Cheap Metal Detectors vs Expensive: What Do You Need?

  • By: Chris
  • Last updated on December 20, 2022
  • Time to read: 16 min.
Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post, at no extra cost to you!! Before making a purchase, check the details of an item as one link may lead to a promotion that another link doesn't offer.

Are you looking for a new metal detector?


It’s always exciting when comparing all the different brands, features, and custom add-ons. But what about the price? Are you finally ready to upgrade and spend on a feature-rich metal detector? Or maybe this is your first metal detector and you don’t want to break the bank before you get a chance to get some experience under your belt.

Whatever your situation is, we’ve broken down all the essential questions to ask and even provided some of our favorite detectors for you to consider.

So, let’s get down to business and help narrow down your options.

Cheap Metal Detector vs Expensive

cheap metal detectors versus expensive
The price of the metal detector isn’t always the basis of how good it is.

When it comes to cheap metal detectors vs expensive ones, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Just because a metal detector is cheap doesn’t mean it’s not good quality or that it can’t find hidden treasures.

In fact, many cheap metal detectors are just as good as the more expensive models, they just don’t have all the bells and whistles.

The main difference between cheap and expensive metal detectors is the features. More expensive models will usually have more features like ground balancing, target ID, and better discrimination.

Some people think that if they spend more money on a metal detector then they’ll find more treasures. This isn’t always the case. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on a metal detector, it all comes down to luck, skill, and practice.

While more expensive metal detectors usually have a higher-end technology like Multi-IQ frequencies or a greater water depth, they don’t guarantee you’ll find more.

what are you looking for in a device
Your specific needs will ultimately lead you toward a particular metal detector choice.

It really comes down to what you’re looking for in a metal detector and what’s important to you. If you want all the features and are willing to pay for them, then go for it!

But if you’re just starting out or on a budget, there are plenty of great metal detectors available that offer a wide range of excellent features.

For Your Consideration

Before we get any further, below you’ll find a list of 5 cheap metal detectors and 5 expensive metal detectors.

Unfortunately, there were many we left off the list that really deserves your consideration, but we didn’t want to overwhelm you. If you have a specific target or location area, you might also like to check out one of our other articles that highlight metal detectors for special circumstances.

Cheap Metal Detectors

ImageProduct TitleFeaturesPrice
Our Pick
Bounty Hunter Tracker IV

Bounty Hunter Tracker IV

  • Search Modes: 3
  • Operating Frequency: 6.6 kHz
  • Ground Balance: Automatic
  • Standout Feature: Discrimination and Sensitivity Controls
Check at AmazonCheck at Kellyco
Best Price
Bounty Hunter Gold Digger

Bounty Hunter Gold Digger

  • Search Modes: 2
  • Operating Frequency: 6.6 kHz
  • Ground Balance: Automatic
  • Standout Feature: Easy to Use (only 2 knobs!)
Check at Amazon
Best Value
Fisher F22

Fisher F22

  • Search Modes: 4
  • Operating Frequency: 7.69 kHz
  • Ground Balance: Automatic
  • Standout Feature: 0-99 Target ID
Check at AmazonCheck at Kellyco
Most Included Features
Garrett ACE 400

Garrett ACE 400

  • Search Modes: 5
  • Operating Frequency: 10 kHz
  • Ground Balance: Automatic
  • Standout Feature: Adjustable Frequency
Check at AmazonCheck at Kellyco
Honorable Mention


  • Search Modes: 5
  • Operating Frequency: Multi-IQ
  • Ground Balance: Manual
  • Standout Feature: Multi-IQ Technology
Check at Amazon

Expensive Metal Detectors

ImageProduct TitleFeaturesPrice
Our Pick
Minelab Equinox 800

Minelab Equinox 800

  • Search Modes: 8 and All-Metal
  • Operating Frequency: Multi-IQ (5 in total)
  • Ground Balance: Automatic and Manual
  • Standout Feature: 8 Recovery Speeds and Adjustable Threshold Level
Check at AmazonCheck at Kellyco
Best Price
Fisher F75

Fisher F75

  • Search Modes: 3
  • Operating Frequency: 13 kHz
  • Ground Balance: Automatic FASTGRAB and Manual
  • Standout Feature: Greater Depth at an Affordable Price
Check at AmazonCheck at Kellyco
Best Value
Garrett AT Pro

Garrett AT Pro

  • Search Modes: 6
  • Operating Frequency: 15 kHz
  • Ground Balance: Automatic and Manual
  • Standout Feature: Fast Recovery Speed for Standard and Pro Mode
Check at AmazonCheck at Kellyco
Most Included Features
XP Deus 2

XP Deus 2

  • Search Modes: 12
  • Operating Frequency: FMF (Fast Multi-Frequency)
  • Ground Balance: Tracking, Grab, and Manual
  • Standout Feature: 49 Mono Frequency Options
Check at AmazonCheck at Kellyco
Honorable Mention
Minelab CTX 3030

Minelab CTX 3030

  • Search Modes: 10
  • Operating Frequency: Multi-IQ (28 in total)
  • Ground Balance: Automatic and Manual
  • Standout Feature: GPS and Mapping
Check at AmazonCheck at Kellyco

Are Metal Detectors Expensive?

are metal detectors expensive
Metal detectors are not expensive. They are priced according to the performance it was intended for.

Now that we’ve looked at some cheap metal detectors vs expensive ones, it’s time to answer the question, are metal detectors expensive?

The answer is no. Metal detectors are not expensive because you are paying a specific price for a machine that is built for a specific experience and expected performance.

As we mentioned before, it all comes down to what you’re looking for and what features are important to you. You can find a great cheap metal detector for around $100 that has all the features you need to get started.

Or, if you’re wanting a metal detector that is capable of finding gold 10 feet underwater where saltwater can wreak havoc on most devices, you can find a metal detector made for this type of complexity.

Someone new to the hobby may see a price of $1500.00 and think it’s expensive, but for the detectorist who needed the bells and whistles it comes with, they might view this price as an absolute steal.

It’s really up to you how much money you want to spend on a metal detector. Just remember, the price doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality or the performance of the device.

What Goes Into the Price of A Metal Detector?

what goes into the price of a metal detector
There are many factors that go into the cost of a metal detector, like technology and the brand.

The answer is simple. The price of a metal detector is directly related to the research, development, and design that went into making the device.

The more research, development, and design that was necessary to create the perfect machine for specific needs, the higher the price will be.

Here a just a few of the factors that can go into impacting the price you might pay for a new metal detector.


technology makes the price go up
Newer technology creates better detecting opportunities, thus resulting in a higher price.

The type of technology a metal detector uses can play a big role in the price. For example, multi-frequency detectors are usually more expensive than single-frequency detectors because they use more complicated technology.

Not only is the necessary equipment taken into account, but you also have to factor in the man-hours and resources used to create the software that is specifically coded and created to get the best results the manufacturer is aiming to achieve.

Built-in Features

The more features a metal detector has, the more expensive it will be. This is because each new feature requires extra design, development, and testing to ensure it meets the quality standards of the manufacturer and to even receive special industry certifications.

Some common built-in features that can add to the cost are GPS tracking, wireless headphones capabilities, large color LCD screens, and automatic ground balancing.

Cost of Components

cost of components will determine price
The cost of manufacturing will raise or lower the price for the consumer.

Depending on where the metal detector is made, the cost of the different components that make up the device can also contribute to a higher or even lower price.

For instance, if a manufacturer is using more expensive and durable materials like aircraft-grade aluminum, it will add to the overall cost.

The same goes for any patented or proprietary technologies being used in the design and construction of the metal detector.

Oftentimes, a company will do its best to cut costs by using lower-quality materials or even cheap knock-offs of more expensive components.

you get what you pay for
Unfortunately, you do often get what you pay for. But not always!

These companies are usually the ones selling metal detectors at very low prices, and you have to take into account that you may get what you pay for in terms of quality and performance.

You also have to factor in things like shipping and import taxes when a company is based outside of your country.

All these things can contribute to a higher price tag, but it doesn’t mean the metal detector is automatically better because it’s more expensive.

The Current Market

The current market also has an impact on the prices you see for metal detectors.

The Metal Detector Market is expected to exceed more than US$ 1.0 Billion by 2023 at a CAGR of 4% in the given forecast period.


When the market is flooded with cheap knock-offs, the prices of more reputable brands will go down in order to compete.

On the other hand, if there’s a new breakthrough in metal detecting technology, the prices of all metal detectors will go up because everyone is trying to get their hands on the latest and greatest model. Thus the whole supply and demand factor comes into play.


branding will determine cost of metal detector
The more popular brands tend to charge more for their customer service and unique technology.

One of the more obvious pieces of the puzzle is branding.

If a metal detector comes from a well-known and reputable brand, you can bet that it’s going to cost more than one from a no-name company.

It’s not just the name that adds to the price, but also the quality control and customer service that a big company can provide.

When you’re paying for a brand, you’re also paying for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re getting a product that has been tested and proven to work well.

This also touches on the warranty with a particular brand. A brand has gained popularity not just from the performance of the product, but also from how well they service their customers when they are having issues.

What Should I Look for In a Quality Metal Detector?

what should i look for in a quality metal detector
A quality metal detector comes in many shapes and sizes. Price does not always have a direct correlation.

While price is surely a big part of your consideration, you don’t want to forget about the dozen other variables that should be crossing your mind when choosing a good metal detector.

You should look for many different attributes in a quality metal detector, including the necessary operating frequency, available search modes (preset and custom), factory coil size, the maximum average detection depth, and how many advanced features come built-in.

These features generally include Target ID, Discrimination, Notch, and Ground Balance (manual and automatic), among others.

Another big thing to look for is how easy or difficult the device is to use, as you don’t want to be stuck with a complicated machine that takes forever to learn.

The weight of the metal detector is also important as you don’t want something that’s too heavy and cumbersome, especially if you plan on using it for long periods of time.

Are More Expensive Metal Detectors Better?

are more expensive metal detectors better
Expensive metal detectors normally offer more desired features and performance, but doesn’t always mean it is better.

Ah, the age-old question, or at least the big question for beginner detectorists.

The answer is not so simple, unfortunately.

On its face, you could say that the more expensive a metal detector is, the better it is. Higher-priced metal detectors are loaded with advanced features aimed at finding valuable items at a higher consistency.

However, there are many comparisons, reviews, and physical testing that can prove otherwise.

Sometimes, it’s possible that a less expensive or “cheap” metal detector can perform up to the same standards as a more expensive one.

It all comes down to the individual features, specs, and design of each device.

You also have to take into account the person using the metal detector.

who is doing the metal detecting
A detectorist with many years of experience can certainly get better results from a cheaper metal detector.

A cheap metal detector in the hands of an experienced user is going to outperform an expensive model in the hands of a beginner every time.

For a detailed look at such a case, feel free to head over to our comparison of the Nokta Makra Simplex and the Minelab Equinox 800.

The Equinox is an amazing machine and popular among professionals. While the Simplex didn’t make our list here, there are more than deserving of a spot.

Nokta Makro Simplex+
Nokta Makro Simplex+
  • 12 kHz frequency
  • 4 detection modes + all-metal
  • Waterproof up to 10 feet
  • Comes with wireless headphones
  • 3 (EMI) noise-canceling frequency shifts
  • Depth indicator

Do Inexpensive Metal Detectors Work?

This is a bit of a loaded question as the answer can be both yes and no.

do inexpensive metal detectors work
Inexpensive metal detectors can work well. But poorly built detectors are something different entirely.

There are cheap knock-offs of popular metal detectors that don’t work well, but there are also lower-priced models from respected brands that do work just as well as their more expensive counterparts.

The bottom line is that it really depends on the model of the metal detector that you’re looking at.

Some cheap models are good, while others are complete garbage.

The best cheap metal detectors will have most, if not all, of the features that you’d find on a more expensive model.

You can usually find these lower-priced models from companies like Garrett, Bounty Hunter, and Fisher.

But you should be aware that some inexpensive metal detectors can come with some drawbacks that expensive models are better suited to overcome.

  • A tendency for false signals
  • No LCD screen option
  • A limitation in frequencies
  • Not capable of performing in water
  • Only working well with ideal soil conditions

How Much Should I Pay for A Decent Metal Detector?

how much should i pay for a decent metal detector
A decent metal detecting price will fit into 3 price ranges, depending on your experience, interest, and needs.

This is a difficult question to answer as it really depends on what you consider to be “decent.”

Some people are perfectly happy with an entry-level model that only costs around $100, while others feel that anything less than $500 is a waste of money.

It all comes down to how much you’re willing to spend and what you hope to get out of your metal detecting experience.

If you’re just starting out, we recommend that you go with a cheap model to see if metal detecting is something that you’ll enjoy before investing a lot of money into it.

You can always upgrade to a more expensive model later on down the road.

Our general line of thinking is the price to pay for a “decent” metal detector can fall within 3 price ranges, under $500, between $500 and $1,000, and over the $1,000 threshold. The category you fall into will be dependent on your experience, interest level, and overall purpose.

If you’re just starting out, regardless of your initial interest level, a metal detector for under $500 is a great price to pay.

metal detector under 500
For most beginners, spending under $500 is a good cap to stick to.

These models will have enough features and power to help you get started without breaking the bank. And if you do your research, you can get a device you can grow into without getting bored.

The $500 to $1,000 range is a great sweet spot for those who want more features without having to spend an arm and a leg. This includes detectorists looking for an upgrade or an experienced hobbyist who is considering a trusty backup for their collection.

This price bracket will give you access to some of the best machines on the market while still being relatively affordable.

You’ll find that most detectors in this category are versatile and can be used for multiple purposes, whether it’s coin shooting, relic hunting, or even gold prospecting.

over 1000 dollars for a metal detector
If you’re spending over $1,000 then you probably consider yourself a serious detectorist.

Over the $1,000 mark is where things start to get really serious.

This price range is typically only reserved for professionals or those who are extremely passionate about the hobby.

The detectors in this category offer features that the average user probably doesn’t need but can be extremely helpful for those who know how to use them.

You’ll also find that the build quality and durability of detectors in this category are usually a step above the rest.

So, if you’re looking for the best of the best and you’re willing to pay for it, this is the price range you should be looking at.

What Is the Best and Cheapest Metal Detector?

Our pick for the best and cheapest metal detector is the Bounty Hunter Tracker IV.

Bounty Hunter Tracker IV
Bounty Hunter Tracker IV
  • Operating frequency of 6.6 kHz
  • Preset automatic ground balance
  • Discrimination and sensitivity controls
  • Detection depth from 6 inches to 2 feet
  • 3 modes of operation

While there are many alternatives you could easily swap out for, like the Nokta Makro Simplex+ or either of the Garrett ACE models (ACE 300 and ACE 400), we think the Tracker IV gives you the most bang for your buck.

It’s a great all-around machine that is perfect for beginners or those on a budget.

It has enough features to keep things interesting, yet it’s not so complicated that it will overwhelm you.

Plus, it’s one of the more affordable models on the market considering all that you get with it.

Can Cheap Metal Detectors Find Gold?

While cheap metal detectors can find gold, they will not be as effective as more expensive models.

can cheap metal detectors find gold
Any detector can find gold but usually, the more expensive models are just better at it.

This is because the makeup and size of gold require a higher frequency to detect it and cheaper models generally work off relatively low operating frequencies.

Now a cheaper metal detecting is capable of finding items with gold in it like jewelry. And large gold nuggets aren’t too difficult either. But when it comes to gold flakes or small nuggets, only a handful of lower-priced metal detectors will be able to successfully detect this target.

In addition, if you’re looking for gold in a highly mineralized area, a cheap model will have more trouble than an expensive one.

This is because the cheaper models are not as good at discriminating between different types of metals.

So, if you’re serious about gold prospecting, you’ll want to invest in a mid-priced or high-end metal detector that can handle these difficult conditions.

We recommend checking out our review of the best metal detectors for finding gold.

Are Metal Detectors Worth Buying?

If you enjoy spending time outdoors and you like the idea of finding hidden treasures, then we think metal detectors are definitely worth buying.

are metal detectors worth buying
Metal detecting is worth it for many different reasons.

Not only is it a great hobby for people of all ages, but it’s also a great way to get some exercise while exploring your surroundings.

Plus, there’s always the potential to find something valuable, which makes it even more fun.

So, if you’re on the fence about whether or not to buy a metal detector, we say go for it.

You might just end up finding something amazing.

Some other great reasons why a metal detector is worth buying are:

  • It can be very profitable.
  • You will take more of an interest in the history of places and the items you find there.
  • You’ll get to explore new places and meet interesting people during your research.
  • If you’re traveling, you have more opportunities for some extra souvenirs.
  • You can find out more about yourself and what you’re interested in.
  • It’s a great way to get the family involved in a fun activity together.
  • You’ll get some fresh air and exercise without even realizing it.

How to Choose a Metal Detector

how to choose a metal detector
There are some essential questions you should ask yourself in order to pick the best metal detector for you.

Choosing a metal detector can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.

There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before making your purchase, and some important questions you need to ask yourself to help identify the perfect model for you.

Below are some starter questions we put together to help you get started on your metal detector journey.

What Do You Want to Find with A Metal Detector?

This is probably the most important question you need to ask yourself.

what do you want to find in a metal detector
Knowing your intended target can help narrow down your search.

The answer will help guide you to the type of metal detector that is best suited for your needs.

Are you interested in finding coins, jewelry, or relics? Do you want to use it for prospecting or beach hunting?

Knowing what you want to find will help you narrow down the many different types and models of metal detectors on the market.

How Often Do You Think You Will Use Your Metal Detector?

This is an important question to consider because it will help determine how much you want to spend on a metal detector.

how often will you use a metal detector
Is this a passing interest hobby or a serious endeavor? This question will help you make a decision.

If you only plan on using it once in a while, then you might not want to invest too much money. At least until you’ve decided that metal detecting will be an ongoing hobby for you.

On the other hand, if you think you’ll be using it fairly regularly, then you might want to invest in a higher-quality model. Especially if this is a previous interest you had that you are trying to get back into.

What Is Your Experience Level with A Metal Detector?

Are you a beginner or an experienced user? The answer to this question will help determine the features you need to look for in a metal detector.

If you’re just starting out, then you’ll want one that is easy to use and has good instructions. Even if it’s not the cheapest model available, you want to be sure that there is support for you when you have questions, either online or through the manufacturer themselves.

what is your experience level with a metal detector
Your experience level will give you an idea of how easy or complicated a machine you can handle.

You might also want to consider a model that comes with accessories like a carrying case and headphones.

On the other hand, if you’re experienced with metal detectors, then you probably have a good idea of what features are most important to you and what kind of budget you’re working with.

Where Will You Be Using Your Metal Detector?

Knowing the conditions of your search area will go a long way in narrowing down your options. If you’re already envisioning yourself combing the beach or searching a nearby national forest, then you’ll have a good idea of the advanced features you’ll need.

Or, if you haven’t really given it much thought but you already know you live in an area with high mineralization, then you’ll want to make sure your metal detector can filter out false signals with reliability.

You’ll also want to take into account the weight and size of the machine. If you plan on doing a lot of hiking, then you’ll want something lightweight that won’t wear you out before you even get started.

What Is Your Budget for A New Metal Detector?

what is your budget for a new metal detector
Of course, your budget will give you either more or fewer options to work with.

Finally, you need to consider how much you’re willing to spend on a new metal detector.

This is probably the second most important question, after knowing what you want to find.

Your budget will help narrow down your choices and keep you from overspending on features you may not even need.

A cheap metal detector might be just what you need if you’re only going to use it once in a while or if you’re just starting out.

On the other hand, if you plan on using it regularly or you have some experience under your belt, then you might want to spend a little more for a higher-quality model.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of great metal detectors out there that don’t make you cringe when you pull out the credit card.

don't cringe when you see the price
Just because you find yourself leaning toward a feature-packed metal detector, doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune.

So, even if you have a limited budget, you can still find a good quality machine that will suit your needs.

No matter what your budget is or what you plan on using your metal detector for, be sure to do your research before making a purchase.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to cheap metal detectors vs expensive, it really depends on your needs and what you’re looking for in a machine.

If you only plan on using it occasionally, then a cheap model might be just what you need.

To be honest, there isn’t a wrong answer here. It really comes down to what you want and what you’re willing to spend.

Our advice is to do your research, ask around, and then make a decision based on your findings.

You can’t go wrong as long as you take the time to find the metal detector that is right for you, cheap or expensive.

We hope this article has helped you in your decision-making process. When in doubt, just remember that it’s not about the price, it’s about finding the perfect metal detector that meets your expectations.

can you go through metal detectors with dental implants

Previous Post

Can You Go Through Metal Detectors with Dental Implants? Best Answer Here

Next Post

How to Clean Copper Coins Found in the Ground: Best Do’s and Don’ts

how to clean copper coins found in the ground