Coin shooting, or metal detecting for coins, is a popular hobby among detectorists. It can be very rewarding to find old coins. Here are 50 tips to help you get started in coin hunting!
1. Always Plan Your Trip
You should plan your trip well to avoid frustration, time, and gas. Make a list of what you need to take with you, and choose your destination before you go. It would help if you also researched the area to know what to expect. Another essential part of planning is getting a suitable metal detector for you. The table below shows five different metal detectors and their features.
When you start metal detecting, always research the area first. That way, you will know what to look for. New coins are everywhere. Older coins may have specific locations. Check your local library, old news articles, and maps. Some have abandoned areas.
3. Choose the Right Metal Detector
Coins can be located with any professional-grade metal detector. There are even coin-hunting detectors that are built into specific models. The most common type of metal detector operates at a low frequency. A significant number of major manufacturers produce low-frequency machines.
Metal detectors are popular because they are versatile machines. Metal detectors that use pulse induction (P.I.) are less affected by ground minerals. Still, they are more expensive and heavier than VLF machines. It is essential to buy a high-quality metal detector if you want it to last.
4. VLF Detectors
VLF metal detectors are typically lightweight, simple to use, and well-equipped. Some models are unsuitable for areas with a high concentration of minerals or salt water. These areas have high conductivity, which can mess with the detector. Some models have manual ground balancing, while others have an automatic ground balancing, which can help in these situations.
VLF detectors work best when the coil is in motion. They are suitable for beginner detectorists because they are easy to use immediately.
To find treasure, consider getting a VLF metal detector like the Bounty Hunter VLF Metal Detector.
5. P.I. Detectors
VLF detectors are simpler than P.I. detectors. They work best in mineral-rich soils and near saltwater beaches. Pulse induction technology can function without the need for movement to be present. They can be significantly more expensive and heavier than VLF machines.
6. Choose the Right Search Coil
Some metal detectors have different coils that you can use for searching. There are two main types of coils: concentric and wide scan. Concentric search coils go deeper but don’t always discriminate well between targets. Although a larger coil will search deeper than a smaller coil, it may be more challenging to get into tight spaces. Before purchasing a metal detector, research the type of coil most effective in your chosen search area.
7. Best Metal Detector Brands
There are many good metal detectors on the market.
- Fisher Labs
- Bounty Hunter
These companies make suitable metal detectors. There are metal detectors for different prices, and some are better than others. The Garrett AT Pro, Fisher F22, and Bounty Hunter Tracker IV are excellent metal detectors.
8. Handheld Metal Detectors
Pinpointing metal detectors make finding coins easier. They help you dig a smaller hole. Most metal detectors have this mode, but handheld pointers are easier to use.
The hole can remain small if the coin is deep because pinpointers are so tiny. The above brands make very good pinpointers.
Like with any other metal-detecting hunt, it’s essential to have the right accessories. Make sure you bring a finds pouch to store your coins in. You’ll also need a good quality hand trowel or garden knife to help you dig more challenging soils. Bring a frisbee to correctly set the dirt and plug it back in if searching in a grassy area (such as someone’s yard). Finally, having a good set of headphones can help you hear faint targets and block out outs.
10. Read Your Manuals
Reading the manual for your metal detector might not be the most exciting thing to do, but it is very important. The manual has a lot of information about your detector, like what different tones and target I.D.s mean. It also explains how to ground balance and discriminate your machine.
11. Test Your Detector at Home
Take a penny, a dime, a nickel, a quarter, a gold ring (or other gold jewelry), and an iron. Each item should be waved across the detector or placed somewhere in your yard and run through the detector.
Note the detector’s tone and the target I.D. readout for each item (if your model has an LCD screen). If your detector is brand-new, this will help you learn how it reacts to various coins and metals.
12. Older Coins Can Contain Different Metals
Find some older coins to test out your metal detector at home. Pre-1964 Roosevelt and Mercury dimes (minted 1946-1964 and 1916-1945, respectively). Washington quarters (minted 1932-1964), Walking Liberty Franklin half-dollars (minted 1948-1963), and Kennedy half-dollars (minted 1964) are more valuable because they are 90% silver.
13. Bring Extra Batteries
If a metal detector has a rechargeable battery pack, it’s excellent! But suppose it uses A.A. or 9-volt batteries as backup power. You could encounter frustrating issues when using it on some good patch of land.
14. Consider Detecting Headphones
These can assist you in focusing on distant targets. When metal detecting in remote areas or the woods, you need to be more aware of your surroundings than you would need to be in someone’s backyard.
15. Bring Some Gloves
Gloves can make your hands feel bulky, but they are worth bringing because they can help keep your hands from getting cut up. Some areas have rocks and hard soil, which can cause your hand to slip and hit the ground or rocks while digging. Blisters are a common problem when using a full-sized metal-detecting shovel, but gloves will help prevent them.
16. Bring a Backpack
Keeping things in a backpack makes it easier to carry them around. It is helpful when you need your hands and arms free to do something else.
17. Know the Laws
In the United States, the laws governing metal detection vary significantly from state to state. In addition to park regulations, national, state, county, town, and school district laws govern the metal detecting activity. Depending on the rules in place, you may find coins in a variety of locations. Make sure you can search for coins in the area you want to look at before you start.
You can research the laws in your area by looking on your local government website or by calling your city offices. Always do your research before detecting any site so you know what is and isn’t legal. That way, you won’t get fined!
18. Get Permission or Permits, if Necessary
There are some areas where you need a permit to metal detect. It includes getting permission from the owner of private property. Other areas require a permit for hunting, including metal detecting. Make sure you know the laws for the site before going out and looking for treasures so that you don’t get in trouble with the law.
19. Metal Detecting Code of Ethics
It is critical to follow the metal detecting code of ethics when metal detecting. The following is the code:
- Obey all laws.
- Private property should be respected.
- Pack out what you bring in and dispose of trash properly.
- Leave all personal belongings, structures, and gates exactly as you found them.
- Fill every hole you make. Do not harm vegetation, wildlife, or natural features.
- Notify the appropriate authorities about significant historical artifacts.
- Be a good representative for detectorists by being courteous and respectful.
Always be respectful when people ask you questions about detectorists. Remember that you represent all of us!
20. Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Always be aware of your surroundings in a public park, campground, or beach. It means being aware of what is happening around you and not making too much noise. It cannot be enjoyable to others if there are too many loud people around. If you are in a populated area, wear headphones or lower your volume, so you don’t bother other people. Keep an eye out for wildlife if you’re in a remote location or campground, and don’t wear headphones so you can be aware of your surroundings.
21. Choosing Your Location
You can find coins in many different places. An excellent place to start is by looking in parks, fairgrounds, swimming areas, picnic areas, and other open spaces. You can also try looking in schools, churches, campgrounds, abandoned homesites, and other places where people gather.
Parks are a great place to find coins. Before you start metal detecting in a park, make sure you have permission from the city. Metal detecting in parks is permitted in some cities but not in others. Examine areas such as playgrounds, volleyball courts, and bleachers.
Examine the walkways and areas near parking lots. Look near sidewalks and in fields for coins. Open fields and under trees are usually good places to look for coins.
Coins can often be found at fairgrounds or carnival grounds. Look in any areas where there were games or food booths set up. People often lose coins when they put money in their pockets or hand it over to the attendants.
24. Swimming Areas
Swimming areas, such as beaches, lakes, creeks, and rivers, can be excellent places to look for coins. Look for areas where people sunbathe or sit in the shade. Look for areas where people leave their belongings while playing in the water.
If you are detecting saltwater, remember that some VLF detectors will not function properly. A model with better ground balancing or a P.I. detector is best in these situations.
25. Picnic Areas
People often stop at picnic areas to have a meal. Many trees are there, and people like to sit in the shade. People also drop coins out of their pockets, so look for coins in these areas.
26. Gravel Parking Areas
Gravel parking lots are a great place to search for coins. When you pull your keys out of your pocket or purse, coins can easily become lost. Coins usually don’t sink too deep into the gravel, so they shouldn’t be too difficult to find.
Schools are a great place to look for lost coins. There is a lot of foot traffic through and around schools, so it’s a great place to search. Make sure you have permission from the school district before you start looking.
Churches are a place where many people go. A variety of activities take place in and around churches, as well as on church grounds. Ensure you have the approval to enter the property and to metal detect before beginning your search.
Camping grounds are among my favorite locations for metal detecting. These are frequently neglected areas. The older the campground, the greater the possibility of discovering older coins.
Check the area for places where people have parked trailers, vehicles, or tents. Follow all the rules about metal detecting in the woods, and ensure you’re not in a place where it’s illegal.
30. Abandoned Homesites
There are old coins at a lot of abandoned homesites. Look for things like chimneys, wells, trails, and foundations. People used to hide things of value in their yards, so make sure you look everywhere. Be careful when metal detecting abandoned areas because there can be hazards like open wells, hidden bricks or rocks, and unsafe structures. When looking for old home sites, be aware of your surroundings and make sure you are not on private property or federal or state land.
31. Ghost Towns
Another of my favorite places to look for metal is in ghost towns. Gold and silver rush built many western U.S. ghost towns. People used to trade money all the time, so that many coins may be buried in these places.
Be very careful around any buildings when you are detecting. Find open wells. Always ask if you need permission to hunt for treasure in a ghost town.
Private yards are a great place to find coins. If you want to detect metal on someone else’s land, you should get permission first. Even if they say no, you should still ask. Start with your yard so you can get used to digging good plugs and putting them back so you don’t mess up someone else’s property.
Check the areas around your home where many people would walk or drive. Look for evidence like shoe prints, tire tracks, or anything that looks out of place. After you’ve checked these areas, you can move on to the rest of your yard.
33. Be Prepared to Find trash
There will be times when you dig targets that aren’t valuable. It can be frustrating, but it’s important to remember that you’re leaving the area in better condition than when you found it. Areas with a lot of human traffic are likely to have a lot of trash targets. Even though it can be frustrating, try to bring a bag specifically for trash targets so you can better identify good signals from bad ones.
34. Smaller Coils Work Best in Trashy Areas
Even if an area has a lot of trash targets, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good targets to find. You can use a smaller search coil to find coins in high trash areas. However, if you want to find deep coins easily, you’ll need a larger search coil.
Some metal detectorists keep a few coils on hand for these situations. Even in places with a lot of trash, a good pinpointer will help.
35. Keep a Logbook
Keeping track of where, when, and what you find can help you stay organized and figure out patterns. This information can also help you determine where to search next. For example, if you found coins dating earlier than the 1960s at a specific campsite, you know that this is an old site used in the past.
You can find old coins in different places than new coins. When looking for coins, note where you find them with a pen and paper. Then, put that information into Microsoft Word or Excel to keep track of it.
36. Grid Your Search Sites
Metal detecting can be overwhelming because it is easy to miss an area or search the same area twice. When you start, choose an area with reference points (like a house, trees, sidewalk, water, etc.) and stay close to those points as you scan. Once you’ve looked at that line, move a few feet away and look at it again while crossing over the first line. It will help you cover more ground and not miss any targets.
37. Sweep Properly
Sweep your metal detector low and smoothly to find the most targets. At the end of each sweep, don’t tilt the coil away from the ground. If you swing your metal detector too quickly or too high off the ground, noise from the ground can make it harder to find targets and cause you to miss them.
38. Take a Compass and Map
If you are metal detecting in a very remote area, you should bring a map and compass. Cell phones might not work in these areas, so it is important to have something else to help you get around.
39. If You Find One Coin
Don’t fill the hole right away if you find a coin. Go over the area with your detector a few more times. It’s not unusual for coins to fall out of pockets, which would leave several targets all at once. Look inside the hole you dug and in the area around it.
40. Use Discrimination
If you’re digging nails in an area, turn up the discrimination mode on your detector. It will help you find coins better. Bottle caps may still ring through in a trashy area, but with higher Discrimination, you will find more coin targets.
41. Use Multiple Tone ID (If Available)
If your metal detector does not have discrimination settings, you can use multiple-tone I.D. instead. Before using this method, you must learn how your machine works to differentiate between a coin signal and other signals. Some detectors only emit three tones: high, low, and mid. Even though it is limited, utilizing these three sounds will still help you understand what type of signal you are receiving.
42. All Metal Mode
A metal detector can help you find deeper coins in areas where there isn’t much trash. If there isn’t a lot of trash on the site, you don’t need to be as careful in your search.
43. Use Coin Mode (If Available)
Most metal detectors have a specific mode for coins. My Fisher F11 has pre-programmed settings for coins, jewelry, relics, and all metal.
Using the coin set on a metal detector will discriminate out targets that are not likely to be coined. Remember that you may occasionally receive a positive I.D. on a bottle cap.
44. Don’t Skip Pennies!
Some pennies are worth more than one penny. Pennies that were made before 1984 are solid copper and are worth 3 or 4 cents each.
45. Always Check Coin Dates
Looking at dates can help you understand an area better. Knowing when the site was used most can help you figure out what things you might find there. For example, if you only find coins minted after 1990, you will be less likely to find silver coins from before 1964.
46. Don’t Scratch or Overclean Coins
You can easily destroy the value of a coin by scratching it or overcleaning it. It is recommended that you clean coins with nothing but clean water and possibly a little mild soap. If you are having trouble seeing the date in the field, use a little water and carefully wipe away the dirt. Don’t rub too hard or use anything harsh when digging targets.
47. Check Coin Values
Now that you have collected your coins and cleaned them up, it is time to find out how much they are worth. There are many websites where you can find this information. You can also take them to a local coin dealer for an evaluation.
48. Join a Metal Detecting Club
Metal detecting clubs are all around the world. Joining one of these clubs can help you find many good places to detect and learn a lot from experienced detectorists.
49. Manage Your Expectations
Don’t expect to find valuable things when you go metal detecting. Remember that you will usually find more trash than treasure. But don’t give up! There are many coin targets out there, so keep looking!
50. Have Fun!
One of the most important tips is to have Fun! Please don’t take it so seriously that you get annoyed by junk targets. You may pull out junk, but you are cleaning up the area. So, stay positive, keep searching, find your targets, and Have Fun!
Read more: The Best Metal Detector of 2022
Frequently Asked Questions About Metal Detecting Tips for Coins
Where Is the Best Place to Metal Detect for Coins?
Metal detecting is often easiest to do in parks. It is because parks can be found near most towns in the United States. Parks usually have a lot of open lands, as well as places that are important to history, like monuments or buildings.
How Deep Can a Metal Detector Detect Coins?
Most metal detectors can find objects that are 4-8ʺ (10 – 20 cm) deep. In good conditions, a basic metal detector can find objects that are 12-18ʺ (30-45 cm) deep. Some more specialized detectors can find objects up to 65′ (20 m) deep.
Will a Metal Detector Pick Up Coins?
Virtually every professional metal detector can find coins. You don’t need a special metal detector to hunt for coins. They will all signal when they find a coin target.
How Deep Are Old Coins in the Ground?
Typically, older coins are buried much deeper into the ground. It is especially true if they are a few centuries old. They will likely be buried 6 to 10 inches below the ground’s surface.