Tejon Field Test
Jack Gifford founded Tesoro Electronics more than twenty years ago with the goal of building highquality, dependable metal detectors utilizing cutting-edge technology at prices that wouldn't strain the family budget. Jack's sons, Vince and James, have become active members of the Tesoro team and along with their staff, have continued to develop new detectors that fit Jack's original philosophy. Over the years, I along with my family have used many of the Tesoro models in all types of treasure hunting ranging from coin hunting to beach hunting, relic hunting and prospecting with a high degree of success. When James told me about the new Tejon and described some of its features, I was anxious to see if it performed as well as it sounded.
The first thing you notice when unpacking the Tejon is its unique color scheme. Unlike the typical “Tesoro brown” found on their other models, the Tejon sports a new gray and blue look. Based on my discussions with James before receiving the detector, I knew that real enhancements were inside and was looking forward to getting it outside into its element. Tesoro's engineers expended almost two years of research & development in designing a detector that would meet the demands of coin and relic hunters around the world.
The Tejon is controlled by six knobs on the faceplate and a threeposition toggle switch on the bottom of the control housing in front of the hand grip. The knobs are labeled “Threshold,” “Alt. Disc Level,” “Sensitivity,” “Disc Level,” “VCO Tune,” and “Ground Adjust.” Most of these controls are selfexplanatory based on their names; however, a few deserve some additional attention. The Tejon features an easy-to-master manual ground balance control that allows for maximum diction depth in even the most adverse ground conditions. The ground balance adjustments are used in both the all-metal and discriminate modes so no matter what your preferred mode of hunting is, mineralization will not affect target detection once you have made the necessary adjustments. The ground balance circuit is one that greatly enhances the ability of the Tejon to handle the worst ground conditions; however, many detectorists cringe when they hear that a detector has manual ground balance. It is extremely easy to adjust and the instruction manual provides very clear step-by-step directions to ensure you can make the appropriate adjustment in the field. After a few practice attempts, becoming proficient at ground balancing is a snap!
The “VCO Tune” control provides users with a choice of audio response based on their personal preferences. When turned fully counterclockwise he VCO or Voltage Controlled Oscillator circuit is activated. In the All-Metal mode, both the volume and pitch of the audio response will change based on the size and depth of the detected target. Many detectorists find that this option is extremely useful in accurately pinpointing targets. If you decide that the VCO response is not for you, turning the knob clockwise will allow you to vary the pitch of the signal produced by a target in both the All-Metal & Discriminate search modes. This is a nice feature since each of us has a specific tone that we find easier to discern and the Tejon allows the ideal tone to be selected for optimum performance in the field.
The Threshold control is used to set the audio level when searching in the All-Metal mode. The Sensitivity control serves multiple functions. First, it is used to adjust the gain or signal amplification of the detector. The knob is labeled with values from 1 to 10 with an additional area labeled “Max Boost.” When searching under certain conditions such as areas with low mineralization, the Max Boost range will allow you to obtain increased detection depth and overall sensitivity. Like other detectors, this control should only be set as high as possible while still obtaining stable operation; i.e., no false signals or audio chattering.
The three-position trigger switch is another innovative feature found on the Tejon. In the center position, the normal discrimination circuit is activated. Pulling the trigger towards the hand grip activates a fastretune all metal pinpoint mode. This allows you to accurately determine where the target is since the coil does not have to be in motion in order to produce a signal. Note: This is not a search mode. If you want to hunt in All Metal for maximum detection depth or to locate any metal object in the area, simply turn the discriminate control fully counterclockwise where it will click into the All Metal mode. Pushing the toggle switch to the forward position activates the Alternate Discriminate circuit. The second discriminate circuit allows you to check signals at different discrimination levels to aid in target identification. An ideal way to use these two controls is to set the primary control in the All-Metal mode and then select a level of discrimination for the type of hunting and area you are searching. When you get a signal, simply push the toggle switch forward to determine if the target is worth recovering.
Weight is a feature that Tesoro has never felt necessary to build into any of their detectors. The Tejon is not exception and even with all the performance and features built into this newest model, it tips the scales at just under three pounds with the standard coil!
The Tejon provides nearly 30 hours of operation from a set of eight AA alkaline batteries and rechargeables can be used with no loss of performance. The two 4-cell battery packs simply snap into the compartments under the armrest. A standard 1/4” headphone jack is located on the rear of the control housing.
I received the Tejon just in time to take along on a trip back to Pennsylvania over the Labor Day weekend. I wanted to see how it did in two types of areas-trashy sites and areas where targets were extremely deep.
The first area I visited was the site of an old ferry landing along the shore of the Susquehanna River just north of Bloomsburg that had been in use during the mid-1800s. I had found the site a few years ago and while it did hold some old targets, they were very deep due to the amount of dirt that had been deposited as the river flooded its banks over the past 150 years. Opting to hunt in All Metal (Disc) and set the Alt Disc circuit to check signals (set just under Foil), I set the Sensitivity control at 9 and ground balanced the Tejon. Even along the river, mineralization is a problem since coal cinders have been dumped into the river for close to 200 years; however, the Tejon was extremely quiet indicating the ground balance circuitry was doing its job. As expected, signals were few and far between but they were there. The first few signals produced small, unidentifiable pieces of copper and brass from depths up to seven inches deep. A strong signal near the base of an old tree caught my attention and I removed a six-inch plug. I was surprised to see that the signal was still in the hole considering how loud the audio response had been. As I slowly removed dirt and rechecked the hole, I reached the 10-inch mark before my probe touched something at the bottom edge of the hole. Carefully prying it free with my knife, I could see that it was a coin. Curiosity got the better of me so I waked down to the edge of the river and washed some dirt from the coin to avoid damaging it. The details were quite striking for an older copper coin in this part of Pennsylvania (fertilizer & mineralization usually pits their surface) and the date 1822 was clearly visible on the large cent I held in my hand. Over the next hour, I recovered several more targets in the nine- to fourteeninch depth range including two buttons, several wrought iron square nails and some items I am still trying to identify.
The next site was an old foundation in the woods near my house that had not produced much in the past but dated back into the 1800s. Using the same discrimination settings as I had at the ferry landing, I started hunting near the back of the old home. Signals were plentiful; however, by checking them in the Alt. Disc. Setting, I could tell they were pieces of iron. Since I had a limited amount of time, I set the Disc control to FOIL and moved the Alt. Disc knob to just below the Tab mark. Despite the numerous iron targets that littered the area, the Tejon ran silent until a target that fell above the discrimination setting was detected. In the area immediately surrounding the foundation itself, I found that the 9”x8” coil tended to be susceptible to “target masking” (multiple targets under the coil at the same time; however, a trick that helped me pick out several keepers was to lift the coil up a few inches off the ground and slow my sweep speed down just a bit. A smaller coil would have really been effective in this situation. Two hours was all I could afford to spend here before my wife sent out a search party but the pouch full of relics was more than I had recovered in the previous three trips to this site.
Returning to Atlanta, I took the Tejon to several Civil War sites that were well-known and considered by many to be hunted out. As a matter of fact, I ran into three relic hunters at the first site who had been searching it most of the morning, an area being cleared. After some conversation and taking a look at what they had found, we all picked up our detectors and went back to hunting. One of them had agreed to my request to check each other's signals so we began hunting parallel to each other. The first few targets were shallow and we both got clear signals from them. I received what sounded like a deeper signal (a bit fainter than the previous ones) and called Bill over to check it. Knowing where it was helped but even scrubbing the coil over the area, he only received a signal once in a while. He said he doubted he would have even picked up the signal much less deciding it was worth recovering. Hoping for a keeper, I started to dig in the hard red clay. At almost 11”, a dropped .58 caliber Williams Cleaner bullet came to light. Over the next few hours, this scenario was repeated several times. Targets that the Tejon detected with clear, repeatable signals were either not detectable or produced broken, intermittent signals from two of the three other detectors being used at the site. All of us were quite impressed at the detection depth and sensitivity exhibited by the Tejon—several bullets, small percussion caps, brass fragments and a few iron artifacts wound up in my collection that day!
I used the Tejon at other sites and found that the ground balance circuit handled even the most adverse conditions I came across. Small rusted iron, which many other detectors find impossible to ignore, was cleanly rejected with the discrimination control set just about the IRON mark. Even in areas littered with ferrous trash, the Tejon exhibited no falsing or chattering while easily picking out lead, brass and copper targets at impressive depths.
The name “Tejon” is Spanish for badger, which is an animal known to be tough and capable of digging deep. Tesoro seems to have selected the Tejon's name accurately for while it doesn't dig, it definitely detect deep!
Some detectorists have ignored Tesoros in the past assuring themselves that the small control housing can't equate to top-notch performance; however the Tejon's in-field performance should convince even the most jaded treasure hunters that they should consider a Tesoro for their next detector. Many of the finds I made with the Tejon came from depths that very few other detectors are capable of reaching and when you combine the lightweight of the detector with this performance, it makes hours of searching an enjoyable and often extremely productive experience.
Tesoro offers additional searchcoils for the Tejon including round and elliptical concentric and widescan coils ranging in size from 7” to 11” that further enhance its versatility. It should be noted, however, that only the coils from the Tesoro Lobo SuperTRAQ are interchangeable with the Tejon due to its new circuit design.
The Tejon lists for $699 and comes with the legendary Tesoro lifetime warranty—something that has always told me that the company has a high degree of confidence in the quality of the equipment they build.
* - Reprinted with permission from Tesoro, "Metal Detector Information" - 22nd Edition