Some people have amazing success while using metal detectors. They take their equipment to a seemingly normal location, start doing passes over the land, and wind up going home with a pocket full of interesting treasures.
If you’ve tried your hand at using a metal detector, it’s quite possible that your experience was nothing like this. Why would that be?
The simple fact is that not all metal detectors are created equal. While there are great budget options on the market, not every metal detector will be as successful as another at finding certain types of rare treasures.
What Is a Good Metal Detector: The Different Technologies
Today, we’ll help you learn how to choose the right detector for your goals and budget.
Technology to Focus On When Buying a Metal Detector
When you start browsing metal detectors, you might have no idea what to pay attention to or even what half the words mean! Don’t worry; you’ll learn more as you begin to practice.
VLF (Very Low Frequency)
VLF metal detectors are the most common type of metal detector. VLF means that the frequency of the metal detector is under 15 Hz and is, usually, a single frequency only. If you are just starting or your main task is going to be hunting for coins and jewelry, a VLF detector is a right choice.
Why is that?
Simply put, frequency and depth are inversely related. The higher the frequency, the less depth you will be able to search on a target, which usually has the size of a coin.
PI (Pulse Induction) Machines
These machines use a technology known as pulse induction. When using a metal detector in an area with a lot of mineralization, such as gold country or saltwater beaches, a normal metal detector may not be effective.
A pulse induction machine will send signals right through any ground minerals and instead pick up only on the metals. It should be noted that PI machines will pick up on everything that isn’t a mineral.
That means all the different kinds of trash could wind up setting off your detector. As such, if you will be using your detector on areas that are filled with trash, you may want to use what is known as a multi-frequency machine instead.
Multiple frequency detectors have technology which allows you to scan with multiple frequencies. This affords you different information about depth, material, and more that you cannot get from a PI or VLF machine.
That being said, MF detectors are the most advanced and expensive detectors on the market. They can be used in nearly any situation, so they’re a good investment if you plan to do a lot of detecting in a lot of different areas.
Which of These Detector Types Is Best?
Now that you know more about the three main detector technologies, you might be curious about which one is the best.
For example, VLF machines are ideal for those with little experience and who do not want to be overwhelmed but still want a powerful detector. PI machines are perfect for searching wet sandbars. MF machines are good for practically everything else, but they don’t get as much depth as PI machines in mineral-searching situations.
Instead of relying on which can be called the best detector, we recommend considering what your intended use is.
The final thing that you will want to think about while you are making your choice among competing metal detectors is what you intend to use it for. While it would be nice to have one metal detector that can do it all, it’s more likely that you will want to choose a detector that is tailored to your needs.
This list of common metal detector uses includes the features that you should look for if you want to pursue that particular detecting hobby:
- Finding coins and jewelry: Keep it under 15 Hz frequency, avoid PI machines, select a single frequency VLF detector
- Advanced relic hunting: Large DD coils, frequency in the 10 to 20 Hz range, iron audio, manual and auto balance modes
- Saltwater beach use (if hunting in water or wet sand): Do not get a single frequency detector, select a PI or multi-frequency machine
There are, of course, many different scenarios where you might be using a metal detector. It’s impossible to cover them all, so we hope that our introduction to the most common features of a metal detector will help you to make the final decision about what is a good metal detector for your personal needs!