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I am new to the hobby. What Metal Detector should I purchase?
By Lee Wiese
This is a question that most of us have asked ourselves and continue to be asked by others interested in joining the hobby. I like many of you have been metal detecting for a while but still find it hard to come up with the best detector for certain types of detecting (coins, jewelry, relics, beach, prospecting) in part because new detectors are constantly becoming available from manufactures.
So again, why is it so hard to answer this question? The detector companies have not made this question easily answered. Take a look at TABLE ONE on the next page. In table one there are 123 detectors from seven detector manufacturers. On the left side of the table a range of detector pricing in $100 increments is shown for the three groups of detectors: Multi-Function, Water and Prospecting. Placed in each column next to a price range is a detector model (number or name). Also on the left side of the table next to the price range is a RED ARROW pointing downward with the words PRICE, FEATURES, and TECHNOLOGY. Keep in mind: FEATURES plus TECHNOLOGY equal PRICE. This is not a complete list of detectors in the market place but a good representation of what’s available.

Why it is so hard to answer the question: “What metal detector should I purchase?”

By looking at TABLE ONE you can see there are many Multi-Function detectors available per given price range and in most cases they will have the same or similar features and capabilities. Also there is a good deal of price spread per detector company - as the price goes up for a given company’s detectors so do the number of features and usually performance capability. Features certainly can add to overall performance but can also make the detector much more complex to setup, to operate, and to learn for the average person. Multi-Function detector enhancements come in the form of adding a display, more features by using software and hardware switches, and the ability to change to different size or functional coils. (Note: Multi-Function detectors can be any combination of coin, jewelry, relic beach, & prospecting detectors.
The criteria used to select your first Multi-Function detector may follow along this line of reasoning. You should first decide how frequent you will use the detector; don’t spend big bucks and have an expensive detector in the closet.
a) If you are going to use the detector for vacation plus an occasional weekend keep your decision focused on a price range of $100-$400 or lower and compare the feature sets between manufactures to find the best detector fit for you.
b) If you are going to get into the hobby and use the detector more frequently you might place your attention on detectors in the $500-$800 price ranges. Greater research on your part must take place by comparing feature sets between detectors and companies to identify a match for your detecting needs.
c) If you are very serious about the hobby you may want to look at detectors in the $800 - $1,900 ranges. You will find a large number of technological driven detecting features. These detectors tend to be more complex, the learning curve much longer but over time the quality of targets recovered can be very good to excellent.
Water detectors are driven more by TECHNOLOGY (See RED ARROW) than features. There are detecting features but they tend to be limited to a certain feature set among the detector companies. The decision to purchase a Water detector is a bit easier since there are fewer available choices. The major decision factors for a Water detector are price, company, and whether you want a Pulse Induction (PI), Very Low Frequency (VLF) or a Multi-frequency technology detector.
Prospecting detectors are usually design specifically to look for Gold. The decision to purchase a Prospecting detector will hinge on frequency of use, performance required and price. Usually Gold Prospecting is the major and only reason to purchase this type of detector. Some of the Multi-function detectors have a prospecting mode and in with these Multi-Function detectors you get to try your hand at prospecting.
In summary give consideration to the following before laying out cash for your first detector. How frequently am I going to use the detector? What type of detecting (coins, jewelry, relics, water, prospecting) am I going to use the detector for? How much money should I plan to spend?
Once you have answered these questions move forward with your research. Compare detector specifications between companies, seek out a metal detecting club in your area and ask questions, ask a friend in the hobby, visit metal detecting forums on the web and ask questions, visit your local metal detector dealer and seek out their advice. Remember everyone you ask will be bias toward their specific detector and company. I hope this provides some insight into the complexity of answering the question: “What metal detector should I purchase?”

Due to space limitation not all detector-manufacturing companies have been listed in the above table. Data for this table came from manufacturer’s web sites and select retailers.
* Multi-Function detectors can be any combination of (coin, jewelry, beach, prospecting and relic detectors)
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