Which detector for a beginner?

This is a question I get asked many times by my blog visitors… “Which detector should I buy and where should I buy it from”?

I too am a novice when it comes to metal detecting but I decided on the Minelab Etrac and I think its a wonderful machine. I did lots of research before buying and for me personally, I wanted a machine I could “grow” into rather than replace when I got more involved in the hobby. However, this came at a price – both in terms of complexity and in actual purchase price.  If you fortunate enough to have lots of cash, enjoy a bit of a learning curve and have big arms (it does get heavy after detecting for more than an hour) then I would happily recommend the Etrac. It has wonderful reviews, I have nothing to complain about mine (except that it could be lighter) and am sure you would be very happy with your new purchase.

Alas, to the newbie that wants to get involved in the metal detecting hobby, I would much rather recommend a completely different machine. Please note here that I have never used this machine personally but from all my hours of research on the internet it is quite easily seen as the preferred machine of choice for the beginner because of the much lighter price tag as well as it being, well a very good machine.

It is in fact the Garrett Ace 250. This machine sits nicely in the price market for beginners yet the machine includes some key important features:

Electronic Pinpointing – This will allow you to precisely locate a target and will save you time when digging (Note that the Garrett Ace 150 does not support this feature)

Some other features found in the ACE 250:

  • Accept/Reject Discrimination: to modify discrimination patterns
  • Five Search Modes: select pre-set discrimination pattern or create your own (All metal, Jewelry, Custom, Relics, Coins)
  • Continuous Coin Depth Indicator: to determine target depth
  • Battery Condition Indicator: shows battery life continually
  • Interchangeable ACE series searchcoils: are available
  • Expanded Target ID Legend: easy-to-read above large LCD screen
  • Pushbutton Controls: with One-Touch operation
  • Other features: 3-piece travel/storage, disassembles to 24″; adjustable
    arm cuff; quarter-inch (1/4″) size headphone jack.

As Gene Scullion puts it “The Garrett Ace 250 is very light on weight yet heavy on features and performance”. Read his full review on this machine here:


Please note, once you have your machine there is one more little gadget you might want to consider purchasing. Its called the Garrett Pro-pointer. This pin pointer has set the standard in metal detecting and in my opinion is the best pin pointer available. Once your machine has found a target, its up to you to start digging. This pin pointer gives audible alerts to let you know if you digging in the right direction and how close you are to your target. You would not use something like this at the beach (as you would be using a scoop instead) but it certainly will come in handy everywhere else!

In terms of beach hunting, I believe that the machine works wonders on dry sand but does give some difficulty and false alerts in the wet sand. The machine is not perfect but for the price, it certainly is hard to beat.

Doculam are the official Garrett Agents in South Africa, you can buy this machine (as well as any other Garrett machine) and the Garrett Pro-pointer online here:


You can use coupon code “TH05” and you will receive 5% discount on your order of any of the Garrett products!

I found this youtube clip which gives great insight into this machine. Enjoy!

mike silverman - February 3, 2014 - 3:38 am

For beginners, it is advisable to use simple metal detector first. The purpose of this is to learn the basic of metal detecting. And, once you get to used the basic metal detector, you can then go and try another metal detector.

mike silverman - February 27, 2014 - 12:30 pm

Yes, I agree with you. Garrett Ace 250 is one of the best metal detector. It is simple and easy to handle. It is good for first timers.

n - March 18, 2014 - 6:56 am

I have had a couple of basic models over the years that were purchased in the USA. Purchased my ACE 250 last year and although I do find it does not like wet soil on beaches, otherwise is great fun – and not too heavy for a lady!

chris - April 23, 2014 - 5:00 am

I just got started and decided on a Fisher C2 , and not the 250.I must say that the C2 did its job.I picked up coins and plenty of bottle caps on my first hunt.Easy to operate and you learn quickly to know when it is bottle caps or when you have found coins.

morne - October 23, 2014 - 2:07 pm

I got my self a garret 250 and are very pleased with it and pick u a lot of coins and gold on the beaches and also looking to to the next part also looking for some more places to go.

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