Metal Detecting Tips - Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Metal Detecting Tips – Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

On: Aug 18, 2023
By: TransMetal
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Category: Blog
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Do you enjoy hunting for treasure? Have always wondered how metal detecting works? Have finally purchased one but you’re unsure how to use a metal detector? In this article, we’ll answer all these questions and more.

Metal detecting can be a fun outdoor individual and group activity that can make you feel like you’re treasure hunting. It is exhilarating, it is fun, and it can be done alone or with a group of friends/family members. And what’s best? You can potentially make some money on the side as well!

Sadly, though, it isn’t easy to learn the craft. Beginners might get confused as they wonder how to read a metal detector, how to distinguish between different metals’ sound, and how to join metal detecting clubs.

Metal Detecting for Beginners: How to Get Started Correctly? 9 Essential Tips

As with many hobbies, when you first take it up, metal detecting can feel quite overwhelming. Though, if you approach it methodically, you’d be surprised at how quickly you’ll start mastering metal detecting.

Here, we’ve handpicked a number of highly useful metal-detecting tips for you! By following these tips, not only will you increase your success rate and detect much more valuable metals and artefacts, but you’ll do so while having more fun, expending less energy, and keeping safe. Make sure you read on!

#1 Research and Understand the Local Regulations

Before you start metal detecting, familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations regarding metal detecting in your area. Some places may have restrictions on where you can detect metal. Not only are private properties, obviously, off limits, but historical sites and natural reserves might be near you where detecting is also outlawed. Make sure you start on the right foot by double-checking and ensuring you’re following all local laws and regulations.

#2 Learn How to Use Your Metal Detector

Almost all decent metal detectors come with a comprehensive user manual that details the features, settings, and operations of the device. Take the time to read the user manual thoroughly and practice using your metal detector in your backyard or a local park. Get familiar with the settings, signals, and how to adjust sensitivity and discrimination. Once you get a handle on these basics, metal detecting becomes surprisingly easy.

#3 Pack Essential Tools and Accessories for the Outing

Carry essential accessories like a sturdy digging tool (such as a trowel or a small shovel), a finds pouch or bag to hold your discoveries, and headphones to listen for faint signals clearly without disturbing others around you.

If you’re going to venture far away from your home or car, make sure you also pack some necessities like drinking water. Many treat detecting as a picnic, and that can be very fun and enjoyable. But if you do, make sure you’re properly equipped prior to the outing.

#4 Choose the Right Locations

Choosing the location is very important — it can make the difference between a fruitful hunt where you find a range of rare and exciting items and a futile one where you find nothing. Public parks, playgrounds, beaches, and old homesteads are good places to begin. They are usually places where you are likely to find metals.

Though keep in mind, in the beginning, it is a good idea to focus on areas with low trash (nails, bottle caps, etc.). Trash will interfere with your detecting, and it can be a major source of frustration for beginners as they fail to calibrate their detectors precisely.

Don’t worry, though. These areas aren’t off-limits forever. As you gain experience, you can tackle more challenging sites.

#5 Learn the Signals

Different metal detectors produce various audio and visual signals when they detect different types of metals. Spending time familiarizing yourself with these signals will help you identify potential targets better.

Though, don’t stress it initially. This is very much a long-term, learn-as-you-go project. You’ll get better with time, but it is also imperative you make sure you brush up on the signals and sounds regularly.

#6 Practice Proper Digging Techniques

Not only is detecting a skill you’ll develop over time, but similarly, digging and excavating also require skill. Depending on what you might find, you need to deploy a variety of digging and excavating techniques not only to make sure the item comes out unharmed but to also ensure you don’t exhaust yourself during the process.

#8 Be Patient and Persistent and Remember, You Don’t Have to Do It Alone

Metal detecting is a hobby that requires patience and persistence. You may not always find valuable items, but each hunt can be a learning experience, and when you finally find something valuable or historically significant, it’ll be extremely rewarding.

If you feel demoralised or overwhelmed, always remember that you don’t have to do this alone. Grab an extra metal detector, a family member or a friend, and go on a journey together. You’ll find yourself having fun again. If this isn’t an option, you can also check to see if there are local detecting clubs near you. They exist in some larger cities, and they’re extremely welcoming to beginners.

And if that’s also not an option, online forums and social media groups dedicated to metal detecting are excellent resources for beginners. Joining these communities can help you learn from experienced hobbyists, get tips, and share your own finds.

What to Look For in a Metal Detector? How to Choose One?

When starting your detecting journey, one decision, over all else, will determine your experience: which type of detector are you going to use? Metal detectors vary greatly in their detection ability, in their features, in their ease of use, in their designs, and much much more.

It can be hard for beginners to know the difference between a good detector and a bad one. One that’s worth it or one that’s overkill. In this section, we’ll go over a few key areas you should consider before making your decision. By carefully considering all these points, you should be able to choose the right one!


The first thing you need to decide is your budget. Detecting isn’t an expensive hobby, and your first metal detector doesn’t need to have all the latest features and bells and whistles. But, it is always good to keep in mind that while there are good options available at various price points, more expensive models often come with additional features and better accuracy. So, keep in mind when you decide on a budget.

Intended Use

What is the primary purpose of the purchase? Are you hunting treasure or looking for a specific metal?  Different models are designed for specific purposes, such as coin shooting, relic hunting, gold prospecting, or underwater detecting. Choose a detector that is designed with your primary interest in mind.

Experience Level

Though detectors are not generally hard to operate, some models are far more beginner friendly than others. If you hate complicated pieces of equipment and prefer a simple device to help you detect metal objects, you’re much better off going with simpler detectors. It is true that you might miss out on some cutting-edge features, but the ease of use might be worth it for you!


Think about where you plan to use the metal detector most frequently. Some detectors perform better in certain environments like beaches, parks, forests, or highly mineralized soil. Choose a detector suitable for the terrain you’re planning on using it on.

Weather is also a factor. Detectors generally work better on wet ground, though if you’re living in a location where it rains often and humidity is high year-round, you should consider a detector suited for that environment.

Search Coil Size

Detectors use coils when metal detect happens. And naturally, the size of the coils will influence how the device works. Larger search coils cover more ground quickly and are ideal for open areas, while smaller coils are more manoeuvrable and suitable for tight spaces. Some detectors allow you to switch out coils for different applications. Though, they are generally more expensive.

Cutting-edge Features

There are many modern features you can get access to with a detector if you pay a premium. You should read about these features and see if they are worth it to you.

These features include, for example, Target ID and discrimination features. Target ID provides information about the type of metal detected, and discrimination helps you filter out unwanted targets like iron or trash. These can make detection much easier for a beginner, so they might be worth it!

Ground Balance

Ground balancing helps the metal detector adapt to different soil conditions, reducing false signals and improving accuracy. Some detectors offer automatic ground balancing while others require manual adjustments.

Adjustments are usually not too complicated, though they represent an extra hassle for beginners to the hobby. If it sounds tedious to you, you might want to go with detectors that offer automatic ground balancing features.

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