Metal Detecting Articles

Review of the
Tesoro Tejon, then and now

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After originally having tried the Tesoro Tejón for only a couple of months, I told myself (way back then) that it was my favorite detector. 

Then, later, I read a bunch of different comments on the forums and  thought perhaps there were better detectors out there for me.   That happens on the Internet... you read these little blurbs and anecdotes on the forums and think maybe you're missing out on something.

I tried fancy digital machines.  At first, I assumed they really did provide more information.  I soon found that notion to be debatable.  Doubtful, even.

Looking back, there is and was really no comparison.  We're going to see why the Tejon is still, without a doubt, "the best detector I ever used".  



Single vs. Multi-Pitch Audio

Yes, the Tejon is a one-tone, beep-dig machine.  No, that kind of detector is not for everyone.  Some people want LCD displays and multi-pitch audio.    However, after having put in plenty of time on the multi-tone audio machines (ranging from Minelab, to Teknetics and Fisher, to Tesoro's own Golden uMax), I have decided something:
 
I neither need nor want multi-pitch audio, especially on a Tesoro.   OK, let's clarify that.  A Minelab Explorer wouldn't be right without tones, while a Tesoro Tejon just wouldn't be right with them.  (The Golden is a pretty sweet detector for coinshooting, though, so I guess I can deal with the tones there.)

Thanks to the dual discrimination on the Tejon, I believe that I can correctly pick out "good" targets with as much accuracy as just about any metered machine on the market.   In fact, I've found multiple audio pitches to be distracting, and I find them to be misleading on the deeper targets due to what I call "iron shift" (a subject I'll discuss later).

People who prefer analog devices-- radios and phonographs, for example-- often say that analog has subtleties a digital device cannot re-create.  I would have to agree.  There's not even a doubt.  To re-create those subtleties with digital, you'd (A.) have to be able to identify every one of them correctly, and (B.) make a reliable algorithm to fake simulate every one of them.  That's a lot of excess processing just to do what analog can already do.  And when you're done simulating those subtle qualities, it probably still won't be right.

Just as real tractors are red, so real metal detectors are analog.  That's because oscillation and coil tuning are inherently analog features.  Even though the Tejon has integrated circuits, it is not a "digital" metal detector.   It does not use a bunch of computer algorithms to mess with the signal.  You adjust everything with a potentiometer (knob), which is how it should be. 

I want to clarify something here, because I don't think I was clear enough in the original article.  Many people (including myself) think of integrated circuits as "digital" parts.   Yep, I referred to IC's as digital, because when I think of "analog" I think of vacuum tubes and wax-paper capacitors.  However, that's a misnomer.  There is nothing intrinsically "digital" about IC's, unless they are in fact digital ones (and not all of them are).   They're just smaller, integrated versions of various "macro" circuits, many of which are not digital at all.  There are numerous types of analog IC's:  op-amps and 555's are probably the best known.  I'd even bet there's an op-amp or three in the Tejon, though don't expect the manufacturers to go handing out schematics to just anyone.

One more thing I want to add:  the Tejon generates its operating frequency by way of a tank circuit, which again is a classic analog circuit.   Starting to look like a pattern yet?


Above: ONE CENT, and she's a big 'un. To me, this is what makes a great day. This was five inches deep and gave a loud signal, even when the coil was held a good five or six inches off the ground.


Diggin' The Deepies

There is nothing about a digital-style machine that inherently reaches deeper into the ground than an analog-style one.  Digital target ID's (etc) are layers placed on top of the core functionality of the detector.   As targets become deeper, these additional layers of information become less reliable.  The detector will still find the deep targets, but what it tells you about them becomes less useful... at least for a beginner.   (In fairness to digital aficionados, there are nuances to those machines which can also be learned with many hours of use.  For example, on the Minelab Explorer series, even the way the cursor bounces around can tell you something about a target.  Sometimes.)

Deeply-buried targets begin to sound more and more like iron, the deeper they get.  When they're deep enough, they might as well all be square nails or iron washers, as far as you can tell.  I call this "iron shift";  the deeper the target, the more its conductivity seems displaced toward the iron end of the spectrum.  Its actual conductivity is the same as it always was;  what matters is what the detector tells you.  

Those targets that yield obviously good "high tones" on (say) a Minelab are generally going to yield an obviously good, solid tone on the Tejon.   (In my new book there's a more thorough comparison of these two types of detectors.)

Conversely, the "iffy" targets that yield only a partially good "high-tone" response on other machines will also tend to yield "iffy" or broken signals on the Tejon.  However, the Tejon user has the advantage of simply thumbing down the discrimination knob and now getting a smoother signal.   If you know how to use iron shift to your advantage, you can benefit from this.

If it's deep and it comes in above "iron", dig it.  That's what relic hunters do.  Watching ID's bounce around on a digital meter is just going to make me not want to dig something.

It's worth taking note, however, that the Tejon's discrimination does reach down to the edge of detection depth.  You can disc out deep stuff, if you want to.  Just keep in mind the "iron shift", though.  The net result is that, if you get a signal that seems deep and is still giving you a smooth tone with the knob at "Tabs", then you ought to dig it.  The Tejon can disc out deep pulltabs, but some of the  better targets-- such as silver dimes-- might not give a really good "silver" signal until you dig a few inches of soil out of the way. 

One night I felt struck with the detecting bug.  I grabbed the Tejon and suited up in warm clothing.  There were easily three inches of snow on the ground.  Ridiculous, I know.  So, after 'tectin for a little while, I got a slightly broken signal and started digging.  I dug out the sides of the hole;  it was still down there.  I checked everywhere in the hole with a pinpointer.  Nope, still down there.  I kept digging.  It was actually pretty miserable, because my gloves got soaked with wet, freezing mud.  Everything was covered in the slimy mud.  If I didn't have plastic bags over the Tejon and my pinpointer, they'd probably be toast.  Cold toast.

It proved to be a square nail, fully twelve inches below the soil surface (to this add two or three inches, thanks to the snow).  It was an isolated drop, with no other signals nearby.  Who gets excited about a deep nail?  Well, no one, but think of it this way:  that could have been anything down there.   (That same evening I found a single Indian Head cent, surrounded by the brass frame of a little change purse... the cloth long since disintegrated.)

Since I've used the Tejon for a long time, I've found that its depth is not just an anomaly.  This is a depth monster.



So, Does It Find Coins, Or What?

The Tejon is pretty easy to learn, but it takes some skill to master (see the book, advertised at the bottom of this page).  However, you can learn to find stuff with it pretty quickly.  Some people do extremely well with it. There's a guy on one of the treasure forums who found over 10,000 coins with his Tejon... in one season.  That's not a typo.  Ten-thousand coins.  

The sites I frequent don't have many coins, so I can't claim any impressive totals like the one above.  (I have found a lot of coins with the Tejon, but not 10,000.)   Mostly I poke around and dig relics.  I like to keep all the history together, so I will hunt a site for as long as it takes, even if it means only finding one flat button in two or three hunts.  That's just me. 

This detector, though, will certainly find the coins if they're there.  When I have taken this machine to places where there are a lot of coins (around the edge of a sports field, for example), the Tejon proved to be a coin magnet. 

I was detecting across a cornfield one afternoon, and after having dug one too many pieces of aluminum scrap in search of flat buttons, I happened across a very nice signal that didn't break up or clip on my high Disc 2 setting.  "That has to be a coin," I thought.  Judging from its signal quality and loudness, I figured it was a larger coin.

It was.  A quarter.  Not old, but it could have been.   When you get good with a Tejon, you will get that anticipation for certain targets before you dig them.  When you've put in a lot of practice with this machine, it's like having a meter just by listening to the sound.  But it's a meter that only you can read, because to a beginner it will all sound the same.

The Tejon was designed for the relic-hunter's style of detecting;  however, once you have it mastered, this thing is a coin monster as well.


Parting Thoughts  /  Where To Buy

For me, the Tejon is positively, no question about it, my favorite metal detector of all time.   If it sounds good to you, too, you might be wondering "Where can I buy a Tejon", and "Who has the best price?"

Right now (2013) the best advertised price on the Tejon is just under $595.   You can get one through this link.  If you have a Kindle reader, I think you'll also really like my new ebook (more info here;  purchase here). 

No matter what detector you buy, you're going to need a good digging tool and a good pinpointer.  The Lesche digger and the Garrett Pro-Pointer are among the best in their respective categories.

If you buy your detector & accessories through the links on this page, you can really help me keep this website going, and I can keep bringing you the best in metal detector reviews and articles. 
Thanks for reading!

-CHRIS








 












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