Sunday, April 24, 2011

Treasure Hunting 101, Part 1, Detectors

The blog has grown tremendously over the last year to the point that we have people from several different nations reading it. I know we have a lot of seasoned treasure hunters that visit this site but we are also starting to get a lot of “newbies” to the hobby looking for information.

Because of that we will be posting some different articles to try to help the new and the old with navigating their way through this great hobby of ours.

Part I of this article is about metal detectors. There are just about as many different metal detectors as there are treasures and sometimes it hard to choose what detector is the right one for you.

To decide what kind of detector you need (and there is a difference between what you need and what you want) you need to decide what type of treasure hunting you will be doing.

If the majority of your treasure hunting is going to consist of coin shooting then you have a myriad of detectors to choose from and several companies that make them. The most prominent brand names for these detectors would be Whites, Garrett, Tesoro, Fisher, Minelab and Bounty Hunter. There are others out there but these are the main names that come to mind to most treasure hunters.

The majority of these detectors all work on the same principal and it’s not until you get into the higher end detectors or ones with manual tuning that you will see any real difference in the amount of depth they get.

For coin shooting you can buy some pretty complicated machines with lots of bells and whistles or you can get pretty “plain Jane”. I personally tend to lean towards Tesoro and Garrett for my coin shooters although Whites makes some very nice machines. If I’m feeling particularly lazy I will opt for one of my Garretts just because I can set it on auto and go. I don’t have to worry about messing with the ground balance because their auto setting does a pretty good job. With that said, any of the companies I mentioned produce some really nice machines. I’m not real big on the Bounty Hunter detectors but that’s just me.

If you like to do your coin shooting underwater then you options get more limited and you will switch from a VLF machine to a pulse induction machine. You will also pay a LOT more for an underwater machine but if you have to have it, you have to have it. Again, there are several companies that make the underwater machines and for the most part, it will boil down to your personal preference and budget on which you choose.

If you are a relic or cache hunter then you will be wanting a machine that has all of the manual settings on it so that you can get the best depth possible in any condition. I am partial to the Tesoros for this type of hunting. They get great depth, are very light and easy to use.

If you cache hunt more than relic hunt then you will be looking at purchasing more than one detector and getting a more specialized version for your needs. One of these versions is called a two-box. This term refers to a “box” being at each end of the detector and you will hole it so it is horizontal to the ground. These days there really isn’t a box at each end on most models. They have switched those to metal loops. The one glaring exception would be the two box detector by Fisher. It actually has a box at each end.

Now here’s a warning for all prospective buyers of metal detectors. If you are wanting something that looks deep into the ground, say more than 3-4 feet then buyer beware. In my opinion, the ads that most companies use are really generous with the amount of depth their detectors will get. Most of the “tests” used to measure this depth are open air tests. This means they stand on a ladder and go up until they no longer get a reading from a car battery sized metal object. This works great if what you are looking for isn’t buried but then you wouldn’t need a metal detector now would you?

A lot of the two-box detectors are said to get 15-20 feet. Good luck with that! You can figure that in any given soil you are going to get four, maybe five feet and even six feet if the conditions are absolutely perfect.

Another type of cache hunting machine is the pulse induction detector. These work on the exact same principal as the underwater PI machines but you can get them with loops as large as four feet. These types of PI detectors can be pricey but they will get you a lot more depth. Something with a four foot loop can easily detect a car battery sized metal object at ten feet or better. I have mentioned this before on this blog but Whites has come out with a new PI machine that works with a smaller loop and has shown very good results for cache and relic hunters.

One of the lesser known detectors for cache hunting isn’t really a detector. The company that makes it refers to it as a metal locator and that’s exactly what it does. The Schondstedt is used by surveyors and pipe companies. It will only locate iron and steel but it’s the best machine out there for finding ferrous metals. It’s small, light and simple to use and it will find a ¾ inch round pipe at a depth of nine feet every day, all day.

Besides the two-box, pulse induction and the Schondstedt you also can choose from several more extremely pricey machines such as ground penetrating radar, cesium magnetometers and electro-magnetic induction tools. You’ll probably have to rob a bank or find a treasure before you can afford one of these so I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about them. I will say that all of these are very specialized machines and require a lot of time using them to accurately interpret the data they present you with.

This is by no means a complete catalog of the different types of detectors out there but it will get you started. It also ends Part I of this article.

Please remember that although we aren’t “experts” (between all of the contributors on this blog we have over 90 years of experience in treasure hunting) we will gladly try to help you with any questions that you may have so please feel free to e-mail us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not a relic yet but I'm getting there ...