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X-Terra 50 in Cabo
Posted by: steve herschbach
Date: December 10, 2005 12:28PM

First off, let me just say this is not some kind of official scientific test or something along that line. I simply get new detectors and then I go metal detecting and have fun with them. I've seen a few reports here that just blew me away with details that took lots of time to compile and present. I want to thank those that made those posts, and feel a bit apologetic that my observations are going to be quite a bit more casual in nature. I was just having fun, not doing a science project!

I was on a short business trip to Cabo a couple weeks ago. Yeah, I know... rough duty! And yes, we did not work as much as enjoy ourselves while there. But I was plenty busy and so did not spend as much time detecting as I would on a vacation trip.

Still, I packed my X-Terra 50 along simply because it really is perfect for this kind of trip. One where detecting is mostly a "maybe" thing and so I just want a machine I can bring along that will not take much room. Not to pick on other brands, and in fact I am a White's fan if anything, but my MXT and DFX seem designed to not fit nicely in a suitcase. They stick out every which way and take up a lot of space. So part of the reason I liked the X-Terra the instant I got my hands on one was it looked like the perfect travel unit. It easily packs in a normal size carry-on bag. I do not like to check baggage when on trips like this and so space is at a premium for me. The X-Terra 50 made it easy for me to get everything I needed for this trip into two carry-on bags. Nice!

X-Terra 50 Packed For Travel

We stayed at the Sheraton in Cabo. Normally I would hit the water with my Surf PI Pro on a trip like this, but this location has a huge surf and undertow such that people do not swim in the water, at least none but a few very brave souls. If I got in the water I'd be more concerned with not drowning than detecting and so that normally lucrative type of detecting was not to be had here. I do 100 times better in the water than on the dry beach, but that is what I had here and so you go ahead and make do with what you have. And since dry beach was the deal the X-Terra replaced my Surf PI for this trip. And besides, I wanted to use it anyway!

The beach is made up of decomposed granite and has a few layers of black sand in it. It balanced out at "3" pretty well. In all-metal and at full sensitivity the machine constantly puttered out low tone sounds and readings of -9 on the readout. Being a single frequency unit with no salt setting this constant low background readings of -9 are attributable to a combination of the mineralized ground and the salt. Lowering sensitivity to eliminate the signals had too much effect for me. The sounds did not go away until the max setting of 20 was reduced to about 10. Running at full 20 and then setting -9 to reject made the machine totally silent with no loss of sensitivity and so setting -9 to reject looks to be in effect the "salt setting" on the X-Terra 50 for this location.

The Beach at Cabo

I think it is very important to note that the X-Terra 50 has three levels of ferrous rejection, -3, -6, and -9. The X-Terra 30 has only one, -4. This means I can set the X-Terra 50 to reject salt readings at this particular beach and still get small non-ferrous targets that tend to read as -3 or -6. The X-Terra 30 lumps them all together into -4 and so on this basis alone I think the X-Terra 50 handles salt beaches better when looking for tiny items. More on this later. Being able to ground balance was also critical to being able to run at high sensitivity. Going just up or down one notch on the ground balance generated far more noise, as I found when I tried to run either slightly negative or slightly positive on the ground balance.

One thing you must keep in mind here... I run my machines on the ragged edge of sensitivity and so they run noisy and erratic. I am ok with this and it is not a reflection on the detector. In fact I do not like machines that do not allow for what would be termed "too much" sensitivity or gain. Sometimes the manufacturers are looking out for us and so do not allow a machine to be cranked up too high, as it often is not a good idea. Works for me though, and the X-Terra was able to run at full-out setting of 20 here and run quite well. The machine was actually very quiet, almost weirdly so if I set -9 to reject. But the high sensitivity level was reflected in erratic target id with lots of "bounce".

I ran most of the time either wide open with even -9 set to accept and so listening to a constant low level puttering that at low volume levels was not all that unpleasant, or with -9 set to reject. I pretty much just wanted to dig everything to see what readings I got and how small the targets might be that I could hit. I know from experience that almost any detector will call tiny non-ferrous items ferrous... one of the lies discriminating systems foist on us and that cost us lots of little gold targets when we set for ferrous rejection. About the only machine I halfway trust on this issue is my Gold Bug 2, and I even managed to find a small gold nugget once that the Gold Bug 2 insisted was iron, so even it can be fooled.

The more iron mineralization in the ground, the more likely machines are to lie about small non-ferrous items, and unfortunately the X-Terra 50 is no different. Maybe the 18.75 kHz coil will help but tiny non-ferrous items commonly read -3 or -6, although they will usually "bounce" to a higher reading and tone also. They also will bounce to -9. So when I ran the X-Terra 50 with -6 and -3 rejected, small non-ferrous items (usually foil) might be detected or might not on a single sweep. If you are lucky, you get a low mid tone, but if you are unlucky the item may go negative and so get missed. But accepting non-ferrous all items beep, and then a few sweeps over the items will either reveal it to remain consistently negative and low tone and so is iron, or it will bounce and chirp higher tone and number now and then. Those that do tend to be tiny non-ferrous items.

This beach was not a big treasure chest. The people were pretty low key, just sitting in the sun, so not lots of activity to generate jewelry losses. And on top of that I'm certain I'm not the first guy to detect this beach. Finds were pretty sparse, but find stuff I did. And digging it all, it was naturally mostly junk.

Larger Junk Items Found On Beach

Bottle caps all read ferrous but often spiked to a high 45 beep. I do not think I'd dig many bottle caps with the X-Terra if I did not want to. They all were very distinctive readings. Other than the bottle caps, most items read where I would expect, but all my readings were very bouncy. Solid locks were very rare. So coins would bounce around at higher numbers, tabs would bounce around in the middle tones, and foils would bounce around in mid and lo tones and plus and negative numbers.

In other words, do not look for solid id locks on a mineralized beach soaked in salt water with the sensitivity cranked up. Surprised? I was not.

The bottom line here is simple. The X-Terra 50 actually worked very well for me on this beach. No, I did not bury targets and measure depths. I was just detecting. But I did not feel I was using a machine giving me shallow performance. I dug coins at easy 6-8 inch depths, and pop can halves at over a foot. Performance for a single frequency machine seemed just fine to me.

What seemed exceptional, truly, was the small item sensitivity. I hit lots of tiny foil strips and a few small pieces of broken silver jewelry that really impressed me. One target, a thin jump ring with a gap in it should not have been detectable with a 7.5 kHz machine with a 9" coil. I'm still surprised I hit that thing! The depths on these tiny targets were around an inch or less, and up to a couple inches for slightly larger but still very small pieces of foil, but the sensitivity of the X-Terra 50 to small items is impressive.

If I could have one wish, it would be that the all-metal mode on the X-Terra 50 was a threshold based single tone. You can take any of the two disc modes and by setting all segments to accept get exactly the same thing as the all-metal mode. Beeps on everything, in four tones. I feel the all-metal mode should have been a threshold based single tone setting to make for a better small item mode. I tried running in pinpoint, but it detunes too rapidly to be used as a search mode. Having an all-metal mode that offers some kind of functionality beyond a disc mode with all segments set to accept would have helped for this type of detecting. The machine obviously does work, and does hit the tiny targets anyway, but they are bouncy between lo and mid-lo tone and so a single tone at least would work a bit better for me. In practice it was fine, however. Just get a tiny bloopy-beep, and make sure you have a plastic nugget scoop to isolate and recover it! I quit using my sifter and switched to the scoop right away as these tiny targets just fell though the holes in my sifter. It was more like nugget detecting than coin detecting.

Goodies Found On Beach

I can only speculate what smaller coils might do, and what higher frequency coils might do. Put a small 18.75 kHz coil on this unit and it may rival some of the best gold nugget detectors on the market for small gold sensitivity. I have no doubt from what I saw under these adverse conditions that I can go find gold nuggets with an X-Terra 50, as is out of the box with 7.5 kHz 9" coil. This detector is hot on small items.

Well, now I'm late for work from typing this up. Good thing I am the boss! To wrap it up, I found the X-Terra 50 to be a fine beach unit. It sure will not outperform my White's Surf PI Pro for depth so do not bother telling me how your multi frequency machine will probably get better performance on a salt beach than the X-Terra. Because my PI unit will probably beat your dual or multi frequency unit also when it comes to depth. I'm not telling everyone to go and run out and get an X-Terra for beach detecting! What I am saying here is that if you own one you sure will not be disappointed in it if you get it on a saltwater beach now and then. As single frequency machines go I thought it did great. And at a better location with more activity I have no doubt I can hit smaller gold targets with the X-Terra 50 than people are going to get with most beach units, or at least up in the drier sand.

It has been said before and some have tried to take it as a negative but it is not - the X-Terra is a fun metal detector to use. But I'm the kind of guy that thinks digging small foil is fun so one must question my opinions on what is fun!

Happy Hunting!!

Steve Herschbach
Steve's Mining Journal

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I have seen a lot about the X-Terra lower rod being too long. It never seemed that way to me, but this time I paid particular attention. I am 5'11" and I stand up fairly straight. I ran the X-Terra the third notch up this whole trip, which leaves two longer settings and three shorter settings. If anything the length is perfect for me with adjustment either way. So while I can understand how the more vertically challenged may feel, it looks like Minelab had me in mind when they designed the lower rod. One of those areas where you cannot please everyone, apparently.

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 03/08/2006 05:50PM by steve herschbach.

Welcome back Steve......Good Post !
Posted by: Ralph Bryant
Date: December 10, 2005 01:36PM
Great PostN/T
Posted by: Cody
Date: December 10, 2005 02:02PM

(This message does not contain any text.)


Good post Steve, I also don't have any problem with the shaft length
Posted by: John(Tx)
Date: December 10, 2005 07:42PM
At 6', I have mine also set on the 3rd notch...HH

Re: X-Terra 50 in Cabo
Posted by: pdeere
Date: December 16, 2005 03:20PM
Steve, Anyone
Were you comfortable hunting the beaches in Mexico? Are their local or national restrictions? How did you find out in advance? Has anyone tryed Ensenada or San Felipe? Sea of Cortez vs. Pacific beaches? Sorry for all the Gringo questions.

For Steve
Why the SurfMaster PI over the Infinium?


Welcome back
Posted by: Mike Bearden
Date: December 16, 2005 04:15PM
Very informative post and from the pictures it looks like the X-Terra served it's purpose well. Hey, not many times I can count on my hand where I had a beautiful place like that to hunt while on a business trip.
I must be in the wrong business :)
Nice Post, you pretty much described how I thought it would be in the wet salty sand.

I got the 18.75 kHz coil for the X-Terra just 2 hours ago and from what I'm seeing on air test with small gold ... the difference is very noticeable. It will hit a small (very thin) broken ankle bracelet at 5" and the small gold wedding bands no longer sound small with this coil. Matter of fact, I had to literally scrub this bracelet on the bottom of my EX II for it to even make a peep of a sound.
Should be interesting when I make it down to the gold stream after the holidays. The gold there is usually not much bigger than aquarium gravel or B.B. size and I'm sure the new coil will give me an edge from the looks of things so far.


Re: X-Terra 50 in Cabo
Anonymous User
Date: December 18, 2005 06:38AM
Didn't you move to a different location on the beach once you hit the lightweight trash, as it settles out it differing areas than heavier things?

Re: Very good post Steve!
Anonymous User
Date: December 18, 2005 10:38AM
I think your post will help a lot of people better understand how to detect when in similar situations. I know I learned from your post. I agree about having a single tone All Metal threshold. It would be an asset to relic hunting as well. It's getting close to relic hunting time for me and I plan on giving the 50 a good test. Good hunting, David @ Dixie

Re: X-Terra 50 in Cabo
Posted by: steve herschbach
Date: December 18, 2005 05:44PM
Hi Paul,

Had no problem as I figured I was afe enough in front of the Sheraton. I have no idea how it goes elsewhere in Mexico.

The Infinium has a dual tone system that is noisier than the mono tone system on the Surf PI. The both false a lot on basalt rocks, but the Surf does not bloop and bleep the way the Infinium does and so it "feels" less noisy... at least so it seems to me.

Steve Herschbach

Re: X-Terra 50 in Cabo
Posted by: steve herschbach
Date: December 18, 2005 05:47PM
Hi vlad,

Would have done so in the water, but I was up around the chairs and sunbathing areas high above the normal surf line.

You sure are right about stuff settling into different zones. I'm still learning the surf scene, but some places are just pulltabs, other just coins... and sometimes a ring pocket!

Steve Herschbach

Nice post. I have a question....
Posted by: Digger
Date: December 19, 2005 10:28PM
Steve, nice description of how you were able to set the X-Terra up for this particular site. Living in the Midwest, and not being a beach hunter, I have a question or two. I understand how you set the detector with a notch reject of -9, to compensate for the salt beach. But when you said that small non-ferrous targets still came in with -3 or -6, I'm confused. Is that typical for salt water hunting? Non-ferrous targets registering as ferrous? Is it because the "background" mineralization of the salt beach provides a negative level to begin with? In other words, you determined the -9 to be "balanced" and anything reading on the positive side of -9 would be non-ferrous? Like I said, I have never hunted a beach. So this is an education for me. Thanks. HH Randy

P.S. If you need some help in Cabo next year, give me 24 hours notice! :cheers:

Re: Nice post. I have a question....
Posted by: Jackpine Savage
Date: December 20, 2005 06:52AM

Most all ID machines will read very small non-ferrous targets as iron or bounce iron/foil. This applies to fresh water beaches also. Thats why regardless of the detector I open up at least some of the iron side. The newer digital detectors acknowledge this fact for those that hunt small non-ferrous by allowing us to select a certain amount of iron. Fisher was one of the first to do this with the adjustable C$ iron disc and I see most all of the newer machines folowing suit. The M6 goes a step further by assigning a dedicated tone to the small ferrous/foil region so that you won't missing those bouncers that originally read as iron. THAT was a very good idea!


Uh-oh, tone war food fight, dirty fingernails vs the waders, I've got your back Tom, where's Monte? The "tone out " at the OK Corral!! :lol:
Posted by: BarnacleBill
Date: December 20, 2005 07:04AM

Posted by: Jackpine Savage
Date: December 20, 2005 07:20AM
I didn't intend to start a fight. :blush:

With all that said, I will use a good single tone machine for low disc hunting for small non-ferrous over a tone machine every time. Gotta keep watch on Steve's M6 reports from HI and see which mode he preferred on the beach.

Bill, anything to report yet on the X-T 50 on Northeast beaches?


That M-6 is looking interesting, eh??
Posted by: Ralph Bryant
Date: December 20, 2005 08:31AM
Have been getting some comments via forum posts and eMails on the M-6 that are starting to get my attention. ;)

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