Author demonstrating Garrett Infinium LS near the jetties at South Padre Island Texas. Photo courtesy South Padre Network

Author demonstrating Garrett Infinium LS near the jetties at South Padre Island Texas. Photo courtesy South Padre Network

Choosing Your Metal Detector

Part 1

© 2013 Steve Hathcock

We are in the summer months now and thanks to the popularity of several treasure hunting based reality shows, traffic on my website has increased dramatically…

The following is typical of the questions I have received over the past several days.

“Hello, I’ve been trying to do some research on this hobby as I used to mess around with a ‘junior metal detector’ when I was young. I was wondering if you’d recommend some good metal detectors for beginners. I was looking for something that is fairly easy to use has a broad range of abilities, and that can detect semi-deep. I plan on using it on dry and wet sand. (I might accidentally get it wet?) I’ve been staying in Port Isabel for a couple of years over the summer and would love to become more involved in this hobby. Like, what are your personal favorite brands or models? I just need to know what would be ideal. Thank you for your time!”


Hi Keren, thanks for visiting our site. I will do my best to answer your questions. There are many variables to consider when choosing a machine that is right for you. You would want to consider the weight of the machine and does it fit your arm correctly?  Cost is an important factor and most of the major brands will have several different models to choose from in each price range. I’m not a purist so can not debate the finer aspects of each machine…..but I can tell you about my experience. And my advice to you would be to buy a detector from someone who can answer your questions.

ace 150My first detector was a Garrett ACE 150 I bought from Fred who owned a hobby shop. Fred gave me a good deal on the machine but was not a detectorist himself, hence he had no idea how to solve problems due to the highly mineralized sand encountered here on South Padre Island. While on a trip north I stopped by Garrett’s headquarters located in Garland Texas. I explained my problem to the several men standing at the counter. While the younger man took my machine back to a tech to look at, the older one produced another ACE 150 and within a few minutes I was out in a side lot learning how to use my machine. The man spent quite some time with me explaining the basics of metal detecting. He not only instructed me in how to use my machine, which is really not designed for beach hunting, but he also gave me a quick course in ethics and laws governing the use of metal detectors in the state of Texas. Next he showed me displays of artifacts and treasure found with Garrett detectors. Talk about ginning up my enthusiasm! I was feeling really good when we returned to the show room. The techs had analyzed my machine, made some adjustments and pronounced it ready to go. Having been given the red carpet treatment and fully expecting a bill, I reached for my wallet. I was very surprised when I was toIt was only later that I realized who had been instructing me in the fine art of metal detecting.ld “No Charge”. The older man had already left the room so I told the younger man that he should tell his bosses how well the other man had represented Garrett. The counter man grinned at that, and then informed me that the man who had spent so much time with me was none other than Charles Garrett himself! I have been loyal to that brand ever since. Today, I rent a variety of machines including the Ace 250 which is very simple to learn, can be used in the sand or along the surfs edge and is also a good machine for artifact hunting around old homesteads.  During the next few months I will be conducting several metal detecting classes for beginners. My personal favorite is  Garrett’s AT Pro which is very versatile, reasonably priced and performs as well on the shore as it does in the mountains of Utah. Space does not permit me to relate in any detail but you may visit their site We have one in our rental pool and I will be happy to show it to you the next time you visit the Island.

Best regards

Steve Hathcock

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2 Responses to Choosing the Right Detector Part 1

  1. Kristin Freiha says:

    I just spent the week at South Padre Island and I have to say the best part of my trip was treasure hunting on the beach! Many thanks to Steve for giving me instruction and tips on how to use his metal detector (Garrett Ace 250). He let me rent it for the week and I went out every morning and evening. Although I didn’t find any rare Spanish gold doubloons, it was the thrill of the hunt that made it worthwhile! Thanks Steve!
    ~Kristin – New Braunfels, TX

    • Hi Kristin, Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you enjoyed your beach hunts. Even though you did not find any old Spanish gold I was impressed by the obvious age of the coins you did find. As you can tell by the corrosion these coins had been buried for some time. As I am unable to post a photo in a reply, I will post it with your comment under Treasure Hunting Stories.
      Best regards
      Steve Hathcock

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