Practicing any hobby generally requires an initial investment on related tools and accessories! There is no way to go around that. Metal Detecting just follows this general rule. Indeed, without owning a metal detector, how can one say that somebody is a hobbyist!
The main issue that you may encounter is the price of these machines. They may be perceived as expensive by many people, especially if you are looking for legit detectors that can operate and perform well in difficult conditions.
So, why are metal detectors expensive? There are many factors that could make some metal detectors more expensive than others. The main factors are the Brand, Implemented Technologies, Possibility to configure more settings, Durability, Capacity to operate deeper and the Ability to detect valuable metals like gold and platinum even in small sizes.
These factors are the mains ones; I will give you more details about each one of them. So you will understand exactly how each variable could influence the price of these detecting machines.
I will list other obscure and interesting factors that you probably should know about! In addition, to some examples of machines that are pretty much underrated. In other words, they can provide you with great performances without the need of paying a ton of cash.
1. Brand Name
It seems that the brand name plays a huge role in the price that hobbyists pay to get the machine. Indeed, there are some brands that have a big hype train around them like Minelab, Garrett and Tesoro.
I don’t say that these brands don’t produce devices with high quality. All what I mean, is that there are other brands that bring to the table close capabilities and feature and yet their price is not even close.
Indeed, this is the case with lot of other things; Brand name just increases the price!
Another thing that you should consider when it comes to the price is the resale value of the brand name. Indeed, according to what I’ve notices in some groups of people who sell used machines. A used Garrett detector generally keeps a decent price for resale. Unlike a Bounty Hunter for example …
… I’ve put together this List of the Best Detector Brands! You really should check it to have an better idea on the most relevant Brands out there!
While looking for metal detectors you will soon notice that there are some machines offering a 2 years warranty. Others offer 5 years of warranty. High profile machines offer warranties that could reach 10 years which is pretty big.
This warranty period influence pretty directly the price! The longer it is, the more expensive the device become …
Another thing is the customer service or costumer care that comes with it. If it is reliable and offers good services, especially in case of issues to troubleshoot your machine. Then this contributes in increasing the price for sure.
The documentation also plays a big role too; Products that are well documented tend to be priced highly!
An examples of a Good machine with a long time of Warranty is the Fisher F22 (Check it Here on Amazon!) It comes with 5 years of warranty which is pretty good!
For more ideas, have a look at these metal detectors with a decent warranty!
The price of a metal detector is correlated directly with the nature of the targeted find. The more valuable the target is, the costly will be your machine.
Generally, if you get to know your device it will find any metal, gold included. However, the more expensive machines could be easily tuned to find more valuable items that cheaper ones will miss.
Indeed, it’s not what the machine finds that’s important, instead it is what your machine is actually missing! That is, the more expensive models may not find more but offer better discrimination so you don’t have to dig as much iron … I will talk about this aspect a bit later …
Another thing is the size of target! Generally cheaper detectors will easily miss targets with a very small size. A common example of that are extra small gold or platinum nuggets …
For that you will need gold prospecting machines that generally cost couple thousands of dollars.
A good example of a Gold Detector that will help you to come across more valuable targets is the Garrett AT Gold (Check it Here on Amazon!)
4. The Market
The nature of this Market plays a big role as well. Metal Detecting gained more popularity in these recent years, yet it is still a limited market. Thus, the manufacturers generally opt for higher prices. If they went on to simply rely on sales from detectors, they wouldn’t be in business very long.
Think of how many models are out there and how many detectorists there are. That’s why most, if not, all of these companies supply the armed forces and airport.
I think the next angle is projected sales. With more sales there should be cheaper machines, but not that many people can actually afford the expensive ones.
5. Technology & Production Cost
Today the cost of making items are sky high and will only continue to be at the best of my knowledge. In principle there is a link to the R&D costs. The more time, effort and money spent the higher the end cost.
The hardware itself is not that expensive. Instead, software is! The more development in software the higher is the price. There is a theory saying that today’s machine capabilities repartition is like this: 99% software and 1% hardware.
This has yet to be verified, if you know something about that let me know in the comment section below …
For example when the Equinox series first appeared they were totally new technology. And that doesn’t just appear like that! There’s a solid work done for design, science, electronic wizardry, parts to be made etc. Not to mention the marketing at the end of that long process.
All the people involved in the whole process are experts in their particular field and none of this is cheap. It costs a company millions and they have to make all this back before any profit appears. That’s why top machines are expensive.
In addition the machines they use to make all different components don’t come cheap. Then the labor packaging all comes at a price.
Keep in mind that one of the most advanced machines in today’s market is the Minelab CTX 3030 (Check it Here on Amazon!)
6. Component quality and reliability
In each machine there is something called the circuit board! So, is the trace made of copper, silver, or gold? The answer to this question is correlated with the price…
Then there are the solder joints! Was it done by hand or machine? Indeed cold solder joints could crack and fail over time. This will lead to an open circuit.
In addition to that there is the memory capacity for the software. More memory means more preset programs and that means a higher price.
What type of screen readout does the device have? Those little doggies aren’t cheap either. Then there is the coil. What type of coil is it and how big is it? The bigger the coil, the more expensive is the whole thing …
… Check out this list of reliable metal detectors!
7. Possible Settings
I’ve asked a hobbyist a while ago about that and he answered me with a pretty funny way:
“Most detectors start at a base price then when you buy one that has more buttons to mess up with, it’s usually a hundred dollars more for each button added on!”
This answer sounded funny for me at the beginning, yet if you think a bit seriously about it. You will end up believing the same thing.
Indeed, if you take an equinox 800 that has a motion/non-motion switch button for example. When you look at its couple hundred dollars price, you realize that this kind of settings influence the final price.
Actually, you won’t find this option setting within a cheap machine!
If you check an XP Deus that generally costs fairly more than a grand, you will notice its very low weight. In addition to being handy and easy for your arm.
You will also notice that this is a common feature of all expensive machines. It is a useful one as this hobby is practiced for longue hours. Thus, using a cheap, heavy, non-handy detecting device would present an issue at a certain point!
By the way, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve done some research and found out these 5 lightweight metal detecors!
In theory the more you pay the more added extras you get with detectors performance. Just like buying a mobile phone or laptop.
The cheaper detectors I find don’t go as deep as the expensive ones. Plus the more expensive ones have more options built in so you get like three detectors in one, they will also discriminate out a lot of the junk before you dig. This helps tremendously saving your time and gaining better finds.
For example if you want to be able to dive in the ocean with a detector so you have to buy one salt water proof that goes up to 250 ft deep. Those will run you a grand or even more but yes it’s because of that kind of performance.
In addition, Multi frequency detectors can help you in difficult ground conditions like mineralized soils. These kinds of detectors cost usually higher.
10. Tendency to buy better machines
Most hobbyists, especially those with many years of experience behind them tend to upgrade their machines. By upgrading, they tend to look for specific features that their previous devices didn’t have.
And this doesn’t generally come with a cheap price! Plus the fact that they are willing and ready to pay for better machines that they think are worth it …
Unlike beginners who usually look for pretty decent machines but as cheap as possible.
This applies to almost any hobby. Shooting, fishing, biking, camping, cars…..pretty much applies to anything.
11. It is worth it
People will generally pay $1k for a phone and will upgrade it every year or 2. And the manufacturer makes millions of them.
That’s why I find that complaining about an expensive detector that can pay for its self and last for many years just doesn’t make too much sense. And the manufacturers only make 10s of thousands of them at best. So what is a better deal?
There are several cases of people who have paid for a $8000 detector and within months of getting it with their gold finds (on average 1.5 to 4 ounces of gold nuggets per month) and considering a $1300 an ounce, it just paid for itself.
In addition metal detecting relieves stress, is a fun hobby and makes new friends so it’s worth the price tag and for many it pays for itself in a matter of time. Metal Detectors are Worth it …
Example of a good but not expensive metal detector
Bounty Hunter machines are generally underrated! Honestly I think that their performances and what they bring to the table is legit. So their low price in comparison with other brands doesn’t mean that they don’t do a good job…
… There are many series that you can choose from:
- Bounty Hunter TK4 (Check this One Here on Amazon!)
- Bounty Hunter Discovery.
- Bounty Hunter Quick Silver.
Somebody told me a while ago “Could you imagine if detectors were so cheap everyone will buy them … and we would be banned everywhere”
I feel that’s a good point! What do you think?
I mean, at the end of the day, these machines being expensive could also be considered as an advantage.
Finally, I’ve recently written an article about the main differences between motion and non motion metal detectors! Check it out!