How to Choose a Metal Detector

Guy using metal detector on beach sand
General Metal Detector Tips & Tricks
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Metal detecting can be an enjoyable hobby. It gives you good exercise through walking, and you get to enjoy the fresh air. It is also quite popular, with everyone doing it—from those who enjoy it just on the weekends to those who are retired and like taking their device to the beach every day.

However, there are so many metal detectors now available, and they come in different models and types. This can make choosing a detector really challenging, especially if you are a new hobbyist. For that, you need reliable tips on how to choose a metal detector.

What Is Metal Detecting?

Metal detecting is a hobby and a technique of finding metallic objects buried underground or underwater by using a metal detector device. The process involves sweeping the metal detector over a search area to detect and locate metallic objects such as coins, jewelry, relics, and other valuable items.

Metal detecting can be done in a variety of locations, including beaches, parks, forests, fields, and historic sites. It is a popular hobby for people of all ages and backgrounds, and it can be both fun and rewarding. Metal detecting can also be used for practical purposes such as finding buried pipes or electrical wires.

Why Should You Do the Hobby?

There are several reasons why people enjoy metal detecting as a hobby. Firstly, it can be an exciting and thrilling experience to uncover hidden treasures and artifacts that have been buried for years or even centuries. It can give a sense of adventure and discovery as you explore different locations and find unique items.

Additionally, metal detecting can be a great way to get outside and enjoy nature while getting some exercise. It can also be a great way to spend time with family and friends, and it can be a relaxing and meditative activity.

For history buffs, metal detecting can be a way to learn more about the past and the items that people used in different time periods. It can also be a way to contribute to historical research and preservation by discovering and documenting important artifacts.

How to Choose a Metal Detector

The ideal metal detector for you will depend on your particular needs and wants. They are not all made the same or equal.

Furthermore, many detectors are created with very specific uses in mind. As such, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind when making your choice:

  • What do you want to find?
  • Where will you do your metal detecting?
  • How frequently will you use the metal detector?
  • How experienced are you?

Knowing the answers to these questions can help you better select a metal detector that aligns with your wants.

What do you want to find?

You first need to decide what you want to find with your metal detector. You could be looking for coins, gold, jewelry, or artifacts. Maybe you have no desired target, and you just want to explore. This is likely how many hobbyists start out. It can be thrilling just to find anything.

Many metal detectors today can be used for several different purposes, but they don’t all have the same precision qualities. For example, if you are looking for jewelry in general, you want a detector that can differentiate between valuable jewelry and junk.

If you are looking for gold specifically, you will want to find a metal detector that uses a higher frequency and also has smaller coils. Those types are typically made for finding gold specifically. You will need a detector that has a higher sensitivity to small pieces of gold as well. That is typically harder for general detectors to register.

How to Choose a Metal Detector

Where will you do your metal detecting?

There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing where to do your metal detecting. Much of your choice depends on where you live or where you spend most of your time. You can use your metal detector at the beach, on the mountains, or even in the water. You might choose to take it to parks or schools to look for items. Your location can really drive your usage.

If you want to detect metal in general areas, such as parks or around schools, an all-purpose detector might be right for you. They won’t prevent you from looking for any items, and they can usually detect just about anything. Those same general detectors can even be used in shallow water, such as rivers, lakes, or at the edge of larger bodies of water. However, they cannot be totally submerged.

If you do want to be able to submerge your metal detector, such as in deeper rivers, lakes, or even the ocean, you will need a detector that is designed for that. These types of detectors are specially created with waterproof housing. Finally, if you are specifically looking for detectors you can use in the ocean, you will want one that ensures its signal is not thrown off by the salt water’s conductivity.

How frequently will you use the metal detector?

You will want to consider how often you plan on using your metal detector. Your purchase might be different if you plan on only using it occasionally on some weekends versus if you are retired and plan on going to the beach most days.

You might also find that you really enjoy the hobby and want to take part in it more frequently than you originally thought. Just like with any other purchase, you want your metal detector to last.

The frequency of your use also has to do with the metal detector’s durability. It isn’t hard to drop the detector when using it. If you are typically rough with things you handle all the time, that is also something to keep in mind. Basically, you want a machine that will stand up to a bit of abuse and that you can use as frequently as you intend.

Many detectors also come with warranties now so that is something you can keep in mind as well. If you know you might beat up your device, then perhaps you want to purchase one that can easily be replaced or repaired.

How experienced are you?

Everyone has to start somewhere, and it was everyone’s first day doing something. With that said, keep in mind how experienced you are at metal detecting before making your purchase. There are some that have features that allow for a quick start. These are super easy to use. Basically, you put batteries in them and turn on the detector.

There are some that also provide auto settings. So, you find very specific items, such as diamond rings or old coins, if that’s what you want to find.

Auto-tuning is also a feature that comes with many metal detectors. That auto tuning allows you to calibrate the detector for various conditions. It can also help you to cancel out any interference you might encounter from things like power lines.

Many detectors also have other, more specific features available, which are typically used by more experienced hobbyists or professionals. These features are usually quite in-depth, and you can explore them as you get more familiar with your device.

Choosing a Metal Detector

What to Consider When Choosing a Metal Detector

A brief overview of what to consider when choosing a metal detector based on the factors mentioned above:

  1. Detection Mode - Different detection modes such as all-metal mode, discrimination mode, and pinpoint mode are available. All-metal mode detects all metals while discrimination mode eliminates certain metals based on the set discrimination level. Pinpoint mode locates the exact location of the target.
  2. Discrimination - Discrimination feature helps eliminate unwanted targets and makes detecting more precise.
  3. Sensitivity - Sensitivity determines how deep the detector can detect metals.
  4. Coil Size - Larger coils cover more area but are heavier, while smaller coils are more maneuverable and lighter.
  5. Ground Balance - Ground balance helps in adjusting the detector to suit different soil types to prevent false signals.
  6. Operating Frequency - Higher frequency detectors are better at detecting small items while lower frequency detectors are better at detecting larger items.
  7. Target ID - Target ID displays a numerical value on the screen that helps identify the metal type.
  8. Technology - Different technologies like VLF, PI, and BFO provide varying levels of sensitivity and depth.
  9. Waterproof - If you plan to use the metal detector in water, it must be waterproof.
  10. Weight - Weight is an important factor to consider for comfort and convenience during long detecting sessions.
  11. Warranty - A good warranty gives you peace of mind that your detector is protected.
  12. Included Accessories - Some detectors come with accessories like headphones, carrying bags, and digging tools.
  13. Brand Value - Established brands with good reputations are more reliable and often offer better customer service.
  14. Price - Metal detectors vary in price, and you should consider your budget before making a purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Q: What types of metal detectors are there?

A: There are three main types of metal detectors: VLF (very low frequency), PI (pulse induction), and BFO (beat frequency oscillator).

Q: What factors should I consider when choosing a metal detector?

A: Some important factors to consider include your budget, what type of metal detecting you plan to do, the frequency of the metal detector, the size of the search coil, the level of discrimination, and the weight and comfort of the detector.

Q: How much should I spend on a metal detector?

A: The cost of a metal detector can vary greatly depending on its features and capabilities. A good beginner metal detector can typically be found for around $100, while more advanced detectors can cost several thousand dollars.

Q: What are some important features to look for in a metal detector?

A: Some important features to look for include waterproofing, adjustable sensitivity and discrimination settings, multiple search modes, target depth and ID indicators, a large and easy-to-read display, and a comfortable and lightweight design.

Q: How do I choose the right search coil size?

A: The size of the search coil you need depends on what you plan to search for. A larger coil is better for covering more ground and detecting larger targets, while a smaller coil is better for detecting smaller targets and in areas with a lot of debris.

Q: Can I use a metal detector underwater?

A: Many metal detectors are designed to be waterproof and can be used underwater, but it's important to make sure the detector is specifically designed for underwater use and to follow all manufacturer instructions for use and maintenance.

Q: Can I use a metal detector to find gold?

A: Yes, some metal detectors are specifically designed for gold prospecting and can be highly effective in finding gold nuggets and flakes. However, these detectors tend to be more expensive and may require more specialized knowledge and equipment to use effectively.


Finding the right metal detector can help you enjoy the hobby even more. Hopefully, these tips on how to choose a metal detector have assisted you in narrowing down your choices. Make sure you know what you want to find, how frequently and in what conditions you plan on using it and then start your exploring.

As you get more accustomed to the hobby, and your particular device, you’ll find that you can use more of the features you find on your specific device. With more experience, you will likely get better at the hobby and may enjoy it even more.

One response to “How to Choose a Metal Detector

  1. James Alusa says:

    Thanks regarding offering these kinds of well put together written content.

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