Metal Detecting Tips For Coins

Coins are some of the most sought-after items for treasure hunters. They can be cleaned up and used again and often contain a historical value. For these reasons, finding old coins is fun for many hobbyist collectors. There are several ways to find coins, but the most effective depends on the type of coin you’re looking for. Read through this list of helpful hints before digging in the dirt.

Coin Shooting Is What It Sounds Like

Simply put, a metal detectorist digs through dirt, looking for interesting items like old coins, jewelry, bullets, or other items. While they don’t necessarily look at these objects, they listen for any sounds made by the entity being dug up. They often hunt using mechanical devices called detectors. These days, many call themselves “coin hunters” rather than “metal detectorists,” though both terms refer to someone who hunts for valuable metals buried deep underground.

Metal Detectors Can Detect Coins From Up to 12 Inches Deep

Finding buried treasure requires patience, skill, knowledge, and luck. Most metal detectorists agree that finding anything deeper than 12” is rare. That said, several factors determine how deep you can dig. For example, the object’s weight determines its depth; heavier objects sink faster than lighter ones. Soil composition plays another major factor. Sandy soils hold moisture well, allowing waterlogged items like old coins to stay down longer.

Conversely, clay tends to absorb water quickly, causing objects to float to the surface much sooner. Depth also varies depending on the shape of the item being sought. Coins generally lie flat, whereas jewelry often has a rounder profile. And finally, location matters too. Treasure hunters should note local land ownership regulations before heading into the field. Digging below someone else’s property line could lead to legal trouble.

Size is another important consideration. As a general rule, the larger the coin, the easier it will be to detect at depth. Your mid-range modern detector should be capable of detecting a U.S. quarter at 12” deep. Coins laid flat tend to appear more prominent to the detectorist than those lying on their edges.

Where Can I Find Lost Change?

The locations you should search when coin shooting depends quite a bit on the types of coins you’re looking for. If you’re looking for modern, spendable coins in large numbers, parks, sports fields, schools, and fairgrounds are good places to start.

Some of the best places to find silver coins are the yards of houses built from 1900 to 1950. Older parks, schools, and churches can also be productive. Where do you find that elusive gold coin? Do your research, hit old homesites and public gathering places (the 1800s or earlier is best), and bring all the luck you can muster.

Select The Type Of Coin Detector To Use

Most modern metal detecting equipment was initially developed for archaeology purposes, although they work well for treasure hunters. Most models are built around the idea of being used for either coin searching or nugget hunting. However, there is no single machine explicitly made for these tasks; instead, many models are capable of doing both jobs simultaneously.

Several detectors are available today, ranging from hand-held units to large machines. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and each is suitable for specific uses. For example, a hand-held unit would probably be better for coin searching, whereas a pulse or thermal unit would be ideal for more extensive and deeper areas.

Multi-frequency machines like the Minelab Equinox are some better detectors for coin hunting. Still, slightly cheaper options like the Garrett AT Pro and the Nokta Makro Simplex are also strong performers.  

How Does One Set A Metal Detector For Coins?

Discrimination will probably be your top priority if you’re searching for coins and trying to filter out other objects. Most metal detectors have preset modes for coins or let you adjust the sensitivity level to eliminate unwanted items like aluminum, iron, and other metals. Gold, copper, brass, and silver coins are generally well tolerated by these devices, but some gold, cupro-nickel, steel, and zinc coins may be rejected at higher sensitivities levels.

Ground Balance is another important setting for detecting coins. Ground balance compensates for the effects of varying mineral content within the earth. For example, clay soils absorb metal particles, causing false readings. To counteract these effects, adjust the coil height above the ground surface until the display reads zero.

Changing the ground balance is critical to getting accurate results. Most detectors sold today include adjustments for both vertical and horizontal ground balance settings. However, many inexpensive models don’t offer any adjustment options. Make sure your detector has a built-in ground balance feature before buying.

Equipment Needed

Plenty of tools available at any hardware store should do the trick if you don’t have a digger. Digging tools include a pickaxe and shovel; these are useful for getting into hard-packed earth. To avoid damaging your target, try to lift only the top layer of dirt rather than moving down through layers of clay or rock. Be careful around trees and shrubs since they often contain sharp thorns. Use care when probing near electrical wires and pipes, too, since they could easily short circuit.


Metal Detecting is one of the most popular hobbies around. It involves using specially-made detectors to find coins buried underground. Many people enjoy searching for treasure at local parks and beaches. However, sometimes they hit pay dirt containing valuable items like jewelry, guns, rings, and more.

Jason Smith

I am a Marine who now works as a Web Developer. I have five US States left to visit. I like whiskey, wine, and coffee, soaking in hot springs or in my hot tub.

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