Best metal detectors

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What is a metal detector?

A metal detector is a device that gives an audible or another signal when it is close to the metal.

Metal detectors are useful for finding metal inclusions hidden within objects, or metal objects buried underground.

How metal detectors came into being?

Scientists and engineers devised a machine that would detect metal approaching the end of the 19th century.

The early metal detectors were crude, worked to a limited degree and used a lot of power.

In 1881, Alexander Graham Bell developed a device to locate a bullet shot into the chest of the then US president, James Garfield but it was unsuccessful as the president was on a metal bed and the metal detector was confused.

Bell was inspired by a Parisian inventor, Gustave Trouvé who first designed a device to detect metals such as bullets from human patients.

How do metal detectors work?

Metal detectors work by transmitting an electromagnetic field from the search coil into the ground. Any metal objects or targets within the electromagnetic field will become energised and retransmit an electromagnetic field. The detector’s search coil then alerts the user by producing a target response once it receives the retransmitted field.

You should know these too;

Control Box

This contains the detector’s electronics and is where the transmit signal is generated and the receive signal is processed and converted into a target response.

Unwanted Target

They are generally ferrous, such as nails, but can also be non-ferrous, such as bottle tops. If the metal detector is set to reject unwanted targets then a target response will not be produced for those targets.

Search Coil

This transmits the electromagnetic field into the ground and receives the return electromagnetic field from a target.

Target

A target is any metal object that can be detected by a metal detector.

Transmit Electromagnetic Field (visual representation only - blue)

This energises targets to enable them to be detected.

Receive Electromagnetic Field (visual representation only - yellow)

The receive electromagnetic field is generated from energised targets and is received by the search coil.

Target Response (visual representation only - green)

When a good target is detected the metal detector will produce an audible response, such as a beep or change in tone.

Many Minelab detectors also provide a visual display of target information such as an ID number or 2 dimensional display.

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How deep can a metal detector detect?

Usually, metal detectors detect objects about 4″-8ʺ (10 – 20)cm deep. A mid-range metal detector can reach 12″-18ʺ (30-45)cm underground. Some specialized detectors can go as deep as 65″ (20 m). The specific depth depends on the type of detector you’re using, and the sort of object you’re trying to detect, and other factors, like the minerals in the soil.  The size, shape, and orientation of what you’re looking for affect how deep you can detect it. Let’s dig in! 


Metal detectors can only detect metal objects. You can’t look for diamonds or wood with metal detectors. Any metal object you’re searching for is a target.  It could be a lost ring, a set of keys, buried treasure, property markers, or a septic tank lid. Whatever it is, it must be a metal thing that you want to find.  A target’s metallic composition, size, shape, and orientation affect how deep a metal detector can go.

Target Size:

A metal detector can detect larger targets deeper than smaller ones because larger objects have more surface area, which creates more disruption in the electromagnetic (EM) field generated by a metal detector.

Target Shape:

It is easier to detect circular targets like coins or rings, and flat rectangular objects like metal boxes or chests at greater depths, because it has more detectable surface area.

Long or thin shapes such as nails or wires are more difficult to detect deeper in the soil.

Target Orientation:

It is easier to detect a target that is lying flat (horizontal) deeper than a vertical target. This is because there is more surface area to disrupt the EM field from the detector.

A vertical target provides less surface area to work with and so is more difficult to detect.

Target Composition

The type of metal you’re looking for affects how deep you can find it.

You can detect metals that are highly conductive of electricity (like silver) deeper than less conductive metals like gold, lead, or stainless steel.

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Types of Metal Detectors

Based on how they are used and the items they detect, metal detectors are classified. There are three main types of metal detectors: Very low frequency (VLF) detectors, pulse induction (PI) detectors, and specialty detectors.

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Very Low Frequency (VLF) Detectors:

These are the most common and affordable types of metal detectors.

It usually has two coils: a transmitter coil that creates the magnetic field, and a detector coil that senses any disturbance in the field created by conductive materials.

VLF detectors are lightweight, durable, and pocket friendly. This makes them great options for beginners and children.

This kind of metal detector is typically used to find coins, jewelry, relics, and other metal deposits.

Pulse Induction (PI) Detectors:

Pulse induction (PI) metal detectors have just a single coil which transits the magnetic field and detects conductive materials.

It’s better to use PI detectors when searching beaches, rivers, or underwater (if you have a waterproof detector) as their single-coil design is less affected by ground mineralization than VLF detectors.

PI detectors are not the best metal detectors to use in cities since they cannot discriminate between iron trash (like nails) and treasures (like coins or gold). They are not as pocket friendly as VLF metal detectors.

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Specialty Metal Detectors:

Specialty metal detectors such as multi-frequency detectors, gold detectors, and waterproof detectors can be either VLF or PI detectors.

But they also have functions that enable them to execute specialized tasks.

Multi frequency metal detectors:

These are ideal for professionals or hobbyists who enjoy metal detecting in a variety of locations.

Multi frequency metal detectors can be used in cities, on the beach, in rivers or lakes, or even in the ocean without needing both a PI and a VLF detector by changing their frequency.

They are not so budget friendly.

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Gold metal detectors

As the name indicates, they are designed specifically to find gold.

This type of detector can be either a VLF or a PI detector, but has a higher frequency range than the other detectors.

This higher frequency won’t set the detectors’ alerts off when they encounter salts and other minerals commonly detected while searching for gold.

Waterproof metal detectors

These have waterproof coils for searching in the shallows at the beach or in a river.

They have fully submersible metal detectors with waterproof coils and sealed controls that you can use while scuba diving.

Make sure that a product’s waterproof designation is in line with the level of waterproofing you’re looking for (some units may not be submersible and others may be submersible only to a certain depth).

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Advantages of using metal detectors

Pursuing of hobbies:

Metal detectors help people to pursue their hobbies. Such hobbies may include coin shooting activities, beach combing, detection of buttons, bullets and axe heads.

Security screening:

Metal detectors are used in airports to screen passengers, checking bags in public places and in public events.

Food processing:

To avoid food contamination, metal detectors are used in food processing industries to detect fragments of metal.

Civil engineering:

They are used in finding reinforcement bars inside the walls.

Disadvantages of using metal detectors

False Alarm:

People who may have had surgical metal plates in them may be subjected to a manual security check because the alarm went off.

This is because, as the metal detector detects the metal. It does not know that the person is not carrying anything on them.

Not budget friendly:

Acquiring such devices may end up proving to be expensive. It could be an initial hefty price-tag or for the maintenance involved in keeping the device working.

Time Consuming:

If you are bent on finding a great, long lost and forgotten fortune underground, you may waste a lot of time and end up falling short in your other duties.

How to choose a good metal detector.

Before you choose a metal detector, think about how you’ll use it to find hidden treasures, and you’ll know the features that will help you do this

Target Type

Where will you be using your metal detector? What types of targets are you going to look for?

You should think about these before purchasing a metal detector. If you are going to use it near a river or a large lake, it will be better to purchase one with waterproof features or completely submersible.

You might want to purchase a gold metal detector if you're going to look for gold.

Discrimination

This is the ability of a metal detector to differentiate between types of material.

For instance, a detector with good discrimination would be able to tell the difference between a coin and a bottle cap.

If you have a detector with good discrimination, you'll not waste a lot of time digging up some trash thinking its treasure.

Your detector will only alert you when it finds stuff that match the selected criteria.

Target Identification:

Instead of alerting you when there is something worthwhile to dig up, a metal detector with target identification actually indicates what the object is, within an acceptable range.

A metal detector with target identification can usually distinguish between jewelry, junk, gold, even coins of different denominations.

When a metal detector with target identification finds an object, it will either emit an audible sound or display a visual notification. The audible sound is usually high pitched for valuable items and low pitched for trash.

The visual notification will display an icon of the assumed type of object. Most detectors have five or six indicator symbols for typical finds, like coins.

Operating Frequency:

This refers to the number of times per second that the signal is transmitted and received by the detector. Low-frequency metal detectors are able to scan deeper into the ground, so they’re very good for finding large, buried objects. Most metal detectors have a low- to-medium-frequency range.

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Sensitivity

This refers to how well a metal detector can detect conductive materials from a specific distance. Usually, metal detectors are labeled with the recommended sensitivity level that is appropriate in most applications.

In some situations, the user may have to lower the device’s sensitivity level for it to work effectively.

The level might have to be adjusted, for example, if the search area is high in mineral content or is near power lines.

If you find that the device is not reacting properly to the presence of conductive materials, you may have to turn up the sensitivity level.

If you set the detector’s sensitivity too high for the application, then you are likely going to receive a lot of distorted and static instead of clear indicator sounds. Lowering the sensitivity should rectify the issue.

Search Depth:

The search depth is the depth that a metal detector is able to search for conductive material. Search depths vary greatly between products. They range from about 2 inches to 15 inches.

Lower-frequency detectors offer a better max-depth rating than high-frequency detectors. Your location, the type of ground you’re working with, and interference above or below ground can all reduce or improve your metal detector’s search depth.

Weight:

Choose a metal detector that you won’t have to struggle with so that you can focus on the readings and your findings.
For children, a metal detector that isn’t too heavy will be needed and preferably one that can be adjusted to an appropriate height. Those with back or shoulder injuries should avoid heavy detectors that could exacerbate existing health problems.

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Reviews of the best metal detectors 2021

Best Metal Detectors for Gold

1. Garrett ATX Waterproof Deepseeker

Deepseeker Mono Searchcoil searches deeper to find more treasure, including deeply buried treasure caches. It includes a 20″ Deepseeker Mono Searchcoil in addition to the standard 12″ DD coil.  

Deepseeker Mono Searchcoil also comes with a military-grade Garrett hard case to keep your investment protected

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2. Detech EDS Gold Catcher

The Detech EDS Gold Catcher is designed to find the tiniest and deepest gold nuggets. Detech EDS Gold Catcher features a design that finds tiny gold nuggets with ease. 

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Best Metal Detector for Silver

1.Teknetics Omega 8500 Metal Detector with Waterproof 11″ DD Coil

The Omega 8500 is easy to use, has a fully-featured detector for locating coins, relics, and jewelry. Omega 8500 comes with an 11″ DD search coil, which provides excellent depth and pinpointing.

Omega 8500 also features a lower frequency for perfect operation when searching for silver, coins and relics. 

This model is full featured and a top choice for searching for silver coins, rings, relics and jewelry of all types. 

This Omega 8500 model is an exclusive offer and ships with a large 11″ DD search coil, a waterproof pointer for finding silver and more.

Features

2.XP ORX Wireless Metal Detector with Back-lit Display + FX-02 Wired Backphone Headphones + 11″ X35 Search Coil

“If you want a detector that is easy to use right out of the box, the XP ORX may be the unit for you.

This XP ORX powerful metal detector is pre-configured with factory programs to enable users of all levels to get started immediately.”

The XP ORX ships with a factory preset coins mode for locating silver in extreme hunting conditions.

The quick recovery and adjustable frequency let you tune this model for silver

Features

Best Metal Detector for Coins

1. Bounty Hunter Platinum Pro

It features a mid frequency and easily locates coins and jewelry in all types of ground conditions.  The Platinum is a top pick for beginners getting started to professionals looking for an easy to use machine.

Features

2. Fisher F4 Metal Detector

This Fisher F4 Metal Detector is perfect when it comes to hunting for coins, relics, or on the beach. Fisher F4 Metal Detector is affordable and comes with both visual and audio target identification and both auto and manual ground balance.  

Fisher F4 Metal Detector is an excellent option for someone just beginning their metal detecting hobby. It has a 5-year warranty

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Best Metal Detector for Relic Hunting

1.Teknetics T2 Limited Edition Metal Detector

This Teknetics T2 Limited Edition Metal Detector model Includes 2 search coils for specific targets (gold, silver, relics and coin).

The Teknetics T2 Limited Edition Metal Detector excels in these tough conditions like  filtering out iron and other junk metals.  

Teknetics T2 Limited Edition Metal Detector features an expanded iron range, fast recovery speed and the perfect frequency for locating relics.

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Best Metal Detectors for the Beach

1. Best Metal Detector for Deep Treasures

Metal Detector for Deep Treasures has a fully waterproof design and an  easy to read display.  This Metal Detector for Deep Treasures model builds on the features of the popular AT Pro.  

This Metal Detector for Deep Treasures model features rugged construction, wireless capabilities, a back-lit display and advanced saltwater capabilities.

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Best Metal Detector for Deep Treasures

1. Groundtech Discovery SMR

When searching for deep treasures of gold and precious metals, the Groundtech Discovery SMR is your best bet. With this, you can see a real 3-D picture of your treasure in the ground before you start digging!

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Looking for treasures as a hobby or profession should not take a big bite out of your pocket. You can now find a quality metal detector to suit your interests and lifestyle while still being budget friendly.  Always consider the features of the metal detector before you do it. You don’t necessarily need a waterproof detector if you’re not going to use it in a river or lake.