28 Metal Detecting Tips I Wish I Knew Before!

metal detecting tips

I’ve noticed in the past year that many metal detecting hobbyists (beginners and even those with some experience) are not really aware of some easy to implement tips …

… This simply causes them not having as much success as they should have finding valuable targets!

Obviously, I don’t want you to fall into the same trap! Instead, I want you to take advantage of any possible detail not only to enjoy more the hobby, but also to continually come across the most valuable finds you could possibly get …

… In this Post, I list 28 metal detecting tips, not only for beginners but also for seasoned detectorists!

I am sure you will learn some new nuggets …

Tips for Beginners

1. Choose the Right Detector

Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector

This is a very important step that you should take seriously! Indeed, picking the right machine is critical to lead you toward the targets you are actually looking for …

… Obviously, the choice depends mainly on your budget, but at the same time I don’t want you to break your beloved bank account to get a high end device! So, the decent way to approach that is by setting a budget, then try to acquire the best detector based on that …

… However, this doesn’t only depend on what you can afford; indeed, there are several other factors you need to consider. The most important one in my opinion is the targets you are looking for …

… For example:

  • Garrett AT Pro (Check it Here at Amazon) is excellent for coin shooting.
  • Fisher F44 (Check it Here at Amazon) is more adapted for relics.
  • Garrett AT Gold (Check it Here at Amazon) will lead you to more gold finds, especially nuggets.

I’ve written this full guide on how to choose your first metal detector! Check it out, it breakdowns the full process you should go through …

2. Use your Detector!

Sounds like a lame Tip, Right? However, that’s absolutely not the case!!

Indeed, I can’t tell you how many people that have actually bought a decent machine and never used it. And That’s really Sad!

That’ like buying a car that you will never drive! How Sad is that?

Stick to your machine at least for 100 hours, before you decide whether you keep it (which you should do) or not! I am sure after doing so (especially if it is you first one), you will fall in love with the hobby.

3. Use a Pinpointer!

Garrett AT Pro Pinpointer

Some hobbyists consider that to be unnecessary, which is just wrong!

After you get a good signal from a given target, your pinpointer will save you lot of your time and energy digging holes more than necessary …

… Indeed, Most recent pinpointers out there, vibrate in an intensity that correlates on how close it is to your target! This will also help you not to miss finds … In other words, sometimes there might be 2 or more targets in the same location/hole, and your pinpointer will lead you to pick them all!

If your budget is limited you can have a look at these quality and cheap pinpointers! Other than those, the one I generally recommend is the Garrett Pro Pointer (Check it Here at Amazon).

4. Your Security Comes First!

injury if you don't wear gloves

Metal Detecting is a Fun Hobby 100%! Yet, there are few risks you need to watch out and be prepared for … In my humble experience you will mainly need 4 items depending on where you are hunting:

  • Gloves: to Protect your beloved hands from any potential injury while digging (Check these quality detection Gloves).
  • Knee Pads: Since you will squat several times, there is a risk you put your knees on sharp stuff like broken glass or even sharp rocks! They will also keep your knees warm while the weather is cold (Have a look at these good knee pads).
  • Hat: It’s no mystery that you will be exposed to the sun light during the day and to cold atmosphere if detecting in winter. In such extreme conditions, I would always recommend wearing proper Hat (For more ideas, Have a look at these detecting Hats).
  • Boots: This is more for your comfort … I mean, you will need to walk for couple of hours most of the time, especially if you are detecting on a field or in the woods. That’s why comfortable boots are more of a necessity I would say (These quality Boots will give you an idea on what you should use).

5. Bench Tests are Important

Detection machines are different from each other most of the time, so even if you are used to a given model and have acquired a new one, it would always be a better idea to take some time getting familiarized with it …

… The Best place to do that is your Backyard! Just try to Learn how your detector react by putting different targets on clean ground and swing over them, also tweak settings and see what happens.

In addition, when you start actually detecting, just dig everything to get to know more your machine! After couple of usages, not only you will feel comfortable using it, but also you will be able to predict the targets even before you dig for them!

6. Bring your Headphones!

Metal Detecting Headphones

Headphones will help you get the most out of your detector, That is to say, you will be able to hear the faintest signals that you won’t hear otherwise …

… Also, this will save your machine’s batteries so they could last much longer!

Yet, the best part that comes with wearing headphones, is that it will save you half of your time being asked what you’ve found by random people on places like a beach, LoL!

Finally, when it comes to headphones, you’ve got 2 options:

But, if you are looking for a Solid model to start with, you can Check my Favorite headphones Here at Amazon!

7. Don’t Skip your manual Guide!

That’s a straight mistake! The manual Guide you receive with your machine will help you learn about all it features …

… The most important part in a manual guide, in my opinion, is the troubleshooting part! It will allow you to easily overcome the most technical issues you might encounter with your machine.

8. Clean your finds (to a certain extent!)

cleaning coins

That’s a good way to preserve them so they will last much longer. However, if you are dealing with a relic or old coin, I wouldn’t really recommend doing that, as this might damage their historical value …

… I’ve put together this Coins Cleaning Guide, Check it out to learn some safe & effective cleaning techniques!

9. Join a Club

This will save you a ton of time learning about the hobby! This will get you even more excited, since you should have more opportunities to share your finds and learn about other hobbyists finds …

… This would also open a lot of opportunities to detect on various lands and potentially easily have more permissions!

10. Stick to the code of ethics

That’s the best way to sustain and grow this hobby!

Let’s say you dig holes on the ground and leave without filling them back … What would others think? You get what I mean, Right?

Always leave a good impression as much as possible … You can check these detecting Code of Ethics for more information!

11. Learn about the ground conditions

Otherwise, you might put yourself in a pretty difficult situation! Let me explain …

… You got a permission to detect in a given location, Sweet! This place is valuable, yet it is very trashy and you are not aware of that …

… Chances are, you won’t set enough discrimination beforehand to ignore the trash and your machine will keep reporting back false signals!

This applies when you are dealing with conductive soil, salt water, changing soil … Bottom line, you should do your homework to understand the ground you will explore to adjust your machine’s settings for that as much as possible.

To learn more about this Topic, have a look at these different types of ground conditions that you might deal with!

12. Learn about the Law

In this Website, I talk a lot about that! I’ve written articles about every US state and many countries in which I breakdown the current laws that regulate the hobby (Just go to the searchbox in the sidebar or in the bottom if you are reading on your mobile and search for your state or country to find out!) …

… You might be thinking right now, why the heck I’ve done all that? Simply because having a mediocre awareness of the regulating laws could lead you to some terrible consequences …

… For example, if you are searching in a historically protected place and you didn’t realize that your country/state is prohibiting that, then you could be fined and get your machine confiscated! Not to mention the risk of facing some jail time …

… Finally, you may want to check these places where you can detect without permission! These are some good places to begin with.

13. Don’t confuse your machine/yourself!

I guess you are confused right now lol?

What I mean is that it is possible to confuse your machine if you are, for example, wearing steel toe boots or rings/jewelry on your hands …

… So, a little tip right there, is to avoid wearing such, simply to avoid any confusion!

14. Extra Batteries

metal detector battery

This is not a soccer match that you will play for 90 minutes! Metal Detecting is hobby that could require significant amounts of time … You may even want to carry on searching for half a day or all day long …

… Under such circumstances there is a possibly that your batteries run out of charge! So, always have additional batteries on you to avoid that.

15. Pick the Right Time

Once you are addicted to the hobby, I understand that you would want to start swinging your beloved machine every day, all day!

There is nothing wrong with that, yet, I would still suggest you pick the time when there are less people around … By doing so, you will focus only on what you are doing.

In my humble opinion, early in the day or late at night are my favorite times.

Learn more about the right time to metal detecting!

16. Use the right coil size!

detector coil

What I want you to keep in mind from this tip is that the coil size matters!

Indeed, if you believe that your targets have enough size and buried quite deep, then you will need a larger coil … Otherwise, if your targets are significantly smaller and not buried as deep, then a smaller coil will fit better.

Also, let’s say you are detecting in a larger location like a farm field, for that you will need a larger coil to cover more space while swinging it!

There are other factors that determine the coil type and size that you should use, but I am going to leave it at that … If you take into consideration the factors I’ve just said you will be doing just fine!

17. Swing Properly!

Keep your coil as close to the ground as possible don’t lift it up at the end of your swings. Also, swing much slower than you think you should be swinging. Then slow it down just a little bit more!

Overlap each swing by at least 50 %. You can even overlap more than that if possible.

18. Double Check the Hole

detection hole

Simply because it happens to have 2 or more targets in the same hole and if you don’t check properly you might miss something valuable.

Retrieve your item from your hole, and always recheck it and plug before refilling!

By the way, I highly invite you to check this complete guide on how you should dig for metal detecting!

Tips for Seasoned Detectorists

19. Dive with your Detector

Underwater Metal Detecting Tips

Underwater Detecting is an obscure aspect of the hobby and not many hobbyists (even those with decent experience) are willing to go out there and search underwater …

… For me that’s a huge opportunity to come up with your best finds ever!

If you are not sure where or how to start you can check these underwater metal detection tips! You will learn some serious information to get you started the right way.

20. Upgrading Your Machine (not always!)

Each year new models with new technologies and features emerge to the Market … I totally understand the urge you would have to put your hands on the latest model out there!

If metal detectors were cheap, then I won’t be really be against that, yet, since it is not really the case I wouldn’t recommend that unless your current machine doesn’t include features you really need.

For example, if you have a Garrett ACE 200 and you want to detect underwater, then you need to upgrade to a fully waterproof model like the Minelab Excalibur2!

21. Prospect for Gold …

gold metal detector

This is something you should try at a certain point of your life! Searching and finding gold in its pure form is such an amazing feeling … However, you should not approach it the classical way like if you are looking for coins!

Otherwise, you will end up finding absolutely nothing!!

You will need a PI (Pulse Induction) Machine such as the Garrett ATX or even a VLF (Very Low Frequency) model that can operate on significantly higher frequencies like the Equinox 800 (Check it Here at Amazon).

Then you should target gold hot spots where you could find nuggets! Pay attention to the high mineralization that could lead to false signals …

… Make sure your machine’s settings are well suitable to the ground condition you are dealing with!

Obviously there are much more to that … In fact, you should check this Gold Detecting and Prospecting Guide! I’ve spent lot of time putting together this one, hope it will be valuable for you.

22. Winter is coming!

Don’t Stop Detecting in Winter, the competition at such period of time is very low, which increases your chances to come across better finds than usual!

However, don’t be reckless, you need to prepare for such a season (especially if snow’s involved) …

… I highly invite you to check this Guide on Winter Detecting! I’ve tried to cover in this Post all what you need to know.

23. Take advantage of the old Maps!

Sounds like a Grandpa useless tip, yet it is a valid opportunity that you should consider! Just pick up a book and/or look at an old map …

… If there is an old map pointing on a treasure or on a location that has hold activities before like trading, then you should give that a shot!

24. Hunt after Rains

When the ground is wet, the soil conductivity improves significantly. In other words, you will be able to find stuff deeper than usual!

I highly invite you to have a look at this article on using your detector in and after rain! You will learn a lot …

25. Hunt after tornados

I am kind of laughing right now lol, because this is something I wouldn’t do (bit afraid of tornados J )! I am recommending this as a Tip though …

… Shuffling items on and under the ground is what tornados do! Thus, the opportunity to stumble upon valuable stuff with no need to dig as deep as you are used to.

26. Diversify Places …

To be hooked on just one place is not really a good habit to have! This could even make you less excited about the hobby overall …

… Diversifying the places won’t only help you enjoy this activity even more, but would also diversify the finds you might come up with.

27. Go hard on Private Permissions!

That’s one of the scariest aspects of the hobby, indeed, most hobbyists are not willing to go out there knock the door of unknown person and ask for a permission to detect on his/her private property …

… Obviously, your request could be rejected several times and you might even get a rude reaction! However, if you don’t give up you will eventually come across people who will happily allow you to explore their private land!

Since these private lands are generally under searched, you could easily come up with highly valuable items! One of the tips to get the owner to accept your request is by offering to share your finds.

28. Separate your finds

Some finds could be acid and could damage others! So, use a Bag with several plastics to separate your finds before you get the chance to clean them later on.


Hope this Post wasn’t too long and was quite easy for you to go through! But most of all, I really hope you’ve learnt new tips to implement on your detecting journey …

… To take advantage of this article, just take note the tips that have resonated with you the most and try to measure how close are you to each one of them! If you think you are not close enough to what is required, try to make the necessary adjustments to meet that and improve.

Other than that, Just Have Fun!

Carissa Harmer

Carissa is the huge metal detecting enthusiast that loves collecting coins. She is also highly interested in other treasure hunting activities like magnet fishing and gold prospecting/panning.

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