Matt is a professional painter who enjoys fishing and metal detecting on the weekend for old coins and rings.
The Lesche T-handle Metal Detecting Shovel
Choosing a lightweight metal detecting shovel that's durable and comfortable to dig with all day is really important. Using a shovel not designed for this hobby wears you out faster and makes it harder to recover items from the ground.
I started out using a large digging shovel from my garage, but soon realized the shovel was too big and heavy. I needed something more practical for repeated use.
The best metal detecting shovel, at least for me, is one that's lightweight and serrated for easier digging. I started looking at shovels designed for metal detecting and ended up buying two Lesche diggers, one of which this review is based on.
I use the Lesche t-handle shovel almost exclusively to recover all of my metal detecting finds. I also own their hand-held spade, but I prefer the t-handle for faster object recovery and cutting neater plugs. The digging is also so much easier with this shovel. I first wrote this review in 2018, but even now in 2022, the shovel has held up great after using it multiple times in various soil conditions.
My review is based on the Lesche heavy-duty t-handle shovel, not the Sampson (non-serrated blade). The hobby of metal detecting will do a number on your back if you use the wrong digger. Some people really like using a metal detecting spade, and those tools do have their advantages in certain situations, but I already have back and knee problems, so the less time I spend crouching down, the better.
Here are a few things I really like about this digger.
1. It cuts dirt plugs with ease.
Recovering metal detecting finds with a bad shovel will drain your energy fast. This shovel is sharp. The serrated blade slices through dirt like a knife through butter. It will cut through small tree roots too. In comparison with my handheld trowel, the long handle makes it so much easier to cut dirt plugs and flip them open, all while standing up instead of crouching down. The longer length of the blade makes it possible to cut deeper dirt plugs too. I cannot get the same depth as easily with the handheld one.
2. It does less damage to grass.
As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid metal detecting in grass in the middle of the summer when it's really hot because you're more likely to kill the grass when you disturb the roots. But in normal conditions, this shovel does cut a neater hole with less evidence of the ground being disturbed after the hole has been filled.
The Lesche handheld spade leaves more of a mess behind after sawing the ground up and down. The dirt crumbles more and makes a mess. When digging holes, I always leave one side of the dirt plug connected so the plug fits back into the hole the same exact way it came out.
3. It's lightweight.
The shovel isn't too long or too heavy. I carry it around all day over my shoulder, or by my side, without energy drain or a sore arm. The shovel I started out with was not one meant for metal detecting. It was actually a good digging shovel, but too big and heavy to carry around for more than a couple of hours.
Here are a couple of minor downsides of the Lesche T-handle.
1. The metal corrodes over time.
Like my handheld digging tool, also from Lesche, this one has developed rust over time. The shovel is constructed of "aircraft-quality steel" according to the specs, but the metal does rust when exposed to moisture. The metal isn't rusting to the point of it falling apart, but rust spots formed.
This is partly my fault too for leaving mud on the blade and not drying the metal sooner, but even after drying the metal, it corroded a little. My recommendation is to definitely keep the metal dry for storage and keep it indoors.
2. It's a little short for me.
At my height of 5'11, my one minor complaint is that I wish the digger was one to two inches longer. If you're taller than 6'5", though, this shovel might be a little uncomfortable to dig with. The length is 31".
When I first unboxed mine, I was a little disappointed because I thought the blade and overall size would be bigger, but now it doesn't bother me after using it so many times. The compact size makes the shovel less noticeable in public than if you were to use a normal digging shovel with a long, oversized handle.
Is the Lesche Heavy-Duty T-handle Shovel Worth It?
I wrote this review in 2018, and since then I've recovered hundreds of coins using this shovel without the handle bending or breaking, and I've used it in rocky soil with thick roots too. Although mine does have some corrosion in spots, the metal is still totally intact and holding up fine.
I usually go metal detecting for three to five hours at a time, cutting plugs in grass and in the woods with soil full of tree roots. Compared to my previous handheld metal detecting spade, which I never use anymore, the compact Lesche t-handle shovel makes recovering my finds a lot faster and easier on my back. The handheld spade destroys my wrist and back, and I hate having to saw the ground open to recover my finds. Using a shovel like this is so much easier.
If you've already used a handheld spade and want to switch to something more comfortable, the long-handle diggers are a great alternative. The handheld diggers are sometimes more appropriate for metal detecting a permission around a house where you don't want to be seen with a larger shovel. But for the speed of digging, the long handle shovel takes a bigger bite out of the dirt so the object you're recovering is almost always in the dirt plug.
The t-handle shovel is definitely one of my favorite metal detecting tools for digging holes in different soil conditions. I was originally going to buy the Sampson digger, also by Lesche, but I chose this one for the serrated blade to cut through roots and grass easier. The serrated blade really comes in handy when recovering finds near the base of trees.
© 2018 Matt G.
RTalloni on December 17, 2018:
Thanks very much for this review. Our grandson may see it in the coming year. :)