First off, perish the thought of only having ONE detector! However, for most of us, one detector is all we can afford. I’m lucky in that I’ve made some really good deals in the last few years that have allowed me to have multiple detectors, but it certainly wasn’t always that way!
If you’re like me, you dream of types detecting you either can’t, or rarely get to do. Reading forum posts or blogs like this, you hear about people finding gold nuggets out west, jewelry at some beautiful beach somewhere, civil war relics, items from previous civilizations, or rare old coins in historic locations. The tantalizing aspect of many of these tales is the ‘just out of reach’ aspect. Myself, living in Texas, Arizona isn’t THAT far away, nor are the east coast beaches, lost trading posts in the Midwest, or even civil war battlefields. However, if I spent a ton on multiple specialty detectors, I wouldn’t have enough money left to take them to those places! Again, I’ll note the exception that I do have one, highly specialized detector that I got a screaming deal on and sold a big ticket item that I also got a screaming deal on, to afford that machine. Due to the near impossibility of ever being able to replace that machine, it would take drastic circumstances to force me to sell it.
A little of everything
Ok, so you find yourself wanting to do a lot of different things with the one machine you can barely afford, but are willing to stretch to get. So how do you decide which one? I’m going to answer this in the best way I can, keeping it as short as possible-ready? Can you hear the drum roll? Here goes..
THE MINELAB EQUINOX 800.
Boom. I can hear the Deus users bristling, the Garrett owners fussing, Whites and Fisher users and every other brand-loyal detectorist just decided to unfollow me – but hear me out!
The first bit of advice experienced detectorists will offer when a newbie asks ‘which machine’ is simply, ‘what or where do you intend to hunt?’ This is a very reasoned and valid question, and if your answer is only one type of hunting – underwater, salt beach, goldfields, relic hunting, or coin shooting in a park, then it would be easy to pick one machine that will ‘smash it’ in those environments. But remember what I started with? IF you want to do a little of all types of hunting, here’s why the Equinox wins, ACCORDING TO ME:
-waterproof to 10′
-multi frequency operation, selectable single frequencies, both low and high
-moderately customizable programs
-multiple factory programs that are GOOD for every environment you want to hunt
-ground tracking or manual ground balance
So what does all that mean? Well, if I want to hunt saltwater beaches, the multi frequency operation allows me to do so without the constant chatter and unstable operation that a single frequency machine suffers from. If it’s gold nuggets I’m after, not only is there a prospecting program, but the higher frequency is a necessity in the goldfields. If I’m relic hunting, I may or may not need multiple frequencies, so I can select from one of several single frequencies to better target what I think I may find, such as coins or buttons, etc. The waterproof capability of the machine means I can hunt swim beaches without worry, out to depths past where 90% of people ‘playing in the water’ will go. There are other features to like with Equinox as well, but in a nutshell, this machine has you covered for anything you want to hunt, up to the point that specialized equipment is required. And it does all this with very little user interaction being necessary. Can you fiddle with it and tweak the performance? Yes, you can, but it’s usually not needed.
For those whose hackles are still raised I want you to understand that I’m not saying other machines are BAD. In fact, here’s a list of general purpose machines that I’ve owned and LOVED, but didn’t have ‘go everywhere’ capability-
XP Deus-#1, hands down lightest machine out there, the Aussies would call it a ‘RIPPER’, and totally wireless! Not waterproof. Extremely customizable programming.
AT Pro-great general purpose machine with good depth, fast recovery, extremely capable in most scenarios. Can’t handle mineralized salt beach well, nor extreme goldfield mineralization. Allows slight customization in programming.
Minelab CTX3030-the powerhouse. Does it all minus the specific prospecting programming/frequency. Extremely customizable programming, and the best discrimination of any machine.
Short list, I know! NOW, here are some specialized machines that I’ve owned and loved-
Minelab Excalibur-this is still my all time favorite Minelab machine, no screen, speaks it’s own language, waterproof to 200′, undisputed saltwater beach powerhouse.
Minelab SDC2300-folds up for backpack carry, ergonomics are decent, great in mineralization that even other PI machines struggle with. If you don’t find gold with it, it’s just not there!
Garrett Sea Hunter MKII-crazy deep detecting in saltwater environment, waterproof to 200′
Tesoro Tiger Shark-freshwater gold killer, waterproof to 200′
Others I have owned or tried but didn’t keep-
Minelab Xterra 705
Tesoro Silver uMax
Garrett Ace 150 and 250
Minelab Go Find 60
Minelab Explorer SE Pro
So as mentioned, the Equinox 800 is the ONE detector, if you can have only one, that I recommend. If saltwater beaches or underwater operation, or the goldfields are not interesting to you, there are other great machines that can fill most of the other needs, including many from the above list. Again, remember, even though the machine sells for around $800, the ability to do more types of hunting saves you money-a LOT of money-in the long run! The decision is yours to make, and I recommend lots of research outside this post! Good luck!