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Thread: What do I actually gain by going from a $100 to a $500 metal detector?

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  1. #1

    May 2013
    9 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    What do I actually gain by going from a $100 to a $500 metal detector?

    Discounting features like bells, whistles, gee-gaws, doo-dads and other various different distractions, what kind of actual measurable performance gains, such as increased depth or sensitivity, would I get by going from a $100 metal detector to a $200 metal detector, or, for that matter, a $300 metal detector to a $400 one, or even a $500 one, irregardless of buying a new or used example?
    Thank you

  2. #2

    Feb 2018
    Bounty Hunter
    14 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

  3. #3
    Charter Member

    May 2012
    16863 times
    Have you run your detector against a higher grade one with an experienced user?
    Measurable performance is a good measure vs features.

    I see it as a more clear language ,that improves your ability to understand what is being detected. One unit might be a simple few words ,and another have many words.
    Coil options matter....They can create quite a difference ,depending on their use.
    As does particulars of a site. How ground balance is achieved , how discrimination functions ,ect.

    If nothing is good without a good demonstration , then you test driving different detectors matters.
    It is not as much what some one else can do with a given model ( though the machines ability does matter) but what you can do with it.

    In enough cases ,going from a hundred dollar detector to a detector costing multiple times more ,makes a big difference once it is learned.
    My upgrades demonstrated that for me a couple times , and I'm confident another upgrade would too.
    Last edited by releventchair; Mar 08, 2018 at 05:22 PM.
    RustyGold likes this.

  4. #4
    Todd In Lutz FL

    Apr 2014
    Lutz FL
    Equinox 800 2x, T-Rex scoop, ATPro and 3 Excals
    1119 times
    Metal Detecting
    Banner Finds (1)
    Honorable Mentions (2)
    I started with a garrett ace 250 then to a AT-PRO to a Garrett Sea hunter II to a CTX and now have an EQ800. My finds and skills have definitely improved through the whole progression.
    WaterScoop, dsdigger and HighVDI like this.

  5. #5

    Sep 2015
    2924 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    If you detect offend, then purchase the best detector that you can afford

  6. #6
    Charter Member
    Jul 2006
    Orlando, Fl
    Minelab_Equinox_ 800 Minelab_CTX-3030 Minelab_Excal_1000 Minelab_Sovereign_GT Minelab_Safari Minelab_ETrac Whites_Beach_Hunter_ID Fisher_1235_X
    28969 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by Punchy71 View Post
    Discounting features like bells, whistles, gee-gaws, doo-dads and other various different distractions, what kind of actual measurable performance gains, such as increased depth or sensitivity, would I get by going from a $100 metal detector to a $200 metal detector, or, for that matter, a $300 metal detector to a $400 one, or even a $500 one, irregardless of buying a new or used example?

    Thank you
    There is basically very little difference between 100 and 200, 200 to 300 or 400 to 500, there is major difference between 100 and 500 and 200 to 500.

    Also depends what your calling "bells and whistles, gee-gaws and doo-dads".

    Lower ends have only auto ground balance, upper end have auto and manual ground balance. Depth comes into play too. Lower ends do not get the depth upper ends do, lower end does not have the quality build upper ends do as well.

    Something many over look is resale value, upper end hold their value for years to come after initial depreciation.

    Easier if you tell us what detectors your thinking of and what kind of hunting your talking about.
    Last edited by Treasure_Hunter; Mar 08, 2018 at 05:58 PM.
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  7. #7
    Charter Member

    May 2010
    White Plains, New York
    Minelab GPZ 7000; Equinox 600 -- Tesoro Mojave -- Grave Digger Tools Nemesis shovel, Sidekick hand digger -- Bunk's Hermit Pick
    21611 times
    Metal Detecting
    Honorable Mentions (1)
    This is REALLY simple. What is the difference between Chevrolet's "Spark," and their "L3 Corvette?" There ARE stupid questions.

  8. #8
    Charter Member
    Coin Rescue Tech

    Jun 2014
    Northern O-H-I-O
    F75 LTD, 1280X Aquanaut, & an F2 (loaner)
    16852 times
    Metal Detecting
    Banner Finds (1)
    I hear you Tom, the Equinox seems to be living up to expectation.

    Here is how I see the difference from low to high end machines. My el cheapo machine had 3 modes, 3 tones, a pin point button, a sensitivity selector, discrimination control, and an 8" concentric coil. Very basic machine which helped me learn the basics and paid for itself in 2 months. I know I wanted more depth then the 8" coil provided, also wanted to get a DD coil and a machine with coil options. Other options on my list was a display that showed a target ID number, battery life, target depth, target ranges, and the ability to notch. I moved up to a Fisher F4, it had all the features I wanted and fell in love with the DD coil. The coil gave me more depth and better target separation. Once again I wanted more depth, the maximum on the market that used a similar target ID system and VLF technology. I was looking at both the T2 and the F75 boost models. Due to being thrifty I was ready to go with the less expensive T2, but ran into a great deal on a used F75LTD. This $1200 package (retail value) gave me a top of the line quality machine that provided more depth than the F4, faster processor, tighter target IDs at depth, a hand full of processes, the ability to ground grab or manually GB, and a big choice of tone configurations. I have played with a few machines over the past 4 years, but the F75LTD is my primary machine.

    Many people come into the hobby on the cheap (like me) and will do as I have done, upgrade twice in about 6 months. Inevitably you will soon want to invest into an aftermarket coil or two to enhance your machine and detecting experience. After a time you will become restless and get the urge to upgrade to a newer machine trying to eke out another 1/2 inch or so in depth and it can become a cycle if you let it.

    If anyone is beginning the hobby now they are getting in on the cheap IMHO. Many detectors that cost $400-600 now, used to sell for $700-1000 a couple of years ago. All the main manufacturers provide machines to fit every budget, just know you get less options on lower end machines. Watch videos of machines from the various manufacturers, listen to the tones, try to understand evaluate the target ID ranges offered, the options and it's reputation, then spend accordingly. When watching videos check a few different hunters/reviewers per model that interests you. Don't stay locked into one and only one opinion/reviewer. I use KellyCO site to review the specifications of up to 4 machines, side by side, it's a great tool.

    Hope this helped & good luck.
    Last edited by Loco-Digger; Mar 08, 2018 at 07:46 PM.
    Rescuing Coins 1 Beep at a time

  9. #9
    Been there...Dug that

    Mar 2015
    Northern Illinois
    MineLab E-Trac, MineLab Safari, MineLab Explorer XS, White's 5000 D, White's 6DB, White's 5000 D GEB Sunray X-1 for the ML's, Garrett PP for the White's and a Backhoe
    2371 times
    Metal Detecting
    Great. Now Minelab will be coming out with the Gee-Gaw. 😠
    Wrecka, Joe-Dirt and RustyGold like this.
    "There's GOLD in them thar hills! Well...at least a coupla nice Mercs."

  10. #10
    Charter Member
    Nov 2012
    XP Deus, Tesoro Cibola, Tesoro Tejon
    19162 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Banner Finds (7)
    I need a Gee Gaw. But seriously folks. There is an old saying you get what you pay for. It is not absolutely correct. The "basic" $99 machine will find metals. No doubt about it. You will not be able to "guess" the size, depth, or general possibility of what it is. It is a turn and go machine, no ground balancing. After about the $300 mark, you can get something that has a little more power and goes deeper, and can ground balance. My best find was with a machine that cost $329.00. In the $500 and thereabouts range, possibilities open and not only can you get a little deeper, but can get a better idea of what you have under the coil. When you get to a higher end detector, say $1k or so, then you have almost unlimited possibilities with types of ground balance, good but not absolute target identification, better depth and discrimination. Best overall bet is a mid range priced machine. If you're in the market I would seriously consider finding a dealer who handles multiple brands and go visit them to test drive a machine. I love test drives. They're always paid off for me.

  11. #11
    Feb 2015
    Whites Coin Master. Garrett AT Gold, Garrett Ace 350
    747 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I think the one question I haven't seen yet is, How often do you plan on metal detecting?? I'm a truck guy, so if all you need a truck for is to drive back and forth to work and haul a bag of mulch once a year, all you need is a F150 ($15000), you don't need a F350 4x4 King Rancher dually ($80000). If your farming and hauling a horse trailer everyday, then a F150 isn't going to do what you want it to do.

  12. #12

    Nov 2005
    100 times
    Taking that jump is your biggest, and the one newbies make after purchasing a beginners detector, then deciding they like the hobby, and want to trade up.
    Mid priced detectors are the heart of the hobby, and most manufacturers give high value for money, as its very competitive.
    You can get an AT Pro, Fisher F44, Quest 40, and others for $500 or so, and less.
    My take on the $100 detectors is, you can get a lot for your money, but they leave you wanting more. their depth averages about 6 inch.They usually have smaller coils, no additional coils are available, they are often poorly built, and lack some of the best features, such as waterproof, although King Detector has a very basic water detector for under $120.
    A $500 detector usually has high performance, significantly better than basic models, and really useful features. Things like water proofing, wireless headphones, sliding shaft and GPS. I like the sliding shaft as it often has a wider adjustment range, but I find the wrap around wire type to be frustrating and looks home made in someones garage. Being short, I also appreciate the extra adjustment. Thing is, you can find many of these features in lower priced detectors.
    The mid priced detectors might be the one range where people lose the most. Newbies with a low cost detector may very well like the hobby, and quickly pay for their detector. If they don't like it, they are only out the cost of one low cost detector.
    But, those who trade up, spend ad

  13. #13
    Charter Member

    Jul 2015
    Port Allegheny, Pennsylvania
    E-trac, Excalibur, XP Deus, & CTX 3030.
    19892 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Honorable Mentions (1)
    Well, I'm not going to knock one machine over the other but I will talk in terms of results.
    I paid $550. for an AT PRO and used it exclusively for 2 years. This machine paid for itself in Clad alone, in 18 months. The first year of use produced 25 Silver Coins. It again produced 25 Silver Coins in the second year. It detected numerous gold items, including 3 gold wedding bands from fresh water that were returned. Great machine. I then purchased an Etrac. I paid $900. for a machine that was used 3 times. My first year with the Etrac produced 81 silver coins. The Etrac screams at you when it goes over silver. It has the ability to unmask multiple targets in close proximity to each other. Numerous times I recovered a Mercury Dime that was in the same hole as an iron nail. In my second year of using the Etrac, the Silver Coin total at the end of the year was 158 Silver Coins.
    Although the Etrac is not known for detecting gold, I did find gold by chasing nickels. The one weakness that I found in the Etrac is that is doesn't do well with water. Today I have an Excalibur for that kind of hunting. I also have purchased a CTX 3030 and an XP DEUS.
    This hobby is what I love to do. Will one of my higher priced machine out perform a medium priced machine? Absolutely.
    Last edited by against the wind; Mar 08, 2018 at 09:05 PM.

  14. #14
    Diggin It All

    Nov 2005
    So. Cal.
    Equinox 600, Stock and 6" coils Whites M6 & MXT, Super 12 & 6x8 Detech coils Miccus Bluetooth headphones & Ratphones Lesche
    112 times
    Metal Detecting
    You get Better pinpointing, Greater depth, more coil options, Better target separation, Better Target acquistion, Better target ID (None on most inexpensive machines)

    I use a Whites M6 and MXT.

    I forget how I got this inexpensive (Name brand) machine, It was very difficult to use, The target ID was useless and criss crossing over the target to pinpoint was a huge hassle, not to mention that the depth reading was always wrong. I sent it in to the manufacturer and they said it worked fine....

    If I had that machine first and then a high end machine I probably would not have stayed in the hobby.

    It always comes back to, You get what you pay for....
    Loco-Digger, dsdigger and devldog like this.

  15. #15
    Jul 2016
    SW PA
    XP Deus, AT Pro
    114 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I think it really comes down to what you want to find, the site, and the conditions. I started with and Ace 250, then got an AT Pro, then got an XP Deus. I like all 3, still use all 3, and make great finds with all 3. If I'm hitting a tot-lot the Ace 250 does just fine. If I'm going out to an open field or yard then its usually the AT Pro or sometimes the Deus. If I'm hitting my favorite cellar hole or river bank then its the Deus. The less expensive machines have fewer setting and are what I call "ding-dong-dig" machines - it dings or dongs you dig...period. The higher end machines like the Deus can be fine tuned to what you want to find, the site, and the conditions. You also get a lot more info back from the machine that gives you an idea of what the target might be. Regardless of cost, almost any detector out there can help you make great finds once you have some experience and learn the machine.


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