Selecting your first metal detector
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Selecting Your First Metal Detector

      If you can play a guitar or have ever tried to learn to play a guitar, you know from experience that you do not get a "starter" guitar from one of the local five and dime stores for $49 and learn how to play. They will not tune correctly, will not note correctly, and will not stay in tune, but even if they did, the best guitar player in the world could not play them well! The same applies to buying a outboard motor for your inexpensive fishing boat. Sure you want to get by as cheap as possible, but if you go too cheap, you will wind up with one of the real old models which weighs three times more than newer models with the same horse power rating. Also, you might find yourself spending more time on the lake, pulling the cranking rope, or working on the motor to get it to run, than the actual time you are enjoying it! Now! we are suppose to be talking about metal detectors, not playing a guitar or fishing! But, think about this, some of the most important things to consider when making your first metal detector purchase is :  
 
  • Price: Try to get the best buy of course, however, don't go to cheap or you will not get a metal detector which will perform adequately enough to bring any pleasure to the hobby. In other words, if you do not get a good enough detector, how will you ever know if you like the hobby or not? By the same token, do not go overboard on your first metal detector. Get something good enough to get the job done, yet not too expensive and definitely not too complicated! You can always trade up to upgrade you metal detector if you see that you are going to really stick with the hobby. (Chances are you will!) Most metal detector dealers will work will with their customers when they upgrade to a more expensive metal detector.
 
 
 
  • Weight, Conformability: At one time metal detectors were like the older outboard motors, big, and bulky, as compared to the later manufactured metal detectors. Try the metal detector on for size. What feels comfortable to one person might not feel comfortable to another. Remember, a little weight, or a poorly balanced metal detector might not seem too bad when you pick it up, but a little less weight and a better balance means a lot when you are going to be swinging it for an extended amount of time.
 
 
 
  • Warranty:  This seems to be an important factor to those buying a new metal detector. Different  manufacturers have  warranty policies which varies. Some have warranties which are good for one year, some go all the way up to a lifetime warranty to the original owner. This will be a personal preference, you as the buyer, will have to decide upon. As have been a metal detector dealer and also involved in distributing metal detectors, I know I have had to return very, very, very few metal detectors to the factory for repairs. With today's modern technology, and electronics using surface mounted electronics on circuit boards, there is very little repairs to be made, that is if the metal detector has been cared for in a responsible manner.
 
 
 
  • Features: Almost all manufacturers have available metal detectors which required operating skills from "turn on and go" detectors to the really advance and sometimes very complicated detectors. However, some of these so called "very complicated" detectors usually have built in programs which almost make them turn on and go detectors, if the user opts to take advantage of them. You and only you, can determine if a metal detector is going to be too complicated for you! Each little bell and whistle that is installed on a metal detector by the manufacture will cost you, the buyer, more money. If it is a feature you will never ever have a need for, why buy it?
 
 
  Target ID or Not? Another decision which you, being the buyer, will need to make is if you want the metal detector to have a "Target Identification" feature or just the regular tone alert. Again, this is simply a matter of personal choice. I know folks who have been metal detecting for years and would have nothing but a metal detector with "Target ID", and by the same token, others who would not own a metal detector with the "Target ID."  
     
 
  • Target ID- Advantages/Disadvantages: Metal detectors with the target ID feature gives the user an idea of what the target is, enabling the user to make the decision on recovering the item or not. One advantage is that the metal detectors are usually set to identify some of the more common items one finds while metal detecting. Most detectors have the target identification categories separated in the following fashion or quite similar: Iron-Foil-Nickel-Pull Tab-Zinc Penny-Copper Penny -Dime- Quarter- Half-Dollar. If the user opts not to dig any iron target, or pull tab targets, the metal detector will help by giving an indication so that these particular objects will not have to be retrieved. This is particularly helpful when metal detecting for newer coins at, for instance, a city park where there are numerous pull tabs, or around an old home site, where there are countless small nails. Another instance could be when the user is metal detecting in the mountains where pull tabs are not likely to be present, but is an area known to produce civil war minnie ball bullets, the user knows in which category the bullets will be identified , such as "pull tab", it will give the user a pretty good indication of what is about to be retrieved. Another case that "Target ID" feature could be of value, for an example, around a local swimming pool. The user realizes that the odds of finding lost chains, rings, and such are pretty good. The user also realizes that the small rings and some of the chains will fall under a certain category such as "foil", and wants to concentrate his search for the small rings digging only the foil targets. The Target Identification feature would be of great value for the user in this situation. In a way I guess the Target ID feature is about like asking your detecting partner, "Do you think I ought to did this target?" The detector will be telling what it thinks, however the final decision of to dig the target or not, will still have to be made by the user. Also, you as the user, have the option of relying on the target ID indication or ignoring it altogether.
 
 
 
  • Target ID-Disadvantage: Remember the target ID categories mentioned above? Iron - Foil - Nickel - Pull Tab - Zinc Penny - Copper Penny - Dime - Quarter- etc, well as I stated earlier, these are some of the most common targets found while metal detecting. Metal detectors can not be made that can identify every metal object in the ground, and even if they could, can you imagine how long the category list would be? This is why the metal detectors have the above categories in which it tries to identify the target based on the conductivity of the metal and the size of the target. Also as stated above, lots of the smaller gold rings will fall in the category of "foil". Other gold rings a little larger might fall in the category of "nickel". Gold rings can be identify by the metal detector as anything from Iron to Zinc Penny, depending on the size of the target, and the purity of the gold. The purer gold, such as 18K has a lower conductivity than does 10K. Therefore two identically shaped and sized rings might appear differently on the "Target ID" display. Another example could be a small piece of copper pipe will have a close conductivity of a copper penny, and thus would be identified in the copper penny category. Depth will also play a factor in the accuracy of the target identification. Any detector with "target ID " is only accurate, even on coins, to a certain depth. If the detected coin is deeper than that depth, the signal will be weaker, therefore the target will be identified by the detector in a category lower on conductivity than it would if it had been more shallow. In other words, let's say that the Target Id feature of the particular detector is accurate in identifying a copper penny at 8", if the copper penny is a little deeper than 8" the penny could be identified as a zinc penny.  If the penny was even deeper still, it might be identified as a pull tab, and so on down the scale according to the depth. Any target ID detector can only accurately identify targets, when those targets detected fall into the same situations that the detector was calibrated for at the manufacture. I don't think you will ever be detecting in a civil war area and find a target that the detector identifies as a "cannon ball fuse" or a horse shoe for that matter. Nor do I think you will be detecting around an old home site and see "old watch fob" or "antique toy pistol" ever come up on the target ID display. To sum things up, what I am trying to say is that if you just want to dig what the detector indicates as a good target, you will in all probability find those targets and what few rings and other goodies that so happen to fall within those categories. You will need to use much thought as when to and when not to rely on the target Id display. A lot of my more valued finds are items which would have not been identified as coins on the target ID display. The more targets you dig the more items you will find. You will have to dig some "junk" signals if you want to find the good stuff.
 
 
 
  • Tone (No Target ID) Some detectors do not have the target identification display included.  A lot of people prefer this type of detector, as they do not rely on the accuracy of the identification display, thus causing them to recover more target, thus retrieving more of unusual finds. 
 
 
 
  • Tone ID: A few of the detectors have what is called "Tone ID" which means that the detector will emit a different audio tone for different conductivities of the targets. An example, one particular metal detector gives a low pitched tone on targets it suspects to be made of iron, foil or nickel.  Likewise the detector will give a medium pitched tone for the targets it suspects to be pull tab, screw cap, or zinc penny, and a high pitched tone for copper pennies, dimes, quarters, halves, and silver dollars. The "Tone ID" gives the user a method to try to determine if the target should be retrieved by the given tone instead of the visual Target ID  as mentioned above. The same conditions apply to the "Tone ID" detectors as does the "Visual Target ID" detectors we talked about earlier. If the target is deeper that the detector is able to accurately identify the target, the signal will be deeper, thus the Tone ID will be lower on the tone identification scale.
     
  • Features: Almost all manufacturers have available metal detectors which required operating skills from "turn on and go" detectors to the really advance and sometimes very complicated detectors. However, some of these so called "very complicated" detectors usually have built in programs which almost make them turn on and go detectors, if the user opts to take advantage of them. You and only you, can determine if a metal detector is going to be too complicated for you! Each little bell and whistle that is installed on a metal detector by the manufacture will cost you, the buyer, more money. If it is a feature you will never ever have a need for, why buy it?
 
 
 

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