Metal Detecting Tips | Should You Dig Everything at The BEACH?

Metal Detecting Tips | Should You Dig Everything at The BEACH?

One of the most confusing questions about metal detecting is whether to dig all signals on the beach... and is it worth ignoring signals that sound like common trash!?

The long answer is that you never know what you are going to discover with your metal detector... and that a trashy signal that sounds like aluminum foil has a chance of being a MASSIVE gold chain. Likewise, a deep gold ring may very well sound like an iron target!    

Most gold rings will have very similar Target ID's as pull-tabs and the truth is that there is no detector that is capable of distinguishing between these two targets!

This is the reason you’ll hear many detectorists cursing pull tabs 😉

Should You Dig Everything when metal detecting at the beach?

Generally when we are metal detecting a the beach, the targets are sparse and the digging is very easy, so you may as well dig everything you detect at the beach to increase your understanding of your metal detector, master digging quickly and maximise your chances of finding valuables.

On the other hand, there are in fact a few interesting situations where you will want to be more selective with what you dig.

Big Obvious Iron: 

When your metal detector discovers a large or shallow piece of iron, it is normally quite obvious that the target is in fact iron. With these obvious signals, it's generally worth moving on because the chances of the target not being iron are so small. If your metal detector indicates a very weak/deep signal which indicates iron, then there is decent chance that the target could be something other than iron. This is because metal detectors become less accurate at these fringe depths.

Storm Conditions:

With large surf, tides and other meteorological conditions, it's common to find that huge amount of sand have been removed from the beach. These types of conditions are optimal for beach metal detecting because the lower layers of the beach sand will be exposed along with thousands of metal objects which have been lost over the years.  

When metal detecting in these types of conditions, it's wise to be selective about which targets you dig and which ones you leave behind. Because these types of conditions are fleeting (often peaking for only a few hours), we want to use our metal detector as efficiently as possible. What you will often find in this type of beach condition is that there are more targets within range of your metal detector than you can possibly dig up in the given time frame!

In this scenario we are often most interested in finding gold jewelry with our detector, so to maximise our chances of finding such jewelry, it is often effective to ignore the more highly conductive targets (those which give the highest number on your metal detector) in favour of digging targets which register in the low to middle range on your detector. This generally means leaving behind old copper and silver coins (which are often highly corroded anyway) to maximise our chances of finding gold items which are normally in perfect condition.

In this scenario this technique this will massively boost your chances of finding higher value precious metals like gold and platinum because these erosion events tend to carry low-density items away along with the sand. This means that almost all the low conductivity items will be coins, sinkers, and gold!

Ultimately the ability of modern detectors to selectively ignore (discriminate) different metal alloys/shapes is an extremely powerful and often misunderstood tool that can be used in very different ways to potentially help or hinder the user.

How to Start Metal Detecting at The Beach?

For new users, those learning a new detector, or situations where targets are sparse, we do however recommend “digging it all” at the beach.

By doing this you will learn that incredible finds can be made anywhere at any time. Most importantly you will learn your detectors' language and how it describes all different items, at different depth, and from different angles.

It's true that many detectorists have 'finds' they would have never discovered had they chosen to ignore that iffy signal, at the end of the day it always depends on the conditions at the beach, your available time, and how well you know your detector.


Thank you for reading, please feel free to drop any questions or comments below!

Happy Hunting,
- Ed

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