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Guest blogger: Michael Bernzweig on the hobby of metal detecting

WVL findsOne of my friends found these items while metal detecting a couple of years ago at the site of the June 28, 1863, skirmish at Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. Another friend has also found dropped Minie balls and other artifacts in a different part of the old battlefield.

I have so many happy memories of my childhood with my father in Southeastern Ohio. Dad had a small Radio Shack metal detector, not very powerful, but extremely useful for beachcombing at Lake Isabella, a small popular private resort lake in my hometown of East Fultonham. We used to find coins, rings, etc. on the mornings after high attendance events such as the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, etc.

I have long been interested in the hobby. This week, I received an email from a Cannonball reader named Michael Bernzweig about his passion for metal detecting. He will be offering some counsel and advice in the following guest blog commentary. The next two photos are taken by him as well.



5 Features Civil War Collectors Should Look for in a Relic-Hunting Metal Detector


Civil War collectors have always enjoyed finding their prized treasures at antique shops, flea markets, yard sales, and, more recently, online. Current technology has made it very advantageous, and a lot of fun, to search for Civil War and other types of relics with a metal detector.
With the unique developments in technology that have been made over the last several years or so, metal detectors are able to search more deeply than in years prior. Many think that treasures like these have all been found. This, however, is not true! Many sites are very picked over, but, if you have the right metal detector, there are still plenty of Civil War relics to be found.
What do you need to get started? To search as efficiently as possible your relic hunting metal detector should be equipped with these five features and accessories.
Low Frequency

One of the best types of relic hunting metal detectors are the VLF (Very Low Frequency) machines.  VLF metal detectors operate at a lower frequency than other types of machines; one that’s ideal for finding items made of materials used widely during the Civil War including brass, steel, and iron.


Manual Ground Balance Control

A manual ground balance control is another feature that is essential for any relic hunting metal detector. In heavily mineralized soil conditions, there are a lot of trash noises that a ground balance control can help you filter out.  The southern United States is known to be home to these types of soil conditions. With the number of Civil War events that occurred in the south, a metal detector with a manual ground balance control will allow you to get signals from even the deepest buried treasures without interference along the way.



Having a metal detector with a built in pinpointer can be very helpful when trying to locate deeply buried relics.  If you end up with a model that doesn’t feature a built in pinpointer, you can also purchase a handheld model which is generally just as good, and at times better, than a built in model.


Medium and Large Search Coils

Having a large, as well as a medium, search coil on hand while relic hunting is also important.  The large search coil will allow you to search as deeply as possible, but, it will miss smaller objects.  The medium search coil on the other hand can’t search quite as deeply into the ground, but, it can locate any smaller relics a large coil might miss.


Metal Detecting Accessories

Metal detecting accessories are also an important part of finding treasures as deeply as possible.  Headphones are a must to help you zero in on the signals the targets are giving off.  Digging tools will help you unearth your relics safely so they won’t be damaged along the way.  Along those same lines, protective carrying cases are also essential to have on hand so you can take your Civil War relics home from the field and clean them properly to help preserve their historical value.
As you can see, these five features and accessories really will help make the best relic hunting metal detector.  And when you have the right equipment, metal detecting for Civil War relics is a lot less work and even more fun!

Michael Bernzweig manages in Southborough, MA. He has written extensively on the subject of metal detecting since the mid 1980’s. He has traveled world-wide in his pursuit of educating, exploring and advising others in the proper use of metal detectors. Outside of the business he enjoys mentoring students, being involved in the community and spending time with his family.