Most good gold detectors have several choices of search coils that you can use of various different sizes. Experienced gold hunters usually have their favorites, but also have a variety available for different situations.
Some folks think bigger is better… and sometimes it is. Large search coils on metal detectors certainly have their place and they have probably become even more popular in recent years as the goldfields have been hunted hard and it’s tougher to find gold nuggets.
There are a lot of challenges with using large search coils though. Let’s look at a few of them:
Heavier (More Fatigue)
The most notable difference when using large coils on the end of your metal detector is the added weight. Even a few ounces can be significant after a long day of searching. An extra pound or more will cause considerably more fatigue in your muscles throughout the day.
Not only does it cause more fatigue, but it will also make you detect a lot sloppier, which can definitely make you miss some gold nuggets.
Hard to Maneuver in tight spots
A lot of gold nuggets are down in bedrock cracks and other “tight spots.” Maneuvering your search coil into these places can be tricky.
When hunting bedrock cracks, a good VLF metal detector like the Gold Bug Pro with the 5″ x 10″ DD coil is perfect. It fits perfectly into small bedrock cracks. A great big coil on the other hand will miss lots of gold because you just can’t get it over the gold.
Less Sensitive to Small Gold
Big coils are notorious for missing small gold nuggets. They just aren’t quite as sensitive to the smaller bits of gold (which are much more common).
I have noticed that some of the newer coils are getting better about this though. Large search coils have improved a lot in sensitivity over the past decade.
Can Pick up More Ground Noise
Larger coils “hear” more ground than a small coil, so they are more susceptible to chatter and general ground noise. This can generally be corrected by setting up your metal detector properly for the ground conditions, but sometimes a large coil just won’t function properly.
Challenging in Trashy Locations
Anyone who has hunted in a very trashy location knows that large coils can be very difficult. When there are lots of metal targets in the ground it is tough to separate the noises and isolate the different sounds that your detector is making.
Pinpointing targets to dig is harder when there are multiple targets in the ground. With a smaller coil it’s easier to “pick apart” those noises, but sometimes a large coil can be overwhelming to use.
Tip: Use a Handheld Pinpointer to help speed up this process.
So Why Would You Ever Use a Large Coil on Your Metal Detector?
Boy, it sure seems like there are a lot of downsides to using large coils on a metal detector, don’t there?
I think all of the points listed above are valid and worth considering when you are selecting a search coil. However, with all that said, I still use a large coil a lot of the time!
They find deeper gold nuggets!
The reason that so many gold hunters like swinging a metal detector with a large coil is because they will detect gold nuggets that are deeper than small coils can hear. That is really the primary reason why prospectors use them.
With so many of the goldfields throughout the world being prospected hard over the past few decades, we can use all the advantages that we can get. A large coils might provide just an inch or two of extra depth, but that might be just enough to find a nice nugget that has been missed by everyone else before you!
Better Ground Coverage
Another nice thing about large coils is that they cover a lot of ground when you are patch hunting. You can cover way more ground when you are swinging a large coil.
Many prospectors spend most of our time searching for new gold patches by hunting virgin ground, and they need to efficiently cover ground while hunting. This is another clear advantage that large coils have over the smaller coils.
Select the Right Search Coil for the Situation
If you read our article titled 6 Reasons You Should be Using Small Detector Coils for Nugget Hunting, you might assume that I only use a small coil. That isn’t really the case though.
I use the right coil for the situation. You should use the proper search coil for the situation you are hunting in. Sometimes a small coil is perfect. Other times a large coil is the best choice.
If you need the added depth, then by all means use the largest coil that you are willing to swing. Eventually it will pay off with bigger, deeper gold nuggets.