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There are plenty of metal detectors to choose from but what’s the best metal detector for the beach?
You might not realize it, but metal detectors are a big part of our lives. At airports and ballgames, we’re routinely checked by metal detecting wands. The military also uses metal detectors to search for landmines and IEDs.
And yes, hobbyists all over the world use metal detectors to scan historical sites, ancient battlegrounds, and discover buried treasure washed ashore on the beach.
The fact is, metal detectors are practical instruments for security and protection but also fun to use as a hobby.
This article can be used as a guide for beach metal detectors. We’ll discuss their purpose, the different types available, and we’ll review some of the best beach metal detectors on the market.
Metal Detecting As a Hobby
The desire to discover something goes back to the days of our childhood when we read about buried treasure and long lost relics. Whether it was in well-known literature like Treasure Island, or movies like Indiana Jones, unearthing something precious or valuable is every boy/girl’s dream.
In the U.S. metal detection has become a popular hobby. If done correctly it can be financially rewarding as well. Hobbyists will often target public lands and scan areas of historical relevance. This includes:
- Known or suspected transport areas (train lines, Oregon trail)
- Military battles for war relics
- Prospecting for precious metals like gold and silver
- Modern valuables: phones, earrings, necklaces, money
- Beach combing to find treasure washed ashore or valuables left
If you’re serious about beach metal detecting as a hobby, there are even clubs in North America and the U.K. that you can join. Check out the metal detecting clubs in the U.S.
How Do Beach Metal Detectors Work
In the U.S. you’ve likely seen people walking through parks and on beaches holding a device they wave back and forth.
I saw them a lot growing up. I thought it looked funny and didn’t understand how metal detectors worked.
Simply put, metal detectors work by using electric fields and magnetic fields. Whenever one of the former changes, the other also changes.
Thus electromagnetism is what detectors are based on. The most basic metal detectors use a transmitter coil and receiver coil.
If the detector passes over an area with metal the detector will induce electrical activity from the atoms in the metal. But it’s not the electrical activity that alerts the user, it is the magnetic field around the metal that responds to the second coil, the receiver.
The receiver makes a beeping or clicking noise and the user knows there must be a metal object nearby.
Metal detectors are best used for depths of 8-20 inches, however the condition and size of metal material in the soil has a lot to do with success. Obviously, a larger object will be easier to find than a smaller metal.
In addition, old metal objects that have endured significant corrosion may not respond as well as a newer metal (ancient coins vs new coins)
How To Use A Metal Detector On The Beach
You might be wondering how to use a metal detector on the beach. Is there a strategy? There most certainly are strategies and veteran beach combers will likely have their own version. Your strategy will also depend on what you’re looking for.
My strategy for the beach has a number of considerations:
Time of Day and Year
At most beaches the busiest time of year is the summer. If you’re beach combing you’ll want to walk in straight lines and sunbathers make that difficult. If possible, save your beach combing habit for the winter months.
- It will be cooler weather, which is nice if you’re walking the beach for long periods of time.
- There will be fewer people. Fewer people equates to more space and room to roam.
- Less competition. In the winter most beach combers will be inside and you might be the only person detecting.
- Winter months often bring about storms and rough seas that push new material towards land. If you’re interested in historical treasure, schedule your detecting for days after storms.
If summertime works best for your schedule, try going early in the morning. The benefits of summer are: 1) you’ll find a lot of coins, rings, or watches from tourists at the beach. 2) If you go early in the morning, the weather will be cool and you’ll likely have the beach to yourself.
I’ve tired beachcombing in the afternoons and evenings but it can be a real headache trying to avoid people.
There are few beach combers that don’t have a walking strategy. Thankfully people can easily track their steps on their smartphone with map applications made for exercise.
If you want to keep things simple like me, I usually grab 4 rocks or sticks and place them on the sand in a rectangle shape (50 x 50 yards).
I’ll walk back and forth similar to mowing a lawn. Once I complete the area, I’ll move my markers to the next spot on the beach and so-on.
One simple tip to avoid confusion is to follow your footsteps. The great thing about walking on sand is it leaves a mark so you can easily see the area you’ve covered.
What Items Are You Trying To Detect?
Where you walk with your metal detector also depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re in a heavy tourist area you might be looking for coins, necklaces, bracelets, watches. If you’re on the coast in Florida or Mexico you might be looking for gold coins lost at sea.
Valuables lost at sea tend to wash ashore after storms and with the tide. These storms off the coast stir up the sand and materials on the bottom of the ocean floor and redeposit elsewhere.
For some lucky beach combers, small pieces of treasure might reach the shores. For gold coins or other treasure you won’t want to be high on the beach, rather, you’ll want to be closer to the water where the tide ebbs and flows.
For beach valuables left by sunbathers, you’ll want to be higher on the beach where people are sitting. You can also search in areas where people walk to their vehicles – people drop a lot of items walking to their cars because their hands are full.
Do Metal Detectors Work for Wet and Dry Sand
The quick answer is yes, beach metal detectors will work for both wet sand and dry sand, however, if you’re going to get the detector wet, you’ll need a special detector.
It’s important to note there are a few challenges when metal detecting at the beach. The main challenge at the beach is that salt water amplifies the normal minerals and causes a lot of false-positives. If you’ve heard your detector signal there is metal, you might dig and find nothing.
Luckily most decent detectors can be adjusted to minimize false-positives. In order to fix this problem you’ll want to use a metal detector that you can adjust to the level of mineralization in the sand (VLF = very low frequency w/ adjust are best for people on a budget). With a VLF metal detector you can adjust and to reduce false positives.
A higher-end metal detector will have pulse induction (PI) technology and they don’t respond to minerals. We’ll mention a few in the reviews below.
Related: Under-the-Radar Beach Gear
Can metal detectors go underwater
Yes, metal detectors can go underwater but you’ll need to buy a specific detector. As mentioned above, there are specialized detectors for land and freshwater, and due to the mineral accumulation in salt water sand you’ll need a different metal detector.
The same is true for going into the water.
We’ll mention metal detectors for the water in our reviews below. Most detectors in our reviews can get the coil wet. Only a few can have the whole device submerged.
Guide for the Top Beach Metal Detectors in 2023
In the following 3 sections we’ll provide you with metal detecting information based on your needs. Maybe you’re looking for a long-lasting, high-quality detector that is a proven brand (Section 1).
Possibly you’re looking for a well-reviewed, affordable gift for a beginner (Section 2). In Section 3 we mention a few accessories for the expert metal detector or beginner that would be a great add-on purchase to assist with beach metal detecting.
Section 1: High-Quality Metal Detectors for the Beach
No. 1 Garrett Ace 300 Metal Detector with Waterproof Search Coil and Carry Bag
The Garrett Ace 300 is rated number 1 on our list for a reason. It’s a high-quality detector that’s also easy to use. Most importantly, it comes at a reasonable price that advanced beach combers and beginners will enjoy.
With Garrett, you’re also getting a well-respected brand with a history of making quality products (since 1964). All of Garrett’s metal detectors are made in the U.S.A and based out of Garland, Texas. In addition to hobby detectors, Garrett also makes security and military grade detectors to help keep our country safe.
This item measures 21.1 x 10.1 x 4.1 inches and weighs 7 pounds. The arm brace and strap will help balance out the weight so don’t worry about your arm getting tired.
- Submersible coil (but whole device not waterproof)
- Great for wet and dry sand
- Twice iron resolution as the 250
- Searches clearly to approximately 8″ depth
- Easy to tune 8 kHz frequency
- 7-10″ submersible coil
- Works in various ground conditions
- Graphic target ID cursor
- Handy push button display with armrest/band
This detector will pick up nickel, aluminum, copper, gold, silver, and iron in both wet sand and dry. You don’t need headphones as the Garrett 250 makes a sound, but they include headphones anyway and can be plugged into the jack.
It uses AA batteries that will last about 24 hours if new. I like the 2-year warranty!
Reviews for this product are solid! A number of people comment on the great brand + affordable price. The whole detector is not waterproof only the coil.
I like that it comes with a handy instruction booklet, batteries, headphones, and a carrying bag. The extras and warranty help justify the price, but this detector is great on its own.
No. 2 Tesoro Sand Shark Underwater Metal Detector with 10.5″ Coil
If you’re looking for the best beach metal detector on our list, this is it. Tesoro uses a sleek design and Pulse Induction (PI) technology perfect for the beach. While the other detectors on our list can handle the beach and sand, this detector was specifically made for wet, salty beaches AND to be underwater.
You can fine-tune sensitivity, battery life, and depth easily. Average battery life is 10-20 hours depending on your settings.
- 6.3 lbs
- Wide 10’5″ coil
- PI technology – preferred for beaches
- Waterproof up to 200 feet
- Made specifically for the beach and wet, salty, soils
- Lifetime warranty
What I like about the Tesoro Sand Shark is the lifetime warranty – isn’t that amazing. A waterproof device for the beach that is also guaranteed for life! You end up paying a little bit more but you won’t have to worry whether it will work next month or the following year.
No. 3 Minelab CTX 3030 Standard Pack Metal Detector with GPS Rechargeable 3228-0101
This Minelab CTX is a sweet machine and has some extras that differentiate it from the rest. The first thing you’ll notice is the price. Yes, the best beach metal detectors are expensive, so if you’re someone who wants the best and money is no object, Minelab is the way to go.
I like the CTX because of 5 things.
- It uses Google Maps for GPS which helps assure you won’t be repeating the same areas you’ve already covered
- It comes with a large coil, 11 inches
- It finds materials at deeper depths 10-12″
- It’s waterproof to 10 feet
- It’s rechargeable (save cost on batteries)
That’s not all. It also comes with wireless headphones so there’s no plugging in and there’s FBS 2 technology for multiple frequency transmission.
It has a 3-5 year limited warranty. If you want the most updated metal detector with technology and performance, then this is the one!
Related: Must-Have Beach Gear
No. 4 Bounty Hunter TimeRanger Metal Detector
Bounty Hunter comes out of El Paso, Texas and offers a solid 5-year warranty on their metal detectors. The TimeRanger can be used on the beach or in the hills and the coil is waterproof (just the coil).
It comes with a digital screen, 4 mode operation, notching system, balance system. It also has 3-tone audio discrimination for each kind of metal.
- 4 lbs
- Adjustable length
- 8″ coil that is waterproof
- 9V batteries needed
- Frequency 6.6 kHZ
- 5-year warranty
It responds well to metals in 6-8″ depth and has an optional headphone jack if you want to add-on headphones. This product has overwhelmingly good reviews which are reassuring.
A number of comments mention the product is good for the money and it can pay for itself within a few trips to the beach (coins and rings!). I really like the 5-year warranty!
No. 5 Garrett ACE 200 Metal Detector with Waterproof Search Coil and Headphones
The Garrett Ace 200 is one of amazon’s favorite products. It has a 9″ waterproof coil and comes with headphones as well.
As expected it also comes with an instruction manual, batteries, and a 2-year warranty. The audio is said to be sharper in this improved model, and also lightweight.
This beach metal detector isn’t ranked as high as the other Garrett on our list but it’s still a good choice and has a great performance at a respectable price.
Once again, the reviews are excellent, as you would expect from the Garrett Company. Overall it has good customer reviews and comments mention the affordable price point, easy assembling, and the fact that the Ace 300 is slighter better.
Check out more about the Ace 200 below:
Section 2: Budget Beach Metal Detectors for Beginners
No. 1 Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV Metal Detector
The Bounty Hunter TK4 is one of the most highly reviewed metal detectors with over 1,000 reviews. The reviews are solid with positive feedback.
Bounty Hunter is a good company that sells high-end detectors so you know this detector, while affordable will still have many good qualities.
- Rugged and touch for different conditions
- All-metal mode and discrimination modes
- 2 tone audio modes
- Present ground balance to get rid of mineral ground interference
- 4.2 lbs.
- Adjustable for height
- 8″ waterproof coil
- Two 9V batteries and 6.6 kHz frequency
Bounty Hunter has a reasonable 5 year warranty – I like the sound of that. You’ll get around 5″ of depth with this detector for smaller sized items like rings and quarters.
I like this metal detector for the beach. If I was to buy one on a budget, this would be the winner!
No. 2 Treasure Cove TC-3020 Platinum Metal Detector Kit
The TC-3020 Treasure Cover is a good starter kit for beach metal detecting. The price is affordable and it comes with a 10 year warranty. The LED display provides detailed information regarding depth and metal detected (customize for type of metal!). You can easily tune out false signals where there is saltwater.
- 2.5 lbs
- LED Screen Display
- Headphones w/ 6′ cord
- Carrying case
- Sand-sifting scoop
- 10 Year Warranty
Generally, the reviews for this product are decent. Some people find it difficult to use and say there’s a lack of instructions with the package.
Others say it’s a great starter detector kit that you can upgrade once you know you are sticking with the hobby.
No. 3 National Geographic PRO Series Metal Detector
Strange I know, but National Geographic sells a metal detector. Not only do they have a detector but it works well as a beginners metal detector.
I like the fact it folds up for easy travel. It’s recommended for kids and adults.
It is lightweight, waterproof, and folds to 22 inches. The Pro Series has 3 detection modes, 4 sensitivity levels and a pinpoint feature that helps distinguish for up to 12″ deep (maybe for big items).
- 2 lbs
- Folds to 22 inches
- Good for sand and mountains
- Multiple detection modes and sensitivity levels
- 2 year warranty
As a beginner detector, it is reported to show a lot of false positives. This means that you might encounter more problems on the sand with saltwater.
Reviewers mention it is a great product for kids and people learning. Older adults, or people who take the hobby seriously should look at the higher-end options on our list. All-in-all not a bad option for a gift or child.
Section 3: Beach Metal Detecting Accessories for all ages and levels
As with most products there are essential items and add-ons that make good gifts to get started in the hobby. For beach metal detecting you’ll definitely want a sand shaker so you can scoop up and easily find the metal object.
If traveling or if storing in your garage, you might want a carrying case too. Check out the following items to see if there are any you need.
Metal Detecting: A Beginner’s Guide to Mastering the Greatest Hobby In the World
A Beginner’s Guide to Metal Detecting is a best seller. If you’re new to the hobby, do some reading as it will significantly help you develop a winning strategy.
Trust me, I learned the hard way and went out on my own, then after weeks with finding very little, I finally read and realized what I was doing wrong (pretty much everything).
This book will help with site selection, strategy, and time management so you aren’t wandering aimlessly for hours.
Garrett 1140900 Pro-Pointer AT Waterproof Pinpointing Metal Detector, Orange
You might be wondering why you need a “pointer’ when you already have a metal detector. Many hobbyists use a pointer after they’ve identified a metal object. With the pointer, they can get a closer look as to where the object is.
This pointer, made by Garrett is a high-quality waterproof pointer. Reviews say their digging has improved efficiency when they use the pointer with the detector…”it just speeds everything up”.
Garrett All-Purpose Metal Detector Carry Bag (50″ – New Version)
If you’re storing your metal detector in the home or garage you should probably keep it covered. It’s an expensive electronic device so protecting it from dirt and dust is common sense.
You can put a plastic bag around it, which should suffice, however, if you’re traveling, or keep it in your car, a nice bag is warranted.
Garrett makes a handy carry bag 50″ long that can secure most detectors and accessories. It also has small pockets to store users manuals or materials found at the beach site.
It closes with a sturdy zipper too. This is a good option for someone who takes good care of their detector.
Garrett Metal Sand Scoop
In my opinion, the sand scoop is the most important item for your beach combing. The sand scoop allows you to pick up a bunch of sand and easily sift out the sand, leaving the metal object you want.
Sometimes no matter how much sand you move, you can’t seem to find the metal. The scoop makes it easier.
I prefer the long pole sand scoops that can be pressed into the sand with my foot, but this one is good too. Plus these scoops can be adjusted to fit your needs (have a long handle welded on).
Our Pick: What Is The Best Metal Detector For The Money
I prefer high-quality products because I’d rather buy 1 good product once then have to buy budget items again and again. The Tesoro Sand Shark meets my expectations as a high-quality metal detector…not only mine, but ask any serious hobbyist and they will know the Sand Shark.
The biggest things I like about the Sand Shark are 1) it’s 100% waterproof (don’t worry about getting any part of the device wet, 2) It uses PI which works best in sand and saltwater soils, and 3) It has a lifetime warranty.
A lifetime warranty is incredible. Although its a bit more expensive, if you plan on using it for a long time, the Tesoro Sand Shark is the way to go (we rated the Garrett higher as our No. 1 because of the price)
Beach Metal Detector Finds
Beach metal detectors find all sorts of things. Metal objects can be old or new depending on where and when you are searching. On the Southeastern Coast of the U.S., there were many shipwrecks carrying gold from Europe. After storms beach combers can find treasure from 100’s of years ago. Below are a list of metal items commonly found at the beach:
- Rings (some with diamonds)
- Coins (both old and new)
- Money clips
- Metal scrap pieces (screws, aluminum)
Beach metal detecting tips and secrets
I love watching videos from the gentleman in Florida below. He annotates this videos so you can see the best way to approach a beach. This guy has found so much treasure on the beach it’s obvious there is skill involved.
Whether it’s reading the slope of the beach, the tar on the sand, the tide, or current, this guy shares his insights. Check out his video below and subscribe to his channel to learn more.
In this article, we covered a great hobby for the beach. Growing up I always thought about the possibilities when I saw people at the beach with metal detector. Since I’ve purchased my own, I’m starting to understand why people love this hobby.
We looked at the types of metal detectors, how they work, and the reasons and strategies for beach detecting. We’ve also suggested a few reputable detector options and budget options for beginners or kids.
I hope you found some value in this article. This can be used as a guide to get started. Remember, there is never enough information to read. Get out there, practice and learn a new skill!