There are many reasons to purchase a metal detector for under $100. This price point will not give you a ton of features, but for beginning detectorists, kids, teens, or anyone on a strict budget who wants to metal detect, this price point is a great place to start. Below we will discuss 35 reasons why metal detectors under $100 rock and will conclude with the best metal detector under $100.
And to better help you, please enjoy our interactive table (below), where you can check out some of the top metal detectors on the market and see how well they stack up to some of the detectors mentioned throughout this article.
|Garrett AT Max||$$$||Waterproof to 10 feet|
|Fisher F22||$$||9″ Triangulated Concentric Coil|
|Garrett Ace 400||$$$||8.5 x 11" DD coil|
|Minelab Vanquish 540||$||Search Modes: Coin, Relic, Jewelry, Custom, All Metal|
1) You are New to Metal Detecting
When you first begin metal detecting, odds are you do not want to spend $1,000 or more on a detector. Luckily, many manufacturers offer in expensive metal detectors with plenty of features to get you started. They have a smaller learning curve and are more beginner friendly.
2) You Do Not Want to Spend a Fortune
Whether you do not want to spend a whole lot, or you do not have a whole lot to spend, finding a budget metal detector is a great option. The first metal detector I ever purchased was around $70, and it piqued my interest in the sport and allowed me to learn at my own pace.
3) You Will Have More Money For Other Items
Spending less money on a metal detector means you can spend more money elsewhere. This way, purchasing a metal detector will not detract from your saving up for a new car, vacation, or simply paying all your bills. Purchasing a less expensive detector will not break the bank and will save you some stress.
4) They Are Simple to Use
Almost every inexpensive metal detector I have seen is simple to use. They do not have a ton of features to learn how to use. They are simple and ready to turn on and find treasure. The learning curve will be smaller, and you can learn the basics of metal detecting easily with a cheaper model.
5) You Can Start Detecting Right Away
Many cheaper metal detectors feature turn-on-and-go functionality. There are not a lot of complicated settings to master, so you can start finding treasures right away!
6) Many Manufacturers Sell Cheaper Models
Some of the top manufacturers of metal detectors sell inexpensive models. My first metal detector was a Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV. While it did not have a lot of features, I was grateful for it. I was able to ease into the world of metal detecting and become familiar with a lot of the sights and sounds associated with the sport.
I was able to upgrade after a year or so and felt more comfortable with my new detector because of the experience I had with my first inexpensive detector.
- You can read my Bounty Hunter Tracker IV review here.
7) You are Purchasing a Detector for Kids or Teens
I have 2 boys, and the thought of spending a lot of money on a metal detector that they may or may not (but likely will) damage can be frightening! Especially when one of my boys tends to break everything. Literally, everything.
When I upgraded from my Bounty Hunter TK4, I was able to transfer my detector to my kids and let them learn the sport without spending a fortune. With an inexpensive model, if it gets damaged or broken you are not out a whole lot of money.
- For more on this topic, check out my article entitled 30 Reasons Metal Detecting for Kids Is Fun
8) More Traditional Stores Sell Cheaper Metal Detectors
Some metal detector models are only available online through authorized dealers. In my experience, more local stores carry cheaper metal detectors. Places like Harbor Freight, Cabela’s Sportsman’s Warehouse, and other sporting goods retailers (including Walmart and Kohl’s) sell inexpensive detectors.
Some of these places sell a combination of inexpensive and more high-end detectors. It can be nice for first time detectorists to be able to see and hold the detector prior to purchasing it.
9) Cheap Metal Detectors Will Still Find Treasures
All metal detectors can find metal. More expensive metal detectors will have better discrimination, notch, sensitivity, and even interchangeable search coils. But cheapie metal detectors can still find amazing things! Have you ever heard of the Boot of Cortez? This is a 26.6-pound gold nugget (that is right. 26.6 POUND) found in the desert by a man using a cheap metal detector from Radio Shack.
This nugget sold for $1.5 million. And he found it with a cheap detector! A kid in New Mexico also found a massive meteor with a metal detector his grandfather made him. The point is you can still find amazing treasure with a super cheap metal detector.
10) You Are Not Sure You Will Like It
Sometimes a hobby looks and sounds appealing, but when we get started in it, we realize it is not for us. Metal detecting is no different. The idea of finding treasure is appealing to nearly everyone, but the act of finding it is not for everyone. If you purchase a cheaper metal detector, you will not be out a whole lot if you decide the sport does not interest you.
11) Cheap Detectors are Not Overwhelming
Most expensive metal detectors have a whole lot of settings. These settings can be overwhelming to newcomers and even more advanced metal detectorists. One great thing about inexpensive metal detectors is they typically lack the more advanced features.
This is actually a great thing, especially for beginners. If you are becoming frustrated by a lot of advanced features, it can turn you away from the sport altogether, or at least make you not want to go out as often.
For more help, please check out my article entitled: 45 Reasons to Get a Cheap Metal Detector
12) Inexpensive Detectors Can Still Have Great Features
While they may not have all the bells and whistles of their more expensive counterparts, inexpensive metal detectors still have plenty of features. Many have adjustable ground balancing, sensitivity, volume, and controls. Some feature an LCD screen for target readout while others are controlled by knobs and targets are identified by sounds.
13) You Can Find Detectors With Discrimination
Discrimination lets users keep or mask the signals from certain metal types. So, if you happen to be detecting in an area with a lot of trash, like a beach or campground, you can filter out unwanted metals using discrimination. This way you are not digging iron and tin but are searching for silver and gold.
14) You Can Find Detectors With Good Ground Balance
Ground balance settings are important because they allow the metal detector to compensate for ground minerals and electromagnetic interference. Some areas have high soil mineralization.
I live in such an area. Without ground balancing, my metal detectors will constantly overload, and I must shut them down. If they do not overload, I get a lot of false signals and a noisy chatter from my detector. Ground balancing can help eliminate these issues.
15) Some Inexpensive Models have LCD Screens
It can be helpful to find a model with an LCD screen. This is not a necessity, but it is nice to have. Some models show a number or range on the screen to get a better idea of the metal it has detected. Others show the various settings and adjustments right on the screen.
16) You Can Usually Use Headphones
Most metal detectors have the option to use headphones. This can be helpful when you are getting a lot of weak signals or are in a noisy environment. It can also be helpful if you are detecting in an area with a lot of people like a park or beach. It is more considerate for you to use headphones in these areas, so you are not being a nuisance to people attempting to recreate.
More expensive models will have wireless headphone capability, but cheaper models typically offer standard wired headphone plug ins.
17) You Can Experience the Thrill of the Hunt
Regardless of what metal detector you buy, inexpensive or top of the line, the thrill of the hunt is one of the main reasons to continue metal detecting. There is nothing quite like that first beep your detector emits when it finds a piece of metal in the ground.
Will it be trash or treasure? You must dig the target to find out! And quite often it will be trash, but you are helping to clean up the environment when you find and dig trash. Just remember to haul it out when you finish!
Dig all the targets you hear, especially when you are first starting out, and it will not be long before you find your first real treasure! My first good find was an old railroad tie found in the mountains of southwestern Idaho. While some might look at this find as junk, I thought it to be a treasure! Who knows how long that thing had been in the ground, or what its story truly was? It is a little piece of history and that is exciting enough for me!
18) You Will Have More Money for Accessories
Accessories are not a necessity when metal detecting, but a few things make the process easier. You will want a quality shovel or hand digger, a finds pouch, and even potentially a pinpointer (handheld metal detector that helps narrow down your search area).
For more on this topic, please check out my article: 10 Metal Detecting Accessories Needed for Treasure Hunting
19) You Will Not Overspend
Nothing stresses people out that overspending on an item and having buyer’s remorse. Most of us are on a budget and when we overspend, we can really set ourselves up for failure. Inexpensive metal detectors can alleviate this stress by offering detectors at prices that almost everyone can afford.
20) You Can Always Upgrade Down the Road
One of the best reasons to buy a metal detector for cheap is the fact that you can upgrade later. You may find yourself in a position in a few years where you either can now afford a more expensive model or you have become a better metal detectorist and it is time to upgrade.
Again, you may not love the metal detecting hobby once you get started, so inexpensive is always a good choice to start.
21) Metal Detectors Can Pay for Themselves
The less you spend on a metal detector the quicker the potential for it to pay for itself.
22) It Will Not Stress You Out
Again, overspending will stress you out. Especially if you buy a top-of-the-line detector and it frustrates you to the point you no longer want to use it. Keep your stress low and your wallet fuller by starting out with a less expensive model.
23) They Are Economical
Spending less is always an economical choice. Knowing the value of a dollar earned, you can remain economical with a less expensive metal detector. They function in the same basic way as their more expensive counterparts.
When you decide to upgrade, or if you decide the sport is not for you, you can pass the detector to someone else. This ensures someone can benefit from your purchase so it will not a total waste of money.
24) Most Inexpensive Metal Detectors are All Purpose
Many detectors in this price range are all purpose. This means they will find all metal types. More expensive machines can be specialized for certain targets, and even some less expensive metals offer this.
If you do not know what types of metals are in your area or are wanting to find all metals equally, an all-purpose metal detector is the way to go.
25) Some Inexpensive Metal Detectors are for Specific Treasure Types
Even inexpensive metal detectors come with specialties. There are options for detectors optimized to find, gold, relics, or jewelry. Many Bounty Hunter models are inexpensive, and some are specialized for different treasure types.
This gives those living in an area with gold concentrations the chance to find some gold while not spending a fortune on a gold-specific metal detector.
26) It Will Get Your Outside More
One of the main advantages in my experience has been getting outside more. We can all agree that people are spending less time outside overall. We all have so many conveniences inside, we forget to go out as often.
Metal detecting has gotten my whole family more active. Now when we go camping, we take long our metal detectors and we all have something fun to do together. It is a great way for the whole family to unplug from our phones and get away from social media for a while.
27) You Will Get Great Detecting Experience
Metal detecting is part skill, so using an inexpensive detector will give you a lot of necessary experience. You will learn what the different metals sound like according to your detector, what visual cues the machine gives, if any, and how to properly dig and refill holes.
You will also gain knowledge of metal detecting laws, which vary by city, county, state, and country, and the metal detecting code of ethics.
28) You Will Not Get as Frustrated
As I mentioned earlier, more expensive metal detectors tend to have a lot of more complex settings. These settings help users fine tune the machine for their needs. This is not a must when beginning to detect.
These settings can be too complicated for someone starting out and are almost always overwhelming to kids and teens. Having less features is not always a downfall and can be a blessing for new detectorists.
29) Even Inexpensive Detectors Have Warranties
Each model, when purchased from an authorized dealer, will have some type of warranty. Most of these range from 1 to 5 years, depending on the manufacturer. This can give users peace of mind when purchasing a detector that if anything fails mechanically, it will likely be covered. Much like a car warranty, it will not always cover wear and tear, but will cover the mechanical aspects.
30) You Will Not Have to Worry as Much
If you purchase a cheaper metal detector, you will not have to worry as much if the machine gets scratched or dented. This is likely to happen when metal detecting in rocky areas. The search coil scraping on or near the ground will always wear on it. But some companies offer covers for these coils, and they are typically built well. They will not scratch easily but at some point, it is unavoidable.
31) You Can Wait for Sales
A lot of metal detector sellers will have sales. Some models sold in traditional stores will have sales at different times of year. Online retailers will also have sales during the year, so keep your eyes open! You may be able to score a slightly more expensive metal detector for a lower price during these sales.
32) You Can Find Discounted Metal Detectors Online
A quick Google search will return thousands of websites with discounted metal detectors for sale. Make sure you do research on each model and on the sellers. Counterfeit metal detectors have been known to be for sale online, so you must be careful who you purchase through.
KellyCo is one of my favorite online metal detector retailers. They work with all the major manufacturers and have a great reputation. Remember: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
33) You Can Purchase a Secondhand Metal Detector
You can always purchase secondhand metal detectors online or in pawn shops. Just be aware that you do not know for sure how many hours the detector has been used, how it has been stored, or how it has been cared for. You are sometimes taking a risk when purchasing used, but you may be able to buy a traditionally more expensive metal detector when buying used.
34) Some Websites Offer Rent-to-Own Programs for Metal Detectors
There are some websites that will let purchasers use a rent-to-own program for metal detectors. This may be a good option for someone who does not have the money all at once to purchase but would still like to have a metal detector. These sites usually charge on a weekly basis, and I have seen them start at just $7 per week.
35) Inexpensive Metal Detectors are Still a Lot of Fun!
Regardless of how much money you spend on a metal detector, the sport is always fun! It is a great way to connect with family or friends, or to spend some alone time. It is always important to have fun with any hobby and metal detecting is no different. Do not take the sport or yourself too seriously, learn your machine and its capabilities, learn your terrain and you will have a great time!
Now, we will talk about the best metal detectors for beginners, with pulse induction technology, for finding gold, best waterproof detector, and best beach detector. Bounty Hunter metal detectors are the least expensive reputable brand, and as such, features a lot on this list!
Best Starter Metal Detector
If you’re starting out in the metal detecting hobby, it would be worth it to consider purchasing the following Bounty Hunter metal detector.
Bounty Hunter VLF Metal Detector
Great for beginners; awesome price!
Specially designed to find coins and relics
The Bounty Hunter VLF metal detector is almost fully automatic. This detector adjusts itself as necessary to different types of soil. The VLF operates on frequencies from 3 to 30 kHz, making it great for finding all metals. Lower frequencies are best for highly conductive metals like silver, while higher frequencies are best for finding lower conductive metals like gold. Anything above 18 kHz will find gold very well.
The VLF features 2 search modes: all metal and discrimination. It has a trash eliminator setting to filter out most undesirable items from detection. It features automatic tuning and automatic ground balance. Power and sensitivity controls feature on the VLF and 2 tone audio discrimination.
It comes with a 7” D-Tech search coil and operates on 2 9-volt batteries giving users up to 25 hours of detection time. This model does not have an LCD screen but does have a gauge on the front showing the sensitivity. All these features, plus the amazing price tag, make this my top pick for best metal detector under $100.
Cheap Metal Detector Pinpointers
Below, check out my pick for a cheap pinpointer you can use on your next treasure hunt!
Nokta Makro PulseDive Pinpointer
The Nokta Makro PulseDive pinpointer is fully waterproof up to 200 feet. It features 3 detection indicators: audio, vibration, and audio and vibration together. The PulseDive comes with rapid retune, which ensures stable operating of the pointer with one button push.
It comes with an LED flashlight and lost alarm, which, after 5 minutes of inactivity, sounds an alarm and flashes the LED light. It also features Dive Mode, which keeps the buttons from being pressed due to diving pressure.
Cheap Metal Detectors for Gold
If you’re seeking a quality gold metal detector, I recommend the Bounty Hunter Gold Digger.
Bounty Hunter Gold Digger
Perfect for beginning prospectors and kids
Simple operation; only 2 knobs!
The Bounty Hunter Gold Digger is designed for gold prospecting, relic hunting, coin shooting, and general treasure hunting. This is a single frequency metal detector operating at 6.7 kHz. This frequency will struggle to find small gold nuggets or fine gold jewelry but will easily find larger pieces of gold. Ground balancing is automatic tracking, meaning the detector adjusts itself according to the soil conditions.
The Gold Digger features 2 search modes: All Metal and Discrimination. This detector is very lightweight, at just 2.6 pounds and comes with wired headphones. It features trash eliminator control which removes most undesirable metals from detection. The Gold Digger operates on 2 9-volt batteries and comes standard with an 8” search coil. This detector is simple to use and just needs to be unfolded and turned on!
- Check out my Bounty Hunter Gold Digger review here!
Bounty Hunter Mach 1
Best for adults
Good for beginners or intermediate detectorists
The Bounty Hunter Mach 1 metal detector is one of the more advanced detectors from Bounty Hunter. It caters to beginning and intermediate detectorists and has more features than some other models. This model features a screen showing depth, sensitivity, discrimination, and potential metal found (based on 4 options at the top that correspond to different metals). This is a single frequency metal detector operating at 7.69 kHz.
This detector can sometimes suffer in difficult soil conditions as ground balancing is preset and not adjustable, but will find coins, gold, and relics in decent soils. It also features discrimination, 4 tone audio target ID, and a pinpoint mode. The search coil for the Bounty Hunter Mach 1 is only weatherproof, not waterproof, so water should be avoided.
Best Waterproof Metal Detector (sort of)
*I have been unable to find a fully waterproof metal detector for under $100, but this detector features a waterproof search coil so it can be used in shallow waters.
Coocheer Underwater Metal Detector
Only the search coil is waterproof
I have not done a lot of research on this company, but the design is solid; sold at Sears stores and online
The Coocheer metal detector is a simple to use, ruggedly designed metal detector for a great price. This detector features 5 operating modes: all metal, discrimination, memory, jewelry, and pinpoint. It features a waterproof search coil, but the control box is not waterproof so it should never be submerged. It features depth and sensitivity adjustments, backlit LCD screen, and 3 sound signals. This detector is a great value for a beginning detector.
Best Beach Metal Detector
If you’re looking for a great beach detector, you should consider the following metal detector:
Bounty Hunter TK4
Great for beginning detectorists and kids alike
Simple to use and straightforward design
The Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV is a great entry level metal detector. It features an analog meter display, 2-tone audio, target strength meter, and 3 search modes. It is ideal for shallow water, coins, jewelry, relics, and silver. While this is a good beach detector, it will struggle in areas with saltwater.
Saltwater is naturally conductive so it can affect a metal detector’s performance. This single frequency metal detector operates at 6.6 kHz and can find coins between 6 and 7” deep in good soil conditions. The search coil is waterproof, but the control box is not. Ground balancing is preset so you will struggle to use this one in highly mineralized soils as well as salt. But for the price, this is a great detector for freshwater beach areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I really find a quality metal detector for under $100?
A: Yes, you can! All metal detectors operate on the same principle, so you can find metals just as well with a lower end model. There may not be as many features and adjustments, and you may not be able to take them diving or to a saltwater beach, but all metal detectors will find metal.
Q: Why are so many Bounty Hunter models on this list?
A: Bounty Hunter is a company that has been around for a long time. They are known for making inexpensive metal detectors so detecting can be enjoyed by everyone. Some look down on the company because they sell less expensive models, but that is quite childish. Their metal detectors may not be the fanciest on the market, but they get the job done, are reliable, and reasonably priced.
- If you need more help, please check out my article entitled: What’s the Best Bounty Hunter Metal Detector?
Q: Should I know any laws for metal detecting?
A: Absolutely. There are city, county, state, and even federal laws pertaining to metal detecting. It is up to you as the hobbyist to find these laws and follow them. You will be fined if you do not follow them and it makes all metal detectorists look bad. For example, you may metal detect on public land (BLM land) legally. But you must respect cultural artifacts or historically important finds/areas if you find any.
- For more, please check out my article entitled: Metal Detecting Laws: Where Can I Detect Treasure?
Q: Where can I find metal detecting tips?
A: You can always join a metal detecting club online or in person. These clubs are full of professional detectorists that may just share some of their knowledge and war stories with you. They are a great resource! You can also search online for beginning detectorists tips. The internet is full of information on all types of subjects.
For more helpful tips, please check out any of the following articles:
- 50 Metal Detecting Tips for the Beach
- 50 Metal Detecting Tips for the River
- 50 Metal Detecting Tips to Find Jewelry
- 50 Metal Detecting Tips for Park Hunting
- 50 Metal Detecting Tips for Coins You Must Remember
- 50 Metal Detecting Tips to Find Gold
- 50 Metal Detecting Tips in the Woods
- 49 Metal Detecting Tips for Underwater Detecting
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