How to Use a Metal Detector: A Step-by-Step Guide

guy with gloves using metal detector
Metal Detector Tips & Tricks
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While metal detectors are often thought of as a limited hobby only meant for those who have the leisure time to spend their days at the beach, the skill of using a metal detector to uncover hidden treasure, secrets, and memorabilia is a lot more than a silly little hobby. Learning how to use a metal detector properly takes skill, patience, practice, and determination.

If you aren’t having success with your metal detector just yet, don’t worry. Our guide today will walk you through the best way to use a metal detector. With some practice, you’ll be successful in no time!

How to Use a Metal Detector

Get a Detector That Suits You

This step-by-step guide will make it easier for you to enjoy metal detecting and hunting activities. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Get a Detector That Suits You

If you don’t already have one, you will need to get one! As this is your introduction to the hobby and you cannot know exactly what you’ll like just yet, it’s best to start with a general entry level detector. Using this detector to practice and learn until you’re ready to upgrade will save you a lot of time and headaches.

2. Decide Where to Hunt

Some of the most common places to start detecting include:

  • Public parks
  • Beaches
  • Woods
  • Private property
  • Public schools

There is one huge piece of metal detector etiquette that is important to learn at this point. You should never use your detector somewhere without permission! Even if you think that you are allowed to metal-detect in a public park, it is essential always to check as some places specifically ban this hobby.

That being said, using old maps, records, diaries, or even local lore can help you get an idea of where there might be fun treasures just waiting to be discovered.

3. Swing Low and Slow

Once you’re on location, it’s time to start using your detector! Turn it on, and then stick to the hunting mantra: low and slow.

Remember that metal detectors work by creating a small magnetic field under the coil in your metal detector. For best results, then, you want to keep this coil low to the ground, but not touching. Then, you want to slowly move it from side to side in a gentle swinging motion.

The low and slow method is important because it gives the detector enough time to process and read any signals that it picks up. If you move over an area too quickly, you and the detector might both miss something!

4. Be Methodic

As you swing from side to side, you will want to come up with a walking pattern. Even if you aren’t trying to cover an entire area, having a set walking pattern will help prevent you from wasting time. If you don’t pay attention, you could accidentally end up searching the same places over and over again while you are hunting.

5. Dig Carefully

When your detector indicates a find, you will need to dig a little bit to find out what it is. When digging on any property, you need to be respectful and dig carefully so that the appearance of the land is not ruined.

Most hunters will cut the top layer of the land (such as grass sod) using their digger. They will do this in a horseshoe shape. Then, they will lip the top piece out of the hole. It should still be attached the land at one side.

After digging, you can then flip this “lid” back down and push it into place so that the land is as good as new!

A Video Introduction

While we hope that our written guide will help you understand how to metal-detect, we know that many people are visual learners. This video demonstrates the basics of metal detecting and should help you to get a sense for what detecting looks like.

In addition to introducing the steps to metal detecting, this video also goes into some greater depth about making adjustments to your metal detector.

Practice Makes Perfect

Learning how to use a metal detector can seem like an impossible task, but it really is true that practice makes perfect! The only way to understand how your detector works and how it will respond when on a hunt is to try it out.

After some tests, you’ll begin to notice what you can do to improve your hunting skills. And then, you’ll be on your way to finding more items than you could imagine would be possible!

11 responses to “How to Use a Metal Detector: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. […] with a good all-around performance and a detecting sensitivity up to 12 inches. This detector is simple to use and an effective metal detector that is perfect for relic hunting, gold prospecting and coin […]

  2. Edison says:

    I spent a lot of time to find something like this

    1. The Metal Search says:

      Thanks for your patience.

  3. Williemae says:

    I spent a great deal of time to locate something such as this

    1. The Metal Search says:

      Great job!

  4. Chu says:

    Thanks to the great manual

    1. The Metal Search says:

      You are Welcome!

  5. Doris says:

    Thanks to the wonderful guide

  6. Erin says:

    I spent a lot of time to find something similar to this

    1. The Metal Search says:


  7. Charla says:

    I enjoy the article

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