Things to Know Before Buying a Metal Detector
Metal detectors have come a long way in recent years; now possessing improved features like increased sensitivity and the ability to discern between different types of metals.
With all these new functions in mind, it’s worth doing a bit of research before committing to a purchase – just to make sure you’re getting the most for your money!
Luckily, you don’t have to look too far for this information – the following tips will help you find the best metal detector on the UK market for you.
What Treasures are You Hunting?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that any metal detector will detect any type of metal. The clue’s in the name, right? Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple, but to make things clearer we’ll break down the different types of detectors here:
Searching for gold nuggets, gold flakes, coins and jewellery? In this case you’ll need to look for a more expensive unit, like the Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector or the X-Terra 705 Universal Gold Pack Metal Detector. These detectors have gold-finding capabilities which not all possess. The reason that gold-detecting metal detectors are more expensive is because they require more power plus they need to work at a higher frequency. Gold is not a very conductive substance, and is generally only found in small amounts, requiring detectors to be powerful and suitably adapted. These units will also pick up on other metals.
The best metal detectors are able to determine how well the items conduct electrical current and this allows them to tell the difference between coins and foil.
Searching for more general items, coins, jewellery and relics? The entry-level metal detectors are built for all-purpose detecting. If you’re not planning on prospecting for gold then an all-purpose entry-level machine is all you need to get started. These detectors are powerful enough to pick up on a variety of more common metals and they’re much more conservatively priced.
Benefits of ‘Iron Content Analysis’
Many detectors will determine how much iron is present in a potential find, even whilst it’s still in the ground. This is a useful feature to look out for, since items with high iron content are more likely to be nails than ancient coins. It can save you a lot of time in your search if you don’t have to excavate every iron nail you find.
Some detectors also have settings which allow you to bypass being alerted to the presence of iron altogether. If you’re detecting in an area which has high-iron-content ground, you may wish to only be informed if a different type of metal shows up.
Checking it’s Waterproof
The UK isn’t best known for its temperate year-round climate. As a result, it’s a good idea to make sure that the metal detector your buying has some level of water-proofing. Let’s face it, you’ll likely be using it on a rainy day at some point, and it would be very frustrating if your machine wasn’t up to the task.
Look out for information about whether the coil of the detector is waterproof. If it’s not, you might be better off looking for a different model.
If you’re hoping to use your metal detector at the beach, or on river banks, an assurance of waterproofing is necessary. You never know when you might get caught out by the tide or splashed! Some units offer protection up to depths of 3 m, perfect for if you’re more serious about treasure-hunting and don’t want to be thwarted by terrain.
Working to Your Budget
Obviously, your choice will depend on how seriously you are taking metal detecting and your available budget. The more expensive detectors have more features to enable you to find more things, but they may be too costly for someone who is not sure how much they will use the machine.
A simpler machine may be more suitable if you just want to occasionally indulge in this fun hobby, are just starting out, or want a basic machine without all the bells and whistles.
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Metal Detector FAQs
Where and how can I use my metal detector?
You should always have permission from the landowner before using your metal detector. You should also be careful not to damage archaeological sites. It is recommended that you acquire public liability insurance before you begin detecting.
Should I buy a standalone pin pointer to use with my detector?
Many metal detectors have a built-in pin pointer function. You can switch the unit to pinpoint mode to locate the exact location of the item. However, if yours doesn’t have this feature you might want to consider buying a separate one.
The pin pointer is a hand-held metal detector. You can use it to locate the exact location of a find by, for example, putting it into a dug hole to get a more accurate reading. This saves time and effort as you only dig in the precise location of the object.
Should I buy headphones to use with my metal detector?
Headphones are not entirely necessary because detectors do have built in speakers; however, using headphones can improve accuracy. Headphones help you to hear the different tones and improve your ability to notice a significant target. This is especially true in environments where there may be a lot of background noise, such as on the beach.
You can buy headphones from as little as £12, however, you might want to spend a little more for some quality, long-lasting headphones which will cancel out background noise.
What should I do if I find something old or valuable?
In the UK we have an excellent system whereby valuable finds are recorded so that they can be enjoyed by the general public. This is called the Portable Antiquities Scheme and is run by the British Museum. A local-finds liaison officer records information about the items, and then the details are put online for everyone to study and enjoy.
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