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Tips for Finding More Old Coins Metal Detecting

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Silver Barber dimes I found metal detecting.

Silver Barber dimes I found metal detecting.

Metal Detecting for Coins and Maximizing Your Finds

Some people like metal detecting the beach for jewelry, or Civil War battle fields for relics, but one of my favorite things to find are old coins. Modern coins are easy to find with a metal detector. You can visit a neighborhood park and dig them up all day, but old coins are deeper and more challenging to find.

I've found hundreds of old coins with my metal detector, mostly treasure hunting private property and public places of historical significance.

Here are a few things I've learned over the years that have helped me maximize my finds.

1. Dig Every Deep Signal

Although I have found old coins a couple inches below the surface, it is rare. Most of the oldies are deeper in the ground, typically six to ten inches deep. You can maximize your finds by relying less on the target ID number of the object under your search coil and more on the tone of the audio signal.

Swing the coil over the object at a slower speed too and listen for high tones mixed in with low tones. Depth can throw off the search coil accuracy of deeper coins.

Nails, garbage, and even coin spills can throw off a target ID. They can turn you away from digging the hole because you think it's trash, but you could be walking away from the find of the year. I've found silver coins and coin spills by digging iffy signals I normally wouldn't dig. Dig those deep signals to maximize your finds.

2. Revisit Old Metal Detecting Sites

Returning to places you've already metal detected can produce surprising finds, even old parks you believe are hunted out. I'll usually metal detect a new site at least a few times, typically for a few hours, before I write it off my list of places to return to. There have been several times I've returned to places I've already metal detected and found old coins in places I walked over a million times with my detector.

Swing your detector underneath bushes and areas you didn't focus on last time. Metal detect at a slower speed too to pick up signals that could have been missed before. I like to metal detect the ground in sections, focusing on one small area at a time, instead of trying to cover one large area. I'll go back and forth in different directions until I hear something in the headphones that sounds good. Crank up your iron discrimination if the ground is trashy.

3. Maximize Your Search Depth

Maximizing search coil depth is important for treasure hunting old coins and small objects. Sometimes you will find older coins right below the surface, but that usually isn't the case. Most of the old coins I find are at least six inches deep. Always make sure your metal detector is properly ground balanced before you begin.

Crank up the search coil sensitivity to the highest setting your detector can handle without electromagnetic interference. Another way to maximize depth is to turn off iron discrimination and hunt in all metal mode if possible. On my AT Pro metal detector, I only use this feature in trashy dirt otherwise I prefer to metal detect in all metal mode. Another way to find deeper coins is right after a rain storm when the ground is wet. Moisture increases the conductivity of metal in the ground so you can find more stuff easier.

4. Double Check the Hole and Dirt Plug

Always check your holes and dirt plugs with a pin-pointer and your detector before filling in the dirt and walking away. I have found surprise coin spills on several occasions by checking the hole carefully. Sometimes garbage and even coin spills can throw off audio signals and make it sound like only one coin is there, but there could be many in the ground.

I use the Garrett pin-pointer for all of my metal detecting on land and in the water. This pin-pointer is completely water-proof. I've used the pin-pointer now for over three years without any issues. The batteries usually last for several hunts.

5. Use a Good Metal Detector for Coins

You don't have to spend a couple thousand dollars on a fancy metal detector for coin shooting, but it's important to choose one with reasonable search coil depth and features that will help you find more coins.

Important Metal Detector Features for Finding Coins

  • Manual ground balancing, not factory preset
  • Iron discrimination and target notching
  • Maximum search depth of at least 6-inches

You can pick up a non-waterproof metal detector for a few hundred dollars. If you don't plan to do any water hunting, an inexpensive land detector is really all you need. For coin hunting, Garrett metal detectors work great. I use the Garrett AT Pro, an all-terrain detector, for all of my metal detecting. I've found a lot of deeper old coins with this detector. It has all of the necessary features needed for coin, ring and relic hunting.

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.