I get emails via the “contact me” link almost every week asking my advice on detectors. Which one to buy, which one do I use and which one is the best. I try to reply as best I can but it’s really difficult now given my limited in the field excursions. Likewise as I’ve gotten older (okay senile) my views and my preferences have changed dramatically.
I understand the urge to spend more thinking that you will be ahead of the competition but that’s not always true. You will only wind up taking your new detector to the same old sites, “maybe” finding a few more goodies, but if you spend more time and effort finding “new” sites that detector you have now will work just fine and you will be one happy treasure hunter.
I put the following together a few years ago and I think it still holds up. I did add a few more goodies at the finish….
METAL DETECTORS….WHICH ONE SHOULD YOU BUY?
IF you want to get started in this pastime how involved do you want to get? Is this a serious interest or merely a curious one? Next, how much are you willing to invest to get started? Metal detecting is no different from any other hobby. Golf, fishing, photography….all great pastimes, and all involve an initial investment. I was once a fishing fanatic, and the more involved I got, the more money I spent. It was my passion, a way to rid myself of worries and stress, and while I hated the alarm going off at 5 AM, a couple of hours on a trout stream, with the mist rising and the sun just coming up, was pure magic and a great start to my day.
IF by chance your interest in metal detecting stems from watching one of the treasure hunting TV shows, save your money. What you see is not the real world, nor are the prices placed on the finds even close to accurate, and if you think the participants make their living treasure hunting, think again. One or two might be associated with a manufacturer and be paid to use their products, but otherwise I doubt they live on their TV star salaries.
IF you are interested because you are sure that your now deceased Uncle Zeke buried gold in his backyard, rent a detector and go find it. No need to spend a lot of money. Uncle Zeke probably didn’t bury it deep, if he buried it at all, and while I have no doubt that caches exist, so do rumors and tall tales.
IF you’re a numismatist and want to find old coins, jump in, join the club. That’s what got me started, and there’s still a lot of money in the ground, despite what some are saying.
IF you want to be a beach bum, and find things in the sand and surf, go for it. Lots of fun, fresh air, and with the current price of gold at around $1,200 per ounce, you just might bring in a few extra bucks. Just don’t quit your day job! The worse that can happen is you come home empty-handed with visions of bikini clad young gals etched in your brain. If you decide to go this route be sure purchase a water proof, multi-frequency model detector.
IF you just want to metal detect for the fun of it, hell yeah do it, but purchase a low-end detector. Most all the MAJOR manufacturers offer “turn on and go” entry-level models that are well made, capable of finding neat things, and are very affordable. Do NOT however buy a detector from a large department store chain. They simply sell them, probably know nothing about how they work, and if you have a problem, you’re “shit out of luck”. Deal with a local dealer, who will be there to demonstrate and offer assistance if and when you need it.
For the Experienced…
IF you are already a treasure hunter of sorts and you are ready to move up to a better detector than consider the following:
- How much money can you “afford” to spend (and afford is the key word). Don’t go into debt buying a metal detector. Remember it’s a pastime, a hobby, something you do in your “spare” time.
- Consider the type of hunting you do now and narrow your choices. In other words, are you a relic hunter, coinshooter, beach hunter, prospector, etc.. If you think you want to give them all a try consider a model that offers the ability to tackle each of them.
- Start looking at those models that will add features you don’t currently have now and that allow for versatility such the availability of extra coils, programmability, different frequencies, automatic and manual GB, etc..
- Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to have the most expensive, top of the line model. It’s only as good as the places you take it. Buy a detector you can afford, learn its characteristics, nuances and abilities and then go kick everyone’s ass.
- Shop around for the best price and buy local if possible. A local dealer will be there if and when you have questions and possible problems.
And For the Professional Treasure Hunter…
IF you are a pro (you wear camo), have an unlimited source of money, and want to expand your arsenal over and above your $2,500 detector, you might want to consider adding:
- A pinpointer. Available from all the manufacturers, Mattel and sources in upper Slovenia. Pinpointers come in every color imaginable including pink and polka dot. They even offer camo for tekkies like you so you can lose it quickly and have to buy another.
- Teeny water bottle to squirt on your finds in case you can’t tell if it’s a 12 or 28 gauge shotgun shell cap.
- A little plastic box with cushion to put all your better finds in.
- Every damn coil that will work on your detector. You will find them exciting for about two days and after that they make great wall ornaments.
- A short shovel so you don’t have to bend over. These will also put you in good stead when knocking on doors and dealing with the groundskeeper at the local park.
- A Trowel like digger with jagged edge. Gets the homeowner’s attention when they ask why you are digging up their lawn.
- A canteen. You can put water in case you get thirsty and it adds to the Navy seal image you’re after.
- A 50 shell bandolier. Serves no purpose but adds the finishing touch to your professional appearance.
And so you know I am trying hard to get into the camo thing…..really. How do I look? Kick ass and nasty?
Thanks to Joe Grasso for photo…
Okay back to reality….
Research, attend a local club meeting, ask questions online, rent one, try ’em out, take your time, try to make an educated decision (if there is such a thing) and always remember….if you don’t walk over it you won’t find it so you might want to spend your time, not your money, thinking about where to use one.
THE BEST DETECTOR
Before I tell you what the best metal detector on the market is, you need to tell me which automobile is better. “Ford” or “Chevrolet” and why? Then you have to tell me which company makes the best golf clubs….”Calloway”, “Ping” or “Titleist”? Next, which is better? “Canon” or “Nikon”? “Coke” or “Pepsi”? “Coors” or “Budweiser”? You do know where I am going with this right?
As far as I am concerned there’s no such thing as a “best detector”. The best detector “should be’ the one you can afford and the one you are most comfortable with. Spending a lot of money might get you more bells and whistles, a little more depth, but it will also put a dent in your bank account, get you a 200 page user’s manual and a sore arm to boot. I have been through the “need to have the latest and best” phase and now realize that’s all it is….a phase, an imagined need.
Ask any detectorist today what detector they think is best and they will probably tell you it’s the one THEY are using at the moment. After all if they like it, you certainly will too. Well, um, not necessarily. I am willing to bet that same detectorist has gone through a lot of different makes and models over the years, and the one he is using now is simply the latest gal he’s taken to the dance….
What do I use today? Well, not the top of the line model, not the entry-level model, not the one with all the bells and whistles, and not the one that goes down fifteen feet. The metal detector I use is lightweight, comfortable, easy to understand, needs little if any in-the-field adjustments, and because of that it’s the best one on the market today (to me). So the next time somebody asks me about which detector is best, I’m gonna say “I got your best detector, right here pal!”
Now do yourself a favor and try not to make all this stuff rocket science…it isn’t. It’s a hobby, a pastime, nothing more. Just go do it for crissakes and stop worrying about which detector you “think” you need to have. And most important, have fun will ya?
PS: I used and touted the MXT way back when and I think my take on it has proven to be correct. Just look around. One of the reasons I liked it? It had knobs and switches. Yup, old school. I like to see my settings quickly and that’s hard to do with touch pads. Having said that I am currently using the MX Sport and loving the hell out of it. Go figure….