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THE BELOW IS JUST BENCH MARK TEST,  SOME WILL GET BETTER AND SOME MAY GET WORSE RESULTS. BUT IT IS A GOOD PLACE TO START!! BEST WAY TO PICK A DETECTOR IS TO USE ONE IN   REAL TEST BOX IN REAL SOIL!!


General Purpose Metal Detector Performance Observations

Battle Of The Brands: How Deep Is Deep?

Thumb your way through the ads in any metal detecting magazine or any one of several Web/Usenet detecting forums and the question, "Okay, so which detector goes deepest?" is bound to pop up from time to time. Post that question and you can hear the sound of guys rummaging through silverware drawers the world over looking for can openers to accommodate this particular container of worms. While depth is certainly an important thing to consider when buying a first detector or upgrading, it’s only one of several important aspects to consider. When it comes to the defining quality of a particular brand, depth isn't the be-all and end-all.

To figure out which detector is right for you, you need to consider the sum of several parts that fit together in an overall package. I use a Tesoro Silver Sabre II, a higher-line entry model which is far and away not the best performer when it comes to depth. Compared to the majority of other manufacturer’s models, the Sabre’s depth performance is pretty dismal. So did I buy a crummy detector? Not at all.

To satisfy my individual wants and needs, the Silver Sabre fit the bill in other equally important areas. I’m no technical novice, but as a detecting novice when I bought my first detector (and someone with a tendency to do things the hard way anyway), I wanted to learn metal detecting from the ground up and not develop a tendency to rely on visual ID meters instead of my ears. Nor did I want a detector that required me to watch a video learn how to work it. Most of all, I didn’t want a heavy detector. For coinshooters and front yard relic hunters like me, the lightest, fastest and most stable detector in any type of ground which has the very best discrimination circuitry will always have a huge edge over a heavier, more expensive and feature-laden model whose depth smokes everything else on the market. What use to you is a detector that’s able to locate tooth fillings two feet down when your arms start falling off after swinging it for 10 minutes, or if its bells and whistles are too difficult for you to understand easily? No matter how thin you cut the bologna, a detector that sits in the closet detects zero inches. This kind of performance falls far below that of a two and a half pound, simple- or non-metered detector whose effective depth range is six inches. If I was strictly a Civil War relic hunter, I would by default end up with a detector in the five-pound class because the models and brands best suited to hunting Civil War relics (which tend to be very, very deep) with the finest overall performance are absolute pigs when it comes to weight. That’s just the way of the world.

I’ve been detecting for awhile now, and when it comes time for me to upgrade, I might opt for a more technically-advanced detector. Or I might not. That choice will depend on still two other important variables, which are: 1) How much my wife says I can afford to spend, and 2) The type of detecting I plan on doing. Even then, assuming my oh-so-tightwad boss gives me a hefty raise so I can afford to buy an expensive detector if I choose, I may still choose a relatively inexpensive model that doesn’t seek the deepest, but at the same time end up with the perfect detector for me.

Let’s say, though, you’re one of those people who absolutely must know whose detector comes in where on the depth scale. I recently ran across a Website which comes the closest I’ve seen yet to providing some kind of Consumer Reports-type depth performance data on a well-rounded list of some of the most popular general purpose land detectors. The data was put together by a fellow named Alain Châtillon, a fellow in France who has had access to a variety of customers with a bunch of different detectors, and I’m passing it on with his blessing.

Incidentally, Châtillon and a couple of his confederates are bent on building their own brand of pulse induction detectors "with a special loop wire 1m x 1m Multifrequency Super Sensitive (MSS)," so if you have access to a source of electronic cards able to power Lorenz or Pulse Star type pulse induction systems, he would love to hear from you. Otherwise, the poor bastard is going to end up trying to cannibalize very used U.S. military surplus mine detectors at $2,000 a pop. And from the looks of things at the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service Website (your one-stop shop for original U.S. Government surplus property), some of these hogs have pulled duty in a radioactive back yard or three.

Châtillon's tests seem to be consistent with the baseline standards expected of anything that undergoes any kind of scientific testing. His comparisons have been done in a consistent, measured manner across the board in conditions most detectorists might face in the field, and the results are pretty consistent with depth numbers I’ve seen posted by people who use quite a few of these detectors. "We have a land already prepared for this kind of tests," wrote Chatillon in an e-mail to me after I asked for more info on how the tests were performed. "It is sandy with some mineralization. To test deeper detectors like Pulse Induction System and 2 boxes we have prepared specially another plot with sand, rocks, and highly mineralisated (an antique bed river). We are very critical because we are not sponsorized by any detector manufactures."

Look at the results and put them to use for yourself. Just remember, if you plan on using these numbers for some sort of basis on which to buy a new detector, keep in mind the old adage about making decision strictly by numbers: There are two types of statistics: Lies and damn lies. Numbers are useful, but they don’t tell the whole story.

Performance Observations
The air test gives much greater distances than those obtained in the ground test. Certain models lose up to 13 cm (5.2 inches) in depth between air and ground testing, but when a detector performs well in air testing, it is generally (but to a lesser extent) powerful in ground testing, too.

The ground test is performed in a mixture of 50 percent bio-soil and 50 percent mineralized river sand, each moistened and measured before each test. At their highest sensitivity settings, many detectors become unstable.

Notable Performers
GARRETT: Excellent results from the GTI 2000. Easy to use, stable electronics, clear responses, good ergonomics, ABS casing, battery compartment as far from searchcoil as possible.
FISHER: Very good results with Fisher CZ-20, although a bit heavy.
DISCOVERY: The Baron base module is a reliable performer.
WHITES: With its finest adjustment, the 6000 Di Pro offers good detection depth but quickly becomes unstable. (Scott's Note: While the the 6000 turned in the most impressive depth numbers, one of my old-as-dirt dealer sources tells me the Quantum XT's overall performance is "virtually unbeatable" by anyone on the market. Which just goes to show what happens if you rely solely on depth numbers for detector shopping.)
MINELAB: The Sovereign XS-2 works "very correctly" says Châtillon, but "wastes batteries in no time."
TESORO: Special mention for the Tesoro Lobo Super Traq, a very stable detector which should give the best performance with a 10.5" round searchcoil "which wasn't been available to us for testing," notes Châtillon.

By The Numbers
Here are Châtillon's model-by-model depth comparisons for many popular general purpose land detectors. Figures are both in metric and English measurements:

 

The air test gives much greater distances than those obtained in the ground test. Certain models lose up to 13 cm (5.2 inches) in depth between air and ground testing, but when a detector performs well in air testing, it is generally (but to a lesser extent) powerful in ground testing, too.

The ground test is performed in a mixture of 50 percent bio-soil and 50 percent mineralized river sand, each moistened and measured before each test. At their highest sensitivity settings, many detectors become unstable.

TARGET: US QUARTER (Ø 24 mm Cu)

MODEL

SEARCHCOIL

AIR

GROUND

GARRETT

GTI 2000

9.5" Super Deepseeking

37 cm / 14.8"

25 cm / 10.0"

Treasure Ace 300

8.5" Grossfire

17 cm / 6.8"

13 cm / 5.2"

GMH CXII

8.5" Grossfire

24 cm /  9.6"

18 cm / 7.2"

GTA X 1000

8.5" Grossfire

25 cm / 10.0"

17 cm / 6.8"

WHITE'S

Spectrum XLT

9.5" Blue Max

30 cm / 12.0"

21 cm / 8.4"

6000 Di Pro

9.5" Blue Max

35 cm / 14.0"

22 cm / 8.8"

Quantum XT

9.5" Blue Max

26 cm / 10.4"

20 cm / 8.0"

Classic SL III

9.5" Blue Max

24 cm / 9.6"

15 cm / 6.0"

Classic SL II

8" Blue Max

19 cm / 7.6"

14 cm / 5.6"

FISHER

1225 X

5"

17 cm / 6.8"

12 cm / 4.8"

1235 X

8" Spider

21 cm / 8.4"

16 cm / 6.4"

1265 X

8" Spider

25 cm / 10.0"

17 cm / 6.8"

1266 X

10.5" Spider

29 cm / 11.6"

19 cm / 7.6"

CZ5

8" Spider

32 cm / 12.8"

21 cm / 8.4"

CZ20

10.5" Spider

36 cm / 14.4"

24 cm / 9.6"

TESORO

Lobo Super Traq

10" x 5" elliptic

28 cm / 11.2"

20 cm / 8.0"

Toltec

10.5"

26 cm / 10.4"

18 cm / 7.2"

Golden Sabre

8"

21 cm / 8.4"

16 cm / 6.4"

Bandido

8"

22 cm / 8.8"

14 cm / 5.6"

Silver Sabre

10.5"

24 cm / 9.6"

17 cm / 6.8"

Sidewinder

8"

20 cm / 8"

16 cm / 6.4"

Cutlass

8"

19 cm / 7.6"

14 cm / 5.6"

Amigo

7"

17 cm / 6.8"

13 cm / 5.2"

DISCOVERY

Baron Module base

8"

32 cm / 12.8"

23 cm / 9.2"

MINELAB

Sovereign XS

8"

24 cm / 9.6"

18 cm / 7.2"

Sovereign XS

7.5" waterproof

26 cm / 10.4"

19 cm / 7.6"

Sovereign XS-2

10" waterproof

33 cm / 13.2"

22 cm / 8.8"

 

 

 


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