First Texas Products & Fisher Chief Designer’s favorite machines

I’ve been designing metal detectors since 1981, and over the years I’ve developed distinct preferences in what I like in metal detectors.  Someone else’s preferences may be different.  Of the products we currently manufacture, here are my personal favorites.

Bounty Hunter Fun Finder   This is a “toy-size” metal detector which is sold under several different trademarks and colors, usually retailing in the $40-70 range.  The electronics are a classic “two-filter” two-knob design.  It “air tests” about 5-6 inches on coins.  The audio response is proportioned so that it almost “talks” to you, and its small searchcoil gives excellent pinpointing.   ….One time I was called upon to find a child’s chain bracelet lost in the lawn of a friend’s church.  I could have used any machine in our arsenal for the job, and the one I chose was the Fun Finder because I was looking for something shallow and good discrimination would be needed because of nearly a century of trash.  As it turned out, there wasn’t much trash, and I didn’t find the bracelet.  Had it been there I would almost certainly have found it:  evidently it had been lost elsewhere.  My point is that although the size is “toy”, the performance is real.  I occasionally bug the boss to stick it in an adult size package but we’ve been too busy with other stuff to actually do that. 

Fisher F2   This is a great beginner’s or backup machine retailing for about $200.  It is very easy to use and by all accounts it outperforms a certain competitor’s unit which was the de facto “industry standard $200 metal detector” until the F2 showed up.   The performance and features are comparable to many machines in the $300-600 range, with excellent visual ID and “air sensitivity” on the order of  9 – 10 inches on coins.  Its ancestry is traceable to the legendary original Teknetics.  

Teknetics Omega 8000   Lightweight, very straightforward user interface, excellent target ID and superb discrimination in trash, manual or computer-assisted ground balancing in motion all metals operation,  response characteristics scaled to “talk” to you regardless of the sensitivity setting.  List price somewhere around $600 but I suppose that actual retail is a little less.  With the optional 11” DD searchcoil, it’s got hots in the big leagues, air testing in the 12-14” range on coins and outperforming most competitors’ higher priced machines on buried targets.   The somewhat similar Fisher F5 gives the user a bit more control, but there is something about the stark simplicity of the Omega that dials my number in a way that the F5 doesn’t.   

Teknetics T2 LTD   Best ergonomics in the industry, air tests almost to the stratosphere.  Can’t say that I like the camo paint job.  I think it’s about $1000 list.  The Fisher F75 LTD is rather similar, but I prefer the T2 user interface to that of the F75.  These are limited edition products, so they probably won’t be available past about Christmas of 2009.   Sometime in 2010 we’ll probably come out with something new with comparable “hots” but I can’t say what sort of product it will be. 

Fisher “new” Gold Bug  Advertised but not yet released (October 09).  Worthy successor to the original legendary Gold Bug.  I like light weight and simplicity in metal detectors, and this has got it.  Simplest user interface of any high-performance machine in the industry.  I think list price will be about $550.  Although designed as a gold machine, it has a superb discrimination system adapted from the Omega, and of course being a real gold machine it’s got smokin’ hots.  For coinshooting I’d pick the Omega, but for gold prospecting, or relic hunting with the 11 inch DD accessory coil, the new Gold Bug would be my favorite. 

Well, folks, those are my favorite beepers.  That won’t necessarily make them the right machines for you, but at least it’s information worth considering.  If you’re fond of lots of features and user control (which I’m not), your favorites will probably be different.

--Dave Johnson 

   Chief Designer, Fisher Research Labs & First Texas Products