Buying a budget metal detector does not mean you have to settle for a lesser product, but it is important to be well informed about basic features.
There are many cheap metal detectors that manage to provide all of the most important features that you need while remaining very affordable.
Our top picks on this list are the best cheap metal detectors available, because they come with advanced technology that is not usually available on entry-level detectors.
4 Best Cheap Metal Detectors
1. Garrett ACE 200
The Garrett ACE 200 is very similar to the 300 but trades some adjustability for a much lower price. This makes it a great entry-level option and the best cheap metal detector on the market. For those looking to buy their first metal detector, the Garrett ACE 200 offers just what you need to get going while still maintaining some of the adjustable features you desire.
The ACE 200 offers three different search modes with fixed notch discrimination. Like it’s big brother, it has a two-digit digital target ID scale ranging from 1-99 and three different audio tone ID levels. It weighs 2.75 lbs, making it slightly lighter than the 300.
This metal detector runs on a fixed frequency of 6.5 kHz. It uses a slightly smaller coil (6.5″x9″) than the ACE 300 but the length is the same.
Pole length is adjustable between 40″ and 53″ so you can find a comfortable fit. This unit is ready to go right out of the box. It runs on four AA batteries, which are included, and there is virtually no set up required.
You can read more about it in our review of the Garrett ACE 200.
2. Minelab X-TERRA 305
Minelab X-TERRA 305 offers a lot for its price point. It really is tied with the Garrett, above, so do not be detered by its #2 position on this list.
The Minelab brand is well known for producing quality equipment, mainly at the higher end of the market. In the case of the X-TERRA 305, they did a good job of cutting expense while keeping some great features. Some of those features include a manual ground balance adjustment, noise cancelation, and wide threshold adjustment.
3. Bounty Hunter Tracker IV
The Bounty Hunter Tracker IV has the distinction of having the lowest price, but don’t let that fool you. This is the number one selling hobby metal detector, and the brand has been able to claim that distinction for a good number of years.
It is a quality detector at a fantastic price point. The Bounty Hunter Tracker IV discrimination control feature allows you to ignore junk while you are metal detecting as well as an automatic ground balance to eliminate the frustration mineralized soil can cause for detectorists. The sensitivity is adjustable and there are three search modes with two audio tones. There is a built-in speaker and a headphone jack to use for the audio cues. It is heavier than the previous units discussed, weighing 4.2 pounds, giving it a sturdy feel.
Overall the performance of this Bounty Hunter unit is surprisingly great for the low cost, detecting coin-sized targets at 8″ inches and large items at two feet.
It runs on a fixed frequency of 6.6kHz and is powered by two 9V batteries. The 8″ coil is waterproof and it comes with a 5-year limited warranty that covers defects. You will find the interface easy to use, making it among the best metal detectors for kids, and the knob controls allow you to dial in just the right settings for your needs.
To learn more, read our full Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV review.
4. Teknetics Delta 4000
The Teknetics Delta 4000 has incredible performance and flexibility for being so competitively priced. The first thing you will notice with this unit is the large, easy-to-read display. The display indicates the two-digit target ID system as well as battery life. This makes operation incredibly user-friendly and intuitive.
It is lightweight at 2.6 pounds and has an adjustable pole length. The Delta 4000 uses an 8″ waterproof coil, so it is effective in many different environments and operates on a single 9V battery. You can expect to get 25 hours of use from each battery. Discrimination is adjustable and it operates on a fixed frequency of 7.8kHz.
This is a comfortable unit that has a long battery life and is easy to use. This gives you the ability to hunt for longer periods of time. It is perfect for those just starting out or upgrading from an entry-level metal detector. It has a 5-year limited warranty that protects against defects.
What Features Are Important In A Cheap Metal Detector?
As you are looking for budget detectors that fit your price range, it is important to understand a few simple concepts so you can get the most for your investment. The most important of these are discrimination, notch, and ground balance.
Discrimination allows metal detectors to accurately identify objects by their conductive or ferrous properties. This will allow you to distinguish between objects which are worth digging up from more commonplace materials. By using a visual or audio indicator, a metal detectors with proper discrimination will ignore junk material and alert you to things worth finding.
A notch filter is a more in-depth discrimination type that allows you to focus on a narrow subset of metals. If you are searching for specific targets, this will allow you to zero in on your intended targets. A notch filter makes such a difference for coin shooting that we have a whole page focusing on the top metal detectors for finding coins.
Sometimes the makeup of the soil itself will make it hard for metal detectors to find the desired objects. Ground mineralization can react like a false positive and cause an issue when attempting to use the detector. In this case, we need ground balancing. Ground balance is the ability of the detector to ignore soil mineralization by things like iron or salt particles in the earth, but still detect the gold, silver, coins, and other treasures you want to find. This will allow you to get higher quality hits at much greater depths.
The extent that a machine can do these three things effectively will greatly increase its ability to find desirable objects.