Why Metal Detecting is the Perfect Hobby

By Daniel Bernzweig

What Is Metal Detecting?

We all know the benefits of exercise: a healthier heart, stronger bones, improved circulation, and flexibility. The hobby of metal detecting can be both rewarding and enjoyable at the same time. The hobby is fun and has been around for decades, and is becoming more and more accessible for everyone to try. People who metal detect find many interesting items, from coins to relics and everything in between. 

Metal detecting is the search for valuable objects with a metal detector. Metal detectors come in a variety of configurations for use on land or underwater. These valuable objects are usually antiquities, such as coins, jewelry, relics, gold, and other artifacts

The thing about metal detecting is that anyone can do it! In this article, we'll look in-depth at how to get started and at the various types of metal detecting you can get into as a hobby!

How to Get Started Metal Detecting

Getting started with metal detecting is easy! So easy, in fact, there isn't much basic equipment you need to get started. The equipment you'll need to start metal detecting includes:

  • Metal detector 
  • A digging tool
  • Headphones
  • A carry case for your equipment
  • A pouch to hold your treasure and trash     

For those who want more info on metal detecting, consider buying a detectorist manual or guidebook! These resources include various tips and tricks for metal detection and information about different types of metals and relics that might be found using the equipment.

Metal detecting involves taking your metal detector out to an area with a high probability of having valuable objects there and then using it until you find something. If you've never used one before, a metal detector usually gives off a sound when it detects something. 

Different metal detectors will give different sounds for finding different objects - iron vs. copper vs. gold, etc. All you need to start as a hobbyist is a simple handheld metal detector. Read metal detector reviews before purchasing a model that may be too basic or advanced for your needs.

A wide range of detectors is available on the market. An entry-level metal detector may be all you need if you're just starting out. A reliable, easy-to-use, and versatile metal detector may have enough features for an amateur hobbyist to learn from while spending less than other metal detectors. By watching videos or reading books about how to use a metal detector to find treasure, you can maximize the return on your investment!

Keep Your Mind Focused and Alert

There are many ways to stimulate your brain: crossword puzzles, reading, writing/journaling, painting, and drawing. When you challenge yourself intellectually, you exercise your brain and increase your mental capacity. A great way to keep your mind sharp is by pursuing hobbies and interests. Metal detecting is an amazing hobby that offers everything we all need to stay sharp and mentally active. It activates the imagination and requires problem-solving, patience, and perseverance. Not only that, treasure hunting with a metal detector is often very lucrative!

Benefits of Metal Detecting

Metal detecting takes you to different terrains out in the fresh air. It can be a very relaxing hobby while enjoying the peaceful tranquility of nature. Locating old coins, jewelry, and relics (items of interest from past generations) stimulates the mind as you're learning about their history, value, and the people who once owned them. You will also learn a great deal about your city when you embark upon a treasure hunt. Before setting out, it's a good idea to do some research in the town room of your local library. This will help determine which types of treasure are most likely to be found in your neck of the woods. If you are near the ocean or beach, you may want to hunt for lost coins and jewelry along the shoreline.

What Types of Valuables Can You Find?

Most beginners like the idea of searching for coins with their metal detectors. It's simple and is almost always fruitful. Even if you come back with just a few dollars in loose change each time you go out, your metal detector is producing results! Jewelry such as rings and watches are other great finds with a metal detector. You can attempt to find their long-lost owners, sell the items or give them away. Among the popular relics to search for in the U.S. include Civil War pieces such as colonial buckles, buttons, swords, and musket balls-as well as more common jewelry and knives. Old coins are highly collectible, and a hot commodity easily found with a metal detector. You can search for Indianhead and Wheat pennies, Buffalo nickels, Barber dimes, Liberty and Washington quarters, gold coins, and early colonial coins.

What Is a Cheap Yet Good Quality Metal Detector for a Beginner?

In order to learn how to become a beginner metal detectorist, it does not necessarily have to be an expensive endeavor. Generally speaking, in any hobby, a good rule of thumb is "you get what you pay for." The good news is that today, with all of the advances in technology, you can find a good quality detector without breaking the bank! 

One of the most inexpensive and best quality metal detectors for beginners is the Garrett Ace 400. The Garret Ace 400 is a high-quality metal detector that offers all of the basics you'll need to get started.

The Garrett ACE 400 has advanced capabilities like Iron Audio, digital target ID, and frequency modification to help you discover more riches while reducing waste. Headphones, a coil cover, and an environmental cover are included. The metal detector reviews on the Garrett Ace 400 boast its high-performance capabilities for beginners. When looking at metal detector reviews, look for their easy usage and convenient features, especially as a beginner. 

Metal Detecting Code of Conduct

The metal detecting code of conduct is very similar in most countries across the world. The Treasure Hunter's Code of Ethics designates a generally accepted code of conduct for metal detecting enthusiasts to follow. As part of our commitment to recreational metal detecting, we at Detector Electronics Corp. encourage responsible conduct and strict compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations and restrictions, as well as unconditional respect for the rights and property of others and those held in common by us all. Even though these values and standards may not be explicitly stated in every article your read on our site, they are an integral part of our philosophy, efforts, and goals.

The metal detecting code of conduct states that you should never forget that you're an ambassador for your hobby when you're out with your metal detector. Do not engage in anything that might detract from the reputation of our hobby or pass up an opportunity to educate anyone who asks about it. You do not have permission to enter any property without obtaining prior authorization.

The legal situation changes from country to country, state to state, county to county, or landowner to landowner. In the event that you damage property while detecting, you may still be liable for civil litigation. By damaging something with your digging tool, for example. Repairing any damage will not protect you from liability related to trespass, etc. It is best to check with your local authority before entering state land, such as state parks.

Joining a Metal Detecting Club

Getting involved in a metal detecting club is a great way to get started. Metal detecting clubs are made up of fellow hobbyists who know their territory very well. This can be extremely helpful when starting out; the members will often share information about where they have found good targets in the past. 

Most metal detecting clubs also arrange group trips to harder-to-reach locations that would otherwise be inaccessible without a guide. These organized events give you an excellent opportunity to try out different types of equipment in different conditions before making any expensive purchases. Check with your local club for upcoming events that you can take part in.

Metal detecting club gatherings are also perfect places for meeting people with similar interests and having fun discussing stories from your hunts. You may even find kindred spirits or someone willing to go hunting with you on weekdays when there are no official meetings.

How to Get Permission to Metal Detect

Getting permission from landowners to metal detect on private property can be tricky and time-consuming. Many metal detecting enthusiasts choose to join a local metal detecting club to get access to land that is open for hidden treasure hunting, or better yet, use the permission of already established members as leverage when approaching landowners who would like to allow metal detecting on their property.

However, if you're metal detecting on your own, ensure you have permission from the landowner before you begin metal detecting, as it's illegal to do so without consent.

The first step towards beginning your metal detecting adventures at a new place is to make sure that you are not trespassing on anyone else's property. Are you uncertain about a property and its owner? You should conduct thorough research before approaching them. When you approach a landowner, do so in a cordial, courteous manner.

Remember that if you do not have written consent from the property owner or designated property representative, then you are trespassing and could be prosecuted for doing so. 

After acquiring landowner consent, contact your local governing agency for any restrictions or guidelines on metal detecting in your area.

What Is the Best Way to Research Metal Detecting Areas?

Now that you have permission to metal detect, where should you start? Researching areas for metal detecting is not an exact science - your best tool is your local knowledge and expertise.   

To research areas for metal detecting, there are several tools to use, such as Google Maps (satellite view), aerial photography, topographic maps, zoning maps, and plat books (online or at the library).

Google Map Satellite View

Using Google Maps' satellite view will give you a good idea of where there might be valuable finds on someone's property. If you can see landscaping that looks like it was done by hand, then that means the landowner has landscaped around valuable finds before. 

However, if you're researching an area for metal detecting and all you find is undeveloped land with run-down houses - well, don't waste your time! It may be city or government property, so you will need to research the area before going.

Online Aerial Photography

Using online aerial photography allows you to see images of what it looks like underneath the vegetation and topography. Many times, there are valuable clues about the land, like the location of trees and shrubs that can be spotted from this view. You might also find roads leading to abandoned buildings and structures used for war - perfect spots for finding relics!   

Plat Books at a Library 

Sometimes called property maps, these books give information on who owns the land and how much land they own. It is important to remember not every owner owns an entire parcel; many parcels reside under one name but are divided into different ownerships (i.e., domestic and international).    

Property Owners

This one can be hit or miss - some property owners will give permission for relic hunting on their private property, while others won't even answer your emails. It's important to remember that many of these owners have inherited land from relatives and may not be very knowledgeable about the history associated with the parcel they own. If you are looking to find great items, you need to know where the best place to metal detect near you.

Can You Metal Detect on Federal Land?

Because metal detecting can be done virtually anywhere, there are state and local regulations on the land you're allowed to metal detect on.

Metal detectors are not permitted on federal property under federal law. Relic hunting, excavation for antiquities, and removing historical objects or artifacts are all prohibited by federal statute.

State and local lands like state parks are usually controlled by the state's bureau of land management. To find out whether your state park or local land near you allows for metal detecting, contact your local BLM. 

How Does Metal Detecting Work?

Let's take a look at how metal detecting works, what you can find, and the different types of metal detecting now that you've learned more about the hobby and how to start. The invention of the metal detector, which was intended to find a bullet that had hit US President James Garfield during an assassination attempt, was credited to Alexander Graham Bell. This early model wasn't nearly as sophisticated as modern metal detectors despite its rudimentary design.

Modern metal detectors function by sending an electromagnetic wave into the ground via the search coil. Any metal objects (targets) within the electromagnetic field will be energized, giving off their own electromagnetic signal.

All metal detectors work on the principle that metal has different magnetic properties than the surrounding ground and other substances around it. Current is sent down a wire coil to produce an electromagnetic field. 

When a piece of metal goes through this field, its distinct atomic structure causes the current to either speed up or slow down, and the magnetic flux lines are changed, producing electrical signals that indicate the presence of a metal object.

What Can You Find With a Metal Detector?

Metal detectors are used in a range of settings and for various purposes. A metal detector may be utilized as a simple tool to spot metal such as nails and pull tabs in a yard, or it might be part of an intricate security system that finds weapons and illicit items. They can also be utilized to identify metal pollutants in underground lines.

Metal detectors can be used in many different fields to find hidden metallic objects such as tools, scrap metal, copper wire, relics, and even gold nuggets. Metal detectors can also be used to check the specific conductivity of an object to see if items are made from valuable metals such as silver or gold

Types of Metal Detecting

Because there are so many materials, you can find while metal detecting, there are different types of detectors used depending on what you're going to search for. We'll discuss the different types of metal detecting, what equipment is best for each, and how they work as a hobby!

Metal Detecting for Coins or Jewelry

Jewelry metal detecting is the most popular type of metal detecting. The equipment for this hobby is small and lightweight to be used in narrow or cluttered areas, such as when you're searching for lost items like earrings on the beach or when seeking rare coins. 

It does not matter what your physical abilities are or how old you are, anyone can enjoy coin hunting. This type of sport not only provides exercise, relaxation, and excitement but can also be enjoyed alone or with friends as well. There are a lot of exciting places that are ideal for coin hunting, such as beaches, school yards, parks, ball fields, and old houses.

Most detectors include a standard, medium-sized search coil. Coin-size objects can be detected with these conventional coils with sufficient depth and sensitivity. You may also opt for a bigger search coil if you're targeting deeper targets or a smaller coil if you're searching for things that are smaller or closer together. 

The Fisher F22 Weatherproof Metal Detector with 9" Waterproof Coil is a great detector that can be used for a wide variety of metal detecting types. It uses VLF technology, which means it detects items using both audio tones and target identification indications on a digital display. It also has adjustable sensitivity settings so you can find what you're looking for easier!

To find coins with a metal detector, you should do some research on the coinage that is available in your area so that you know what kind of metals they are composed of and roughly how old they might be. Finding old coins can be educational and exciting, and some collectors may find even more joy in restoring them to their original condition. 

For example, older coins will most likely not contain silver and instead will be made up of copper and nickel or bronze alloys which produce weaker signals than sterling silver. Charles Garrett, the creator of Garrett Metal Detectors, was a major player in developing today's metal detectors. 

So, Where Can I Find Old Coins?

You can find old coins all around you in your house or even in the street. If you're from a city, check out old parking lots and construction sites. If you're from a more rural area, old farms and homesteads are great places to find coinage. Typically, coins are found from 4 to 12 inches deep under the surface.

Relic Metal Detecting

Relic metal detecting is one of the more popular types of metal detecting. From Civil war bullets to buckles and buttons and other weapons, there is a lot to find! It's often carried out by people who are interested in history or have an interest in military artifacts, though this is not necessarily always the case. Relics can be found buried underground and underwater or in the contents of other cases or structures; it all depends on where you happen to be digging or swimming!

Bounty Hunter metal detectors are a popular metal detector brand for coin and relic hunting. They offer waterproof coils and the ability to detect various types of metal. Any Bounty Hunter metal detector will get you the basics you need to search for relics, but top-of-the-line models like the Bounty Hunter Platinum Pro will make relic hunting a breeze. 

Relics are generally found with a metal detector that is more advanced. A lot of beginner detectors are not capable of finding relics because they don't have the required features to cope with the loss of lower frequencies in certain metals, which means that only beginner detectors may only detect some targets at close range. With this said, there are some high-tech relic metal detectors out there on the market today.

How Deep Will Metal Detectors Go?

Metal detecting for buried coins, relics, or other valuables is a popular hobby. People use all sorts of detectors, and some people believe the deeper you want to go, the more expensive your detector should be. The depth of what can be detected depends on how much metal is in the target object. 

Metal detectors can usually detect objects about 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) deep. A mid-range metal detector can achieve a detection depth of 12-18 feet (30-45 cm) underground in ideal circumstances. Some expert devices may reach 65 feet (20 meters).

Gold Metal Detecting

To search for gold with a gold metal detector, you'll need to be able to distinguish between gold and other metals. For this reason, you should set the discrimination on your metal detector low enough to accept only signals from small gold nuggets. If you set your discrimination high, it will filter out trash items, like bottle caps, that you come across, so you don't have to dig them up. The downside is that you may miss some of the smaller, more valuable targets like gold jewelry if it is set too high.

There are two superior types of gold detectors-very low frequency (VLF detector) and pulse induction (PI). VLF detectors designed to find gold has a higher operating frequency than other models in order to detect smaller golden nuggets.

Underwater Metal Detecting

Metal detectors that are able to work underwater fall into two categories: pulse induction (PI) metal detectors and very low frequency (VLF) metal detectors. By sending non-water-affected electronic pulses, underwater operation of pulse induction metal detectors is possible.

Underwater metal detectors with pulse induction technology send electronic pulses that are unaffected by water and wet minerals. They transmit rapid electrical impulses that are sensitive to precious metals, allowing them to detect through wet or mineralized soil. 

Pulse induction metal detectors are excellent choices for treasure hunters and recreational users due to their ease of use, even when the user is not an underwater hobbyist. 

Beach Metal Detecting

Depending on the type of metal detector you have, you may search for metals in both water and on land. The most sophisticated metal detectors are used to find precious items on the beach. In fact, some metal detectors are designed specifically for beach metal detecting. By exploring the best beach metal detectors and the beach metal detecting tips that are available, you too can find success while detecting in the surf and sand.

The best metal detectors for beaches or deeper treasure hunting are those that use PI technology. This Pulse Induction (PI) technology is used in the very best beach units. Minerals are ignored by these types of detectors, so you can pick up your detector and start searching for treasure immediately. The best type of metal detector if you are spending a lot of time at the beach is this type of metal detector.

It is very important to understand how your metal detector works, as well as where you can go to find some great treasures during beach hunting with a metal detector.

Why Should You Go Metal Detecting?

So now that you know how metal detecting works and the different variations you can choose to get into, let's look at some of the benefits that metal detecting has as a hobby. Metal detecting can be a rewarding and exciting hobby that can lead to some great finds. As a hobby, metal detecting can also be a great way to get out of the house and get some exercise and can even be a fun activity to enjoy with the kids or as a family. If you are selecting a metal detector for a youngster, be sure to read our article entitled Best Kids Metal Detectors for some great tips and advice. If you hit it right, you may even come across a money cache.

You should go metal detecting because there is the possibility of finding coins, rings, gold, and maybe even lost rings or treasures like Indian head pennies. There are many items you could find, and they may not all be worth money, but they will still be interesting to learn about. 

Just think about how interesting it would be if you found something that you've never seen before or learned more about history with your own two hands! Many collectors add to their collections by metal detecting.  It is quite common for people to collect a wide variety of things, and there is no end to the number of things they collect. In most cases, these collections are born out of the desire for the entire family to be able to enjoy a hobby together and have fun together. Among the many metal objects that can be collected, coins and Civil War relics are among the most popular. In recent years, there has been a great deal of interest in historic belt buckles and buttons as well as other Civil War collectibles.

Coins are the first thing that comes to mind when people hear "collectible." Their rarity makes them valuable, but their historical significance makes them even more valuable. Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) minted some of the earliest coins. Copper, gold, silver, bronze, electrum, and silver were the materials used to make them. In most cases, early coins were struck using dies that had been used to strike Roman coins.

You could also expand your social circle and make new acquaintances in the process. If you find something, you can always try to return it or share in the reward! 

If metal detecting doesn't sound like your thing, but you like treasure hunts, then there are other similar activities that may be more to your taste, such as geocaching. You can even combine both of these things into one by going on a metal detecting geocaching adventure! So go ahead and get started with metal detecting! It's worth trying at least once in your lifetime, and you will enjoy it no matter what difficulties arise.

Best Metal Detectors for Seniors

A good metal detector for seniors will be lightweight with enough features to make your treasure hunts successful. Metal detectors will typically locate all metallic objects, including gold, silver, iron, nickel, copper, and brass, aluminum, tin, lead, and bronze. There's a great selection of professional-quality metal detectors that are feature-packed, designed for easy operation, and offered at an affordable price. You may enjoy deluxe features such as a target identification display, a large, easy-to-read LCD screen, a visual depth indicator, and multi-tone audio target identification. The target identification display offers great functionality-indicating whether you have found silver or copper, relics, possible gold coins, or iron. Sensitivity ground adjust controls can be adjusted on many models. These allow you to enhance your target range for deep targets or reduce the effects of ground mineralization. To choose a metal detector that's right for you, go to the top of our site and select Browse Shop - you can then browse by category, brand or usage.

For seniors, exercise is especially important! There is a laundry list of reasons you should keep your body active. Many challenges that come with older age (difficulty walking long distances, climbing stairs or carrying groceries), are due to a lack of physical activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control, seniors have the most to gain from activity-it that prevents a multitude of health problems. For instance, studies show that exercise wards off the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The beauty of being a senior metal detectorist is you've got the time to really unearth some amazing treasures. Many enthusiasts simply don't have the time to read and research sites properly, isolate a location, and go back as many times as is necessary to recover all the coins and valuables the site has to offer. Metal detecting is also famous for being a 'family hobby'. Kids and grandkids will be eager to join in on the fun and adventure.

Things You Can Find While Metal Detecting

Though the hobby of metal detecting can be a fun and educational hobby to start, there are situations where it can be a profitable hobby as well.

When metal detecting, you can find a ton of valuable items, including:

  • Artifacts from wars and battles
  • Buckles and buttons from soldier's uniforms
  • Gold coins
  • Lost coins
  • Relics
  • Historically significant pins and metals
  • Keepsakes of the deceased
  • Coins and jewelry of historical value

Where Can You Find Old Places to Metal Detect?

We have put together the following ideas for some of the best places to go metal detecting. It is important to check the local laws before metal detecting on any site.

  • Overgrown fields
  • Old abandoned buildings 
  • Places of historical significance (battle sites, battlefields)
  • Shipwrecks in coastal areas, and more.

You can find old places to metal detect by researching family history and looking into ancestries. This way, you will be able to find cemeteries, old abandoned homes, historical landmarks, holes in rustic buildings, churches, forts, and bunkers, and battlefields from wars long ago.

Once you've found an area where you believe there may be buried treasures to uncover, it is important that you walk around the area first so you can get a feel of what might be hidden underneath the ground. You should also look closely at any signs or fences put up by landowners so as not to trespass or disturb anything private belonging to others. 

How to Choose the Right Metal Detector

Choosing the right metal detector depends on what you are looking to find out in there. For gold prospecting, you may need a metal detector that has a high sensitivity to small targets. If you're interested in old relics and coins, or even modern objects like household appliances, etc., you can choose metal detectors that are designed for this purpose. 

When choosing your metal detector, it is essential to look for one that will be able to detect the widest range of materials, has an easy-to-use design, is lightweight for ease of use, and has decent battery life. 

Various types of materials are used to create the outer casings of metal detectors, so if you're looking for something very specific, it's worth shopping around first or asking a friend for recommendations. 

Among the features of various metal detectors is the ability to discriminate between different types of metal, automatic ground balancing, multiple frequencies, and depth indicators.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get started by reading the most frequently asked questions about metal detecting as a hobby, how to get started, and some of the specific areas of metal detecting.

What Is the Best Metal Detector?

There are plenty of metal detectors on the market, and each one has different features that work best for them. It's not a matter of trying out which kind works best; it is about finding the right detector for you and your needs.

The XP DEUS 2 Waterproof Multi Frequency Metal Detector is one of the best metal detectors on the market. It is the first wireless, fast simultaneous multi-frequency metal detector that is also waterproof to 20 meters, 65 feet underwater. 

The device includes 12 pre-programmed settings, one of which is specifically designed for gold nugget prospecting. The XP Deus 2 outperforms many of its competitors and can be used for nearly every type of metal detecting out there.

What Is the Best Spade or Shovel for Metal Detecting?

When metal detecting, it is important to have a spade or shovel that has the right weight and is comfortable to swing around. A spade or shovel that's too heavy will cause unnecessary fatigue, while one that's too light won't be strong enough to get into hard ground.

One of the best shovels to use when metal detecting is the Lesche T Handle Ground Shark 36" Long Shovel. The finest quality steel is used to make the Lesche all-purpose shovel. It has a long, tapered cutting edge that resists dents and nicks from hard digging conditions.

Private Property Metal Detecting Tips to Remember

Even if you're just doing it as a hobby, it's always best practice to know the local laws when searching someone else's land or water! You may have to comply with local laws regarding trespassing and reserved rights where you live. When metal detecting on private property, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Always ask permission to metal detect. This is extremely important in case you find any items of value that the landowner may be entitled to.
  • Many people choose to obtain a written agreement when metal detecting on private property. This not only clarifies the rights and responsibilities of both parties but also provides solid proof in court should it come down to it.
  • Stay in open areas whenever possible. Ensure that you have a clear idea about where you can and cannot go before beginning your search.
  • Observe 'No Trespassing' signs and obey them - even if they're not legally binding, you wouldn't want to get in trouble with the police.
  • Metal detecting is technically trespassing if the land is not owned by you or your family.
  • If it's someone else's land, they may have rights to what you find! 

Copyright 2012 Detector Electronics Corp. - Revised August 2022

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