Best Way to Use Metal Detector: A Beginner’s Guide

All metal detectors provide the same result of finding treasure or metal detection. They use the same technology, but vary when it comes to effectiveness, features, and settings.

The three variables often affect a metal detector’s sensitivity, detection depth, suitability, and performance when hunting on different grounds. These differences and the brand’s patented technology leads to every metal detector being unique is some ways. Hence, you must figure out the best way to use your specific type and model of the detector. You can do that by watching online tutorials, reading the user manual, and getting out to the fields and testing the machine

best way to use metal detector

Know Your Metal Detector and Its Settings

It might seem obvious to most detectorists, but you have understand your metal detector’s features and settings. You waste less time when hunting and find more treasure when you are comfortable with your device.

The perfect place to begin is the user’s instruction manual or guide. Go through all the settings on the metal detector at home. Understand how each setting works and how to adjust it.

Although there are different types and models of detectors, they often come with these critical settings:

  • Detection Mode: They come with pre-set search modes that enable you to find certain kinds of targets. Some standard settings are relics, coins, jewelry, custom, and all-metal.
  • Discrimination: It is a setting that enables you to eliminate materials you do not want to dig out. For example, you can set this feature to ignore iron and other trash.
  • Ground Balance: Hunting grounds contains small to high amount levels of metals that can activate the signal. Ground balance allows the detector to ignore these minerals to avoid unnecessary digging.
  • Sensitivity: An extremely sensitive metal detector can find more treasures, but that is not always the case. Such a machine can easily detect metal pipes, leading to unwanted digging.

How to Use Your Metal Detector

Below are steps you should follow to use your metal detector the right way.

1. Assemble Your Metal Detector

Every detector has its assembling process, but the idea behind that is to attach the shaft, search coil, armrest, and control box. Go through the manual to understand how to assemble your specific type of metal detector.

2. Power On Your Metal Detector

Most detectors come with a Power On button that functions as the Power Off and Reset button. Press it to start your metal detector.

3. Choose the Search/Detection Mode

An entry-level detector might already have a default setting that enables you to find all types of metal. For devices with multiple settings, you need to pick the one that suits your hunting terrain.

Some detectors can Power On to the previous detection mode that you used before Powering it Off. You can select the right search mode using knobs, buttons, or potentiometers on the display screen.

4. Select Advanced Settings

An entry-level detector might have pre-set settings, meaning that you do not need to adjust anything. Here you need to set the manual ground balancing, set the threshold or noise cancel, adjust sensitivity, and set the discrimination.

5. Head to the Main Menu

There might be a button that can allow you to exit the various menu you access when setting the different variables. The aim is to see the main display features, which are depth indicator, DISC segments, and Target ID.

An entry-level metal detector might be more comfortable because it comes with minimal features, like only a Power On button. Most of the features are pre-set in the factory.

Test Your Metal Detector

It is recommended you test your metal detector before you head to real metal hunting grounds. Collect different types of treasures and bury them in your compound at various depths.

Find them using your metal detector to ensure that it picks all the items. Adjust the settings for ground balance, discrimination, and sensitivity to see how your gadget responds.

Note how the signals respond and which treasures are found.

How to Sweep the Right Way

Sweeping is a skill that you should master to ensure that you use your metal detector the right way. Sweeping or swinging is the act of moving the search coil back and forth and from side to side.

A metal detector is a motion detector that needs to be in motion to locate a target. The aim is to move slowly and maintain a low sweeping.

Overlap Your Swings

You should also overlap the swing pattern to ensure that the coil covers every corner. The acceptable rule is to overlap the sweep by half the search coil’s length.

Some coils have outer and inner loops, and the right way to sweep is to use the inner one as the mark for the overlap.

Move Slowly

A large search coil can allow you to cover more ground and tempt you to move quickly, but you should avoid the temptation. Moving fast can compromise the depth and make you miss the weak signals or reduce the duration of a treasure signal.

An average swing should take 2-5 seconds form the left/right to the right/left to the left/right. It is easy to measure your swing as you step forward in a line moving 2-5-foot per second.

Do Not Lift or Tilt the Search Coil

It is one mistake that detectorists make when finding treasures – lifting the coil after every sweep. That can affect the depth, and it often happens when swinging the detector.

You should ensure you keep the coil parallel to the surface to enhance the depth detection and detect small treasures.

Sweep Low

Keeping the search coil about 1-2-inch from the ground can guarantee you a decent coverage and depth. Do not let the loop brush on the surface to prevent wear and tear, inaccurate Target IDs, and random signals.


Buying the right metal detector is just one step of starting your metal detection hobby or career. You need to understand how to use your machine, digging tools, pinpointer, and other accessories like a professional.