20 Tips For Using Metal Detectors

20 Tips For Using Metal Detectors

If you are new to the metal-detecting side of hobbies, welcome to the tribe! Let us assure you, this hobby will be a lot of fun and full of excitement. And as you get better with it, it might even be lucrative. 

You will initially dig into loads of trash and need help getting good finds with your backyard searches. But that is how the start is. Do not get discouraged. Through trial and error, you will certainly get better at the game. However, you will need to be patient with it because a hobby like that demands a lot of practice and experience. 

However, to help you progress quicker, there are some tips for metal-detecting that you can use, and the experts suggest too. But first, let's start from scratch.

What Is Metal Detecting? 

Metal detecting is not a new concept. People have been practicing for years. But because of technological developments and new tools, it has recently gained much more popularity. However, one may know a variety of different motivating factors for metal detection, like:

  • The joy of unearthing and holding something that has lain buried for hundreds, if not perhaps thousands of years.
  • The love of collecting old coins, like wheat pennies or antique silver coins, you never know what you might find.
  • Enjoying the rush of this exercise and exploration.
  • Selling rare and valuable finds like gold nuggets and silver or gold jewelry for making metal detecting a lucrative hobby. 

You will, however, have to set realistic expectations and not be disappointed with the failed attempts. Do your research, know your metal detector accessories well, prepare the digging tools, and set in for the unknown quest. Believe us. It is going to be an adventure!

Metal Detecting Tips

Apart from regular practice, you must improve your metal-detecting skills. Do you know how to metal detect properly? Experts recommend keeping some metal detecting tips in mind. Check them out! We have prepared a list of those essential points here.

Tip 1. Be Ready For More Trash Than Treasure

It may be exciting to locate your first few pull tabs and bottle caps, but the excitement soon wears off when it appears like that's all you're finding. These are useless stuff, and you'll probably discover many more. Continue honing your skills and learn to spot features on your new metal detector that allow you to notch out these targets without disturbing other worthwhile targets, such as gold and iron artifacts. Don't give up easily.

metal detector grass

Tip 2. Dig Everything 

In the initial days, dig into everything you find. It will help you identify different targets and their responses on your metal detector. You want to familiarize yourself with how your tool's response is affected by the depth and conductivity of the metals. Sometimes a trash signal might have an ID similar to a good target. You want to make sure it's not hiding your good target. Therefore, dig up everything you find and keep noticing their signals. 

If you find a good target, further digging might also be helpful. Say you found a coin at a spot. There will likely be more because goof targets usually are found in pairs or sets. So, continue digging, and you might get more successful finds.

Tip 3. Do Not Settle For Cheap. Get A Decent Metal Detector As Your First One.

Not to say that you need to invest in an expensive professional-grade metal detector for your first one but if you must invest in getting a new one, get one that helps you. One around the range of $300 and $700 will be of decent quality at a reasonable price. Moreover, the reason is that you want your first metal detector to have enough features to use when transitioning from a beginner to a novice after enough practice. 

If you get a cheap one, it won't have enough features, which might limit you. On the other hand, a professional-level metal detector will have complex features you do not need as they might confuse you.

Tip 4. Know Your Metal Detector Well

You need to be familiar with how to use your detector, whether it is your first time purchasing one or your tenth. You won't truly appreciate any hunts or searches you undertake until you fully comprehend the features and functionalities of your detector.

You have to cross the gap between understanding how to operate your detector and unearthing some of the most significant historical, archaeological, or priceless treasures available, whether by consulting the manufacturer's handbook, an instructional CD, or numerous internet tutorials. Play with it, perform tests, and learn the different tones and Target IDs. Only then will you be able to use it effectively in your treasure-hunting adventures. Along with that, you must also protect it well with metal detector bags because you want to make sure this investment works a long way with you. 

Tip 5. Use An Overlapping Scanning Technique 

A good overlapping technique can make a huge difference. Once you start using it, you will see how the number of hits you come across has doubled. You are indeed missing ground if you are not using an overlapping technique. 

Tip 6. The Coil Must Be Parallel And Close To The Ground

A skill that you may develop through time is coil discipline. It's the capacity to keep the coil of the detector parallel and close to the ground at all times. But if you can learn it from scratch, you can avoid having to undo bad habits. 

When you have a coil parallel to the ground, you can be sure that you are sensing the ground right beneath the center of the coil, making it easier to locate a signal. Your chances of getting a signal will increase when you have a coil closer to the ground since it ensures better sensitivity.

Tip 7. Don't Leave Holes Behind

Treasure hunting needs you to be respectful to people and places you scavenge for treasures. Treasure hunters must, thus, always cover up holes they have dug before leaving. Do not leave the trash that you have dug behind. The consequences of not doing so could lead you to be unwelcome in your favorite places. The metal-detecting community needs support, not rejection.

Tip 8. Wear Comfortable Headphones

Most metal detectors have speakers. These can be pretty loud, making it necessary to use headphones. Even if you don't care about the potential discomfort to those around you, using headphones makes you more sensitive to a signal than the speaker on your metal detector by canceling the background noise.

Most metal detector enthusiasts would agree that using headphones has changed their game. Once you get used to them, you will want to experiment with numerous models and even take many different brands. 

Make sure they are easy to use and comfortable for your ears. It is anyway unadvisable to spend hours wearing uncomfortable headphones. 

Tip 9. Follow The Law

Most people undoubtedly think this is common sense, but common sense is only sometimes common. So let this serve as a gentle reminder to always be respectful and leave as little evidence of your searching as possible. It includes patching up holes, not going too deep, and generally avoiding causing any damage to the ground you are detecting on.

Additionally, you must confirm that metal detecting is permitted on the property you intend to detect unless you own it or have the landowner's specific consent. Furthermore, even if it is allowed, you must observe any laws or guidelines associated with metal detecting in these locations. Receiving a fine because you failed to contact the DNR before entering a state park's restricted area is not fun.

Tip 10. Use A Smaller Search Coil For Trashy Areas And A Large Coil For Greater Depth

The uncertainty and anticipation of what you may find is arguably the most frustrating part of treasure hunting in shady and trashy places. Trash targets may hide signals from desirable targets. But you can achieve better target separation, more effective detection of small objects, and improved maneuverability by using a small search coil of 6" or less with a DD shape.

On the contrary, you will have to use larger search coils for greater and wider depth and coverage. Fewer sweeps, better and big object detection, and a more extensive scan area are all the advantages you get. 

Tip 11. Choose Quality When It Comes To Accessories

While you don't require the most expensive equipment, you require dependable and robust equipment. You want to get only the best metal detector as per your budget. Digging tools need to be both strong and lightweight. Comfortable headphones will make the finest fit, and with volume levels you enjoy. 

After a hunt, properly dispose of the bag. Whatever you use to collect your treasures, such as mesh bags or pouches, shouldn't have any holes or slack stitching because you do not want to lose what you just discovered. Take a trash bag with you to collect any rubbish you encounter. It means that you or another person won't have to dig up any more trash in the future.

Tip 12. Record Your Finds

If you have not heard this from anyone before, let us be your messenger. It would be best if you always recorded what you have found. Record not just the object description but also the location where you found it. The record will give you an idea of where you find the best hits and which site you can search more for good finds.  

Tip 13. Rotate The Places You Go To Metal Detect

When you know you often find good treasures at a specific site with heavy foot traffic, give it some time off to regenerate. That way, your chances of finding hits also increase. The most effective technique to complete this task is to rotate when and where you metal detect. When utilized in conjunction with the previous tip, this advice performs best.

Tip 14. Go Metal Detecting After It Rains

There are many explanations why metal detecting works best when the ground is damp. The wet ground has a stronger conductivity than dry ground, which enhances target and depth sensing. However, dry earth makes it easier to dig without much mess. 

You should try this and go hunting right after the rain. Gumboots, a cover for the control box, and raincoats are all the necessary equipment. Be prepared to feel chilly, dirty, and congested, but the good news is that your discoveries might be profitable since nosy strangers won't be out and about in the rain.

Tip 15. Go Early Morning Or Late At Night

If you want to avoid being bombarded by questions and make good use of your time in hunting, try going out early in the morning or late at night. You can skip the confrontation with nosy neighbors and public attention this way.

Tip 16. Look For Natural Gold Indicators

Suppose you're enthusiastic about visiting potential locations, or you want to use your metal detector close to old excavation sites in search of some really fine nuggets. In that case, knowing how to spot natural indicators will be helpful.

Discover the geology of the potential location. It requires a solid understanding of rocks, geological contact zones, gold geology, ground color changes, and the willingness to venture outside established gold regions. Small-scale prospectors can use their metal detectors to find gold veins by scanning ore samples and mining waste. It is wise to start your research beforehand.


Tip 17. Don't Miss The Rock Piles On Beaches

A rock pile is a bad location to drop a penny or even a piece of jewelry. It's horrible for the person who dropped it but fortunately for you. But that is precisely why this is a tip for hunters. It presents a chance to discover something that someone without a metal detector is likely unable to do.

Tip 18. Join A Metal Detecting Community

Having a community with shared interests is a great benefit. There are no "secrets" to metal detecting unless you have a high-yield spot that you don't want anyone to know about. The community will have everyone share their tidbits of knowledge.

Tip 19. Don't Skip Hunted Out Areas

You might know some locations to be over-explored by other hunters, but giving it a shot yourself is still okay. Do not skip the same spot on the assumption that they have been hunted out.

Tip 20. Carry Extra Batteries

Depending on the model of your metal detector, a wide variety of battery kinds and styles are available. However, it is better to carry several extra batteries regardless of the type of battery your metal detector utilizes. 

Features to Look For In Your Metal Detector

Here are a few essential features you want to check before you go in to buy metal detectors.


The right detector for you will be highly sensitive to targets, even if they are under the soil or have been corroded. A detector with high sensitivity will make your searches easy and more profitable.


Your detector should be able to discriminate iron objects from a silver coin- basically, trash from valuable things. This way, you will save time from digging garbage.  

Ground Balance

Iron in the soil, even in the most minor amounts, can prevent your metal detector from finding coins, artifacts, and other valuable findings. Ground balance is what will cancel out these interferences.

Target ID

The target ID is what will give you the value of your find. You want your detector to help you identify various targets and, thus, have a vast array of target IDs.

Operating Frequency

Operating frequency is the number of times a signal is sent and received every second by the detector. Lower frequency detectors give deeper scanning capabilities, but gold and smaller items are more perceptible to those with higher frequency.

Lower frequency detectors

Best Places To Visit

Of course, you must have started in your own backyard and nearby areas when you first got your metal detector, but these are the hunting grounds to try exploring if you really want to get your hands on something:

  • Churchyard
  • Public Parks
  • Woods
  • Beaches
  • Public Schools
  • Campsites

Go ahead, be creative, and find you can test more places you think for a successful metal detecting trip.


You will be overwhelmed by the many metal detectors you find, but knowing how to select your new detector and use it effectively to improve your skills will simplify the process. Use these tips for metal detecting and find treasures that will leave you surprised. Happy hunting!


  • Larry sheffer

    I am 80 years old and a beginner in metal detecting. thank you very much for the tips. I am going for my first time today. I have a minelab vanquish 540 and have read the manual several times. you have inspired me . thank you

  • Larry sheffer

    I am 80 years old and a beginner in metal detecting. thank you very much for the tips. I am going for my first time today. I have a minelab vanquish 540 and have read the manual several times. you have inspired me . thank you

  • Jimmy Normandi

    I enjoyed your article with excellent advice!
    I am 93 years old and no longer can detect.
    I started Discover Tours Intl and have taken detecting folks over the past 30 years to England.

    The goat doctor treasure resulted in 2000 silver coins found in The Sierra’s.

  • William Rowe

    These tips were very helpful. I’m new in metal detecting.

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