Metal Detecting Articles
njminerals.org is mainly about [what else?] mineral collecting,
but Treasure Hunting is somewhat related, so here goes...
The Tesoro Silver Micromax does look like a toy, if only a bit. It's really small and light. Can there really be any power in that little control box?
Yes, there can, and there is. Furthermore, in my opinion, the build quality is far superior to the rest of the sub-$300 detectors on the market.
In this price range, I don't think there's any contest. The Silver offers the best depth of the three or four well-known units I can think of. Sure, for the same price you can get a bells-and-whistles metal detector, which can also be lots of fun, but just remember that selling gadgets is a fixed-sum game: where one category gets more, another category has to get less. If you want it all, it costs more money. Some people consider a digital readout very important. There's nothing wrong with that. It comes down to what you want most from a machine.
The Silver uMax goes for performance. It also has the distinction of being the lightest unit on the market from any of the big makers (Fisher, Garrett, Tesoro, White's, Minelab).
While some of the other Tesoros have gone with the web coil as standard, the Silver comes with an 8" donut-shaped concentric. It's like the Tiger Shark's coil, but more colorful. What I like about this type of coil is its ease of pinpointing. If you are familiar with the traditional 2-axis pinpoint method (you should be, if you metal detect), then you can understand how nice it is to have a perfectly round coil with a perfectly round hole in the center.
This kind of coil is really the best type for a newbie who's trying to learn to pinpoint.
The Silver also has dials. I like a machine with dials. Touch-pads are OK, I guess, but dials have that analog adjustment you just can't get with anything else. The Silver has the dials, but it doesn't have so many that a newbie would get confused. Only two, here.
The batteries... there's only one! This machine gets a crazy amount of field time from just a single 9-volt. Get a super heavy duty alkaline 9V battery, and you're all set.
Can This Hound Hunt?
I took the Silver uMax to a spot where I knew some coins were dropped within the past couple decades. It was also littered with .22 shell casings... so many that you could probably mine them for scrap metal.
Could the Silver uMax handle it?
Yes, it could.
I'd dug up a .22 case and one larger shell case. Turning up the disc knob until the larger case began to give a broken signal (somewhere around "Zinc 1 Cent"), I was ready to hunt for coins.
From then on, I found several clad coins in the span of maybe ten or twenty minutes. All were four to five inches deep. I thought that was awfully deep for coins dropped in 1976-1980! The detector gave nice, solid, "round" signals on all of them.
Then we went to a place where metal detectors have bad dreams: a patch of soil where almost everything good was beyond the range of even the most expensive units. The mighty Tejon found a 1960's pulltab at about 11 inches (measured)... a brutish, nasty excursion into the bowels of the earth, where the tab was down in the side of the [very deep] hole, tucked firmly back under some hard-wedged rocks. I think it took 30 minutes just to recover that one pulltab. Perhaps fill dirt had been brought in at some point? Anyway, the Silver did find something at that place... an old Ball mason jar lid, with an intact milk-glass disc. Depth was about 10 inches.
We moved to another site where an acquaintance had hunted with his detector in the late 80's. The Silver uMax started finding clad coins and memorial cents from the late 60's, especially in a patch where there had been a picnic table.
I noticed an old apple tree. This site just had to be older than the clad era, going back into the silver age at least. I was certain the other guy who'd been there years ago couldn't have found everything. Well, I was right. My first signal near the tree was nice, smooth, and "round"... and it turned out to be a 1928 Mercury dime.
A few days later, I tried the Silver uMax at another site. This was one I had swept numerous times with two other detectors. Could the Silver find anything there? It sure could!
I was surprised at how little junk it found relative to the good targets. Now, your mileage may vary, but it was starting to look to though the rumors were true... this here was a great little coin finder.
Of course, every detector will give a good signal on certain types of old iron. Not even the top-priced units are immune to the occasional bent square nail or the chunk of "big iron". However, at this old site known to be littered with both, the Silver uMax gave a surprisingly high ratio of good targets to junk. I had only about two hours to hunt before dinnertime. Such a short hunt could just as easily have turned into a square-nail fest... but it didn't.
With just two objects in the true "junk" category (deep motor oil can tops, this time), I came away with three coins including a 1923 wheat cent and a 1908 Indian head cent, as well as several 19th Century relics: an oval buckle, a three-piece button, an ornate suspender clip, a nicer-quality square nail (bent), and a mystery relic of "big iron" that is going into an electrolysis bath. On a side note, I decided I don't like spray lacquer too much, so this one's getting my usual regimen of a few 20% tannin treatments (20 g tannic acid, 15 mL alcohol, 85 mL water) followed by an oven drying and a final sealing with conservation wax. Catalogued and labeled, and we're all set. That's one more iron relic that won't have to disintegrate into a cloud of rust in the ground.
By the way, the pinpointing on the Silver uMax turned out to be so good, especially when the switch was set to "all metal", that I had no problem sticking a brass coin probe right onto the faces of the buried coins, a good five inches down, on the first attempt. As I said before, the good ol' "donut coil" is still the best design for pinpointing.
While the under-$300 "bell-and-whistle"-type detectors can certainly give plenty of enjoyment, the Silver uMax has the kind of performance that can keep up with you as you get more advanced and start seeking the deeper, fainter targets.
After using it for a while, I can now say I've found some coins deeper than 6 inches with the Silver uMax. Others also report that 6 to 10 inch finds are well within its reach. Just remember that VLF detectors don't work very well on freshly-buried coins.
Consider picking up a 12x10 web concentric for the Silver at some time down the road, and you can squeeze even more performance out of this fun little machine. (If you just want to skip right to the deepest-seeking Tesoro detector, get the Tejon... click here for a detailed review.)
What else can I say... I love the Silver uMax. You can help me keep this free site going by buying yours through this link or any of the other sponsored links on this page.
Thanks for visiting!
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