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I recently had the pleasant surprise of a mint condition Tesoro ‘Outlaw’ metal detector, minus coils, showing up at my doorstep as a gift from a very generous enthusiast and forum friend.  It is an attractive metal detector and after spending a little time with it, I find it a very interesting detector, operational wise, as well. 

It has three operational modes; a motion all-metal auto tune mode, a non-motion all metal mode, and a silent search discrimination mode, all accessed via a three-position switch.   It also includes a manual ground balance control dial that affects all the operating modes, a threshold control dial, a on/off + sensitivity control dial, a  discrimination control dial, and in the center below the speaker louvers is a dual layer push button that servers both as a pinpoint and a retune button.

Seems all very straight forward at first glance, until you discover its secret:  The Tesoro Outlaw is a true, threshold based, metal detector.  The threshold setting affects every aspect of the detector.  The good news is the threshold setting is a set and forget control.   Set it to where it gives the faintest hum and leave it alone.   For me that is approximately the 1 o: clock position.

And that brings us to the center Red Button.  That little red push button in the center of the Outlaws face plate is the most important control on the detector.  It is imperative that after every setting change that you make to the detector settings that you press and hold that red button and hear the threshold return.  I mean after EVERY and ANY adjustment to the detector settings, no matter what the change is.  If you change the disc setting, you press and hold the button until the threshold returns.  If you change the Sensitivity setting, you press and hold the red button until the threshold returns.  If you change threshold settings, if you change operating modes, after you ground balance, you have to press and hold the red button until you hear the threshold return.  Takes about a second, maybe a second and a half for the threshold to return.  No big deal once you understand it but it has to be done.


If you don’t return to threshold after every and any operational setting changes the detector will be working at reduced performance/reduced depth, as if the threshold had been set somewhere below the audible hum, which will affect your depth.  That is the way it operates.  Once you figure that out you are golden.

There are two all metal modes.   The far-left switch position says ‘AUTO’.   This is the motion all-metal mode with auto threshold retune.  This is the operational mode that you need to be in for ground balancing.   The all metal gain is preset.   Sensitivity is controlled via the threshold setting.   The threshold auto retune speed is perfectly acceptable for the majority of ground minerals.  Might be a little too slow for really bad ground but for most of us it is fine.

The middle switch position is the non-motion all metal mode.  You control the threshold drift via the red button retune.  Again, the all metal gain is preset.  Sensitivity is controlled via the threshold setting.

Ground balance affects depth performance for high conductors in all operating modes.  Too far positive (clockwise) and you will severely impact high conductor response.   However, the ground balance does not go all the way to salt so low conductors are not affected by a maximum negative (counterclockwise) setting.

Yes….if you do not intend to use the all metal modes you can Power Balance in Disc mode.

Yes….if you do not intend to use the all metal modes you can super tune the Threshold.

The Discrimination mode is the far-right switch position.   The Sensitivity control only affects this operating mode.  The Threshold setting affects this operating mode.  Ground balance settings affect this operating mode.   Assuming you have your Threshold setting where you want it, and are ground balanced to an acceptable point, then you can further increase your sensitivity with the Sensitivity control.  

Discrimination control is classic Tesoro.  I think the Disc range is ED120 or there abouts.   It is easy to max the disc and just hunt high conductors and it is easy to disc out most small foil and hunt nickels upwards without losing a lot of depth due to the disc setting.

I put the Cleansweep coil on it this past weekend and hunted recent drops and found it good on both high and low conductors.  The Cleansweep is a fairly shallow coil….5” to 6” tops in Disc mode.   Maybe 3” more in all metal modes.  I was happy with its performance on both low and high conductors as a 10.6 kHz unit.   I was happy that it seemed pretty EMI resistant.

Ground balancing in the Auto tune mode is pretty straight forward, except you have go a bit slower on the coil pumps than you might normally be use to as you have to let the threshold retune between pumps, again about a second, second and a half.

It’s a neat detector.  I’ve never used anything quite like it before.



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Thank you for adding the pictures, Steve.  They make it a better read.


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I’m big on pictures and people often have no idea what a post is talking about when there are none, so I take the liberty of adding them from time to time. I have easy access to most photos so it only takes me a couple minutes.

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Very good detailed explanation on the Outlaw. Just looking at it I never realized how much more behind the operation of it there was. Thanks for sharing.

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Thanks for this post.I always like the bandido 2 umax same machine i guess




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I briefly had the Outlaw, if you pretended there was no pinpoint button and went detecting, found it was an excellent performer. Really should have kept it.

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Thank you for the very good write-up and details on this detector  Mike.  I also had one for a short time. The fellow that I bought it from had both the Outlaw and Bandido II uMax .  His take was the performance of the two were nearly identical but the Bandido had a much sweeter tone and that made it slightly favorable to identifying targets. Unfortunately in my soil (SoCal) it didn't have much punch, sold it to a fella in the Great Lakes area and he reported back to me how pleased he was with it's performance. Again, thank you for taking the time to do the write-up and post.

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