By Mike Hillis
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.
Recently my Tejon seems to be extra sensitive to EMI and I get a waiver or flutter in the threshold. Is there a way to tune or fix that? Not sure if something is failing or if it is just out of tune.
By Tom Slick
Got a call from my Sister yesterday afternoon. "I'm at Goodwill and they have a metal detector here for $7.50. You want it?" "Sure, what is it?" "A Tesoro Lobo" "You bet" "OK, I'll bring it over later".
It has a broken arm cuff, but other than that it's really clean. Very Good to excellent condition. Not all my "Treasure Hunting" is done with a detector. Just wanted to share.
By Paul (CA)
These past few weeks, been using various analog models at an old farmstead. Although we’ve hit this area numerous times, hardly anything good surfaces but it’s a fun site to hunt and a good site to test equipment.
Between the seven Tesoro models I’ve been using here these past few week’s, the Cortes was probably the best of the bunch and thats with using the 12”x10” DD coil and with full sensitivity. The 12”x10” spoked concentric coil was okay with a lower sensitivity, but it suffered some stability with increasing sens and that’s due to our West Coast inland soil. So, pretty much stuck with the larger widescan.
Second best was the Lobo, Although it lacked depth it was great in areas thick with iron. Next, The Outlaw and modified Mohave ran equal, good depth with using the 12”x10” DD. The Mojave has a manual GB, which is needed for my soil.
The Pantera did well, but tough soil prevented the extra depth needed. The Deleon just couldn’t get rid of the falsing, even with the large DD Deleon can’t handle our soil with high sensitivity. The Golden uMax did okay, but our soil is tough on the Golden.
The 12”x10” DD improved depth with all these models with the exception of 4-pin Lobo, using stock coils with the other models in my soil were useless. The larger widescan coil is definitely deeper, eliminates most if not all ground noise, and still very sensitive to smaller targets.
My favorite out of this Tesoro bunch is now the Cortes, for farm land hunting and definitely running the 12”x10” DD. One 1951 silver dime surfaced, one wheat penny and 1959 copper penny. Two musket 1/2 balls, few saddle snaps. Site has potential, We’ve pulled numerous seated coin’s, Couple of Bust and one gold coin from here on previous hunts.
Going back today, this round will use a Teknetics Mark III, Compass CoinScanner Pro II, GoldScanner Pro and a Whites 5900 Di-Pro. Can’t wait, older technology makes the hunt more challenging and fun.
By Mike Hillis
I've always liked the Tesoro Cortes. I like the design intent. I like the way it looks. I like the Sum mode with the audio tones. I like the graph. I like the Target ID range. I like pretty much everything about it except the single tone hunt audio in Disc mode and the overshoot null in the non-motion all metal sometimes gives me a fit. I've had six of them over the years and I usually part with them mostly due to the single tone hunt audio. But I get nostalgic after a while and end up getting another one every now and them....which is what has just happened. I saw one for sale and started looking at it again but didn't jump. Then a NIB unit came up for sale at a very good price and I couldn't help myself and jumped. Welcome home number seven. HA.
I think I will put the Cleansweep coil on it and just hunt athletic fields with it where beep dig single tone is ok and all I really care about is ground coverage or places that I've already cleaned out and just want to run through for recent drops. Hope to hunt it next weekend and share thoughts and results.
Wife is probably going to wack me, though. Only been two months since the last new purchase.
Tesoro Cortes Data & Reviews
I’ve been doing some freshwater hunting with the Excalibur lately but I’m finding that the old girl nulls quite a bit due to the lake floor being quite mineralised...it is a clay base. I can turn the Sens into Auto but that really dumbs the unit down and depth really suffers. I have been thinking of getting the Tiger Shark but not sure if the GB will be effective enough and whether it can handle the minerals. The Excalibur in PP is quite effective but there is too much iron junk to contend with.
Any thoughts out there.......