Is the “standard issue” sand scoop really necessary when metal detecting at the beach in Florida? Selecting the right equipment to retrieve your treasure from the sand depends on whether you plan to search dry sand, wet sand, or underwater. Here are a few things to consider before purchasing a sand scoop.
If you plan to search in the water, no matter how deep, a long handled sand scoop is necessary. Without it, you most likely will not be able to retrieve your targets. Even if the water is only ankle deep, getting your target out of the sand can be a real challenge without the proper tool. A sand scoop will allow you to retrieve shallow water targets in seconds, while deep water targets may take a few minutes.
When searching wet sand areas of the beach, the sand scoop is an asset, not a requirement. You can get by without it, but having one will allow you to cover more area in a shorter time. Being close to the surf, you can wash the sand through the holes in the scoop to quickly expose your target.
If your intention is to search mostly in the dry sand, you really don’t even need a sand scoop. Any plastic garden trowel will do. Some people think that beach sand will easily flow through the holes in a sand scoop and leave your target exposed in the scoop. That only works for the very dry sand, which is on the surface. Once you get below the surface, the sand is damp and sticky, and will not flow through the holes without rigorous shaking.
If you’ve decided that a sand scoop should be in your arsenal of metal detecting tools, then the following factors should be considered before making the purchase.
Long handled scoops allow target retrieval without constant bending over. This may be important to some adults.
Scoops are available in plastic, aluminum, galvanized steel, and stainless steel. Cost is generally proportional to the material. Scoops that will be used in wet sand or water will require you to use your foot to push the scoop into the sand like a shovel. A thin material may deform when prying or lifting wet sand. Also, keep in mind that salt water can corrode certain metals.
The size of the mesh or hole is often overlooked in favor of the material. However, hole sizes are very important and range from 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) to 5/8 inch (15.9 mm). A 5/8 inch hole is the most common and will drain the sand quickly, but will also pass most stud earrings, some body jewelry, and most toe rings.
The weight of the scoop is a factor to consider also. Plastic is the lightest, aluminum next, and steel is the heaviest. Many experienced detectorists carry the scoop on their shoulder or drag it behind them. They do this, not because of weight, but because when sweeping the detector coil it will often pick-up the metal scoop. So they try to keep it as far as possible from the detector coil.
The sand scoop is an important tool for the beach hunter. Make your investment proportional to the amount of time you will spend detecting.