Silver uMax Field Test

by Ron Barnes

Having had the opportunity in the past to field test several of Tesoro's prototype metal detectors, to say I was thrilled when I received a phone call from Heidi at the Tesoro factory would be an understatement. There was a choice given as to which of two machines I would prefer to "put to the test." When I was informed that the new Silver uMax would replace one of my two top sellers, I chose the Silver uMax. In my mind I just had to have a hands-on showdown with the detector that was supposed to replace the Cutlass II uMax.

Since I had the notion in my mind that "nothing" could replace the Cutlass in its price range, I was stunned to hear that the retail price of the new Silver uMax would remain the same price as the old tried and true Cutlass. Upon arrival of the new machine, the first thing that I noticed was an improved shipping container. It was very securely packaged for shipping and reshipping. One thing to remember about Tesoro-if it can be made better, they will make it!

As I removed the machine from its container, I immediately noticed the new faceplate design. It is a very simple but well-designed arrangement. There are two knobs and one toggle switch that control this little lightweight powerhouse. I really like the word system in place of numbers on the discriminate side of the faceplate. This will help the new detectorist as well as the "old timers." I cannot attempt to estimate the number of times I have been asked by a customer why "they" don't put the words there (i.e. iron, foil, etc.) and not just numbers. On the sensitivity side of the faceplate, the number system is still intact and I think it should be left as is. When I am demonstrating a Tesoro detector, I always stress to my customers that they should look upon the numbers around the sensitivity knob as a speedometer in an automobile. The higher the number, the faster (deeper) the machine can go according to the existing ground conditions. On the sensitivity level there is a "boost" range marked in orange that can greatly enhance the depth capability of this little dynamo.

The one toggle switch has three settings. To the left is a Battery Check, the middle position is the Discriminate Mode, and the right position selects All Metal Mode. The Battery Check Mode is a nice improvement. In the past when doing a show or in my shop, I had to warn the customers of the loud battery check cycle that was normal for the Tesoro. Most times, I plugged earphones into the machine or put my handkerchief over the speaker to suppress the loudness. A nice improvement!

After approximately 2 minutes (that's the length of time it took me to assemble the Silver uMax), I proceeded out to my test garden which contains a variety of targets, ranging from a small 10ct gold ring to an Indian Head cent that have been buried in the test area for approximately 15 years. The soil in my test area has mostly a clay type of mixture. At the max sensitivity setting, I had some chirping but all the targets were clearly discernible. Now bear in mind, each target was buried 6 inches deep. I backed off on the sensitivity to about #8 and there was no chirping, only clear signals over every target especially in the All Metal Mode. Switching to Discriminate Mode, I found each target again but the small gold ring might have been missed if I had not known it was there. It gave a very weak barely repeatable signal, but the real story here is when I switched to All Metal, the ring gave a very solid signal. It was very obvious to me that this Silver uMax would find the gold in the All Metal Mode. Keep in mind that the ring was a solid 6" down!!

The next day I was scheduled to do some detecting with a buddy of mine that still hunts with his old tried and true Silver Sabre II. I let him hold and swing the new Silver uMax, and he was astonished at its light weight. This particular field is well-known to local detectorists and has been "hunted out" for the past 15 years. The location is an old colonial village that was destroyed by the British in 1814 and saw some Civil War activity. We both proceeded to work a zigzag pattern but not a whole lot of targets were turned up. Part of the area had been roughly turned over by plowing and it was as hard as concrete. The total for approximately six hours of hard detecting was a dozen or so modern brass pistol cartridges, four or five brass shotgun shell heads, one-musket ball and several fired .22 caliber lead bullets.

The next day I took the Silver uMax to a local salt water beach and spent several hours scooping modern coinage from impressive depths in the dry sand. I did note that upon entering the wet salt beach area, I had to back the sensitivity down to about #4 before it became completely quiet again. Even at that power setting, I dug several badly corroded coins from 5" to 8" in depth.

A couple of days later another friend asked if I wanted to hit "the field" again as he had a couple of hours free. We met at the village site and proceeded to work our various patterns. This time I decided to hunt in the All Metal Mode and use the Discriminate Mode to weed out the trash. What a shocker! In virtually the same area as previously detected, I located the marked bowl part of a very ornate tablespoon, an old brass shoe buckle and several nice colonial dime-sized buttons. The real kicker was when I hit one target and switched to discriminate to see if it was junk, it disappeared. But flipping back to All Metal Mode it was repeatable. Meanwhile my friend had ambled over to see what I was spending so much time over (he hunts with a "Top of the Line" competitor's machine). He checked the target and got nothing. I disconnected the headphones and let him hear the signal. He advised, "must be junk." Well, you know we all have that little voice that sometimes we listen to, so I proceeded to enlarge and deepen the hole. I felt I was digging myself into it, as my friend was intently observing my struggle to go deeper in the concretelike earth. After numerous silent prayers and approximately 10" down, what should come to the surface for the first time in almost 200 years but the remains of an old pewter button with eyelet still attached. The fertilizers had done their damage over the centuries and all that remained was the center of the button, that being less than the size of a dime. My buddy's comment, "Man, I would not want to dig that deep anyway." Yeah sure, uhhuh.

To summarize my findings, I am astonished at the depth this low cost, high quality Tesoro Silver uMax can achieve especially in the All Metal Mode. Farewell Cutlass, welcome home Silver uMax!

P.S. At the time I was writing this field test report, I was without a Silver uMax. I had a customer enter my shop the very afternoon I finished up the field work on the Silver uMax. This particular customer had been trying to make a decision on which Tesoro he was going to purchase from me for the past 18 months. Would you believe he settled on the Cutlass II uMax! When I gave him the bad news about it no longer being produced, he became silent instantly. I advised him of the Silver uMax replacing it and offered to demonstrate it out in my test garden. He remembered from previous visits that the Cutlass had problems with the small gold ring. When he walked over the same targets including the small gold ring and got a clear sharp signal you should have seen the look in his eyes! From that moment he never took his hands off of my "only" Silver uMax in stock. He insisted I let him have this one as his wife had given him the checkbook and said, "Go buy your detector." Adios, Silver uMax!

* - Reprinted with permission from Tesoro, "Metal Detector Information" - 22nd Edition