The Silver Bullet Syndrome…

While I’m trying to get motivated…a repeat post from May 2015….holds true today!


I’ve noticed that I get the most visitors to my blog whenever I talk metal detectors or post photos/videos of finds. On the flip side, if I talk about archaeologists, organizing the pastime, or simply piss and moan (which is a forte of mine), the numbers go down. 

I get the photo/video thing….no need to tax the ole brain, but when it comes to discussing detectors, I am guessing it’s the “silver bullet syndrome.”  You are looking for that one clue, one tip or secret that will turn you into Indiana Jones. The ever elusive silver bullet.

Well I hate to disappoint, but there is no silver bullet.  No magic formula or hidden secret. Likewise the basics haven’t changed much over the past forty years.  You turn it on, set the ground balance, discrimination, threshold, desired frequency and you scan your coil. Shazam! You are a treasure hunter.


Apparently too everyone is looking for that one detector that does it all.  The hippest, coolest, meanest looking, bad-assed, machine on the market. The one that “Billy Bob” or “San Francisco Sam” uses to find all that bling!  Well here too I hate to disappoint you, but it really comes down to how much money you have to spend, how much time you are willing to put in learning your detector, and how thoroughly you research.  I think the detectorist who spends a lot of time in the field learning the nuances of his MXT-Pro, is just as adept and skillful as the tekkie doing the same thing with his E-Trac, AT-Pro or F75.  Where he or she uses it is the key.

And you know my feelings about coils. I don’t care what they look like or where they come from. Round, oval, square, closed, open, domestic, imported, organic, whatever.  Bottom line, the small is for trashy areas, the large for cleaner sites that don’t offer many signals and the mid-sized works for almost all your other needs. Of course if you want to get caught up in the hype, no problem. Have at it.  I did at one time. Today, I think we “imagine” a specific coil is better because we bought the hype, spent the money, and as a result, it WILL be better. Nothing wrong with the power of positive thinking. Same thing happens when you buy a new detector…

Difficult soils will certainly play a big part in your success or lack thereof, but that’s why there’s ground balance, ground grab, whatever. Depending on where you live, you may have to continually monitor and change the settings, but that’s life. Que sera, sera. The alternative? Move! Nothing complicated about sensitivity or gain either. The higher you set it the better your depth (the more unstable your audio), the lower you set it the more shallow your detection range.

When I hear a faint response, but can’t get a decent readout on my MXT, I will move my threshold down below audible, crank the sensitivity up and try to force a more stable number.

Accessories? Whatever your little heart desires. I don’t use a pinpointer because I have never had difficulty pinpointing. Headphones? A necessity IMO, but the only requirement I have is that they have individual volume controls, AND I refuse to pay a lot of money for them. Otherwise I use a Lesche digger, cheap carpenter’s apron and carry a small drop cloth. Finally, if you think dressing in camo will help you find more treasure, most certainly go for it.  Wear face paint, and put a few twigs in your hat if you want. I personally think it negatively impacts how others see us. We are hobbyists, NOT an occupation force.

So here you go….MY SILVER BULLET

(1)Buy a detector you can afford, (2) learn it inside out, (3) research your locale, county and state, (4) go detecting, and last but not least, (5) HAVE FUN.

It’s not rocket science!



There’s has to be a point, or cutoff, when someone posts a photo of a UFO (unidentified metal object) on a forum, asking what it is.  I mean come on, after fifty wild ass guesses someone needs to call time and say this is a POS (as in piece of sh*t).  I know the finds are scarce, but jeezus, not every single item you find is museum quality.




Filed under Metal Detecting

23 responses to “The Silver Bullet Syndrome…


    Dick this is a blow. I was hoping that you were going to spill the beans!!! Talking of detectors thus far the best machine I’ve used having an excellent ability to reveal artefacts rather than lots of dross has been the Nokta Fors Core that I stupidly sold. I’m just hoping that the Impact which replaced it is as good. The former machine was relatively basic and didn’t have all the bells and whistles to mess with which is why I suspect that for a relative newbie like myself it did the job. It beeped and I dug. I will of course adhere to my previous tactics of using the programs as is apart from adjusting the sensitivity and discrimination. All the best, John

  2. Ed Brozyna

    I have to admit that back a long time ago I caved into the hype and bought a “Jimmy Sierra” BIGFOOT coil but will never buy those $149 “Designer” Headphones.

  3. Don Mituzas

    I like your silver bullet. It’s just that simple.

  4. Tony

    Wow, thanks for the Heads Up! I always thought the Silver Bullet came in a silver can with one of those crazy Pop Tops! Yeah, it’s made out west, somewhere in the Rockies.

    You know Dick, at one point early on – I always wanted to buy a Two Box unit. At least I told myself that I would buy the second part after I learned the detector well enough. Then it hit me – Where could I use a Two Box unit and how would I hold it up for more then TEN Minutes……forgetaboutit… they say in Brooklyn

    • Tony the Silver Bullet you’re thinking of was made by Coors…

      When I worked for Garrett we used to sell those two box units (Bloodhounds)to Mexicans and I was always curious why they wanted one and where they were going to take it.

  5. “…but there is no silver bullet. No magic formula or hidden secret.”

    How can you write such stuff…you know as well as me, that all anyone has to do is go on YOOTOOB and bingo! Instant success. Even quicker if one shells out $1,600 for the latest bit of kit.

    Research? Local knowledge? Pah, phooey! It’s pure co-incidence that people who spend hours in research find more than most.

    • Unfortunately Bubba this kind of thinking takes years of experience and wasted spending. Now it’s “if he or she uses it it must be great”….

  6. Mar

    😖truth is the best but some times it
    hurts a bit.

  7. Exactly right, Dick! Among certain groups, which I won’t name, hereabouts, one person has done very well with his insanely expensive Minelab CTX 3030, digging gold, silver, coins and relics by the truckload. As a result, a massive rush to purchase said machine has ensued with predictable results…nada. When asked, most have admitted that they wanted a machine that would find them the same sort of treasure this individual has been finding, or more to the point, that the DETECTOR would find them. The individual that DOES find all the treasure, coins, relics et al, told me he has spent hours researching sites, and doing the physical reconnaissance required to locate pockets of treasure that otherwise would never be found. The mantra that the most fancy machine STILL won’t find what’s NOT there is true, and in this particular case, a fact. Good post Dick…even though it’s a re-tread, still holds true today!

    • Jim today there are individuals who are shills for certain detector manufacturers and unfortunately the average tekkie can’t seem to seem to see through the over-the-top praise being heaped on that given brand. And as you said they don’t understand the time and effort the user put in to find those cool treasures. Kinda like “if I buy those golf clubs Tiger uses I can become a pro”….

      And for the record I am a retread!!


    You’ve got to walk over it no matter how good the detector is. Will that fit on a t-shirt? Reminds me of City Slickers and the “one thing”.

    Some of the stuff on YouTube……………I have learnt some useful stuff but that’s mainly from reading though I suspect that is a lost art with many of the wanna be vloggers.

    Never mind it’s sunny here in Eastbourne and tomorrow I’m out digging at whatever beeps at me. All the best, John


    Brilliant. Jack Palance, legend.

  10. Tony

    Guy walks into a bar with a trade dollar. Nice looking coin, where did you get it? He says he found it with his old whites detector! Who needs a new machine he says, you just need new research……ouch…..he was right. Just as you said Dick, it’s simple we make it difficult.

    • Tony we think the solution is to throw more money into it and the finds will increase…that’s a fallacy IMO.

      Personally I need to get over to the library and see what else I can find about this area…maybe tomorrow.

  11. Tony

    Yeah, I have made up my mind last night thanks to “Seeing is Believing” that Trade Dollar. Best of luck in your research!

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