Understanding Different Types of Metal Detectors


If you’ve finally decided to buy a detector, then you must do some research before making the purchase.

In our experience, matching your specific needs with the right features of a metal detector is crucial. It’s all about finding that perfect fit. At GoldXtra, we’ve seen firsthand how the right choice can make all the difference in your metal-detecting adventures.

There are three types of detectors available on the market based on technology, function, and application. Therefore, you should invest in the most appropriate detector to save your time and effort.

Types of Metal Detectors Every Detectorist Should Know

Types Of Metal Detectors Based on Technology

Now let’s take a closer look at the types of devices based on technology. In the past, BFO (Beat Frequency Oscillator) machines were commonly used, but they have now become obsolete in the market.

VLF Devices

Next, we will explain the modern prevailing technology: VLF (Very Low Frequency). VLF uses basic technology and is found in many existing devices.

VLF technology devices have motion modes and non-motion modes. Many devices used for finding gold nuggets, coins, and relics operate on VLF technology.

VLF offers two types of frequencies: single-frequency and multi-frequency. However, VLF machines have limitations in terms of depth potential. 

Additionally, they are unable to support large coils and can experience stability issues. Stability issues rise particularly in areas with high mineralization.

PI Devices

In my experience, pulse induction (PI) machines incorporate more advanced technology than their VLF counterparts. This is crucial when you’re considering the capabilities you need.

I’ve found that the features that tend to be limited in VLF devices are significantly enhanced in PI machines or scanners. For you, this means that PI devices offer greater depth potential and can support larger coils and more complex hardware setups.

From what I’ve seen, they perform exceptionally well even in highly mineralized environments, maintaining their stability without a hitch.

As pulse induction detection machines continue to evolve, you should expect to see an array of advanced features, including improved discrimination techniques. This technology is versatile, with a wide range of applications across various industries.

You need to understand the differences between Pulse Induction and VLF technologies to ensure you select the best device for your specific needs.

I recommend taking the time to research and compare the two, as this knowledge could greatly influence your decision-making process.

GPR Devices

Moving on to the ground penetration radar (GPR) system. It can discover underground anomalies. These include gold, silver, gemstones, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, moving water, or cavities. 

This technology can detect any type of object located underground. The depth potential of GPR is far greater than that of regular pulse-induction-based machines.

Due to their exceptional features, GPR machines come with higher prices. They have wide applications in geophysical research and professional mining. Interpreting and analyzing GPR data is quite challenging compared to regular detection scanners. 

Here, only distinct tones and target IDs reveal information about the detected objects. GPR has various uses in mining.

Types Of Metal Detectors Based on Functionality

Gold Nugget Detectors

Gold nuggets are naturally occurring, raw pieces of gold found beneath the surface of the ground. 

Gold prospecting devices would be an ideal fit if the user is interested in collecting and storing gold nuggets. 

Detectors for Coins And Relics

Coins are flat and round pieces used as currency. They are made flat for easy trading purposes.

Some coins have been buried in the ground for a long time and have gained historical value. Hobbyists might pursue coin collecting as a hobby. They hold not only metallic value but also historical significance.

Relics are larger objects compared to coins and include utensils, weapons, statues, and decorative items. Relics become more significant and valuable when associated with a specific era. 

If you are searching for a device to find coins and relics, there’s no need to worry because these machines are widely available on the market.

Detector for Treasure Hunting

Treasure refers to a collection of precious items found beneath the earth’s surface. The collection can consist of diverse metals, such as chests containing gold and silver. It can also be a box filled with precious coins and relics. 

These treasures are often located at significant depths. Manufacturers design treasure-hunting devices with high-depth potential features. Treasure hunters can rely on GoldXtra’s detectors optimized for this specific pursuit.

Many serious detectorists prefer to buy professional devices for treasure-hunting purposes.

By gaining a proper understanding of the types of devices and their uses, users can choose the right detector. They can choose the right device by comparing their checklist with the features of the detector.

Treasure-hunting Metal Detectors

What are they?

  • These are used by individuals and enthusiasts looking for artifacts, jewelry, a hoard of coins, and other valuable items buried beneath the ground.


  • Sensitivity Controls: Adjust the device’s response to different types of targets.
  • Depth Indicators: Tells how deep an object is buried.
  • Discrimination Controls: Helps differentiate between valuable metals like gold or silver and unwanted items like iron.

Popular Uses:

  • Beachcombing: Looking for lost jewelry or coins on beaches.
  • Field searching: Looking for ancient treasures in fields or woods.

Types Of Metal Detectors Based on Application

For Hobby Purpose

Pursuing detection as a hobby is truly a win-win situation. It offers you not only monetary rewards but also gives you precious quality time with your friends and family in the beauty of nature. According to my experience, it provides a delightful escape from your daily routines.

It can be done at various places. These include beaches, parks, historical spots, etc.

These might include any other location deemed worth exploring for metallic objects.

People’s aim may be to uncover precious gold nuggets, coins, and relics. To cater to the needs of hobbyists, manufacturers produce user-friendly machines. These devices can detect objects ranging from small nuggets to larger relics.

I suggest looking for hobby-purpose devices that can be easily adjusted to your arm. The shafts often come in retractable sizes, which I find makes the device easier to swing.

From my perspective, this adaptability is crucial for a comfortable and rewarding detecting experience.

For Security Purpose

People have become more concerned about their safety and security. Security detectors play a significant role in preventing attacks in crowded places.

Security detectors are used to scan individuals before they enter such areas. Walk-through gates and handheld scanners are popular security devices. These devices have different sizes compared to hobby-purpose detectors.

Walk-through gates consist of bars. These bars create an electromagnetic force when encountering the target. People simply have to pass through these security gates to ensure they are not carrying weapons. 

On the other hand, security professionals use handheld devices. They sweep the handheld device around an individual’s body to confirm the absence of concealed weapons.

Security Metal Detectors

What are they?

  • These are used to detect metallic objects on a person’s body. They are commonly seen at the entrances of high-security zones like airports, courthouses, or concerts.


  • High Sensitivity: Detects even tiny objects.
  • Multiple Detection Zones: Identifies the approximate location of the metal on the body.
  • Audible and Visual Alerts: Sounds an alarm or shows an indicator when a target is detected.

Popular Uses:

  • Airports: To ensure passengers aren’t carrying prohibited items.
  • Concerts or Sports Events: To ensure the safety of attendees and participants.
  • Public Buildings: Protects against potential threats.

For Industrial Purpose

Different types of Industrial detectors are used to ensure the safety of consumer products.

The food industry extensively uses detection devices. This is because companies are required to follow international quality standards.

They are crucial in ensuring that the final product is free from contaminants. This results in gaining customers’ trust.

Before packaging, processed food undergoes inspection using a detector. It is to ensure that it doesn’t contain any hazardous items, such as broken blades from grinders. 

Metallic contaminants can be harmful to health, which is why their use is of great significance in the food industry.

In the pharmaceutical industry, detecting machines are used to search for contaminants in tablets. They are also widely used in the textile industry. 

Here they help remove any metallic items, such as needles, from the fabric, which could otherwise be harmful to customers.

Some devices function as metal separators and operate based on gravity-free fall. Objects with heavier weights remain in the middle, while rubber or plastic sink to the bottom. This category also falls under industrial applications.

Types of Industrial Metal Detectors

Conveyor Belt Detectors

Used for: Detecting contaminants in products on a production line.

Common in: Food processing, textiles, and pharmaceuticals.

Handheld Metal Detectors

  • Used for: Spot checks and locating specific items.
  • Common in: Security checks, construction, and wood processing.

Gravity Feed Metal Detectors

Used for: Detecting metals in powders or granular products.

Common in: Chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries.

Tunnel Metal Detectors

Used for: Detecting metals in packaged products.

Common in: Food industry and consumer goods.

Why They’re Important


  • Detects unwanted items that might harm consumers.
  • Especially crucial in the food industry, where fragments could be hazardous if ingested.

Quality Control

  • Ensures the purity of products.
  • Helps maintain the brand’s reputation.

Equipment Protection

  • In industries like mining or wood processing, metal parts can damage expensive machines.
  • Detecting and removing them prevents costly breakdowns.

Benefits of Using Industrial Metal Detection Machines

  • Efficiency: Speeds up the production process by quickly identifying contaminants.
  • Cost-Effective: Helps avoid potential lawsuits and product recalls.
  • Versatility: They can be used in a wide range of industries.
  • Improved Product Quality: Increases customer trust and satisfaction.

Other Types Of  Metal Detectors Based on Their Usage or Purposes

 Depending on the purpose, there are various types of devices

  • Archaeological Detectors
  • Detectors For Kids
  • Jewelry Detectors
  • Beach Detectors
  • Underwater Detectors
  • Detector For Buried Weapon

Archaeological Metal Detectors

What are they?

  • Used by archaeologists and researchers, these detection devices help in finding ancient artifacts, relics, or remnants of past civilizations.


  • Fine-tuned Discrimination: Can differentiate between various ancient metals and modern trash.
  • Ground Balancing: Adjusts for mineral content in the soil to prevent false readings.
  • Pinpointing Ability: Gives a more accurate location of the object.

Popular Uses:

  • Excavation Sites: Helps researchers locate ancient objects without digging randomly.
  • Historic Battlefields: Helps in finding old weapons, coins, or armor.
  • Old Settlement Areas: Assists in locating everyday items from ancient civilizations.

While all devices have the primary function of detecting metals, their applications and features can differ based on their intended purpose. Whether for treasure hunting, security, or archaeological research, there’s a detector specifically designed for the job.

Metal Detectors For Kids:

There is a type of detector specially made for kids. Just like the ones adults use to find hidden treasures, these are smaller and designed for young explorers.

Think of it like a magic wand that beeps when it gets close to the target object hidden below.

Detectors for kids are easy to use. They have a handle to hold, and when they come close to the target, they make a sound. Before buying, make sure you know all the details about kids’ metal detectors to consider.

Some even have lights that flash. And the best part? They’re just the right size for little hands.

If you know a kid who loves adventures and discovering new things, a detector might be the perfect gift. It’s a tool that turns any day into a fun-filled exploration. 

So, the next time you’re thinking of a fun activity, remember that there’s a detector just for kids waiting to uncover hidden wonders!

Beginner Metal Detectors:

Detectors for beginners are ideal for those who are new to this exciting hobby. Unlike more advanced models, these detection devices are typically straightforward and user-friendly. 

The simplicity ensures that even if you’ve never used a detector before, you’ll be able to pick up the basics quickly.

I suggest doing the proper research before buying to ensure you pick the best beginner detector for yourself.

Jewelry Metal Detectors

There are special types of detection devices made for jewelry, called jewelry detectors. Just like the name suggests, they help find jewelry items made of metal, like rings, necklaces, or bracelets.

So, if you love jewelry or just want to find lost pieces, a jewelry detector can be a handy tool. It can save time and make your search a lot easier.

Detector For Beaches

These special beach devices are used to find treasures under the sand. They’re designed for beach use, handling saltwater and wet sand. 

Unlike regular detectors, they resist saltwater corrosion and can tell valuable items from junk. This means they won’t alert for every soda can tab but will for a gold ring.

Many are waterproof for shallow-water searches. If you’re treasure hunting at the beach, a beach metal detector is essential.

Underwater Metal Detectors

Underwater detectors are special tools used to find objects below the water’s surface. Just like regular detectors, they can sense metals like gold, silver, and coins. 

But what makes them different is that they are waterproof. This means they can be used in oceans, lakes, rivers, and even swimming pools.

People use underwater detectors for various reasons. Some are treasure hunters looking for lost jewelry or ancient artifacts. Others might be researchers studying old shipwrecks. And some just do it for fun, as a hobby.

Metal Detector For Buried Weapon

These devices are used to find weapons that have been hidden underground. They work by sending out electromagnetic waves. When these waves hit a target, it reflects them. The detector senses this reflection and alerts the user. 

These devices are especially handy for law enforcement and security teams. They help uncover hidden weapons like guns, knives, or explosives that may be buried to avoid detection. 

For instance, in areas with high crime or where there is a risk of violence, these detection devices can be used to make sure no dangerous weapons are concealed. This can be important for public safety, ensuring that areas like parks, event grounds, or other public places are free of hidden threats. 

To sum it up, I recommend utilizing detectors for buried weapons, as they play a key role in keeping us safe by locating dangerous items that are not immediately visible.


In conclusion, I’ve shared with you the details of metal detection devices, focusing on technology, functionality, and application.

You’ll find three main types of technology: VLF, PI, and GPR. You should know that VLF is the basic technology. If you’re looking for something more advanced, PI might be your go-to. And for the pinnacle of metal detection tech, I recommend GPR.

Functionality-wise, these devices each have their unique and vital roles. Whether you’re aiming to uncover gold nuggets, coins, relics, or treasures, there’s a device suited for your needs.

In terms of application, you’ll see metal detection devices across various sectors. They’re not just for hobbyists or security measures; they’re also crucial in the food and pharmaceutical industries, not to mention textiles

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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