MORE ABOUT DETECTORS
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
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 select the type of equipment best suited for general needs.
I know for a fact that many would be detectorists and even experienced ones, 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 best proof of that is to check the number of mid and top of the range metal detectors for sale daily on Ebay, 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 their high expectation shattered.
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 prices 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 multiple "very good" detectors "best" suited for particular tasks but in different price brackets depending on features required and I can recommend many I have used and still use on that basis.
3.- If you are just interested mainly in finding coins, modern or otherwise, you do not need a "gold hunting" rated metal detector. Gold detector 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 dig the item or not.
Old hobby timers would argue that a good reliable deep seeking machine without all the "bells and whistles" will 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 will penetrate the ground but this is very much subject to mineralization and other soil conditions.
Typical 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, jewelry 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 multiple frequency models, at a price, from the likes of Minelab, XP Detectors, Garretts etc.
Two of the best multi frequency "coin-hunters" that I would recommend and use myself, are the Minelab E-Trak and XP Deus in the top range. In mid range there also some very good machines from Garretts and Fisher and some others.
COILS SIZE SELECTION/GROUND BALANCE
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 by eliminating those "iffy" or unclear signals, a manual tuning by far being the most accurate one.
Coil size and its type 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.
If you are mainly interested in searching the beaches, a good metal detector specifically designed to counter act the sea water effect will be one based on the "Pulse Induction" principle of operation. This design, which needs some getting used to, is much different to the 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 wil 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 and hardly ever bothering to make any adjustments as they move to different areas or even different types of grounds.
These are some of my beach finds with a "conventional" detector like the Minelab ETrak
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