I remember many years back watching a video on Youtube where a person had a board with several items attached to it and comparing two different metal detectors and how fast they recovered from each target. At the time I happened to own both metal detectors he was comparing and knew them both inside and out and it blew me away that he was putting information out there that was exactly opposite I had found after countless hours on each metal detector hunting in real world conditions.
Just recently someone I was talking to said to me “do you know the guy who is famous for the test board” I was absolutely blown away. First, I do not know who he is and second, how does someone get “famous” for putting out misinformation?
Too Much Air Testing!
Many years back, when the Minelab E-Trac first came out on the market I remember several people complaining about depth from air testing. Even I was concerned after I buried a quarter at 6 inches in a large bare spot of ground and ended up losing it due to the E-Trac not able to pick it up at 6 inches! Later that week or next though I managed to dig up a barber dime at 8-10 inches that the E-Trac was hitting hard and giving me solid tones and numbers. Instantly my worries went away.
YouTube, social media and the internet in general is full of misleading information and for someone new to the hobby or looking for information on a particular metal detector, it can really be difficult at times to come across good information that is actually usable. I seem to be running across more air test and test garden videos than ever before and I find this troubling because people are making purchases based off of the findings.
Metal Detecting Test Beds
In the past I have made harsh statements about test beds and I feel as though I need to clear a few things up. I am not against test beds, what I am against is videos being made judging a metal detector or even putting two metal detectors up against each other and coming to their conclusion based solely on their findings from their test garden.
Here is why this is an issue for me. Most test gardens are coins (and sometimes other objects) buried in clean ground with separation between the targets. If you’ve been metal detecting for any amount of time you know in most cases this is not how it works especially if you’re going after older, deeper targets like silver coins. There are usually other targets at least in the same vicinity which can create a whole different outcome.
Personally I will not watch any video that is testing a metal detector by using a test garden. However, I think for anyone getting started in the hobby or learning a new metal detector it is a wise choice to bury a few coins just to hear the tone and get an idea of the VDI readings.
My own test bed consists of 3 dimes, one at 6 inches deep, second one at 8 inches deep and my last one at 10 inches deep and any new metal detector will only spend a few minutes running over those dimes. If you don’t want to do that you might want to throw a couple coins down on the ground to hear the tones and watch the VDI that can give you at least an idea but it is a waste of time to try and gather any other information than that and sometimes even the VDI is different from a coin in the ground and one on top of the ground.
Why Doesn’t Air Testing Work?
I will be the first to admit I am not knowledgeable when it comes to the technical side of a metal detector. I’m not the guy to dive in depth on the different technologies, how the different metal detectors work and the principals involved, I am not an electrical engineer. What I can tell you is this, from my own experiences, air testing just isn’t a reliable indicator of how a metal detector will really react to targets that are in the ground.
You don’t want to take my word for it? I don’t blame you but many different metal detectors out there state in their manuals that their metal detector will not perform well air testing. Metal detectors are meant to detect objects in the ground, not attached to a wood board. If you want to know what kind of depth to expect, recovery speed and any other characteristics of a metal detector talk to those who have used it. Don’t waste your time watching videos where someone is trying to show you how good (or bad) a metal detector is based on objects in their test bed or even worse, strapped to a wood board.
I know sometimes I come across harsh, I’m getting up there in age, don’t judge me! I don’t want to embarrass, upset or call anyone out but at the same time I feel a responsibility to people call BS when I see it!