one of the industry's BEST engineers, Dave Johnson, has hit yet another homerun with the Fisher F4. Excellent visual discriminator, easy to read and lightning fast target sampling. Seems to have the same horsepower as the F2 but with more bells and whistles to supplement an excellent circuit, including manual or auto position ground balance and an all metal mode with auto tune position for prospecting. Visual target ID scale adorns the top portion of the display with target pointer and large digital numbers. Comes with the F75 10" wide scan loop AND the 8" concentric for trashy areas. See the Fisher F4 here
Comments: with this incarnation Fisher has hit a home run. This series can be used for coin shooting, relic hunting or gold prospecting, and is considered a crossover. Comes in various packages that include different accessories. See the Fisher Goldbug Pro here
Garrett GTP 1350
Comments: In 2004, the Garrett GTP 1350 came on the scene, replacing the GTAx 1250 and adding a sizing feature called target profiling, which placed the target into one of three size categories; A, B, C. The Garrett GTP 1350 has a well balanced feel and is light enough for most folks. Digital tone, including Garrett's bell tone response. Full featured. Depth is above average, as well as Garrett's visual discrimination and electronic pinpointing. The rear battery compartment can pull off and hip mount, decreasing the weight on your arm. See Garrett GTP 1350 here
Garrett AT Pro
Comments: this machine shows that Garrett is paying attention to customer demand. This is a machine you can submerse in water and then take it to hunt the highest mountain peaks. The available search modes include both standard and professional settings and the new 11"DD coil it ships with make this machine a huge breakthrough for technology at this price point. see Garrett AT Pro here
Comments: Since 2005. The X-Terra series have an extremely light feel and operate at a standard frequency of 7.5 kHz with an ultra quiet digital circuit. My first time out with the X-Terra 50 and first target at Montara Beach was a white gold earring at about 7", easily heard with the X-Terra's loud alert target response and wonderful tone ID. The digital number display is about as easy as the Fisher F4's to read, although the X-Terras are not quite as quick as the Tesoros or Fishers on target sampling, The X-Terra 50/505, like the flagship X-Terra 70/705, can change frequency by changing the loops. The X-Terra 50/505 can switch to 18+ kHz loop for superior audio response on small gold targets and nuggets. X-Terra 50 has manual ground balance control while the 30's ground balance point has been preset by the factory to handle most conditions. The X-Terra 70 offers sophisticated automatic ground tracking and additional programming AND a 10" loop that changes the frequency to 3 kHz for outstanding target response on high conductive silver targets. The updated 305, 505 and 705 do have upgraded software, and react a little faster, generally speaking. See the Minelab X-Terra 705 here, see the Minelab X-Terra 505 here and see the Minelab X-Terra 305 here
Comments: Tesoro's Vaquero operates at just under 15 kHz with a 3 position frequency shifter to further avoid noisy cross talk from other detectorists or powerlines. These are Umax detectors, which makes them about the lightest in their performance class. The Vaquero has a manual 3 3/4 ground balance, which works the all metal and discrimination mode. The Vaquero's circuit is also found in the Cibola, which has its ground balance point set internally by Tesoro. See the Tesoro Vaquero here
DeLeón, Cortés, & Tejón
Comments: All three share Tesoro's lightning fast discriminator target sampling and lifetime warranty. The DeLeón and Cortés (top dog in Tesoro's line-up) have visual target ID, but the display is very small compared to other visual discriminators. The Cortés also has a feature similar to White's Signagraph system, but again, the visual lacks resolution, so dimes, quarters, halves, and dollars read as 'COINS'. Tesoro's real strong point as always been its analog audio response. Smooth targets that are coin size are always worth digging and broken and/or harsh sounding targets are worth avoiding.
The Tesoro Tejón is Tesoro's deepest detector, operating at a 17.5 kHz. This is a bit on the high side for silver hunting, but reports from the field say that the Tejón is bringing in a lot of silver normally masked by trash targets and unseen by the competition. The Tejón uses a twin level discriminator that can be set in a variety of ways. I set the higher level to barely pop on a zinc penny so I don't have to dig them. Last time out with the Tejón, my associate dealer, Greg @ Trans Bay Metal Detectors, scored a beautiful white gold wedding band in the bark and it is one of my favorites. Because of its higher frequency, the Tejón is a bit more reactive over the small iron, but that can be a positive as far as seeing through the nails etc. The all metal modes on both the Vaquero and Tejón have a preset gain level, so the sensitivity is really a stability gain control in the discrimination mode. See the Tesoro DeLeón here, see the Tesoro Cortés here and see the Tesoro Tejón here
White's M6 and MXT
Comments: one of my favorites with the highest fun factor in the metal detecting industry. With its 14.7 kHz frequency, and sharing the same horsepower as MXT, the M6 adds seven tones of target ID in addition to the highest visual resolution you can find in a metal detector, 190 segments. The MXT (now a Pro series model), considered by many as the BEST HYBRID for serious electronic prospecting, relic hunting or coin and jewelry hunting, offers additional features like separate programs that change the visual display. Its ground tracking system has been considered by many to be the best on the market. The 'Pro now has tone ID, a display backlight and a 'ground grab' button, to make it even easier to operate. My buddy Greg tested the prototype MXT with various prototype chips in cooperation with White's technical engineering staff. This culminated in a ground tracking system that set the standard from 2004 forward. In March 2009 the new 4x6 shooter search coil was introduced. Customer response has been very favorable, with reports of digging up dimes (smallest USA coin) at 9"! White's MXT continues to be one of the most popular sellers at Big Valley Metal Detectors because of its ability to tackle virtually ever surf and turf situation. The only drawback is that it isn't fully submersible, like some of the specialty detectors.
Price Range from about $1000.00
XP Deus 3
Comments: For the first time in a very long while, a truly innovative metal detector has come along. And now it is available with the 3.0 software. Sure, there have been new bells and whistles and beautiful make-overs on well established technology, but this is a detector that seems to have a little more than the average great metal detector. After you have gotten over the shock of how light the whole unit is, how easy it was to charge the coil, control box and headphones simultaneously with 1 usb charging unit, and appreciated the fact that the set-up, including coil and headphones, is COMPLETELY WIRELESS, there is still plenty more to get excited about. This unit is FAST! Very fast. And the groundtracking is superior to groundtracking on other top detectors. The Deus features a new way of filtering out the iron, which does not involve discriminating out the things you do want to see. And that is just for starters. Treat yourself and come check out this ultimate metal detector!
I actually have had this machine out quite a bit since I got it in, and my review of it it very favorable. You can read some of it on my Facebook page (click on the icon at the top of the page). This machine is real sweet, and it may just change my mind about there being no best metal detector.... Here is the write-up that is on my "Great Finds" page:
Big Valley XP Deus find.
This is a 1944 British Half Crown I dug today. The yard from which I dug this and other things (coins, tokens etc.) belongs to the neighbor of a friend of mine who owns several of the top machines out there, and he has hunted it for the last few decades. He has been on that nice old property many times with his detectors, and was stunned when he saw what I pulled out with the Deus.
This yard was a perfect example of a considered-to-be-hunted-out area. I have been to areas like this one many times myself, generally to test new machines that make great claims, but the hunted out places have remained hunted out. Until now. The XP Deus is delivering the speed and performance that is needed to hunt tired old spots, for sure.
Groundtracking on this machine works beautifully compared to the other top machines out there. And........... the XP Deus metal detector has non-motion pinpointing capabilities; it can track the ground in both pinpointing mode and detecting mode, which is a GIANT leap!
It looks like the performance of the Deus is leaving the other big dogs in the dust, too, as far as recovery speed is concerned. The speed on the XP Deus is nothing short of phenomenal, which is something I do not say lightly. This super fast recovery time is what makes such a difference when you are dealing with old and trashy areas.
From the testing I have done to date, my review has to be very favorable. The performance has been very reliable and at no time over the last week or so have I run into any situation where one of the other top-end machines could have out-performed, or even kept up with this detector.
Another little thing I'd like to mention is that the whole unit, including the supplied headphones and the coil, is wireless. Not only does that mean that there are no wires to get hung up anywhere, but it also makes the Deus incredibly light. And, if that is not enough, you can make it lighter still by just leaving the control box off and running the XP Deus from the controls on the headphones. Featherlight! It is really nice for someone on the wrong side of 21...
Comments: the Fisher F75, like the F4 and F2, has outstanding features and performance. Operating at over 13 kHz, and with oodles of sensitivity, it can deliver on both high and low conductors (silver and gold). This detector is like a 327 Chevy engine with a hot cam and just street legal due to its high gain circuit. Its automatic back light system for night time hunting is the BEST I've experienced. Its depth is exceptional, but requires proper tuning to ensure stable hunting. Great light weight and well balanced feel in its category. See the Fisher F75 here
Safari and Explorer series
Comments: use FBS circuits or full band frequencies (28 actually), Minelab's unique way to filter out negative ground and magnetic interference. The active frequency may be about 3kHz and the other harmonics act in concert to sample and neutralize ground noise and power lines. When the noise is neutralized, your ability to hear the deeper targets is enhanced. The 3 kHz will double the signal on deep silver vs other frequencies. The output is digital, and although the Explorer makes it easier to hear that deep silver without having to tweak, your lower conductors (gold, nickels and other jewelry) are usually ignored by most of the Explorer users. Foil, shards of aluminum and crown caps sound a little too good, where competitor's circuits chop those targets up. The Explorer has great gain and a smart find screen. The Explorer SE lacks a audio and visual pinpointing system; it uses a more conventional VCO pinpoint. All in all, these are nice, pretty deep metal detectors and are nice silver shooters. See the Minelab Safari here and see the Minelab Explorer SE here
White's E Series DFX
Comments: Although it is getting old now, when it comes to a do it all detector, the DFX 300 is still one of the top dogs. Not only is it a multi-frequency detector with 3 and 15 kHz, along with 18 other harmonic frequencies, but you can select to operate in 3 kHz for silver or 15 kHz for gold. Along with 55 basic and pro options you're in total control. The DFX, like the XLT, offers Signagraph technology but in addition to that you can adjust the sweep speeds, filters etc. The DFX 300 comes standard with the big 300mm coil, but my advice is to buy the optional 6x10" Eclipse wide scan, which significantly improves visual target ID in all ground conditions and gives improved target separation.
Comments: Discontinued. The XLT operates at White's traditional 6.59 kHz for very good response on silver conductive targets and good response on most gold jewelry but it is not up to the performance of the MXT on the lower conductors. The XLT shines in its Signagraph technology and smooth operation as it is a full filtered detector. On a dime at 8" the XLT can deliver a better target signal than the MXT or M6, but it requires a faster sweep speed to do so. The Signagraph technology will not only read out the target ID but it will deliver 1 bar up on round targets within 6" to surface. The XLT has been in the White's line-up for over 10 years and was preceded by the Eagle Spectrum and Eagle series (White's first digital detectors).No matter what you own, the XLT can complement your collection.
Garrett GTI 2500
Comments: Bells and whistles, good depth but long in the tooth and on the heavy side. Garrett GTI 2500 offers a wide screen and although not as sophisticated as the other big dog competition, it does offer sizing technology A through E. Most coins and jewelry fall out in the B, with man hole covers in the E size along with some caches, I guess. This detector actually can be programmed to talk to you using a female voice. A poster on one of the forums, who is a single bachelor, actually put it on voice mode and slept with his GTI 2500... now that's love. Depth is above average for a single frequency detector at approximately 7 kHz and seems sensitive enough for gold rings. Ground tracks in the all metal mode. I suspect that the discrimination mode and ground balance point is automated in the chip and cannot be manually manipulated. see Garrett GTI 2500 here
Comments: this is the "minesweeper" for silver coins in parks. Newer technology allows you to hunt what you had to leave behind with the Explorer II. With a much faster response time, this is not your father's Explorer....
the Minelab E-Trac here
Comments: the new CTX3030, with its color screen and too many features to mention, is clearly Minelab's new top-of-the-line coin/relic hunting machine.
the Minelab CTX3030 here
Comments: nice. All that can be said about this newest incarnation of White's best pulse machine.metal detectors is WOW!!!! It is like the lightest version of the original TDI. Yes, lighter, smarter and faster. And it is cheaper that the original TDI, too! You are going to love it! This machine is a crossover, suitable for treasure hunting (coin, beach, relic) as well as gold prospecting. It is extremely deep and smooth enough to bring tears to your eyes! The original TDI was very popular with many serious detectorists, and this new incarnation is nice and a little lighter.
Comments: An eye popping color display on a super LARGE screen and too many great features to mention make this machine 'the bomb'. Amazing audio, visuals, brute power and selectivity, advanced circuitry- and wireless headphone technology; over seven years of R&D brings you this manufacturer's most advanced flagship!
White's LATEST Spectra VX3... straight forward, no-nonsense machine. Just received White's brand new VX3 this week. The name for the working project was EZV, which would have been a good name for the final product, too...
White's engineers re-designed the user interface to be easier to access than that of the V3i. After checking it out myself, I found it very smooth and deep. Horsepower is the same as the Spectra V3i and uses the same Spectra Graph Screen. When you pinpoint the screen displays the strongest frequency with regards to the located target. The visual display of the Spectra Graph is by far the most informative in the industry and is very accurate where mineralization is involved. The live controls have been redone and the filter choice is reduced to 5 and 12. In testing, 12 seems by far the smoothest and is recommended for moderate to severe mineralization.
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