Pros and Cons of Small Coils in Metal Detection


Metal detecting is an adventure, with each hunt offering the potential for a valuable or historically significant find.

A critical element of a metal detector is its coil. While there are various coil sizes to choose from, small coils have gained popularity among many detectorists.

Let’s break down the pros and cons of these compact dynamos.

I suggest you learn in detail about Coil sizes in Metal Detectors to clear your coil size-related confusion.

Why Choose Small Coils? 

Small coils typically measure under 6 inches in diameter. They have a compact design that makes them stand out in certain situations.

Pros of Small Coils:

  • Precision in Detection: Their compact size allows them to pick up smaller targets like gold nuggets, tiny relics, or jewelry with ease.
  • Highly Maneuverable: Small coils can effortlessly navigate through tight spaces. They’re ideal for rocky terrains, between tight gaps, or areas with lots of metal trash.
  • Reduced Ground Interference: These coils often have fewer challenges with ground mineralization. This means fewer false signals in areas with high mineral content.
  • Less Weight: Being lighter, they cause less fatigue, making them great for longer detecting sessions.
  • Excellent for Trashy Areas: With their precision, they can differentiate between valuable finds and trash in littered places.

Limitations of Small Coils 

However, while small coils have their advantages, they also come with certain limitations that are worth noting.

Cons of Small Coils:

  • Limited Detection Depth: They might not be as effective in identifying objects buried deep underground.
  • Slower Area Coverage: If you’re scanning a vast open area, it will take longer with a small coil due to its limited width.
  • Possibility of Missing Larger Objects: Since they are designed for precision, they might occasionally overlook or give a weaker signal for larger items.
  • Not Ideal for All Terrains: In wide open spaces or beaches, a larger coil might be more efficient.

Making the Right Choice 

While small coils have their strengths and weaknesses, it’s essential to recognize when to use them.

If you’re planning a hunt in an area known for small relics or in places where larger coils might be cumbersome, a small coil might be your best bet. 

On the other hand, if you’re exploring an open field or a beach, consider the benefits of a larger coil

Ultimately, understanding your environment and goals will help you make an informed choice.


Metal detecting is as much about the tool as it is about the skill of the operator. 

Small coils, with their pros and cons, offer unique opportunities and challenges. 

By knowing when and how to use them, you can ensure that your metal-detecting adventures are both fun and fruitful.

Howard rockse

Hey there, I am Howard a deeply committed individual who likes to share my knowledge and insights in this field, having spent over ten years as a metal detectorist.

My experience with GoldXtra has allowed me to provide trustworthy and informative advice to both new and experienced metal-detecting enthusiasts. I’m committed to assisting others in exploring and enjoying the world of metal detecting with the same enthusiasm and dedication that I have.

Howard Rockse
Senior Content Writer at GoldXtra

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