Don’t Ignore all “Junk” Targets (It Might be Gold!)

Find more gold treasures while metal detecting.

Find more gold treasures while metal detecting.

Discrimination and Target Identification are valuable, time-saving features on metal detectors. But experts advise against overlooking all targets that indicate aluminum or other “junk.” Your target may look or sound like a pull tab, foil, bottle cap, nail or tin; however, this can be deceiving. The fact is—old aluminum pull tabs have a similar ring tone as gold. It would be very unfortunate to pass up a gold or silver ring because you’re discriminating out potential junk.

“Dig Up Everything” is the Mantra of Many Detectorists

Discrimination blocks your detector’s response from targets you choose to eliminate. This is helpful for coin hunters, but not so much for relic hunters. Relic hunters usually err on the safe side by digging up anything that’s made of metal. Detectorist and author Dick Stout says, “Gold and aluminum are so close in conductivity, it’s virtually impossible to reject one target without rejecting the other.” So, consider what treasure you’re after. For relics and jewelry, your discrimination setting should be very LOW.

Target Identification – Audio is Just as Important as Visual

Target Identification has gotten sophisticated on all of the latest metal detectors. And many models claim they can precisely identify what you’ve found. Further, there are some advanced detectors that actually show you a visual of what’s underfoot! Target ID will show you whether your target is a copper penny (minted before 1982) or a zinc penny. It will distinguish between clad coins, silver, gold and other metals. Sophisticated detectors like the Whites Spectra VX3 will tell you the target you’ve found (nickel, quarter, gold, silver), but there is still overlap between pull tabs and gold. Get to know your detector’s audio tones, because this will help tremendously in distinguishing treasure from trash!

Target Identification – an Amazing Metal Detector Feature!

Display screen on the Fisher F5 Metal Detector

Display screen on the Fisher F5 Metal Detector

Did you know that today’s metal detectors actually TELL you what target is being signaled? When you first set out treasure hunting with a metal detector, you will notice the different sounds and tones your machine makes. You’ll hear low grunts and higher-pitched signals. Then, when you look at the LCD display on your detector, you’ll see numbers and/or bars illuminated on the screen. This is the Target Identification indicator. It indicates which type of metal is being transmitted. Usually, the target Identification has an iron section, a gold range and a silver range. Some indicators are extremely detailed, while others are more simplistic. It depends on the price of the model and how sophisticated the circuitry is. Target ID is important, because it can save you a lot of time before you start digging. If you’re hunting a trashy area, you may not want to spend hours digging up old nails and bottle caps.

Understanding Target ID Numbers

The numbers displayed on a detector’s screen give even more detail about your target. Target ID numbers are different per manufacturer and detector model. Your user’s manual will have a section explaining what the numbers are pinpointing. For example, on a Teknetics detector, the Target ID code of 88 likely represents a silver dime. Fisher “F” series models list dimes between 64-66. Whites detectors use ‘Visual Display Indication’ to represent targets. A U.S. quarter on a Whites detector has a VDI value of about 85.

As a beginner, it is important to dig up all targets your detector signals. You’ll then understand how your detector reacts to each type of metal. Later, you may choose to use Discrimination. Discrimination can eliminate trash targets: pull-tabs, foil and iron trash so you don’t even get a signal when trash is found. In fact, when hunting for jewelry at the beach, Daniel Bernzweig of says discriminate out iron plus coins at the top of the display screen. By Concentrating on the middle gold range, you up the chances of finding gold jewelryA whole new world of possibilities has been opened for new detectorists because of metal detector advancements – this includes entry-level models!