What metal detector should I buy? FAQ and Buyers guide.
What is the Best metal detector for me
Meters help you to know what your target is before you start digging.
People like them, they feel they dig less trash.
Do you want to find gold nuggets?
Detectors with full discrimination may pass over gold nuggets.
If you want to prospect, I always recommend a gold detector designed for prospecting.
What is your price range?
Prices range from $99.96 - $5795.95
Do you want automatic ground balance?
Minimizes the noise created by minerals in the ground through the use of a microprocessor, which continually sets
the ground-balance to an optimum level.Previously, all metal detectors had to be ground-balanced manually which
limited the detector operator's time and ability to successfully detect the deeper targets.
Automatic ground balance is good in very high mineralized ground like Oregon, Arizona and Nevada.
If you are constantly balancing your detector, a "manual ground balance" detector you may pass over targets.
Do you want manual ground balance?
Some like manual, they feel they have control, and manual is good for meteorites.
The History Of Metal Detecting
The first known metal detector was discovered by a radio engineer in the United States in 1925. It is
believed to have been discovered by accident when a metal water tank caused interference with his field experiments.
From 1927 until the Second World War, metal detectors were very basic transmit-receive (TR) sets which had to be carried
with shoulder straps due to the enormous weight of the battery. These early TR detectors had difficulty ground-balancing in
various soil conditions (mineralization) and had a limited ability to discriminate between different metals. Besides being
heavy and cumbersome, the early detectors were only able to detect targets the size of a tennis or baseball and were not readily used for prospecting.
During World War II metal detectors were used to locate shallow land mines. After the war ended the majority of the machines,
which were predominantly owned by the US government, were purchased by North American treasure hunters.
It was not until the development and introduction of VLF detectors (Very Low Frequency: range 3 - 30 kHz) that growth in the
Since the introduction of VLF metal detectors there have been many advances in detector technology.
In order to achieve the best performance from your metal detector, it is important to understand exactly how it works and why
it goes "beep" when it comes across a metal target.
Metal detectors work on the principle of conductivity. All metal objects, whether they be ferrous or non-ferrous, are conductive,
that is, heat and electricity can flow through them.
A metal detector creates what is known as an "Electro-Magnetic Field" which penetrates the ground to a certain depth. When
this field comes across a conductive metal object, the search-coil senses a change in the field and thus detects the object.
A signal is then sent to the control box, which drives a loudspeaker, meter or headphones and emits a noise, alerting the
operator to the presence of the object. Metal detectors react to the surface area of an object not its mass. The larger the surface area,
the deeper you will detect an object. For example, a coin lying flat will be detected at a greater depth than the same coin standing upright on its edge.
In addition to metals, a detector may react to iron ores, magnetic non-conductive minerals and beach salts. These non-metallic substances are known
as "mineralized ground" and can cause a detector to produce a "false signal" or "ground noise". To
eliminate this ground noise, the detector must be "ground balanced" to compensate for the levels of these substances in the
ground being searched.
If you are not familiar with the various parts of a metal detector then it is important to take the time to become familiar with them.
The better acquainted you are with your detector, the better performance you will get from it.
The first part of a detector is the Arm-rest (1). This sits at the top of the main shaft and the operator places their elbow into it.
Directly below the arm-rest is the Main Shaft (2). This is usually bent half way along, as can be seen in the diagram. A sponge
hand-grip is placed at this bend for the operator to grip the shaft.
Ideally, the distance between the arm-rest and the hand-grip should be the length of the operator's forearm. This provides for the
best balance and comfort.
The Control Box (3).
Contains the electronic circuitry which drives the metal detector. The type of circuitry will depend upon the brand and type of
detector; gold, coin, relic, treasure or water.
Below the main shaft is the bottom shaft or Fibreglass Tube (4). This tube connects into the main shaft and can be shortened
or lengthened to suit the height of the operator.
At the base of the shaft is the Search Coil (5). This has a cable attached to it which runs up the shaft and connects into the
control box via a Connecting Plug (6).
On the base of the search coil is a Skid plate or Coil Cover (7). Its purpose is to protect the bottom of the search coil from
As a Hobby
To Make a Living
For Fun and Adventure
To Locate Historical Artifacts
As an Activity for the Whole Family
For Healthy Exercise
Enjoyment of the Outdoors
To Meet New Friends
For Holidays and Trips
There is much diversity among metal detector operators, but there are some common reasons as to why people go detecting.
This group represents about 20% of detector operators worldwide. In addition to the weekend fossicker, there are a significant
number of men and women who make a full-time living from electronic prospecting, especially in Australia and the USA.
Advanced metal detecting technology, such as the MPS and DVT used in Minelab's SD and GPX Series of detectors, provides better recovery rates
and allows the operator to detect at greater depth, thereby re-opening previously searched areas
Once you have mastered the basic techniques of operating a gold detector, there are a number of more advanced techniques
and tips that will help you increase your gold finds.
Research is one of the most important techniques for increasing your gold finds. It is essential to research an area before prospecting.
Research will guide you to the best gold producing areas within a particular region.
Your research should consist of reviewing old records from a region, viewing maps, reading books, talking to local people and
finally checking local libraries, information centres and historical societies.
Research can be 90% of your success. Remember that it doesn't matter how good your gold detector is, if you're not in a
gold producing area then you have no chance of finding gold.
Types of Gold Producing Areas.
There are a number of types of goldfields, each distinctly unique:-
Virgin Ground: This is an area of ground which was never worked by the old-time prospectors. This may have been because
the area was not rich enough to warrant the labour or was just not ever discovered.
Surfacing: This is where large areas of ground have been removed from several inches to several feet deep.
These are usually located in shallow ground areas, can be easily recognised and were areas of rich gold deposits in their day.
Shallow Diggings: This is where the gold rushes of the early 1850s took place. Small, shallow shafts were dug with picks
and shovels, the gold-bearing gravel on the bottom was then processed. These tended to follow the lowest points in an area
like gullies. These are very fertile prospecting areas and generally the old miners discarded more gold than they found.
Deep Leads: These are ancient river beds that over time have been buried. These are both "deep" deep leads and "shallow"
deep leads. When detecting deep deep leads, search only the mullock heaps. When detecting shallow deep leads, search both
the mullock heaps and the ground in between.
There are a number of advanced techniques that will help you to increase your gold yield in an area, while also help you to
remember an area's location.
Gridding: This technique involves dividing an area into a number of small grids and thoroughly detecting each grid slowly
and methodically. In dry country, it is common to see detector operators dragging a chain behind them so they can easily see
the line of their last sweep.
Marking: This involves tying coloured ribbons or string to trees to mark an area where you have previously found gold. Also
try to mark these spots on maps to ensure that you can return to them at a later date. The use of pocket-size Global
Positioning Systems (GPS) can be used to plot and store your position to within a few meters.
Detecting for coins, relics and treasure is by far the most widely enjoyed form of metal detecting around the world. In every
country there are myriads of objects of great historical interest to be found including coins, war relics, rings etc. After
centuries of making metal objects of value, the world is literally covered with items of great interest and value, some which have
been lying dormant for a 100 years or more.
This is one of the most fascinating and now fastest growing types of metal detecting. Only in recent years have underwater
detectors such as the Excalibur been developed. Until this time, detector operators were restricted to the land while a bounty
of treasures lay just beyond the shoreline. Metal detectors are now sophisticated enough to be operated in fresh and sea water
up to depths of 200 feet, below the surface, allowing divers to use detectors while searching for sunken Spanish galleons and shipwrecks.