What are the Best Metal Detectors for Finding Relics?

By Daniel Bernzweig

In this article, I will cover the basics of picking out the best metal detector for relic hunting. From King Philip's War in 1675 to the Spanish American War in 1898, patchworks of relics remain scattered across the United States and the world. There is nothing more exciting than recovering a relic that was lost hundreds or even thousands of years ago. In this article, we will cover everything that you need to know about relic hunting. From equipment selection and site selection to understanding the types of relics that you might unearth.

There are lots of great public and private relic hunting sites that are open to treasure hunting. Always remember to be sure to check the current local and national laws as they relate to the area that you are considering hunting. When hunting on private property, you must obtain permission from the landowner. Take the time to do your research as your rewards can be great.

You will need to consider several features in picking out a metal detector to use for relic hunting. One of the most important considerations is the type of ground you will be hunting. In most cases, some of the top spots for relic hunting around the world are in heavily mineralized areas. For example, the American Civil War occurred throughout the Southeastern United States, an area known for having heavy mineralization. To combat this, you will want to select a detector that features a ground adjust or ground balance control. This feature will allow you to filter out the interference from the minerals while still maintaining good sensitivity to a wide variety of relics. The next item that you will want to consider is the frequency of the detector. Many relics are produced from iron, brass, and steel. These lower conductivity items can be difficult to locate with the wrong frequency. A detector with a lower frequency will more easily pick out these targets than a detector with a higher one. A pinpointing control on your detector is also important. This feature will allow you to easily zero in on your target for quick recovery.

Tips for Relic Hunting

Here are some tips to help you get started in the wonderful world of relic hunting:

  1. If you join a local relic hunting club, you will be able to find the best spots to hunt for relics. Find out about a couple of hot spots from the old-timers who know the ropes.
  2. By researching the routes of past armies, you can discover the most desirable spots for locating lost relics. Discover the locations of key river crossings and encampments where the groups would have stayed. There are often these sites buried deep in the woods and off the beaten path today.
  3. As a matter of fact, many of the best relic hunting spots are right in front of your very eyes. While strolling through the woods on a recent hike, you may have noticed some old stone walls or foundations that have been abandoned. Some of these foundations and walls are considered the remains of early settlements, depending on the area.
  4. The first step is to find a source of water; for example, natural springs, lakes, and guisers are the places where armies gather. The best relic detectors will feature iron audio modes and low-frequency hunting modes, typically around 10 kHz. Use a waterproof relic detector to search these areas.

The following entry level relic hunting metal detectors are great for first-time relic hunters.

Entry Level Relic Metal Detectors:

If you are comfortable spending a bit more, consider the following middle of the line units.

Mid Level Relic Metal Detectors:

High End Relic Metal Detectors:

Top Relic Metal Detectors:

Top Deep Seeking Relic Metal Detectors:

See Underground Image Scans of Relics

For the first time ever, the idea of seeing underground image scans of relics and other treasures has become a reality! The engineering team at Groundtech detectors has brought to life the Groundtech Discovery SMR. This device will show real-time image scans right before your eyes. Gold, Silver and other valuable metals are shown in full color on a built-in jumbo LCD display. Junk metals like Iron are also clearly displayed.

Select the Accessories that You Will Need

The final step in selecting the best equipment for relic hunting is to make sure that you are well accessorized! To begin with, you will need a good set of metal detecting headphones. The Whites Prostar Headphone is an excellent choice for quality relic headphones. Headphones let you hear the oldest and deepest relics. They also block out external sounds and shut off your detectors external speaker. This will slightly extend the battery life on your detector. Next, you will want to pick out a decent digger to retrieve your relics. Keep in mind, some targets might be quite large or deep. Always be careful when digging up relics as you might come across some fairly sharp objects. We suggest the Lesche line of digging tools for relic hunting. They offer a broad range of high-quality tools for all types of relic hunting. Finally, you will want to consider an accessory coil or two. Remember, the larger the search coil, the deeper you can detect. Smaller search coils will not go quite as deep, but they will allow you to zero in on smaller targets. They are also useful if you are hunting in tight areas or close to large metal objects like fences.

What Is Relic Hunting?

Relic hunters use metal detectors to find all sorts of things, from coins to jewelry to old tools. But some of the most popular relics to search for are Civil War artifacts. Civil War relic hunters have been finding various valuable items when metal detecting, from Civil War bullets, coins, and belt buckles to buttons.

Relic hunting is the hobby of searching for and finding artifacts, or relics, that have been left behind by people from the past. These can be anything from weapons and tools to jewelry and coins. Relic hunting is a popular hobby worldwide, and there are many different ways to go about it.

Archaeologists also use metal detectors in ancient ruins to find lost relics. But they are looking for a different kind of relic: things that can help them learn about the past and how people used to live. 

Relic hunting is different from archaeology in that the main goal is to find things that are valuable or interesting rather than to learn about the past. However, many relic hunters do take an interest in the history of the things they find, and some even donate their finds to museums. A civil war artifact can be located by a relic hunter by focusing on the right locations to hunt. Research plays a large role in finding locations like battlefields or an abandoned ghost towns that can produce lost relics like buckles and buttons from the Civil War. Exceptional finds have been unearthed on Civil war relic hunting locations in Northern Virginia. Some of these civil war relics have been found at locations where the detectorist least expected them.

How Relic Hunting Works

Relic hunting is a unique treasure hunting hobby done with a metal detector. Metal detectors give users abilities that are not available to treasure hunters, such as being able to find things that are buried underground or hidden in the water and distinguish between various types of metal before digging. 

The different types of metal detectors can be set to only beep when they come near certain types of metal, which helps find specific things. Some of the most popular metal detectors for relic hunting are Garrett metal detectors and metal detectors like the XP DEUS 2.

Relic hunters usually search in areas where there has been a lot of human activity in the past. This could be an old Civil War or Revolutionary War battlefield, a city that was bombed during a war, or even just an area where people used to live. Northern Virginia is a great place to go relic hunting. Many old battlefields and towns were destroyed during the Civil War. If you are new to treasure hunting, be sure to request permission from the property owner if it is private property. If you are detecting on public property, check the local regulations.

When you’re relic hunting, you’ll want to do as much research as possible before you start. This will help you know where to look and what to look for. It’s also a good idea to join a relic hunting club or group. These groups usually have experienced members who can teach you how to use your metal detector and help you find things like bullets, coins, buttons, belts. You can also find out about the latest equipment and learn the ins and outs of selecting a relic hunting machine.

So what types of objects are relic hunters finding?

The exciting thing about relic hunting is that you never know what the next find might be. Some of the more exciting finds include colonial buckles, buttons, swords, musket balls, cannons, and mini balls. A Civil War Southern army C.S.A. belt plate for example can command $3,000 to $5,000 in reasonable condition. The value of your relics will depend on the condition of the item and the rarity of the find. Civil War buttons for example can range in price value from under $100 to well over $2500.

Keep in mind, the civil war and other large incursions occurred over vast amounts of territory. While there are several major battlefield locations throughout the United States, armies moved on foot from area to area. Campsites, bridge crossings, and the like are areas where large numbers of relics turn up. You will want to spend your time researching for locations in the town room of the local library. Other sources of information can come from the internet, reading old guides and war books. Nothing can beat hearsay and follow up on tips and advice from old-timers. Wherever your research takes you, have fun along the way. Take your time and you may find that the journey to finding treasure can be as exciting as the relics and treasures that you will undoubtedly unearth.

Copyright 2011 Detector Electronics Corp. - Revised August 2022