Is Metal Detecting Worth It?

Why do so many people love metal detecting?
Written By: Marc McDermott
Last Updated:

In this chapter of our metal detecting guide, we talk about why metal detecting is so popular. Let’s start off with a simple question: why do people go metal detecting, and what’s so exciting about it?

As someone who loves this hobby and actively detects, this is such a hard question to answer because there’s so much to say. The first thing to understand is that different people have different reasons to detect. Here are just a few more of the common reasons:

  • The love of history and thrill of being able to hold something in your hands that hasn’t seen the light of day in hundreds of years.
  • The love of coin collecting. Whether that be older colonial silver coins or more modern coins like wheat pennies.
  • The love of being active and in the outdoors. Believe it or not, metal detecting can be a fantastic form of exercise.
  • And of course financial gain from either selling your finds (gold/silver jewelry) or even gold nuggets.

Personally, my interests lie in the first three categories – as do most metal detectorists I know. In fact, very few people I know are in this hobby for financial gain. Their finds are often more meaningful to them than a few extra dollars in their pockets. Contrary to what a lot of people may think, people who metal detect are often history buffs and collectors who don’t frequent the pawn shops.

Metal detecting can also be extremely addicting – especially when you find yourself digging up relics that are hundreds of years old. One of my very first finds was a French Military button from the late 1700s. I dug it near an old colonial homestead that, through research, I determined was once owned by a French family hundreds of years ago. Pulling items like that out of the dirt gives you a huge adrenaline rush. For me, this is my ‘why’ for metal detecting.

Value Of Having A Fun Hobby

Recent times have shown that it has never been more important to get outside and enjoy a new hobby.

Now more than ever, we need to appreciate the great outdoors and do what we can to enhance our lives. Hobbies like metal detecting allow you to destress from the day to day whilst remaining sharp mentally.

Having hobbies is great for your mental health and a few hours a week can be enough to keep the likes of dementia and depression away. 

From senior citizens who need to start something new and interesting to kids looking to get away from their tablets and phones, metal detecting is a great hobby for anyone. 

As an activity for kids (especially on summer vacations to the beach)

We’ve already touched on this, but kids are spending over 7 hours a day on their phones. This doesn’t leave a lot of time after school for socializing, or physical activities. 

Good Exercise For Health 

Even the swinging movement of a metal detector can be good for your upper body, especially when using a bulkier detector. 

The arm cuff is where the unit will balance on your forearm, distributing the weight but the units can be incredibly light if you want to take some of the strain out of metal detecting.

It is a great hobby for working different muscle groups, from the arms where swinging the detector is one thing, but digging for your spoils is another, to the chest and shoulders where it is important to switch arms to give yourself an all-over workout and balance the workload properly.

Metal detecting also works the obliques so the core muscles are activated when trying to keep the detector stable. It will keep the midsection tight when rotating your arm.

Also, the number of miles covered can rack up when moving across a field or beach. This works the legs and even when you go at a slow pace, a couple of hours of walking can be great cardio. 

Part of what makes metal detecting such a good activity is that anyone can gain health benefits, no matter what age. Retirees and children can use lighter detectors should they wish to take some of the strain away or purchase a heavier unit for a more challenging workout where you build strength and stamina.

Good For “History Buffs”

History is all around us, but it is also buried in the ground. The thought of discovering an Iron Age haul or coins of historical significance can be the stuff of dreams for a history buff. 

To find rare coins and historical artifacts, you need to have a plan. Look for historical areas near you, and don’t forget to ask the landowner’s permission should you wish to keep your finds.

Even if you are new to metal detecting, you may stumble upon something that appeals to other history buffs. When David Booth took his metal detector to a Scottish field in 2009, he had no idea he would be unearthing what became known as the Sterling Torcs.

A series of Iron Age age necklaces earned him a £462,000 reward. Not bad for a first attempt! 

Read more about some of the best metal detecting finds in history.

Great Family Activity

It sometimes feels like there aren’t many activities that get kids excited to spend time as a family these days. Peeling them off their screens can be an uphill task, but everyone loves to hunt for treasure. 

Many people find that their kids become hooked on the activity, especially if they unearth something exciting like gold or jewelry. Metal detecting can be a great family activity even if it is done in the garden. You never know what you’ll find.

To give the kids a little encouragement and get them excited – set up a treasure hunt by burying coins around the garden.

Making memories starts with coming up with a fun activity, and committing to spending time together. The initial cost of purchasing a good metal detector is the only expense of this family-friendly hobby, so you can make lasting memories without having to spend a fortune on a day out.

You get to visit some amazing places, from rolling hills as you scan the fields and countryside near you or the beaches where if you start or finish at the right time, you get to see a sunrise or sunset as a family. Here are some great places to metal detect.

When you wonder if metal detecting is worth it, remember that they are the sort of days you never forget.


Do People Find Valuables With Metal Detectors?

Yes, they do, although it can be rare. 

Valuables can range from a piece of jewelry someone lost at the beach, or a rare haul of medieval coins or even a near intact Roman helmet. 

It is very much down to a little know-how of where to search, and plenty of luck. Still, metal detecting can unearth plenty of great finds. 

Imagine you make it to a popular beach after a hot day. With a swell of beachgoers always comes great opportunities for metal detectorists. Small items such as rings and bracelets are easily lost, becoming buried in the sand. 

This is a common way of finding valuables, and it is even possible to use some metal detectors underwater for other spoils.

Is Metal Detecting A Good Hobby?

Metal detecting is an awarding hobby for people of all ages, it keeps you mentally active whilst remaining a relaxing activity. 

It is great exercise without being overly strenuous and requires a level of problem-solving, learning about where to look, but also teaches youngsters about patience. 

For some detectorists, it can even be a lucrative hobby with finds that can yield returns of tens of thousands, all the way up to the millions!

Beyond finding a piece of history, metal detecting is a great way of getting the family together and bonding over something fun.

Can You Make Money Metal Detecting?

There are ways of making money metal detecting, with some amateurs finding hoards worth hundreds of thousands on their first attempt. 

Still, the easiest way of making money by metal detecting is heading to places where you are more likely to make a discovery. By swinging your metal detector over the sand of a popular beach on a Monday morning, you might discover misplaced jewelry and several coins.

Some people make money by offering their valuable finding services. Where people have lost their valuables in a park or on their land, they may offer a reward for a successful hunt.

Is Metal Detecting Profitable?

Most people will do it for the love of the hobby, but some detectorists are looking to make a living from metal detecting. For lucrative gains, it is important to remain patient and head to areas where there have been other historical finds, or where gold nuggets have been discovered over the years. 

For the most part, it will be unlikely that you can quit your day job, but you can make small finds that feel rewarding such as small gold nuggets or the odd loose coin.

When It’s Not Worth It 

Metal detecting is not worth it if you are looking to get rich quickly. This is a hobby that requires patience and it is more likely that you will never find life-changing hoards.

Beauty is in the process. Swinging your metal detector whilst enjoying the great outdoors, with or without family can keep you mentally sharp, just don’t expect it to give you any financial gains.