Understanding the Role of Discrimination in Metal Detection


For many, metal detecting is a thrilling hobby, a treasure hunt that’s both exciting and rewarding. 

But, if you’ve ever spent a day detecting only to find pull-tabs and bottle caps, you know the importance of a detector’s discrimination feature.

Let’s delve deeper into understanding this vital function.

You can read more about metal detector settings that you should know about to make your sarchers more fun and rewarding.

What is Discrimination in Metal Detection?

Discrimination in metal detecting refers to a detector’s ability to differentiate between various types of metals.

Essentially, it allows you to choose which metals you want to find and which you’d like to ignore.

Why is Discrimination in metal detection Important?

Here are some reasons why this feature stands out:

  • Reduces Junk Finds: Without discrimination, you could end up digging up a lot of unwanted items, like nails or foil.
  • Saves Time: By ignoring unwanted metals, you can focus on potential treasures, making your hunt more efficient.
  • Preserve Environment: Fewer unnecessary digs mean less disturbance to the ground, promoting responsible metal detecting.

How Does Discrimination Work?

  • Conductivity: Every metal has a conductivity level. Metal detectors measure this and use discrimination settings to filter out undesired conductivity levels.
  • Notch Discrimination: This lets you selectively reject or accept specific conductivity ranges.

    For instance, you can set your detector to ignore the conductivity level of pull-tabs but detect coins.

Levels of Discrimination in Metal Detection:

  • Low Discrimination: The detector alerts you to most metals, including iron, steel, and other ferrous metals. Suitable for relic hunting where all metals matter.
  • Medium Discrimination: Common for coin shooting, it excludes iron but includes coins, jewelry, and relics.
  • High Discrimination: This level mainly targets high-conductive metals like silver and copper, ignoring most trash items.

Things to Remember:

  • Over-Discrimination: Setting discrimination too high can make you miss valuable finds. Some gold items, for instance, might be in the same range as pull-tabs.
  • Ground Conditions: Mineralized soils can cause false signals. Adjust discrimination accordingly to avoid missing valuable items.
  • Learning Curve: It takes time to master discrimination settings. Practice in different terrains to understand how your detector responds.


Discrimination is a game-changer in metal detection. It streamlines the detecting process, filters out the noise (literally), and lets you focus on what’s essential: the thrill of the find.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned detectorist, understanding and mastering discrimination can significantly enhance your metal-detecting experience.

So, the next time you’re out in the field, play around with your detector’s discrimination settings and see how it can transform your treasure-hunting journey!

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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