The metal detecting tips below are a collection of quotes from advanced detectorists. Enjoy and happy detecting.
Advice on Purchasing and Learning a Metal Detector
Buy a metal detector that suits the needs of what you want to find. Don’t go cheap. For example, if you want to find silver coins, buy a high-end detector that is made to find silver coins. I prefer Minelab metal detectors for silver coin detecting. If you want to find gold nuggets, buy a machine made for gold nugget detecting. Consider the soil you will be detecting when purchasing a detector; make sure the detector will work where you want to detect. For example, you need a specific detector for beaches with wet sand, especially where there is black sand, because a majority of the detectors won’t work in those conditions. So think beforehand about where you will be detecting, beaches, parks, fields, or ground, and what for, before purchasing. It is about buying the right machine from the start. Then learn that machine, spend 100’s of hours using it, dig everything, even the iron. Work on making a mind map of all the VDI numbers and tones of how good targets sound and display. Over time, you will understand what to dig and what to not waste your time with. Lastly, don’t switch metal detectors constantly just because a new technology came out. If you follow me on Instagram, you will see I do just fine with a 2008 Minelab E-TRAC, technology that is 14 years old. It is about the operator behind the machine and how well they know their metal detector and what the tones and VDI numbers mean at the end of the day, not as much about the latest and greatest technology on the market
– Detectorist, Jason Flicker
You don’t get good with a metal detector by going out for an hour at a time. Structure your detecting time so you spend at least 6 hours out digging and swinging.
– Detectorist, Dorian Cook
Tips for Finding Locations to Metal Detect
A plat map is going to show you the perimeter and the property lines of a specific property and nothing more. Google aerials are going to go back only so far to show you outbuildings, homesteads, and such, yet the real truth is in the hands of the locals to hear the stories of what was actually on a property. An example is a property I was interested in detecting. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any history on the property in the local library. I ended up talking to the local sheriff only to find out this property was a “Sportsman’s Club” during the Civil War. Sometimes you have to get out into the community and listen to the lore or stories that relate to the area you are detecting. Visit your local historical society, ask around town, find old timers who liked talking about how the area once was, and talk to civil servants like city planners or in my case the sheriff to find leads on locations to metal detect. Don’t just rely on maps.
– Detectorist, Mark Branton
TOMLOV Coin Microscope
LCD digital microscope equipped with two additional LED side lights, to look at coin dates and coin errors.
Metal Detecting and Trash Targets
You have to know when to give up. If you spend 15 minutes chasing an old abandoned sprinkler head, that is three holes you could have dug instead and found a quality find. For instance, I don’t waste time digging really deep holes, depending on how the pinpointer is acting. If the pinpointer is going crazy in a six-inch wide hole and you’re 8 inches deep, it is going to be trash. I don’t waste my time. It is mostly about learning how everything acts and sounds to avoid trash. Learning the trash signals is a must to save time. When it’s a good find, the sound will pop and you will hear it easier. It might have the same VDI, but it will have a slight difference.
– Detectorist, Ryan McKnight
Detecting Tot Lots
When metal detecting park tot lots, and detecting near walls with rebar or metal objects such as poles of swing structures or climbing structures, swing your detector against the object (the wall or pole) then directly away listening to the initial beep. Then swing along a wall or structure, trying to hear a second beep. This will be a target. This is a way to metal detect near such objects that set off the detector and discover finds most other detectorists would have missed.
– Detectorist, Rick Hunter
For beach detecting, be persistent. You really have to go as much as possible and stay on top of the beach conditions. When you only go on weekends, you are really having to start over every time you get out because the beach changes so much every couple of days. If you get out 3-5 days a week, you will recover more targets and this will help to know where to go after each tide cycle and after each rain or wind storm.
– Detectorist, Chris Furr
Before beach hunting, use your local tide chart to determine if it’s a low tide or a high tide. If it’s a low tide, I like to hunt as far out towards the water as I can. People tend to lose their jewelry while in the deeper water, and low tide is a good time to gain access to this area. During high tide, I will usually detect the dry sand. During a storm or high wind event, use the tide chart to determine if high tide is occurring at the same time. This is likely to cause beach erosion (cut) and is a great detecting opportunity.
– Detectorist, Michael Trollmann
Hunted Out Sites
If you have hunted a place out, wait until it rains and rework those areas using All Metal Mode. Also, ground balance frequently.
– Detectorist, Joseph Francis Chappell
Cleaning Metal Detecting Finds
When cleaning coins, tokens, and other metal items, I run the tumbler with a bit of gravel, a couple of nice glugs of Parsons’ ammonia, water, and a small squirt of Dawn dish soap. Run the tumbler for a few hours and check. If it is mostly clean, rinse with water and dry. I used to use sudsy ammonia, but it is no longer made in the USA, and Parsons (yellow) is even better and you don’t need that much. Now to get the items a high polish, run in the tumbler with SSS (Stainless Steel Shot) and burnishing media. When tumbling coins in the SSS, they look as tho they just left the mint. For burnishing media, you can use a big pinch of graded Ivory bar soap or gem & jewelry cleaner. You don’t have to get broke by buying expensive stuff. Sometimes the local Household Hazardous Waste Reuse rooms have ammonia and other stuff. The added bonus is when getting items in the reuse room it is FREE!! The one by my house allows a person 16 items per day.
– Detectorist, Mary Roane
Examples of Metal Detecting Finds Mary Roane Has Cleaned in the Tumbler.
Before and After Using Stainless Steel Shot (SSS) to Clean Coins in the Tumbler
If you have other metal detecting tips that you would like to add, please leave them below in the comments.
Joanna Jana Laznicka, a Czech-Canadian residing in Southern California, is passionate about all things associated with metal detecting. She mainly detects on the West Coast, from Southern California to Northern British Columbia. As the founder of Focus Speed, her goal is to bring quality content to metal detectorists.