mine detectors

10 Differences Between Mine Detectors and Metal Detectors!

mine detector

Couple months ago I saw on TV some soldiers using a particular detector (called min detector) and I was thinking and wondering how this machine is different from a regular detector?

Obviously, I’ve made my research and decided to put together this short post to share what I’ve learnt!

I am sure you will learn new things …

First … What is a Mine Detector?

A mine detector is an electromagnetic technology based device mainly used for locating concealed or buried land mines.

This machine works similar to a regular hobbyist metal detector (Like This One Here on Amazon). It functions by indicating the presence of metal or by giving a signal when it passes over something different from the ground in that general area.

The first mine machines were developed during World War II, and there has been little change in them since then. It involves a prodding instrument and a tripwire feeler.

When the detector detects metal underneath the ground, the prodder is inserted at a shallow angle to probe the sides of the potential mines. This avoids touching the trigger mechanism of the mine, which is usually located on the top.

This is a hazardous process since it requires the detectorist’s head and hands to be near the mine. A person who detects mines with a mine detector is known as a deminer.

The design of mine detectors is very much similar to regular detection devices. Its practical was first designed by a Polish officer, Jozef Kosacki, which was used for clearing the German land mines during the Second Battle of El Alamein.

How do Mine Detectors work?

Over the years, mine detectors have become much lighter and more sensitive. They are also easier to operate than the earlier models.

In spite of these advancements, the basic principle of working remains electromagnetic induction. In electromagnetic induction, a current is passed through a wire coil.

This produces a time-varying magnetic field, which in turn, induces currents in various conductive objects in the ground. These currents, in turn, generate a magnetic field that induces currents in the receiver coil of the mine detector. The resulting changes in electric potential are used for detecting metal objects.

Most landmines contain sufficient metal to be detectable by mine detectors. No mine detector can find all the mines. The performance of these devices depends on many factors, including soil, type of mine, depth of burial, and ground mineralization.

An international study carried out by RAND Corporation found that the most effective type of mine detector was able to find 91 percent of the test landmines in clay soil. However, in iron-rich soil, a mine detector was only able to find 71 percent of the mines. The worst mine detector was only able to find 11 percent of the mines, even when used in clay soils.

Mine detectors also have a problem of giving false positives. Since minefields contain other fragments of metal as well, especially shrapnel, metallic minerals, bullet casings, and others, there is a high possibility of getting false positives from the mine detector.

You can learn about how detection machines work in general!

10 Differences between a mine detector and a regular detector …

Below I list the 10 main differences I’ve found:

1. There are many different types of metal detectors available on the market, but there is only one type of mine detector. Many companies sell mine detectors, but the fundamental nature of this device remains the same. For example, you can choose to buy a very low frequency (VLF) or a pulse induction (PI) detector. However, you will only get an electromagnetic induction mine detector.

2. A regular detector does not come with a prodder, and neither do hobby detectorists need a prodder. All mine detectors come with a prodder, which is a pointed stick that is inserted at a shallow angle into the ground to prove the sides of any potential mines that the detector has found. It has to be inserted at an angle because the triggering mechanism sits at the top, and that needs to be avoided.

3. A mine detector does not have any settings for tuning out the trash. A regular machine has many settings that together help filter out the trash. According to the Cambodian Mine Action Center, in a six-year period, 99.6 percent of the time was spent only digging up scrap or junk. This translated to a total of 23 million hours spent searching with a mine detector. A regular device has good quality discrimination controls, which allow it to skip over ‘trash’ or ‘junk’ targets.

4. Coil designers regularly release new and innovative designs for regular metal detectors. However, when it comes to mine detectors, there are minimal options, and companies do not generally manufacture new types of coils for these devices.

5. Regular detection devices can function at a greater depth, especially PI metal detectors. Most metal detectors can work effectively at a maximum depth of 20 to 50 cm (8 to 20 inches). However, mine detectors do not have this much reach. Furthermore, since most landmines are not buried too deep underneath the surface, mine detectors are easily able to detect these mines, and the exact maximum depth has never truly been calculated.

6. Regular detectors are used for detecting different types of targets, including ancient relics, coins, jewelry, gold, silver, and many other precious metals. Mine detectors, on the other hand, are only designed to locate simple metals, and even in that, they often are unable to detect the mines with great accuracy. They cannot detect gold, silver, or other precious metals.

7. Mine detectors do not have as many parameters as regular machines. For example, today’s state of the art metal detectors come loaded with extensive wireless technologies to allow for earphones, connect to Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth devices, and some even have built-in GPS locator technology. The top models of metal detectors are not only fully computerized, but they also use integrated circuit technology that allows detectorists to set sensitivity, discrimination, threshold volume, track speed, notch filters, and many other parameters can be factored in.

8. Many of the detector models can function underwater and are fully waterproof. On the other hand, mine detectors are not waterproof and cannot work underwater.

9. Regular devices are able to work effectively in mineralized soil as well. Mineralized soil, though, throws off a mine detector and renders it nearly useless. Even the new models of mine detectors are not able to accurately detect mines in highly mineralized soil. However, if you are detecting in highly mineralized ground, you will still need to have a metal detector that is of a certain quality so that it is able to cut through the ground conditions. For example, the Garrett ACE 250 (Check it Here on Amazon) is an excellent choice for detecting in mineralized soil.

10. Mine detectors are not able to function accurately in wet ground conditions, whereas, you can continue using your regular detector to detect in wet ground, for example after a rain, on the beach, and around rivers. Wet ground is not a problem for most devices, and in fact, in most cases, wet ground even helps tremendously as it improves the conductivity.


Mine metal detectors are often confused with old detectors, which is as you’ve noticed above, not the case!

Anyway, hope you’ve learn some new things in this Post! I am glad you are asking such questions and trying to find answers …

… This means that you are passionate about the hobby!

If any more questions just let me know.

About the Author

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.