By Steve Herschbach
First Texas is the company that owns the Bounty Hunter, Fisher, and Teknetics metal detector brands. KInd of like Chevy and GM putting out similar models under different brands you can often find similar Fisher and Teknetic models.
My choice for an affordable high performance all around VLF detector with an emphasis on gold prospecting has been and continues to be the Fisher Gold Bug Pro. Lightweight, inexpensive, hot on gold, and good and dealing with dense ferrous trash. Great for nugget detecting, plus relics, coins, jewelry, etc. Right now the Fisher Gold Bug Pro with 5" round DD coil sells for $649 online.
The main problem with the Gold Bug Pro is it comes with the 5" round coil, which is a great little coil for sniping small areas, but no good for covering large areas. You can also buy the Gold Bug Pro with an 11" x 7" DD coil - it is the exact same detector but they call it the Gold Bug DP to indicate it comes with the larger coil. It also tacks $50 onto the price and so you see it online at $699.
The problem even then is I think perhaps the best coil for all around nugget detecting with the Gold Bug Pro is the 10" x 5" elliptical. Great all around sensitivity, covers ground well, and pokes around in nooks and crannies without getting hung up like an open design coil. The problem? Fisher does not sell the Gold Bug Pro with just the 10" x 5" coil as stock. The only way to get it is as part of a dual coil package. That's fine but guess what - the price goes up another $50 and so you see the dual coil package advertised at $749 online.
You can find more information on various Gold Bug versions past and present at this thread.
It turns out the Gold Bug Pro is a great relic detector (Best Ever Made! according to Fisher) but the name was a problem. Overseas especially Gold Bug Pro is an odd name due to the "Bug" part not translating well, but it also says the machine is a gold prospecting detector and not a relic detector. Fisher sidestepped this initially by coming out with the Teknetics G2. This is the exact same detector as the Gold Bug DP above but with a different rod and grip assembly.
OK, long lead in! Fisher took the 19 khz Gold Bug Pro and added a few features and called it the Fisher F19. This machine is marketed as a relic detector, but it is still the same 19 khz Gold Bug Pro under the hood. Extra features include:
Adjustable volume, both master volume and ferrous volume. The Gold Bug Pro runs at max volume at all times. No volume control built in. The F19 adds a normal 1 - 10 volume control. It also adds a secondary 1 -10 control that only affects the ferrous 0 - 39 region of the id scale. So you can have gold nugget make a loud beep but a nail make a very soft ground. This is great when working in lots of ferrous trash as it lowers the barrages of ferrous signals. The Gold Bug Pro has a very loud external speaker, and the ability to lower the volume when working without headphones is welcome. Red meter backlight. The meter can be lit for low light conditions, with the red tone chosen to not affect your eyes low light capturing ability (same as in aircraft cockpits). The backlight is adjustable and can be turned off. Notch discriminate. A discriminate "window" can be created of variable size, and set to either "notch out" or "notch in" any certain segment of the target id scale. For instance a certain pesky pulltab reading can be individually blacked out. The Gold Bug Pro lacks this ability. But here is the big one - the F19 comes standard with the desired 10" x 5" elliptical DD coil! The catch is that the Fisher F19 normally sells for $799 though it has seen recent price reductions in some versions to $699. Still, at that price I still have in the past recommended the F19 as an option to the Gold Bug Pro due to the stock coil and extra features.
Fisher Gold Bug Pro Owners Manual
Fisher F19 Owners Manual
First Texas just went ahead and made this all a real no-brainer. Until the end of November or until stocks run out you can now get the F19 for only $449. That is less than a Gold Bug Pro or even basic Gold Bug model sells for. For anyone interested in a Gold Bug Pro, this is a real bargain and an opportunity to pick up the extra features of the F19 at an actual savings over a Gold Bug Pro.
Finally, the Teknetics G2+, which is exactly the same machine as the F19 but with a different rod assembly and coil (11" x 7" DD), can also be had now for only $449.
By Steve Herschbach
When the Fisher F19 was first announced, the official flyer showed it in a standard black and gold color scheme. Then two "Limited Edition" camo versions were announced, green camo, and pink camo. There never yet has been an actual black and gold version you could buy.
Frankly, I am not a fan of the camo. Mainly because you pay extra for it and I am not willing to pay extra just for a different paint job. So I was happy in January when Fisher announced:
"The special camo used on the F19LTD was ordered in limited numbers and we are nearing the end of stock on those parts. New part number, F19 will replace the camo version and have a standard black finish with a stock white coil and be available at a lower cost. If you are a fan of the camo version, don’t wait too long, when they are gone, they are gone forever. Here are the prices for the F19: MSRP $799"
That is $50 less than the camo version which has a MAP price of $799 so this black and gold version has a MAP price of $749. Only problem seems to be that the limited supply of camo units never seems to run out? I have yet to see anyone advertising the black and gold units for sale.
Why do I even care? Because the F19 comes with the 10" x 5" coil stock, which you can only get as an accessory on the Gold Bug Pro. The Gold Bug Pro Dual Coil package with 5" round coil and 10" x 5" coil is $749.
Now granted you get two coils, but I think you are better off getting the F19 with 10" x 5" coil instead for $749 because of the extra features like backlight, iron tone volume, notch discriminate, etc. I can't swear this makes it any better at finding gold but overall it is just a better all around detector than the Gold Bug Pro and getting rid of the camo makes the F19 at $749 the same price as the Gold Bug Pro dual coil package, also at $749. So do you want two coils, or extra features?
The best way to learn the exact differences between the Gold Bug Pro and F19 is to study the owners manuals carefully.
Fisher Gold Bug Pro Owners Manual
Fisher F19 Owners Manual
By Mike Hillis
The Fisher 5x10 DD coil hasn’t been my most favorite coil because, in my mind, it always seemed to be lacking something. I have suddenly found myself owning several different higher frequency detectors, each equipped with a 5x10 or 6x10 DD coil. As a result I have decided to spend some time bench marking this particular coil size. Is the Fisher 5x10 DD coil really lacking something or is its performance in line with other brands similar size and type coils.
Since my 5x10 DD coil came with my Fisher F19, I have elected to stay with higher frequency detectors for my bench marking. Nothing lower than 15 kHz. This allowed me to use comparable detectors and coils; the F19 with 5x10 DD, the Lobo SuperTraq with 5x10 DD, the DFX with 6x10 Eclipse.
The targets consist of a modern nickel, a clad dime, a very thin (the band is perhaps 5/32” wide by maybe a 1/16" thick), 18K white gold ring that a penny will fit perfectly inside, and two halves of a fired .177 lead pellet. I cut the pellet in two, separating it into the solid head, and the hollow tail.
All detectors were tested in Disc mode:
The F19 operates at 19 kHz and fitted with the stock 5x10 DD coil. The settings were Disc at 40, no notch, Volume at default, Sensitivity maxed out at 100. At this setting there is an ongoing threshold like response at fringe depth that can be heard in air tests for a couple of more inches than what I recorded. I do not consider this to be a true audio response and I ignored this response. The responses I used to measure with were what I considered a real audio response. In other words, it approximated a beep type response rather than a threshold like response.
The Lobo Supertraq operates somewhere above 18 kHz and fitted with the stock 5x10 coil. There are apparently two versions out with slightly different operating frequencies above 18 kHz. I do not know which one mine is but I am assuming it is 18.75 kHz. Settings were Disc at 2 to reject iron, Normal Soil setting, and Sensitivity at 10. I did not go into the Max Boost Range. Threshold settings play no role in Disc mode. The Lobo ST has a great audio response at fringe depth. As you review the results, keep in mind that the Lobo ST still had the availability of the Max Boost sensitivity settings available for use. Note that the dime response is a little bogus as I have the preset ground balance in Disc mode set negative but it still shows coil performance similarities.
The DFX was tested in the 15 kHz single frequency Prospecting mode with the 6x10 Eclipse with Silent Search turned on to remove the threshold response. Pre-Amp Gain at 3, AC Sensitivity at 64, tone Id turned on and iron discriminated out. As with the Lobo, there is additional sensitivity available for use. The AC settings were rather tame but I wanted a rock solid response.
The results of the bench marking told me that the 5x10 DD coils tested share the same basic performance and that my Fisher 5x10 DD is operating as it should be. This has increased my trust and understanding of the coil. Or should I say I feel more comfortable using the coil now.
I'll add the GoldStrike 5x10 DD coil results to the mix tomorrow.