Metal Detecting

by Chad Eicher

Metal Detecting

Metal detecting is the perfect hobby for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, beachcombers, treasure hunters, amateur archaeologists, relic and coin collectors, and bargain hunters.

Popular with people both young and old, metal detecting gives anyone the opportunity to get outdoors and hold history in the palm of their hand. However, there is one similarity among all metal detectorists; they love to find rare and valuable coins, rings, relics, and even gold!

It’s a hobby that knows no boundaries in terms of age or class and can be enjoyed by the entire family. In many ways, metal detecting can be compared with fishing. You don’t need the most expensive fishing pole to catch fish, and the same is true with metal detecting.

So, what is metal detecting?

Metal detecting is an activity that primarily consists of hunting treasure with the use of a metal detector. The treasures may be anything from coins to pieces of jewelry or relic items. The activity can be quite lucrative and a lot of fun. While it may require some patience to acquire the skill (to maximize your detector’s use) and find treasures on the field, it’s worth its benefits.

In this article, we will tell you everything that you need to know before starting your best metal detecting journey. The article will cover everything that you need to know about the equipment, the types of treasures that are available, how to find them, tips and tricks, and some good metal detecting spots. You will find the answers to all these questions on this page.

Types of Metal Detecting

Metal detecting treasure hunting
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The first step for anyone who intends to get involved in this activity is getting a good detector. This is the most important aspect of your entire journey, as you cannot find anything without a proper detector. A metal detector is used to measure and interpret electromagnetic fields which signal the presence of metal objects. The type of treasure found varies from coins and jewelry to relics and more.

Before starting your journey towards becoming a successful metal detecting enthusiast, it’s important to understand the basics of using a metal detector. Most detectors are designed to maximize accuracy by reducing false readings, which can be frustrating for treasure hunters.

Not all detectors are made the same, and some products are better suited for certain activities or locations than others. A lot depends on where you want to go hunting, what kind of treasures you want to find, and how you want to use your detector. To get more out of the hobby, it’s wise to choose a good detector that gives accurate readings.

Looking at the vast selection of metal detectors can be overwhelming, but rest assured that the perfect machine for you is out there! Basic metal detectors are literally “turn on and go,” while more complicated detectors have seemingly endless adjustable features.

All-purpose metal detectors are the most popular, versatile, and easy to operate. But there are metal detectors specifically made to find gold, go to depths of 200ft. underwater, or search specifically for relics and caches. What one person considers the “best” may not be the best for you.

There are a variety of places where you can practice metal detecting, including parks or beaches. Below we have several types of metal detecting.

Beach Combing

Beach combing

As the name implies, beachcombing is an activity that involves searching/hunting beaches (and intertidal zones, generally) for valuable items. The person who participates in this activity is referred to as a beachcomber. In reference to the context of the subject matter, the items the beachcomber hunts the beach for are treasures, such as coins, jewelry, etc.

In the past, beachcombing was done manually, but there are now metal detectors for beaches that can do better jobs even in such watery areas, irrespective of differing mineralization or conductivity. But while you may be enjoying beachcombing, ensure you’re not carting away with someone else’s things; after all, the beach accommodates people.

Underwater Metal Detecting

At the onset of metal detecting, underwater metal detecting once posed a significant challenge with the first few metal detector models. Still, there are now a wide variety of metal detectors available for underwater hunting. Some manufacturers boast of optimum functionality even in waters with different conductivity apart from freshwater, such as saltwater.

Underwater metal detectors are waterproof and submersible without fear of damage. There are two types of underwater metal detectors: Pulse Induction (PI- works by transmitting electronic pulses that are unaffected by water) and Very Low-Frequency (VLF- also works through water but is affected by mineralized ground). Therefore, the PI metal detector is the best option for underwater hunting.

However, most, if not all, underwater metal detectors are incompatible with wireless headphones when the detector is fully submerged; hence, you would need to attach wired headphones when you go underwater hunting.

Coin Shooting

Coin shooting, also known as coin hunting/coin detecting, is a type of metal/treasure hunting specifically for coins. Every other kind of treasure is ignored, but the coins are given full attention, although only a few metal detectors can carry out an optimum performance with this kind of hunting.

Some coin metal detectors use Notch Discrimination, which can only help narrow down targets based on accepted ranges. Still, a few metal detectors with features such as Multiple Tone ID or Dot Discrimination should fit this particular need.

These features (Multiple Tone ID and Dot Discrimination) are endowed with over 200 tonal audio responses, which help the detector help the user with target identification.

Relic Hunting

Relic hunting

People go on treasure hunting for different things; while some are silver or gold hunting or coin hunting, others are out there in the field for old items, such as military buttons, swords, body armor, etc. Hunting for such old items is called relic hunting.

Some folks, often called relic hunters, are hobbyists who first research the historical information of a given area and go out to hunt for artifacts and memorabilia from the past in such locations.

One beautiful thing about relic hunting is you’re not so much restricted to certain areas; old roads and many paths have been there since time immemorial. You also see abandoned stores and houses along the road. Riverbanks and creeks aren’t off ideas too because back in the ancient days, people used rivers to guide their journeys from one place to another.

Benefits of Metal Detecting

Various activities people indulge come with a series of benefits. For instance, he who exercises daily improves his cardiovascular system and stamina, to name a few. Certain researches have shown that playing (action) games improve cognition. When it comes to the benefits that accompany hobbies, metal detecting is not any different.

Some of the benefits of metal detecting are:

  • Exercise: The advantages of exercising for the body cannot be overemphasized. While you should not expect to shed heavy pounds, you would still be burning fat. The average weight of any metal detector is 3 pounds; swinging it around for hours, from one hand to another, is in itself a kind of workout. The lower body is not left out; walking, bending/kneeling to dig works on your leg and thigh muscles.
  • Social experiences: While you’re having fun with your hunt, have you ever thought of what onlookers think? Some find it amusing and would walk up to you, curious about your hobby; you could make new friends there.
  • Financial benefits: It’s called treasure hunting for a reason, no? Keeping those coins could really amount to something monetary worthwhile. More so, coming in contact with jewelry or rare items could weigh into heavier financial worth.
  • Bonding activity: There are online metal detecting forums and local clubs as well; these clubs foster friendship and healthy relationships between people with a common interest. So, whichever you belong to, you’re most likely to make new friends.
  • History lessons: Some folks disliked history as a subject, but I can bet that a developed interest in metal detecting will change that in seconds. It’s like researching historical details about certain items (and locations), it is an adjoining hobby that accompanies metal detecting in itself.

💡Metal detecting is a complex social activity. In Finland, for example, it has evolved into an established hobby with registered associations.

Metal Detecting Brands

Whether as a hobbyist or a professional detectorist, you will find the following brands of metal detectors excellent for your use:

It is noteworthy that each of these brands has more than one metal detector model under their belt; hence, you should do your research before setting out to the market to make your purchase.

This list of metal detecting brands is nowhere near complete, but it should serve as a good starting point for newcomers to this hobby.

Metal Detecting Tools and Accessories

Hunting for treasures becomes more enjoyable when you have the right metal detector accessories to accompany your metal detector in the hunt. Below are some of the metal-detecting accessories and equipment you should fill your toolbox with before setting off on your hunt, lest you might have a less-exciting experience:

Among these accessories, we would like to draw your attention to the search coil because it is the main element for finding the treasure. You should always ensure that you have the best metal detector coil.

When you are just starting out, you can use a lot of tools that are just lying around in the house. For instance, you could use old shovels or garden trowels for digging.

Restrictions and Permissions

Although the right to search for objects is generally unregulated, there are some restrictions and permissions that must be respected. You must respect these rules not only because they may be prohibited, but also because you could damage cultural heritage.

Not all objects you will find are protected by law. You can sell most of them in the right conditions without problems. The only restrictions are when they are weapons or historical documents (antiquities).

Before you enter any private land, ask for permission.

When metal detecting in a forest or a meadow, it is possible that the land is owned by someone. In this case, try to contact them directly before hunting on their soil.

To know what you can keep and what you must return to the state, contact an archaeological museum in your region. You can also ask for advice at the local town hall or at a metal detector club in your area.

The legal situation for metal detecting varies from one country to the next. In most countries, metal detecting is considered a hobby, and, therefore, it is unregulated – as long as you do not damage any cultural heritage or disturb the peace.

However, there are also countries where metal detecting is considered a sport or business. In these cases, you will have to take care of the relevant laws and regulations for each country.

There is also the “Code of Conduct” or the “Code of Ethics”. The purpose of this document is to give some basic principles that must be respected when you practice metal detecting.

Our recommended metal detectors for beginners

Check the full list of metal detectors

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