Fisher F11 review: Good for Beginners?

in this Fisher F11 review, I’m going to cover everything about this detector.  From the price point to its key features to how the machine operates, the goal of this review is to have you feeling knowledgeable as to what advantages and disadvantages this metal detector possesses.

And, to better help you, please use the interactive guide below, where you can directly compare the Fisher F11 to other notable 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

Fisher F11: Good for Beginners?

The Fisher F11 metal detector is an easy to use metal detector for beginners, or those who want a ready to use model. The entire Fisher F series is preset for normal ground conditions, making it extremely easy to use for beginning detectorists.

This model was originally manufactured in 2016. I have personally used this model and found it extremely easy to use. It has a decent discrimination (although it is not great in highly mineralized soils), adjustable sound, and good-sized LCD screen. 

On a recent camping trip in the northeastern Utah mountains, I was able to find several coins, lots of pull tabs, soda cans, and tin foil, and even a couple pieces of silver! The soil in the area was highly mineralized, so there were false readings and the detector acted up occasionally. But overall, this model is well worth the cost.

The F11 sells for about $159, making it an affordable unit that is also powerful! This model is lightweight, at 2.3 pounds, and has a waterproof, 7 inch round elliptical search coil (the LCD screen is not waterproof, just the coil). This model provides 4 tones for metal objects: bass, low, medium, or high tone. 

The visual target ID is broken up into 9 segments, from iron to silver, and works in conjunction with the audio tones. Once a target has been identified with the F11, a pinpoint mode can be used by holding the pinpoint button and scanning the target area. There are 3 search modes pre-programmed into the F11 for jewelry, coins, and artifacts. This model has 6 levels of adjustable volume and sensitivity. 

The F11 user manual is designed with beginning relic/treasure hunters in mind and includes a section on basic metal detecting terminology. The unit is easy to assemble, requiring only a Phillips screwdriver and 9-volt battery. Users should expect 20 to 25 hours of life from one 9-volt battery. 

There is no programming required, making this detector incredibly easy to begin using. The screen has a battery indicator, making it easy to know when a change is required. The LCD screen does not have a backlight, so it is best used during daylight hours.

The manual also contains a target identification chart, showing what each number and tone the detector makes correlates to. For example, a target identification of 6 along with a high tone indicates a silver dime. While no detector can be completely accurate, the F11 indicates the most likely target based upon the size, shape, and composition of the metal.

It is recommended when initially unboxing the unit to do a series of tests. An iron nail, a U.S. quarter, nickel, and dime, a post 1982 penny (made of zinc), and a gold ring or other piece of jewelry are needed to conduct the tests. The detector should be placed on a flat surface and each object waved over the search coil. 

Below, please take a moment to view some of the best selling metal detectors available at Amazon:

1) Garrett AT MAX
2) Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV
3) Bounty Hunter Gold Digger

Tones, Discrimination and Sensitivity

This is a good way to begin understanding the tones of each type of material. It is important to ensure that all metal objects are removed from the area surrounding the detector, including jewelry. Appliances and overhead lights should be shut off to avoid electromagnetic emissions that may interfere with the detector. 

The iron nail will emit a low tone, the nickel, penny, and gold ring will emit a medium tone, and the dime and quarter will emit a high tone. It is important to test the detector with these items at various distances. 

It should be noted that in jewelry mode, the detector will automatically discriminate iron signals. This can be tested by pressing the menu button once to enter jewelry mode. The display will no longer show the Fe graphic and the nail used during the test will no longer be detected. Using the jewelry mode is a good way to ensure only the desired metals are being detected.

The NOTCH feature also helps discriminate different targets. Setting the notch feature to the desired number (as referenced in the target ID chart provided in the user manual), each type of metal can be notched out. The number of the metal will no longer show on the display, meaning the detector will not alert when that metal is found.

If it was desired to notch out nickel, for example, simply press the menu button until NOTCH is illuminated, and use the plus sign to highlight number 3. 

Number 3 will now be blanked out, thus notching out nickel metals. The opposite is required to notch back in a metal. The depth indicator and pinpoint feature can also be tested during this time. Pass a coin near the coil, and the display will show a shallow target. Move the coin away from the coil and the depth indicator will illuminate more bars which means a deeper target. 

To use the pin pointer mode, there is a button labeled PP. This button should be held while holding the detector still (not sweeping back and forth as with traditional metal detecting) and raising and lowering the coil. The sound intensity and depth indicator graph will change as the coil moves up and down.

Sensitivity can be adjusted on the F11 screen. Low sensitivity will detect objects up to 2 inches, while maximum sensitivity will detect up to 8 inches. This detector will react to electromagnetic interference. Overhead or buried power lines, electronic devices, electric fences, phone towers, appliances, electric motors, or even being too near another detector can cause the detector to malfunction. 

The display will begin flashing erratically through each target identification and beeping rapidly. If this occurs, simply lower the sensitivity. If that fails, shut the machine off, move to a new location, and turn it on again. Environments with extremely high electromagnetic interference may be undetectable with this model.

Areas with electrical lines, for example, may be detectable during off-peak electrical usage hours. The manual states that 6 p.m. is peak electrical use and will lead to a lot of electromagnetic interference. Attempting to detect at a different time of day should help. 

The F11 is designed to automatically eliminate interference from ground minerals but is not designed for use on wet sand saltwater beaches. Saltwater is highly conductive, and a more sophisticated detector model would be necessary for this type of hunting. Soil with extremely high iron oxide levels, such as those in old mining or gold prospecting sites, may limit the detectors capabilities. False or inaccurate readings may occur if the device is used in these situations. 

This model comes with a factory preset ground balance, so it will not filter out all ground minerals. The F11 operates at a low frequency of 7.69 kilohertz, meaning it will not be extremely accurate at finding smaller pieces of gold. The manual contains a troubleshooting guide for the most common issues associated with this model including erratic beeping, low speaker volume, multiple tones emitted, and no power/sound.

The F11 has a ¼ inch headphone jack and works with any headphones with the proper plug. Headphones are not included with this detector. Battery life is improved with the use of headphones and can help identify weak signals. As mentioned before, the search coil is waterproof, but the control housing is not. 

There is an optional rain cover sold by Fisher Labs that can be used in conjunction with this model making it usable in inclement weather. The control housing will still not be completely waterproof and should not be submerged in water. The F11 comes with a 5-year limited warranty.

Fisher F11 vs Fisher F22

The Fisher F22 detector is part of the Fisher F series, as is the F11. 

The F22 is more expensive than the F11, at $289. Assembly is the same as the F11, requiring only a Phillips screwdriver. This detector requires 2 AA batteries, with an expected battery life of 25 to 30 hours. Because the F series is designed to be new user friendly, this model is also ready to use. This model has a larger coil, at 9 inches.

The F22 has four modes of operation: coin, artifact, jewelry, and custom, along with 10 levels of sensitivity (compared to the 6 levels on the F11) and more volume settings than the F11. This model also has a numeric target ID, running from 1 – 99 and is weatherproof. Neither the F22 or F11 is fully waterproof, and the display housing should never be submerged in water. 

With this model, detecting in inclement weather is possible without purchase of a rain guard. The F22’s notch mode allows users to reject or accept metals within each target category group, rather than notching out an entire group of metals. The weight is the same for the F22 and F11. The remaining features mentioned in the above F11 section are all present on the F22.

The F22 was originally manufactured in 2015, making one year older than the F11. The F22 operates at a low frequency of 7.69 kilohertz, just like the F11, making it difficult for the detector to find small pieces of gold. This model comes with automatic ground balancing, so it is better in highly mineralized soils or saltwater beach settings.

Despite the added features, the F11 still has a better depth range than the F22. It is recommended to complete the same series of tests mentioned in the F11 section for the F22 to familiarize the detectorist with the machine.

While this detector is more expensive, it does have a few more features than the F11. A numerical target ID, larger search coil, and weatherproof housing make the F22 a step up from the F11 in terms of features. This model has the same warranty as the F11, at 5 years.

Fisher F11 vs Garrett Ace 250

The Garrett Ace 250 is touted as the world’s best-selling metal detector, and retails for $249.95 on Garrett’s website. This model was manufactured in 2005, making the F11 a much newer detector. 

As with the Fisher F11, the Ace 250 is easy to assemble, and ready to use upon assembly, making it a good metal detector for beginners. This model requires 4 AA batteries, giving the user 20 to 40 hours of operation, and has five modes of detection: coins, jewelry, custom, relics, and all metal. The detector is still very lightweight but weighs slightly more than the F11, at 2.7 pounds. 

A target ID legend is printed above the LCD screen indicating the most commonly found targets. The target ID cursor will appear under the most likely type of target based on conductivity. The operating frequency of the Ace 250 is lower than the F11, at 6.5 kilohertz, meaning it will have trouble detecting small bits of gold. 

As with the F11, the Ace 250 has three distinct tones depending on the target’s conductivity. This model has a depth indicator which illuminates at 2 inches, 4 inches, or 6 plus inches. The Ace 250 can be programmed to discriminate certain metals, disallowing a tonal response for the chosen metal. 

The Garrett Ace 250 will save the last used settings when the detector is turned off. Pressing the power button for 5 to 10 seconds will reset the detector to factory settings. The LCD screen has 12 graphical segments for more accurate target identification, more sensitivity settings, and a higher level of discrimination. The screen, however, does not have a backlight. The Ace 250 has 3 audio tones, whereas the F11 has 4. 

This model also has an elimination function, indicated by the ELIM button. This is used when an unwanted target is identified, like the NOTCH feature on the F11. Notch discrimination will be retained upon turning the unit off in custom mode only and will return to factory settings in all other modes. The ACE 250 has a pinpoint button, which functions as the pinpoint setting on the F11. 

The 6.5-inch x 9-inch search coil on this model is waterproof, but the LCD screen is not. Ground balancing on this model is factory preset, like the F11. The depth range on the F11 beats the depth range on the Ace 250. One disadvantage to the Ace series of detectors is the lack of volume control. The Ace 250 has a limited 2-year warranty.

Fisher F11 vs Tesoro Compadre

This model is just slightly more than the Fisher F11 detector at $189. 

Tesoro states that this model is best used for coin, competition, and relic hunting, but with an easier to use, more simplified design than other detectors.

The Tesoro Compadre does not have a visual screen, or multi-tonal responses. This model is for detectors wanting to dig each target they come across, with just a basic guess of what the target may be. As far as simplicity of use, this model wins as there is only one control knob with two search modes: discrimination or all metal.

The 5.75-inch coil (a larger 8-inch coil is available) is hardwired, differing from other brands. The depth range on this model is typically comparable to the coil size. Thus, an 8-inch coil can find targets up to 8-inches deep. The Compadre runs at a frequency of 12 kilohertz, meaning it is better at finding small gold pieces or micro jewelry. It is recommended to do the same test as mentioned in the F11 section in order to familiarize the detectorist to the Compadre.

While the Compadre has only one knob, this knob controls all settings on the unit. While detecting, the user can adjust the knob to get a reasonable idea of what the potential target is, and to discriminate metals. It should be noted that everything below the discrimination setting on this model will also be tuned out. For the more advanced user, the Tesoro ED-180 discrimination can be used. 

As with the other detectors on this list, the Compadre has a ¼ inch headphone jack. This model weighs less than others, at just 2.2 pounds. One 9-volt battery is required, with an expected life of 10 to 20 hours. This unit was designed for beginners or more advanced hunters.

This model has automatic built-in mineral rejection, and users of the Compadre report the detector works well on wet saltwater beaches, areas with a lot of trash items, and everywhere in between, although it cannot detect objects quite as deeply as the F11 can. 

As with the other models, the search coil is waterproof, but the control box is not and should not be submerged. The lifetime warranty on this model is potentially one of its biggest perks, although it does not apply to used models and only covers the original purchaser. This model has been around longer, originally being manufactured in 2000.


Each of these 4 detectors are great options for beginner or more advanced hunters who want a good machine at a good price. The F11 is the lower priced option yet has plenty of features to keep a beginning hunter happy.

The Fisher F22 is a slight upgrade from the F11 as it has a weatherproof LCD screen with numerical target ID, more search modes, larger coil, and more volume and sensitivity settings. 

Here is a quick recap of each detector with the most commonly sought-after features:

The F11, like the Ace 250, has only factory preset ground balancing, making them less effective at detecting accurately in highly mineralized soils. The F11, F22, and Ace 250 operate on a lower frequency, so they are not as good at detecting smaller amounts of gold.  The F11 wins overall in the average depth ratings, beating out all 3 more expensive models. 

The Tesoro Compadre is a very good model, but it could be a harder learning curve with no LCD screen and only a single tone to alert the detectorist to potential targets. The F11 is ready to use upon assembly, and easy to figure out. After just a few hunts, the detectorist should have a relatively good idea of which audio tones correlate to which metals.

Many more advanced metal detectorists do not like the Fisher F11, and would rather spring for the more expensive F22, or something from the Garrett Ace series. As I stated in the beginning, I have had personal experience with the Fisher F11 and find it an enjoyable detector for beginner or amateur hobbyist detectorists. 

While the detector can go haywire in highly mineralized soils, it does still detect relevant targets and is accurate. Lowering the sensitivity to tune out mineralization works well, especially for those models that do not have a specific ground balancing setting.

The F22 certainly has upgraded features but may not be worth the money to someone entering detecting as a new hobby, or someone who cannot find the time to detect often. For those just wanting a simple experience of finding potential treasure (and plenty of soda cans and pull tabs), the Fisher F11 is a great purchase!

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