Finding your target with a high-quality detector is only half the battle when you’re looking for metal. You also need the right tools to help you unearth those hidden treasures.
While you might think that any standard garden trowel will do, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The biggest rule of metal detecting etiquette is to leave no trace of your activities behind. Cheap digging tools will only mar up the ground more and leave behind a less-than-ideal appearance.
To be respectful and efficient on your hunt, you’re going to need the best metal detecting digging tools that money can buy.
We’ve rounded up a collection of some of the very best that the market has to offer. For a quick peek, take a look at our comparison chart below.
Top 4 Metal Detecting Digging Tools 2023
Below is a list of the best metal detecting digging tools (shovels, knives, trowels).
1. Radius Garden 22011 Root Slayer Shovel – Best All-Around Product
The cool part about this shovel is that the spade is contoured. This helps you create a round plug with ease. Just insert the spade into the ground. The two serrated edges will cut through the soil like butter. Then, use the O-shaped handle to turn the shovel in a circular pattern.
The end result is a cylinder of soil that you can replace once you find your item. It’s the perfect companion for enthusiasts looking to make the ground appear untouched.
2. SE Prospector's Choice Serrated Edge Digger – Best for Making Small Plugs
The blade measures about 7 and a half inches long. The unique thing about it is that it’s slightly curved and offset to one side. Once you insert the blade into the soil, the large stopper will prevent you from going too deep. Then, all you have to do is give the handle a turn.
The handle is not made of the highest quality materials. It’s plastic and features some ribbing for grip. While it can give you more traction, the design might be uncomfortable in tougher soil.
If you can overlook that issue, this tool is worth a shot. It’s purpose-built with metal prospecting in mind and can help you leave the ground looking good as new.
3. Lesche Standard Digging Tool & Sod Cutter – Best for Shallow Holes
The shallow vertical curve of the blade is beneficial for digging smaller holes. You’re not confined to the radius of the blade. It provides greater control over the size of the plug. Like some other tools, this unit has an integrated stopper to ensure that you can’t go past 7 inches into the soil as well.
We recommend adding this tool to your metal detecting arsenal. It’s a great solution for shallow digs where control and precision are key.
4. Garrett Edge Digger with Sheath – Best for Versatility
This isn’t a tool that’s going to limit you to dry sod. The entire surface of the metal blade is coated in a protective finish. The coating protects the tool from oxidation. So, you can easily use it in mud and beach sand without any issues.
Thanks to the strategic serrations and comfort grip, this tool will serve you well no matter where you’re hunting. It’s a must-have tool that’s great for metal detecting enthusiasts of any skill level.
What Are Metal Detecting Digging Tools?
The term “digging tool” is a broad term to cover a pretty wide range of products. You see, there are a few different ways to go about digging. The method you choose, and the best product to achieve those results will largely depend on the type of surface you’re searching in. The size of the object comes into play as well. Typically, digging tools are separated into three distinct categories.
1. Treasure Hunting Knives
Ideal for small items, these tools offer a very distinct look. While they’re called knives, they’re actually specially made digging tools that can help you cut out small plugs in one swift action. They perform best in dry compacted soil with or without grass.
Most tools feature a thick handle with a contoured grip, making them look like standard knives at first glance. However, that’s where the similarities end. The blade portion is usually made of metal and features a steep curve or sharp angle. This is meant to grab onto chunks of the earth as you dig.
Another distinct design feature is the use of serrated edges. The unique serrations slice through the soil and can make it possible to remove plugs intact.
There’s a good chance that you have used a small hand trowel at some point. They’re a common fixture in gardens. For the most part, a metal detecting trowel takes on the same basic design as a gardening trowel.
They’re small, light enough to carry on the go, and can be used with one hand. The primary difference with models made for metal detecting is that they’re built to be used in a wider range of environments. Durable powder-coated steel protects it from corrosion. As a result, they’re great for muddy environments and even underwater use.
Finally, there’s the good old-fashioned shovel. Larger than treasure hunting knives and trowels, shovels offer the most versatility. They’re typically reserved for finding large items or digging in areas that have already been disturbed.
Exercise caution with a shovel. They are capable of ruining sod and aren’t the best for creating discrete plugs.
Why Buy Specialized Tools?
Ultimately, the best reason to invest in a metal detecting digging tool is simplicity and convenience. After taking the time to track and pinpoint an object, the last thing you want to deal with is fumbling with an inferior tool to finally get that item out of the ground.
Furthermore, these tools can help you create a plug that’s perfect for pinpointing. We’ll get into how to create a plug in a minute. Metal detecting pinpointers are the last step in the detection process. Most work by producing electromagnetic fields 360 degrees around a central point. So, the best way to use these devices is to stick them in a uniform hole. A high-quality tool will let you do that in seconds.
Finally, digging tools just help you be a responsible metal detecting enthusiast! Unless you’re limited your search to your backyard, you’re going to be digging on public property. Whether you’re at the beach, by a local lake, or in a neighborhood park, the cardinal rules of metal detecting are to fill excavations and leave no trace of your presence behind. The best digging tool helps you create the perfect plug that you can use to restore the look of the ground when you’re done digging.
How to Dig a Proper Plug
First things first, what exactly is a plug? In metal detecting jargon, a plug is a carefully dug hole that keeps the soil and grass undamaged. When you dig a hole normally, you’re killing the grass and causing long-term effects on the spot. Depending on how rough you are, that spot may not grow grass for quite some time.
Digging tools create plugs by carefully remove large sections of the soil at once. If done right, the grass on top will remain undamaged. So, you can put it back in when you’re done, and no one would even know you were there. The grass would just grow to seal the hole as if nothing happened.
No matter which tool you’re using, it’s generally agreed upon in the metal detecting community that the best way to create a pristine plug is to plunge the device straight into the ground. Approaching the hole at an angle will only pull the roots and disturb the surface.
Use your tool to cut a wide hole out of the soil. Insert the tool past the grass root system to minimize damage. Once you have outlined the entire plug, pull it out with your metal detecting shovel, and set it aside. It should come out in one piece. Once you’re done, just put the removed piece back as if you were completing a puzzle. Good as new!
Here’s the deal: your gold prospecting efforts will do you no good if you’re unable to remove hidden treasures from the soil! While you could try to use a standard digging shovel or your hands to remove soil, you run the risk of causing some costly damage to grass and soil. Not only that, but you could be inadvertently violating laws in your local area.
Metal detecting is all about finding items without leaving a mess behind. With the best metal detecting digging tools that money can buy, you can do just that.
They’re highly effective and purpose-built to remove soil safely. Any of our recommended picks can serve you well on your next treasure hunt. Once you uncover your first item with one of these tools, you’ll never look back!