Last modified on March 20th, 2022 at 4:24 pm

A Complete Guide to Metal Detecting Outdoor Activities

Metal detectors are as popular in the United States today as they were when they were first introduced to the public in the 1960s. It was their introduction that sparked a renewed interest in treasure hunting and made it possible for people to find coins and jewelry without digging up lawns or fields.

Today, metal detecting is one of the most popular hobbies around, with new models being released every year, which make it easier than ever before to find hidden treasures.

Whether you’re looking for an entry-level machine or something more specialized for your profession (or both!), there’s no need to search any further: this complete guide will help you decide on the best model!

1. What is metal detecting?

Metal detecting is the process of using a metal detector to find objects that are made with metal. These machines detect objects by making use of electromagnetic fields and by sensing changes in things such as their frequency, amplitude, or resistance. This technique can be used for anything ranging from finding lost jewelry at the beach to locating civil war relics in an old battlefield!

Here are some ideas for places to metal detect.

2. How do metal detectors work

Metal detectors work in two ways – by using electromagnetic induction and by sensing changes in conductivity. To understand how these machines work, it’s important to know what each of these terms means:

Electromagnetic induction: When a conductor is passed through an electromagnetic field, an electric current can be created in it. This is known as electromagnetic induction.

The strength of the magnetic field passing through a conductor affects how much electric current is produced in that conductor. The metal detector passes an electromagnetic coil around the area to be searched; if there is any metal present, changes in the detected frequency will occur.

Frequency refers to the number of times a wave oscillates within a certain time period – in other words, how fast or slow something is vibrating. Changes in the frequency of an electromagnetic wave will cause changes in its pitch. Metal detectors work by listening for these changes and then analyzing them to detect the presence of metal.

A metal detector’s electromagnetic field doesn’t just produce electric current – it can also cause charged particles within a conductor to move back and forth, which creates changes in its amplitude (loudness) and resistance. These changes will result in an audible sound, which is often referred to as a “beep.”

A metal detector will be set up so that the frequency of these beeps can tell you whether there are any objects made with metal in your search area. Some models will display an on-screen readout of what these beeps mean; others have built-in audio tones for this purpose. The frequency of these tones represents the presence of a particular type of metal, which can then be used to determine what the object is.

3. Types of metal detectors

There are many types of metal detectors on the market, all with different features which are suited to different needs. For example, some models are better for treasure hunting and others for professional use. Here is a list of the different types of metal detectors you can expect to find:

  • PI metal detectors: PI stands for Pulse Induction, and this is the oldest type of metal detector in existence. These machines work by using electromagnetic induction to create an electric current in a conductor – or, in other words, to move charged particles within the conductor back and forth. There are two main types of PI detectors: single-frequency models, which use only one frequency (or “pulse”) per cycle, and multi-frequency models, which change their frequency as they pass over different types of metals.
  • VLF metal detectors: VLF stands for Very Low Frequency, and these machines are known as “variable-frequency” detectors. Unlike PI detectors, they don’t work by relying on the number of times a wave oscillates within a certain time period – instead, they detect changes in frequency between passing over different types of metals.
  • BFO metal detectors: BFO stands for Beat Frequency Oscillator, which refers to a type of machine that uses the Doppler effect to determine what types of metal are present in an area. Like VLF detectors, BFO machines don’t rely on the number of times a wave oscillates within a certain time period; instead, they use frequency changes to detect where there is metal.

4. How much do metal detectors cost?

How much a metal detector costs depends on its brand, model, features, and intended purpose – however, most models fall into one of the following price ranges:

  • Budget metal detectors: $100-$200
  • Mid-range metal detectors: $200-$500
  • High-end/advanced models: $500+

If you’re just starting out with your first detector or are looking for one for recreational purposes (like using it at the beach), then budget models will do the trick. However, if you’re a professional and need something highly precise for search-and-recovery purposes, then you’ll want to spend more on a higher-quality machine.

5. How to choose a metal detector that suits you best

When looking for a metal detector, you’ll want to be sure to consider the following elements:

  1. General type of metals that you’re hoping to find – and whether or not your model can detect those types of metals
  2. The conditions you’ll be operating in (e.g., if it will be used on the beach or underwater)
  3. How much money you’re willing to spend on the product

If this all seems like way too many things to consider at once, then try taking these steps when choosing a new metal detector:

  1. Begin by researching what detectors other hobbyists are using and why they chose them – did they have any complaints? What do they think is the best detector for someone just starting out, and how much did it cost them? Once you’ve figured what your budget range is, check out a few models that fall within that price range.
  2. After narrowing down your choices to two or three detectors, take your time with actual testing – use each one in different environments and be sure to test things like how well it can identify different types of metals. For example, if you want to find gold nuggets but are more concerned about setting off false positives when hunting for coins with your metal detector, then make sure that there’s an option available that helps eliminate these kinds of mistakes from happening.
  3. Think about where you plan on using the detector (e.g., will you be using it on a beach?) – this will have an impact on how easy or difficult it is to operate and how much space you’ll need to store the detector when not in use.


Metal detectors are an excellent choice for anybody who is looking for a fun hobby to get into, whether you’re a professional or simply someone with interest in history and archaeology.

They can be used for treasure hunting, detecting landmines, or even just tracking down lost keys!

There are plenty of options on the market – above, we’ve outlined some qualities that make certain models ideal for different purposes and price ranges. If you’re looking for something basic to try out as your first metal detector, then try getting one of the budget-range models (e.g., Bounty Hunter Tracker IV); if you’re after something more complicated, then consider investing in a high-end model (e.g., Garrett AT Pro) which offers wireless connectivity and other advanced features.