Want to buy a metal detector but don’t know what to get? Want to learn how to detect but don’t know which detector to choose? Would you like a complete guide to help you determine your future metal detector purchase?

The guide-detectors team has put together this complete guide “How to choose a metal detector”. It will help you determine your profile, your ambitions, but also which detector to choose according to the terrain, and finally the important criteria to take into account when buying a metal detector.

How does a metal detector work?

A metal detector works simply thanks to a physical principle called “Eddy Current”. The principle itself is quite simple to understand. A metal detector is equipped with a balanced electromagnetic system, more or less complex. The metal detector sends waves parallel to the detection disc.

The waves then pass through all the materials they encounter, more or less deeply depending on the power. When they meet a metal, more or less noble, the waves are returned and perceived by the detector. It then emits a sound and visual signal which depends on the nature of the metal and its conductivity. The more noble the metal, the stronger the signal.

As you can see, the principle is simple but terribly effective. There are then important criteria that come into play in the choice of your detector. We have identified 4 major ones.

The 4 important criteria on a metal detector

When buying your metal detector, there are 4 main criteria to take into account. These criteria will obviously determine the value of the metal detector. Here are the 4 criteria for buying your metal detector:

  • The power
  • The discrimination
  • The BEACH mode
  • Versatility

The power of the detector

The power of a detector is important because it will allow you to search more or less deeply and therefore effectively. It is the value expressed in KHz that you should look at. The higher the value (in the 12-15 KHz range for an entry-level detector), the better the detector will perform. The higher the power, the greater the search depth, but the more experience is needed to avoid digging at will. You will need to know your equipment well in order to search with discernment and, above all, efficiently, otherwise you will be disgusted by the detection.

On the other hand, you can have detectors with a power of 17KHz perfectly suited to beginners. I am thinking in particular of the excellent C-Scope CS 770XD detector. It is powerful but is made for beginners!

metal detector placed on a meadow

The discrimination of the metal detector

Discrimination is also a major element in your choice. This means applying search “filters” to certain types of metals. If you only want your detector to beep for gold, for example, you discriminate against everything else.

Almost all detectors today have some sort of discrimination system. We like the Garrett ones, which are very effective (Garrett ACE 300i for example).

BEACH mode (beach)

This mode is also important because it allows you to search on the beach or not. Indeed, the conductivity of salt water can disturb the detector and it must be equipped with a system to mitigate this effect, otherwise goodbye detection on the beach. Generally, this mode is called BEACH.

If you want to detect on the seashore, remember to check the waterproofness of the disc. It would be a shame to throw away your detector because of waves or spray.

The versatility of the detector

Having a detector is good, but having it be versatile is better. A detector must be able to work on a maximum of different terrains: forests, meadows, ploughing, walls, seashore, underground…

So remember to check if the research you want to do is suitable for the detector you want to buy. Again, it would be a shame to be deprived of a part of your playground.

The 2 types of detector, VLF or pulsed induction

Today, manufacturers mainly produce VLF detectors. But you should know that there are 2 different models on the market. The results of the searches will be different depending on the detector. Each one is adapted to a specific job and it is necessary to choose well before buying. The budget will also be a factor in the type of detector you choose.

The VLF detector

VLF detectors (for Very Low Frequency) are detectors where a current flows through a coil (which is emitting). The magnetic field emitted by the metal detector is then measured in a second receiving coil. In France, a metal detector store called “Le fouilleur” explains that VLF detectors are the best detectors for finding treasures underground.

The principle is quite simple to understand. The transmitting coil sends a signal into the ground. When a metal object is encountered, the magnetic signal is sent back to the surface and is then perceived by the second coil. Depending on the object, the returned signal will be stronger or weaker. It is precisely this difference in signal that allows the device to determine the nature of the metal or the depth. The sound tones received in the headset depend directly on this signal.

The pulsed induction detector

The operation of pulsed induction detectors is not the same, as you might have guessed. In these detectors, there is only one coil. It receives a current in the form of pulses. This creates a magnetic field that is sent into the ground. The difference is in the power. With a pulsed induction detector, it will be much more powerful.

Gallic currency found with a metal detector

At each pulse, the field is measured. This field varies according to the object present in the ground. The detector is then able to determine the depth and nature of the object according to the signal intensity and the fluctuation of the field strength.

This type of detector is necessarily more expensive because it is more powerful. It is therefore necessary to determine your budget. Indeed, why invest in such a detector if it is not to use the maximum potential! It will therefore be necessary to think carefully about your purchase, even if for the vast majority of cases of beginners or amateur detectorists, a VLF detector will be largely sufficient.

Your profile as a detectorist

Of course, your profile will be important to take into account. The questions to ask you are :

  • What do I want to find?
  • Where do I want to detect?
  • My level of detection?
  • What is my budget?

These questions are important. What you want to find will determine what metals your detector should be good at. Some detectors are better on gold than others for example. Obviously the budget will change.

You may want to read the article on “How to get started in detecting”. It will complete your reading.

Your level of detection will also be a determining factor. If you take a detector for initiates when you know nothing or not much about it, you will come up against the complexity of the detector and will not find anything, yes yes… There are now detectors for beginners that are great for learning. We have made a selection of entry-level or mid-range detectors that will largely satisfy you while remaining within a tight budget.

The budget point is therefore also a determining factor in your choice. The detectors range from 50 to 6 000 $ for the most efficient. We have chosen for you a selection of detectors for less than 140 $ if you want to start with a good quality detector.

Finally, the place of detection is important! As mentioned above, if you want to detect on the beach, take a detector that has the mode BEACH, otherwise it is not worth it! Also take into account the pollution of the soil that you will search. For polluted soils, you need a detector that discriminates very effectively. In the entry-level range, the one we recommend is the White Coinmaster Pro, it is really efficient on mineralized and polluted soils.

In conclusion, you can see that there are many criteria to take into account when choosing your metal detector. However, the current detectors are more and more efficient for an affordable cost. You can enjoy yourself without blowing your budget!

We also talk about soil corrections for detectors. Indeed, on very mineralized ground, some detectors can beep at all and be ineffective. There is then a mode of correction of ground effect which allows to correct that and to compensate the disorders.

You can see that these criteria are important because if you are looking in a ruined house or on a beach, each detector will not react in the same way and your detection will be changed.

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