In this blog I’ll give you some thoughts and info on how to choose the right metal detector. The models covered are the Bounty Hunter Junior, Challenger, Lone Star, and Teknetics Delta 4000 and Gamma 6000.
Detector cost is a consideration, but perhaps not “the” most important factor in choosing a detector. You should consider the amount of time you intend to spend exploring, the type or value of objects you want to find, and the types of terrain you will explore.
Metal detecting can mean relic hunting, coin search, wet and dry sand beach combing, gold prospecting and yes - even meteorite hunting. As the saying goes - “you never know”, and that’s where the fun and excitement of metal detection lies.
Some useful detector terminology will be useful as you read through this blog.
DISCRIMINATION - When the detector emits different tones for different metals or when the detector "eliminates" certain metals from detection, we refer to this as detector "discrimination".
NOTCH - Notching is the elimination of an item, or range of items, within the metallic spectrum. We can “notch-out” an object, or objects, selectively. Un-notched objects higher and lower on the metallic spectrum can be still be located.
GROUND BALANCE - Ground balancing is the detector’s ability to ignore, or "see through," the earth’s naturally occurring minerals, and only sound a tone when a metal object is detected. The models covered here offer pre-set, manual, and automatic ground balancing capabilities.
With these definitions in mind, let’s review several models offered by Bass Pro Shops.
Model: Bounty Hunter Junior
Coil size: 6.5 inch search coil
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Power: requires two 9v batteries
The Bounty Hunter Junior is designed for kids to learn basic detection skills. It provide kids withthe fun of finding metal objects with enough coins mixed in to make it interesting. To give you an idea of Junior’s abilities, let’s consider real field tests on a typical beach. Junior can locate pull-tops and bottle caps about 1 to 5 inches under the sand. Junior is capable of locating pennies, nickels, and dimes depending on ground conditions, depth, size and composition of the objects. A typical beach searcher may find far more bottle tops and pull tabs than coins, but that’s also dependent on luck, and as your bare feet have already taught you, there’s always more pull-tabs and bottle caps under the sand than coins. But that won’t diminish a kid’s anticipation of finding “ buried treasure” each time he or she hears Junior’s audio tones. This model has a 27 inch search pole and weighs in at an easily manageable 1.5 lbs. Audible sound increases as the target gets closer. The unit features very simple detection controls. Junior is a very affordable and exciting way to introduce a young person to the fun and excitement of treasure hunting.
Model: Bounty Hunter Challenger
Coil Size: 7 inch waterproof search coil
Power: requires two 9v batteries
This model is intended for adults who want to learn basic metal detection at an affordable cost. Challenger features include automatic ground balancing. dual-tone discrimination, sensitivity control, dual mode operation, with an intensity meter. Challenger detects all metals through dirt, rock, wood, and mud.
Model: Bounty Hunter Lone Star
Coil Size: 8 inch waterproof search coil
Weight: 5 lbs
Power: requires two 9v batteries; 40 hours continuous battery use
Lone Star typically gets very favorable reviews with explorers often stating this model out-performs similar detectors in its class, and even some higher-priced detectors.
Lone Star is capable of locating nickels at 4-6” depth, and able to tell the difference between dimes, nickels, and quarters from the sound and size of the target response. It’s all-metal option sets the detector to max sensitivity for all types of metals.
Lone Star has an 8” waterproof coil and is able to probe small puddles without damaging the detector. It also has 3-tone audio feedback for specific target ID, sensitivity control to reduce electromagnetic interference, discrimination, and notch control to eliminate unwanted metals. A headphone jack is present for privacy and increased battery life without drawing more battery power with speaker use. The unit weighs more than Junior or Challenger. However, if superior performance outweighs cost and weight, Lone Star is a good choice!
Model: Teknetics Delta 4000
Coil Size: 8 inch open-face search coil system
Weight: just over 2 lbs
Power: one 9v batteries; 20 to 25 hours continuous battery use.
Delta 4000 is an efficient detector with a number of useful features that allow you to customize your search. Two very useful on-screen features are the depth indicator and target identification indicator. These readouts allow you to quickly determine probable target composition and depth.
The depth indicator is a 5 segment stacked bar readout which works well for coin-size objects; large and irregular objects might yield less reliable depth readings. If the first segment of the 5 bars is illuminated the object is detected at 0-2” below ground surface. Each additional illuminated bar indicates a probable increase of 1 to 2 inches greater depth.
The target identification display is located in the middle of the screen and is a large two-digit numeric readout that works best for coin detection. For example, a number value between 10 and 39 indicates the target likely has an iron composition. A numeric value between 56 to 60 indicates a detected nickel; a value between 80 and 85 indicates a dime, and a value between 86 and 90 would indicate a quarter.
Delta 4000 uses an easy to read icon system at the bottom of the screen for notch elimination of iron, foil, 5 nickel, aluminum, zinc, a dime, a quarter, or a fifty cent piece.
Other features include a 3-level battery indicator, preset ground balance, 3 tone audio discrimination, sensitivity adjustment, discrimination adjustment, and a headphone jack. In the Delta 4000’s all metal mode, you can still adjust the sensitivity and target Identification giving more flexibility than less expensive models.
Delta 4000 is a good way to begin learning and exploring at an intermediate-or-advanced level of detection at an affordable price.
Model: Teknetics Gamma 6000
Coil Size: 8 inch open-face search coil system
Weight: 3.6 lbs
Power: one 9v battery; 20 to 25 hours continuous battery use
Gamma 6000 for the most part offers similar menu-mode adjustment routines as Delta 4000. However, the Gamma 6000 offers more sophisticated auto and manual ground balance settings, which helps compensate for ground conditions with more metal or ferrite composition that would tend to obscure desired objects, or conversely confuse less expensive detectors. Ground balancing can be applied to both search modes, as well as motion discriminate and non-motion all-metal mode.
Along with the convenient features of target ID and depth indicators, found in Delta 4000, other features include ground mineralization readout, push-button interface, tone discrimination, 79 levels of adjustable discrimination, multiple notches selectable by categories, audio pitch proportional to signal strength, and ground grab which allows calibration to the type of ground you are searching.
Like other Teknetics models, the Gamma 6000 doesn’t retain adjustments you’ve made on the fly, so each power up allows you to tweak settings to field conditions. As I mentioned in the beginning of the blog, the capability to customize your detector for changing environments, and desired targets may provide much more satisfaction over the long haul as you develop detection skills.
So to wrap this up, the low cost and simplicity of “turn on and go” detectors are great for children and beginner explorers. Detectors requiring more thought and planning may give you, with a little time and patience, a much higher level of satisfaction and rewards, with the potential for making some great finds! But no matter what your choice, the thrill and possibility of finding treasure just a few inches under your feet, makes this hobby thrilling for explorers of any age.
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