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Beachcombing with Your Metal Detector

fisher metal detector

From dry sand to deep salt water, match your detector to the conditions.

Water and sunscreen have a sneaky way of slipping rings from fingers of swimmers and sunbathers, making beaches a lucrative location for metal detecting. Recovering an object from sand is pretty easy, too, especially compared to digging in hard ground. Necklaces, watches, and bracelets are also great finds on beaches, along with coins— lots of coins. Although some beaches can yield historic artifacts, most finds will likely be of the modern variety.

WHEN TO GO. Purist beach detectorists will argue that the best time to find goodies on a beach is after winter storms. While that’s certainly true, summer crowds can mean a fresh crop of coinage and jewelry just waiting to be found by the average beachcomber everyday.

WHAT TO TAKE. Beach hunting can be done on the dry sand or out in the water where many more rings are lost. Salt water beaches present special problems (mineralization) and you must determine if you will hunt only in dry sand, dip the coil under water in the shallows,  or desire a totally submersible machine suitable for deep water wading or diving. All quality metal detectors have submersible search coils but not all control boxes are waterproof or suitable for the pressures of deep water diving, so match your detector to the type of detecting you’ll do.

In all types of beach hunting, the discrimination must be kept very low, eliminating only small iron (bobby pins and nails). Aluminum pull tabs and tin foil should not be discriminated or you will lose some gold and/or platinum rings as well. Some beach hunters operate with zero discrimination and dig everything. Use of a sand scoop makes target recovery fast and easy.

If you plan to hunt only in dry sand and in very shallow water, a good coin shooting detector will work well if you keep the discrimination set low. If you wish to go out into deeper water you will need a totally submersible machine. Some machines have a single tone for all targets and some have variable tones for different targets. It’s important to realize that most gold rings will read in the “middle” tones (above iron but below coins).

All metal detectors work well in the dry ocean sand but most single frequency  detectors become erratic in the wet salt sand or in the surf. Wet salt makes the ground conductive and the detector sees the sand as a large sheet of metal. In order to operate in those areas with most single frequency instruments, you must decrease the sensitivity of the detector and it may still operate erratically. If you only occasionally visit the ocean and own an instrument that becomes erratic in wet salt sand, you can still operate perfectly in the dry sand area. If you live near the ocean, or get to the ocean frequently, consider investing in a detector that will operate well in all conditions including wet salt sand. Those detectors are generally higher priced than multi-purpose detectors, but they are definitely worth the investment if you frequent the ocean.

SUMMARY. For best results on beaches, keep your discrimination levels low, tonal ID gives you an advantage, and purchase a fully submersible machine if you wish to hunt deeper water. If you plan on hunting salt water areas often invest in a machine designed for those conditions. Note: Fisher Metal Detectors provided some information for this article.
Metal Detector