Metal Detector Buying Guide

A Good Metal Detector Can Leave You Electrified

Whether they're keeping you safe on your next vacation or helping you hunt for buried treasure in your free time, metal detectors are becoming more popular than ever, and understanding how they work can help you decide what type of metal detector is right for you.

How Metal Detectors Work

You might think the technology that metal detectors employ to help their users find hidden objects buried underground would be extremely complicated, but when it comes down to it, it's all just electricity. If you were to crack open the head of any detector, you would find a coil that functions as a conductor for electricity. Thousands of electric pulses are sent through the coil every second in oscillating directions to produce an electro magnetic field. If there happens to be metal in the ground, the electrical current working inside the metal detector will pass through the object, causing it to create its own electro magnetic field. This is the signal that's transmitted back to the metal detector and lets you know where to start digging.

Not only will a metal detector help you find the buried treasure you're looking for, but it's also able to discern among the different types of metal buried underground so you can be sure you've found something worth your while. After all, there's no need to waste countless hours searching for buried tin cans. Luckily, each type of metal has its own unique properties that work together to produce a signal. Your metal detector will be able to distinguish between types of metal and the occasional hunk of garbage.

Metal detecting can be a fulfilling and sometimes profitable hobby, but a lot of people just don't know how to get started. With a few easy pointers, you'll be well on your way to striking it rich - or at least having a lot of fun while trying to sniff out that buried treasure.

A metal detector will help you find gold and silver jewelry, coins, and even relics from Colonial times. Knowing what you're looking for and knowing the right places to search will help make all of your metal detecting adventures a success. That's not to say you won't find your fair share of junk as well, but you know what they say: One man's trash is another man's treasure.

Know Where to Start

If you're new to metal detecting, start somewhere close to home like a field, a beach, or even your own backyard. Searching in areas like these will give you good practice in deciphering the different signals your metal detector picks up and will help you familiarize yourself with the machine without having to worry about signal overload. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be ready to search other places that are more heavily trafficked.

Also, don't be afraid to try new spots. Taking your metal detector on your next vacation can be a great way to have fun and relax while you seek out your next big find in new surroundings. If you're detecting in the woods, be sure to pay close attention to overgrown paths or waterways. Any route that could have been used as a form of transport in the past is a good place to search when you want to find relics from bygone ages. Just remember to be considerate of others and cover the holes you dig to avoid any sprained ankles or twisted feet.

Is there really a metal detector that can be everything for everyone? The answer depends more on whom is doing the detecting rather than the detector.Can there really be one type of metal detector that will suit everyone's needs? The answer really depends on you and becoming familiar with your own hunting needs. For example, some machines are specifically designed to use more powerfully amplified gains in their circuitry to detect the tiniest gold nugget buried 2 feet underground. Although ideal for a prospector, a machine like this might not be the most suitable for a more casual hobbyist who enjoys spending weekends at the beach with friends or for grandkids looking for coins.

Detecting With the Right Detector

The best way to decide which detector is right for you is simply to know your hunting style and the types of features that are most important to you and will ultimately help you in finding those special treasures that will make it all worthwhile. It's also helpful to take your budget into consideration and decide how much you would like to spend on a new metal detector before making your final decision.

To start out, you can ask yourself a few simple questions when you consider which type of metal detector is right for you. For example: How much time do you plan to spend hunting for buried treasures? Are you at a beginner's level, or do you have more detecting experience? And finally: How much money would you like to spend on a new metal detector? Taking all of these factors into consideration will help you focus your search and find the metal detector with the features that will prove most valuable in your hunting.

But Do I Really Need It?

Setting your ideal price point will help narrow your search and make your decision a little easier by possibly eliminating extra features that you may not need. Although all the extra bells and whistles can be enticing, you don't want to sacrifice your needs for a bunch of noise. There may not be one metal detector that's right for everyone, but the more you understand your hunting needs, the easier it will be to reach the right compromise.

Know Your Style, Know Your Metal Detector

After you have determined your own particular searching style, it's also important to familiarize yourself with the different features that metal detectors offer. Remember that more knobs don't necessarily translate to better results, but they will help you fine-tune your search to assist those who have been detecting for a while and know exactly what they're looking for. For the experienced treasure hunter, multi-frequency machines might also prove more useful than a single-frequency machine. The increased power of multiple frequencies can come in very handy when you want the maximum amount of information the machine can give you as to the depth and type of object that's causing that beep-beep-beep. Just be sure to know what type of detecting you like best to find the best metal detector for you.

Most of the time you get what you pay for. Metal detectors are no exception. Generally speaking the more money you're willing to spend on a new metal detector, the more features and additional options you'll get. More knobs simply mean that you will have the means to better tune your metal detector to the local conditions in which you're hunting and for the serious treasure hunter this can mean a more successful day, especially if you're detecting in competition with other treasure hunters. That extra knob or two might just provide the fine tuning you need to detect something buried exceptionally deep that other machines might pass by.

On the other hand, the more knobs there are to adjust the greater the possibility that they could be adjusted improperly. If you happen to misadjust even one of those knobs, or set up your machine incorrectly to begin with, the sensitivity of your machine's depth reading ability can be greatly affected and compromised to the point of a $1000 machine being outdone by one that only costs $200.

Know What You're Looking For and Save

What's the moral of this story? Be sure to know what you're looking for when buying a new metal detector. If you're new to metal detecting, it might be wise to go with a machine that can help you get started right out of the box. If you have a bit more experience, perhaps a machine that can be more finely tuned to help you find exactly what you're looking for would prove a more useful at finding that treasure.

With all the different factors to consider when you're ready to buy a new metal detector, it can be a little overwhelming, and throwing another ingredient into the pot could potentially drive a prospective treasure hunter over the edge. But a good searchcoil is an essential element for every metal detector and with a little patience and some research to go along with it, you'll save yourself a lot of frustration down the road after you find the right search coil for you.

Know Your Searching Style

Know your own hunting style when looking for the right searchcoil. For gold prospecting or relic hunting in bad ground, a widescan or "double-d" that's less affected by mineralization is ideal. If you're searching for coins and gold or silver jewelry, a concentric coil that can pinpoint small objects more easily due to a stronger signal frequency concentrated in the center of the coil might be right for you.

Size Matters

Remember too that size does matter when you're ready to choose a search coil. Smaller coils will tend to make the detector more sensitive to smaller objects by concentrating the signal while larger coils are able to search deeper buy only for larger objects. So for hunting in a relatively clean area for relics or larger objects, a large coil is better suited to your needs. On the other hand, if you spend most of your time at the beach, park, or other areas with a lot of clutter, choose a smaller coil to help you pinpoint buried jewelry or gold nuggets.

Knowing your metal detector's features and how to use them properly will take your hunting to new depths. There are two important factors to consider that affect a metal detector's depth sensitivity: coil design and environmental factors. First, every metal detector is designed with different needs in mind for treasure hunters of different experience levels. A beginner's model may not have all the extra bells and whistles that a more expensive model for an experienced hunter might feature, but as a rule, they will be more user friendly. If you purchase a more professional model designed for ultimate depth, it may be too sensitive to get a reading on items buried in more cluttered areas like public parks or beaches.

In Too Deep

Environmental factors that will likely affect the depth at which your metal detector can find a target can be just about anything you could think of. Radio and cell phone traffic, electrical wires, soil conditions, the size and shape of the target, or even an incoming thunderstorm are just a few examples of factors that aren't easily controlled by conventional human means and that can seriously interfere in the depth and sensitivity of any detector.

All of that taken into consideration, there are still some basic examples of standard ranges of depth detection using an average metal detector in moderate ground. A dime or a nickel can be detected at anywhere form 4 to 8 inches underground; a quarter or half-dollar at anywhere from 6 to 12 inches underground; and a silver dollar or fruit jar lid at anywhere from 8 to 16 inches underground.

Staying grounded and finding balance while searching for buried treasure are both good things, but ground balancing can get you to your treasure faster. Almost all metals are able to conduct electricity and while some serve as better conductors than others, all of that electrically charged mineral matter can lead to some confusing readings that might mislead prospective treasure hunters. Ground balancing is the physical act of finding the point in the ground where the effects of all of that subterranean mineralization are balanced; that is to say, a spot in the ground where the electrical charges being emitted are neither too positive nor too negative.

The Pros and Cons of Doing It Yourself

Some metal detectors allow you to manually set the ground balance to compensate for highly mineralized soil. Most factory models though are preset to have a slightly positive ground balance and will detect coins, jewelry, and some relics almost anywhere without any problem. Choosing the right metal detector modelfor you again depends mostly on your treasure hunting habits.

For a more experienced hunter, a machine that allows for manual adjustment ground balance can be a real time saver when hunting in highly mineralized soil for colonial relics or gold nuggets. If you're like most metal detector users who just like to spend a few hours here or there to relax or with friends or family, then a preset factory model will get you out of the door much more quickly. With little set-up time and not too many knobs to worry about adjusting, you'll have more time to swing the coil and find the treasures you're looking for.