What Kind of Metal Detector to Get
As if the metal detector manufacturer list did not offer you enough choices, you also need to
choose what type of metal detector you want to purchase. When I say “type” I mean function.
There are several very different types of machines out there, and most of them have been
designed for a very specific purpose. That is why it is very important to know why and where
you plan on using a metal detector. If you are planning on searching an ocean beach for long
lost pirate treasure, then you need a machine that has been specifically designed for this
purpose. An entry level machine might give you nothing but trouble.
You might be saying to yourself, “Why don’t these metal detector manufacturers just make a
machine that does it all?” Many of them do, and you will pay a pretty penny for a top of the
line machine that has the ability to work in multiple terrain types.
If you just plan on hunting some local parks, you don’t need all of those bells and whistles.
Here are the different types of metal detectors that are geared towards a very specific type or
style of metal detecting.
Metal Detectors Designed for Gold!
This gold nugget is known as the Mojave Nugget. As of this writing, it is the largest gold nugget found in the United States using a metal detector. It weighs a massive 1660 troy ounces (52kg). Could you imagine unearthing that thing with your metal detector?
Gold is on the top of every metal detecting enthusiasts list. There is nothing quite as thrilling as
seeing some shiny yellow metal being pulled from the earth. I have recovered gold on countless occasions, and I can tell you from experience that it never gets old.
Won’t all metal detectors find gold?
That is kind of a trick question because it has a yes and no answer. While all metal detectors
will respond to gold, there are some on the market that have been specifically designed to find
gold in extreme situations. These are the machines that modern gold prospectors use, and there is a very good reason for this.
Modern gold jewelry is not 100% pure gold. In the United States, most gold is 14k (14 karat). This means that the piece of jewelry is 58% gold. The rest of the jewelry is made of other metals. Pure gold is just too soft to manufacture jewelry. It would bend and break.
In Europe, most gold is 18k (18 karat). 18K jewelry is 75% gold. If you are anything like me,
then you might be thinking about jumping on a plane and flying to Europe for some jewelry
detecting! 18K is always better than 14k!
The type of gold that you find while gold prospecting is pure gold, and it exists in some really
harsh conditions. I am not talking about harsh conditions that make it difficult on the human
body, although sweating your life away in the desert is pretty harsh. I am talking about harsh
If you were to take an entry level metal detector out looking for gold nuggets, there is a really
good chance you won’t find anything but trouble. Gold is almost always found in heavily
mineralized ground conditions. What exactly does that mean you ask?
There are two types of heavily mineralized ground conditions. Ferrous or ground that is filled
with tiny little magnetic iron particles is one type, and If you dragged a magnet through this
type of ground, you would find plenty of small iron pieces stuck to the magnet.
The other type of mineralized ground is conductive salts, and to make things even worse, most
heavily mineralized ground conditions consist of both! Your average entry level or even multipurpose metal detector can’t see through the tiny little magnetic iron pieces or the conductive salts. You will be digging nothing but false signals everywhere!
A metal detector that has been designed to work in these harsh conditions can see right through all of the conductive salts and tiny iron particles making it much easier to pick out all of that pure gold. There is nothing quite as thrilling as plucking a good sized gold nugget from the
earth, and that is exactly what these types of metal detectors have been designed to do.
Beach Hunting Metal Detectors
The beach is one of my favorite places to go metal detecting because you just never really know what you are going to find when you swing your coil over the sand. I have found everything that you can imagine metal detecting the beach, and everything about hunting on the beach is different.
There is no rule that says you can’t take your average entry level metal detector to the beach.
You will have plenty of fun, and you will find some good stuff, but you could face some
If your beach is a freshwater beach, then just make sure your metal detector can get wet. If it
can, then you will be fine. If you are thinking about taking your metal detector to a saltwater
beach, then you will need a machine that has been specifically designed for this purpose, but
why? Here is the perfect example.
I was metal detecting the beach one afternoon when I noticed a man with an entry level metal
detector. He was digging like crazy. He noticed me watching him from a distance and he waved for me to come over. I turned off my metal detector and approached him.
He looked at me and said, “Could you help me find this?” He pointed to a giant hole he had
been digging for quite some time. He said, “I keep digging and I keep getting signals all over
the place, but I can’t seem to find them.”
I knew what was going on here, but just to make sure I turned on my machine and went over the giant hole he had been digging. Just as I thought. There was not any metal anywhere where he
was digging. I turned off my metal detector and gave him the bad news.
I said, “There is no metal here.” The guy just looked at me dumbfounded and said, “But my
machine keeps beeping right here!” I hate being the bearer of bad news, but I had to explain
what was going on.
His metal detector was not designed for saltwater beaches. His machine was getting false
signals from the salt and minerals. When he removed a little bit of sand, he exposed the wet
salty sand beneath. He had been digging something that did not even exist for the past two
I told him that his machine would work fine as long as he stayed away from the wet sand. His
reply was, “That doesn’t leave me very many places to detect on the beach, does it?” I felt bad
telling him the truth. It crushed his spirit and he walked away like a dog that has been scolded.
This is what happens when you use a machine that has not been designed for saltwater beaches on a saltwater beach. If you must metal detect on a salt water beach, invest some money in a machine that can handle it.
I have said this time and time again. Your metal detector will quickly pay for itself on the beach as long as you put some time into learning your machine and learning how to hunt on the beach.
Underwater Metal Detectors
If you are a scuba diver, then you may want to buy a metal detector that you can take deep down under the surface of an ocean, river or lake. These are highly specialized machines that can withstand the pressure that deep water can produce. Taking your average entry level metal detector deep underwater is a bad idea.
While there are quite a few metal detectors out there that are waterproof, there are only a handful of them that can go deeper than 15 feet (4.5 meters). Pay very close attention to the maximum depth suggestions for your metal detector.
The small selection makes it easier to choose which underwater metal detector is best for you.
Relic Metal Detectors
Relic hunting is extremely exciting. Where else can you unearth a piece of history that has not seen light for hundreds or maybe even thousands of years? That is the reality of relic hunting. One day you could find a tiny fired musket ball that is hundreds of years old, and the next day you could be digging up a cannon ball that was fired from a pirate’s ship.
Relic hunting is fun and addictive, and if you want to find the deep targets you will need a machine that has been designed specifically for this purpose.
What makes a relic metal detector different?
A lot of the great relics that are being recovered come from highly mineralized ground. It
seems like all the good treasure is hiding in this type of ground doesn’t it?
Why not just use a gold or beach metal detector for relic hunting then? Well you can, but most
relics are made from iron, steel or brass. Machines that have been designed for gold prospecting discriminate most of these metals out. The same goes for metal detectors that have been designed for beach hunting. Although many of these modern machines have relic hunting modes where nothing is being discriminated.
Relic metal detectors have been designed to use lower frequencies that respond really well to
iron, steel and brass. My dad always used to say, “You need the right tool for the job.” This is especially true when it comes to metal detecting. If you want to successfully uncover long lost relics, then you will need a machine that has been designed to do so.
Coin Shooting Metal Detectors
If you skipped over the learning the lingo page, then you may not know what coin shooting means. Coin shooting is using a metal detector to locate nothing but older coins. It can be extremely fun uncovering coins that have been hidden in the earth for hundreds of years, and it can be extremely addictive as well. Once you uncover an old piece of silver, you will be hooked. Imagine what it would be like to uncover an old gold coin!
If you spend a good amount of time with just about any metal detector, then you will learn how
to locate coins with it. However, there are some machines on the market that seem to work
better at finding old coins. These machines could be thought of as coin magnets, and they will
quickly pay for themselves.
Good coin hunting machines also have the ability to discriminate metals like iron even when
they are located right next to an old coin. This is a huge bonus that makes it so much easier to
determine whether or not you should be trying to retrieve a target. The less expensive coin
hunting machines may not have the ability to do this. Iron targets may mask a valuable silver
coin that is a few inches away.
Coin shooting can be a great entry point into the world of metal detecting, and there are plenty
of entry level and multi-purpose machines that will help you uncover coins that are hundreds of
Multi-purpose Metal Detectors
These are the machines that can get it all done. You could think of these machines as the Swiss
Army knife of metal detectors because they have the ability to do so many things at once. Most multi-purpose machines will find coins, gold, silver, relics and some of them will even function in highly mineralized soil conditions. There are also a few that are waterproof as well. These are powerful metal detectors that are loaded with functions.
I own one, and it is by far my favorite machine, but there are a few pros and cons to owning a
multi-purpose metal detector. Let’s look at the possible problems you might be facing with a
multi-purpose metal detector.
The first and most obvious downfall is the price. Most multi-purpose metal detectors will cost
you quite a bit of money. Notice how I said, “most.” Not all of them are expensive, but you get what you pay for. I always recommend getting the best metal detector that you can afford. One
good find will pay for the entire thing.
The other not so obvious downfall to owning a metal detector that does everything is the somewhat steep learning curve. Being able to function perfectly in different soil conditions, and target very specific items means there will undoubtedly be a lot of settings to go through.
More knobs, buttons and settings can equal more confusion. This can quickly suck all of the fun
out of the hobby. There is nothing worse than digging hole after hole and recovering nothing because you don’t understand what your machine it telling you. The frustration is enough for most people to give up all together.
The benefits of a multi-purpose machine far outweigh the potential problems you will face. While most multi-purpose machines can have a challenging learning curve, you don’t have to
be a computer geek or a rocket scientist to figure them out. All it takes is a little bit of time and
The first thing you will want to do is get that machine out there and start digging up treasure.
You will want to justify the cost, and you will be eager to pay for that shiny new metal detector with the treasure you find. Thoughts of gold, silver, old coins and relics will be dancing through your head.
Don’t rush it. This is not a race. The time you spend learning your new multi-purpose metal
detector is time well spent. Once you master a multi-purpose machine, there is no stopping you
from finding the world’s greatest treasures.
The other obvious advantage is a metal detector that can do it all. Imagine a metal detector that
works on land, in the water, at the beach, at a park, in highly mineralized ground conditions, has a visual identification, an audio identification, a built in GPS and the ability to fine tune every single setting on the machine to your own personal liking.
That is the power that only a multi-purpose metal detector can bring you. These are serious metal detectors for people who don’t mind spending a little bit of time learning how they work.
Your efforts and patience will be greatly rewarded.
Metal Detectors for Kids
Metal detecting is one of the best hobbies for children. It has so many great benefits for young minds. It gets them outside in the fresh air and sunshine. We all know this is something that
kids do less of on a daily basis. Sitting glued to a television, computer, cell phone or a video game is not all that healthy.
Metal detecting gets children out in the real world. They get to explore and be young adventurers. Who knows what they may discover. They also get some much needed exercise as well.
There is another great benefit to kids metal detecting, and that benefit is the value of history.
This is very important. Every piece of buried treasure comes with its very own unique story,
and you can help tell the story.
Metal detecting makes what would otherwise be a boring old history lesson into an exciting
adventure that ends with a piece of physical history that you can hold in your hands.
Keep Them Smiling
Kids love finding buried treasure, but there are two things that will make them lose interest very quickly: A machine that is too difficult to use, and a lack of treasure. Keep things simple, and children will love every minute of it. You may also need to bury some treasure around the yard to keep them entertained.
There are a few metal detectors out there that have been specifically designed for children, but
just about any entry level machine will get the job done. Kids just want to be able to turn the machine on and listen for a beep. It is that simple.
The good thing about these entry level machines is the small price tag. You don’t have to worry about wasting a lot of money on something that your child may lose interest in. This gives anyone a great opportunity to spend some high quality time with children.