From the Blog
How to Select Your First Metal Detector
Television has recently popularized treasure hunting with various metal detecting shows and thousands of individuals are now eager to get involved with this rapidly growing hobby. Nothing has the allure of lost treasure but whether or not you’re the one to find it will depend in part upon the type of equipment that you use.
Caveat Emptor; Let the buyer beware that there are hundreds of different metal detectors on the market and not all metal detectors are created equally. There are several very good metal detector manufacturers but others that are not so good or knock off detectors that are built with low quality components designed to look like their authentic counterparts and shipped in from foreign destinations.
If you are considering purchasing a metal detector there are a few basic points that you should consider before laying down your hard earned cash. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the major manufacturers of quality equipment; Minelab, Garrett, White’s and Fisher Research Labs are a few who make quality products and provide various price points for every pocket book.
Low priced detectors; under $150 are generally considered to be entry level or children’s metal detectors. Most of these will be referred to as “beep and dig” meaning that they will not discriminate iron, aluminum and junk from a silver or copper coins making it necessary to dig every signal. Lacking the more advanced features that experienced detectorists require means that these detectors will be outgrown quickly and you will find yourself needing to upgrade with a few short months of experience.
The other side of the coin is the purchase of a high end detector in the $1000 and above price range. As a novice to intermediate detectorist these detectors are overkill. They have features and learning curves that you will most likely find intimidating.
I suggest comparing the feature sets of detectors in the $350-$700 price range. These are the mid-line detectors that offer a full array of features with some even being submersible. They will perform well over most conditions with the exception of heavily mineralized soil, provide good discrimination capability and last well into the future without being intimidating in their functions.
My recommendation is to join a local club where you can try out several detectors before making a purchasing decision. A metal detector is something that you are going to want to try out and get some expert advice on its operation; otherwise you may become discouraged and the detector will end up in the closet. Don’t expect to find hoards of coins or gold nuggets your first time out. Do expect to dig a lot of junk.
Television makes everything appear easy. Some of the shows have even planted their finds. Remember, if it looks too good to be true it probably is. Temper your enthusiasm for your new hobby and make a logical rather than emotional purchasing decision.
You will have two technologies to choose between and your selection should be determined by the type of metal detecting that you intend to do. Very Low Frequency (VLF) detectors are the mainstay in the industry today. They are capable of discriminating out junk metal from copper, silver and gold coins or jewelry. They are also more sensitive to really small gold nuggets; although if you intend to engage primarily in nugget hunting you will want to purchase a detector that is made and tuned specifically for gold nuggets.
Pulse Induction (PI) detectors are famous for their performance in heavily mineralized soil and salt water conditions. Though not very good at discriminating a PI detector is the correct choice for salt water beach hunting, soil with high iron content or other heavy metals.
Select a metal detector that will work best for the type of hunting that you plan to do by asking lots of questions so that you are able to make a well informed decision and you’ll enjoy your detector for years to come.