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Metal detector buying guide

Find the best metal detector for you with our basic guide

Metal detector buying guide

With so many options, finding the right metal detector can be difficult. Unlike our other guides, because this subject is so large we are going to focus on beginning users with some of the most common questions.

When you’re first starting out, or if budget is a factor, you’ll want to get an entry level detector

Currently an entry level detector costs anything between $170 and $700 NZD. These detectors are aimed at people looking for treasure (coins and jewellery) and generally offer a simple experience for first time users.

Try to keep in mind what is important when choosing your detector. Things like weight, size, features such as an LCD screen, in-built speaker, GPS, discrimination (so you don't dig up junk) and coil size are all important.

Some of the better entry level relic machines we sell are:

There are other machines that are cheaper than the above, but these offer the best bang for your buck with manual controls that can tune the detector to what you are trying to find.

Let's get started with some common questions from first time buyers

How deep does a Metal detector go?

You will notice that no brand lists this specification. Why? It's because it's impossible to answer.

The depth that any given detector will detect to will be based on a number of variables, including:

  • Size of the object
  • The material it is buried in
  • How long it's been in the ground
  • Moisture
  • Metal type
  • Coil size
  • Electromagnetic interference (power lines) etc.
  • How the object lays in the ground

Lots of these variables are outside of your control. Finding a 50 cent coin 15cm underground is normally well within the range of all entry level detectors using an 8" coil.

Is bigger better when it comes to coils?

Short answer: no. Different coil sizes are used differently. A smaller coil would be better in high trash areas when several targets are close to each other, where a large coil is great for low-mineralisation areas and deep searching. Not all coils are round, some are oval-shaped for getting in between those hard to reach places.


Why do people always use headphones?

Sound isolation. A good set of headphones significantly increases your chances of finding buried objects by blocking background noise.

Using headphones will also improve your detector's battery life as well and won't attract unwanted attention from curious or annoyed onlookers.

Metal detectors either take the larger 1/4 inch jack or more commonly the 3.5mm headphone jack.

I've heard that pinpointers are a good idea but my detector comes with one built in, why should I buy one?

The accuracy of a handheld pinpointer far exceeds the pinpointing mode of a metal detector. With a bit of practice a good pinpointer will save you many minutes on every target.

The point end of the tool contains a miniature metal detector coil. When it is in very close proximity to metal it will alert you by sound or vibration. These tool are normally inserted into the hole you have dug where you think the treasure lies.

Gold Detector or Relic Detector?

  • Gold detectors are designed to find unrefined gold nuggets (as pictured), not jewellery.
  • Relic detectors are designed to refined metal objects such as rings and coins.
  • Some relic detectors also have a gold nugget mode, however a gold detector will typically outperform a relic detector in gold mode.