Harbor Freight Metal Detector finding a gold ring

Are Harbor Freight Metal Detectors Any Good?

If you have found yourself here, I will bet that you are an experienced metal-detecting enthusiast looking for a new device or you’re new to metal-detecting. Either way, you have come to the right place; after all, very few brands can rival Harbor freight metal detectors. So if you want to know the answer to the question” Are Harbor Freight Metal Detectors Any Good?” please read on…

Product Description

The HFT metal detectors are known worldwide as exceptional metal detectors. These models are not costly and not rare either, so why invest in Harbor Freight metal detectors? Despite being a familiar brand, different types of HFT detectors are made using other materials for the armrest. Therefore, their comfort level differs, but one of their most popular options is the HFT 9-function metal detector.

Metal Detecting in the Woods
Metal Detecting in the Woods

The 9-function metal detector is elementary to use, affordable, and has reliable depth. Plus, the fact that it’s ideal for both beginners and newcomers is a bonus. After all, you can use it to scan shallow waters. It’s a lightweight option powered by six double-A batteries, which are not included in the package. It also has a headphone jack that works with a wide range of headphones.

Unfortunately, it’s an analog option with nine different functions controlled using its control box. Therefore, fine-tuning and all the other modifications are done on the knobs and dials. So, if your goal is an LCD screen that lets you control everything with the touch of the screen, then you should try another brand.

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Nokta Ultra
Nokta Simplex ULTRA πŸ‘ˆ Awesome Machine!

When asked what I recommend, the πŸ‘‰ Nokta Simplex Ultra stands out. Perfect for beginners, it’s waterproof, includes wireless headphones, and offers five functional modes, growing with your detecting skills.

Lesche T Handle Shovel picture
Lesche T Handle Shovel digs through everything

The next thing you need is a great shovel, believe me when I say you’ll dig more knowing you can dig FASTER. The nearly bullet proof Lesche T- Handle Shovel is the most comfortable heavy duty shovel I’ve ever used.

I love the CKG Sand Scoop for Beach Metal Detecting
I love the CKG Sand Scoop for Beach Metal Detecting

Metal Detecting and Beaches are a perfect match. To search a beach you’ve GOT TO HAVE A SAND SCOOP. CKG Sand Scoops are heavy duty and able to be used as a shovel.

Minelab Equinox 800 amazing Metal Detector
Minelab Equinox 800 amazing metal detector

If it’s time up UP YOUR GAME , get the industry standard metal detector. The Minelab Equinox 800 IS THE BEST. Okay it’s not cheap, but your finds are going to increase with this machine.

How Does a 9-Function Metal Detector Compare to Others?

Despite being affordable, the HFT detectors can give other brands a run for their money. And one of the top brands that have dominated the market for years is the Garrett ACE 250. Unfortunately, the Garret ACE 250 is a digital detector with a screen and a submersible search coil that can scan in deep streams and rivers.

On the other hand, a 9-function metal detector doesn’t have a screen. Garrett ACE 250 has eight adjustable sensitivity levels for handling different ground conditions. (source)

Why Does the HFT 9-Function Metal Detector Stand Out to Me?

I have always looked for affordable, high-quality metal detectors. Still, only a few have surprised me, like this Harbor Freight Metal Detector. Even though it doesn’t come with an LCD screen, it has easy-to-use knobs for controlling the nine functions. It’s a lightweight option that feels comfortable in your hands and comes with a unique metal discriminator.

Unfortunately, it can’t detect specific depths; therefore, it’s ideal for metal detecting on the beach and can help you find a wide range of metals.

Who Makes It?

Harbor Freight metal detectors are made by a privately owned firm known as Harbor Freight or Harbor Freight Tools. Harbor Freight Tools is an equipment and tools retailer located in Calabasas, California. It was established by Allan Smidt and his son Eric Smidt in 1977 in North Hollywood. It started as a mail-order firm that deals with returned and liquidated merchandise. (source)

The company operates e-commerce and mail-order as well as retail stores all over the United States. It has employed over 25,000 folks in its 1,300 locations in the country.


  • It comes with a sensitivity adjustment knob
  • 0-10 discrimination modes
  • Easy to use
  • It’s easy to assemble
  • Lightweight
  • You can use it in shallow water


  • Analog device
  • Limited depth detection

Looking for some “How To” metal detecting articles? I’ve got you covered

Things to Consider About the Metal Detectors

Generally, metal detectors are ideal for metal-detecting enthusiasts and folks working in the woodworking industry, among others. Unfortunately, the quality and type of metal detectors these groups of people need are different.

For instance, an experienced metal-detecting enthusiast needs a device that can pinpoint the exact position of the metal irrespective of the condition. Therefore, they always purchase detectors with a built-in pinpointer. So here are a few things you have to consider when purchasing a metal detector:

Type of Coil: Round vs. Elliptical Coil

The coil type matters greatly, especially considering what you’re seeking. The elliptical coil is designed for gold searching, while the round coil is for general searching for coins. You can get the white round coil with a different range frequency of up to x35. The x35 coil goes from low frequency to mid-20 kilohertz. On the other hand, the High-Frequency coil is ideal for searching for ancient relics. (source)

Depth of Detection Level

Generally, all detectors indicate how deep they can detect. Still, in hindsight, it’s impossible to determine how deep they can detect. Knowing the depth can give you a vague idea of how far your device can detect.

For instance, entry-level detectors have a shorter depth, while professional range models can detect much deeper. But the deeper it can detect, the more costly it will be.

Other Factors to Consider

The detector’s weight matters a lot; you’ll be carrying it while moving around. A pinpointer can also come in handy when determining the accuracy of the location of your find. Unfortunately, very few brands come with a pinpointer; therefore, you should be ready to spend more for a metal detector with this feature.

What do You Need For Beach Metal Detecting?

I’m going to provide an ESSENTIAL beach gear list. Everyone wants to enjoy beach time and dragging a pile of gear to the beach sucks.

  • A great multi-frequency metal detector. Different metals react to different frequencies. Having a machine that utilizes multiple frequencies at the same time will greatly improve finding gold and coins. The Best Value is the Nokta Makro Legend check prices and reviews on Amazon with this shortcut link πŸ‘‰ Nokta Makro Legend
  • A great pinpointer, I’m an absolute believer in wireless tech. For years I would get tangled in my headphone wires. GO WIRELESS the Nokta PulseDive links to the Legend’s wireless headphones. Since it’s built for diving, it’s Heavy Duty. Short cut link to Amazon – Nokta Makro PulseDive
  • Get a heavy duty sand scoop, I’ve bought the cheap plastic and metal scoops – NOT GOOD. They usually break within a day. 2+ years later I’m still hammering on my CKG Metal Detecting Sand Scoop πŸ‘ˆ Link to Amazon

Features and Benefits

The Harbor freight detector has some unique features for a budget metal detector that can get you started. Some of its key benefits and features include:

Easy to Assemble and Use

The Harbor freight metal detector is elementary to assemble in terms of physical capabilities. Most folks have been able to complete it within a few minutes. After all, the shaft and other parts tend to screw together relatively quickly. (source)

Unlike the smaller version, this metal detector does come with an external cable that can get in your way. If not well secured, the cable can affect your concentration. So make sure you twist your device’s control box clockwise for the cable to coil around the stem. (source)

10 Discrimination Levels

As its name suggests, it has nine different functions you can easily control using its analog control box. Remember, it is an analog device; therefore, it doesn’t have an LCD for displaying the ID and depth of your target. So before using the target locator, you have to switch to all-metal detecting mode before clicking the red target to detect the location.

To help you narrow your search, it has ten discrimination options. The discrimination levels range between 0 and 10, with ten being for aluminum while 0 helps with iron. While the discrimination levels are a great feature, it takes a lot of time to get used to them. If you don’t want to detect iron, you can discriminate against it and focus on the other precious metals.

Sensitivity Adjustment

Like most budget options, the strength of its magnetic field can be decreased or increased using a knob. Therefore, when detecting in a highly mineralized region like the beaches or the city, you may have to lower the sensitivity of the device, or it will detect everything and make life impossible for you.

But as a beginner, you can start with high sensitivity; fortunately, some experienced folks believe that its in-built sensitivity works perfectly and rarely increase sensitivity.

Automatic Ground Balance

Another feature that can help make your life easier is the automatic ground balance; every serious device comes with it. The automatic ground balance will help cancel all the interference from the ground.

Low Battery Indicator

Metal detecting can be fun; unfortunately, if you are not well prepared, your device’s battery may run low without you knowing. To protect you from low battery issues, Harbor Freight Tools added a low battery indicator that helps you monitor the battery while metal detecting.

Plus, there are several methods you can use to preserve the battery, with the best one being using your earphone. With your earphones connected, the speaker won’t be using the battery. (source)

Detector Depth

While most folks will look to stretch this device to 6 inches, it has an average detection depth of about 3 inches. For its price range, the 3-inch depth is okay, which makes it an excellent option for beginners.


The Harbor Freight Metal detector is an exceptional tool that most folks love. Unfortunately, most folks tend to upload fake reviews, so I had to do intensive research to find a review that didn’t seem fake. Some folks may have had a challenge assembling it. Still, they agree that a reliable metal detector detects something every time.

Amazon Reviewer Comment
Amazon Reviewer Comment
Reviewer at Harbor Freight
Reviewer at Harbor Freight
What Others Said about the Metal Detector
What Others Said about the Metal Detector

My Experience

I have always been fun of analog metal detectors. One brand that has always amazed me is the HFT metal detectors. So last year, I finally purchased one for my son, who loves metal detecting with me. And for a budget option, it is everything the company promises and more. I assembled it within a few minutes and tried metal detecting for the nails in my backyard.

This metal detector helped me remove most of the small pieces of metal in my backyard. I even managed to find an old sterling penny that may be valuable. Unfortunately, it took me a few hours to get used to the sensitivity knob, but I did have fun. It has helped my son get started in metal detecting, and he even found several valuable pennies.


It doesn’t mean that it’s substandard or won’t rival the high-end options because it’s affordable. That was my thought after trying the Harbor freight metal detector. Despite its price, it is reliable, lightweight, and can detect many metals. Its metal discriminator can help you narrow your search while blocking other metals. So if you’re looking for a budget option, you should try the HFT 9 function metal detector.       

Metal Detecting Tip: Treasure hunting doesn’t mean making a mess, digging holes and destroying historic sites. Use some ethics and preserve history. Sharing pictures and documenting the location and researching the back story is the most important part of finding treasure. Read my article πŸ‘‰ Metal Detecting Rules, Ethics and Laws


David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.

Read about David -> HERE

Want to send me a question – contact


  1. Amazon contributor, Garrett ACE 250 Metal Detector With Submersible Search Coil, https://www.amazon.com/Garrett-Metal-Detector-Submersible-Search/dp/B00095ODBI/ accessed November 22, 2022.
  2. Wikipedia contributor, Harbor Freight Tools, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harbor_Freight_Tools/ accessed November 22, 2022.
  3. YouTube contributor, Top tips: Buying the right metal detector for your needs, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON1-eUEMcPs/ accessed November 22, 2022.
  4. YouTube contributors, Harbor Freight 9-function metal detector review and use demonstration, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMXD3kTEgaM/ accessed November 22, 2022.
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