Tesoro Electronics has been producing high-quality, affordably-priced metal detectors since 1981. The winning combination of its customer-oriented approach to business, a lifetime warranty that comes with each detector, and the above-average in-field performance their line provides has helped Tesoro become one of the premier metal detector manufacturers in the industry. A few years ago they introduced a new series of detectors which carried the MAX designation. Utilizing state-of-the-art circuit design, Tesoros staff was able to reduce the overall size of the control housing to that of the battery packs used in many other brands while improving overall performance.
Having used Tesoro detectors with a high degree of success since the company was first founded, I was looking forward to testing the latest addition to the MAX line.
The Bandido II MAX is a silent search VLF-motion discriminator which also features a non-motion, all-metal search/pinpoint mode. Utilizing the diminutive control housing found on other MAX detectors, which measures a scant 3-1/2 inches wide by 3 inches high and 2 inches deep, one can hunt with it for hours without experiencing any fatigue. The three-piece, S-shaped handle makes the Bandido II MAX ideal for traveling or backpacking into a remote site.
Both the 8-inch concentric open center search coil and the control housing are constructed of a special type of plastic designed by Tesoro which not only reduces the weight of the detector, but provides improved shielding from outside electrical interference.
The Bandido II MAX is controlled via four knobs (GROUND, DISC LEVEL, SENSITIVITY and TRESHOLD) and two toggle switches (MODE and TUNE).
The SENSITIVITY knob serves a dual purpose. It turns the detector on and varies the strength of the signal transmitted from the coil. The Bandido II MAX incorporates Tesoros proprietary High Gain Sensitivity circuitry, which improves sensitivity to low conductivity targets such as gold, brass and lead. This control also activates the automatic battery check each time the unit is turned on.
The DISCRIMINATION circuit also uses Tesoros Expanded Discrimination which, when turned fully counter-clockwise, allows the detector to detect very small and/or low conductive targets which are typically rejected by detectors using conventional discrimination circuitry.
The MODE toggle switch allows you to choose which mode to hunt in, i.e., discrimination or all-metal, as well as switch from the motion discriminate mode to the non-motion pinpoint mode. Its position on the face plate makes it easily accessible for one-handed operation.
The Bandido II MAX requires a single, 9-volt battery which is held in a small compartment on the back of the control housing. One of the truly amazing aspects of this detector is that even with the impressive overall performance it produces in the field, the battery life is still more than 20 hours. This is just another enhancement made to detector circuits by Jack Gifford and the rest of the Tesoro staff!
I often try to get friends that have expressed an interest in treasure hunting to help me in field testing a new piece of equipment. With nearly 35 years of experience under my belt, using a new detector or other piece of equipment successfully may not be a true test of how well the average detectorist will do using it, so I try to bring a novice along to benchmark actual performance in the field.
In this case, I asked John Summers, a co-worker who had expressed an interest in metal detecting, to accompany me on my first trip out with the Bandido II MAX. Since relic hunting was one of the primary intended uses for this model, we decided to try searching for Civil War relics.
On the way to an area that had been part of the city of Atlantas outer defenses in the fall of 1864, I explained the Bandidos controls to John. My 8-year-old son, Paul, was accompanying us along with his Tesoro Amigo II. Parking the truck, we hiked in almost 1/2 of a mile along the tree line. The ridge we started hunting on had been the Confederate trench line and several fierce skirmishes had occurred there before the Southern army finally pulled out and headed east.
We set the DISC Level at 3 and SENNSITIVITY at 8. A brief explanation and demonstration was all that was needed for John to get the hang of ground balancing the detector, even in the highly mineralized red clay found in this area that gives most detector operators fits in compensating for. We began searching the open area adjacent to the trees. Surprisingly, the first relic was found a few minutes later by my son followed almost immediately by a second .58 caliber Minnie Ball. Feeling somewhat embarrassed by being shown-up by an 8-year-old, we continued hunting with renewed fervor.
After recovering several shotgun shells and other modern items, we received a faint, yet repeatable signal near the base of a large oak tree. Fighting the roots for nearly 5 minutes paid off when a perfect dropped Williams cleaner bullet was freed from its resting place. The bullet had been nearly 8-inches deep, yet produced a definite signal when the coil passed over it.
We took turns searching and, over the next few hours, recovered 14 bullets, a coat button, an artillery shell fuse and several unidentifiable iron relics. The best find of the day was yet to come. We had avoided one area due to the high concentration of trash present, but I decided to give it a try before we left.
Increasing the DISC setting to 5, I started searching near some bushes. The first few signals turned out to be brass shotgun shells the bane of relic hunters everywhere and I almost passed up the next signal which sounded like just another shell. Using my knife, I cut a large plug and pulled it back. I started to look into the hole when something caught my eye. There, stuck on the end of the knife blade, was a large gold ring with a diamond in the center! Calling John over, he took one look at the ring and shook his head in disbelief. I still dont know why the ring was there, but a jeweler that looked at it said it was nearly 1/2 ounce of 14 KT gold with a high-quality .70 carat diamond. (Appraised at $1,700.)
The next site my son and I went to was an informal swimming site on a nearby lake that was now exposed, since the lake level had dropped. This is a hard site to hunt due to the large number of hot rocks and cinders found there. Despite these conditions, the Bandido II MAX was easy to ground balance and produced only an occasional false signal in one direction throughout the day. The pocketful of coins, keys and two rings were nice additions to our collection, but the items that stood out in terms of how the detector performed were three 14KT gold earring backs, a few .22 caliber shell casings and a metal eyelet from a sneaker. These targets, which most detectors wouldnt see in an air test, all produced clear, distinguishable signals in the bad ground we were hunting in.
I took the Bandido II MAX out to several other sites around my home, ranging from the usual schools and parks to a Civil War campsite and a swimming beach closed for the season. In all cases, I was able to find a number of keepers despite the fact that I had not been the first one to hunt any of the sites.
The factors that stood out in my mind regarding this detector were its light weight, seemingly unlimited battery life, ease of tuning and extreme sensitivity to even the smallest of targets. The solid coil proved to be impervious to false signals often experienced when bumping other coils against rocks and logs which are quite common in most relic sites. Overall, it was quite enjoyable to hunt with and, based on my success in the field, more than capable in keeping up with many high-end detectors currently on the market.
The Bandido II MAX was designed with the coin and relic hunter in mind. Yes, it lacks the bells and whistles found on the top-of-the-line detectors currently on the market, but it more than makes up for this shortfall in its detection depth and overall sensitivity. The combination of weight and balance, along with the ability to handle even the worst ground conditions, makes the Bandido II MAX a detector that should be looked at carefully before you make your next detector purchase. Its light enough that extended search periods will not tire one out, even if the user is a child!
The only negatives I found with the unit were that one needed to be careful to avoid inadvertently moving the Ground Balance control when using the Mode Select switch, and the susceptibility of sand and grit getting into the Mode Select switch.
Priced at $439 with a lifetime warranty, the Bandido II MAX offers treasure hunters an exceptional value for the money in terms of performance. Combined with the optional coils offered by Tesoro, this detector can fill a wide range of treasure hunting applications without putting a strain on the familys budget.
For more information on the Bandido II MAX or any of the other products in the Tesoro line, call the factory at (520) 771-2646 or (800) 528-3352, or write them at 715 White Spar Road, Prescott, AZ, 86303 and be sure to mention you read about the new Bandido II MAX in Lost Treasure.