A metal detector is one of those rare devices whose models range from simple (often dodgy) children’s toys, to expensive and sophisticated pieces of equipment that reliably pinpoint gold and precious metals deep in the ground, including even treasure troves.
Treasure Trove! That very British term brings to mind a very British pastime: hunting for treasure. The British Isles, with its Anglo-Saxon and earlier history and liberal underground caches of gold, tend to inflame the romantic and adventurous spirit with dreams of discovering ancient hoards of gold. In fact, England’s most famous children’s writer, Enid Blyton, authored a novel about the discovery of treasure trove in her most popular series of books, ‘The Famous Five.’ In Five on Finniston Farm the Five find a stash of fabulous treasure without even one metal detector – but you can choose between any of five affordable ones reviewed underneath.
Many metal detectors work on the principle of actually detecting magnetic fields (and not metal directly) caused by eddy currents induced by the metal detector itself in any metal within range. The oscillator generates the alternating current, and the receive coil or search coil detects any resultant magnetic field. If such an induced magnetic field is detected, the machine gives visual and/or aural feedback through an LCD, a meter, and/or sounds.
Other metal detectors work on the principle of induction-balance. They have two perfectly-balanced electrical coils which become unbalanced to some or another degree in the presence of metal, causing the metal detector to ‘go off.’
Whatever the science behind metal detectors, you can use them for practical purposes. Dropped your laptop’s tiny screws on the carpet? Lost your wedding ring at an outdoor barbecue? In either case a metal detector can come to your rescue.
Technology has improved a lot in the past few decades, and now even hobbyist kits allow you to set the sensitivity level, choose narrow-band or broad-spectrum metal detection, view the approximate depth on a display, and get audio feedback of the nearness or type of metal by means of differently pitched tones!
One reason today’s metal detectors are so sophisticated is because of discriminators – these discriminate between different metals. Each metal has its own distinctive phase response (aka phase lag) in the presence of alternating current, and the resultant phase response indicates what kinds of metal the detected material may be. Discriminators, therefore, can also be set by the user to stop the metal detector from responding to undesirable kinds of metals.
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But you don’t have to understand the technology behind a metal detector; all you need to do is use this simple and fun device. Go ahead and give it a go on the shores of Albion. Who knows, you just might find one of those fabled three crowns!
For a hobbyist’s detector, Dr. Otek’s kit is amazing: not only is it effective and reliable, it is very sensitive and has excellent pinpointing capability.
Dr. Otek’s kit has an unattractive but informative display that indicates sensitivity, type of metal, approximate depth, and even battery level. Its 21-centimetre search coil is waterproof and may be submerged in shallow water at the beach. The aluminium alloy shaft is adjustable from 93 to 120 centimetres.
This hobbyist’s kit is actually very good – for the price, quite excellent – but in order to use it effectively, set it correctly, and interpret it, one should spend some time reading the instructions, and testing and adjusting it before using it in the field. If you do, you may find that it is highly accurate in identifying the type of metal detected and its approximate depth.
It has a sensitivity detector that is actually a discriminator. The Pinpoint function is particularly helpful and accurate; it makes the loudest sound when the metal is directly beneath the centre of the coil. The sound is emitted from a built-in speaker or through headphones if they are plugged into the jack.
The specifications indicate that it can detect metal at depths of up to 18 centimetres but in loose soil it does so to about 20 centimetres.
This kit can be assembled in minutes.
Though this is not a high-end professional metal detector, it is still a very sensitive and tunable product.
A serviceable folding spade with a cutting edge, convertible into a pick, is included.
This metal detector operates on 6 AA batteries and it weighs about 1 kilogramme.
Dr. Otek’s is among the most affordable metal detectors and as our Top Pick is a peach. To cap it off, Dr. Otek provides excellent after-sales service.
It comes with a one-year warranty; a traditional warranty card is included. The warranty can be extended online.
- A very sensitive and tunable kit, it is also surprisingly accurate for the price.
- The pinpointing capability is outstanding.
- As an affordable hobbyist’s kit, overall it is quite excellent.
- As a tunable and sensitive product, it should not be used immediately right out of the box.
- A note of caution: neither a pouch nor headphones are included so buy these separately.
Though affected by quality control issues, Mylek’s kit, best seen as a scientific toy, is serviceable and comes with generous accessories at a low price.
Mylek’s budget kit has a traditional meter-based display to indicate sensitivity (strength), and has knobs for discriminator setting and volume, plus a button for autotune. It also has a low-battery indicator.
The search coil is 16.5 centimetre and is billed as being waterproof.
The shaft is adjustable and is extendable to 90 centimetres. The sound is emitted through the built-in speaker or headphones if they are plugged in.
This metal detector is rated to detect metal at a depth of 20 to 25 centimetres but, in fact, detects metal at a slightly greater depth in loose soil or sand. However, you have to read the manual and follow instructions to adjust it correctly so that it gives feedback only when metal is really under the coil.
Though most kits are received as described, Mylek’s quality control issues result in a kit or two being sent without screws, another being sent without the control box, and yet others without the pouch.
It comes with a zippered storage pouch, decent headphones, and a lightweight 3-in-1 tool that actually works! The latter is an interconvertible shovel cum pick that has a compass embedded at the base of the handle.
Mylek’s detector runs on one 9-volt battery.
To get a working metal detector and a set of useful accessories at one low price is a sharp value for money.
This kit is perfectly good to use casually in the garden and on the beach. Essentially, it is meant as a cool toy for children and can be used by adults for a bit of fun.
Mylek provides a one-year warranty.
- At the low price, this metal detector and set of accessories is a great ‘package deal’.
- The 3-in-1 tool is interesting and smartly designed; kids will go for it.
- A very good children’s toy or starter kit that is also very inexpensive.
- Mylek’s product is plagued by quality control issues so you cannot be confident whether a purchase will be defect-free.
- Some or another component or part is occasionally missing.
- Not meant for serious or semi-serious metal detecting.
Urceri’s detector has an unusually good LCD and locates metals very well; its pinpoint feature is the standout, making this kit just right for hobbyists.
Cost: Price not available
Urceri GC-1028 has a bright LCD with helpful bar graphs that indicate sensing strength, relative depth, and battery level. It also has seven pointers to identify what type of metal (among seven possibilities) has been detected. However, detection and identifying the type of metal can be erratic.
On the control box are buttons for, notably, the mode, setting, and pinpoint function. Pinpointing is helpful and accurate and is the icing on the cake.
It also has two buttons to adjust the sensitivity depth up to about 18 centimetres. However, Urceri’s kit does the job up to 20 centimetres in loose soil or sand.
The ‘all’ mode is used to select detection of all metals while the ‘disc’ (discriminator) mode is meant to target only desired metals.
The coil is 22 centimetres in diameter and is waterproof and it does continue working in shallows. The shaft is adjustable from 101 to 119 centimetres.
Like most metal detectors, this one has its own quirks and you need to play and experiment with it in order to interpret its signals correctly in the field.
It has a headphone port (and also comes with headphones) and emits three different sound tones for three different types of metals.
Be aware that Urceri’s metal detectors drain its two 9-volt batteries very quickly.
Accessories include a foldable shovel, headphones, and a carry bag. The carry bag and its zipper are not up to par and should be of somewhat better quality.
This is a moderately-priced kit for the hobbyist that performs well.
- The design of the LCD and the information it shows are both a cut above.
- On the whole, the accessories are quite good and let you get started quickly.
- The discriminator and pinpointing are noteworthy features.
- You need to play and experiment with it to ‘learn’ it and be able to use it effectively.
- Drains the batteries far too quickly.
Supported by a good warranty, Intey’s effective and adjustable detector is user-friendly and ergonomic – an affordable kit suitable for both kids and adults.
Intey’s kit has a meter to indicate the sensitivity with which a metal has been detected and knobs on the control box. The knobs control the sensitivity, discriminator and volume. Also on the box are a pinpoint button, low battery LED, and headphone jack.
The pinpoint button is quite helpful. The discriminator (‘DISC’) knob needs to be set to a particular position, as described in the instructions, to eliminate one or another type of undesired metals. The marketing material indicates that it detects at depths from 13 up to even 40 centimetres depending on the size and type of the metal.
This kit is made of lightweight ABS material and has a waterproof coil. The shaft’s length is adjustable from 76 to 102 centimetres. The arm support’s design is especially good. This is a particularly ergonomic metal detector.
Putting it together is a simple job.
The instructions are quite amusing with their fractured grammar; that said, they are understandable and helpful. Reading them and playing and experimenting with the sensitivity strength and discriminator settings will allow you to make effective use of the metal detector.
A rucksack and a folding shovel are included. The ‘rucksack’ is nought but a carry bag or big pouch, and it is not exactly robust.
This metal detector runs on two 9-volt batteries. A plus point is that it goes quite easy on them.
Intey provides an 18-month warranty and provides solid after-sales support.
- An unusually user-friendly and ergonomic kit.
- Solid warranty and even better after-sales support.
- The discriminator knob is that standout feature if you learn to use it properly.
- Not quite a hobbyist’s metal detector, this kit is suitable for casual use and fun.
- Low on accessories and the included ‘rucksack’ is sub-par.
Meant as a children’s toy, KKmoon’s cheap detector is not well designed and units are hit-or-miss, proving the old adage of getting what you pay for.
KKmoon’s metal detector has a monochrome LCD that displays the sensitivity or strength when metal is detected. Unfortunately, the LCD is very awkwardly positioned; it is too low, near the coil, instead of closer to the handle. What is more, it is rather small. There is a sensitivity knob beside the LCD. If you manage to tune the sensitivity just right, the device will work well but it is hard to find that ‘right’ setting.
On the other side of the display is a volume-control knob.
The 15.5-centimetre diameter coil is billed as having a ’10-100cm detection depth.’ This is wholly inaccurate. This kit does not detect metals that are any further than a few centimetres; at most several centimetres.
This device varies from unit to unit. It either works well enough putting the lie to its throwaway price or is totally useless, either not detecting any metal or beeping at fresh air! Moreover, some units simply shut up shop.
It is ultra-light at a mere 400 grams but that is mainly because it is made of plastic that has a shoddy look and feel about it.
It runs on one 9-volt battery.
Be aware that it is packaged in an unattractive plain brown box. Not only is its performance unreliable, it is flimsy and cheap and can hardly be recommended but at its throwaway price punters may want to take a chance.
- May work out as a budget-buy gift for little kids.
- The rock-bottom price means that the risk-reward ratio is in your favour.
- KKmoon’s non-existent quality control means that units vary widely in quality and effectiveness and may not even work.
- Flimsy look and feel about the whole thing.
- The poor LCD is very awkwardly positioned.
Where Can You Go Metal Detecting Legally In The UK?
First, the Law pertaining to all aspects of metal detecting in the U.K. except Scotland is Treasure Act 1996. Scotland is governed by Common Law of Treasure Trove.
You can go metal detecting so long as the land is not a Scheduled Ancient Monument or a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Another barrier is land that is being developed by a grant under the Rural Development Programme, the terms of which may have a stipulation against metal detecting on the land. If these prohibitions do not hold, you can do metal detecting legally upon getting permission from the landowner in question. It would be wise to get any such permission in writing in a legally binding document.
Keep in mind that even if you’ve gone metal detecting legally, if you find any precious metals you still have to follow the laws by notifying the authorities of your find. In England, the authority is the local coroner.
What Metals Do Metal Detectors Detect?
The simple rule is that if it conducts electricity and has magnetic properties, a metal detector can detect it. Therefore, the metals detected by metal detectors are iron, gold, silver, tin, copper, aluminium, lead and their alloys, for example steel, brass, and bronze.
Originally, the efficiency with which metal detectors detected a particular metal was directly proportional to its conductivity and magnetism. Today’s metal detectors can be set or adjusted to detect only a certain set of metals and not others.
Previously metal detectors ‘detected’ even black sand; this was because such sand contains oxide minerals which are mostly metallic. Newer metal detectors cancel out or ignore the response from metallic minerals in sand.
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.