Selecting a suitable metal detector can be a very tough job and you risk making a costly mistake. Finding metal detectors to purchase is easy, but finding information that is helpful isn’t as easy.
Most prospecting magazines are full of ads boasting this company makes the greatest metal detector and you will be rich if you just get this model. How true are their claims? Will a specific model help you find more treasure?
The truth of the matter is that luck plays a large role in treasure hunting. Regardless of which metal detector you have, if you are not in the right spot at the right time, you will never find anything.
However, having the correct equipment and knowledge can help you be in the right place more often.
What Will You Be Looking For?
This is a very important question to ask. What do you normally do, and what kind of gold is in your area? Have you been finding nuggets in one particular area or are you just looking for an extra edge while panning?
If you are a casual gold panner, then you may not even need a detector. If you do decide that it may be fun, then a model that also can be used for finding coins on the beach may be a better choice for you.
If you have been finding nuggets, then you would want to get a gold specific detector, as it will be more finely tuned for your application, finding nuggets.
Another thing to keep in mind is the terrain you normally search in. If you are planning a serious hike, you may want a body mounted detector, so that your hands are free. If you work streams, then you will want a waterproof coil and detector. If the soil is dense and highly mineralized, you may need a detector with better filtering abilities than a standard model.
Do Your Homework First
Technology is constantly changing, and even the most advanced detectors of a few years ago are virtually outdated today. It is important to know which models are truly new and improved, and which are merely repackaging of outdated designs.
Updating old designs is often accomplished by adding microprocessors or LCD displays. This can make a detector nicer to use, but adds little or nothing to its actual capabilities.
People are often inclined to be loyal to a particular brand. However, this can be a serious error if superior performance with a better warranty can be obtained elsewhere.
Changing technology can quickly overcome experience, so don’t assume you know everything. Do your homework. Knowledge is the best substitute for experience.
How Does A Detector Work?
Metal detectors indicate the presence of metal. A metal detector works by creating a magnetic field that is used to charge the area below its coil. As the field moves past an object underground, it reacts to the passing magnetic field by creating its own field. The detector picks up these tiny fields and indicates to the operator that there is something metallic and what type of metal it may be.
There are 2 common types of detectors.
Very Low Frequency (VLF) models are the most common and work very well. One nice feature is that they often have very good discriminator circuits. That’s what keeps the detector from finding pop can tabs, when you are looking for coins.
The type of soil being searched limits VLF detector efficiency. If there is much mineralization, such as salt, the range of the detector will be reduced.
Pulse Induction (PI) works by send a strong pulse into the ground and measuring how long it takes for the field to decay. If it takes any more than a few milliseconds, then there is something metallic in the area below. Different metals retain the pulse field longer, thus allowing the detector to determine the type of material that has been found.
PI detectors have much more depth and work better in ground that is mineralized than VLF models, but they do not discriminate as well.
Tips For Buying A Metal Detector
Research as much as you can on as many detectors as possible.
Know your area and what you will be looking for.
Know the limitations of your preferred detector.
Go to a rental shop and rent a detector for a day. Research its abilities and then take it for a hike like you normally would. Its abilities, weight and comfort may surprise you.
The cheapest, most expensive, or brand name unit may not be the best deal. Take the time to compare abilities.