Some metal detectors succumb to the problem of limited discrimination among metals. They lack the ability to discriminate metals and other materials efficiently. So will metal detectors detect copper? Let me help you figure that out. (source)
Researchers conducted a study testing several different types of metals. The metals included steel, aluminum, bronze, brass, and copper. Researchers also used other metal detecting units. The results showed that the metal detectors could detect copper. (source)
The Periodic Table contains metals and non-metals. Copper falls in the metal category. The symbol for copper on the Periodic Table is Cu. With this in mind, you can summarize that a metal detector will find copper in test and natural environments.
The science behind metal detectors is pretty interesting. Their ability to find copper and other metals ultimately make an efficient metal detector. If you’re interested in finding out more about metal detectors, keep reading.
Metal detectors vary in ability, efficiency, and performance. They all strive to help users find the hidden treasure buried several feet underground. Still, they offer different levels of performance based on their discrimination ability.
Furthermore, the higher the metal detector’s performance, the higher the price. It’s a price every detectorist has to pay going into the field. However, there are budget-friendly and mid-tier options that you can use to get to prospecting.
All in all, metal detectors can detect copper. Copper is a metal, and thus the majority of metal detectors can discriminate it from other metals and materials. But how do they do it?
There are three types of technology that manufacturers use to find metals. 
- VLF (uses eddy currents)
- Pulse Indicator (PI)
- Full Broad Spectrum (FBS)
- Zero Voltage Submission (ZVS)
A short and general explanation of how they work is that metal detectors send and receive frequencies through the coil—the frequencies pinpoint the target and its depth. This explanation is for the modern metal detectors that use PI, FBS, and ZVS.
On the other hand, you have VLF which is on the older side of metal detecting technology. VLF uses eddy currents created when the coil transmits an electromagnetic field to find metals in the ground. So, now we know how metal detectors find metals. But how do they discriminate metals?
Let’s use VLF as an example. High conductive metals such as silver and copper will cause a high tone. What’s the opposite? Well, low conductive metals like iron will cause a low tone. Here’s a table to help you remember high and low conductive metals. 
|0-10||Low tone or grunt||Iron|
|11-25||A low to mid-tone||Aluminum, birdshot|
|26-50||Mid-tone||pull tabs, bottle caps, nickels, small gold rings, shotgun shells, and other low conductors|
|51-70||A mid to high tone||larger gold rings, zinc pennies, Indian Head pennies, buttons, and bullets|
|71-100||High tone||Silver, copper, titanium, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and dollars.|
Please note that this table represents a general understanding of discrimination. Your metal detector may not display similar results, and you may have to consult the assigned manual guide. It would be in your best interest to watch the tutorials provided by the manufacturer.
Metal Detecting Tip: Have “test” items in your pocket when you head out on a hunt. It’s a good practice to toss a coin or piece of jewelry onto the ground and sweep over it.
It’s one thing to understand how metal detectors work, but how can you be sure that the unit in your hand can detect copper? Brands like Minelab and Garrett are ISO 9001 Certified, meaning that their products have undergone quality management tests. (source)
It would be in your best interest to check whether the metal detector you’re procuring has this or similar certification. You also have the CEN Workshop Agreement, the CWA, that provides standardized testing for metal detectors in Europe. (source)
The CWA, for example, has various principles and conducts numerous tests on metal detectors. Here are some of the tests that are part of the standardized tests for metal detectors:
- In-air tests
- Soil detection capability tests
- Operational performance tests
- Efficiency and operational tests
Before your metal detectors hit stores or are on a supplier website, it has undergone these tests to ensure that they can find metals, especially copper. Not only that, but many manufacturers value their quality management. If you should accidentally receive a faulty unit, you are within your rights to return within the designated period.
Now that you have a rough understanding of how your metal detector can find copper. Here are some metal detectors you can look at to help you find your copper treasure.
- The Minelab Equinox 800
This metal detector is a massive favorite in the metal detecting community. Minelab is a household name in the industry, and the Equinox 800 is famous for its Multi-IQ frequency. The Equinox 800 offers a frequency level of up to 40kHz, which is impressive for its price point.
- The Minelab Equinox 600
Minelab is popular in the market and for a reason. The Minelab Equinox 600 is a runner-up to the 800 and offers the same Multi-IQ frequency, although it might be lacking in some ways. Regardless, it provides the same optimized performance as the 800.
- The Garrett AT MAX
The Garrett AT MAX is the best example of “old is gold.” It’s a bit of an older model, but its performance has been a staple over the years. The AT MAX is a safe option for anyone looking to get into metal detecting. It’s consistent, efficient, and easy to use.
There are no metal detectors that specialize in finding copper. Why? Well, you can find copper in a lot of things. If you didn’t know, silver coins contain 10% copper. It would help if you chose an efficient metal detector during your prospects. 
Metal detectors, as the name suggests, find metals. You can find pretty much anything metallic with a metal detector. As long as it has a metallic component, you are bound to find it. Here are some items you may come across with a metal detector:
- Bottle caps
- Mineral deposits
- Treasure from the 1715 fleet that sunk in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Lost wedding rings
As long as the object has a metallic component, your metal detector will locate it. Your metal detector can also discriminate among metals (this feature varies from brand to brand). You can choose to focus mainly on copper and ignore the rest of the metals. The discrimination feature will allow only copper elements to make a sound.
Metal Detecting Tip: Learn how to setup the discrimination on your machine. This is critical! I’ve outlined the things I’ve learned in this article – How To Setup the Discrimination on a Metal Detector
The depth meter of a metal detector depends on the brand and the make. The Minelab Equinox 800 has a depth indicator of three meters. On the other hand, you have the Garrett AT MAX with a depth of two meters. It doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but it might be the answer between you and treasure when you’re prospecting.
Some other detectors come with an Extra Deep Mode. Furthermore, there are metal detectors that specialize in prospecting at incredible depths. The Makro DeepHunter 3D Pro is an excellent example of a specialized depth metal detector.
You also have the Minelab GPZ 700, one of the industry’s newer models, and it uses Zero Voltage Transmission (ZVT) technology. It would be in your best interest to stick to an all-rounded unit over a specialized unit because you can find copper in various things.
On the periodic table, titanium is a metal. Its symbol is Ti, and it’s a non-ferrous metal, which means that it doesn’t contain iron. Considering those facts, you can safely assume that metal detectors can find titanium. (source)
Titanium is also a highly conductive metal, similar to copper and silver. Unfortunately, it’s pretty tricky for metal detectors to find non-ferrous metals. However, with the right tools and techniques, you should be successful.
Metal detecting is an art and a science. The latter will require you to practice your technique and work alongside other pieces of information to find treasure. Prospecting for copper falls in line with prospecting for any other metal (except gold). You may not find metal detectors that specialize in copper. Still, you can create a technique that specializes in finding copper.
Lastly, any metal detecting can detect copper. All you need is the right timing.
- Brandon Neice, The Metal Detecting Bible: Helpful Tips, Expert Tricks and Insider Secrets for Finding Hidden Treasures (Berkeley: Ulysses Press, 2021) 128.
- Bloodworth, Tom & Lewis, Adam. (2003). Quantifying the Detection Capability of Metal Detectors using Metal Spheres.
- Svatoš, J., I in. “Application of Poly-Harmonic Signals to Eddy-Current Metal Detectors and to Advanced Classification of Metals.” Metrology and Measurement Systems, t. 25, 2, Polska Akademia Nauk. Czytelnia Czasopism PAN, 2018, s. 387–402.
- Minelab, “Our Story,” Minelab, Accessed March 10th, 2022, https://www.minelab.com/our-story.
- T.J. Bloodworth and A.J. Sieber, Standardized Testing of Metal Detectors, Accessed March 10th, 2022, https://commons.lib.jmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=2438&context=cisr-journal.
Wikipedia, Non-Ferrous Metals, Wikipedia, Accessed March 10th, 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-ferrous_metal.