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Shadow Research Center

Ways To Identify Iron Targets

One of the most wide spread common misconceptions we have in our hobby is that most people believe that a metal detector should be able to discriminate out large iron targets. I believe this misconception was developed with many of the discrimination charts published in magazines and operators manuals, through the years, where it shows "Iron" at the bottom of the discrimination scale. In reality, a discriminator will take out small iron targets such as nails at the bottom of the scale, but the larger the iron target is, the higher it becomes on the discrimination scale. In fact, many large iron targets we encounter in the field will actually read higher on the discriminator scale than a silver dollar. So you can see that a metal detector discriminator can not effectively eliminate all the various types and sizes of iron targets we find in the field and other methods must be used to properly ID iron targets.

With the X3/X5 there are a couple of ways to tell if the target is iron. Medium to large iron targets (ferrous) have a very broad signal (footprint) especially in the All-Metal mode compared to non-iron (non-ferrous) targets. It is very important, especially when relic hunting to learn how to "size" a target for this reason. Try this, find a test area free of any metal objects including trash. Place an iron target in the test area then slowly sweep the coil over the iron target while in the Pin Point or All-Metal Mode and take note of the distance from each side of the target where the detector FIRST starts to react to the target. Now, do the same test with a coin. You will see a big difference in the signal signature width (footprint) between the two targets. Use this test in the field to help ID iron targets. The other method is to increase the sweep speed to see if the signal starts to pop, break-up, spit or disappear which indicates small to medium size iron.

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