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New 'budget', 'mid-priced' and 'spendy' detector shopping.

February 11, 2023 06:26AM avatar
Generally, the higher-priced models, such as any Minelab Equinox or the new Manticore, or the XP ORX or Deus models, or even Garrett's AT series, are what we might consider to be field-proven and/or quality-engineered. I will also add the Fisher F-75 and Teknetics T-2 units to this group because, to me and many I know, anything with an MSRP of ±$600 or more is considered a "higher-end" detector.

I have spent many hours this past week I have been back home, day and night, watching videos of people doing some 'open-box' reviews of detectors, conducting some in-home or bench-testing, and taking the detectors out to a field or park or some site for a little 'naturally-lost' detecting to see how they performed. Quite a few I got a huckle out of because the 'tester' had some detector and detecting knowledge, but even a few of the well-known names made some statements that showed they really didn't know some common occurrences, such as multiple beeps from a shallow target, why a detector might respond with only a one-direction sweep, or why some detectors had a delayed target-response, especially the lower-cost or 'budget' units.

So, let me comment of the 'lower-cost' and the 'mid-priced' detectors out there, and there are a lot of them which, to me, is really sad because so many of them are what I consider to be worthless or useless investments, especially as a beginner or starter unit. Something folks might want for a child or grand-child. One of the reasons is due to the general trend we have seen for a couple of decades now, and that is equipping most detectors with a larger-size search coil. Even most of those 'beginner' priced detectors have a 10" or 11" search coil.

There are several problems with those bigger coils on an 'entry' unit, such as:

Physically, they add too much front-end weight to make them nose-heavy.

Other physical challenges are that they do not let you work a coil in closer to meal structures or fit in some tight, confined spaces.

On most of those cheaper, generally Made-in-China detectors they are using a Concentric coil deign (like many of the older detectors used to use), but so often I see the inner Receive winding design is much larger than what used to be typical and this adds to some of the impaired performance.

And then we get to the circuitry engineering and adjustments. Here are some short-comings:

Many of these detectors have been foreign-made for decades and basically used the same circuitry of old and have only gone through some changes in rod shape, housing design, nd new or different simple displays and adjustments. Also, many come in some unusual colors like, sea green, lavender, pink and more.

So many of the 'budget' units also are using an older circuitry design like we used to see from some of the Bounty Hunter, Fisher, Garrett, or White's models (mainly their own budget level units) that had a very delayed or slow recovery speed after sweeping over a coin-sized target.

Most of the 'budget' level detectors also lack a manual or automated Ground Balance adjustment and I have noticed several that had a lot of falsing in more mineralized ground, or the preset GB was way too-positive and out-of-the-box bench-testing would only let the detector beep on coins up to a US Quarter. The clad or silver Fifty Cent piece was not 'detectable'.

Now a short comment on those so-called 'mid-priced' detectors:

Most readers know that I own and use detectors that fall in this price range, and that includes some SMF detectors I have or recently have-had. That includes the Minelab Vanquish 540 that is SMF only with Multi-IQ, and the Garrett Apex that is SMF but also offers selectable SF choices of 5 kHz, 10 kHz, 15 kHz and 20 kHz. We can also add the Nokta Legend to this group of SMF's w/selectable SF options.

Then there are a lot of SF detectors in the 'mid-priced' range that are also decent performers and can provide very good in-the-field performance for beginners or experienced, and make a really nice entry detector for anyone who would like to take this hobby seriously, or make a good 'loaner-unit' for friends and family.

That was once of several reasons I have been watching so many YouTube videos, trying to firm up some of the 'mid-priced' detectors for my own friends and family. I have one 'loaner-unit' on-hand now (a Vanquish 540 Pro Pack), but I want to have two or three on-hand for some get-togethers at a park or working a reservoir beach. Also, several people in the small-group seminars I have had the past six months are also looking for a decent mid-price detector for them or as a loaner.

Most of those who know me also know that I like Simple, Functional, and Performance-based detectors, and that most of my detector group are new or used quality units that fall in that cost range, such as my:

• Fisher F-19 Ltd.
• Makro 'original' Racer
• Tesoro Silver Sabre µMAX
• Tesoro Bandido II µMAX
• Minelab Vanquish 540 Pro Pack
• White's XLT I acquired used in pristine condition and also 'mid-priced'.
• I will soon add a Makro Racer II that I am sending off for repair next week.

Oh, and my last unit, a Nokta FORS Relic initially retailed in a 'higher-cost' group, but if you can find one, they can be acquired at a good mid-price range cost.

And finally, if you haven't been bored by now, I had to come up with an easy method to use to help a shopper sort out and eliminate what I consider to be an 'inferior' detector. It is simple, and a way I have suggested to every entry-level shopper I have spoken with for over two decades, and it gets down to another very important tool for me. That is the search coil selection.

Again, most know I prefer smaller-size search coils and have since 1968. By smaller-size I am referring to something in the 4½" to 6½" size. All of my detectors listed above have a smaller coil mounted with two exceptions. My F-19 Ltd. has a 5X9¾ mid-size, and my V-540 has a mid-size 5X8 DD. I am also looking for a favorite mid-size coil (the 7" Concentric) for my Racer 2 when it returns from service.

It is the desire to have a very good working smaller coil for most detectors, and this has been an important detector selection consideration for me forever in seems. When shopping for a lower-cost detector, for yourself or for others to use, take a moment and check out what search coils come with a detector and what coils are easily available for them.

This won't always work because some detectors, like the XP ORX, Deus and Deus II, do NOT have a smaller-size coil. All they offer is their mid-size 5X9½. The Vanquish 540 doesn't have a smaller coil than their mid-size 5X8 DD. The good thing is that their more modern circuity designs provide impressive performance with those mid-size coils in a lot of densely-littered sites.

Also, most readers also know that I haven't been a real big fan of after-market search coils, but there is one noteworthy exception. That exception are a couple of the smaller NEL search coils, and those are:

• The 5" 'Sharp' DD.
• The 3½X6½ 'Snake' DD

I had the 5" Sharp on a Garrett Apex because Garrett hasn't made a small-size coil for that detector, and overall the 5" Sharp worked well in iron contaminated ghost towns or renovation work.

As for the Snake coil, I have never owned one. However, I borrowed and used one a couple of times, and it is OregonGregg's fault for getting me so attracted to that coil on a Makro Racer or Racer II. He has had very impressive success with that detector and coil combination such that I am even looking for a Snake coil on the Buy/Sell/Trade Forum.

Concluding thoughts:

Should you be shopping around for a brand new or quality used detector, and want something that can be more versatile for various hunting conditions, check out the detector brand and see if they offer a smaller-size coil for it, and if not see if NEL offers a smaller coil. If a budget-grade unit doesn't have a smaller coil option, I suggest you draw a big, bold line through it and keep on looking.

Just my thoughts as I don't like to see people spend money and end up with an inferior product.


"Your EYES ... the only 100% accurate form of Discrimination!"

Stinkwater Wells Trading Post
Metal Detector Evaluations and Product Reviews
I'm now 'back home' in Farr West Utah
monte@ahrps.org ... or ... monte@stinkwaterwells.com
Detector Outfit: A selection of my chosen makes and models, with the best coils mounted for the tasks I'll take on.
F-19 * F-5 * Racer * Racer 2 * V-540 * Relic * Silver Sabre µMAX * Bandido II µMAX * XLT
Pinpointers: Garrett AT Pro-Pointers .. Headphones: 'Hornet' .. MS-3 Z-Lynk .. ML-80
*** All working well today to make memories for tomorrow. ***

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/14/2023 07:15PM by Monte.
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New 'budget', 'mid-priced' and 'spendy' detector shopping.

Monte 105 February 11, 2023 06:26AM

And for a lower-cost detector I am considering, I will also get:

Monte 67 February 11, 2023 06:49AM

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