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Metal Detector Coils, Does Size Matter?

Metal Detector Coil Size

Coils for your metal detector come in many sizes. You may have wondered why and does the size of the coil you use really matter. Or, does the terrain you are hunting play a role in the choice of the coil you use? I’d like to share with you an example of how and when it really does make a difference in the experience.

I recently went on a metal detecting trip to Arkansas and I found myself detecting on stretches of fields that were recently harvested and plowed. You may know from watching my YouTube detecting adventures that I reside in Texas in an urban area where there are minimal rural areas within a quick driving radius. When close to home, I typically detect yards, parks, and wooded areas. It is only when I adventure away from home that I get to detect farmland.

The farm fields in Arkansas that we were invited to metal detect once bustled with soldiers from the time of the Civil War. They had made camp there and along the Mississippi River in the region. Some of the fields originally cradled houses and other buildings such as postal service and shops. These lands that now produced crops could be imagined exactly as they were in the time that they were then. With so much activity, it seemed we were detecting in land that would likely expose history by way of Civil War items, similarly dated coins from commerce, and relics from the homesteads that were once there.

With this knowledge, most experienced detectorists will have learned to expect a high iron content, and here’s why: iron was used more prevalently then than it is now. If there was a structure like a house or an old motel on the property, you will usually notice old bricks and glass on top of the ground first, and then the iron targets below. Unless you choose to set your iron discrimination level on high, then you will notice ALL of the iron targets. When you encounter these iron patches, consider changing out the coil on your detector. Or, consider what size of coil are you using and which size coil should you use for your particular detecting scenario.  When detecting in large fields I like to swing a large coil to cover more ground faster and to pick up targets much deeper than smaller coils can reach. The size of the coil can really make a big difference when hunting for relics in areas where it’s easier to swing a large coil and cover a larger surface area, however; when detecting amidst a higher concentration of iron, I have found that by switching to a smaller coil (such as my 5” x 8” or 4.5” Super Sniper coil for the Garrett AT series or the newly released  5” x 8” Ripper coil for the Ace Apex,) it can make an extremely positive impact to my hunt – distinguishing preferred targets from
 the iron. Now, I’ve been told by other detectorists that they only use a large coil and they never change it out because they get great “iron separation,” but folks…here’s the truth of the matter: with repeated testing of a smaller coil instead of simply adjusting discrimination settings alone, there is MUCH more to be discovered.  After detecting the areas with my large coil where there was a lot of iron, and then going back over the same areas with smaller coils, I have found many more coins and relics that were missed by the larger coils. Some of you will be skeptical or prefer not to change your routine, but I sincerely hope you that you will test it for yourself the next time you’re in an iron field and your coil is throwing sounds like R2D2 arguing with C3PO about how it should be done.

‘Wishing you all the luck on your next metal detecting adventure!


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