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"What is the BEST metal detector?" This is the most common question I get, (followed by "What is the DEEPEST metal detector?")
The answer is....

There is NO BEST metal detector.

That said, the best metal detector is the one you'll be able to use properly. Although it doesn't take a rocket scientist to operate a metal detector, in order to use one successfully, you should be absolutely sure you are going to buy it from a reputable dealer who can help you with operating your detector under the conditions specific to your region. Ideally there will be a showroom to demontrate the products and you shoud steer clear of anyone who odders to make you a great (but shady) deal in parking lot or a park. This is the only way to make sure you get the right machine for you and that you will have personal support when you need it.

So let Big Valley Metal Detectors help you to choose the best metal detector to meet your personal needs and budget. After I got the above question numerous times I decided to add a 'Best Detectors' page as a guideline, which helps all who visit my site avoid mistakes in choices brought on by the voluminous amount of information and opinion on the internet. Yes, I have my opinions, but those are based on my experience as a detectorist and a multi-line dealer.

Below are general purpose metal detectors. There are many more, and if I have not mentioned the one you are interested in, it is not necessarily because it is no good. More than likely I just decided to keep this page from attaining a daunting length. Also, this is one of the last pages to be updated on a regular basis, as I spend more time with my customers in person, and the web really does come last. Just give me a call and I'll give you my honest assessment if you don't see what you are interested in.

NEWS FLASH! A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY has presented itself with the failure of the Oroville Dam's spillway. Much of the gold containing bedrock was exposed after the dirt was washed away by the incredible flow of water out of the reservoir. People are starting to realize this and are taking their gold detectors up to that area. We are seeing a MINI GOLD RUSH.

If you want to find gold nuggets, you'll need a metal detector that can hunt for gold. Please go to my Best Gold Detectors page for that. Although... the humble Tesoro Compadre, a great all around metal detector and incredibly simple to operate, can find fine jewelry, including gold.

Check it out in this video:


Tesoro Compadre

Comments: There is a good reason this is a popular seller at Big Valley. The Compadre's 12 kHz circuit will see the smallest fine jewelry deeper than almost any other metal detector on the market. And... it has the quickest target response on the market today thanks to its two filter circuit and 5.75” loop size.

You can even use it for electronic prospecting since it's sensitive to gold nuggets from match head size on up.

It boasts excellent audio characteristics. While most other metal detectors play the guessing game as to trash vs. good targets, the Compadre, like the rest of the Tesoro line, has analog audio with lightning fast target sampling. A target response that exhibits a smooth, continuous tone is one worth going after. Choppy, sputter or harsh audio responses are almost always trash.

I am so confident in the Compadre's ability to sniff out elusive gold rings, it remains one of my preferred choices in a rental for lost valuables. One knob operation and the industry's strongest warranty (lifetime) makes it a formidable detector presence in the under $200.00 range.

See the Tesoro Compadre here

and...... see the NEW Tesoro Mojave below!!

tesoro mojave metyal detector face


All price categories mentioned here will usually refer to normal internet prices.
Often better deals are available: just call or come by to see what's new.

Others in Tesoro Compadre price class....

Price Range: to $350.00

Fisher F2

Fisher F2 metal detector

Comments: Released during the latter part of 2007, the Fisher F2 has a lot going for it in terms of performance, selectivity and features. At this price point, the F2 currently dominates the field.

I'm in agreement with Ralph @ Sun Ray Products; the Fisher F2 represents the BEST value in a metal detector under $300.00.

The large digital numerical read out from 0 to 99 is unmatched in any metal detector under $500.00. In addition, the F2 has an on the fly 3 segment depth scale and a precise pinpoint depth reading.

Even more impressive is the speed of target sampling which matches the Tesoro line-up. The ability of any metal detector to respond to targets as the search head is kept in motion over the ground is important for seeing desirable targets ‘hiding’ in the trash.

See the Fisher F2 here

Garrett Ace 200, Ace 300 and Ace400

Garrett Ace 250 metal detector

Comments: From 2004, the White’s Prizms dominated the lower end of the professional market. Garrett in later years came out with their Ace 150, to compete with the Prizm line. They added some features to their basic Ace, and came up with the Ace 250 and Ace 350.


This has been some time, and Garrett has never looked back. They now have a new basic model, the Ace 200, which is very reasonably priced, and the Ace 300 and 400 for those who like a few more things of which to keep track..

See the Garrett Ace 400 here
See the Garrett Ace 300 here
See the Garrett Ace 200 here

Price Range: $400.00 to $900.00

Tesoro Vaquero

Tesoro Vaquero metal detector

Comments: Tesoro's Vaquero operates at just under 15 kHz with a 3 position frequency shifter to further avoid noisy cross talk from other detectorists or powerlines.

This is one of the Umax detectors, which makes it about the lightest in its performance class.

The Vaquero has a manual 3 3/4 ground balance, which works the all metal and discrimination mode. The Vaquero's circuit is also found in the Cibola, which has its ground balance point set internally by Tesoro.

See the Tesoro Vaquero here

Fisher F4

Fisher F4 metal detector

Comments: Fisher was acquiered a few years back by First Texas. During the year prior to that they hired one of the industry's BEST engineers, Dave Johnson, and together they hit yet another homerun with the Fisher F4.

An excellent visual discriminator, it is easy to read and sports lightning fast target sampling. It appears to have the same horsepower as the F2 but with more bells and whistles to supplement an excellent circuit, including manual or auto position ground balance and an all metal mode with auto tune position for prospecting.

Visual target ID scale adorns the top portion of the display with target pointer and large digital numbers. Comes with the F75 10" wide scan loop AND the 8" concentric for trashy areas.

See the Fisher F4 here

Goldbug Pro

Fisher Goldbug metal detector

Comments: with this incarnation Fisher has hit a home run. This series can be used for coin shooting, relic hunting or gold prospecting, and is considered a crossover.

Comes in various packages that include different accessories.

See the Fisher Goldbug Pro here

Garrett GTP 1350

Garrett GTP1350 metal detector

Comments: In 2004, the Garrett GTP 1350 came on the scene, replacing the GTAx 1250 and adding a sizing feature called target profiling, which placed the target into one of three size categories; A, B, C.

The Garrett GTP 1350 has a well balanced feel and is light enough for most folks.

Digital tone, including Garrett's bell tone response. Full featured. Depth is above average, as well as Garrett's visual discrimination and electronic pinpointing. The rear battery compartment can pull off and hip mount, decreasing the weight on your arm.

See the Garrett GTP 1350 here

Garrett AT Pro

Garrett AT PRO metal detector

Comments: this machine shows that Garrett is paying attention to customer demand. This is a machine you can submerse in water and then take it to hunt the highest mountain peaks.

The available search modes include both standard and professional settings and the new 11"DD coil it ships with make this machine a huge breakthrough for technology at this price point.

See the Garrett AT Pro here

Minelab X-Terra series

Minelab X-Terra 705 metal detector

Comments: Since 2005. The X-Terra series have an extremely light feel and operate at a standard frequency of 7.5 kHz with an ultra quiet digital circuit.

My first target while out for the first time with the X-Terra 50 I was at Montara Beach was a white gold earring at about 7", easily heard with the X-Terra's loud alert target response and wonderful tone ID. The digital number display is about as easy as the Fisher F4's to read, although the X-Terras are not quite as quick as the Tesoros or Fishers on target sampling.

The X-Terra 505, like the flagship X-Terra 70/705, can change frequency by changing the loops. The X-Terra 505 can switch to an 18+ kHz loop for superior audio response on small gold targets and nuggets. X-Terra 505 has manual ground balance control while the 305's ground balance point has been preset by the factory to handle most conditions.

The X-Terra 70 offers sophisticated automatic ground tracking, additional programming AND a 10" loop that changes the frequency to 3 kHz for outstanding target response on high conductive silver targets. The updated 305, 505 and 705 do have upgraded software, and react a little faster, generally speaking.

See the Minelab X-Terra 705 here
See the Minelab X-Terra 505 here
See the Minelab X-Terra 305 here.

Tesoro's DeLeón, Cortés, & Tejón

Tesoro Tejon face view metal detector

Comments: All three share Tesoro's lightning fast discriminator target sampling and lifetime warranty.

The DeLeón and Cortés (top dog in Tesoro's line-up) have visual target ID, but the display is very small compared to other visual discriminators. The Cortés also has a feature similar to White's Signagraph system, but again, the visual lacks resolution, so dimes, quarters, halves, and dollars read as 'COINS'.

Tesoro's real strong point has always been its analog audio response. Simply put, smooth targets that are coin size are always worth digging and broken and/or harsh sounding targets are worth avoiding.

The Tesoro Tejón is Tesoro's deepest detector, operating at a 17.5 kHz. This is a bit on the high side for silver hunting, but reports from the field say that the Tejón is bringing in a lot of silver normally masked by trash targets and unseen by the competition.

The Tejón uses a twin level discriminator that can be set in a variety of ways. I set the higher level to barely pop on a zinc penny so I don't have to dig them. Because of its higher frequency, the Tejón is a bit more reactive over the small iron, but that can be a positive as far as seeing through the nails etc.

The all metal modes on both the Vaquero and Tejón have a preset gain level, so the sensitivity is really a stability gain control in the discrimination mode.

Last time out with the Tejón, my associate dealer, Greg @ Trans Bay Metal Detectors, scored a beautiful white gold wedding band in the bark and it is one of my favorites.

See the Tesoro DeLeón here
See the Tesoro Cortés here
See the Tesoro Tejón here


Price Range from about $1000.00

Garrett ATX

Comments: Garrett's has a new machine in their AT line-up. This is a pulse-induction machine, and seems to be well thought out, keeping the roaming treasure hunter in mind.

Due to its radically changed design, you'll find it much easier to store and transport.

See Garrett's ATX here

Garrett ATX side view Garrett ATX top view

XP Deus 3

Comments: Sure, there have been new bells and whistles and beautiful make-overs on well established technology, but this is a detector that seems to have a little more than the average metal detector. After you have gotten over the shock of how light the whole unit is, how easy it was to charge the coil, control box and headphones simultaneously with 1 usb charging unit, and appreciated the fact that the set-up, including coil and headphones, and is COMPLETELY WIRELESS, there is still plenty more to get excited about.

This unit is fast. And the groundtracking is excellent. The Deus features a new way of filtering out the iron, which does not involve discriminating out the things you do want to see.

XP DEUS metal detector

This machine is real sweet. Below is the write-up that is on my " Great Finds " page:

Big Valley XP Deus find.

XP DEUS metal detector finds Here is a 1944 British Half Crown I dug today. The yard from which I dug this and other things (coins, tokens etc.) belongs to the neighbor of a friend of mine who owns several of the top machines out there, and he has hunted it for the last few decades. He has been on that nice old property many times with his detectors, and was stunned when he saw what I pulled out with the Deus.

This yard was a perfect example of a considered-to-be-hunted-out area. I have been to areas like this one many times myself, generally to test new machines that make great claims, but the hunted out places have remained hunted out. But it seems the XP Deus is delivering the speed and performance that is needed to hunt tired old spots, for sure.

more XP DEUS metal detector finds Groundtracking on this machine works beautifully. And........... the XP Deus metal detector has non-motion pinpointing capabilities; it can track the ground in both pinpointing mode and detecting mode, which is a GIANT leap!

The recovery speed of the Deus is impressive.It approaches Tesoro's speed, as demonstrated on the Board of Pain. This fast recovery time is what makes such a difference when you are dealing with old and trashy areas.

Performance overall has been very reliable and it would take serious other high end detectors to keep up with it.

This whole unit, including the supplied headphones and the coil, is wireless. Not only does that mean that there are no wires to get hung up anywhere, but it also makes the Deus incredibly light. And, if that is not enough, you can make it lighter still by just leaving the control box off and running the XP Deus from the controls on the headphones. Featherlight! It is really nice for someone on the wrong side of 21...

See the XP DEUS here

Fisher F75

Fisher F75 metal detector

Comments: the Fisher F75, like the F4 and F2, has outstanding features and performance.

This detector is like a 327 Chevy engine with a hot cam and just street legal due to its high gain circuit. Operating at over 13 kHz, and with oodles of sensitivity, it can deliver on both high and low conductors (silver and gold).

Its automatic back light system for night time hunting is the BEST I've experienced. Its depth is exceptional, but requires proper tuning to ensure stable hunting.

Great light weight and well balanced feel in its category.

See the Fisher F75 here

Minelab Safari and Explorer series

Minelab Explorer SE metal detector

Comments: these metal detectors use FBS circuits or full band frequencies (28 actually), Minelab's unique way to filter out negative ground and magnetic interference. The active frequency may be about 3kHz and the other harmonics act in concert to sample and neutralize ground noise and power lines. When the noise is neutralized, your ability to hear the deeper targets is enhanced.

The 3 kHz will double the signal on deep silver vs other f requencies. The output is digital, and although the Explorer makes it easier to hear that deep silver without having to tweak, your lower conductors (gold, nickels and other jewelry) are usually ignored by most of the Explorer users. Foil, shards of aluminum and crown caps sound a little too good, where competitor's circuits chop those targets up.

The Explorer has great gain and a smart find screen. The Explorer SE lacks a audio and visual pinpointing system; it uses a more conventional VCO pinpoint.

All in all, these are nice, pretty deep metal detectors and are nice silver shooters.

See the Minelab Safari here
See the Minelab Explorer SE here

Garrett GTI 2500

Garrett GTI2500 metal detector

Comments: Bells and whistles, good depth but long in the tooth and on the heavy side, Garrett's GTI 2500 offers a nice wide screen. Although it is not as sophisticated as the other "big dog" competition, it does offer sizing technology A through E. Most coins and jewelry fall out in the B, with man hole covers in the E size along with some caches, I guess.

Depth is above average for a single frequency detector at approximately 7 kHz and seems sensitive enough for gold rings. Ground tracks in the all metal mode. I suspect that the discrimination mode and ground balance point is automated in the chip and cannot be manually manipulated.

This detector actually can be programmed to talk to you using a female voice. A poster on one of the forums, who is a single bachelor, actually put it on voice mode and slept with his GTI 2500... now that's love!!!

See the Garrett GTI 2500 here

Minelab E-Trac

Minelab E-Trac metal detector

Comments: this is the "minesweeper" for silver coins in parks.
Newer technology allows you to hunt what you had to leave behind with the Explorer II. With a much faster response time, this is not your father's Explorer....

See the Minelab E-Trac here

Minelab CTX3030

Minelab 3030CTX metal detector

Comments: the new CTX3030, with its color screen and too many features to mention, is clearly Minelab's new top-of-the-line coin/relic hunting machine.

See the Minelab CTX3030 here

Call me!!!Questions?
Call Larry at (916) 225-9150

Visit our product pages.

"Site to Site, Season to Season"
Big Valley never sleeps while its customers are awake!
A great family hobby for beach, park, or anywhere. Find jewelry, gold, and more.


metal detectors &
treasure hunting accessories
metal detectors
gold detectors


Located in Citrus Heights, California, we are an easy drive from Sacramento, Fair Oaks, Roseville, Rocklin, Orangevale, Folsom, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Loomis, Placerville, Antelope, Antioch, Auburn, Cameron Park, Chico, Colfax, Colusa, Concord, Courtland, Davis, Dixon, El Dorado Hills, Elk Grove, Elverta, Galt, Granite Bay, Isleton, Jackson, Lakeport, Lincoln, Lodi, Marysville, Napa, Newcastle, North Highlands, Oroville, Rancho Cordova, Rancho Murieta, Redding, Rio Linda, Sloughhouse, Stockton, Tahoe, Vacaville, Vallejo, Walnut Creek, Walnut Grove, Williams, Wilton, Winters, Woodland, Yuba City and many more places. Call for directions. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.

Gold Country has been named one of the US ten top destinations for 2012 by Lonely Planet, so come see Big Valley to start your treasure hunting trip off right!