Metal Detectors, Which One to Buy plus Beach Hunting in the UK

I get at least two or three emails a week asking for advice on detectors. They run the gamut from “what should I buy?” to “what detector you recommend for a beginner?”, or “is this detector better than that one?”, “what detector do you use?” “what’s the best detector on the market?” etc., etc., etc..  Anyway I decided to share again a post I put up back in the fall of 2013.  You can take from it what you like….

And following that John Howland talks beach hunting in the UK…good stuff.


IF you want to get started in this pastime how involved do you want to get? Is this a serious interest or merely a curious one? Next, how much are you willing to invest to get started? Metal detecting is no different from any other hobby. Golf, fishing, photography….all great pastimes, and all involve an initial investment. I was once a fishing fanatic,  and the more involved I got, the more money I spent. It was my passion, a way to rid myself of worries and stress, and while I hated the alarm going off at 5 AM, a couple of hours on a trout stream, with the mist rising and the sun just coming up, was pure magic and a great start to my day.

IF by chance your interest in metal detecting stems from watching one of the treasure hunting TV shows, save your money. What you see is not the real world, nor are the prices placed on the finds even close to accurate, and if you think the participants make their living treasure hunting, think again.  One or two might be associated with a manufacturer and be paid to use their products, but otherwise I doubt they live on their TV star salaries.

IF you are interested because you are sure that your now deceased Uncle Zeke buried gold in his backyard, rent a detector and go find it. No need to spend a lot of money. Uncle Zeke probably didn’t bury it deep, if he buried it at all, and while I have no doubt that caches exist, so do rumors and tall tales.

IF you’re a numismatist and want to find old coins, jump in, join the club. That’s what got me started, and there’s still a lot of money in the ground, despite what some are saying.

IF you want to be a beach bum, and find things in the sand and surf, go for it. Lots of fun, fresh air, and with the current price of gold at around $1,400 per ounce, you just might bring in a few extra bucks. Just don’t quit your day job! The worse that can happen is you come home empty-handed with visions of bikini clad young gals etched in your brain. If you decide to go this route be sure purchase a water proof, multi-frequency model detector.

IF you just want to metal detect for the fun of it, hell yeah do it, but purchase a low-end detector. Most all the MAJOR manufacturers offer “turn on and go” entry-level models that are well made, capable of finding neat things, and are very affordable. Do NOT however buy a detector from a large department store chain. They simply sell them, probably know nothing about how they work, and if you have a problem, you’re “shit out of luck”.  Deal with a local dealer, who will be there to demonstrate and offer assistance if and when you need it.

Research, attend a local club meeting, ask questions, rent one, try ’em out, take your time and try to make an educated decision (if there is such a thing).  Also starting out with an expensive, top-of-the line metal detector does not insure success or better finds. If you don’t walk over it, you won’t find it, so spend your time, not your money, thinking about where to use it.



Before I tell you what the best metal detector on the market is, you need to tell me which automobile is better. Ford or Chevrolet and why? Then you have to tell me which company makes the best golf clubs….Calloway, Ping or Titleist? Next, which is better? Canon or Nikon? Coke or Pepsi? Coors or Budweiser? You do know where I am going with this right?

As far as I am concerned there’s no such thing as a “best detector on the market today”. The best detector should be the one you can afford and the one you are most comfortable with.  Spending a lot of money might get you a little more depth, but it will also get you a 200 page user’s manual and a sore arm to boot. I have been through the “need to have the latest and best” phase and now realize that’s all it is….a phase, an imagined need.

Ask any detectorist today what detector they think is best and they will probably tell you it’s the one THEY are using at the moment.  After all if they like it, you certainly will too.  Well, um, not necessarily.  I am willing to bet that same detectorist has gone through a lot of different makes and models over the years, and the one he is using now is simply the latest gal he’s taken to the dance….

What do I use today? Well, not the top of the line model, not the entry-level model, not the one with all the bells and whistles, and not the one that goes down fifteen feet.  The metal detector I use is lightweight, comfortable, easy to understand, needs little if any in-the-field adjustments, and because of that it’s the best one on the market today (to me).  So the next time somebody asks me about which detector is best, I’m gonna say “I got your best detector, right here pal!” 

Now do yourself a favor and try not to make all this stuff rocket science…it isn’t. It’s a hobby, a pastime, nothing more. Just go do it for crissakes and stop worrying about which detector you “think” you need to have. And most important, have fun will ya?


For the record I am currently using the White’s MXT-Pro and I love it…. I give my reasons HERE





One of the best sights in my part of the English Riviera is seeing treasure hunters out on the wet sand at Low Tide and keeping well away from the ‘Dry’.  Sure, they will find coins and rings but not in any profusion. Some will find more than others but the one thing they all have in common is they are following a dictum penned when UK beach hunting techniques were in their infancy. That dictum states the best place to hunt for rings and jewellery is out on the wet sand at Low Tide.

In those early days over thirty-five years ago, the development of successful UK beach hunting methods was a ‘suck-it-and-see’ learning curve, and yes, sure enough the early pioneers did find gold and silver below the High Water mark; and that apparently, sealed the deal. But it ain’t necessarily so.

Like inland hunting, the best finds (usually) come from habitation sites or where people gather in number: The equation is, High People Numbers + Habitation/Meeting Places = Casual Losses.  However, on beaches it’s a little different in that in the UK where water temperatures are generally nippier; most beach users tend to stay up in the dry sand areas, with only a small percentage venturing into the briny even on the hottest summer days.  In Florida, Spain, and in the hotter beach resorts, the opposite is true; more people are in the water, thus, losses are commensurately higher.

Rings (for example) found below the High Tide Line, have been washed there by eroding wave action having originally been lost in the dry sand. Some of course will have fallen from the fingers of swimmers and medallions torn from their necks by wave action. Indeed, popular swimming holes in lakes or non-tidal places will see a gradual build-up of lost items.

Photo 1

9-carat ring found amongst sea shells of same weight – 2.8 grams.


Hallmarks explained

Certainly wave action tends to distribute items by weight and shape. The 9-carat ring* in Photo 1 weighs in at 2.8-grams and was found ( by Jack Dey) amongst sea shells of the same weight close to the High Tide Line, dry sand side, and the inference is clear. Nonetheless, quality finds will nearly always come from areas where:-

(a) Beach users gather, usually signalled by an abundance of trash (a sure sign of treasure)

(b) Using the correct coil configuration (size and type) for the prevailing conditions

(c) Working slowly amongst the junk

Had Jack assumed the digital readout of ‘52’ was a pull-tab it would still be there waiting for another more thorough detectorist. Injudicious use of the Discrim Mode can be costly – I and Jack dig all signals…we also have an enviable collection of pull-tabs.

My best piece of jewellery to date, can be seen on the Garrett website, and came from way up in the dry sand with a Sea Hunter II pi, having drawn a blank on the wet.  It’s hardly forensic proof I know, but I’m quite content that the dry sand is the vault, and a carefully operated metal detector the key.

Good Hunting!

*Registered ‘52’ on the Garrett ATPro International – as do pull-tabs.



Q: What’s 6” long, 2”wide, and drives women wild?

A: a $100 bill!


“Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.” – George Carlin


I asked God for a good Roman site to detect, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I went out Nighthawking and asked for forgiveness. – Me.


What they’d have you believe…

All archaeological research is groundbreaking.





“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.  For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men.  He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist.  A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.” Marcus Tullius Cicero



Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum…

“The Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Act have revolutionised archaeology, ensuring that finds found by ordinary members of the public are rewriting history.  Many of  the most important finds have ended up in museum collections across the country, thanks to the generosity of funding bodies. The PAS is a key part of the British Museum’s nationwide activity to support archaeology and museums through its network of locally based Finds Liaison Officers (FLO). The Museum is committed to the long-term success of the scheme.”


How True…

The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism….William Osler

I’ll see y’all in the bar!





Filed under Metal Detecting

9 responses to “Metal Detectors, Which One to Buy plus Beach Hunting in the UK

  1. Hey Ricardo:

    The ‘best’ detector ain’t been invented nor will it ever be. It’s the operator who does the biz….

  2. The best camera is the one you have with you. Likewise, the best detector is the one you are using right now. ‘Nuff said.

  3. Packrat

    Ok when people ask me what is the best detector I tell them the one you hear the best. Different machines sound different to each person’s ears. I tell them to find a multi line dealer and listen to the different brands. Then I ask them what kind of detecting they plan on doing most and try to direct them to models that are best for that type hunting.

    • I agree Larry. I got so used to the short staccato like responses of one particular detector that it was hard for me to move on to the next. Eventually sold the new one and returned to the older one.

  4. supernova1c

    Great post Dick, with lots of good stuff. Nice article from John Howland too 😀

  5. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Dick, I gave this plenty of thought… the future I will tell folks how I started out….I bought a used machine to see if I would like this hobby….that way you don’t spend too much cash and have a easy way out if you are not a detecting fool…….these days there are plenty of very good used machines….from all manufacturers! I picked up another minelab explorer 2 for peanuts….and a chocolate bar…In a few years if I am still in the hobby I just might pick up another top of the line detector that is a few years old

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