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FAQ: Will a metal detector work in water?

FAQ:  Will a metal detector work in water?

Whether or not a metal detector will work in or underwater is a frequent question we get here at the shop.  Here is the answer.

Most metal detectors have waterproof search coils.  But not all of them are fully waterproof.  The search coil is the round or eliptical thing at the very end (bottom) of the metal detector.  It is the part of the machine that is closest to the ground when metal detecting.

 will a metal detector work in the water

Metal detectors will work underwater and freshwater has very little effect on how they function (saltwater is another story).  Additionally you can use a metal detector in the rain with no adverse effect on their functionality.  However, not all metal detectors are fully submersible and some of them cannot be used in the rain without a protective rain cover.  The good news is most models have environmental rain covers that can protect them from the rain that can be purchased for a small investment.  The covers do not however protect them from being submersed.

For more information on hunting freshwater versus saltwater see my article, "Best Metal Detectors For The Beach"

Rain Covers Can Be A Good Investment For Diehard Metal Detectorist

Garrett ACE Environmental Cover-Up

Some metal detectors are fully submersible and do not require a protective cover when detecting in the rain.  There are several metal detectors on the market at reasonable prices that can be used underwater and still serve as great detectors for jewelry, coin, and relic hunting on dry land.  These metal detectors are designed for shallow surf hunting and provide both visual and audio cues you need to determine if targets are worth retrieving.  They can typically be submersed at depths up to 10 feet.

The Minelab Equinox 800 Is aGood Waterproof Metal Detector for up to 3 Meters in Depth

waterproof minelab equinox 800 metal detector


Then there are dive metal detectors that are made to be used up to 200 feet in depth.  These detectors are true dive detectors.  They are typically pulse induction metal detectors and only provide audio output since at those depths it is difficult to view a display screen.  These detectors can also be used on land but lack the visual display screen to help discriminate against unwanted targets.  These pulse induction metal detectors handle the heavily mineralized saltwater you will encounter with ocean water.

The Garrett Sea Hunter Mark II is an Excellent Dive Metal Detector

Garrett Sea Hunter Mark II Metal Detector with Free Gear Beach Hunter Package

 Another type of submersible metal detector that has gain popularity over the years are smaller "wand' type metal detectors.  These lightweight and compact metal detectors are easy to travel with and extremely easy to handle underwater.  They typically have small coils and do not penetrate the surface as much but are an excellent choice for hunting in the surf and in rivers.

The Vibra Tector 740 is Small Compact Dive Detector

Treasure Products Vibra Tector 740 Waterproof Pinpointer Metal Detector - Surf Hunter Package with Snorkel and Dive Mask

Here Are My Coices For The Top 10 Best Submersible Metal Detectors 

  1. Minelab Equinox 600 & Equinox 800 (3 Meters)
  2. Garrett AT Pro (10 Feet)
  3. Nokta Makro Simplex Plus (3 Meters)
  4. Nokta Makro Anfibio Multi (5 Meters)
  5. Minelab CTX 3030 (3 Meters)
  6. Garrett Sea Hunter Mark II (200 Feet)
  7. Minelab Excalibur II (65 Meters)
  8. Vibra Tec 740 (30 Meters)
  9. Nokta Makro Pulse Dive (60 Meters) 
  10. Nokta Makro Mini & Midi Hoard for Kids (1 meter)

I hope this clarifies the question for most people out there.  Good luck and happy hunting!

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  • Joshua Turpin