Metal Detector Field Test & Review - White's MXT Pro
By Andy Sabisch
From Page 55
October, 2010 issue of Lost Treasure
Looking back over the past 50+ years that metal detecting has been enjoyed by people worldwide, countless models have been produced; however, only a few have stood out from the crowd in terms of features or performance earning almost a legendary status among users.
Many of the early innovators have long since shut their doors, but features they introduced most of us now take for granted.
The White’s MXT, first introduced in 2002, is a detector that many feel has earned a place on this “legendary board” based on its ease of use and superior performance under virtually any condition.
The engineering team at White’s developed the original MXT under the understanding that a myriad of complex adjustments, multiple knobs and bulk were not a prerequisite for high performance where it counts - in the field! It quickly proved to be equally at home in a park searching for coins, on beaches seeking out jewelry, in the woods sniffing out long-lost relics, or in isolated sites prospecting for gold.
After developing several other detectors since the MXT was released, the engineers at White’s focused on the original design and looked for ways to make a legendary detector even better…and the MXT Pro is the result of their efforts. Having used the MXT successfully in some extremely challenging sites, I was looking forward to seeing how the newest version performed.
The MXT Pro utilizes the familiar lightweight-yet-rugged metal case found on several other White’s detectors mounted on the typical S-handle for hours of fatigue-free operation. The total weight with batteries and the stock coil is 4.4 lbs.
As with its predecessor, the MXT Pro is controlled by three knobs and two toggle switches on the housing, and a three-position trigger on the handgrip, as well as three touchpads beneath the display screen not found on the original MXT.
The MXT Pro is somewhat unique in that its software has been pre-programmed to provide, in essence, three different detectors in terms of the audio response options, information displayed on the LCD screen and what specific controls do based on the search mode selected via the Mode toggle. The three modes are COIN & JEWELRY, RELIC and PROSPECTING.
The second toggle switch is labeled TRAC and it quickly selects the appropriate range of ground mineralization compensation, as well as how this compensation is performed (either automatically or locked to disable the auto tracking feature when called for in certain applications). The available options are Ground, Salt and Lock.
In either of the first two, the MXT Pro will analyze the ground with just a few up-&-down pumps of the coil and determine the optimal ground balance setting for the conditions present.
Any variation in ground mineralization will be tracked and changes are made on a continuous basis to ensure maximum detection depth is obtained at all times. Under certain conditions, such as when searching sites containing a high concentration of old ferrous items (rusted iron) or when searching for black sand deposits in gold-bearing regions, it may be desirable to disable this tracking feature, which is when the Lock position would be used.
The three knobs are GAIN (ON/OFF control + sensitivity adjustment), DUAL CONTROL (either adjusts the desired discrimination level when in the Coin/Jewelry or Relic modes or the speed at which the audio threshold resets as ground conditions change when in the Prospecting mode), and THRESHOLD (adjusts the threshold audio signal in all three modes).
The touchpads, beneath the LCD screen, control features that were added to or relocated on the MXT Pro and include “MUSICAL NOTES” (allows selection of preferred audio options that vary depending on the search mode selected), “GROUND GRAB” (when held with the TRAC toggle in Salt or Ground, temporarily disables the auto-track feature to avoid inadvertently loosing weak signals after multiple passes when checking targets or when in Lock, reestablishes the “locked” value if ground conditions have changed significantly), and “LIGHT BULB” (provides three levels of backlighting for the LCD screen to allow for hunting in low or no light conditions if temperatures, crowds or personal schedules dictate hunting under those conditions).
At first glance, the LCD screen might appear to be smaller than those seen on other target ID detectors, but the engineers at White’s stayed true to their original design goal, which was to provide performance and overall simplicity rather than adding “bells and whistles” that gave no true benefit in the field.
Providing two lines of information in an easy-to-read format, the screen’s specific information varies depending on the search mode selected. In all three modes, a number ranging from “-95” to “+94” that allows targets to be identified will be displayed in the upper left portion of the screen.
In the Coin/Jewelry and Relic modes, a probable target ID label will be displayed to the right of this number with the actual labels driven by the mode selected.
In Coin/Jewelry, U.S. coin types, trash and jewelry will appear, while, in Relic, labels such as Iron, Button, Bullet or Buckle will show up.
Although helpful, experienced hunters will agree that focusing more on the target ID number will ensure good targets are not overlooked.
For example, gold jewelry can produce signals that indicate Screw Cap or Pull-tab, but by thinking about the type of area you are hunting, you will find your brain will allow you to recover what others have passed up.
When operating in either the Coin/Jewelry or Relic modes, an LCD “box” will appear in one of 16 segments along the bottom line of the display.
The location of the “box” will correspond to the target composition shown on the decal below the screen, and its relative height will let you know how confident the MXT Pro is as to that identification.
If it is full height, it is fairly certain of the target ID and, as the height drops, the certainty drops accordingly.
Extremely deep targets can produce a low confidence level; however, with a little practice combining the depth indication with the target ID to determine if a signal is worth recovering will become second nature.
When the Prospecting mode is selected, the display changes to indicate the likelihood of a detected target being iron (shown as a percentage) and a relative ground value that can be used to locate areas where highly mineralized (or the opposite) pockets exist.
The trigger on the handgrip also serves different functions depending on its position.
The center position is the normal search mode while pulling and holding the trigger switches to the depth-reading, non-motion mode.
In the Prospecting mode, pushing it forward locks the TRAC circuitry in the same manner as the TRAC toggle being placed in Lock would.
The audio options that were selected on the original MXT by pushing the trigger to the forward position have been moved to the “MUSICAL NOTES” touchpad and vary based on the search mode selected.
Another difference between the original MXT and the MXT Pro is the coil that comes with the detector – the Pro is equipped with the new “300” coil which, despite its 12-inch diameter, still does a good job separating targets that are located in close proximity to one another, as well as providing increased detection depth over the 9.5-inch coil found on the MXT.
A full range of optional coils in both concentric and Double-D designs are available to cover any possible application the MXT Pro might be used in.
The MXT uses the standard White's drop-in battery pack, which holds eight AA batteries and provides about 40 hours of operation with alkaline batteries. Two optional rechargeable systems are available.
Since the MXT Pro was designed to provide high-end performance under a wide range of conditions, I opted to skip initial testing it at sites likely to contain little other than clad coins. With minimal rain over the preceding weeks, I was forced to look for sites that would allow target recovery without killing the grass.
A few foundations in the woods I know of that date back to the early 1900’s were the first I visited. Unloading the detector and the optional 6x10 Double-D coil, I hiked into the area. Selecting the Coin/Jewelry mode, a Discrimination level of “3” and setting the Gain at Preset, I pumped the coil a few times to get the ground balance dialed in.
Signals were plentiful, but most were clearly ferrous based on the target ID and the audio response (Tone ID was selected). Bumping the discrimination level up slightly, the unwanted signals dropped off, so I kept it set at “4”.
The front yard of the first house turned up five coins – two silver dimes and three Wheat cents – along with a small die-cast airplane from the 1940’s and a few other interesting trinkets. They had come from depths down to 8” producing solid, repeatable signals and consistent target ID indications.
The ID numbers of the deeper targets did drop a tad from what they would have been on the surface, but this not uncommon on target ID detectors.
A consistent signal combined with a depth indication more than 5 inches is worth investigating.
The next two foundations produced similar results and, by the end of the day, two more silver dimes, a silver quarter and five Wheats were added to my pouch.
The Double-D coil worked extremely well at one site that was littered with the remnants of an old tin roof and I was able to ferret out a few keepers from the trash the stock coil had missed.
The stock coil gave more coverage with each sweep and increased detection depth, which helped in areas where a layer of dead leaves covered the ground, increasing target depth.
An old mill site on a creek located on the Georgia / South Carolina border was my next destination. Some nice finds had come from this site in the past, but they had all been deep. Opting for the Relic mode, I pushed the Gain just into the Boost range (the shaded region as the control is turned clockwise), set the Discrimination level at “2” and left the audio response at the default “2-tone” option.
This is a useful feature, which produces an audible response to all targets one passes over; however, those that fall below the selected discrimination level produce a low tone and accepted targets produce a high tone.
Since iron targets will often be the first indication of past habitation, this allows you to hear yet ignore unwanted targets and then slow down to search the area more thoroughly. A few hours searching the hillsides surrounding the old mill turned up only one coin, but what a coin it was – a well worn British copper!
Other items recovered included half of a pewter spoon, four round musket balls and an assortment of iron items, including hand-forged nails, spikes and the like. The stock 12” coil did feel heavy after a few hours of searching the hills; however, the optional coils can quickly address this if it becomes an issue while still producing excellent results.
Since I wasn’t able to try the MXT Pro out at any of the gold bearing sites in the Carolinas or north Georgia, I switched to the Prospecting mode and searched a section of the mill site with both the stock and the 6x10 Double-D coils.
Despite the ground being fairly mineralized clay, the threshold remained virtually constant throughout the hunt. The shallower iron objects all produced Iron Target % readings that easily allowed the trash to be identified without the fear of missing a good target. The “Iron Grunt” audio response was also a nice way to identify unwanted targets by their audio signal and the Iron Target % value reads 80% or higher.
Deeper ferrous items – over 6” – were inconsistent in the audio identification; however, the target ID value in the upper left consistently identified iron by the negative numbers displayed. The sensitivity of both coils in the Prospecting mode was quite impressive, as indicated by the small targets recovered that included .22 casings and bullets, part of the back of a 2-piece button and other tiny objects.
A few trips to parks and schools before the report was wrapped up allowed me to try out the MXT Pro’s new 7-tone audio target ID feature available in the Coin/Jewelry mode. Similar to the system found on the M6, which I have used quite successfully, it’s designed to allow users to identify targets (at least on a coarse basis) by the audio response and then refine the identification using the target ID number on the LCD screen.
The response does take a little getting used to in that the signals are not as “clean” as those produced when the single tone option is selected, but the extra information does help identify targets without looking at the meter.
In high trash areas I found myself toggling between the two options via the MUSICAL NOTES touchpad, with both allowing me to find and zero in on targets…the one you opt for will be personal preference and switching couldn’t be easier – one press of the touchpad!
White’s has clearly taken a detector that has built a loyal following of successful treasure hunters and added features that will further enhance performance in the field under even the harshest of conditions.
The MXT Pro is a perfect example of how a detector can be designed to provide top-end performance via an easy-to-use interface, a straightforward display and an ergonomic form.
If you are interested in searching for a variety of targets, the MXT Pro will allow you to use a single detector for multiple applications while not sacrificing performance.
The original MXT remains a solid performer and the new features on the MXT Pro will give users the flexibility to customize it to their personnel preferences.
The MXT Pro lists for $899.95 and comes with the standard two-year White’s transferable warranty. Several optional coils and a rechargeable battery system are available to enhance the versatility.
For more info, call (800) 547-6911 or visit www.whiteselectronics.com and be sure to mention you read about it in Lost Treasure!