45 Reasons to Get a Cheap Metal Detector

What are the reasons to buy a cheap metal detector?

There are many reasons to purchase a cheap metal detector. You don’t always have to buy the most advanced, top of the line item to have fun or be successful. This article will show you 45 reasons to purchase a cheap metal detector.

Ease into the Hobby

When you are just starting out, you may not want to drop $1,000 on a metal detector. Lucky for you, many manufacturers make metal detectors that are inexpensive and still have plenty of features. They have a shorter learning curve and are much friendlier to newcomers.

Below, please take a moment to view some of the best metal detectors on the market:

Garrett AT Max$$$Waterproof to 10 feet
Fisher F22 Fisher F22$$9″ Triangulated Concentric Coil
Garrett Ace 400 Garrett Ace 400$$$8.5 x 11" DD coil
Minelab Vanquish 540$Search Modes: Coin, Relic, Jewelry, Custom, All Metal

1) You Can Buy According to Your Experience

You always want to buy a metal detector in line with your experience level. It may be discouraging for a beginning detectorist to purchase an expensive, high-end model as they have huge learning curves. Cheap metal detectors work well for beginners, but many also have features that a more advanced detectorist will appreciate. 

2) You Don’t Want to Spend a Fortune

Whether you don’t want to spend a whole lot, or you don’t have a whole lot to spend, you can still find a good metal detector for not a lot of money. The first metal detector I bought was $70 and worked great! You truly don’t have to spend a fortune to find a fortune with a cheaper metal detector.

3) You Won’t Max Out Your Credit

In the past, I have found myself putting unnecessary items on my credit cards. The same could happen when buying an expensive metal detector. This is a good reason to purchase a cheaper model. They are usually so affordable that you can pay for them upfront, with no financing or no credit card slips. Even if you do put it on a credit card, you won’t incur a huge increase in the monthly payment.

4) You’ll Have More Money for Other Items

Spending less on a metal detector means you will have more money to put elsewhere. Whether you’re saving for a trip, saving for a new car, or just regular expenses, buying a cheaper detector won’t break the bank and take away from your other obligations.

5) They Are Easy to Use

Most cheaper metal detectors are very easy to use. They can usually be put together and used right out of the box with little adjustment. This is one of my favorite things about cheaper detectors. There isn’t a huge learning curve, and you can learn the basics just by reading the manual and testing it out in your yard. 

Learn how to use a metal detector easily

6) You Can Start Detecting Sooner

Because cheaper detectors are much easier to use, typically a turn on and go type setup, you will be able to get out and detect much sooner. The smaller learning curve associated with cheaper detectors means you won’t have to practice as much before you are confident enough to take the detector out.

7) Most Manufacturers Sell Cheaper Models

Some of the most well-known metal detector brands have models that are inexpensive. For example, my first metal detector was a Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV. It was a great little detector to introduce me to the world of detecting. After that, I upgraded to a Fisher F11 for $150. Both inexpensive (compared to some models), and both work very well!

8) You Are Buying a Detector for Your Kids

If you’re anything like me, the thought of buying a very expensive metal detector for kids is frightening! My youngest boy tends to break everything. When I upgraded my cheaper detector to a slightly more expensive model, I gave my old one to my son. Inexpensive detectors are great for kids as they are usually easy to use and if they get broken, you aren’t out a whole lot of money.

9) More Stores Sell Cheaper Detectors

Some models of metal detector are only available online or through authorized sellers. It has been my experience that more places carry cheaper metal detectors. I just saw an ad from the store Harbor Freight for a metal detector that cost $49. 

I have seen cheap detectors at Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cabela’s, Dick’s and many other sporting goods stores, Walmart and Kohl’s. It can be more difficult to find a high-end machine than it can a cheaper one. 

Be wary of models geared specifically towards children as these are nothing more than novelties. They won’t detect much under the surface, so you’ll find a lot of junk and not a lot of treasure. 

10) Cheap Detectors Still Find Treasure!

All metal detectors will find metal. That just how they were designed to work. More expensive metal detectors will have advanced features, interchangeable search coils, and better discrimination. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a decent treasure with a cheapie! In 1989 a prospector from Senora, Mexico purchased a cheap metal detector from Radio Shack and set out into the desert. He found a 26.6-pound gold nugget, called the Boot of Cortez, which sold for $1.5 million!

11) You Aren’t Sure if You Will Like It

Sometimes a hobby sounds fun, then turns out to be not for you. If you have reservations about metal detecting and aren’t sure if this is the hobby for you, try a cheap metal detector. This way if you decide you don’t like the hobby you aren’t out a whole lot of money. 

12) Ease into the World of Detecting

As I mentioned, cheaper metal detectors are often easier to use. More expensive or specialized machines can have a high learning curve.

Using a cheaper machine will allow you to become familiar with the process of metal detecting. You will learn how to read the display, what different metals sound like, and proper swinging techniques. You will also learn how to dig targets properly and leave the area clean. 

13) Most Are Lightweight

A cheap metal detector can often be lighter in weight than higher-end models. The coils are typically smaller and less bulky, and they are easier to cart around with you. You also won’t get as tired swinging a lighter weight detector for several hours.

14) Cheap Detectors Still Have Plenty of Features

Cheap detectors may not have as many buttons, settings, and gadgets as more expensive models, but they still have a good number of features. Most will have adjustable sensitivity and discrimination. They may automatically ground balance or have a manual ground balance. Some have an LCD screen while others are just controlled by knobs. 

15) They Still Have Good Depth

Most beginner and inexpensive metal detectors can detect from 6 to 8 inches deep. More expensive models will scan deeper, but for a beginning detectorist this is a good starting depth. Plus, you don’t want to detect any deeper than you are willing to dig. I don’t know if you’ve dug an 8-inch-deep hole, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but in certain soils is difficult! I live in an area with a lot of clay in the soil. This makes it hard packed and very difficult to dig. 

16) Discrimination & Notch Discrimination

Some cheap models will have discrimination and notch discrimination settings. Discrimination allows you to ignore certain metal types. Notch allows you to notch out certain conductivity levels, rather than removing all items of a metal. These are handy when in trashy areas.

17) Good Ground Balance

Most cheap metal detectors won’t have adjustable ground balancing but will be set for average soil conditions. This is set up for low or medium ground mineralization. If you live in an area with high iron content in the soil, or are detecting on saltwater beaches, it may be more difficult to find targets. I live in an area with high mineralization, and while I do get a lot of detector noise in certain areas, I still find targets. 

18) Look Adjustable Sensitivity

Most models have an adjustable sensitivity mode. Sensitivity allows you to set the depth of your search. If you are in a ground with a lot of chatter (detector feedback) you can lower your sensitivity. 

19) Target ID

All cheap models have some sort of target ID system. Target ID uses a gauge to show what metal your detector is reacting to. The cheapest models may use a signal strength meter, which just alerts to the size and conductivity of the target. Some models have numerical target ID, showing a number from 0 to 99, depending upon conductivity. This is a more precise readout. 

20) Some Models Have LCD Screens

Many cheap models have LCD screens. These can be hugely helpful when detecting different metals. Each metal is associated with a number on the LCD readout.

The display typically shows the likely type of metal, the strength of the signal, and the approximate depth. Be aware that the cheaper models will not be quite as accurate as a more expensive model, but they still work extremely well.

21) Some Models Have A Sensitivity Meter

Models without LCD screens may have sensitivity meters instead. My first metal detector had this feature rather than a screen and was simple to use. The needle on the meter will bounce to one of the numbers on the machine, indicating the likely target metal. 

22) You Can Use Headphones

Headphones can still be used with a cheaper model metal detector. Most will have a port for headphones. This comes in very handy when detecting in a noisy environment like a beach, park, or yard. 

23) The Thrill of the Hunt

No matter what metal detector you purchase, cheap or very expensive, the thrill of the hunt is one of the main reasons to buy a detector! Hearing that detector beep when it finds a signal will always send your heart racing.

24) You’ll Have More Money for Accessories

Besides a metal detector, you will want some of the necessary accessories for detecting. If you buy a cheaper metal detector, it can be easier to afford more accessories.

You will want a shovel, hand trowel and/or sand scoop, carrying case, and possibly a pinpointer. If you spend less on your detector you can buy more accessories!

25) You Won’t Overspend

Budgeting can be hard. Especially when you have a hobby or want a hobby, as hobbies can be costly. Purchasing a cheap metal detector will ensure you don’t miss any important monetary obligations. While you may be able to spend more on a detector, you never know when something will come up that requires your hard-earned money. So, save some money and stress with a cheaper detector!

26) You Can Always Upgrade Later

Starting out with a cheap detector is great because as you familiarize yourself with the hobby, you can upgrade to a more advanced model. 

27) It Will Pay for Itself

The cheaper the metal detector, the quicker it will pay for itself. If you find a few coins, pieces of gold or silver, or relics, the machine could be paid for! Even if you find a lot of trash targets, enough soda cans or scrap metal turned in for cash can help pay for the detector. 

28) It Won’t Stress You Out

If you’re anything like me, you live on a budget. As such, it can be hugely stressful to make a large purchase. Buying a cheaper metal detector won’t stress you out like buying an expensive one would. There are models that can fit within almost every budget without making you feel uncomfortable with the purchase.

29) They’re Economical

Knowing the value of a dollar, you can remain economical with the purchase of a cheap detector. They function basically the same as more expensive models at a fraction of the cost. When you decide to upgrade to a different model, or decide metal detecting is not the hobby for you, you can pass the detector to someone else. This will ensure someone still benefits from your purchase and won’t seem like a waste of money.

30) You Can Buy Secondhand

Check online or in thrift stores for used metal detectors. You may be able to pick up a higher end model for cheap this way. However, be wary of used detectors as you won’t know how often they were used, the conditions they were used in, or how well they were cared for.

31) You Can Get Waterproof Search Coils

Many inexpensive metal detectors will have a waterproof search coil.

The entire unit may not be submersible, but the coil itself will be able to detect in shallow water. My $70 Bounty Hunter for example still had a waterproof coil. 

32) Many Cheap Models are Adjustable

Many cheaper model metal detectors have adjustable shafts. This is hugely convenient as not everyone wants a detector the same length. Also, if you are purchasing a detector for kids, they will need the shaft to be shorter. This feature also makes toting the detector around easier. Many models come apart in the middle of the shaft, allowing the machine to be broken down into 2 parts. This makes transporting the detector quick and easy.

33) Most Cheap Detectors are All Purpose Models

Most cheaper metal detectors fall into the category of all-purpose detectors. This means they will find all metals. Some have modes to sort out different types of metal. My Fisher F11 has pre-programed settings for jewelry, coins, relics, and all metals. While it may not be made to exclusively find gold nuggets, it does have features making finding other objects easier. 

34) Some Detectors are for Specific Treasure

Many models of metal detectors are made specifically tailored to one type of treasure. Not to say they can’t find all metals, but they have more advanced features for gold, relics, or jewelry. Some inexpensive metal detectors will be built this way so if you live in an area where gold is prevalent, you can purchase a cheap machine specifically made to find gold. 

35) You Can Rent to Own

Some websites and companies offer metal detectors on a rent to own program. The online store Flex Shopper offers many inexpensive models for as little as $7 per week. This would enable you to test different models for not a lot of money before settling on one.

36) You Can Find Discounted Detectors Online

A quick Google search will bring up thousands of websites with discounted metal detectors on them. Search different models and do a bit of research on those. Find some customer reviews outside the website and even some YouTube videos of the detector in action. 

37) You Can Wait for Sales

Many metal detectors will go on sale throughout the year. Check frequently on different websites and stores to see if any models are on sale. You may be able to get a slightly more expensive metal detector for a cheap price. Look especially around the holidays, or just after the holidays when stores are trying to attract more customers and are trying to get rid of surplus inventory.

38) It Will Get You Outside More

Whether it’s a cheap detector or a high-end model, you will be spending more time outdoors. This is hugely beneficial in many ways. Not only will you be getting more exercise but being in nature has been known to reduce stress, clear the mind, and get you away from all the electronic items that hold so much of our attention these days.

39) You’ll Get Very Good at Digging Plugs

Plugs are sections of ground, typically grass, that you pull out to find your target then replace to avoid leaving holes all around. Because lower end metal detectors don’t discriminate quiet as well as higher end models, you will likely want to dig every target. 

While it may get frustrating, you need to keep at it! In my yard, all I have managed to find are old nails and garden stakes. When we go camping, we always take our detectors. While we find a lot (and I mean A LOT) of trash targets, we have also found some cool things! 

40) You Won’t Get as Frustrated

If you purchase an expensive metal detector, especially as a newbie, you may get frustrated with all the technical aspects of the machine. Cheaper models, as I’ve mentioned several times, are more newcomer friendly. If you pay more for a metal detector, you are basically paying for features you won’t use. Keep it simple and spend less.

41) Most Models Have Warranties

Most metal detectors, cheap or expensive, come with a warranty from the manufacturer. These give you peace of mind that if something happens or the detector has an issue it can be fixed.

42) You Won’t Worry as Much

If you purchase a cheaper metal detector, you won’t worry so much if it gets scratched or damaged. If you spend a lot of money, odds are you’ll be more careful, maybe even too careful because you are afraid to damage it. With a cheaper model, there is less worry in this regard. If it gets scratched or something happens, it won’t break you to get a new one or have it repaired. 

43) Get Help Choosing the Right Detector

Some online companies will offer help in choosing your metal detector. They will find out your skill level, the amount of time you can dedicate to the hobby, and your budget, and make suggestions for you. 

KellyCo Detectors has been offering this service for decades and has helped thousands of detectorists make the right choice. You can also reach out to metal detecting clubs and see if any of their members are willing to help you chose a detector. Online forums are another good tool for finding help. 

44) Cheap Detectors are Still a Lot of Fun!

My top tip for metal detecting is always to have fun. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on a metal detector as long as you have fun with it! Don’t take it too seriously, know your machine and its capabilities, familiarize yourself with the terrain and signals of your detector, and have fun!

45) Learn More About Yourself and Surroundings

Another great thing about metal detectors is that, depending on what you find and where, you can learn about the area, who used to (or currently does) live in the area, and understand more about the region. It’s like a free history lesson, especially if you ever were to find old relics, for example.

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