Best Tips to Metal Detect for Old Coins

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  • Post last modified:August 19, 2019

Metal detecting for coins was the first thing that led me to start detecting. I didn’t know it’s also called “Coin Shooting”.

Coin shooting is probably one of the most popular forms of metal detecting there is. Metal detecting for old American coins is by far our favorite form of this great hobby. Nothing beats the feeling of pulling an historic silver or gold round from the ground. Its feeling that cannot be described, but must be felt by one to fully appreciate.

The tips and tricks on this page will help you become better at hunting coins with your metal detector. They are all techniques that have worked for us and for others all over the world.

Knowing the Difference Between a Coin and Can

Buried soda and beer cans can be a pain. If the can is deep enough it will sound off like a good coin hit. When I am short on metal detecting time and I’m in area that is known for this kind of garbage I use the following technique.

Once you pick up a signal with your metal detector that sounds like a solid coin hit, pinpoint it. Now slowly lift the coil of your metal detector up off the ground. If the signal fades after lifting the coil a short distance, dig. If you are still picking the signal up after lifting the coil of your metal detector off the ground a few inches, it’s probably a can or some sort of other deep, large trash item.

This technique works well when you are trying to maximize your time. By passing junk is rule #1 when trying to maximize your time. If you have a lot of time to metal detect I would recommend digging these signals, you never know when you’re going to come across a small cache.

When metal detecting always be prepared to safely store any valuable coins you might find. I find that a pill bottle and some cotton balls work well for storing coins until you get home.

Metal Detecting for Coins in “Previously Hunted” Areas

Metal detecting areas that have been hit hard by other hunters can prove very challenging, I am one of those that believe that no site is totally hunted out. Finds may be few and far between, but there is always something good left behind. Here are a few tips on approaching sites like this.

Before you turn your metal detector on, take a step back and take in the area you are about to metal detect. Come up with a plan for hunting this site. Take notes of some of the un-obvious areas of this site. Most people when metal detecting head right for the easy obvious areas ball fields, picnic areas and other wide open easy areas. Look for bushes, shrubs, overgrowth you know the stuff most people avoid when metal detecting. Cover these areas they have most likely seen less metal detecting traffic. Fence lines and sidewalk strips are some other areas that have most likely been overlooked by a lot of detectorists.

Digging deep ones in areas like this is also very important. By deep ones, I mean those iffy signals that offer just a whisper or a hint of something being there. I hear people say yeah I dig iffy’s all the time, but from my experience of metal detecting with other people this is rarely the case. If the signal isn’t clear and strong most opt to move on. Some of the best coins I have found metal detecting did not sound like coins at all and offered only a hint of being there.

One technique I use to find hot spots in large parks and fields is to metal detect fast and in no specific pattern covering as much ground as possible until my metal detector passes over some ground that starts giving some signals. Once you’ve located a spot that is giving you good signals slow way down start gridding this area. It seems like there are pockets of goodies scattered throughout most previously metal detected sites. I use this technique when I am short on metal detecting time and want to locate some goodies quick.

Tips on Finding Deep Coins

Finding deep coins is much different than finding surface coins. Surface coins or coins that are in the one to 5 inch range, generally give strong solid signals. They are repeatable and are usually pretty obvious.

Deep coins on the other hand, 5 to 10 inch range, will act much different when sweeping the coil of your metal detector over them. Deep coins rarely sound solid and repeatable. Deep coins will offer anything from a whisper to a jumpy signal that will in allot of cases sound similar to trash.

The easiest way to train your ears and become accustomed to detecting these deep coins is by digging everything deep. Dig any signal you pick up that is deep and iffy. I practiced this technique in a large park in my area that has seen a lot of metal detecting. Good surface finds are few and far between, so I would go out and dig nothing but deep iffy targets. I may have passed up a few good surface finds while metal detecting this way, but that doesn’t bother me. The deep coins that I did find more than made up for it.

Tips to Recovering Deep Coins

Recovering deep coins requires the right tools and techniques, going about this process the wrong way can ruin a valuable coin.

Some of the tools you should have for recovering deep coins are a good probe, trowel and drop cloth. I recommend a trowel of at least 12″.

After you have located a potential target with your metal detector it’s time to dig. You do not want to make to small of a plug for a deep one. I generally cut a circular plug about 8″ in diameter, always following proper digging techniques, to ensure the area that I am digging in will not be visible after I’ve recovered an object. Chances are you will have to go a bit deeper than the initial plug.

Use your pin pointer to locate the exact location of the object and continue digging in a circular pattern. Do not dig straight down or into the center of the hole. Always angle your trowel slightly outwards, so that you do not touch the object with your digging tool.

Do not make full scoops with each plunge of the trowel loosen the soil up a bit and scoop it out with your hand placing all soil on a drop cloth. Check the drop cloth with your metal detector or probe to see if it has been recovered.

Repeat this process until you have successfully recovered the object. Always checking the hole with a probe after soil has been removed.

Once you recover the object, hopefully a nice coin, replace any soil you have on your drop cloth, replace the plug and it’s off to the next target.