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3 Must-Have Metal Detecting Digging Tools

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Matt is a professional painter who enjoys fishing and metal detecting for old coins and relics.

My collection of digging tools I use for metal detecting.

My collection of digging tools I use for metal detecting.

The Best Digging Tools for Metal Detecting

One of the most important metal detecting tools to choose wisely, other than your detector, is a good quality digger. Metal detecting on land involves digging and a lot of it. When I first started detecting and collecting gear, I recovered my finds using a basic gardening shovel, but that didn't last long before the shovel eventually bent and broke.

The best digger to use is one that's designed specifically for metal detecting. These shovels are usually made entirely of heavy-duty steel so the handle won't bend easily under pressure. Metal detecting shovels usually have serrated blades too that slice through dirt with ease.

Hand-held vs. T-Handle Shovel

The two most common types of diggers for metal detecting are the hand-held digger and the long handle shovel (t-handle). Some metal detectorists favor one over the other. Personally, I own and use both, but I use my t-handle shovel the most, which is easier to dig with, in my opinion.

The hand-held digger, or metal detecting spade, is small and easier to carry around all day. The blades are sharp and serrated like the ones on a t-handle shovel. The digger you choose really comes down to personal preference, but both of these digging tools are useful in different situations.

My Lesche t-handle shovel I use a lot for metal detecting.

My Lesche t-handle shovel I use a lot for metal detecting.

Lesche T-Handle Shovel

The digger I use the most for metal detecting is my Lesche t-handle shovel with the serrated blade on one side. My shovel's seen better days, as you can see in the pictures, but after detecting dozens of times, the blade is still sharp and cuts through dirt easier than other shovels I've used.

The shovel is made of heavy-duty steel but remains fairly lightweight. I can carry the shovel over my shoulder, or by my side, all day long without soreness. With metal detecting, you're going to encounter rocks and tree roots, big and small. I've used this shovel to cut through annoying roots and pry up rocks without bending the neck.

If I had one complaint about these shovels, I wish they were a few inches longer. This Lesche digger, as well as most of the other metal detecting shovels available, is 31 inches in length. With my height of six feet, another inch or two in handle length would be nice, but overall, I'm very satisfied with this digger.

My favorite Lesche digger for metal detecting. It's worn, but still works great.

My favorite Lesche digger for metal detecting. It's worn, but still works great.

My Lesche serrated spade, one of the first metal detecting digging tools I bought.

My Lesche serrated spade, one of the first metal detecting digging tools I bought.

Lesche Hand Digger

The Lesche hand-held sod cutter was the first digging tool I bought for metal detecting. Along with the t-handle shovel, this compact digger should be an addition to your metal detecting gear. This tool is great for cutting plugs in thick grass. Like the long-handle digger, the serrated blade is very sharp and cuts through grass roots and dirt like a boss.

I use my hand-held digger when metal detecting a new permission on private property. I feel more comfortable using a small spade in someone's yard than a larger shovel that might scare a worried homeowner into thinking I'm going to ruin the lawn digging holes.

In terms of cutting plugs, the hand-held spade works great in thick grass, not bare dirt, or when the soil's dry and crumbly. Sawing up and down with this tool does put more force and strain on your wrist, unlike the regular shovel that you step on to cut your plug, but what I like about the hand-held one is being able to store it in the sheath when I'm not using it, so I don't have to carry it as much.

My Stealth sand scoop for metal detecting in the water.

My Stealth sand scoop for metal detecting in the water.

Sand Scoop for Metal Detecting

Having a good quality sand scoop for metal detecting is really important if you plan on doing any serious treasure hunting in beach sand, or underwater. Don't buy a hand-held scoop or one with a short handle. A long handle scoop is easier on your back and a must for retrieving objects in chin-deep water.

Another important consideration is the diameter sizing of the scoop holes. The larger the holes, the faster the sand will drain out of the basket when submerged, reducing the weight quicker.

The sand scoop I use for my water detecting is the Stealth by Sun Spot. The bottom of the basket has smaller holes to catch smaller objects. The rest of the holes are wider to allow the sand to drain out quicker. I've used my scoop many times in lakes and rivers without any issues, and while I'm happy with its performance, the scoop was overpriced.

Buy a quality sand scoop with a sharp nose that will take a good bite out of the sand to make object retrieval easier. Aluminum scoops are lighter and less tiring to work with, and a wider scoop catches objects a lot easier than a narrow one.

The basket of my Stealth sand scoop.

The basket of my Stealth sand scoop.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Matt G.