Types of Metal Detectors | The Ultimate Guide


If you are interested in becoming a treasure hunter by using a high-quality metal detector, then you probably want to learn about all of the different types of metal detectors and the various technologies that can be used with each variation.

The two most common types of metal detectors are Very Low Frequency (VLF) metal detectors and Pulse Induction metal detectors. Both of these types of metal detectors can be used in certain situations. In addition, there are also special metal detectors that offer waterproof designs so that you can search for treasures in shallow bodies of water.

Using the right type of metal detector for your specific purpose can be extremely important, especially if you want to give yourself the best odds of finding valuable items that may be buried in the ground. This guide is going to explore a few different scenarios where you might want to use a specific type of metal detector and why it might be imperative for successfully finding treasure. 

What’s a Very Low Frequency (VLF) Metal Detector?

If you’re a novice in the world of metal detecting, then there’s probably a good chance that you’ve either used or consider using a “Very Low Frequency” metal detector for your treasure hunts. 

These types of metal detectors are generally considered to be cost-effective and affordable for most individuals. VLF metal detectors are generally equipped with two separate coils. The transmitter coil is designed to send electrical signals into the ground. The other coil is recognized as the receiver coil. This coil is responsible for receiving the bounced signal and interrupting if there are any objects in the ground that might be of interest. Source.

The coils are responsible for searching and detecting any metal objects that might be buried. This information is then transferred to the onboard screen or control board that is usually located near the handle of the metal detector. 

If you are looking for a cost-effective metal detector that utilizes VLF technology, you could probably find one for as little as $75.  However, with a cheaper model, you might miss out on some of the higher-quality features that might be integrated into these types of metal detectors. They can range from around $75 up to $1,500, depending on the brand and level of quality that you are looking for. 

Most cost-effective VLF metal detectors are only designed to use a singular frequency when searching. This can generally limit your ability to find certain types of objects and might not be as useful in certain scenarios. You could decide to invest in a multi-frequency metal detector because they are capable of searching through multiple frequencies at the same time. This means that you could have a much higher chance of finding treasure when using this type of metal detector. 

What’s a Pulse Induction (PI) Metal Detector?

A “Pulse Induction” metal detector is a little bit different than a VLF metal detector. Instead of using two separate coils to send and receive signals in the ground, this type of metal detector is usually only equipped with a single-coil.  

The coil sends and receives hundreds of pulses every second and the metal detector will send a signal to the user if a metal is detected. 

Most people that are experienced in the world of metal detecting will agree that Pulse Induction metal detectors are much more valuable. In some cases, these types of metal detectors can range up to $3,000 at the highest end of the market. Most Pulse Induction metal detectors are at least $1,000, which can prevent a lot of casual treasure hunters from being able to afford them.

These types of metal detectors are extremely effective at searching mineralized grounds for metal. Beaches are one of the most popular locations to use a Pulse Induction metal detector because they are so effective in those conditions. 

Pulse Induction metal detectors are usually much more expensive and harder to operate. They are generally much heavier than VLF metal detectors but they are capable of finding items that might be buried at a greater depth beneath the ground. 

If you can afford to spend a significant amount of money on a Pulse Induction metal detector, then it will most definitely be worth it because you will be receiving very high-quality features that are designed to find many different types of metal items with the use of a single search coil. Source.

Are Waterproof Metal Detectors Worth It? 

Waterproof metal detectors are capable of using both technologies that were previously mentioned. They are generally designed to find objects like jewelry, coins, and other types of common metal in shallow bodies of water. Fully waterproof detectors can be fully submerged into water.

Depending on the type of technology that you would prefer to have integrated into your metal detector, waterproof metal detectors can actually be quite affordable. However, there is a difference between weatherproof and waterproof metal detectors. Make sure that the models you’re looking at are waterproof if you plan on submerging them.

For more information see our article for Metal Detecting in Water

Which Metal Detector Is Best For Newcomers?

If you compared PI and VLF metal detectors against each other and then asked yourself which variation was best for newcomers, then it would probably be pretty obvious that the VLF metal detectors are much easier to use.

This is true for individuals who are just starting and want to get started with something a little bit more simple. VLF metal detectors are most affordable, easier to operate, and they are still very effective at finding certain types of metal objects.

Once you are capable of using a VLF metal detector, you should be able to upgrade to a PI metal detector with a very minor learning curve. Both types of metal detectors are integrated with technology that is extremely effective at finding metal objects in the ground. Beginners should definitely consider a VLF metal detector before investing a large amount of money in one of the Pulse Induction metal detectors.


It’s extremely important to understand the differences between a Pulse Induction metal detector and a Very Low Frequency metal detector so that you can make the best purchase decision when attempting to acquire the right metal detector for you. 

There are many factors to consider, including quality, price, durability, and the type of technology that you would prefer to use with your metal detector. Once you understand all of these factors, it should be much easier to make your final decision when trying to buy your first metal detector.

Chad Fox

Chad Fox is an expert treasure hunter who is experienced in metal detecting, magnet fishing, and geocaching. He enjoys the outdoors, making new discoveries, and helping people get started.

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