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A Beginner’s Guide to Metal Detecting

Ready for a treasure hunt? Check out our how-to guide and top picks for metal detectors.

You’ve seen them at the beach or maybe at your local park: modern-day treasure seekers scanning the ground with metal detectors. For most people who do it, metal detecting is a fun hobby. After all, you never know what it’ll turn up: money, a lost ring . . . your own keys!

But some people use metal detectors to do historical research (and maybe find a few relics) while others actually hope to find something of value. In fact, one of the largest gold nuggets ever found in California was discovered by a hobbyist using a metal detector. Now known as The Mojave Nugget, it weighs more than 10 pounds! (For a list of other amazing finds, read this.)

No matter what you’re hoping to find, metal detecting can be a fun way to explore familiar landscapes. Here’s how to do it:

Beginner’s Guide to Metal Detecting

1. Choose a metal detector and familiarize yourself with its settings. The type of metal detector you use depends on what you plan to do with it. High-quality metal detectors can be expensive so it might be better to buy a cheaper version first. We’ve included a list of the top eight metal detectors at the end of this post. (Our first pick is an expensive option for beginners.)

2. Gather additional gear. Besides a metal detector, you’ll also need a pair of headphones (that plug in to the detector), a small shovel or trowel (to dig up what you find), and gloves.

3. Practice using the metal detector in a familiar place such as your own yard. Hold the metal detector in front of you about 6 inches off the ground. As you walk in a straight line, slowly sweep the metal detector back and forth in a half circle. Stop when you hear a beep and focus on that spot, sweeping the metal detector back and forth. If you’re able, use your trowel to dig up the spot. (Be careful not to dig holes in public places such as parks.)

4. Find a place you want to hunt and get permission. Many public parks prohibit metal detecting so it’s a good idea to research before you go. Private property and land can often be a good place to go metal detecting but make sure you get the property owner’s permission first. They might even be able to tell you good places to hunt!

Bonus Tips:

  • Expect to find more trash than gold nuggets (or other treasure).
  • Carry a bag to collect what you find.
  • Try hunting in the spring or after it rains. These are two of the best times to be out with a metal detector.
  • Bring extra batteries or power.
  • If you specifically want to hunt for gold, you’ll need a metal detector designed for this purpose. The final metal detector on our list is a good bet.

8 Metal Detectors Worth Buying

ToolGuards Metal Detector

Sale
ToolGuards Metal Detector Easy to Use Carry Bag & Shovel (2019 Model High-Accuracy)
  • CAUTION: INSERT MICRO-PLUG ACCORDING TO THE ALIGNMENT! An incorrect connection can occur in very low or no signalLET YOUR TREASURE HUNTS BEGIN…. Are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime? Now you can start enjoying the thrill of finding artifacts like old coins, gold, tools, jewelry, and more with our premium ToolGuards Metal Detector!
  • ENJOY SEARCHING ON LAND & WATER! Now you can enjoy your treasure hunting in the water too! We created our deluxe metal detector kit with a waterproof coil and carrying bag, so you can uncover the mysteries on all terrain!
  • NEWEST 2019 MODEL - GREAT FOR ALL AGES: Metal detecting is a great hobby for men, women, and children of all ages! Our easy-to-use and extremely durable Metal Detector includes an adjustable knob to match your height and preference!
  • FEEL CONNECTED TO THE PAST— Do you love finding buried treasures in the Earth and wondering about the stories of who left them behind? That feeling of excitement is priceless!
  • SUPERIOR COMFORT FOR AVID DETECTORISTS— Your comfort and enjoyment is our #1 priority! Enjoy our Metal Detectors comfortable armrest to support your arm- even on long expeditions! Your product comes with a 1-Year Warranty!MANUAL IS INCLUDED AND SHOULD BE READ PROPERLY BEFORE USE

Bounty Hunter Tracker IV Metal Detector

Sale
Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV Metal Detector
  • Rugged metal detector ideal for detecting treasure in extreme ground conditions
  • Motion All-Metal mode, Discrimination mode, and 2-Tone audio mode.Larger objects up to 3 feet
  • Preset ground balance neutralizes response to mineral content in the ground
  • Disc/notch control distinguishes between targets and unwanted metals
  • 6.7 kHz operating frequency

RM Ricomax Metal Detector

Sale
RM RICOMAX Metal Detector for Adults & Kids - High-Accuracy Metal Detector Waterproof LCD Display [Pinpoint Function & Discrimination Mode & Distinctive Audio Prompt] 10 Inch Waterproof Search Coil
  • TRUE DISCRIMINATION MODE - This metal detector can detect metals including iron, aluminum, gold, bronze, silver and their articles in all-metal mode. Just press the button, you can simply set the target range (Up to 7.1 inches deep) or eliminate the metal you don’t want. Then, you can accurately find the certain metal you want. The crossed frame is for item(s) eliminated and two 9V alkaline batteries are required.
  • HIGHER SENSITIVE & WATERPROOF SEARCH COIL - The bigger the search coil is, the higher the sensitivity. The increased size of the search coil to 10 inches makes metal detecting MORE EFFICIENT. And the WATERPROOF stem and coil enable you to use our metal explorer underwater, especially suitable for outdoor activities, on the beach or in the stream. But it is should be noted that the control box is not waterproof.
  • MORE INTUITIVE LCD CONTROL BOX - A control box with LCD will simplify your metal detecting a lot. The detection mode, sensitivity level, battery condition, and volume level can be known at a glance. An arrow displayed below the target icon will clearly tell you detecting an object. The depth of the target is also displayed. Compared to the knob and dial, button and LCD are obviously more accurate and convenient.
  • PINPOINT FUNCTION & DISTINCTIVE AUDIO PROMPT - There are distinctive audio tones in our metal detector for different types of metal. So after a period of time use, you can tell what type of metal you've detected just by audio tones. And the P/P function enables you to pinpoint a target accurately. Operating steps have been written in the manual which comes with the metal finder. All we have done is to let you find the target more easily!
  • IEDAL FOR EVERY AGES - Whatever you’re a beginner or a more advanced metal detectorist, this metal detector is always suitable for you. For a metal detector for both adults and kids that can use, the RM RICOMAX is ideal. It’s designed to be easy for anyone to use, no matter their age or size. The LCD display is making it visibly read its performance. The headphone jack lets you connect stereo headphones (not supplied) and operate without trouble especially in noisy areas.

Garrett ACE 200 Metal Detector

Garrett ACE 200 Metal Detector with Waterproof Search Coil and Treasure Sound Headphone
  • Garrett ACE 200 Metal Detector with 6.5" x 9" Waterproof Coil, Garrett Treasure Sound Headphones, Instruction Manual, Batteries, and a Two-Year Warranty
  • New Digital Target ID: 0 to 99 scale offers target information
  • New Camlocks for increased stem stability
  • New Includes Pulse-Width Modulation audio: sharper, more responsive audio
  • Light weight with big performance at a small price

Fisher F22 Weatherproof Metal Detector

Fisher F22 Weatherproof Metal Detector with Submersible Search Coil
  • Weatherproof all-purpose metal detector
  • Visual target-id by category
  • Weatherproof
  • Operates on 2 aa batteries (25-30 hours)
  • Fe-tone (adjustable iron audio)

Fisher F75 Metal Detector

Fisher F75 Metal Detector
  • Lightest weight / best ergonomics in the industry - powerful performance trigger-actuated target pinpointing with variable audio pitch - large lcd screen with 0-99 numeric target identification display
  • Double-filter discrimination modes for searching in trashy areas - magnetic mineralization bar graph and readout - trigger-actuated fastgrab ground balance
  • Non-volatile memory saves settings - backlight – for low light hunting conditions - low operating cost – typically 40+ hours with 4-aa alkaline batteries
  • Double-D Waterproof Search Coil - Rain Cover for Control Housing & Battery Housing Available
  • Recommended for: coin shooting, relic hunting, beach hunting, gold prospecting. Operating humidity range: 0-90% non-condensing

Garrett Waterproof Metal Detector for Gold

Garrett AT Gold Waterproof Metal Detector with Headphones and ProPointer AT PinPointer
  • This package includes a Garrett AT Gold Waterproof Metal Detector with 5x8 DD Search Coil, Mastersound Headphones, Garrett ProPointer AT Pinpointer and AA Batteries
  • Highly Recommended - Prospecting, Coin, Jewelry, Cache Hunting, Relic Hunting, Organized Hunts and Shallow Fresh Water Hunting
  • Target ID Cursor Segments 20 | Iron Discrimination Segments 44 | Search Modes 3 | Sensitivity/Depth Adjustments 8
  • Electronic Pinpointing Yes | Frequency 18 kHz | Audio Tone ID Levels 3 | Standard Searchcoil 5" x 8" ( 14x20cm) DD PROformance
  • Length (Adjustable) 42" to 51" (1.06m - 1.29m) | Total Weight 3.03 lbs. (1.4 kgs.) | Batteries 4 AA (included) | Warranty 2 Year, Limited Parts/Labor
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