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THE SHADOWX2 - A Coin Assassin?
By Gordon S. Gibson
|If you browse through the web looking for posts on the Shadow, you will notice that the discussions are heavily weighted toward relic hunting. Indeed, the Shadow is an excellent relic machine. I mentioned this relic hunting name tag to Troy and he said - "OK, well, you're a very experienced detectorists and an excellent coinshooter, so why don't you do a field test and honest evaluation on the SHADOWx2 as a coinshooter?"|
There are a lot of misconceptions today about metal detectors. In order to give you an idea of what I am talking about; just take this test below.
(Answer True or False)
It is hard for me to believe that at some point during my 32 years of swinging metal detectors, I actually believed all the answers above should be true. I was really stuck on the idea that the more the detector cost and the more features it provided - the more I would find. But as I matured in this hobby, these ideas proved to be completely false.
One day I was hunting with a high dollar, bells and whistles detector. I had a program selected to use and was working a house yard. It dawned on me that once I selected a program or set the discrimination level, I should be digging all the good sounds. If that is the case - why do I need a meter? All the meter did for me was create doubt about the target and increased the price of the detector. Many times I would not dig the target because I was convinced by the meter that it was bad. I wonder now how many good targets I passed over in all those years?
Actually, all detectors have a computer - and it is a very good one. That computer is between your ears. Sometime I am afraid we do not use it enough.
I am not sure I can prove this statement - but I really believe I find more good targets without a meter than with one. Of course, I dig a lot of junk. If you are going to make good finds, you have to dig a lot of junk - and that applies to using any kind of detector. Isnt that part of the game of detecting?
As you have probably guessed, through the years I have used a lot of different detectors. As the seasons passed, I found I was getting less quality time hunting because I was spending too much time sitting on the sideline resting. The problem was simple. The detector I was using was just too heavy to swing all day long. When the MicroMAX detectors came on the scene - for me, it was just like the sun coming up in the morning. A new day had arrived! Here was a quality detector I could use all day without sore muscles.
Then a new detector hit the market made from the same mold as the MicroMAX. It was called the ShadowX2. It was light weight and had some nice features. But from all the information I could gather about this detector, it seemed designed for the relic hunters. All of the excellent reviews from very well known relic hunters emphasized this point
Well now, lets see - relic hunters want depth, so do coin hunters. Relic hunters sometimes use discrimination, so do coin hunters. Relic hunters like a pinpoint mode, so do coin hunters. Relic hunters like a detector that offers a selection of coils, so do coin hunters. Relic hunters like quality in a detector, so do coin hunters. Relic hunters want a detector they can swing all day, so do coin hunters. Well - if that is the case, then the Shadow should be a very good coin machine. With that logic, I traded for a Shadow.
First Look At Your New Metal Detector
Have you ever noticed when you first take a good look at your new detector, some things just seem to jump out at you? In my case it was the Coin Check button. Now this detector has a regular discriminating knob but in addition, it has a push button Coin Check. This offers some interesting possibilities.
What you really have is dual discriminator controls. One is an external operator control and the other is internal preset control. The Coin Check will sound off on all metals with the conductivity of copper and above - or copper pennies, clad coins and silver coins. The discriminating knob has numbers from 1 to 9 and I normally hunt with the setting at 2 to 3 which will find most rings. This Coin Check gives me some additional information about the target. The zinc pennies and nickels, however, will not respond to the Coin Check button. A nice feature is the Coin Check can be adjusted internally to accept lower conductive targets such as Indian head pennies, etc.
When you pick up the detector and try in on for size, you immediately notice the comfortable arm cup. It holds your arm firmly in place. There is no need for a strap. As you grip the detector, the oversized padded hand grip gives a very snug feel. Thats great for a long day of hunting and personally, I can use all the comfort I can get. Comfort in the field is very high on my priority list.
However, I was a little suspicious of the 7 inch coil. That is the ideal coil for some semi-trashy sites - but would it go deep enough? This solid coil is thin and very light weight. The Shadows advertising states that it will pick up the target at the outside edge of the coil. That should mean you can cover more ground per sweep. Most of the regular 8 inch coils I have used will detect up to 1 inch "inside" the coil.
The Sensitivity Control knob is numbered from 1 to 9. What I noticed missing and is found on the other MicroMAX detectors, is the MAXBoost feature on the front panel. The MAXBoost is additional sensitivity above the maximum setting of 10. The MAXBoost normally can only be used in low mineralized ground but it offers a lot of additional depth. The Sensitivity knob is also the Off/On switch and battery check. I will discuss MAXBoost on the SHADOWx2 later in this report.
One of the biggest surprises was turning the knobs on the face of the detector. The best way to describe the feeling is - they were stiff to turn. What a great idea! Nothing is more frustrating that having a knob turn accidentally while you are hunting. That wont happen on a Shadow! These tight fitting knobs are designed to keep out mud and water.
Speaking of good ideas, the "His and Hers" detectors with different frequencies is very innovative. This is perfect for metal detecting couples.
The one 9 volt battery is a snap to install. Just drop it in the battery compartment. No more flimsy wires and sore fingers trying to snap the connector on the battery.
The Shadow has an important innovative feature that increases the depth of the detector, but we cannot see this feature or adjust it. This feature is called a "Low Noise Circuit." What this circuit does is filter out a lot of the interference from the ground and as a result, you are able to hear the deeper targets clearer. You get an increase in depth by eliminating unwanted sounds.
Another built-in feature is the 120-D circuit. This circuit allows a discrimination setting of zero to reject small iron objects. What does this mean to you? It means that it will be sensitive to very small good targets such as fine gold and jewelry without picking up iron. Thats a pretty important feature!
Well, so far the detector looks pretty good. I know that it is a very good relic machine, but what will it do in the field hunting for coins?
Lets Try It In the Field
It seems that most field testers start their searches in local parks. So, I am going to do the same. Today, most parks are similar - littered with trash and hunted out. I suspect these field testers know that if they find coins in the hunted out park, they have a good detector in their hands.
When I arrived at the park, I hooked up the head phones and set the discrimination to 2 and turned the sensitivity knob to 9 (which is maximum on the Shadow). The battery check sounded and then the chattering started. Whoa! With my other MicroMAX I can run the sensitivity at 10 in this park. I had to turn the sensitivity down to 7 in order to get a smooth sounding detector. What this told me (and was later confirmed by Troy) was the MAXBoost is built into this detector. So a sensitivity setting of 7 or 8 on a Shadow is about the same as a setting of 10 on other MicroMAX detectors. This MAXBoost really adds depth if the ground conditions allow it to be used in the field.
It is nice to quickly start hunting without going through the ground balancing procedure. Ground balancing has to be exact. If you set the ground balance perfectly, you will get a little more depth. But, if the ground balance is not set perfectly, then it can actually handicap you and would be like using the worst detector on the market.
When I start working a park, I like to look at the trees and imagine where the shade would be at high noon in the summer. That is where I would lay my blanket for a picnic and that is the first place I start hunting. I began the search and my first signal was fairly loud and would not sound off with the Coin Check.
There is another push button on the Shadow called the Pinpoint Mode button. When you push it - the detector goes into the All Metal Mode and this allows you to hover the coil over the target with very little motion to locate its exact position. I pinpointed the target and it was just under the "RO" in Troys name on the coil.
I dug down about 4 inches and did not see anything. It could not be that deep because the target volume was too loud. I dug a little deeper and a very small piece of pulltab that escaped the mower came to the surface. I was impressed! That was a strong sound on a fairly deep, small target. I was going to have to change my thinking because I was accustomed to a softer sound on small deep targets. The pinpoint mode was right on track - very accurate.
This small target at that depth indicated that this 7 inch coil must be a deep seeking coil. I laid the small piece of pulltab on the ground and moved the coil over it. Sure enough, it would respond at the edge of the coil. Now I knew I was getting a wide scan sweep of the coil, plus it is lighter and smaller. This is an important feature when coin hunting because it allows less overlapping with each sweep of the coil.
I hunted that area for a while and found some coins but nothing really old. The deepest was about 8 inches and the sound was strong using the 7 inch coil. The target separation was very good. Coins were showing up laying very close to trash. In one case, the coin was about two inches from a big rusted iron thing. (Not sure what it was). This was very impressive to a junk yard hunter.
The Coil Too Big?
I moved over to another area that contained picnic tables and fire pits. The trash was everywhere. Sometimes a coil can be too big to be effective for coin hunting. If you get too many different targets under the coil at the same time, no detector in the world can sort them out. The smart play is to go with a smaller coil.
I attached the Tesoro 4 inch coil to the Shadow and started searching. I use this small coil a lot when coin hunting. You can extend the shaft out further than you normally would and as a result, you can cover more ground with wider sweeps without moving as much. Since the smaller coil is so lightweight, the extended shaft was well balanced and very comfortable to swing. The surprising thing about a 4 inch coil is that it goes a lot deeper than it looks like it should.
I was digging more than my share of pulltabs and screw caps but then I got a soft signal that would not indicate on the Coin Check. In the Pinpoint Mode, I could barely outline it on the ground and it seemed a lot larger than a coin. I dug down and at about 2 inches there was a small gold colored necklace. Now, most of you know how hard it is for a detector to pick up a small gold chain. Well, anyway it looked like a real gold chain. I was really starting to get excited with the capabilities of the Shadow.
I was getting tired of digging a zillion pulltabs for each coin, so I decided to try something different. I reset the discrimination knob and placed the indicator right on the number 7. I learned from benching testing that this would pick up zinc pennies and eliminate most trash. Unfortunately, this setting would also eliminate nickels. So in this trashy area, I started looking for just coins. This worked like a charm! Every now and then I would get a solid signal and if it did not respond to the Coin Check, I was almost sure it was a zinc penny. When the Coin Check did sound off, it was almost always a copper, clad or silver coin. This duel discriminator is a very nice feature.
One coin (a clad dime) was at least 6 inches deep and the 4 inch coil picked it up. Thats not bad for a small coil running with that much discrimination. Normally, the more discrimination you dial in, the more depth you will lose. I did not find that to be the case with the Shadow. The Coin Check is actually a discriminator with a setting of somewhere around 8, and it picked up the coin. In my tests, I could not tell that there was any loss of depth with high discrimination. If there was, it was small. To me, this was a very important feature.
This discrimination setting of 7 and the Coin Check were a perfect combination for very trashy areas where the possibility of finding a ring was nil. If the detector had been set up to find rings, I would have plowed the whole park with my digger. I will give up nickels and rings for the added convenience in a trashy area of this type. Now I was sure that I had a real hot detector in my hands.
My Opinion Of The Shadow
That was my first test with the Shadow using it for coin hunting. Since then I have used the Shadow in various settings and ground conditions with outstanding results each time. As a result of many hours of use, I have come to these conclusions:
How would I rate the Shadow as a coin detector on a scale of 1 - 10? If 10 is perfect, then I would give it a 9. Nothing is perfect! It is very hard to find any fault with this detector - it does very well what it suppose to do - find things. I really do believe that this Shadow is a "Coin Assassin". It certainly has the color and sleek looks of an assassin.
After putting many hours on the Shadow X2 I learned some techniques in pinpointing that may help you. The Pinpoint Mode is very exact and you can even outline a small object. With a little practice, you can tell the difference between a small coin (nickel, zinc penny, Indian head penny, etc.) and a full sized pulltab or screw cap.
The technique is simple. First, move the coil off the target then while pushing down the Pinpointing button move the coil over the target slowly. Listen for the duration of the loud target sound. The coin sized object has a very short sound in the Pinpoint Mode. The pulltab has a little longer sound. But what if the large object is a quarter, half dollar or dollar? - the Coin Check will catch it.
One thing I noticed while using the Shadow - coins have a softer sound than pulltabs. You can test this for yourself. Lay a full pulltab and coin on the ground and move the coil over the both. You will notice the pulltab comes in louder.
A buried aluminum can will sometimes sound good on the Coin Check because its size is overwhelming the discriminator circuit. So - you can either try to outline the can in the Pinpoint Mode or as you move the coil quickly and with very short strokes over the target while pushing the Coin Check button, the sound will try to break up. Of course, this method is not full proof. Target orientation in the ground and corrosion can vary the results, but it works most of the time. Try it out!
Also, deep coins require slower sweep speeds. One time I found myself trying to cover a lot of ground very quickly and was sweeping the coil much too fast. Then I heard a "click" sound. It was almost like it was rejecting a target. I stopped and double checked the sound again - but with a lot slower sweep speed. Now I heard a low volume, very solid, good target sound. This was a wheat penny that was so deep that I almost quit digging.
I hunted several parks, school grounds, fair grounds, house yards and the normal places coin hunters go, and found a bucket full of coins. In the bucket are some silver dimes, and quarters, a lot of wheat pennies, a Barber Dime (9 inches deep), clad and zinc coins by the gross; plus some things I can recognize and some things that I am not sure what they are. I even found an authentic Chinese pocket knife. I know it is authentic because it has "Made in China" stamped on the blade. So - if the Shadow will find a coin at 9 inches, it will certainly find older coins that deep. I was just amazed at the depth the Shadow.
One thing to always remember - I dont care how good a detector you own or how many times you have covered a given area, someone will come behind you and still find coins. I think that is a Murphys Law. The trick is to find more than the guy coming behind you. The Shadow will do that.
Our hobby should be fun and relaxing to do while at the same time being productive. The ShadowX2 really meets that challenge. This detector really is a joy to use. I would never hesitate to recommend to anyone buying the ShadowX2 for their PRIMARY coin detector. This is especially true if you are getting tired of lugging the heavy detectors around all day long.
The necklace? - it turned out to really be gold.