No Such Thing…


I started detecting back in the 70’s and one constant that’s still around today is the debate over which detector is the best. Back then it didn’t matter what machine your buddy was using or what he was finding yours was better. Or at least YOU thought so. The head to head, mine is deeper comparisons usually resulted in exchanges like “Well you can’t compare a TR to a BFO” or “Maybe here but I’d kick your ass in my backyard” or“not fair, you have a more expensive machine” et al….

The battle for supremacy and being king of the hill was ongoing and losing it was cause for reflection, retaliation and sometimes even a new detector. Yup it hurt to think that Bubba’s machine went deeper than yours and it made you study those magazine ads again. Worse yet you worried that you were leaving a lot of good stuff in the ground.

This argument continues today and it’s not unique to our pastime. People will draw battle lines over all kinds ridiculous things – which pickup truck is the best, which golf clubs are best and even which fast food chain makes the best burger. We love to argue, we love to compete and we love to be the best. The problem however is that there are no real defined winners when it comes to the “best detector” and anyone who says otherwise is just blowing smoke.


Today’s metal detecting buzzwords? Nox, Simplex, Vanquish and Deus. Why? Well because Minelab, Nokta and XP know how to market. They know how to get your undivided attention and they know how to get the word out that there’s something new and something extra special about to hit the market. More importantly they get you to put your buying plans on hold and tease you with ads and videos until you can’t stand it. Then when the much anticipated product finally does show up (via Skydivers, mermaids and stallions) you’re placing your order, field testing and reviews be damned.


Social media, as in Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, also play a big, big part in this debate as well. Certain makes and models get their share of glowing endorsements and compliments via company spokespeople/personalities/entertainers (take your pick). Their posts, their comments, their videos and yes even their appearance (a wink and a little cleavage never hurts) is worth a lot to a manufacturer. They appear at events, have a huge following and add a lot to the “best detector” debate. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two have more videos than you have finds…

The rock star factor (from top, left to right) Beau Ouimette, Jocelyn Elizabeth. Dominque Ivy and Brandon Niece…

Remember too the older, rarer treasures you see these tekkies recover are not always because they’re using brand X detector but because they happen to be in an area that offers up a greater chance of finding them and because ‘somehow’ they seem to get out detecting every single day, or at least it seems so.


Now I’m pretty sure a lot of you would chime in and share you experience testing your detector against a particular make and model but how did it do against ALL the others out there? Was the competition VLF vs. VLF or PI vs PI? Might your opponent have kicked your ass if the competition was held where he or she lives? And what exactly were you looking for? Coins, relics, beach swag, nuggets? Would your detector still come out on top in every category?

You have to also factor in user expertise. You (or your opponent) might have the most expensive detector on the market today with every damn bell and whistle imaginable but do you know how to put them to good use? Do you know how to set up and use all the programs, functions, touchpads, switches and combinations? I’m guessing probably not. Oh I know you’ve been using it for over a year now and you’ve found a lot of great things but might a newbie with a Simplex or an Ace have found them too if they were hunting with you? Sorry, just way too many variables….

So what do I think is the best detector on the market? It’s the one that’s lightweight, easy to use and the one I can afford. Yup, not going into debt when there’s a damn good chance I could find exactly what you’re finding if I too just happen to “walk over it”. As for my user expertise? It’s based on the “been there, done that and know better” philosophy.




Filed under Metal Detecting

14 responses to “No Such Thing…

  1. Bob Sickler

    Oh boy, where do I begin… I think the best detector in the world is you and the amount of time spent researching a productive huntsite… When you get there, it’s how well you know how to use that detector you chose… Then we have people who possess an extra natural affinity or instinct to find lost items… Then comes people who can formulate logical scenarios in their mind on how items were lost hundreds of years ago… Then concentrate and follow through on that thought… Trust me, there is a lot more to it than just reading or watching a metal detector advertisement.

    • “Trust me, there is a lot more to it than just reading or watching a metal detector advertisement….”

      Bob wasn’t implying that at all. Was just talking about the machine itself and what people “perceive” as the best.

      • Bob Sickler

        Dick… What I was implying is that the detector is only 50% of the equation. What really separates people who are successful is not the detector they use, it is their acquired and intrinsic skills. People should pick metal detectors based on their individual needs such as ergonomics, weight, frequency vs. metal affinity, display visibility, sensitivity, and ease of comprehension…. Not what any manufacturer thinks you should have!

      • Understand Bob and agree 100%. Unfortunately many buy detectors based on ads and what they see others using.

  2. Tony

    Good article.
    The best Detector is the one you understand the best! In my opinion –

  3. Rick

    Always enjoy your articles, Dick. Keep ’em coming, please!

  4. njfella007

    Dick, been awhile, hope all is well 🙂 There’s a saying that’s very common with photographers: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” Don’t know why, but your post made me think of that.

    As Bob said, location is king in this game. Amen! The most expensive/advanced detector on the market won’t find treasure that isn’t there. It’s not a magic wand.

    Thinking back to when I entered this hobby 12 years ago, here’s the succession of machines I’ve hunted with since then…

    Started with a Whites MXT. Sold it and bought a Minelab Safari. Sold that and got an original Los Banos Fisher CZ-3D. Sold it and picked up a Teknetics Omega, and then an Ace 250 (don’t ask lol). Then bought another Safari, before finally moving into an Etrac. Think I tried an F75 too, but only for a few weeks…we didn’t gel. Sold the Etrac earlier this winter and got an Explorer 2 (a 17 year old machine).

    Why all the buying & selling you ask? Sometime finances were tight and the detector had to go. That also dictated my choice of machines on one or two occasions. Other times I fell into the grass is always greener thing, where I just KNEW that the latest gizmo would up the goodies in my pouch. And at other times, it was because I’d hunt with someone and be impressed with how well a unit worked. And a myriad of other reasons. But the common thread is…

    They ALL found stuff. Reals, seateds, and many other bucket listers. My first 2 cent piece was found with the MXT. Like others, I have my preferences in terms of what works best for my style of hunting, but getting back to Bob’s words…

    The stuff I found was MOSTLY due to location.

    P.S. – The 17 year old Explorer is doing very well. Yes, I’m taking it to productive spots of course…but just proves that some of the “dated” tech can still keep up with the best of them.

    • Joe understand the location thing completely. Thought I was saying that but apparently not?

      I’ve long given up having to have the latest, greatest or the detector that “Just Jivin Jack” uses. I’m at that stage where I want light weight, ease of use and if it comes with knobs and switches all the better. Like you I’ve also been there when finances were tight so selling, trading is not new to me. In fact I’m currently looking to sell one of my basses to pay a few bills.

    • john taylor

      as in real estate,”location, location,location is primarily what governs success in the field, that, and knowing the intricacies of the detector you are using..’beware!”..the man who owns only “one” detector, and knows it well, for he is a formidable competitor,indeed!


  5. Todd Hiltz

    And the best detector is …
    “My Research”

  6. john taylor

    wise old “bard!”


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