how good are cheap metal detectors

Are Cheap Metal Detectors Any Good? (Explained & Solved)

are cheap metal detectors any good

There is a common misconception that cheap metal detectors are worthless and won’t help you find anything of a value. For anyone who knows something about metal detecting, he can easily recognize that this is not true at all! Indeed …

Cheap metal detectors are good enough to help you find metallic targets buried underneath the ground. Those metallic targets could well be valuable as you can quite easily find things like coins (old and spendable), relics as well as jewelry.

In this article I breakdown the true capabilities of most available inexpensive detectors in the market. I will also cover some of the limitations of those types of machines and how you can work around those limitations.

What finds can cheap metal detectors detect?

An inexpensive metal detector can easily pick up most of your run-of-the-mill finds including:

  • Coins: old, spendable and antique coins.
  • Jewelry: made out of almost any metal including proceeded gold.
  • Relics: that are made of all sorts of metals.
  • War stuff: like old bullets and ammunition, soldier gears like hats etc …

However, despite what some dealers may say, you will not be able to detect gold nuggets or gold in its pure form. For such purposes you will need dedicated, higher end machines that are custom made for that.

I will explain this later in this article.

Example of a Cheap metal detector

One of the best cheap metal detectors on the market is the Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV (Check it Here at Amazon)!

It is suitable for both adults and children as well. It is not only affordable, but it is also easy to use, and is capable of detecting most targets out there.

Its usage is quite simple. Indeed, it comes with those essential features:

  • Analog meter display
  • Target strength meter
  • And three search modes

It is ideal for detecting in shallow water, searching for jewelry, silver, coins, and relics.

Its ease of use makes it ideal for children as well! So if you are a beginner this machine won’t intimidate you!

Also, it has good sensitivity for smaller targets.

Keep in mind that the interface it comes with is simple and analog (no complexity involved in this regard). The target strength needle gives visual identification of the detected metal, and seeing it move is a source of great joy and satisfaction for beginners as this means that they’ve potentially about to find something cool.

Can cheap metal detectors find gold?

An entry-level machine (like the Bounty Hunter Tracker IV) is capable of detecting items with gold in them, like coins and jewelry!

It can also detect large gold nuggets. However, it cannot detect small gold nuggets or gold flakes present in a highly mineralized area as the detector experiences an extreme amount of chatter. For this, you will need a highly specialized metal detector.

Also, keep in mind that machines that are able to find gold in highly mineralized soil need to operate in high frequencies at least. However, most cheap machines frequency is quite low, so this won’t be possible in that sense.

Cheap metal detectors limitations …

To be transparent, I have to share with you some of the most common limitations that you might experience with an entry-level metal detector.

Good news is that most of those limitations are not a necessity to be successful in this hobby. Indeed, I’ve known many people who use kids detectors and were extremely successful.

Below some of those limitations:

  • Cheap detectors might give false signals, especially if you are carrying a metal object like a watch, phone or if you are wearing shoes with metal on them. So be careful with that. Those false signals could also be caused by iron trash in the ground.
  • They are not able to function in highly mineralized or conductive soil. This is something that I have explained before.
  • Sometimes they could have lack of discrimination (This is not the case for the bounty hunter btw). So, if you are detecting in a heavily trashy area, your machine might struggle.
  • Many of the cheaper metal detectors do not have an LCD screen that lets you see the numbers and other settings clearly. In my opinion, this is not something I would worry about too much.
  • Cheap models usually do not have more advanced features like multi-frequency capabilities, ground balancing, Iron Bias … Those features are important, but only in extreme ground conditions. And I doubt you will deal with such conditions most of the time.
  • They do not come with the option of updating the operating software. This is the case for higher end machines like Minelab Equinox series. I also don’t see this as a huge advantage.
  • Most of those machines could not really be used for underwater detection. This means diving with your metal detector in a like or beach to find targets underwater. And to be honest, you won’t need such a feature in most cases. Only the real pros who can and would try those kinds of detecting forms.

What finds can kids metal detectors detect?

Kids metal detectors are also cheap, so they fall well into this category!

Recommendation: If you are looking for a kids metal detector with very good capabilities, then I recommend you check this reliable & affordable model.

There are many metal detectors that are specially designed for children. These models are not of the highest capabilities, but they are affordable and are capable of detecting most items like jewelry, coins, and relics.

However, they cannot detect gold and silver (at least most of them). Metal detectors for children are usually not waterproof, which rules out detecting in water.

Final Thoughts …

This article main purpose was not only to answer your questions about cheaper detecting devices. The goal was also to encourage you to get started in this wonderful hobby …

Indeed, getting started (unlike what some people think) doesn’t really require a big budget. With a small budget and entry level model you can not only get started, but also be very successful in the hobby.



About the Author

Carissa Harmer

Carissa is the huge metal detecting enthusiast that loves collecting coins. She is also highly interested in other treasure hunting activities like magnet fishing and gold prospecting/panning.