Metal Detecting Pinpointers - What are they and which one is the best?

mi-4, mi-6, nokta pointer, pinpointer, PulseDive -

Metal Detecting Pinpointers - What are they and which one is the best?

Pin pointers are an absolutely essential tool for metal detecting.  A pin pointer can more than double the amount of incredible treasures you find, slash the time it takes and make your detecting adventures way more fun. They can also eliminate a huge amount of mess while doing it. 

No matter what kind of metal detector you own, at the end of the day you’ll wish you had a pinpointer when you're searching the hole for your next epic treasure.

Read on to find out why pin pointers are an absolutely crucial addition to your metal detecting tools…

What is a PinPointer?

Almost as essential as your digging tool, pinpointers are mini handheld metal detectors that use a mixture of beeps and vibration to tell you the PRECISE pinpoint location of the target you have found with your main metal detector.  Pinpointers for metal detecting are one of the 3 most crucial bits of gear you’ll need alongside your main metal detector.

How does a PinPointer work?

Pinpointers use a small and very precise detection field at one end (known as the probe), to alert you the closer the pinpointer probe is to your metal target hidden in the ground.

These devices are also referred to with a variety of names including, metal detecting wand, pointer, metal detecting probe and even pro pointer (which is actually the name of a certain other specific model).

Why do I need a PinPointer?

A pin pointer is needed to very precisely find your target's location in the ground. If you’ve ever lost something in the grass or sand, you’d know how extremely difficult it is to find, even if you know the general spot you lost it.

Even expert hobbyists won’t be caught out without a pin pointer. This is because with one they completely eliminate the guesswork and time they’d spend frustrated trying to precisely locate their next treasure. Your metal target could be hidden anywhere inside the hole you’ve just dug or perhaps even a bit deeper down!

It’s easy to imagine yourself using your metal detector on a beautiful day, detecting an exciting target, opening a neat hole and plucking out the find of a lifetime… 

Unfortunately the reality is that most targets are extremely well hidden in the dirt, sand or mud. Just poking and scraping around with your hands is a sure fire way to become frustrated and waste a lot of your precious time and energy.

This is where your trusty pointer comes in very handy, to quickly, cleanly and precisely tell you where the target is in these kinds of situations!

Metal Detecting PinPointers, where can they be used?

High quality pinpointers for metal detecting are extremely precise in many environments, and they also massively reduce the amount of digging required to find the metal target. For these reasons they’re commonly they’re used in:

Parks & Fields

It’s particularly important when metal detecting in parks and sensitive areas that you equip yourself with tools that cut down the time it takes to locate your target as well as reduce frustration and mess. These environments will contain a huge variety of soils too, as they’re often made up of rocks, roots, gravel and hard clay, meaning it’s rarely possible to simply feel around with your hand until you eventually (maybe) locate your metal target. 

The Beach

Metal detecting and recovering treasures at the beach can be very challenging without a pinpointer. You’ll often be in a constant battle with sand that's burying treasure faster than you can dig! This is on top of waves and swell washing over the hole at the same time..

Although it's easier to locate targets without a pinpointer at the beach than at the park, they can still cut down on time and make it easier to locate targets quickly.

What are the key features you need in a pinpointer?

Reliability
Metal detecting with a dependable and high quality brand name pinpointer ensures you won’t come home empty handed.  Having a pinpointer fail when you’re out metal detecting often means you’ll have to quit early due to frustration, especially since you’ve just lost the ability to recover metal targets at double or triple the speed than you would without one, minimum.

Budget pin pointers lack performance and reliability that typically comes with brand names. It’s important to do your research as there are a few brand pointers out there that don’t meet these high reliability requirements.

Turn On & Go
Although most modern pinpointers have a variety of features that make your metal detecting experience easier, they are fortunately also very easy to use.  All that’s typically required is to simply turn on the pointer and go.  At most you might need to tune out mineralization or salt, however pinpointers such as the PulsDive Pointer and MI-4 can do this at the press of a single button. The most popular and high quality pin pointers today typically feature around 1-3 buttons that are intuitive, easy to use and importantly easy to remember.

Intuitive Alert System

Many people underestimate how huge of an impact different alert systems in a pin pointer can make. Low-end pointers only have the ability to output a basic audio beep at one speed, and that’s it. Ideally an intuitive alert system is made up of a few characteristics:

  1. Zero lag or latency between when it detects metal and when it alerts you.
  2. The ability for the audio beep to increase/decrease in speed according to distance from a metal target. 
  3. It should be clear and easy to tell when the tip or probe of the pointer is directly on or touching a target.
  4. The ability to provide vibration feedback
  5. The ability to toggle audio on or off.

When a pinpointer has the ability to utilise these functions it makes it possible to essentially know and visualise where your target is in relation to the tip of the pointer. 

Waterproof

You might think that a waterproof rating on your pinpointer is only important if you want to take it fully underwater, but what is often overlooked is what the rating on your pinpointer can actually tell you about the overall design and build quality. It isn’t all just about how deep underwater it can go.

Even if you don’t plan on using your pinpointer in the water, a high quality brand name pinpointer with a good waterproof rating means it’s generally going to be more durable and longer lasting in sandy, wet, dusty and muddy conditions you’ll encounter while metal detecting, than one without. You can also wash or scrub it without worrying if it might leak.

Aside from that, you can be confident that a detecting pin pointer with a waterproof and dustproof rating is going to do a far better job of resisting those kinds of ingress with a level of reliability that other pointers can’t match.

Rechargeable

Recharging your metal detecting pin pointer from any standard USB outlet and never having to worry about batteries again means you’re much less likely to be caught out by a pinpointer that goes flat in the middle of a hunt, and worst still if you’ve also forgotten the spare batteries! 

A rechargeable pinpointer also saves you money since you’ll no longer need to keep buying batteries. These days the internal lithium batteries inside high quality brand name pinpoints are very reliable. They can often give around 20 hours or more of operation on a single charge, depending on the model, how you use it and what functions you use.

Durability

While similar to the point on reliability, durability deserves its own mention because of how much wear and tear from normal use a pin pointer needs to endure. Metal detecting in Australia can be quite hard on your gear, so it’s important to look for high-quality pointers from manufacturers that also have your back with at least 1 or 2 years warranty.

Typical wear and tear is also why some newer pointers come with a replaceable plastic cover that slides over the probe. When that wears through you simply replace the cover instead of having to buy a new pointer or get the outside casing replaced via servicing. This feature saves you and everyone involved time and money. We hope to see more manufacturers and models embracing this idea in the future.

What’s the best pin pointer for gold?

Generally, any metal detecting pinpointer will find gold metal if it’s large enough. That includes gold jewellery and gold coins. However, it’s important to realise a few key things is about pinpointers:

  1. The simple fact is that pin pointers are generally not designed for nugget hunting because the vast majority of nuggets are smaller than a pin pointer can even detect.
  2. Gold bearing ground in Australia is typically highly mineralized which itself will set off your pin pointer. The concentration of minerals in the soil means that you’ll have to tune out that mineralization (assuming your pointer even has that ability), which in turn will reduce its sensitivity even further.

In summary, we generally don’t recommend pinpointers for gold prospecting.

How do you use a pinpointer?

Pinpointers are typically turned on once your primary metal detector has located a metal target that you want to dig up. You can then use the pinpointer to probe the grass and soil.  Often if the target is shallow enough the pin pointer will be able to detect it before you even dig.  

Other times the target might be out of range of the pinpointer meaning that you’ll need to create a neat hole first, and then use the pinpointer inside the hole, where a regular full-sized metal detector can’t fit, to find its precise location.

What is the cheapest and best value pinpointer?

The Nokta Pointer is easily the best value for money budget pin pointer on the market as of writing this blog. The Nokta Pointer also offers pretty much all of the must-have features and has the extremely high quality standards you need, with great runtime on a 9V battery all on a budget.

It might be tempting to buy one of the many dirt-cheap pin pointers out there if you’re on a budget, but we highly recommend investing a little more if possible to ensure you’re not left frustrated or find yourself going home early due to a problem with your gear.

What is the best pinpointer for metal detecting?

The best pinpointer for metal detecting is ultimately going to be found by considering the key features explained above (with reliability being number one!), your budget and also what metal detecting gear you already have. That being said, here’s our top 3 and why they might be right for you:

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The MI-4 is one the most popular Pinpointers in Australia. Ever since we first stocked them years ago they’ve consistently been our best seller, and for good reason. You’ll pay a bit more compared to some other models, however what you get for the money is well worth it. It’s standout features include but are not limited to:

  • High build quality and reliability
  • Waterproof up to 6 meters
  • Rapid Retune
  • 3 Levels of Sensitivity
  • Toggle LED, Vibration, Loudspeaker ON/OFF
  • 2 Different audio modes (Pitch/Pulse)
  • 6 Programs
  • Rotatable Belt Holster
  • USB Rechargeable Lithium Battery
  • 2 Year Warranty

The MI-6 is actually identical to the MI-6 except it also features:

  • Connectivity with the ORX, DEUS and DEUS II 
  • Lost MI-6 Recovery Mode

For the full list of features see our listing HERE.

The only thing we’d love to see in the future from XP that the MI-4/MI-6 lacks is an included protective probe cover to prolong the life of the probe, seen on few other models currently.

Overall, the XP MI-4/MI-6 are the best feature complete pin pointers available. XP has really knocked it out of the park with these excellent top quality and high performers.

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The Pulsedive Pointer is another fantastic pin pointer from Nokta that ticks all the boxes. It even packs some incredible unexpected functions when used with some optional extra attachments. 

It’s standout features include but are not limited to:

  • High build quality and reliability
  • Waterproof up to 60 meters
  • Transform from a Pinpointer to an underwater handheld detector with detachable 5”, 8” and Pointer Probe options
  • Rapid Retune
  • 5 levels of sensitivity
  • Toggle LED, Vibration, Loudspeaker ON/OFF
  • Built-in Wireless connectivity with the Nokta 2.4gHz Wireless Headphones.
  • Belt Holster
  • USB Rechargeable Lithium Battery
  • Protective Replaceable Probe Cover (2 included)
  • Lost Alarm

For the full rundown on this pinpointer see our review HERE or our listing HERE.

While the Pulsedive Pointer is waterproof to 60m, it’s important to remember to use the provided waterproof cap. This is because it has the option of using a separate non-waterproof land cap that makes the pinpointer sound louder.

The Pulsedive Pointer from Nokta is unlike any other pinpointer on the market as of the writing of the blog thanks to its unique ability to be transformed into a portable, handheld underwater metal detector by simply attaching a separately sold 5” or 8” coil. All this for a small fraction of the cost of other dedicated and full-sized underwater metal detectors.

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The Nokta Pointer is the best budget pinpointer with the fewest compromises available on the market and it was one of the first pointers to trailblaze the idea of including replaceable probe covers when it launched.

It’s standout features include but are not limited to:

  • High Build Quality and Reliability
  • Waterproof up to 1 meter
  • 10 levels of sensitivity 
  • Toggle LED, Vibration, Loudspeaker ON/OFF
  • Protective Replaceable Probe Cover (2 included)
  • Lost Alarm and Auto Shut-off

For the full rundown on this pinpointer see our listing HERE.

Our only criticism of the Nokta Pointer would be the need for batteries instead of a USB rechargeable internal lithium battery. However, the Nokta Pointer is the best pin pointer available for the budget conscious metal detectorist while also providing most of the features and quality that the metal detecting hobby often demands. 


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