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Monday, 7 December 2015

How to beach metal detect- Part 1 choosing the right beach metal detector

Beach metal detecting guide.

Hi all, I thought I would put together a comprehensive guide about beach metal detecting. This is going to be a work in progress guide made up of quite a few parts hopefully covering many aspects of the hobby with tips and advice for beginners and seasoned detectorists alike
, so keep checking back for the new parts to the guide.

Choosing the right beach metal detector.

This has to be the most asked question on metal detecting forums, blogs and video comment sections when someone new to beach metal detecting fancies giving it a try.
There are many different makes and models out there to choose from and it can often prove a little overwhelming for someone who is just starting out in the hobby. Let's start out by listing the main types of metal detectors that are typically available for you too choose from.

  • VLF (very low frequency)
  • Multiple frequency
  • PI (pulse induction)
When choosing which detector to buy you really need to have a think about what environment you will be searching, do you want to search down the beach on the wet sand/low tide mark? Maybe you want to only search at the high tide line in the dry sand? Or to complicate matters further still, perhaps you want to be able to search both areas and also land based permissions.

At this point I will not be going in depth as to the reasons for and against detecting on certain areas of the beach as I will be explaining this in future parts, however I am going to now explain the upsides and downfalls of the common types of metal detectors in the different parts of the beach.

Wet sand metal detecting.

If you fancy your chances of striking gold from the low tide mark you need to really have a think about which metal detector is best suited. Very low frequency (VLF) type metal detectors are not the best choice for this area of the beach. They are susceptible to the high mineral and salt content of the wet and often black sand. This has an adverse effect on the metal detectors circuitry and causes false signalling, these false signals can often be mistaken for good signals and then you will end up pratting around in wet holes for hours on end with nothing to show for it.

There are exceptions to this rule though. a few of the mid/high range VLF metal detectors on the market can be used quite successfully on the wet sand when used in experienced hands. Amongst others the Garrett AT pro and Makro Racer metal detectors shine in this area as far as VLF detectors go.

Multiple frequency

Multiple frequency metal detectors such as all the Minelab BBS and FBS metal detectors and the Whites DFX  fire multiple frequencies out simultaneously and then select the best data retrieved from this. By doing so the machine can then eliminate the interference that the conductive wet sand produces, this will mean that you should not get many if any at all signals caused by heavy mineralisation. These detectors vary in price depending on model, most are between £700-1900 brand new or between £250-1300 second hand. 

One of the most respected Beach metal detectors is the Minelab Sovereign which uses BBS technology and is multiple frequency. The Sovereign is now a discontinued detector but is still widely available on the used market, Having been around for over 20 years with many facelifts yet still keeping the same basic technology it is tried and tested and loved by many beach hunters.All variants of the Minelab Sovereign will do the job and do it well.

PI metal detectors

PI metal detectors are the kings of the wet/black sand and due to how they work are not affected at all by the sand/mineral conditions. They will achieve great depths and have great sensitivity to all metal 
no mater how big or small the find may be.

As with all metal detectors there are still drawbacks to using them. The biggest drawback to a PI metal detector is the fact that it cannot discriminate between different types of metals, this means that it will give just as good a signal for a shiny 18ct gold and diamond cluster ring as it would for a rusty ferrous lump of iron. You will have to dig all signals but at least you will not miss anything!

PI detectors range in price just as all other metal detectors, the Cscope cs4pi is at the bottom of the price list at around £260 brand new but is more than capable of finding objects at incredible depths. At the higher end of the scale you will find detectors like the Whites Surfmaster dualfield which weighs in at around £700, This machine is perfect for beach metal detecting, it has a large coil for covering big areas quickly, it is fully waterproof which is always worth it considering the environment you are going to be in and it is stupendously deep seeking.

Dry sand metal detecting.

Dry sand metal detecting is a total different kettle of fish. You will find a lot of trash on the dry sand as this is the area where many people will sit whilst enjoying the sun, also the sea pushes the lighter metals up the beach to this area so you will find lots of aluminium ring pulls and cans.

This can cause a real headache when trying to use a PI metal detector due to sensory overload. There will be far to many signals which cannot be discriminated out and you will find yourself with a finds pouch stuffed full of rubbish in no time at all. I would not recommend a PI metal detector for this job.

You will find that both the VLF and multiple frequency detectors with both excel in this area no matter which make or model you choose as there is very little in the way of mineralisation as the water line should be out of detector range. 

I have used many VLF detectors successfully on the dry sand with no problems at all.


So to summarise what has been said. 

  • If you are planning to hunt primarily on the wet sand  you should really be looking for a PI or multi frequency metal detector.
  • If you want to hunt dry and wet you should be looking for a multi frequency or suitable VLF detector such as the Makro Racer or Garrett AT pro.
  • If you plan to search the dry sand only you should be looking for a multi frequency or any VLF metal detector and not buying a PI metal detector.
I hope the first part of this guide has helped you to get started. Any questions please feel free to ask in the comments section and please check back soon for the next instalment.

Happy hunting all.


  1. Great starter guide, thanks for putting in the effort to write it!

  2. Great starter guide, thanks for putting in the effort to write it!


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