Our Top Pick for 2016: Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector All Terrain Metal Detector
Read our full review.
There are a lot of hobbyists out there who want top-of-the-line metal detectors to help them find treasures hidden beneath the ground. We decided to look at the metal detectors available and assess each one to come up with a list of the best ones. We tested each one for design, detection-ability, controls and communication, modes and the extras. After deliberating hard, we are proud to confidently present our top three pics and one budget pick. If you want a new all-around convenient and accurate machine, these are all great ones to start with.
Table of contents
- #1 Gold Pick (1st Place Winner)
- #2 Silver Pick (2nd Place Runner-Up)
- #3 Bronze Pick (3rd Place)
- #4 Budget Pick (Best Cheap)
V-Break, Variable Tone Breakpoint
Deep Seeking Auto Tune With Manual Ground Balance
Pinpoint Mode with Depth Indicator
Ideal For Hunting Coins, Relics, Caches, Jewelry, And Even Gold
Visual Target ID By Category
FeTone, Adjustable Iron Audio
Proportional Audio And Tone Roll Audio
Numeric 0-99 Readout
Menu System with Variable Notching
0 To 99 Target ID Scale
One Touch Pinpoint With Numeric Depth Readout
Ground Grab, Computerized Ground Balancing
Improved Detection Of Small Targets
11″ Bi-axial Search Coil
#1 Gold pick (Winner): Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector All Terrain Metal Detector
View it on Amazon for $594.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Our number one gold pick for metal detector goes to the Garrett AT Pro Metal All Terrain detector. By far this is the best one we found and for a lot of reasons. First of all, it’s easy to maneuver. If you are a new detectorist or an avid one, this is the perfect tool. When you are looking for a metal detector, you want to find a model that is lightweight and sturdy for long-term use. The Garret AT Pro is 22-inches long and weighs just 5-pounds. That means you can hold it for hours at a time searching for metal. It also has a U-shaped arm rest and a strap so you can connect it and bear the weight of the detector on your arm, rather than just your wrist. There is a padded comfort-grip to steady it as you explore. It has an 8 ½-inch by 11-inch DD-configuration coil for searching. Its design is intention because it allows you to search rugged areas without missing anything. The stem assembly also is adjustable to your height. It has spring-clip locks and additional twisting cam locks to secure it for use.
The Garrett AT comes with two modes: standard and professional. Standard mode is easiest to start off with if you’re new to detecting. It lets you know when you are above metal, up to about 10-inches underground. This is helpful because you can easily listen for the chirp and then look for metal. You can also use the professional mode that offers a specially-designed audio system along with a numeric system to tell you approximate size, depth and shape of an item it detects. Most serious detectorists will want to use the professional mode. It offers the most in terms of potential valuable metal. The fact that it has a sensor that can approximate size and shape of hidden items is a huge advantage. It will allow you to get an idea of what is underground prior to starting to dig. If you are on particularly hard ground, this is a definite energy-saver for your arms and back.
The touchpad on this metal detector also is very informational and user-friendly. Again- if you’re new to detecting, you won’t have an issue with this model. The Garret AT Pro has a high-resolution screen that allows you to set its “iron” at whatever level you desire. This lets you sort through trash and good finds easily.
It also has advanced-technology audio with one of the fastest recovery speeds we have seen. This is helpful because it can easily discern adjacent treasures without missing any and help you find good items in the midst of metal trash. The machine has a special beep for iron so you can ignore the designation and save time looking for other treasures. The LCD panel has a target ID number for the things it detects to clearly let you know what is beneath the earth. A higher number means something of potentially more value was detected; a lower number means likely the item detected is junk. There also is a depth indicator that lets you know how far the item is beneath the ground surface- 2-, 4-, 6-, 8-, or 10-inches. The tones also are different to let you know the quality of find.
We also loved the fact that this machine has the ability to work underwater (in fresh or salt water), up to 10-foot in-depth. Just think of all the items that wash away into rivers, lakes and creeks. Many detectorists find their gems by the water. The ability to detect under it was a great feature that will make your explorations even more satisfying. In previous years you had to purchase separate machines to handle land and water; now the Garrett AP Pro lets you do both with one highly efficient machine.
You can easily find relics, coins, gold and jewelry with the Garrett AP Pro. It is the best of all-terrain metal detectors we found. One extra we really liked was its inclusion of headphones to use for convenience, or if you’re in a noisy area. You can still detect treasure, without missing a thing.
The Garret AT Pro is our number one pick, and for good reason. It is easy to maneuver, accurate, precise, informational and has a lot of extras. Any good detectorist would be proud to have this machine to guide their next enjoyable search.
#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Bounty Hunter Land Ranger Pro Metal Detector
View it on Amazon for $271.49*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Our number two silver pick for best metal detectors is the Bounty Hunger Land Ranger Pro. This detector looks complicated because of its design, but it isn’t. It’s an effective way to find metals and you’ll easily get used to the controls
When it comes to the maneuverability, this detector much like our first pick, is light weight. At just 2.2-pounds it is very easy to carry around for hours while you search. It also has an adjustable length that ranges up to 45-inches. It can easily be changed depending on who is using it. That means anyone can be comfortable – adult or child. It has a comfort grip to steady it as you sweep it over different locations. It also has a U-shaped feature to rest its weight on your full arm, rather than just your hand. This ensures that hours of usage won’t be too taxing on your wrist.
The settings on the Ranger Pro are easy to use. We wanted machines that could be used by new detectorists and professional detectorists with equal satisfaction. The settings on this detector prove that it earned its place at number two on our list. There are 7 pre-set modes that make it easy to use right out of the box. There are ID numbers and nine different categories of finds to let you know what it detected below the ground.
In terms of modes, the Land Ranger Pro has a helpful Pinpoint, PP, mode on the screen. Let’s say it detects something underground. Rather than having to do some guess work, you can use the PP feature to pinpoint exactly where the item is with precision. Before you start digging, it lets you know how far beneath the surface the item is. Remember that this detector can tell if items are anywhere from 2- to 10-feet underground. With larger items, it detects them even deeper and alerts you.
The Land Ranger Pro has a very straightforward screen that gives you a lot of information. It has a 4-tone audio ID to go with its numeric system. This is helpful if you like a dual alert when you are working with a detector. Again- with precision, it lets you know generally what is underground before you start putting efforts into digging for it. You’ll know right away if it is worth the effort or not. It also has a visual signal to let you know how deep the item it detects is beneath the surface. The detectability of this machine is fantastic. If you are a pro, this definitely could be the perfect gift for yourself. If you’re new, you still can get used to it and find numerous treasures beneath the surface of the earth.
We also enjoyed the large LCD screen with easy-to-read numbers. Detectors usually go out in the bright sun. Glare is always an issue for anyone trying to work outdoors. The LCD on the Land Ranger Pro was built to combat brightness. The screen will give you information on the items it detects, but it also lets you know how your battery life is holding up. This is a handy feature because you will know about how much time you have left with your detector. It is estimated that a 9V alkaline battery will offer you somewhere between 20-25 hours of accurate operation. The screen also lets you know the search mode you are currently in. Here is where you can alter it, or stick with the pre-sets.
In terms of advanced technology, the Land Ranger Pro has the Pinpoint feature. Like the Garrett AT Pro it is also waterproof. This is great and means that its flexibility will help you out regardless of where your next area to explore is. Just imagine how much is under water—during heavy rain this is exactly where treasures end up!
The Land Ranger Pro definitely is a convenient and helpful machine for any detectorist. We wanted metal detectors that were convenient for anyone—people with experience in searching and people without experience—and that’s just what we found with this machine.
#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Fisher F4 Metal Detector
View it on Amazon for $399.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
The Fisher F4 metal detector took our third place bronze slot. This metal detector has a lot to offer and stood up well against our list of requirements. It’s easy-to-use and accurate. As our bronze pick, we’re confident it will be an welcomed addition to any detectorists hobby.
The Fisher F4 is a sleek and colorful model. It weighs 4.7-pounds and is 40-inches by 11 ¼-inches by 6 ½-inches. It also has a U-shaped arm grip to help balance its weight and a soft-grip handle on the stem assembly, right above the display. Speaking of display, it is a colorful one. The stem is bright yellow and the LCD display features the same bright color, along with red buttons. What we liked about this design is that it is clear to read and easy to adjust. Even if you’re detecting in a bright sunny area, thanks to the design you will have minimal problems reading the screen. Like our other picks, the Fisher F4 is easy to assemble. Just feed the stem assembly into the 11-inch bi-axial search head, install the batteries and its ready to go. This was a feature we liked because just about anyone can put it together quickly and easily.
We liked the size of the search head because we were able to sweep areas quickly. It’s large enough to find just about every detectable metal in every setting we tested it in, but compact enough to be comfortable.
This metal detector has a lot of signifiers to let you know what is beneath the ground. It clearly tells you the ID number of the item or the depth. It lets you know if the target is foil, nickel, iron, zinc, a dime or a quarter. Its depth meter also is very helpful. It lets you know how far beneath the ground the target is. This is a standard in the world of metal detectors, but we liked how clearly this one conveyed this information.
The Fisher F4 has various modes to work with also. It has an “all metal” mode if you want to explore everything. It has a “discrimination” mode if you want to just see items that may be of value. When testing each one out, we found that the “all metal” mode was great at signaling the depth, while the “discrimination” mode was great at weeding out trash.
The controls on the Fisher F4 are fantastic. When you push the buttons you get a slight “clicking” sound to let you know you made the selections. It has both sensitivity and discrimination adjustment buttons on the left and right side, respectively. It also has an on/off button, an auto tune, a Pinpoint, a disc and a notch button. It lets you know how deep the detected item is so you can easily save energy until you’re satisfied with information. There is a number system indicating what type of element is below the surface. It lets you know if the detected item is worth digging for, or just iron that should be ignored.
This metal detector has tones that work in conjunction with its visual notifications. This is an added benefit if you like to work by sound, instead of sight. It has a 4-tone audio ID system that accurately lets you know what it detects. Again- these fall in line with the chosen detection mode perfectly.
In terms of extras, the Fisher F4 stands out because of its accuracy. It isn’t the highest priced metal detector available, but it definitely is one of the most efficient. Everything we tested it with, it was able to discern and identify via the LED screen and audible tone. The accuracy was enough to earn it the number three bronze spot on our list of the best metal detectors on the market.
#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Bounty Hunter Gold Digger Metal Detector
View it on Amazon for $49.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
On all of our quests for the best, we pick the top three and then nominate one additional choice as our budget product. After this search, we named the Bounty Hunger Gold Digger metal detector as number 4, budget buy. It isn’t as customizable as our other picks, but if you’re newer to the hobby of being a detectorist, it might be the perfect place to start.
The Bounty Hunter weighs 2.2-pounds. Its dimensions are 6-inches by 9-inches by 20 ½-inches. Like our other picks, this one is a great find due to its manageability. You aren’t going to have a hefty or bulky detector to lug around with you all day. Rather, it is streamlined and easy to carry. It also has a U-clip to rest your forearm against for stability and a handle. The handle is in a different position than other models we recommend. This one extends out and is molded for easy-grip. The detecting coil is 7-inches. Like we said, this is great place to start your hobby or to see if you even like being a detectorist. The 7-inch detector is wide enough to find items and give you the satisfaction of knowing what you’re digging before you start.
In terms of detecting items, the Bounty Hunter can detect coins that are up to a depth of 6-inches below the ground’s surface. It can alert you when it finds silver, brass, iron, steel, gold and aluminum. Again- this is a great feature because you can decide if you want to proceed with a dig, or move on, depending on your goals for the day.
The controls are simple. This is the biggest reason why we recommend this for a newer detectorist. At this level, you likely just need something that can help you detect surface items, but aren’t looking to invest in a higher-priced machine. The Bounty Hunter is the perfect option. Unlike the other models that showcase an LED display with multiple readings, this one has a simple two-dial feature. It has a power level dial and a trash eliminator dial. If you want it to ignore trash, you can set the trash eliminator dial high. If you want it to detect farther beneath the ground, you can set the power level higher. It is able to locate coin-sized items at about 6-inches below the surface of soil.
To communicate finds, this metal detector provides tones to the included bonus headphones. We are big fans of headphones because of the settings people like to use their metal detectors. Noisy beaches, packed parks, or loud forest preserves are all places where these devices are commonly used. It isn’t always easy to hear a noise coming from your hand-level. Having headphones makes each sound easily heard and discernable.
In terms of extras, there aren’t a lot with the Bounty Hunter. Despite that, we still believe it holds its own as a budget buy. Again- if you’re new to the hobby, or want to test it out, this is a great starting tool to use. It won’t empty your wallet, but it still will perform well and let you see if you really like being a metal detectorist.
When it came to the specs, we wanted ease of use. A lot of older models were effective, but bulky and heavy. If you were particularly strong, you could go detecting for extended periods of time. If you weren’t, you had to cut your hobby short, missing out on many potentially valuable items. We wanted to be sure that the body of our choices were sleek, light-weight and easy to maneuver. We opted for designs with the added arm bar that normally came with the convenient U-shaped plastic grip. We also wanted metal detectors with an added handle for steadying the machine as users swept the area.
In addition though, our top picks also had to be easy to assemble. We know that users can be avid detectorists or young children who want a fun hobby. That meant looking for the metal detectors that were easy to assemble and easy to adjust for height. Despite its adjustability, it also had to be sturdy and able to lock into place. Thankfully our picks all had strong designs and robust detector coils that discerned a lot.
Detection & Search modes
We also looked at the search modes and detection capability. After all, detecting items is what the appliance is all about! Because of this, we demanded that every choice we put on our list was able to not only detect metal, but able to accurately pinpoint what kind of metal it was. All of our picks had both numeric and audible notifications of metal beneath the ground. We wanted both because some detectors like to work solely with sound, and some like to work solely with visuals. In some cases, the choice is made for them, for example on a noisy beach, or crowded forest preserve.
With metal detectors that earned our respect, they also had to have numerous search modes. Some of our choices have presets, and some have to be manually set. We wanted the ability to ignore worthless metals and undesirable items. Our machines allow for “ignoring” or for “finding everything.” This is a convenient way of allowing the customer to make the choice as to how delicate the system should operate.
Controls & Tones
With our metal detectors we also listened to the tones. We wanted tones that were loud enough to hear in noisier settings. Some of our picks come with headphones. These are highly beneficial and the ones that include them got special points. We were concerned with noisy areas. Most detectorists go out during the day to loud and possibly crowded areas. Not only can they drown out noise, but the sun can make it difficult to read the LED screens. We wanted the metal detectors that would alert users of an item clearly and discernibly.
We also looked at the ease of control and setting preferences. Some people like to look at everything. If they are casual detectorists who dedicate their entire day to the hobby, likely they have time to focus on everything to vet out what they want. Other people only have a few hours to cover a large area—they are the ones who want the machine to ignore less desirable items. Not only did we want our top picks to be able to discern value from useless items, but we wanted them to appropriately convey the information to the users with telling tones. All of our machines have the ability to make the hobby of metal detection as efficient as the user needs it to be.
As with any product line we scrutinize, we wanted to give extra points to the items with extras. Things like working underwater in the case of metal detectors is a huge advantage. Just think of how much rain falls, or snow melts and pushes potentially valuable items into rivers, lakes, streams and the ocean. These items may wash up on shore, or they may remain at the bottom of bodies of water. We didn’t want our consumers to have to buy a special underwater machine so we looked at items that offered both on-ground and in-water capabilities.
Another extra that stood out to us was the Pinpoint mode some metal detectors come with. The Pinpoint is beyond just detecting an item. In this mode, you can turn it on to hone in on the exact location of an item. This saves the efforts of digging unnecessarily and saves time. If you have to sweep a large area quickly, having the ability to pinpoint is an invaluable option.
We came up with the extras of each item, if it had them, and then valuated them to pick only the items that brought the most quality to the table. We wanted to give our readers only the best choices available.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
If you are new to metal detecting, or a professional detectorist, the top picks we presented are all excellent choices. Each one is accurate, useful, efficient and designed for comfort. They can easily be customized to give you the precision you need to make your hobby that much more fun and valuable.
Discussion and comments
We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?
Do you know of an even better product?
- Garret AT Pro Waterproof Metal Detector, MetalDetector.com
- Hirasi. Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector All Terrain Land and Water Metal Detector, YouTube.com, October 20, 2015
- Anday Sabisch, Metal Detector Field Test & Review – Bounty Hunter Land Ranger Pro, LostTreasure.com August 2015
- Mark Ellington, The F4 is an Outstanding Metal Detector with Enough Power to Satisfy even the Most Discerning Hobbyist, MetalDetector.com, January 2009
- MetalDetectingSC, Bounty Hunger Gold Digger Review, YouTube, January 18, 2012
- How to Choose the Right Metal Detector, KellyCoDetectors