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Detecting with the TCD Shadow X3

Linda (AKA "The Troll")

The Machine:

The Shadow X3 is a lightweight, well balanced, true "turn on and go" metal detector. Now, I like to detect, and the machines I tend to gravitate towards have a minimum of distracting knobs and switches. The X3 controls consist of the "on/off"/"Sensitivity" knob, a Discrimination/ Battery Check knob, a Frequency Switch toggle, and Target Check toggle. The on/off Sensitivity knob performs two functions. That is, to turn the machine on or off, and to adjust the desired amount of sensitivity. The Discrimination/Battery check knob serves to dial in the amount of discrimination desired, and when turned in the fully counter clockwise position, allows you to check the condition of your battery VIA a voltage sensitive oscillator circuit. The frequency toggle is located on the left side of the face, and allows you to adjust your operating frequency 170 Hz above or below the standard operating frequency of 19Khz.(a GREAT feature for competition hunting) Last but not least, is the "Coin check" toggle, which allows you to selectively disc out targets in two predetermined disc setting levels. The X3 is also equipped with a true "VCO" pinpoint mode, activated with a membrane type switch located conveniently in the center of the housing. The rods of the X3 are aircraft aluminum, allowing the maximum weight to strength ratio. Simply put, they are very light, but stronger than most other rods.

The Ergonomics:

One of the things most important to me when choosing a detector is weight, and ease of use. Weighing in at only 2.2 Lbs (with battery), the X3 fits the bill admirably. I'm not exactly a big person (95 Lbs soaking wet), and have had difficulties in the past lugging around heavy detectors all day. We detect a LOT, and while performance is important to me, comfort is of PARAMOUNT importance. The face of the X3 is well thought out, placing all the controls at my fingertips, for easy access. The easily adjustable arm cup is a plus too, as we hunt in many extremes, and I may have many layers of clothing, or nothing on my arm. Adjustment is a snap.


Nothing I have done before in the world of detecting prepared me for the performance of the X3. It is without a doubt, the most powerful "little" detector in its class. I've used a couple my old standbys for many years, and always had faith in their abilities, but after using the X3 for a few weeks, I'm beginning to wonder how much I've missed over the years. The target separation with the X3 is phenomenal, and the sensitivity to tiny objects has to be seen to believed. I never thought anyone could pack so much performance into so small a package.

Actual use:

I recently had to pleasure of using the X3 in England a few weeks ago, for the very first time. Even though I had never used one before (an X3), I was very comfortable with the machine from the very start. Although I essentially had to "learn" the machine on the fly, I found the ease of use, and well thought out controls, made the transition from my old machine, to the X3, a painless one. I also found that my iron identifying abilities increased tenfold. I've always been a BIGTIME iron hunter, although not by choice. Truth is, "most' iron sounded great with my old machine, and I simply was unable to tell the difference with it. Not so with the X3. With a few simple lessons, my iron finds dropped drastically. The handy coin check feature is indispensable in this respect. One of the biggest surprises of the trip was the depth I was able to attain with the X3, as compared to my old machine, despite the smaller size of the coil on the X3. The X3 easily got at least 30% more depth. (if not more). My finds in England were substantially better than the previous trip as well, primarily I think, because I could hunt faster and longer, with less fatigue. I gave the big boys a run for their money, despite my inexperience with the new machine.

We have also had the opportunity to detect a few salt water beaches with the X3, and have found its abilities on the beach compare favorably to its big Brother, the X5. Its quick crisp responses, and VERY good target separation capabilities have shown it to be a winner, especially in trashy, or iron riddled environments. If I had to choose a single feature I thought was the X3's biggest strength, it would have to be its target separation capabilities. I've always had trouble in this respect, and the X3 has made this MUCH easier for me. Target separation, and response time is so good in fact, that one scarcely needs the VCO pinpoint.

I'm particularly excited about the upcoming Competition hunting season, as I am an avid competition hunter. The features of the X3 make for a PERFECT competition machine, and I can't wait to get it out in the field this year for a trial. I won the 5 day gold rush women's competition at Treasure week last year, and am hoping to raise the bar a notch or two this year with the X3. Speed is the name of the game here, and the X3 is lightning fast. I can swing it twice as fast as my old standby, with no concerns about missing good targets. This year should be a winner!


All in all, I found the X3 to be a VERY capable machine, not only for a first time user, but for experienced users as well. Its greatest strengths are its light weight, ease of use, and fantastic target separation capabilities. This, coupled with the fact that this is the most powerful machine in its class, makes for a winning combination. I can't stress enough the ease of transition I experienced when using the machine for the first time. I've always been resistant to change, but using the X3 was easy, and natural. I highly recommend the X3 to any looking to upgrade their old workhorse, or who is in the market for a new machine for any reason. What a package!!

Linda (The Troll) Pavlischak
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