How to Get into Metal Detecting

Metal detecting is an amazing hobby that can be rewarding from a monetary angle as well as from a historical one, depending on what you happen to come across. That being said, there are many frequently asked questions people have about it, such as "how do I get started?"


Just like with any other hobby, you should do some research on equipment and on the areas you plan on exploring with your chosen metal detector. When looking to buy your first metal detector, consider the following questions:

  • How often do you plan on going out to hunt for metal? Are you planning on just picking up a sensor for something to try out during a vacation weekend or are you looking for something new to do on your weekends?
  • Where will you be using your detector? Coastal areas, regions with a history of prospecting for precious metals and areas known to have a saturation of old coinage are the best spots for going about metal detection. A local library can serve as a virtual treasure map when figuring out the best places to go on a metal quest. While Brian Fielding of metaldetectorlist.com cautions that not all detectors are capable of sensing through all of terrains, the general trend in detectors is that functionality expands as the price tag rises. Read our article on where you can go for metal detecting.
  • Will others be using your detector? While the only circumstances you need to consider when buying a detector for yourself are how it feels in your hand, user profiles are something you should consider if you plan on lending it out to your circle of friends, family or children. Mark Orwig from smarterhobby.com points out that if children are going to be using your detector, you need to look for models that promise high durability and are relatively short.
  • What is your budget? You should never feel more uncomfortable purchasing a metal detector than you would from buying any other hobby purchase; consider a range of prices like "$175 to $225" or "$350 to $500." Also, be mindful that the metal detection hobby is going to entail digging tools to collect the metal you've detected, headphones to better isolate the noises your detector makes, protection for the coils on the metal detector, a tool belt or some other easily carried receptacle for your discoveries and maybe a set of work towels for wiping sweat or dirt away from your hands and brow. If you are unsure of a particular device, see if you can borrow one or take it out for a "test drive."

A Beginner's Guide To Metal Detecting

Once you have settled on a metal detector that ticks off all the boxes of your personal checklist, the next step is to build a sense of awareness and familiarity with that detector.

  • Read the manual. Make sure you know how to properly use and maintain your metal detector. This is the first step that can make or break your ability to notice a major find.
  • Practice using the detector. According to Clark Rickman, every metal produces a distinctly different noise when a metal detector passes over it. Once you know which metals your device is proficient at detecting, try playing around in your back porch with the appropriate jewellery and coins you own so you can familiarize yourself with those particular sound profiles. You should also familiarize yourself with detecting as you swing the device around, Daniel Bernszweing cautions that novices tend to lift the head at the end of a sweep, producing skewed results. Read this article to learn about reading the results.
  • Obtain permission when looking to explore an area. While it is a foregone conclusion that you can use a metal detector in places like a federal or local park, Hobby site MetalDetectingintheUSA agrees that you should always investigate the legality of hunting for treasure in unclear areas. If the area is privately owned, you have nothing to lose by simply asking the owner. Be aware that most parties will ask for some portion of the evaluated findings-if you find saleable metals, it is not uncommon for the landowner to demand half of the potential income for owning the land you discovered the metal within.

As you can see, it is not hard to become a metal “detective”. Just do your research, learn your equipment and only search where it is permitted and you are ready to find plenty of hidden metal treasures.

  • Updated October 30, 2019
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