To choose the best detector you have to answer a few questions. First, where will you be detecting? Second, do you want a detector that's a specialist or a generalist? Last, of course, how much can you spend.
Each answer will open many other questions, but they will set you in the right direction.
Now, you're here because you want a beach detector, so the next question is saltwater, freshwater, or both...and just how wet do you plan to get - wading, snorkeling, diving?
Saltwater is highly mineralized and can overwhelm the ground balancing ability of VLF (very low Frequency) detectors and resulting in lost sensitivity and target depth. Pulse induction (PI) detectors ignore the mineralization and excel in saltwater settings and have the great target detection depths. The typical down side of PI detectors is the lack of discrimination, meaning more pull tabs in trashy areas.
If you're planning on going into the water at all get a unit that is fully submersible. Having a waterproof coil on a detector that can't get wet is just asking for trouble.
Let's assume you want a beach specific detector that can get wet and will work best in saltwater conditions. Do you expect there to be a lot of trash? Do you care? Do you think the targets you want will be 12" down or 20" down. These answers will help you to choose between a PI or VLF detector.
Just to complicate things a bit, the Minelab Excaliber II is a VLF machine which uses BBS (Broad Band Spectrum) technology to allow it to ignore saltwater mineralization while still giving you full discrimination abilities but, the max target depth is not as great as a PI machine. This is just a starting point and you can see there's lots of work to be done.
Now you have a little direction, research the machines that will work for your needs and then go have some damn fun!
|Detector||Fresh Water||Salt Water||Price|
|Beach Hunter 300||25'||25'||$999|
|MXT & MXT Pro||Wade||Wade||$899|
|Surf Dual Field - PI||100'||100'||$899|
|Gold Bug Pro||Wade||Wade||$649|
|Sand Shark - PI||200'||200'||$636|
|Infinium LS - PI||200'||200'||$1,062|
|Sea Hunter Mark II - PI||200'||200'||$640|
|Sub-optimal, loss of sensitivity||Issues|
|Not proper operation, loss of discrimination||Stop|