Full-size metal detectors can be a lot of help on the beach and in the park. But sometimes they can’t pinpoint the specific location of a metal object buried underground. That’s why some treasure hunters use a best handheld metal detector for more precise work.
These small gadgets also can help with security, when you use them on people who may carry concealed weapons. They’re also valuable for construction, as they can detect the presence of nails that can pose a danger when you cut pieces of wood.
So how do you find the best handheld detectors for your needs? Here’s the guide you’ve been looking for, including several recommendations you should consider.
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This is what you get when you need an affordable metal detector for home construction work. It’s able to detect both magnetic and non-magnetic metal, so it can find nails, screws, studs along with plumbing and rebar in concrete. You can use this in nonmetallic surfaces, including wood, concrete, plaster, stucco, tile, and drywall.
This can find magnetic objects embedded up to 4 inches deep. It’s also able to find non-magnetic metals up to 2 inches deep. It offers a wide scan to find the approximate locations of embedded metal objects, and then you can use the pinpoint scan for a more accurate location (and for smaller screws).
You hear an audio tone that gets louder when the signal is stronger, plus you more red LED lights light up. This comes with a fully charged 9V battery, but for the best results, you’ll want to get a fresh battery every time you use this.
This metal detector is easy enough to hold, measuring 5.5 x 1.1 x 7.5 inches. It only weighs 11.2 ounces. It’s also very reliable and can find metal objects that other metal detectors in this price range may overlook. It may require a few tries to master its use, but after that, it’s a joy to use.
Read more here about the best all round metal detector.
It’s often difficult to balance the need for performance and high sensitivity along with ease of use and portability when it comes to handheld metal detectors. But Mosinee aimed high with this model, and by and large, they’ve succeeded in making a terrific metal detector for such a low price.
This is sensitive enough to both vibrate and beep as it detects metal up to 118 inches (almost 10 feet) from the probe. You’ll get louder beeps and more insistent vibrations as the metal gets nearer. Its one-touch operation is easy enough even for kids, and it also comes with a built-in flashlight.
This sensitivity combines with its full waterproofing. You can put the whole gadget under 9 feet of water for 12 hours.
It’s very portable too. It measures 9.1 inches long and less than 1.6 inches in diameter (tapering to less than an inch). It also weighs just 5.6 ounces (161 grams). This even comes with a holster, along with a retractable hanging wire. Your package also comes with a 9V battery.
This is specifically designed for underwater use. In fact, you can use this for scuba diving looking for underwater treasure as it’s meant for use down to a depth of 100 feet. You can use this for both freshwater and saltwater conditions.
Under the water, it’ll tell you about the detected metals with vibrations and flashing lights. These lights and vibrations become more frequent as your probe tip gets near the metal object. It can detect metals 3.9 inches away, though it shouldn’t be smaller than the size of a coin. With bigger objects, you may have a longer detection range. The pulses and vibrations are more frequent the nearer your probe tip gets to the metals. This is good enough to find your ring underwater buried under 5 inches of sand.
You grasp this as you would a metal detector meant for security, while the handle comes with a soft, anti-skid surface. You also have a wrist strap so you won’t lose the detector if you accidentally let it go.
You don’t need to push buttons with this, which is great for underwater work. You just need to tilt it to turn it off and on. The tip comes with a built-in white LED light that flashes when it detects something.
There’s a sensor that alerts you if the battery power gets low enough. When the battery gets too low, it will emit 4 long vibration pulses and will automatically shut down. You do need to buy your own battery for this.
This is not for fully underwater work, as it comes with an IP66 waterproof level. So, it is not meant for scuba diving. But you can use this in the rain and on the wet sand. The pinpointer itself won’t have trouble with the water. This is sensitive enough to detect rings and coins 3.5 inches from the probe tip.
This is great for newbies, as it is extremely easy to use. It comes with a single button to turn it on and off. It will vibrate and buzz as it detects metal, and there are 3 LED lights to tell you how near the metal object is from the tip. It also comes with a built-in flashlight.
This is quite portable, as it measures 10.8 inches long and weighs 5.9 ounces. Your purchase also comes with a holster for this, along with a carrying bag.
The 98-waterproofing translates to usage down to 30 meters underwater. This is a fully submersible metal detector, colored in yellow for better visibility under the water. This is a professional-grade metal detector that quite a few police departments use, and these law enforcement agencies even include Interpol. This can partly explain its almost 3-figure price.
This weighs only 350 grams or about 0.77 pounds. It’s about 16.53 inches long, with the probe diameter at 4.41 inches. The handle is 1.57 inches in diameter, and it offers a soft, anti-skid surface along with a wrist strap.
This emits a frequency of 6.8 kHz. This is sensitive enough to detect a small quarter coin 10 mm away (a little less than 4 inches) even buried under the sand. If it’s the size of a dollar, the range increases to 15 mm (a little less than 6 inches). Its pulse induction technology detects metal under any type of soil, and that includes even black sand. It has no problem finding gold, silver, bronze, tiny aluminum objects, and iron.
The tip has a white LED light that flashes when it detects metal, while the gadget also vibrates. You only need to tip this to turn it on and off. It also automatically shuts down when not used for 60 seconds or when the battery is low.
This is an extremely affordable metal detector that’s designed mainly for security. It’s sensitive enough to detect a 20mm steel ball under 2.7 inches of clothing, or even a pin beneath 0.4 inches of cloth. It offers 2 sensitivity settings as well.
You also have the choice between a sound or vibration alert, and both are accompanied by a flashing LED light when it detects metal. This operates on a single 9V battery, and it will continuously vibrate or sound when the battery power goes low.
It comes with a belt clip, which makes this easy to carry for your security personnel. It’s lightweight, and comfortable well enough when clipped to your side. You may even use this for finding nails in the wood, as long as the nails are within an inch of the surface.
Now, this is a somewhat pricier model. This is mainly because this is one tough metal detector which you can expect to last for years. It can be used in outdoor environments without any worries whatsoever.
This can be used for 2 main purposes. One, you can use it to find concealed weapons when you’re letting in strangers inside your club or any secure area. Two, you can use this to find small nails and staples in log pieces.
This Garrett detector is sensitive enough to detect nails embedded 6 inches under the wood. It can even detect really tiny metal fragments as well. You don’t need to adjust it, and it is also US-made. The alarm can also be turned off, and you can use it in just the vibrate mode.
If you’re into DIY woodworking and work with reclaimed lumber, this Super Scanner will probably pay for itself with how it will save you money in damaged blades.
This may look a bit like a handheld mirror designed to resemble a toy tennis racket. But it looks impressive, measuring 14.76 inches in length. The width of the probe tip is almost 3 inches, while the handle is 1.34 inches wide. It weighs 10.4 ounces, so it’s better for adults to use.
For woodworking, you can find a pin 1.18 inches away while for iron nails the distance is 2.36 inches. However, this is mostly meant for security work. It can find a handgun buried under almost 4 inches of clothing, and a 6-inch dagger is detectable from 4.72 inches away.
The sensitivity can be adjusted, though you need a small straight-edge screwdriver. Some people do use this to find nails, screws, and staples in wood pieces before they run the wood through the planer.
You do have to buy that screwdriver on your own, but at least your purchase comes with the battery.
This is the metal detector you may want if you mainly wish to use it for security. That’s its main function, as it is sensitive enough to detect a pistol under 7.87 inches of clothing. A steel knife is detectable from almost 10 inches away.
This measures 16.9 inches by 8.2 inches by 2.1 inches, while it weighs a little bit less than a pound. You need a 3mm screwdriver to adjust the sensitivity, and you have to buy that separately. It does come with a 9V battery.
You can pick either sound or vibrate mode for your alerts, and the built-in green LED light flashes red when it detects metal.
This is slightly less expensive than the 1165190 Super Scanner, and probably it’s because its body is made of plastic instead of metal. But that makes this a bit lighter at a little over a pound.
Many companies have trusted this model for their security, as it is both reliable and durable. Others have found it quite useful for detecting even tiny tacks in wood. It’s almost never wrong, which is great. It won’t overlook anything, while it won’t give you false positives.
This isn’t so expensive (it doesn’t cross into the 3-figure price range), but it’s not cheap enough for kids either. It does come with a rechargeable battery and a charger, and a single charge lets you use this for 40 hours straight. That alone may be worth the expense. It’s also great that getting a full charge only takes 3 to 6 hours.
It’s also very effective for security work, as it is sensitive enough to detect an object as small as a stamp. It has an indicator light that flashes more frequently as the probe gets nearer a metallic object. It offers a vibrate mode for noisy environments, as well as beeps in quieter places. You can also just press the low sensitivity button so it can ignore coins while it still detects larger concealed weapons.
This measures 13.6 by 2.7 by 1 inch and weighs 9.1 ounces. It’s easy enough to carry, and it comes with a wrist strap.
If you are thinking about going with multiple-choice, here is our specialized metal detector review for you.
It’s important that you read the product description offered by the metal detector manufacturer. But it’s equally crucial that you read more objective reviews to help you form a more accurate idea of just how good these metal detectors are.
Customer reviews are especially important, as they can offer real-life opinions about the durability of the products. They can tell you just how helpful customer support really is. Take note of how often these reviews contain complaints about breakdowns, or about how easy (or difficult) these things are to use. Their reviews written by actual costumers can also give a clue as to how well these things actually work, and how long these things actually last.
When you read the product descriptions and customer reviews, pay particular attention to the following factors:
The price is one factor that no responsible consumer can ignore. It’s a reality you have to consider. It’s true that if all features are the same, then it makes sense that you ought to get the cheaper of the two.
At the same time, it’s also true that high quality will cost you. It’s a truism in consumer economics that you usually get what you pay for. Often, a low-priced item is also of low quality.
Sometimes, a more expensive metal detector may prove to be a better bargain in the end, if it lasts much longer than a cheaper model. Just make sure that the improved features and durability you get is worth the additional cost. If a model is only 5% better than another metal detector, it may not make sense to get this “better” model if it costs twice as much.
Here are some typical price ranges for metal detectors, and the features you can expect for your money:
Of course, the price isn’t the only factor that’s important. Here are the other key considerations you ought to keep in mind.
The size and weight of the metal detector matters, because you have to carry it with you and you have to hold it in your hand. It’s best if you can carry it easily enough in your pocket, and that it’s not so bulky and heavy that you find it hard to use for extended periods of time.
There are several types of handheld detectors, depending on which situations you need to use it for.
1. Treasure hunting:
First of all, this requires a hardier construction with ample weatherproofing. Generally, you’ll want it to be waterproof, especially if you’re using it on the beach. You may want a wide range of metals detected so that you can find precious metals (gold and silver), wristwatches, rings (and other jewelry), and coins.
You can also find my details article of Metal Detecting at the Beach Here.
2. Construction and crafts:
You need this to find nails, screws, and other objects on the walls and wood pieces you’re working on. It can be very dangerous if you run a piece of wood through your electric saw if the wood has embedded nails.
If you own a commercial establishment with strangers coming in all the time, a handheld metal detector can help you find concealed weapons. You may want to use a model that mostly detects guns and knives, instead of car keys and coins.
If the sensitivity is too low, you may not be able to detect the metal objects with your handheld wand. But if the sensitivity is too high, then you may be detecting more junk than the actual metal objects you’re looking for.
The problem is that getting the sensitivity level just right isn’t always easy, especially for different situations. It’s best if you can adjust the sensitivity, which is why many of the best models offer several sensitivity settings to choose from. Some may even offer up to 50 different sensitivity levels.
You may also want a metal detector that can differentiate between particular metals. If you’re looking for guns or nails in the wood, you may want a metal detector that won’t beep if it comes across gold objects.
The length of the warranty period tends to reflect the manufacturer’s confidence in the durability of their product. A longer warranty generally means that the model is expected to work without fail during that time.
Of course, it’s equally important that the brand has the customer support that actually honors the warranty. We’ve all read about horror stories regarding brands that have too many stringent rules about the products they will replace or refund. Some require costumers to go through too many absurd hoops before they replace the items. There are even some brands that don’t have a customer service department—your calls for replacement may go unanswered.
However, there are excellent customer service departments that fully realize the value of keeping faith with their customers. These are the brands that immediately replace or refund their items if the customer is unsatisfied. Some brands even send a replacement to customers when they complain in their reviews, without the need for an actual call to customer service.
Here are some of the features you need to look for when making your choice for your handheld metal detector:
Exactly how do you know the metal detector has found something of note? Often, you’ll hear a beep to indicate the presence of a metallic object. Other models also offer a vibration alert, which works if you’re hard of hearing or you’re working in a noisy environment. This is easy enough to understand in these days of smartphones.
2. Flashlight Feature
If you’re working in low-light conditions, finding what you’re looking for can be especially difficult. Even moving your way around can be a problem. A flashlight can help, but that’s an extra piece of equipment you have to hold. So, it’s better if, like smartphones, your metal detector can also emit some light to help you find metallic objects.
Nowadays, you may want to go with LED lights. You should check the light’s brightness as well as how long they’re supposed to last.
If you’re looking for buried metal objects, you need a tool to get at these things once your metal detector finds them. Even in the sand, this can be problematic with just your hands, so you need a trowel or a shovel. Large metal detectors often come with these accessories, but with handheld models, these tools may not be easy to carry along with the handheld metal detector. Using both tools at the same time can be challenging.
But some of the better handheld metal detectors also come with a built-in scraper. This works great with the built-in light, as you can see where you’re digging. This is better than trying to use the metal detector, the flashlight, and the shovel all at the same time.
If you’re going to use this under the water, then waterproofing is certainly a requirement. It’s a good feature to have even if you’re just working outdoors.
You just need to check which parts are actually waterproof. In some models, only the tip of the probe is waterproof while the handle isn’t. Some are waterproof only against the rain, or perhaps down to a certain depth of water. It’s hard to find a handheld metal detector you can use while scuba diving.
5. Carry Clip
How do you carry the metal detector on your person? In many cases, the handheld metal detector is just like a hammer or a screwdriver. You only have to hold it in your hands when you actually need it. At times when you don’t need it (but might need it at some point), you need a carry clip to conveniently carry it on your person.
6. Battery-Saving Features
Metal detectors aren’t usually wired. They’re typically powered by batteries, and you need to know how long these batteries last before you need to replace or recharge them. It’s best if you use a metal detector that can conserve electrical energy so your batteries won’t have to be replaced too often.
It’s great if you have an indicator on your metal detector that tells you how much battery power is left. Some models feature an automatic shutoff function if you don’t use your metal detector for a certain length of time.
Normally you need just one 9V battery. Some models come with the battery included, but it’s not a big deal if it isn’t. You can buy a battery on your own that can last a long while.
This is true, in general. However, normally it’s only for a tear or two. In addition, the coverage is mainly about manufacturing defects, or perhaps any damage suffered during the delivery. The damage usually covered if you get it wet (and it’s not fully waterproof) or if you drop it on a hard floor.
Only if the model label or manual specifically states that the model you have can be used for saltwater submersion. Normally, waterproofing is only for freshwater or for the rain.
That depends on you, actually. For the most part, the metal detector size should fit your hands, and it shouldn’t be too heavy. Also, you should be able to understand and use the features. Some advanced features in the more expensive models may be too sophisticated for children.
It’s best that you get a small and lightweight model. Get one with just the basic features so the kids won’t be too overwhelmed by complicated adjustments. Get a more affordable model too, since children can be very destructive.
Yes, this is possible. You can even check YouTube for videos in which scuba divers have found smartphones under the water. However, there’s a risk that the magnet in the metal detector can warp your smartphone, especially the screen. That’s not even mentioning the damage caused by being submerged underwater.
This is always possible. In fact, it’s this very possibility that makes treasure-hunting on the beach with a metal detector so much fun. With a metal detector, you may find rare coins, lost jewelry (like rings and earrings), and Rolexes.
But it’s a different matter when you’re planning to make a living with your metal detector. The quality of your metal detector won’t be as important as the quality of your research. You have to do enough research to find areas where you can search for a valuable treasure worth your time, effort, and your investment in expensive metal detectors.
You can use a handheld metal detector for security, for checking wood pieces for nails, for treasure-hunting, or for just something to keep your kids busy and entertained. But the best ones are designed with a specific purpose, so it’s worth your while to buy one according to your specific needs. Buy the best handheld metal detectors that you can use for your particular purposes, and you’ll be a lot happier.
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