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9 Different Types of Metal Detectors

metal detector lying on the ground and a man standing holding a shovel

Metal detectors have come a long way since their invention in the late 19th century. Today, there's a wide variety of metal detectors available, each designed for specific purposes and environments. So whether you're a seasoned treasure hunter or just starting out, understanding the different types of metal detectors can help you choose the right tool for your needs. Let's dive into the world of metal detection and explore the various options available.

Basic Principles of Metal Detection

How Metal Detectors Work

At their core, metal detectors operate on the principle of electromagnetic induction; they create a magnetic field that interacts with metallic objects in the ground. When a metal object is present, it disturbs this field, and the detector picks up on this change. This simple yet effective mechanism allows us to locate buried treasures, lost items, or even potentially dangerous objects.

Common Uses for Metal Detectors

People use metal detectors for all sorts of reasons. Some folks enjoy it as a hobby, searching for coins, jewelry, or historical artifacts. Others use them professionally in construction, security, or archaeology.

Main Types of Metal Detectors

Now, let's get into the nitty-gritty of the different types of metal detectors you might encounter.

Very Low Frequency (VLF) Detectors

VLF detectors are probably the most common type you'll see. They're versatile, relatively easy to use, and great for beginners. These detectors use two coils: one to transmit a signal into the ground and another to receive the signal that bounces back. VLF detectors are good at distinguishing between different types of metals, which is handy when you're trying to avoid digging up every bottle cap in the park.

Pulse Induction (PI) Detectors

If you're planning on doing some serious treasure hunting in areas with high mineral content, a PI detector might be your best bet. These detectors send powerful, short bursts of current into the ground. They're less affected by mineralization in the soil, which means they can detect metals at greater depths than VLF detectors. However, they're not as good at discriminating between different types of metals.

Beat Frequency Oscillation (BFO) Detectors

BFO detectors are the simplest and often the least expensive type. They use two coils, each with its own oscillator. When metal is detected, it causes a change in the frequency of one oscillator, resulting in an audible tone. While they're not as sophisticated as other types, they can be a good choice for beginners or those on a tight budget.

Industrial Metal Detectors

These aren't the kind you'll take to the beach on a sunny day. Industrial metal detectors are used in manufacturing and food processing to ensure product safety and quality control. They're designed to detect even tiny metal fragments that could contaminate food or damage machinery.

Security Metal Detectors

We've all seen these at airports, courthouses, and other high-security areas. Security metal detectors are designed to detect weapons and other potentially dangerous metal objects. They come in various forms, from walk-through archways to handheld wands.

Specialized Metal Detectors

person holding a metal detector

As the field of metal detection has evolved, manufacturers have developed specialized detectors for specific purposes.

Gold Metal Detectors

For those bitten by gold fever, there are detectors specifically designed to find those elusive nuggets. A heavy duty gold detector is typically a high-frequency machine that is sensitive to small gold pieces; they often use advanced ground balancing technology to work effectively in the highly mineralized soils where gold is often found.

Underwater Metal Detectors

If your treasure hunting ambitions extend beneath the waves, you'll need a waterproof metal detector. These come in two main types: those designed for shallow water use (like at the beach) and more advanced models for scuba diving. Underwater detectors need to be completely sealed against water intrusion and are often pulse induction models to cope with the high mineral content of saltwater.

Relic Metal Detectors

History buffs and amateur archaeologists often prefer relic detectors. These are typically VLF detectors with advanced discrimination capabilities to help sort historical artifacts from modern junk. They often have lower frequencies to penetrate deeper into the ground, as many relics have been buried for a long time.

Coin Metal Detectors

For those who get a thrill from finding old coins, there are detectors optimized for coin hunting. These usually have excellent discrimination to separate coins from other metal objects and often come with pre-set coin-hunting modes. They're typically VLF detectors with mid-range frequencies that balance depth and sensitivity.

And if you're interested in learning more about the best metal detectors for finding coins, we've got a great article on the subject you can check out!

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Metal Detector

With so many options available, choosing the right metal detector can feel overwhelming. Here are some key factors to consider:

Purpose and Use

Think about what you'll primarily be using the detector for. Are you interested in finding gold nuggets, or are you more into searching for old coins in parks? Your main purpose will guide you towards the most suitable type of detector.

Environment and Terrain

Consider where you'll be doing most of your detecting. Beach and saltwater environments require different features than inland areas. If you'll be searching in areas with lots of trash, good discrimination capabilities become crucial.

Budget and Price Range

Metal detectors can range from under $100 to several thousand dollars. While it's tempting to go for the most advanced model, it's often better to start with a mid-range detector and upgrade as your skills improve.

Skill Level and Experience

If you're new to metal detecting, a simple VLF detector with preset modes might be the best choice. More experienced detectorists might prefer the advanced features and settings of higher-end models.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, choosing the right metal detector can make a big difference in your detecting experience. But remember - the best detector is the one that matches your needs, budget, and the type of detecting you want to do.

Previous article Beach Metal Detecting: A Complete Guide
Next article Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR): Everything You Need To Know

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With your new detector, you will receive a Quick Start Guide, a valuable resource designed to guide you through the essential steps of operating your new device seamlessly. This user-friendly guide is tailored to ensure that even beginners can quickly grasp the fundamental functions and features.

For those seeking a more profound understanding, a comprehensive manual accompanies your purchase. This detailed manual delves into the intricacies of your detector, providing a wealth of information for users eager to explore advanced settings and capabilities.

However, the pinnacle of expertise in harnessing your detector's full potential lies in professional training. While guides and manuals offer a solid foundation, professional training takes your knowledge to the next level. Through hands-on instruction and insights from seasoned experts, you'll gain a deeper understanding of your detector's nuances and unlock its optimal performance.

During the individual training, our detector Expert addresses your wishes and questions, provides you tips and tricks and helps you to improve your chances of success with your detector.

  • Theoretical introduction
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  • Using the detector on the test field
  • Tips and tricks for advanced users
  • Improving your measurement procedure
  • Evaluation of the scans on the detector display
  • Answers to your questions

In addition to a general introduction to the functionality and operating modes of your detector, the detector Expert explains how to use the detector efficiently in the field. In doing so, he can correct small errors during the measurement and advise you on special features of your search projects.

You will learn how to check your measurements and further improve your scanning technique independently. You can also draw initial conclusions about potential target objects in the underground.

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