FIELD TEST

Tesoro's Cutlass Umax Metal Detector
By Joe Patrick
From Page 32
June, 1997 issue of Lost Treasure

Since the early 1980's, Tesoro Electronics has designed and manufactured a series of innovative metal detectors which has earned them a world-wide reputation for easy-to-use, reasonably-priced detectors that provide maximum field performance.

To those who know me, it's no secret that I am a big Tesoro fan. After all, I have been using their products since I won an (original) Amigo at a hunt many years ago. Upgrading from the Amigo, I purchased a Golden Sabre (1985) and had done exceptionally well with it. From that point on, I have owned and used many of their models and, in all honesty, can say that I have never owned a Tesoro detector that did not perform and produce very well for me.

Just recently, Tesoro has introduced a new, extremely compact and ultra-lightweight line of metal detectors they have aptly named their "MicroMAX" (uMAX) series.

The uMAX detectors are uniquely packaged in a control housing so small that, at first glance, might be mistaken for a toy detector I can assure you they are much more than that. What Tesoro has done is somewhat remarkable. They have taken all of the electronic circuit board components and reduced them to an electronic "chip" about the size of a couple of postage stamps.

Now that you have a better idea of the new concept and design, I would like to begin my evaluation and field test of the new Tesoro Cutlass uMAX.

Features

The most impressive and perhaps significant feature of the Cutlass uMAX is its extremely compact size and ultra light weight. I'll not soon forget the first time that I saw and held one ...I just could not believe how small and lightweight it was.

Operating at a frequency of 12 kHz, the Cutlass uMAX maintains a vital combination of good sensitivity, depth and discrimination. It is a motion-based silent search detector in both its discrimination and all-metal operating modes.

Powered by a single 9-volt alkaline battery (included), and with only two user-adjustable multi-function controls, the Cutlass uMAX is very easy to operate - even a first-time user can do it.

Although low in price ($279 retail), the Cutlass uMAX is constructed with Tesoro's new and improved three-piece knockdown pole assembly, complete with a waterproof 8-inch open-center searchcoil - the same equipment as used on their top-end detectors. No corners cut here.

Two front panel controls are provided. One to power the unit on and off and also adjust the discrimination level, and the other to adjust the overall sensitivity and select the all-metal mode of operation. A new feature called "MAXBoost" sensitivity allows for increased depth in areas of low ground mineralization. The MAXBoost setting is obtained by rotating the sensitivity control to its maximum clock-wise position, while rotating the discrimination control to its full counter-clockwise position, at which point a click can be felt and heard, enabling the all-metal mode.

A built-in audio-tone battery test is performed each time the unit is powered on that can be heard through either the internal speaker or headphones.

Located at the rear of the control housing is a full-size, 1/4-inch stereo phone jack and a sliding access door to the battery compartment. A threaded 5-pin coil connector is also located there to enable the use of either the 8-inch or 10 1/2-inch open center coil - another big plus for this little detector. By the way, Tesoro's 10 1/2-inch coil is extremely comfortable and easy to use, due to its open center, very thin profile and light weight.

Although Tesoro's look has remained consistent throughout their product history, they keep refining it, and the new Cutlass uMAX clearly indicates what they have learned.

The new three-piece pole assembly is something that detectorists have requested and it makes a lot of sense to have this type of configuration. The upper pole assembly features both a knurled nut and a spring button to insure a solid mating of the pole sections.

To those who travel by air, it enables the detector to be disassembled and collapsed into a very small carry-on package - Tesoro sells an accessory carry bag for this purpose.

Many detectorists are also outdoor enthusiasts who like to walk or hike into remote areas to detect. The breakdown design of the three-piece pole is just what they need for this type of detecting. Completely assembled, the Cutlass uMAX weighs about 2.5 pounds. With the S-pole configuration, the detector is extremely comfortable to use and can easily be used all day with minimal fatigue. This built-in "comfort factor" would make it a good choice for children or competition hunts. At any rate, it doesn't get much easier or comfortable than this.

Field Use 

I decided to return to a location that I had searched very heavily in the early 1980's, with much success, but haven't been to in years. This is the park where I "cut my detecting teeth" and had spent 100's of hours detecting ...and learning.

Being a very popular park in the 1930's and 40's, it has never let me down, but it is very trashy in spots and a challenge to hunt. The park is about 60 acres in size, with a few picnic shelters and ballfields - I suppose a fairly typical example of a "hometown" park.

I started my search at the upper heights of the park, as this is the oldest and most popular section and is also where I have had the most success. Turning the Cutlass on, I listened to the automatic battery test confirm the batteries were new. Adjusting the sensitivity to "9" and the discrimination to "8," 1 headed to a trashy area to give the "Max" a workout - I hoped to recover some old silver.

This particular spot extends to a small, triangular point and is bordered by a road on two sides of the point making it somewhat easy to detect, as its borders are well defined. I spent a few hours detecting there and was rewarded with some clad coinage, seven wheat cents and a 1944 Mercury dime. Using the standard 8-inch coil, coins were recovered up to 7-inches deep.

The Cutlass uMAX had no problem responding to these targets and all were clear and repeatable signals. Because of my high discrimination setting, no pull-tabs were retrieved (or heard), but I did encounter numerous screwcaps that littered the area. These were easily passed up, as they were loud and somewhat broad signals as compared to the smooth, small "coin sounds." I could have increased the discrimination setting to "tune out" screwcaps, but I did not want to lose any additional detection depth or increase target masking. Other than screwcaps, very little trash was recovered. The Cutlass uMAX did an excellent job at eliminating trash targets.

Moving to a different location nearby, close to an old swing set, I decided to decrease the discrimination to 5" to allow nickels and gold rings to be accepted. Hoping to increase detection depth, I adjusted the sensitivity to MAXBoost, but immediately encountered too much ground chatter from the mineralization. A setting of "9" quickly smoothed out the audio.

I searched very slowly there, trying to get what was missed by others before me. I found a small handful of clad and new coinage, two Buffalo nickels and no gold rings. Oh well...gold rings are tough. Come to think of it, I only recovered one gold (diamond) ring in this park in nearly 10 years of detecting it.

Conclusion

I had a lot of fun testing and using the Cutlass uMAX and was impressed with its packaging, performance and comfort; it would be difficult to find a better performing, more comfortable, reasonably priced detector than the Cutlass uMAX. It is very simple to operate and its detecting capability can enable almost anyone to immediately become successful. All of this...plus being backed by Tesoro's exclusive Lifetime warranty.

What could be better than turn-on-and-go simplicity packed with solid performance? Good job Tesoro - you clearly have another winner.

For additional information contact Tesoro Electronics, Inc., 715 White Spar Road, Prescott, AZ 86303, or call 1-800-528-3352.
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