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(not just) Metal Detectors (anymore)
"What 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 gold nuggets, you'll need a metal detector that can hunt for gold. Please go to my
Best Gold Detectors page
for that. Although... the humble Tesoro Compadre, a great all around metal detector and incredibly simple to operate, can find fine jewelry, including gold.
Check it out in this video:
Comments: 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
All price categories mentioned here will usually refer to normal internet prices.
Often better deals are available: just call or come by to see what's new.
Others in Tesoro Compadre price class....
Price 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.
The large digital numerical read out from 0 to 99 is unmatched in any metal detector under $500.00. In addition, the F2 has an on the fly 3 segment depth scale and a precise pinpoint depth reading.
Even more impressive is the speed of target sampling which matches the Tesoro line-up. The ability of any metal detector to respond to targets as the search head is kept in motion over the ground is important for seeing desirable targets ‘hiding’ in the trash.
See the Fisher F2 here
Comments: he Coinmaster series metal detectors are 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.
Target ID shows you the identification of targets as you hunt, so you can see and hear the target, and depth reading helps you know how deep to dig.
This metal detector’s five-range discrimination adjusts so you can hear everything or only the signal types you choose.
Take it anywhere! With its waterproof coil and weighing in at only 2.5 pounds, the Coinmaster is comfortable to use all day with its included pair of 9-volt batteries is ready for a day on the beach, in the parks or...
See White's Coinmaster here
White's Coinmaster PRO
Comments: The tough, but light Coinmaster offers solid performance with features that help you discover coins and jewelry.
The Pro model surpasses the basic Coinmaster’s features with smart notch that allows you to reject tabs at low discrimination or accept nickels at high discrimination. Five-range discrimination adjusts so you can hear either everything or only the signal types you choose.
Target ID shows you the identification of targets as you hunt, so you can see and hear the target. The Pro model’s tone ID goes a step further with different audio tones for nails and iron, rings and jewelry, and coins. Depth reading then helps you know how deep to dig.
At only 2.5 pounds, the Coinmaster is comfortable for all-day use with its included pair of 9-volt batteries, and the waterproof 9” spider coil is ready for beach exploration.
See White's Coinmaster PRO here
White's Coinmaster GT
Comments: The Coinmaster GT combines simplicity with high-end features in a detector that excels at coinshooting and finding jewelry. Beach mode, a 9” waterproof coil, and the water-resistant control box make it ready to explore the shore.
Adjustable notch discrimination and Smart Notch allow you to selectively filter out worthless target profiles like nails, foil, and pull tabs from cans. Automatic ground balance self-adjusts while you’re on the move.
Five-range and visual discrimination indications on its backlit display provide precise target information before you spend time digging. The slide-in battery pack is easy to swap and uses standard AA batteries.
See White's Coinmaster GT here
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 the Garrett Ace 250 here
See the Garrett Ace 150 here
Garrett Ace 350
Comments: prime in the Ace line-up is the Ace 350. Check it out!!!
Everything the 150 and 250 offer, and more!
A higher frequency and improved iron discrimination make this machine a real winner in the serious entry level class of machines.
See the Garrett Ace 350 here
Price Range: $400.00 to $900.00
Comments: Fisher was acquiered a few years back by First Texas. During the year prior to that they hired one of the industry's BEST engineers, Dave Johnson, and together they hit yet another homerun with the Fisher F4.
An excellent visual discriminator, it is easy to read and sports lightning fast target sampling. It appears 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 the 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 the Garrett AT Pro here
Minelab X-Terra series
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 target while out for the first time with the X-Terra 50 I was 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 505, like the flagship X-Terra 70/705, can change frequency by changing the loops. The X-Terra 505 can switch to an 18+ kHz loop for superior audio response on small gold targets and nuggets. X-Terra 505 has manual ground balance control while the 305's ground balance point has been preset by the factory to handle most conditions.
The X-Terra 70 offers sophisticated automatic ground tracking, 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
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.
This is one of the Umax detectors, which makes it about the lightest in its 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
Tesoro's 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 has always been its analog audio response. Simply put, 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. 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.
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.
See the Tesoro DeLeón here
See the Tesoro Cortés here
See the Tesoro Tejón here
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 a high visual resolution of 190 segments.
Itís a high-performance, MXT-style detector thatís suitable for all kinds of ground conditions and is equally at home in parks and yards, playgrounds, as it is at the beach. Three controls make it simple to use and all have easy-set labels
Seven tones audibly identify different targets, while the display shows target labels, VDI numbers, and depth readings.
The after market 4x6 shooter search coil is a great accessory, with reports of digging up dimes (smallest USA coin) at 9"!
See White's M6 here
White's MXT - All PRO and original
Comments: 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. It is ideal for prospecting, beach exploration, and hunting relics and coins. The only drawback is that it isn't fully submersible, like some of the specialty detectors.
The MXT All Pro combines popular new features with the proven, legendary performance of the MXT line — it’s like having three metal detectors in one! You’ll enjoy its all-new keypad, high-efficiency backlight, and Ground Grab settings lock. This favorite comes with a 10” DD search coil sound for different target materials.
This well-balanced detector weighs 5 pounds with its waterproof 12” spider search coil, which offers deep detection depth. Other accessory coils are also available.
Its high-performance lithium-Ion battery can be recharged with the included wall charger and car fast-charger.
See White's MXT All PRO here
See White's MXT here
White's SST - Sierra Super Trac
Comments: Jimmy Sierra's Super Trac operates in an all metal/silent search mode with audio and visualcri dismination. This way you will hear every target within the range of the detector and you can decide for yourself exactly what to dig.
An automatic feature on the SST called Auto-Trac tunes out the interference created by the minerals signal from the dirt and rocks.
Together with its simple to use 1 knob operation, and the 15 Khz signal, which is high enough for small and low conductivity targets like jewelry and low enough for good target identification on coin-sized objects, White's SST has much to love.
See White's SST here
Price Range from about $1000.00
Comments: Garrett's 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 Garrett's ATX here
XP Deus 3
Comments: 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 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, and is COMPLETELY WIRELESS, there is still plenty more to get excited about.
This unit is fast. And the groundtracking is excellent. The Deus features a new way of filtering out the iron, which does not involve discriminating out the things you do want to see.
This machine is real sweet. Below is the write-up that is on my " Great Finds " page:
Big Valley XP Deus find.
Here 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. But it seems 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. 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!
The recovery speed of the Deus is impressive.It approaches Tesoro's speed, as demonstrated on the Board of Pain. This fast recovery time is what makes such a difference when you are dealing with old and trashy areas.
Performance overall has been very reliable and it would take serious other high end detectors to keep up with it.
This 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...
See the XP DEUS here
Comments: the Fisher F75, like the F4 and F2, has outstanding features and performance.
This detector is like a 327 Chevy engine with a hot cam and just street legal due to its high gain circuit. Operating at over 13 kHz, and with oodles of sensitivity, it can deliver on both high and low conductors (silver and gold).
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
Minelab Safari and Explorer series
Comments: these metal detectors 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 f requencies. 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
See the Minelab Explorer SE here
White's E Series DFX
Comments: This is another excellent detector that White's is no longer making.
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 that if you can find a DFX, 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's GTI 2500 offers a nice wide screen. Although it is 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.
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.
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!!!
See the Garrett GTI 2500 here
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....
See 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.
See the Minelab CTX3030 here
White's TDI PRO
Comments: The Pulsescan TDI Pro metal detector has a pulse induction circuit, offering standard-setting performance even in the most difficult ground conditions. It provides unbeatable depth and sensitivity and is ideal for prospecting, beach exploration, and hunting relics and coins.
Pulse delay control further customizes performance for small targets, large targets, gold, conductive materials, and more. User-controlled ground balance allows different audio tones to sound for different target materials.
This well-balanced detector weighs 5 pounds with its waterproof 12" spider search coil, which offers deep detection depth. Other accessory coils are also available.
Its high-performance lithium-Ion battery can be recharged with the included wall charger and car fast-charger.
See White's TDI PRO here
Comments: Over seven years of R&D brings you this manufacturer's most advanced flagship! The eye popping color display on a super LARGE screen and too many great features to mention make this machine 'the bomb'. Expect nothing less than amazing audio, visuals, brute power and selectivity, advanced circuitry- and wireless headphone technology.
White's premier headset that is included in some of the metal detector packages lets you hear every signal with astonishing clarity and without worrying about distractions or tangled cords.
The beautiful, full-color HD display clearly explains the depth and metal type of detected objects. The V3i is always ready to go with its rechargeable battery and ready to help with an onboard reference guide.
With the V3i's 9 presets you have turn-on-and-go versatility that fits your terrain and target, whether they're coins, jewelry, relics of the past, or gold nuggets.
Expert users will appreciate the V3i's many optional settings that can easily be changed while you are out in the field. Experience unparalleled depth and sensitivity, even in previously-hunted areas!
See White's Spectra V3i here
Comments: White's LATEST Spectra VX3... a straight forward, no-nonsense machine. The VX3 combines the premier performance of the Spectra V3i with the turn-on-and-go simplicity of the Coinmaster line of metal detector.
Before its release, the name for the working project was EZV, which would have been a good name for the final product, too! It's easy!
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 it uses the same Spectra Graph Screen. When you pinpoint the screen displays the strongest frequency with regards to the located target.
The visual high resolution color display of the Spectra Graph is by far the most informative in the industry and is very accurate when 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. Take it to the shore with a specialized beach mode
The VX3 is ready to use with Whiteís SpectraSound wireless headphones. For traditional audio identification, choose from four modes of discrimination and optional tone ID with 191 different sounds.
There are essential settings for you to optionally adjust, but the Spectra VX3 is all about making treasure finding easy for every hunter.
See White's Spectra VX3 here
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