If you enjoy hunting for treasure in your spare time, a metal detector is probably a necessary tool. Traditional, full-size metal detectors are often not sensitive enough to show you where the next treasure is located, which can lead to lots of unnecessary digging. A handheld metal detector can help you solve this problem and find your next treasure hunt.
A handheld metal detector is a small and compact device that can be carried in your pocket. It operates on a battery and can detect the location of an item once a larger metal detector has detected its general area in the ground. Some handheld metal detectors are also effective for scanning drywall, wood, plaster, concrete, tile, paneling, stucco, and other non-metallic surfaces for studs, rebar, plumbing, ductwork, screws, and nails.
If you’re going to be as effective as possible when hunting for metal, you have to choose the right handheld metal detector. This means figuring out what size metal detector, what metals it should detect, how many sensitivity levels are needed, and any other features that will help identify items.
A handheld metal detector is meant to be lightweight and compact, so size is a key feature to consider. Some models are only five inches long, while others can be as long as 15 inches. Depending on how you plan to use your handheld metal detector, one size may better than another — but nearly any model will fit in a bag for easy transport.
All handheld metal detectors can detect ferrous metals, which are metals that contain iron. These are magnetic so a detector is able to use electromagnetic induction to detect items.
However, some handheld metal detectors are also able to detect non-ferrous metals. Common non-ferrous metals include tin, brass, aluminum, copper and zinc. For the most versatile handheld metal detector choose a model that can locate both types of metals.
Metal detectors that are set to a higher sensitivity can locate smaller, more deeply embedded items. This is because the metal detector will pick up even the smallest electromagnetic fields with a high sensitivity setting.
In some cases, a higher sensitivity setting may cause you to hit on too many metals in the ground. The metal detector may be picking up minerals in the dirt rather than items worth searching for. Turning down the sensitivity allows you to zero in on larger metal pieces that are wanted instead of junk. Some handheld metal detectors offer up to 50 sensitivity levels to help find the perfect setting for whatever item you’re looking for and in whatever soil you’re searching.
A handheld metal detector usually has an audio alert to let you know when it detects an item. Some models also have a vibration alert and allow you to choose between using both alerts or just one, depending on which will work more effectively in the location where you’re looking.
If you like to go treasure hunting in low light, it can be hard to see what you’re looking for. You could bring a separate flashlight with you, but it can be difficult to hold the light and the metal detector at the same time. Some handheld metal detectors have lights that provide enough illumination in low-light without having to hold a separate flashlight.
When you’re looking for buried treasures in the soil, it can be difficult to hold a metal detector and digging tool at the same time. A handheld metal detector with a built-in scraper and LED light is an excellent option for those who need to search in low-light conditions.
Depending on the type of items you’re looking for, you may need to search in an ocean, lake, river, or puddle. As such, it is important to choose a metal detector that is waterproof. Most handheld metal detectors are waterproof up to a certain depth. Make sure you know how deep you can use it.
It is important to note that not all “waterproof” models are fully waterproof. The probe tip typically is, but the handle may not be; water could damage the inner workings of the detector if it were to get inside. Fully waterproof handheld metal detectors are able to be completely submerged up to the designated depth.
Since a handheld metal detector may be used in conjunction with a full-size metal detector, it is convenient to have a way to carry it. Some models come with clips that allow you to attach the detector to your belt loop for easy access. Other models include holsters or holster belts, so you don’t even need belt loops on your pants to carry a detector.
Handheld metal detectors usually run on batteries, which need to be replaced. To make sure your battery doesn’t die in the middle of a treasure hunt, opt for a model with a battery-saving mode. The detector may have an automatic shut-off feature that turns it off if the device hasn’t been touched in a certain amount of time.
Handheld metal detector prices
Handheld metal detectors vary in price based on how waterproof they are, the sensitivity level, and other features. The price ranges from $25 to $160.
The least-expensive handheld metal detectors are probably not waterproof, and they likely offer just two sensitivity levels, or less. They typically cost between $25 and $40, work best if you plan to use the detector around the house for detecting metal screws, nails, and other items in wood, tile, drywall, stucco, and concrete.
Handheld metal detectors that are partially waterproof, feature an LED light, and come in three sensitivity levels are slightly more expensive. They cost between $40 and $80 and are ideal for the majority of treasure hunting expeditions.
The priciest handheld metal detectors are waterproof and have an LED light with multiple brightness levels. They typically range from $80 to $160 and are great for finding small items in outdoor settings.
Q. What type of batteries does a handheld metal detector usually run on?
Ans. Most models require a single nine-volt battery. Some come with one included, so you can use it as soon as you take it out of the package. If your model doesn’t have an included battery, you can find nine-volt batteries at many stores.
Q. Can I use a waterproof handheld metal detector in saltwater?
Ans. Many waterproof metal detectors are suitable for use in the ocean and other saltwater bodies. However, some detectors may only be used in freshwater. If you do a lot of metal detecting at the beach, opt for a model that can be submerged in salt water.
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