Should You Buy a Secondhand Metal Detector in 2023?
Metal detecting has exploded in popularity as a hobby over the last decade. With TV shows like “The Detectorists” and media coverage of big finds, more people have gotten intrigued of searching for buried treasures.
As technology has advanced, more finds have been made as metal detectors become deeper and more sensitive. Much of this advanced technology has been hidden making detectors much easier to use.
For newcomers looking to get started, one of the first questions I frequently get asked is whether to buy a brand new metal detector or consider an older used model.
New detectors can be expensive, especially high end models however as technology has become cheaper and more readily available, this advanced technology can now be found in entry level models.
Secondhand detectors are abundant and can be found for half the price or less of new ones but these will be older, have analogue technology and can mostly be a lot more difficult to fathom out.
What amazes me is that even at the time of writing this article, looking on Ebay out of interest gives many examples but the sums of money people want for these is ridiculous!
However, is buying a secondhand, used metal detector still a good idea with the advances in technology? In many cases, I’ve found for the cost of these secondhand machines, a better one can be purchased new!
This article will examine the pros and cons of purchasing a used metal detector to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.
Pros of Purchasing a Second Hand Metal Detector
The main advantage of buying anything secondhand is to save money, or one would think. New detectors range from £100 for very basic machines designed for a bit of fun to £1,800+ high end machines.
Some of those prices are prohibitive for casual hobbyists just getting started. Used detectors “can” allow you to dip your toes into the hobby without a huge investment.
Mid range detectors that cost £500+ new can be purchased used for £200-£300. High end models are also significantly discounted. This makes the barrier to entry much lower.
What must be remembered here is that not all metal detectors are created equal. What I mean by this is that you need to be clued up on what machines to look for and what to pass on.
As I previously mentioned, many examples of older machines I’ve seen on Ebay have commanded the same money as a brand new machine with massively more advanced technology.
I just don’t understand it! The only people who would buy these in my opinion are people who aren’t sufficiently educated about certain metal detectors.
This was the whole purpose of me creating my website! I want to give everyone out there as much information as I can before they take the plunge and purchase.
Another benefit of used detectors is the selection. Metal detecting grew so quickly in popularity that manufacturers could not keep up.
New brands emerged and existing companies ramped up production.
But supply still lags behind demand. Used detectors provide a robust secondary market with lots of choices.
From basic detectors to specialist gold prospecting devices, you can likely find what you want used rather than waiting for new stock.
You can also still grab advanced machines at lower prices as seasoned detectorists purchase the latest newer models whilst letting their previous machines go.
Access to Vintage Models
Metal detecting history dates back many decades.
That means there are lots of veteran hobbyists with older detectors they no longer use.
Some veteran detectors believe older machines, despite lacking modern updates can out perform new models.
These vintage detectors are often unavailable new but can be purchased used.
This gives buyers access to discontinued models preferred by some experienced hobbyists. Don’t forget, these older machines, once mastered will still find great things.
Check Before You Buy
When looking at used detectors, you typically get to test and inspect them before purchasing if you happen to have a metal detecting hobby shop near you.
This allows you to ensure the machine powers on, functions properly and has no obvious issues. You can adjust settings, wave coins and objects over the coil and try the headphones to get a feel for the detector.
This opportunity to validate operation gives more confidence in the used purchase. When purchasing online, ensure you correspond with the seller to make sure it is fully operational.
One top tip would be to ask for a short video of it powering up and detecting a coin!
Cons of Purchasing a Second Hand Metal Detector
The main downside of “older” used detectors is that they lack the latest technology and features. Detector technology has progressed immensely.
Processors are faster, software and circuitry is more advanced which improves accuracy and sensitivity. New machines have much better discrimination to reduce false signals with more modes and options.
They also hide the powerful technology so it works without you having to be a NASA employee to work it out. Many newer machines are super powerful “switch on and go” types.
Purchasing used means missing out on technology that makes detecting easier and more successful. Older detectors can need a massive amount of tweaking and fiddling for best results.
When you buy used, you don’t always know a detector’s history or how was it used. Was it maintained properly?
Was it abused or damaged? There is always an inherent risk buying a used machine.
They may have been heavy handed, let it get immersed in water, dropped it or improperly stored it.
Unless the seller discloses issues upfront, you assume maintenance and abuse risks buying used.
Older electronics do have a life span also. Solder joints and become dry and crack, capacitors can fail etc.
These can be fixed but often the cost of the fix is more than the machine can be worth.
Another downside is used detectors typically don’t come with a warranty. The only exception would be you purchased one from a dealer but even then, it would only be a couple of months maybe.
Manufacturers provide warranties ranging from 1-5 years when purchased new. If issues develop with used detectors, you’ll have to pay for repairs yourself.
Newer detectors frequently come with lifetime technical support, an invaluable resource that used detectors lack. Warranties are also much longer.
Comparable Entry Level New Models
Technology has enabled manufacturers to offer inexpensive entry level detectors comparable to used mid and upper level detectors.
Beginners detectors often now have advanced features as standard and sensitivity rivaling older, top end detectors. The truth is, you can get this incredible up to date technology in a detector for inder £300!
Unless you need specialized capabilities, inexpensive new detectors are viable alternatives to used and in my opinion, the only choice!
Should You Buy a Used Metal Detector?
Factors to Consider
Used detectors can be a great value for hobbyists on a budget if you can get one really cheap. But there are some factors to weigh up when deciding between new and used.
You also need to know which machines to avoid. Read as many articles as you can on the website to gain as much knowledge as possible.
If you are new to the hobby, an entry level detector for around £100-£200 may be the best introduction. They offer great fun without big investment but be aware that they won’t be top end.
If you plan to detect occasionally for fun a few times a month, used makes sense. You won’t utilise all the newest technology regularly, so a used, discounted detector is suitable.
For dedicated hobbyists who think they will detect frequently, a new detector is worth the premium. You’ll use the advanced technology regularly and get your money’s worth.
For treasure hunters focused solely on finding valuable items like gold, older specialty detectors may be preferable. Sensitivity to precious metals may be more important than new bells and whistles.
Avoid used detectors that the seller cannot demonstrate functioning properly. Also be wary of visibly damaged or corroded detectors requiring repairs.
Metal detecting is more popular than ever. For new hobbyists, choosing between buying new and used detectors is the first big decision.
There are compelling arguements to purchasing a used detector but in my opinion, with the advancments in technology and the lower cost of it, this reduces the barrier to entry for a new machine.
Availability and access to vintage models are nostalgic but used detectors also carry disadvantages like lack of warranties, unknown histories, old technology and some ridiculous prices!
Consider your budget, needs and how involved you plan to be in the hobby. Used detectors can provide great value for casual and budget minded hobbyists but frequent users will benefit more from new technology and should buy new.
For under £300, (which is cheaper than some secondhand machine prices!) you can get up to date technology with a super fast, super deep machine like the Minelab XTerra Pro, Minelab Vanquish 340 and Nokta Makro Simplex +.
Read my dedicated articles on these machines by clicking the link to them above.
Be selective when purchasing used and make sure you can test operation first. Consider both new and used options to pick the best metal detector for your needs and budget.
Unbeatable Multi Frequency!
You can now get the ultimate power of multi frequency technology over single frequency detectors with the Minelab Vanquish range of detectors.
The entry level Vanquish 340 now gives you ultimate depth, stability and sensitivity on all target types in every soil, including wet beach sand.