So, you're intrigued with the idea of finding old coins, or digging up artifacts hundreds of years old, or striking gold by finding jewelry on the beach or nuggets in the mountains. You've been watching Youtube videos and seeing news reports of people finding treasure. Maybe you think metal detecting will be a good way to get you off the couch and into the fresh air for some exercise (it is!)
In addition to the dozens of different detectors, ranging from under $100 to over $6,000, it seems that almost every department store and sporting goods place sells metal detectors. This doesn't count the pages and pages of links on the Internet for metal detectors for sale. We've covered suggested metal detectors from entry level to “price is no object” for various types of treasure hunting in this series of guides.
But now your question is, “Where do I go to buy a metal detector?”
What do I need?
First off, determine your needs. Do you want to just hit the local parks and baseball fields at first, to see what you can find, and decide if you want to get serious about metal detecting? There's nothing at all wrong with spending $100 to see if you're going to like metal detecting, and moving up to a better machine once you have some experience.
Perhaps you have some old property you can relic or coin hunt on. Maybe you want to mess around on the beach on weekends and see if you can get lucky and find a gold ring. Check our guides on the different types of metal detecting for tips and recommended machines. Keep in mind though, that just because someone likes a particular model, doesn't mean that you will.
Do Your Research
The first thing to do is to read reviews. A good place to start is metaldetectorreviews.net. Other good places are forums, such as metaldetectingforum.com. Generally, if a detector has a brand name you don't recognize, steer clear until you can do some research. There are Chinese knock-offs of popular metal detectors that use similar names, in an effort to fool buyers. Find a local metal detecting club, and attend a meeting or two as a guest. Just remember, most people believe that whatever metal detector they own is the best, so the advice you get may not be unbiased.
Take a Test Drive
Try before you buy! If you have a friend who is into metal detecting, ask if you can go along on their next hunting trip and try out a detector. Many metal detecting clubs will hold events to teach people about metal detecting. Check their event calendar, or ask a club officer. Finally, some local metal detector stores will have “demo” models that you can take out back and try.
You can't really determine how you will like the weight and balance of a detector from an online ad, so it's nice to be able to hold it in your hands before handing over your money. This is another reason to support your local metal detector store.
Buying A Used Metal Detector
If you have never tried metal detecting and aren't sure what type of machine to get, you may want to look for a popular used detector to save money. Many people run off and buy a metal detector before doing their homework, only to get discouraged that they didn't dig up a treasure on their first try and give up. (There isn't a machine made that is going to prevent you digging at least some junk, and you can't find treasure if there is none there to be found.)
Other times, elderly people buy a metal detector, and find that their bodies can't handle the physical activity. This makes for a fairly steady supply of “low mileage” metal detectors. On the other hand, there will be no warranty if the detector doesn't work, and the seller usually will not be able to give advice on using it.
Buying a metal detector on eBay at least gives you Seller Protection, and you could get your money back if you were sold a defective unit. Other places to look are Craigslist, local pawn shops, garage sales, or your local metal detector store. Also check for swap meets hosted by a local metal detecting club. If you're a member of a local club, you have the opportunity of buying a machine from someone you know, and will have seen or heard how well they did with it.
Buying a New Metal Detector
Buying a new metal detector gets you a manufacturer's warranty, and an unused machine. Besides, who doesn't like that new electronics smell? When buying new, you have two options: Buying online, or from a local store.
Online vs Local Stores
There are many metal detector stores that also sell online, and some big distributors that mostly sell online. When deciding where to buy your metal detector, don't let price be your only guide. You should balance several factors before making a decision:
After-sale support: Is your local store an authorized repair center, or are they willing to talk with you when you have questions after the sale? If your machine had a simple problem, it would be a shame to pay shipping to and from the manufacturer to fix a loose screw.
Supporting local businesses: Many “brick and mortar” stores cooperate with local treasure hunting clubs by supplying raffle prizes, and publicity. Having a local metal detecting store is also nice when you need to replace a digger or coil cover for next weekend's hunt, and you can drop by and get what you need immediately.
For those who don't have a local metal detector store, there are many online distributors to choose from. Depending on your location, you may save more by buying online and not paying sales tax than you will pay in shipping for your new machine. Look for a company who is an authorized dealer for the detector you are interested in. Ask around to get recommendations from other detectorists. Look for a distributor that gets good reviews for customer service. You may want to buy from a retailer who sponsors your local detecting club's activities, or sponsors a favorite metal detecting forum. Some online metal detector distributors might even offer special discounts to members of certain metal detecting forums. Both local and online stores may have “over the phone” specials that don't appear on their websites. It never hurts to ask!
Whichever route you take, be sure to read your manual, and check our Metal Detecting Guides to hit the ground running. Good luck, and happy hunting!
Popular Online Metal Detector Retailers
Photo Credit By:
Garret Metal Detectors