Why would I want a metal detector?
Metal detecting is a relatively unusual, but very fun (and sometimes profitable) hobby. There are always stories in the news about people who discover ancient Viking coins or relics, and sometimes they actually make a lot of money auctioning off these treasures. Even if what they find isn’t especially valuable, it’s still very fun to come across something interesting like a bullet casing. Using a metal detector is also very useful if you’ve ever lost something in your backyard, like a wedding ring or even a cell phone. Instead of searching for hours on your hands and knees, a metal detector can find what you lost very quickly. It’s also a great way to spend time outdoors and explore some less populated areas of your neighborhood parks, fields, or forests.
What kind of stuff can I find with a metal detector?
There are a lot of things you can find with a metal detector. Besides the expected trash like rusty nails, cans, and so on, you can find interesting items like gold and silver rings, coins, and even relics like bullets, toys, brass buttons, and so on. People have also used metal detectors to locate water pipes for construction projects.
What detector features should I look for when I want to avoid trash?
Wherever you go to hunt, you’ll probably find a lot of trash. However, many metal detectors have some key features that help keep your hunts productive. Most have some sort of “trash discrimination” tool which eliminates certain types of metal (like iron) from your detector’s range so you aren’t alerted when your detector makes a pass over the junk. Depending on the detector, this tool is very basic, or more advanced for enhanced trash reduction. Notch discrimination, which lets you individually select trash or unwanted metals/minerals/items, is a great way to avoid picking up trash. The Garrett Ace 250 has a 12-notch discrimination, which means you can eliminate up to 12 different kinds of metals/minerals/items from your search and either focus exclusively on, say, silver, or just look for anything that isn’t composed of iron or nickel. Another metal detector that’s good at eliminating trash is the Bounty Hunter Land Ranger Pro. It has a Target Category Arc, which is essentially a notch discrimination, where you can select or reject things like foil, scrap metal, and so on for a more efficient and precise hunt.
Where can I use a metal detector?
The great thing about metal detectors is that you can use them no matter where you live. Even if you’re a city dweller, you can hunt in places like parks and beaches. If you have access to a backyard, fields, swamps, or forests, those are also great places. Not every metal detector is designed for what is called “extreme” ground. This term describes ground that is either highly-mineralized or is located near an ocean, where the salt tends to mess with a metal detector’s readings. You want to look for waterproof coils that are specifically adjusted to deal with salinity and minerals. The Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV metal detector was designed for these types of terrains, though it doesn’t operate super well with salt water. Many are also waterproof, so you can actually hunt by putting the coil and stem in the water. Lots of goodies tend to rest on the bottom of lakes, rivers, and beaches. The Bounty Hunter Discovery 3300 metal detector is an example of a detector with a waterproof coil and stem.
How far underground can they search?
In general, most metal detectors have very similar ranges. A good trick is to look at the coil size, because the length of the coil is how far down the detector will look for coins and coin-sized objects. An example of a metal detector with a shallower range is the Bounty Hunter Gold Digger. It only searches for coins and coin-sized objects up to 6-inches underground, and for larger objects up to 2 feet. A more standard range is about 8 inches for coins, etc, and 3-feet or deeper for bigger treasures. It is not unusual for higher-quality metal detectors to pick up items deeper down than what their specs say, and if you know how to use the sensitivity levels on your detector, you’ll probably be able to get much deeper readings on good items.
What features make a detector ideal for beginners?
When you’re first starting out with a metal detector, you want to choose one that has solid, useful features, but isn’t overly complicated or expensive. A simple menu and control system are important, so you aren’t overwhelmed with tons of settings you don’t know what to do with. It’s also important to have a basic trash eliminator and sensitivity adjustments, so you can have productive hunts. The Bounty Hunter BHJS Junior was designed with children in mind, but is more than acceptable for beginner adults as well. It has an extremely user-friendly control system with just two knobs: one for a trash eliminator and the other for sensitivity. It also uses a target indicator where the audio beep gets louder as you draw closer to your item.
What about for more intermediate hunters?
If you have some experience with a metal detector and are willing to put down a little more money, there are certain features that will enhance your hunting experience. Sensitivity settings with a wide range, pinpointers, and a variety of hunting modes are all things to look out for. Notch discrimination with lots of targets, as opposed to more general trash eliminators, are also more intermediate. The Bounty Hunter Quick Draw II includes a handheld pointer that helps you zero in on a target once your detector has discovered it. Lastly, the Bounty Hunter Land Ranger Pro boasts seven precise hunting modes (Jewelry, Relics, Coins, etc) and an advanced notch discrimination that lets you really narrow your hunts.
How much do metal detectors cost?
Metal detectors tend to climb in price with the more features and hunting modes they have. The ones aimed toward beginners are the least expensive. The Bounty Hunter Junior is probably the most affordable detector you can get that isn’t a toy, and that’s just under $100. The Bounty Hunter Gold Digger and Ace 150 are both under $200. The next tier up ranges between $250-$300 and include the Bounty Hunter Quick Draw II, the Bounty Hunter Discovery 3300, and the Treasure Cove TC-3020 Fortune Finder. The Bounty Hunter Land Ranger Pro, with its 7 preset modes and advanced notch discrimination, is priced at about $450.