How Deep Will A Metal Detector Go?

Find out how far down can a metal detector go and what ideal conditions give it more penetrating power.

A picture of a product called the Whites Spectra V3i Hp Metal Detector

Factors That Influence Depth of Field

The short answer to the question in the title is that it depends. First, it depends on the type of detector that you own. More sophisticated models are going to yield better results, as one would expect. But there are other factors to consider. Because these conditions vary, you have to understand how each of them can make or break your hunt. Soil condition tops the list, as the level of mineralization can affect the penetrating power of your machine. The base metal also tends to draw your device more or less. The length of time your target object has been buried also matters, and you will learn more in detail why.

To add, the size and shape of the object will also have bearing. But going back to the metal detector itself, its circuitry and the size of the coil should be considered. Later, we will explain to you if bigger is necessarily better when it comes to coil size. As such, there are many ways to answer the question about depth. We will try to lay down as many details as we can. So whether you are a beginner or a seasoned hobbyist in this area, make sure to read on. You are sure to pick up a thing or two from this article. If gold is what you are after, check out our reviews of metal detectors for gold.

External Influences

As mentioned earlier, the condition of the soil plays an important role in how your detector will pick up a coin or a relic effectively. Over time, such buried objects tend to create an electromagnetic field, like a halo around themselves. Various chemicals found in the soil corrode with an object. When the chemicals eat away the metal, oxidation (rusting) happens. This in turn is absorbed in the soil, making it more conductive. With the halo effect, the object appears larger than it actually is. This occurrence increases your chances of detecting it. However, after a certain period, the electromagnetic field will start to decrease after reaching optimum level. This is why the length of time objects have been buried is significant. Speaking of soil, moisture also has a beneficial impact, as it increases conductivity. So when it just rained, take advantage of the wet soil. It’s good to return to grounds you have previously covered and try again.

Majority of metal detector models tend to pick up iron the most.Though the highest in conductivity is silver, followed by silver, copper, gold, aluminum, zinc, nickel, brass, bronze, then iron. And as said earlier, moisture in soil increases conductivity. So consider the object and the weather as well. What influences depth of field more is magnetization. This means that the greater the degree of an object’s magnetization, the deeper it can be sensed by your machine. We also talked earlier about the size and shape of the object. It is easier to detect a larger target, so you have a better chance at finding a bucket than a coin. Shape enters the picture as those that are ring- or loop-shaped get detected easily, as long as they lay flat in the ground. The case is similar with flat and dish-shaped ones. Rod-shaped objects, except those iron-made, are harder to detect.

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Metal Detector Matters

Now let us go to the design and parts of the metal detector. We said earlier that more expensive and sophisticated units can of course bring about better results. However, there are specific elements that influence depth such as the size of the coil. The greater the diameter of the coil, the better it will get you depth. The standard 8” performs at an optimum level when we are talking about all-around metal detecting. Adding 2” will notch it up a couple levels for your device. On the other hand, a 4-inch coil will yield decreased depth. In areas full of trash, the latter will however help you sort out items with potential. So it is not entirely useless, though it will not get you what you are looking for in terms of depth capability. As an example, Bounty Hunter has a variety of models that sport the 8-inch coil.

As for the range, you can rely on coils in between 6” and 10”. When you use 14” to 16”, you will be able to scan larger items in ideal conditions. Further, take a look as well at the circuitry of the metal detector. Used to discriminate iron, it should be turned off. This means, you will have to turn off discrimination mode to be able to increase your depth. As an alternative, you can also test the degree of discrimination. Increase or decrease as you see fit. You can scatter coins and foil in the ground and adjust discrimination based on how you discern target signals. By practice, you will be able to determine at what level to set discrimination so you can increase depth and differentiate trash from treasure. Sensitivity settings are also important in a way. Sensitivity can be lowered in areas with power transformers and heavy ground mineralization. While this decreases depth, you can avert losing good targets by listening to less chatter coming from high sensitivity.

Our Verdict

How deep will a metal detector go? The short answer is that it depends on the unit and several other factors. There are external considerations such as soil conditions. The electromagnetic field created around metallic objects produces a halo effect. This is turn increases the chance of the items to get detected, giving you more depth. You can also go deeper while working a wet ground. Moisture in soil definitely influences depth. The size and shape of the objects also have an effect on depth. Larger objects get detected more easily. And so do ring-, loop-, and dish-shaped, as well as flat, ones. Keep in mind that you metal detector is only as affective as your metal detecting headphones. Read our full review in the link provided.

While you can always rely on the more expensive and sophisticated metal detector, some features and settings influence depth more than others. The size of the coil matters. The larger the coil, the deeper it can get. The ideal size is between 6” and 10”. Those that are 14” to 16” can give you more depth in ideal conditions. Discrimination and sensitivity settings are also important. Turning off discrimination will yield you greater depth. Sensitivity can also be lowered to lessen chatter, though this will cause you to lose a little depth. If you want to learn more about how you can set your metal detector to work for you, check out the rest of our blog posts.