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Metal Detector


- By: David Bernzweig
Thoughts on equipment selection from a national expert!

Each and every day I am asked -- "Tell me which detector is the best detector made?" I think that is a fair question, considering that when people buy a metal detector, they will be spending considerably more than $1.98! There is, however, a basic flaw in the question. The question should be modified to ask "Tell me which is the best detector for me?" This last question is best answered with a series of questions.

Have you ever used a detector before? If this is a first detector for you, then you should consider your usual purchasing habits as they relate to other items. Do you generally buy top of the line products with a lot of features, or do you like simplicity? A good example might be a camera. Do you like a "point and shoot" type, or do you like to be able to make a lot of adjustments? Think of this when looking at detectors.

How much money have you budgeted for this detector and how much time do you expect to devote to this sport? These two issues should be considered together. If you plan to detect many hours a week, you probably will want to have a detector with more electronic features than if you plan to spend an occasional few hours at the shore or in a park. The price of a metal detector will increase in relationship to the number of features it has. You can have a lot of fun with a basic detector but, if you expect extensive use and don't get enough features in your detector, you will be out shopping again before you know it.

Have you considered the cost of the accessory equipment you will need for use along with it? Aside from the price of the detector, you will need to buy some of the following items, such as a headphone with volume controls, trowels, beach scoops, a coil cover and a detector bag. Good headphones are especially important since they extend the sound of the signal, make your detector's batteries last longer, and keep the beeping from annoying others. There is no better, nor more comfortable metal detecting headphone than the Depthmaster Superphone.

Where do you plan to use this detector? There are different types of detectors for coins and jewelry, for relics, for prospecting and for use in the water. Some detectors can overlap in their application, but generally they are special purpose.

Nowadays, the most common type of detector purchased is a general purpose coin, jewelry, and relic detector. This will have a discrimination adjustment and sensitivity control at the very least. All detectors have waterproof coils. (But remember, if you fall into the drink with a land detector, you're out of luck!) Additional features, may include various types of meter displays, a manual ground balancing adjustment and more sophisticated discrimination adjustments called "notch." Some detectors may be micro-processor controlled.

There are detectors which are intended primarily for use at the shore or in the water. This type of detector will not have a meter display and targets will be found via the audio signal. This allows fewer openings because the most important fact of life in a beach detector is that it doesn't leak!

Detectors intended for prospecting gold or silver frequently will have no discrimination and always require manual ground balancing for best results. The frequencies of these detectors are the most appropriate for locating precious metal ores. If you want to have a dual purpose prospecting/coin shooting detector, look for a prospecting detector with discrimination.

There is one other type of detector which is used for extreme depth situations. These are called "two box detectors" and they have limited general purpose use. Detectorists who use this type of equipment are looking for a cache, veins of ore, or pipes or cables.

What kind of physical shape are you in? Metal detectors can have very different configurations, and can therefore be a different physical experience for each person. Some detectors can be taken off the pole, and hung from the waist or other parts of the body, while others cannot. Some people prefer a good hefty solid feel to their detector, and some look for the lightest weight possible. What is best for your friend, may in fact be totally inappropriate for you. Remember to think about how you will feel after several hours of metal detecting.

Investigate new detectors before you assume that the purchase of an older used detector is a good deal. You may be pleasantly surprised at the many features new entry level detectors have for a very reasonable price. You don't want to end up with someone else's castoff if you could have a new detector for a comparable price.

While you are agonizing over the selection of a detector, the following fact should be kept in mind. Don't worry too much. If it turns out you like the activity and get "hooked," the first detector you purchase will not be your last!