Budget Gold Detectors
There are plenty of great “regular” metal detectors on the market for around $250-$300, but if you really want to find gold you will need to shell out a minimum of $500.
While cheaper detectors are fine when hunting for coins or relics, the sensitive electronics needed to find fine gold boost the detector prices.
But with gold hovering around $1,475 per ounce (at this writing), it won’t take much of the shiny yellow stuff until the detector pays for itself.
Here are 2 budget gold detectors that will get the job done…
Best All-Purpose Budget Gold Detector
If you are looking for a budget metal detector that is great at finding gold and will also work for all your other detector needs the Minelab X-Terra 705 is just what you need.
This field-tested detector has a dizzying array of functions which makes it perfect for coin shooting, relic hunting and searching for gold nuggets.
The X-Terra’s discrimination and tone options are as good as – if not better than some detectors that are far more expensive.
It really is a great all-in-one machine!
Another reason to choose the X-Terra 705 is that it has over ten accessory coils available, from Minelab, Coiltek, and various other 3rd party manufacturers.
Coils are available not only at 18.75 kHz but also at 3 kHz and 7.55 kHz. You can literally change the frequency of the detector by changing the coil!
Weight including four AA batteries 2.9 lbs.
Best Budget Gold Detector For Beginners
The Fisher Gold Bug is my top pick if you’re looking for a budget detector designed specifically for gold hunting. It’s a great detector and will definitely find gold…
If you can afford to spend an extra $100 you should just skip down to the Gold Bug Pro. Most serious detectorists have moved up to the pro version because of the addition of manual ground balance.
If you really are looking for the absolute cheapest gold detector on the market (that will actually find gold), then read on…
As its name implies, the Gold Bug was created to find small gold nuggets in highly mineralized soil, which makes it a great choice for prospecting, but the target ID makes it good for more than just nugget hunting.
It also works reasonably well if you want to go hunting for relics, jewelry or coins.
To keep things simple the Fisher engineers created 2 two very different search modes for the Gold Bug; discriminate and all-metal.
The all-metal mode is used to hunt for relics, coins, or jewelry. The discriminate mode is designed specifically for gold hunting.
The “gold mode” uses continuous ground balance with a ground mineralization readout and works particularly well in the black sand areas that gold is often found in without sending the readings haywire.
There are several things that make the Gold Bug the perfect beginner-friendly gold detector:
You can usually pick up the stock Gold Bug for just under $500. There are cheaper detectors on the market but I would not recommend using them as a “Gold Detector” (if you actually want to find some gold)
Great ergonomics make the Gold Bug a pleasure to use. I’ve spent many hours with this machine and after a while, it feels like an extension of your arm. And at 2.5 pounds (including the 9-volt battery) the Gold Bug is one of the lightest detectors in its class, so your arm won’t get tired before making that big find.
3. Visual Display
The Gold Bug has one of the biggest and brightest LCD screens of any detector I have ever used. With its in-your-face target alerts and depth readouts, you won’t miss any treasure on this screen.
It features depth readouts, alerts for large targets, and a running signal strength indicator that tells you how likely you are to find gold. Kids love this detector as it is a bit like playing a video game.
4. No Motion Pinpoint
One of my favorite features of the Gold Bug is the no-motion pinpoint. With most detectors, you need to wave the coil back and forward over the target to get a signal. But with No Motion Pinpoint, you simply hold it over the area to pinpoint the target and start digging.
Gold Bug vs. Minelab X-Terra 705 – Click For More Information
So, which budget gold detector should you buy, the Fisher or the X-Terra?
In my opinion, if you will be hunting mostly for relics, jewelry and coins, and only occasionally looking for gold, then go with the X-Terra, it has more features that, when mastered, will increase your chances at finding multiple types of treasure.
If you will be hunting mostly for gold, and you don’t want to be distracted by extraneous features, then buy the Gold Bug.
The Gold Bug doesn’t have nearly as many features as the X-Terra 705 but for a detectorist who wants to keep things simple this could actually be an advantage.
They are both great budget detectors and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed whichever one you pick.
OK, so those are my picks for budget detectors, now let’s get into the mid-level detectors where the competition really heats up!
Mid-Range Gold Detectors
If you want to find small gold flakes in highly mineralized soil you will probably need to step up to a mid-range detector.
The 3 detectors below are a great choice if you can’t afford a high-end detector. They will find gold in all but the most difficult of circumstances.
Best Mid Level Detector For Beginners
Probably the most straightforward and user-friendly mid-range detectors, even a beginner should be able to read the manual, tinker with the settings, and be finding gold nuggets in no time.
The only visible difference between the Gold Bug and the Gold Bug Pro is an option to manually adjust the ground balance.
But this is huge!
Ground balancing is essential for effective gold prospecting, it gives operators the control they need to filter out false signals and to reach the best depths possible.
The Gold Bug Pro is a ground balancing champ…
The machine has a real-time ground balancing system that is fully computerized. It self-calibrates providing constant ground condition readouts to indicate which minerals are present in the soil.
In other words, the Gold Bug Pro automatically eliminates all the distractions to help you locate those elusive gold nuggets, even if you are a novice detectorist.
This is one of the best gold detectors that any newbie who wishes to strike gold could get their hands on!
The Gold Bug Pro excels in differentiating between large iron objects and smaller pieces like nails so you can get a good idea of what lies beneath the soil without wasting your energy digging up garbage.
It handles highly mineralized ground conditions exceptionally well and has astoundingly accurate target discrimination. Avoiding iron and other false positives has never been easier.
It works great in shallow hunting grounds but like the other VLF detectors on the market, great depths are not the Gold Bug Pro’s strength. If you want to find the deep gold you will need to step up to one of the High-End Detectors on our list.
If you don’t mind spending an extra $100 the Fisher Gold Bug Pro is a nice upgrade to the less expensive Fisher Gold Bug.
For a dedicated gold prospecting metal detector, I personally think it is worth the extra money to get the Gold Bug Pro for the manual ground balance feature.
The Fisher Gold Bug Pro is a quick, simple, and highly effective VLF gold metal detector. It is also an ultra-lightweight metal detector weighing only 2.5 pounds so you won’t get arm ache and give up inches away from the jackpot.
It measures 10.2 x 6.2 x 28.5 inches and needs 1 9V battery. Operating at 19kHz it has incredible sensitivity to even the smallest gold nuggets.
Variable Breakpoint Tone Discrimination
The Gold Bug Pro features the industry’s first variable breakpoint tone discrimination system. Also know as ‘V-Break’ this feature allows you to control the Gold Bug Pro’s computerized multi-tone audio with accurate precision.
It takes some getting used to, but because it helps distinguish low audio tone iron and high audio tone gold it’s worth learning the language.
The visual ID system also helps to pinpoint target location and cuts out frustrating ‘digging around only to find iron’ time. Save your energy for the gold.
Gold Bug Pro has fast re-tune which can help you pinpoint gold over other metals. And the standard 5″ DD round closed biaxial coils which are waterproof – a feature not all gold detectors at this price point include.
These coils are perfect for river prospecting.
If planning to get this detector for coin shooting or relic hunting, it is recommended to get the optional 11’’ DD waterproof search coil attachment too. Its sensitivity is top-notch and its shape is convenient for really getting into hard to reach nooks behind bushes and foliage.
Most Popular Gold Detector
It shouldn’t surprise you to see a Fisher product in a list of the best metal detectors. After all, Fisher has been producing metal detection devices since 1931, and the quality (and reputation) of their products speaks for itself.
So what is the Gold Bug 2 like? How is it different from other detectors on the market today? The answer can be summed up in four words: quick location, minimal effort.
Fisher Gold Bug 2 is both hip and chest-mountable and very light, weighing roughly 3 pounds. But, the small weight is just the tip of the iceberg.
Gold Bug 2 offers extreme sensitivity. With 71kHz operation, it can find very small gold nuggets in very mineral-rich soil. On top of that, you can even set it up to ignore other bits of metal and dust and have it focus only on gold particles.
Depending on the soil, you can choose one of three mineralization modes: low, medium, or high. And if that isn’t enough for you in terms of power, you also get an audio boost for small, deep targets.
The Gold Bug 2 is extremely popular with novice gold hunters because of how light it is and how easy it is to use. But surprisingly, it retains that same popularity among veteran metal detector users.
It might also surprise you to learn that this product has been in production and retail since 1995. That’s almost two and a half decades of metal detection — and the people at Fisher have barely changed anything about it! If there was ever a reason to buy the Fisher Gold Bug 2, that would be it.
Best Waterproof Gold Detector
If you need a waterproof gold detector the Garrett AT Gold should be at the top of your list. This detector was designed to uncover tiny gold nuggets in all terrains and is waterproof to a maximum depth of 10 feet in freshwater lakes and streams.
Just don’t try to take the AT Gold in the ocean (there are other detectors for saltwater).
If you often find yourself detecting in heavy rain the unit is a lifesaver. Even the speaker is waterproof.
Note that the unit itself may be submerged but if you want to put your head underwater you will need optional submersible headphones.
The AT Gold is a full-featured detector and has everything you would expect from a dry land detector – LCD display, full control set and functions, speaker, interchangeable coils, and lightweight.
There are optional coils, a real rarity in underwater detectors. Garrett has above water and underwater headphones for the unit, but an optional adapter will let you use your old favorites.
The AT Gold is a great waterproof detector….
If you don’t need a waterproof detector there are better choices for the money. Here’s why:
Unfortunately, the waterproof design also means you need special silicone lubricated o-ring connectors for the coils and headphones. These connectors are delicate and collect dirt. They require quite a bit of extra care.
The coil connection, in particular, is in a maddening location making it almost impossible to connect coils with bare fingers alone.
Also, a special adapter must be purchased if you want to use your favorite headphones. Another reason I don’t personally use the Garrett AT Gold on dry land is the weight.
At 3.03 lbs it is not the heaviest detector out there but compared to the Gold Bug Pro’s 2.5 lbs, it can get a bit tiring after a long day of detecting.
The AT Gold is an entry-level gold detector, but it isn’t as straightforward to use as the Gold Bug Pro. Instead, Garrett has jammed in a ton of extra features and adjustments.
A good example is the high-resolution iron discrimination. The AT Pro provides over 40 iron resolution points, which is great for separating trash from real targets. It can take some time to learn how to use this feature effectively, so be prepared to spend some time learning how to use it.
The “Pro” audio mode is also very effective for getting more information without constantly looking at your screen, once you learn to decipher these R2-D2 like blurps and bleeps it will greatly increase your productivity (and the amount of gold you find!)
Not for Beginners!!!!!
Finds Deepest/Smallest Gold for Mid-Range Detector
Unlike Fisher Gold Bug 2, the Goldmaster is a newcomer on the market. It’s a 48kHz induction balance metal detector with all the ‘trimmings.’
Whites Electronics, much like Fisher, is a well-known manufacturer of metal detectors. They’ve been in this business since the fifties, and professional gold hunters often recommend their products. So, naturally, the Goldmaster has some big shoes to fill.
When you pick up this detector, you will spot a large display in a firm, plastic casing. This display will show you the so-called Target Graph; with it, you can pick different Ferrous, Gold or High Conductor Ranges.
Goldmaster has ten sensitivity levels, as well as adjustable audio with two Boost levels. You can also adjust the level of metal discrimination in order to find your gold nuggets easily in mineral-rich environments or deep soil.
All you have to do is select the Iron Cancel setting and tap on it. That way, the Goldmaster will ignore mineral changes, hot rocks, and soil trash.
You can use this setting in both audio modes of the detector. The setting will decrease some of the sensitivity, but it’s necessary if you plan on looking for gold in places where there are countless other metals and non-metals alike.
The detector cannot use coils from previous products, but you do have a choice of attaching two different coils. The Goldmaster 24k comes standard with a 6″ x 10″ DD search coil.
There is also an optional 6″ round concentric coil which many prospectors are reporting to be almost magical at finding deep, micro flakes of gold.
Goldmaster 24k Replaces Whites GMT
Best Mid-range Detector For Beginners
Veteran users of metal detectors mourned in 2015 when Jack Gifford, the founder of Tesoro Electronics, passed away. It was this man who, in 1980, founded the company that would go on to make some of the best metal detectors in the trade.
A few of these detectors were so good that Tesoro kept them in production, just like Fisher did with the Gold Bug 2. One such product is the Lobo SuperTRAQ, which hasn’t changed a bit since 1997 when it first got on the market.
SuperTRAQ is a lightweight detector that’s very easy on the arm. Both regular and newbie users agree that weight is one of SuperTRAQ’s best features.
The SuperTRAQ is also one of the few nugget detectors still produced that allow you to mount the control box on either your hip or your chest. It also has a great selection of coils available.
This is one of the easiest detectors to use and a great choice for novice nugget hunters.
It has something called ‘automatic ground tracking.’ The emphasis here is on that first word: automatic. Your device will track all ground conditions when you switch it to All Metals mode.
As one user put it — you turn it on, you set it, and then forget it.
Of course, if you’re looking for a detector that only finds bits of gold, you’re in luck. SuperTRAQ has a strong metal discrimination setting and extreme sensitivity. In addition, it has amazing audio feedback and provides a fast target response when detecting.
Finally, with SuperTRAQ, you get three modes for ground tracking. These are Normal, Alkali, and Black Sand. You can also adjust the threshold sensitivity, and if needed, give it a boost.
Despite being several decades older than most products on the market today, SuperTRAQ is still a great choice for gold detection in mineral-rich soil.
Oldies But Goodies
High-End Gold Detectors
Best Gold Finding Metal Detector in the Universe!
In 1985, the Goldseekers 15000 metal detector came out, manufactured by the then-newcomer Minelab. Right now, they are one of the world’s leading brands in this industry. Some of the best metal detectors come from Minelab, so it’s no wonder that no less than two will make it on this list.
A little under four years ago, Minelab unveiled the GPZ 7000. To this day, users claim it to be the best Minelab metal detector on the market.
Just one look at this beast can tell you that you’re not dealing with just any detector out there. The large circular coil, the strong, durable body, the amazing display with easy-to-use controls—it’s all there. But looks aren’t everything, so how does GPZ 7000 perform?
First, there’s the sensitivity and depth. GPZ 7000 users reported finding gold as deep as four feet in the ground. More importantly, the detector has such amazing sensitivity that it can find large nuggets of gold even in places that might have seemed depleted to other gold seekers.
Next, there’s the practicality of the device. For example, it has a waterproof coil at a depth of 1m or 3 feet. You can find small shavings of gold in rivers and streams without worrying about your detector malfunctioning.
Another good example is the wireless audio option. Namely, the GPZ 7000 has a built-in speaker that lets you know what you have found. However, if you prefer headphones, you can either use the detector’s own set or plug in any other headphones that you like.
Finally, there’s the noise. Or rather, there is no noise. GPZ 7000 is one of those metal detectors that you don’t hear at all while it works — just pleasant hums and lots of uncovered gold.
Beware Counterfeit GPZ 7000s
2nd Best Gold Detector in the Universe
If you clicked on the “Check Price” button above for the GPZ 7000 and almost went into cardiac arrest… just take a deep breath, relax and let me introduce you to the 2nd best gold detector on my list – available at about half the price.
The amazing GPX 5000.
Prospectors have been using this model since 2006 to find nuggets in the harshest locations around the world. From Australian to Zimbabwe the GPX 5000 has helped pull millions (maybe billions) of dollars in gold from Mother Earth’s greedy clutches.
Good metal detectors keep their designs for years, even decades. And GPX 5000 is one such detector, as it has a lot to offer to any prospective gold seeker.
This detector has a grand total of eight timings. Five of those are typical of Minelab detectors, but GPX 5000 has three new ones.
The first is Fine Gold Timing, which seeks out nuggets in any type of soil.
Next is Salt/Gold timing — the name says it all. You’ll find golden bits in salty, sandy areas like beaches.
Finally, there’s the Coin/Relic timing. This setting works for deep finds in any benign ground conditions.
In addition to eight timings, the GPX 5000 has six search modes. They are as follows:
Not only can you pick any of these modes, but you can also rename a few of them and even change the settings within a mode to your liking.
As a gold detector, the GPX 5000 performs well thanks to its Iron Reject option. With it, you can seek out gold and gold alone, ignoring other types of metal in the ground.
Meanwhile, the detector’s performance is made better thanks to the Tune (Noise Cancel) option. You won’t have to worry about electrical interference buzzing away as you scan for gold with this option on.
And since we’re on the subject of noise, the GPX 5000 comes with lots of audio adjustments. You can set the volume and pitch of the signals to your liking.
Water Hunters Beware
GPZ 700 vs GPX 5000 – Click For More Information
So, is this is like buying a high-end mountain bike where you pay 500% more to shave 2 percent of the bike’s weight or an Olympic sprint where the difference between 1st and 2nd place is .0005 of a second.
I’m not gonna lie to you, the GPZ 7000 will most assuredly find smaller, deeper gold than the GPX 5000. So, it really depends on your particular situation if it is worth spending the additional $4,000.
Lightest Gold Detector for Serious Prospectors
If the GPX 500o is still priced outside your comfort zone then you may want to take a look at the new kid on the block – the XP Deus.
This is one of the most talked-about detectors in forums and Facebook groups right now and for good reason… The XP Deus is a serious high-end gold finding machine with a (relatively) low price point.
It’s refreshing to see a French manufacturer on this list. High-quality products can come from anywhere, but XP isn’t just ‘anywhere.’ They’ve been on the market since 1998, and in that time, they’ve made plenty of amazing products.
One of them made it to this list of best metal detectors, and it’s the mighty XP Deus, the first fully wireless metal detector on the market.
The ‘wireless’ bit is very cool. Deus’ coil, audio headphones, and remote control are all completely wireless and rechargeable. In fact, the headphones can actually control the detector itself.
All you have to do is program them with the remote, and you’re good to go. Imagine that—detecting gold and changing the settings just by tapping on the headphones. It’s portability taken to a whole new level.
The coil itself is connected to the remote and the headphones by a digital radio link. Most metal detectors need a wire connecting the control unit to the coil so that it can receive search data.
However, this coil contains an extremely small, powerful digital circuit. It receives the signal from the remote or the headphones quickly and efficiently.
You also won’t have to worry about damaging the mechanism if you’re looking for gold in rivulets and streams. Both the coil and the body of the detector are waterproof, and you even get a coil cover with your purchase.
All three wireless bits have durable lithium-ion batteries with a long life. In addition, they are easy to charge since they use a USB connection. The average charge time is roughly two hours.
The XP Deus also happens to be one of the easiest detectors to set up. It has a telescoping feature that will get you out into the field in no time.
This detector is a technological wonder – but one of the most amazing features has nothing to do with the design – it is the warranty –
5 full years!
That’s more than double the warranty of most the other detectors on the list.
But, my favorite thing about this space-aged detector is the weight. Somehow XP managed to create a strong and reliable metal detector that weighs in at only 2 pounds (.9kg)!
If you will be hiking to remote locations with your detector then you should seriously consider buying the XP Deus.
How We Made Our Selection
To make sure that you get the best possible value for money our first selection criteria was to avoid any unknown brand names.
There’s probably nothing wrong with them but we much prefer to feature products from companies we know and trust. So, that’s why our reviews are made up of products from Garrett, Fisher, White’s, Minelab, etc… They all have years of happy customers behind them.
There are lots of companies selling “white label” metal detectors through Amazon and other stores, but we simply don’t know enough about them to recommend them to our visitors.
We also wanted to present you with a range of pricing options, so that nobody who wants to get involved in the fun hobby of treasure hunting feels like they’re priced out of the market.
A lower price limit of $500 on the products we reviewed was also mandatory, simply because we’ve found through experience that spending less than that can lead to questionable product quality.
Another focus was on reviewing models that were as multipurpose as possible, so most of the detectors in this roundup are either partially or fully waterproof. This might not seem like a big deal, but unless you only ever want to scan in fields or on dry beaches, then waterproofing is a feature you need to consider.
Basically, we wanted to strike a balance of price and features in each product we reviewed.
Gold Metal Detector Buying Guide Which Metal Detectors Do I Pick?
We put a lot of work into our reviews, but we understand they don’t always answer your most pressing questions about investing in a metal detector.
So, we decided to also put together a ‘Buyer’s Guide’ for you to help you avoid any cases of buyer’s remorse.
But please do let us know if you have any other questions you need us to provide answers to.
How often will you use it?
We understand that this is a difficult question for you to answer, but it’s an important one because it can save you a lot of money.
The reality is that if you’re just starting out in the realm of coin, relic and buried treasure hunting, then you probably don’t need to spend $7,000 on a metal detector.
The issue though is that this is a really addictive hobby, so you also don’t want to buy an entry-level model and then realize that you needed more power and features than you have.
So, if you’re 100% certain that you’ll only use your detector every other weekend, then a basic model will probably suit you.
If, however, you think you’ll use it more often than that then it makes more sense to invest in something more mid-range.
Should you buy second hand?
There’s no issue with you buying a second-user metal detector, as long as you know what to look for. If you’re inexperienced in the world of buying used detectors then you stand a very good chance of getting ripped off.
The secondhand market is flooded with cheap imitations of brand name models, with deals that sound almost too good to be true.
Because they are too good to be true.
Basically, you’re better off with a brand new detector that costs $500 than hoping you’ll get a good deal on a secondhand model. Plus, you also get a warranty with a new metal detector – something you won’t ever get with a used model.
Where will you use it?
Not every detector is suited to every environment, so you need to buy accordingly. If you’ve read through our reviews you’ll notice that certain models are waterproof, which makes them ideal for use at the beach or in a stream.
Other models aren’t even remotely waterproof, and exposure to moisture can ruin them. So, what we’re saying here is that if you live near a beach then please do invest in a detector designed for that type of landscape.
The same advice applies to anyone living in a more urban area, in that you’ll need a detector that is capable of filtering out underground power lines, and also “metal trash” like bottle caps and other items.
Obviously your physical location might change from time to time, but you still need to make your purchasing decision with that in mind.
Will it be used by adults or kids?
The metal detectors we listed above shouldn’t be treated as toys, except in the hands of a very capable and mature teenager. There are metal detectors made specifically for kids, but besides that any of the models reviewed above should only be used by adults.
Double-D or Concentric Coils?
Which of these is better?
Most people will tell you to get a metal detector with a Double-D coil, no matter what.
The problem with that advice is that although Double-D are generally better across the board in terms of detection, they’re also guilty of generating more false targets in the shape of bottle caps and other trash.
The reason a concentric/monoloop coil doesn’t have this problem is that it has a far narrower detection “beam” than a Double-D coil has.
What you will find is that most of the more expensive or advanced metal detectors feature DD coils, so it’s usually not a choice you’ll have to worry about making.
How important is an armrest?
If your metal detector weighs 4 lbs, then you can probably manage it for a few hours without causing yourself any injury. If, on the other hand, you’re using something like the White’s V3i, you absolutely need a comfortable and supporting armrest.
So, there you have it – 5 of the best gold metal detectors on the market today, and you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a lot of power and features from a trusted brand name.
Which metal detector would you choose as a gift for yourself?