Generic Detectors

What Features To Look For In Metal Detectors?

6 Mins read

Step number one before you can get into any metal detecting is to find that perfect partner with whom you will go on an adventure. Many metal detectors are quite costly, and even if you are buying an affordable one, you should know what the must-haves are. In some cases, you can forego some features depending on your level of metal detecting, but you can always get an upgrade later. If you are looking to shop for an excellent metal detector, the following are the features to look for.

Size of the coil

Minelab CTX 3030The metal detector’s coil is a vital aspect to remember when choosing your device. The size of the coil almost always goes along with how much area you can detect. That means that a smaller coil will likely give you less coverage than a larger one. However, that is not the only thing when thinking about size.

The size of your coil will also determine how well it detects various objects in the ground. For example, if you have a small detector, then this is great for finding small objects such as debris and small coins. The medium ones accurately detect more prominent finds while larger ones are great if you are looking for something substantial.

The detector you choose should be proportionate with the exact type of objects that you are interested in finding. A good bargain is to get a medium-sized one that performs equally well for either tiny or large objects.


As always you need to remember your budget so as not to buy something too expensive, yet it doesn’t offer much. There are metal detectors for as little as $50, and that goes up to thousands of dollars. If you are a beginner and you are just testing metal detecting out, then a more affordable one should make sense.

However, if you want to get the full benefits of a quality detector or maybe you’re looking for some valuable items, then feel free to spend more. You only need to pay a lot of attention to the specifications since some detectors are quite pricy for no reason at all.

How much you spend should also factor in any of the accessories that you may get such as a pinpointer, headphones, and a digging tool. If you are going to spend more on these items, then you should consider that in your final cost since they could also be costly.

Technology in the Coil

A primary metal detector works by allowing electricity to flow to the loop to create a magnetic field. When this magnetic field goes near a metal, it creates another magnetic field that is picked up by your detector.

There are three types of technologies used in making metal detectors, namely, Beat Frequency Oscillation (BFO), Very Low Frequency (VLF), and Pulse Induction (PI). If you are a beginner or buying the device for your child, then the BFO would be best. It is the simplest to use and among the cheapest.

However, many metal detectors use VLF technology in their coils since it is reliable and gives the right balance between affordability and accuracy. It also offers many options to you in terms of what type of objects are you looking for allowing you to ignore those you don’t want. Pulse induction is also used in many devices the only difference is that it is for serious metal detectors. This is mostly due to their cost and operation.


Many metal detectors allow you to switch the sensitivity, which is their ability to detect a find from where you are. One thing to note here is that the sensitivity differs and will affect the quality of your search.

If the sensitivity is too low, then you will have a challenging time finding anything for hours. However, high sensitivity is not good either since it may start picking up false finds or have a lot of static, which also means that you may not find anything.

The best device to choose is one that gives you options to allow you to set it to what will work best. Remember that sensitivity should also be determined by the area in which you are searching. In some places, the low frequency will work just fine while in other areas you may need to crank it up.


Just like in anything else, one’s level of skill in metal detecting will affect the kind of metal detector that will cover his needs adequately. If you or your child is a beginner, then a simple metal detector that allows you to understand what it is all about is best.

If you buy a complicated metal detector, so you don’t have to upgrade when you become more experienced often leads to frustrations. Most of the time, you will not know what half the functions are, and you will not understand how to utilize them. That way, metal detecting, which is supposed to be fun and exciting, becomes confusing and complicated so you may even give up.

However, if you want to become a pro at this, then you should find the right bargain between various functions and simplicity. You can achieve this by getting a mid-range device that shouldn’t cost more than $300. It is still important to educate yourself on your options so ensure that you know exactly what you are looking for.


Many metal detectors offer the option to allow you to find particular metals and leave out the garbage. This is a particularly useful feature that will enable you not only to find what you need, but you can avoid trash such as bottle caps and nails.

This feature is offered under what is considered tonal identification. It allows you to set the metals and objects that you want to find such as gold, silver, or nickel, and filter out steel and aluminum. In such a case, it would beep loudly when it is close to some of your objects of choice. However, when it comes close to those items that you don’t want it would produce either a shallow sound or something different from the main one.

Some of them also show on the screen when you are near objects that you don’t like so it is easier to know. Remember that accuracy is important here so it should be a priority when you want to test out the target object feature.

Fresh vs. Salty Water

Most mid-range metal detectors can be used in water, but there is a difference in the type of water compared to device. For freshwaters such as rivers, streams, and freshwater lakes, you can use any waterproof detector.

However, it is quite different when you live near a beach or salty water lake, and you’d like to do some exploring. While any basic metal detector that can be used underwater can also be used in brackish water, your search is significantly limited.

If you want to get the most out of your ocean search, then the metal detector you buy should either be PI or multi-frequency. PI detectors are more specialized devices and are most suitable for deep diving. They are a great companion if you are searching the ocean’s basin.

Both of these devices, however, are quite costly, and many of them don’t cost less than $1000 because of the technology used. That is why they are not the best devices for beginners, but if you have been doing this for a while and you want to venture underwater, then they are great.

Battery vs. Rechargeable Detectors

Many people that enjoy metal detecting prefer single-use batteries rather than rechargeable ones. However, rechargeable batteries are convenient and will last you a lot longer hence saving you a good number of uses. Single-use cells are either heavy-duty or alkaline batteries. The heavy-duty ones don’t outlast the alkaline ones so don’t feel pressured to buy them.

There is nothing worse than preparing for an active day out in the fields searching for treasure; then your device shuts down on you. It can mess you up, especially if you are not near a store to buy some more batteries or recharge it.

This is why getting a device with a battery indicator helps so much. However, it is also a great idea to always carry an extra set of batteries whether or not the bar reads full. It ensures that nothing will get in the way of your fun and you can explore as much as you want.

The essential features, as mentioned above, will enhance your experience in metal detecting as you become better at it. Consider what is most important to you or your child before purchase and don’t forget to read the reviews. They will give you a clear picture of what exactly is or isn’t concerning that particular device. All in all, ensure that you get value for your money and you can be sure that you will have plenty of fun metal detecting.

About author
Hi, my name is Richard, I've been metal detecting for nearly 10 years now. I first got into it after running into an old friend on the beach who happened to be detecting (Mind he didn't actually find anything whilst I was there), it certainly got me curious. Since then it's been my biggest hobby so I decided to start this website and help other people get into it.
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