If you are a beginner to the hobby or a more experienced user looking to upgrade your current detector, the choice available to you today is overwhelming and you should really seek professional advise in order to choose the type of equipment best suited for your general needs.
I know for a fact that many would be detectorists and even experienced ones for that matter, tend to upgrade to the same type of equipment their friends or club members are using based on how well they are doing with theirs and while there is some reasonable sense in that, in my opinion, regardless of makes/models and price range, what is suitable for "John" is not necessarily best fit for "Peter" and the best proof of that can be found in the number of mid and top of the range metal detectors for sale daily on Ebay and other auction venues, quoting "used two or three times only", "have no longer time to get out" etc, but mostly, what people would not admit is that they just could not get on with the newer technology and have been left regretting not having researched the matter thoroughly..
So, without getting too technical, I would point out some of the basics to look for in a good coin hunting metal detector which is what the majority go for.
1.- All metal detectors will detect coins regardless of their price because that is the specific nature of their design, to simply detect items made of metal, be copper, silver, gold or iron.
2.- One question I keep getting asked very often is "which is the best metal detector" and the answer is that there is no such a thing as a "best" detector for everything.
There are many "very good" detectors best suited for particular tasks and in different price brackets depending on features required and I can recommend several I have used and still use myself.
3.- If you are just interested mainly in finding coins, modern or otherwise, you do not need a "gold hunting" rated metal detector. Gold detectors are designed to pick up "gold nuggets" prospecting in difficult and hard to reach terrains and not coins. They will, of course, pick up coins and all sort of metals but they are primarily tuned to be extra sensitive to that "glittery" metal and I could not recommend them for general use on fields and the beach for example as your primary or only choice.
So what makes a metal detector ideal for coins hunting?
There are many factors and I will just highlight some of the more critical ones to take into account before choosing.
ID TARGET DISPLAY OR JUST AUDIO
If you are looking for coins, a detector with a good digital display that is able to ID coins by their conductivity is a great help, though not totally essential. Many of the latest types have a calibrated display showing icons for coins of different size and type of metal, as well as, icons for "trash" items like ring pulls, silver paper etc. These displays can only give you a "possible" likelihood of the item detected as one has to bear in mind that ground condition as well as the position of the buried item will always be different from one "pick up" to the next even in the same field being detected. Thus said, the visual/audio indication is a great feature and a good indicator as to whether to dig the item or not.
Old hobby timers would argue that a good old reliable deep seeking machine without all the "bells and whistles" would outperform the more modern counterparts, as your best "detecting indicator" is the "sound in your ear" for particular targets, and, as an old timer myself, I would partially agree with that, but the progress of modern technology cannot be underestimated and the advantages now provided, not just in extra depth but ID accuracy with the state of the art latest machines have taken the hobby right up to new dimensions.
The operating frequency is one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing a metal detector. Generally speaking, the lower the frequency the deeper the signal (from larger metallic objects) will penetrate the ground but this is very much subject to mineralization and other soil conditions.
General coin detectors work in the range of 5 to 10KHZ, taking into account that manufacturers design their equipment to meet the needs of the majority of all round detectorists, or those seeking coins, jewellery and relics. Higher frequency machines are also available for those pursuing serious relic finds and many top of the range detectors now available do cater for everyone's need by offering their more expensive multiple frequency models, from the likes of Minelab, XP Detectors, Garrett etc.
Three of the best multi frequency "coin-hunters" that I would recommend and use myself, are the Minelab E-Trak, the new Equinox 800 and XP Deus in the top range. In the mid range there are also some very good machines from Garrett and Fisher and several others.
Ideally, you should have an adjustable Ground Balance Control, either a manual or automatic to take care of the various ground conditions as you detect which will get you a better depth and a more "stable" running detector by eliminating those "iffy" or unclear signals. A manual tuning by far being the most accurate one.
Coil size and their different layouts will also play an important part in difficult and mineralized grounds. A small coil will have a better adaptability and less interference for instance, when detecting stubble fields and in stony areas of some beaches.
COIL SIZE SELECTION/GROUND BALANCE
If you are mainly interested in searching the beaches, a good metal detector specifically designed to counter act the sea water effect and are fully submergible, will be one based on the "Pulse Induction" principle of operation. This design, which needs some getting used to, is very different to conventional ones as they offer extra depth without suffering interference from water or black sand but at the expense of little if any discrimination resulting in unwanted sensitivity to ferrous metals. However, in areas of wet sand where there is less contamination, they will have the edge on most other detectors.
TO SUM UP
If you are just buying your first detector say in the low to mid range, my advise is not to worry too much about complicated specifications. Stick with the established major brands and you will not go far wrong. As you learn, you can then think about upgrading to the higher spec machine in the future. A higher spec detector is only as good as its user. I have seen many operators of these models not getting on as well as they would expect because they swing their machines wildly with hardly ever bothering to make any adjustments as they move to different areas or even different types of grounds.
HELP AND SERVICES I CAN OFFER
My extensive knowledge of general electronics enables me to carry out a variety of repairs to many different models of detectors. However, with the majority of the latest surface mount technology most faults now are carried out as a replacement of whole printed circuit boards, l.c.d, touch screens etc, and, as it has previously being the case, manufacturers will not deal with private individuals for the supply of these parts and mainly just advise to contact the local distributors who in turn would ask you to send the equipment for expensive repairs after the warranty has expired.
Thus said, modern miniaturised surface-mounted circuit boards are far more reliable than their previous counterparts and, in my experience, a large percentage of all detector's malfunctions are due to power supply problems, bad/intermittent board and wiring connections and also lack of maintenance, most of which I can fault find and repair as required.
I can also deal with all problems related to audio, specially problems with intermitten or broken
sound in either or both ear cups.
If you have a set needing upgrading, i.e. problems with curly cord, inner speakers, connecting plug wiring etc., I can help.
And this is the all wireless multi frequency XP Deus I currently use.
I can also upgrade standard Headphones without volume controls to single or twin controls and also add a
two way by-pass switch to make them compatible with stero or mono detector's audio sockets as required.
And here is an example
THE KOSS UR30 HEADPHONES
These are the Koss UR-30 headphones, a popular and comfortable stereo set and the ones Minelab recommend as a very good match for their range of detectors, but many users shun these phones because they lack a variable volume control/s.
So, it you would like your headphones, new or used, upgraded to either one or two separate variable controls, please get in touch and I would be able to sort this out for you.
GARRETT PRO POINTER SERVICE
This is the popular Garrett Pro-Pointer widely used by many. If you experience any problems with its operation, like loss of sound, erratic operation and the more common failure of the on/off switch, I can
provide a full replacement service of one or more of the parts needed at a competitive price with a full guarantee.
I can also offer a free "jewellery" recover service. If you have lost a treasured ring or any other valuable article of sentimental value and know the possible area (within reasonable local distance) where the item might have got lost, I would be happy to come and try to locate it for you.
For further information, please get in touch.
And this is my old favourite detector of all times. The Fisher 1260X. This 30 year old design that still punches above its weight and can match, in practically any ground, the newer technology ones costing three or four times as much.