For nearly 20 years, Jack Gifford and the staff at Tesoro Electronics have remained focused on the goal the company had when it was started, which was to produce high-quality, high-performance metal detectors at a fair price. Jack and his son, James, who is also involved in the business, have continued to develop new models that have enabled treasure hunters worldwide to make countless finds over the years. Never resting on their laurels, they have used feedback from avid hunters as well as personal experience to come up with yet another detector for the Tesoro line the Conquistador. Having used Tesoro detectors since they were first introduced, I was anxious to see what the new unit was capable of.
A few years ago, Tesoro introduced a new control housing for several of their detectors that incorporated surface-mount circuit boards and sub-miniaturization of the electronics themselves. The result was a series of detectors having a Max prefix with the housing measuring a mere 3-1/8 inches wide by 2-3/4 inches high by 2 inches deep and that includes the single 9V battery that provides up to 30 hours of operation!
The Conquistador has three knobs and one toggle switch on the control housing face, along with a toggle switch below the housing which control the units operation. The function of the controls on the housings face are similar to many of the current detectors in the Tesoro line. The SENSITIVITY knob serves a dual role it turns the unit on / off and allows the user to adjust the power output from the coil. The DISCRIMINATE knob allows users to select what type of objects will be accepted or rejected. The THRESHOLD knob is used to set the audio threshold heard when the unit is in the All-Metal operation mode. The MODE toggle switch is used to select the search mode All-Metal or Discriminate as well as provide retuning capabilities when hunting or pinpointing in the All-Metal mode.
The toggle switch at the bottom of the housing is what sets the Conquistador apart from all other Tesoro detectors. Over the past couple of years, Tesoro has become one of the more popular brands to use in competition hunts due to their light weight, quick target response, and the use of an analog oscillator rather than a quartz crystal found on most other brands. This last feature gives Tesoro users a machine that is not on the exact same frequency as others using the same machine, eliminating the cross talking and interference which occurs when detectors come in close proximity to one another. Unfortunately, these advantages have become common knowledge and now, due to the shear number of Tesoro detectors in the field, some cross talk is occurring. The new toggle switch switches the frequency of the unit slightly so as to eliminate any interference from nearby detectors, as well as other outside interference one may experience, such as electrical transformers or transmission lines. The switch has been placed in a position that makes it easy to quickly switch from one frequency to another using one's index finger.
The center position offers the best combination of frequency and ground balance and should be used for most applications. Shifting the switch back or forth shifts the frequency, but doing so will also effect the Conquistadors ground balance. This can cause a slight loss of depth and sensitivity. While this is not desirable when coin, relic or beach hunting, the slight loss is not a problem when in a competition hunt, since the targets will all be shallow.
The Conquistador comes with an 8-inch concentric coil with an open center which aids in pinpointing targets. Tesoro offers a wide range of optional searchcoils that can be used on the Conquistador.
The three-piece rod assembly is another Tesoro plus, as it allows the unit to break down small enough to fit in a backpack or carry-on suitcase.
A 1/4-inch jack on the back of the control housing is designed to allow a set of stereo headphones to be used, which not only helps one hear the fainter signals, but extends the battery life as well.
A few days after receiving the Conquistador, my son, Paul, and I met some friends near the North Georgia town of Dalton to do some Civil War relic hunting. We had gained access to some private land on which the Battle of Rocky Face had been fought.
My son is an avid treasure hunter and is quite successful with his Amigo II. After a short negotiating session, he convinced me he should be the one to use the Conquistador that morning. As we walked up the wooded hillside, he had no problem sweeping the detector despite a steep incline and thick underbrush. Since the property had been in the family for more than 60 years, we were surprised when the signals were few and far between. Halfway up the hill Paul received a solid signal and recovered a vintage mule shoe from nearly 8 inches down. Over the next hour or so he found several targets as small as a .22 shell at depths ranging from 2 to 9 inches.
The next site I took the Conquistador to was Battery Park in Charleston, South Carolina, overlooking the harbor and Fort Sumpter. Due to its location and continuous use since the 1700's, it is probably one of the most heavily-hunted parks in the country. Despite its relatively small size approximately 8 square blocks nice finds can still be made with slow, methodical searching.
I arrived just after dawn and, as the sun rose over the Fort Sumpter to the east, I felt energized as I began searching near the pavilion in the center of the park. The park is still in constant use and, as a result, the amount of trash one encounters is staggering (which is why SLOW hunting is a must!). However, since relics dating back to the early 1800's are still found on a regular basis, excessive discrimination is not an option. Working the area between the path and one of the large trees, several modern coins were quickly recovered. Trying to focus on finding an older target or two, I started to ignore the loud signals and listened instead for the fainter signals indicating a deeper and, hopefully, older target.
After passing up a number of loud signals, I received a solid, repeatable whisper barely audible through my headphones. Cutting a plug in the black soil, I scooped the dirt from the bottom of the hole. Passing the coil over the hole indicated the target was still in there. At a depth of nearly 9 inches, I saw the telltale glint from a silver coin still embedded in the side of the hole. Carefully pulling it free, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was an 1927 Standing Liberty quarter in AU condition. Before I left for the day, I wound up with a 1937 Mercury dime, three wheat cents, a well-worn Buffalo nickel and a .58 caliber Minnie Ball from the Civil War not bad from a heavily hunted park!
Over the next two weeks I had the opportunity to use the Conquistador at locations including saltwater beaches, schools and parks, abandoned homesites and a beach on a lake near my home in Georgia. A wide range of keepers wound up in my collection including coins, keys, relics and a nice 10KT gold ring.
The Conquistador is a detector that can be used effectively in a wide range of applications from coinshooting the local park to searching for relics of days long gone, beach hunting or competition hunts. It is extremely lightweight, collapses small enough to pack in a carry-on suitcase or hiking backpack, and is quite simple to use yet delivers performance not usually found in a detector at this price point.
If you are looking for a new primary detector, one dedicated to competition hunts or even one to use as a backup to your current unit, you need to stop by your local Tesoro dealer and take a close look at the new Conquistador. By enhancing the field proven features of its siblings in the Tesoro line, the Conquistador offers high performance with a modest price tag!
The Conquistador sells for $399 and comes with Tesoros limited lifetime warranty a point that shows how confident the Tesoro staff is in the quality and durability of their products!
Call the factory at (800) 528-3352, write them at 715 White Spar Road Prescott, AZ 86303, or visit their website at http://www.tesoro.com, for more information on the Conquistador, or to obtain a copy of their informative Metal Detector Information booklet. Be sure to mention you read about the new Conquistador in Lost Treasure!