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Very powerful detector picks up little stuff and big stuff
Lots of setting
Great in clean area
Aweful in junk yards
I frequently go with hunt clubs in Illinois and New Mexico, I follow along behind people who have paid $800.00 or more for their new detector and I consistently find valuable targets that they've missed, does this mean that my old '49er is a better machine than theirs? No, not really, it means that 15 years of practice with one high quality, older machine is more of an asset than all the digital, whiz-bang bells and whistles that money can buy. Get yourself a good detector and stick with it, I promise you it will pay you back.I've never had a need for any other detector. For my experience level the 4900 is a superb machine, and it doesn't have that silly meter like the 5900 does, and don't even get me started on the 6000, I'll swing a cheapo Bounty Hunter before I'll use a 6000.
I got a new Whites Prizm 4 in mid July this summer. I wanted a good entry level machine with an ID and this was the closest one I could discover.
I've been using my Prizm 4 now pretty regularly ever time out. I absolutely love the 3 Tone Audio ID and don't know what i ever did without having more than one tone to help with detecting. Some people may thing Whites new Prizm series are low end toys but they are very powerful machines at the fraction of a cost than other detectors with similar features. Best of all they are made in the USA by a established American company.
The Prizm 4 retails for around $450 and most dealers will sell them for around $400 but I expect by this coming spring the price will drop now that other companies like Garrett revamped their Ace series, which look extraordinarily like White's Prizm series. the PRIZM 4 is a nice reliable and sturdy detector. Its amazing to know the control box is water resistant and so far the LCD screen hasn't been scratched up. I am still leaning towards maybe investing in some sort of control cover...I've seen one from SunRay which is sold for the Explorer, but can be adapted simply for any Prizm.
It comes stock with an 8" coil which serves most of every use you can come up with. I am about to buy the new Prizm950 coil which goes for $100 or less, its the only other coil option for any Prizm. I know a lot of Hunters who like to use 9.5" or 10" coils for their standard hunting. But the 8" coil for me is pretty much the standard coil for me as it covers all the essentials. I got the Coil cover which i say is essential as well.
I was slightly annoyed by the change to 9volts, but i am very surprised how well they work. The original pair that came with my machine are "supposed" to last only 20 hours, but Mine still are working strong! Not sure why but It could because I always hunt with a good pair of Headphones... It ends up being a priority as the built in volume level of the Prizm seems low to me, using my Koss TD-81 headphones gives me great sound.
When you first turn on the Prizm4 or any other Prizm its pretty much all set to go... The Disc level is set to 2 / Foil, the Sens level is set to 6 bars. At this point you are in a std single tone motion disc. You can basically move the Disc level up 3 more levels covering Nickels/Rings, Tabs, Bottlecaps/Zinc Pennies. Whites assumes most people would not want to Disc out Copper pennies, or regular silver / clad coins. Having all the controls instant with the Visual Id makes it so easy to just turn on and go its so simple a kid can do it... in fact I got my 8yr old nephew into detecting it took him 2 minutes literally to turn it on and start finding goodies. As an experienced hobbyist being out of the hobby after 10 years, its very refreshing to come to a Easy and Powerful detector. Next up I always push the Tone ID pad. Low tones for Iron, mid tone for Rings/Tabs, high tone for coins. all I got to do is pop on the headphones and walk around the ground listen for consistent solid high tones and once I get a good blip then I usually check the Visual ID. I am still learning about the Smart Notch. Its supposed to be easy to use but often confuses me. Using tones, visual Id, i am usually able to come away with good hits... been finding more jewelry than I thought although I am happy with most targets.It gets good depth. the ID shows depth reading in 2" increments and goes to 8+ inches... but to be honest in one field I found targets up to 15" before.
The Best surprise for me was when I went to the 31st Annual Milan hunt sponsored by Michigan Treasure Hunters club. I met about 10 other people using Prizm4's I never knew this little machine would be good for competition. I did 4 seeded hunts and for my very first hunt I found 6 silver dimes. After the day was over I had a total of 18 silver dimes, 4 silver quarters, a silver half, plus about $5 in clad. People from my club were happy for me as it was my first ever big hunt and I did better than I ever thought I would.
I dont have a lot of Negatives... Its hard for me to come up with any. The Headphone jack is on the right, so if you like holding your detector with your right hand, the Heaphones cable sometimes gets in the way. I wish the Visual ID was slightly more informative. Its simple and some targets i have to get used to knowing where they get picked up at. On an IDX Pro there is an ID for Dimes inline with Copper Pennies, but on the Prizm it just shows Copper Pennies and I did not know that Dimes were found under this ID. The biggest limit is coil availability. Whites only made two coils for the Prizms. I wrote to Whites asking for other coils and they said they never planned on it so, if you want to get into bigger or smaller coils you may want to rethink a Prizm. And you cant swap coils with other Whites. the 8" Prizm coil and Prizm950 coils are made only for the Prizms. Not much else I can think of... Only thing left is wait and see how low the price drops. Now that Garrett revamped and redesigned their Ace series detectors with great features and low price points, I think the Prizms will have to go lower in price. Luke
The classic III is a simple machine. There is a knob for setting the discrimination level that can be set to discriminate most unwanted items. There is a sensitivity control knob. The frequency adjust feature gives you ability to operate two detectors near each other without interference. The black sand switch gives you an edge in heavy mineralization. One feature of the classic III is the larger 9.5 inch search coil, this gives you extra depth for those deeper items, keep in mind it is heavy and weighs on your arm a bit more. The case is well made, in fact the entire detector is solidly built and is resistant to the abuse of active field use. The batteries last for a super long time with this detector.
The targets are easy to recognize. If it is a solid beep it is a good signal. If it is a broken beep or does not repeat it is a trash signal. The noise the detector makes as it is scanning over trash items does take some getting used to. When you find a solid signal it is usually obvious but there are many signals you may be missing because of the excess discrimination noise. The deeper coins will have slightly less volume to the beep but will be solid an repeatable.
I have found the detector to perform poorly in some extremely heavy trash areas due to the excess noise the detector makes. Detectors always have trouble at such sites but the classic III becomes pratically useless at such sites. The detector is extremely reliable and stable in any other conditions. The detector is also a poor performer in wet sand of the northwest beaches. I found the detector to be innoperable on wet sand. It does work well in dry sand though. The classic III is a usefull treasure hunting tool. It does have its limitations because of the way it discriminates but once you get the knack of it you can do quite well.
I have had two metal detectors,the first one was a flashy all singing,all dancing type,with a LCD screen and lots of knobs.I bought it from Maplin Electronics.This detector promised to do lots of things,but never fulfilled its expectations. In fact,I found it so useless that I returned it to the company I bought it from.It could detect - ring pulls from cans,bottle tops etc., or so the advertisement said,but when I used it,I found it could only detect to a depth of 2".It had a large LCD screen with titles for gold,silver,tin,iron on the screen,and also coins.When using this detector I found none of the sections for metals worked to the promise of the manufacturers advertisement.
I purchased a White's detector BC4 and have used it frequently. The main body is constructed of what seems to be a nylon type plastic and is tough material.The analogue meter is built on top of the handle and is easy to read.The BC4 emits a single tone signal .The stem is made of aluminim and is adjustable for length.An 8" coil is fitted as standard.The coil is waterproof.
Using the BC4 is straightforward,The tuner is set to a suitable level and works fine in most instances.If there is much mineralisation in the soil,the the tuner has to be continually re-set.In other words,-you have to constantly re-tune the detector.
Where the ground is sound,ie,of a pure content,then you do not have to re-tune the detector.Although there are no refinements on this detector,-such as a fancy LCD screen,most of the functions of a more expensive detector can be equalled in all respects.
This is acheived by using the meter to tune in to the type of metal,and its depth etc., This comes after much practice,and once the technique is accomplished,it can match detectors that are more expensive.
One drawback of the BC4 however,is that it is not comfortable to use for long periods! There is no arm rest on this machine,and so after 10 minutes your arm gets sore.I have used this machine for 2 to 3 hours at a time,and found my arm getting sore. The BC4 is easy on the batteries,and I have found the circuitry to be excellent and very easy on the batteries.
The BC4 is a powerful,and sensitive detector,with excellent qualities for dealing with a wide range of soil and ground types.
I use this machine in the chalk lands of Wiltshire and it performs very well. To give you an example.----I was in fields where there is some excavation and the top soil was removed about a depth of 12",and then there is solid chalk.
Using the Beachcomber 4,I got a reading in two places near each other,and decided to investigate. I dug one hole for a depth of about 4",and then moved slightly forward and dug another hole.The reading I got on the meter looked promising,and so I dug more.I dug deeper,and deeper,and after an hour of digging through solid chalk,I found something! Guess what?--You are right!----I found a water pipe. In farmland,nothing near for miles,in acres and acres of land,I find a water pipe. You can guess how I felt.I was tired,very tired,and nearly exhausted,for you see.I thought I had found some Roman coins,what I was looking for.Nevertheless,it proved one thing.The Beachcomber sure did a good job.To detect to that depth 18" in solid chalk,which,by the way,is very hard to dig through,then the power of the instrument is sure something to be admired!
I have found some interesting things with my BC4 and use it regularly.I bought this machine because I liked the look of it,and most importantly the price.It is reasonable priced and value for money.
To sum up this machine.---- The Beachcomber 4 is a solid no-nonsense plain,well constructed,and reliable machine.It will take a lot of abuse and keep on working.It is very efficient in using batteries,and the electronics is efficent in low current consumption which means that the batteries will last a long time. It is guaranteed for one year and is good value for money.I purchased mine from Whites Electronics in Scotland and am pleased with it. I recommend this detector.
PS. I have a arm rest which I have had made for me,and it enhances the performance of the BC4.Using the new arm rest,it means I can use the BC4 for hours on end and not get tired. If you have a Beachcomber,or are thinking of getting one,I recommend this arm rest.It is manufactured locally here.
The metal detector can be purchased direct from white's.I purchased mine from them as I could not get one from a company I ordered it from.The address is - www.whites.co.uk Claudius.
I also have one I bought about 11 years ago. I am probably more of a novice at detecting but I have found some civil war stuff and loads of coins, nothing old. I must agree with everything Terry said in his review with a couple more comments.
I bought mine used from a reputable dealer that had refurbed it, new coil and about half of the retail price. I have never had a problem with it as far as the intermitent operation. I have never had a problem with it period. Batteries last forever. It is a sturdy machine with consistent operation. I must agree that you have to understand what it is telling you but once you learn it, it does not lie.
The technology is complicated and I found that I had to reread the manual several times. They make it as simple as they can but you have to learn the terminology and have a basic understanding of the technology, and you can get there. Mine came with factory presets for "average" conditions and for the amount of time I use it, that is mostly good for me. I have toyed with the other settings but found I had to go back to the manual and reread, then try it again. But then again, it's not a beep-in-a-box machine. It is heavy. I have often played with the idea of buying a new, light weight, ergonomically designed model, but for the price that I paid for this machine I just can't justify it. Maybe when I'm 70 but that's about 30 years off. Never have used another machine but I love this one. Used it on an ocean beach for the first time just last week. Didn't find any jewelry but found about $8.00 in quarters. It's good to have kids to sift sand. Leaves one hand free for the beverage container. Enjoy.
Matthew R. Cote
I have had my Classic III SL through the warranty period, and used it many hours.
At first I used only the stock 9 1/2" coil, and found alot of coins with it. One of the nicest finds was found along a foundation, and was my first Large Cent (1847).
I found the depth to be as good as advertised, and ease of use was excellent. The battery life is very good, I almost forget to carry an extra set along, just in case, because I rarely need to change them. I do change them when I think of it though, so I don't wind up "in the field" with weak batteries! The Classic III SL weighs just a little, and with my Bullseye 5.6 coil, it balances very nicely. In fact since I got the smaller coil, I have went back to some of my old sites, and found goodies I missed. Glad I did!!
I find the tone to be fairly easy to "discern" when trying to judge whether a target is good or not, but it took some practice before I got good at it. Alot depends on the discriminate setting in which you hunt. If you like to just find silver, clad, and copper coins, well you will love the coin preset!! If you want to find nickels, gold, and smaller rings, well you better get ready to dig alot of signals (on most any machine!!! )
I like the "turn on and go" ease of this machine! I can trust my machine, to tell me what it see down there in the ground. It doesn't lie, but it is MY JOB to learn what it tells me, and REALIZE what my settings are!
The Classic III SL has the same "guts" as the Classic IDX, and that is a deep seeker too! I haven't used mine on beaches yet, so I can't help there. I do know that it is one efficient coin machine, can find Lg. Cents down to eleven or twelve inches in moist soil, and large relics (in minimum disc.) down deeper than that.
It cannot tell an aluminum can from a dollar.....you will have to "size up" the target be using the coil swing / distance method.
It cannot tell a screw on cap from a quarter.....you will have to listen to the way the target responce "hits" your ear. (sharp "bang" likely a cap) Smooth, clear repeatable in all directions is likely a goodie!
It cannot tell you the depth....you will have to lift the coil, and if it still responds a foot or so above the ground, well.... it is a big target. If it quits within about six inches above the ground...., then "size it" with the swing / pinpoint it, and then if it seems small....DIG!!!!!!!
My two favorite settings for coins are: 1. Sens- Preset / Disc.-coin Preset / Freq. Preset 2. Sens.-Max. / Disc.-Ring / Freq.- Preset
Number 1. is great for just finding the coins, down to say 6 inches or so on a quarter.
Number 2. is good for sites where you know there's good stuff there, and you know you must dig the trash out before you'll find all the good stuff. There's more depth when you discriminate less, but more trash accepted too. BUT YOU WILL FIND THE GOLD if it is there, 'cause gold is in the ring range!!!!!!!!
I hope my post wasn't too long, and that someone can get some information from my experiences with my little Classic III SL machine!
HINT: Follow the recommendation in the manual about "marking the discriminate control", after that, you will be able to hunt with less discrimination, to find signals, then turn the disc. knob "up" to see if the target still reads. If it goes out at the "ring" preset, it is likely a nickel or GOLD!Happy Hunting to all!!!!!Paul of Harrisburg
I won't make any excuses for these units. The GM-3 is my personal current favorite of the batch, and the one I use the most myself. One of the features not noted in the earlier specifications is the variable frequency shift capability of this and the newer Goldmaster 4/B model, a handy item to have when working in close proximity to other GM units, as they all have the same "base" operating frequency of 50 kHz, and with that frequency being crystal controlled or "locked" on the different models, cross-talk can be a major pain in the butt if you don't use the frequency shift feature around other GMs.
Another thing I like about the newer models (GM-3 and 4/B) is the 10-turn threshold control. This seems a bit "over-engineered" at times, but it sure helps keep a steady and more precise audio threshold level.
The audio boost feature of the two latest models also proves a big advantage in some situations in amplifying the target audio by 300 or 500 percent over the standard setting. This helps with signals from smaller and deeper targets which may give just the slightest whisper of a signal to begin with. Contrary to what the White's ads may imply about this being a gain or sensitivity boost mode, it is simply an audio amplification feature which effects only the audio signal AFTER it is processed via the receiver circuits, and has nothing to do with the actual "gain" circuits.
The variable self adjusting threshold (SAT) of the earlier V/Sat has been continued on the GM-3 and GM-4/b, the only gold detecting units currently on the market offering this feature. This basicly allows inconsistent ground mineralization to be dealt with to produce a smoother and more consistent threshold level which helps the operator to more easily distinguish ground mineralization signals from weaker "true" metallic signals, a definate plus in many areas where a simple fast or slow switchable SAT or "recovery" speed will not afford you with nearly the range of a fully adjustable SAT speed. The latest two Goldmaster units use a very slow SAT speed for their pinpoint modes, and an adjustable variable speed of 5 to 50 times faster than the base pinpoint speed.
The GM-3 and 4/B units also have had circuitry improvements over the V/Sat and GM-II in that they have a wider or more "dynamic" gain range which allows them to operate at higher gain levels without reciever circuit overload caused by highly mineralized ground conditions. The addition of the newer "Twin-D" (double-D or "widescan") coil as now standard equipment on all Goldmasters also allows for generally higher useable gain levels in most areas, even those with the worst ground mineralization.
The "discrimination circuits" of the Goldmasters (in reality a simple iron I.D. circuit) are known for their useability and lack of resultant depth loss that is normally experienced with true phase shift type discrimination circuits. Using the Goldmasters with this discrimination or iron I.D. circuit engaged results in NO depth or sensitivty loss to targets other than those the machine sees as magnetic ferrous materials.
Having had the opportunity to compare the GM-3 and the newer GM-4/B in side-by-side tests, I really saw no noticeable difference in the performance of these two machines which have the same basic circuitry, although for those who may have less experience with such manual gold machines, the electronic ramping (push-pad) ground balance system of the Goldmaster 4/B seems a little easier to use with it's 1000:1 tuning ratio range vs. the 40:1 ratio manual turn-pot ground balance control of the GM-3. Having used the 3 3/4 turn ground balance controls of the Tesoro Diablo µMax and the 16:1 of the Gold Bug for some years, the 40:1 ratio is a breeze, with the 1000:1 ratio of the 4/B being a true extravagance.
But otherwise, the basic "differences" in the GM-3 and 4/B are very minor where performance is concerned, with the most obvious being in the configuration of the control box and it's versatility or lack thereof. The GM-3 uses the older and somewhat smaller square-shaped classic type control housing where the 4/B is of the later classic style with the meter and push-pad controls contained in a separately located housing above the operators hand grip with the main housing and controls below the operators arm-cup area for better overall balance and comfort. The GM-3 configuration however allows the operator to mount the control housing at one of two locations on the rod, or the capability to hip or chest mount the unit thereby significantly reducing the weight of the coil/rod configuration to just over a pound with the standard coil. This is a definate benefit to those of us who hunt for hours on end and may otherwise begin to really feel the fatigue of the rod-mount configuration after several hours use.
The GM-4/B is also available as a hip-mount unit, but because of the addition of the meter and push-pad control housing, some feel it awkward to use in this configuration.
My preference is the GM-3 mounted on a customized chest-mount harness made of standard nylon webbing and hardware. This allows for the machine to be directly accessible from the front and affords it some added protection from falls, slips and slides down steep hillsides, as well as any light rain showers you may rarely run into in the desert goldfields.
Overall, I feel the Goldmasters are some of the better manual gold machines ever produced, and those with the patience and enthusiasm to master a good manual machine will be well rewarded. And let there be no doubt, they ARE manual machines, with the only "automatic" feature being that of the SAT or self adjusting threshold. Everything else is up to the operator (even the SAT speed), and the infinate combinations of user adjustability are what make these machines excell in areas where many of the automatic units have problems.
As an added note, if you are in the market for one of these machines, I HIGHLY recommend the larger "Gold Max" coil from White's as it offers extremely good sensitivity for it's large size and a depth advantage of 30% or more over the standard sized Goldmaster coils.
Rumor has it (as of this writing) that White's plans to discontinue production of the Goldmaster V/Sat and GM-3, so if you are interested in either, grab one while you can. Many White's dealers still have these in stock, but I wouldn't expect that situation to last for long.
Hope this information is of some help.....Ralph
I've had this detector for about 11 years, this information may be of use to someone who is considering a used one. Bear in mind when reading this review that this is the only detector that I've ever used . I've found well over 1000 pennies, a half dozen of them indian cents back to 1880, 40-50 silver dimes, a few silver quarters, some jewelry, and the usual not valuable but interesting run of brass dog tags, advertising medals, cereal box tokens, brass belt buckles, etc. I've paid my dues, but do not consider myself a "crack detectorist" by any means.
I'll go over the negatives first... but be sure you don't just read those!!
-My first complaint is that the instruction manual left a lot to be desired, I had to chuckle because it seemed to assume that a user already knew how to use the machine. Especially lacking was a section on how to translate the various beeps, b-diddle-eeps and at first seemingly random meter swinging the detector uses to help the user judge trash from good targets. I eventually learned how to run it, even finding a couple indian pennies and other old stuff in a local park that has been hunted since detectors first became popular. There was little information on the situations where the various modes of operation would be useful, as a result I ran it at far less than maximum usable sensitivity for a very long time. [Wonder what goodies I missed...?]
-My second complaint is that the method used to connect the two circuit boards together has a tendency to be intermittent, resulting in erratic operation. Banging on the thing would usually restore operation, disassembly and cleaning the connection pins helps for a while.
-My third complaint is that the thing is heavy. It has generated its share of soreness in arms and back.
Once you learn to run it, this is a very good detector. I've found silver dimes as deep as 10". Canadian large pennies at even deeper distances. The trick is to search very slowly and sweep in different directions around targets. The meter indication that tries to identify the target is very accurate on coins. It is remarkable to me that I can separate the zinc form the copper pennies, even silver dimes from clad ones. I've learned to dig nickels only if the meter lands directly centered on "nickel"... If not I dig trash. Because pop tops and a 5$ gold piece read about the same with this detector, I've not found any. On the other hand I probably haven't passed the search head over one either except for my experiment....
The discrimination works very well, I've had to keep telling myself "trust the detector". If I don't, it invariably turns out to be trash. I was even able to recognize a a strange "worth digging" target that turned out to be a copper penny inside a bottle cap. It is difficult to locate deeper good targets if there is lots of shallow trash, although I bet that is true of other detectors as well. Pin pointing is also pretty good, however the angle that the target lies in the ground appears to shift the indicated location around a bit from actual.CONCLUSION:
If you are willing to take the time to learn how operate this detector, and to interpret the various sounds and meter readings, this is a fine detector that will let you score where others apparently have not. If you want a "turn it on and go" machine you will be very disappointed. Since I've made a large time investment learning this detector, and it performs VERY well for me, I have no plans to replace it, in spite of its deficiencies and perhaps dated technology.Other opinions, dissenting and otherwise are welcome.. Life constantly reminds me how much I do not know.
I have been detecting the beaches of the New Jersey for over 23 years now .I started as a young teen with a Compass coin hustler .Over the years I have tried many different makes and models on the beach.
My opinion is that there's no better water detector ( for high mineral beaches of the east coast ) then the Surfmaster PI . Unbelievable performance on the beach and in the surf , lightweight ,very easy to use .Turn two knobs to factory recommended setting and go .For under 500.00 I think its worth it weight in gold.A weighted search coil for surf and under water cost a little more .I chose not to buy .( a sock with a little sand tied to coil works just as good or better ) Only thing I can say that was different was pinpointing the target at first .That was corrected the more I got to use it .My first Surfmaster paid for itself many times over with the things I have found ,I bought my wife and son one .Also I bought a back up that I haven't needed yet.I highly recommend the Surfmaster PI to everyone beginner or pro . Jim Mc
I Am a newbie ... I purchased the White's Classic IDX in the summer of '99 ... and am impressed by the my findings thus far. No, it doesn't have a depth locator which I have found to be an "advantage". My husband's XLT does have a depth reading and, son-of-a-gun, he judges whether to dig or pass. Since I don't know the depth, I just "go for it" which has resulted in discovering a US Calvary buckle from about 1870's in pristine condition, many old coins and some fun relics like military buttons, old locks, etc.
It appears that the IDX has excellent depth capabilities. I Have observed that if the coil picks up iron that the iron reading will "linger" masking a silver target. I am referring to a situation where I am sweeping a confined/smaller area ... so have gotten in habit of stepping aside and re-sweeping in those areas with a significant number of successful silver finds when sweeping in from another angle. Also observed that the display has a "ghost"/back & forth display with nickles.
Am planning on getting a smaller (probably 6") coil for detecting those trashy areas (parks/lakeshore), but am very pleased with this detector. I use the White's Bullseye probe and wouldn't be without it! Happy hunting! Ann
It has good Sensitivity adjustment, and with the setting all the way to the right I am finding coins and rings up to eight inches deep in dry sand.
Two clicks below the Ring mode is perfect for finding gold rings along with the tabs and nickels.
In full coin mode is where you find nothing else, just coins. It has a black sand mode and a frequency adj. when hunting with other metal detectors.I think it is the best midrange detector on the market $400 to $500. It comes standard with a 9.50" coil. It is waterproof up to the read out box approx. 5 ft. of depth search in either salt or fresh water. One of the best things about this detector is that it is very easy to operate, no tweaking of knobs, no monkeying around with this and that like the XLT. This past weekend I hunted side by side with a White's XLT on a fresh water beach. He hunts at least 20 hrs a month with his so he knows his detector. After the end of two days 6 hrs on Sat. and 5 hrs on Sun. I had found 11 more quarters than he did, 15 more dimes, 28 more pennies , 13 more nickels, Plus I found three silver rings, one gold ring, and one silver neck charm. He found no rings , just coins, and he was not on a discriminate mode. For anyone starting out you can't beat the IDX. I hope this information has been useful as an actual in the field test.
If you have any questions please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The White's Classic III SL is a great detector for a great price. Though it has neither a target ID nor depth feature, it is possibly one of the most reliable detectors I've ever used. There are three easily adjustable controls: Discrimination, sensitivity, and frequency (great for hunting with friends)...all of which have a preset setting marked for easy turn-on-and-go operation. In addition, a three-position toggle switch located at the front of the handle allows one to switch easily between pinpoint, discriminate, and all-metal modes. Another toggle switch located on the box allows selection between "normal" and "black sand" modes, though I have never used it. I always recommend the use of headphones if possible, especially in this case since there is no volume control on the detector itself. Ignoring the supposed "statistics" given by the manual, I immediately set out to do some tests of my own. I was able to locate (under normal ground conditions with little to no mineralization) the following modern coins (all were U.S. Currency): Quarter @ up to 8" deep, Dime @ up to 5" deep, Nickel @ up to 6" deep, and a Penny @ up to 6" deep. In this case, I was using just enough discrimination to ignore an iron nail at all depths up to 8". I used the preset location on the frequency control and had the sensitivity at maximum, and had a Blue Max 950 (standard) loop attached.
As for shallow freshwater detecting, it was difficult to measure the depth accurately; but, I was able to locate nickels, pennies, and quarters at a depth of up to (at least) 5".The detector is light and ergonomic enough to use all day, and is powered by 8 AA size batteries. Any rechargeable 12 volt battery pack of proper size can be used. As for battery life, I found that 8 Energizers last me around 60 to 80 hours of detecting, which is quite good. The coil is interchangeable with any of White's other sizes, and the rod is adjustable to a number of different lengths.
As for drawbacks, this detector has very few. One thing I noticed is the "chirping" caused by strong target signals, such as pulltabs and coins lying on top of the ground. This is hard to eliminate, but one can learn to deal with it by raising the coil off the ground a few inches at a time and sweeping again. The detector's signal is a monotone beep, which makes it a bit harder to discern between different signals - again, something that one can learn to deal with by listening to the duration, strength, and smoothness of the signal.In conclusion, the White's Classic III SL is a great detector for both beginners and veterans on a budget. At around $350 as of January 19, 2000 - this detector is the most expensive of White's Classic Series, yet is the cheapest of their best detectors. The bottom line - if you're looking for a reasonably priced, great all-around detector, and don't mind the lack of a target ID or depth feature, take a good look at the White's Classic III SL
I've had a 4900D Pro for my only detector for about 15 years. Bought it as it seemed to have the same electronics as the higher end models but no meters. Did not buy for gold hunting, as it was intended.
I like the machine, am ready to move on to another soon. Depth will go to 8" in moist - dry soil. It does not work at all on sodden soil, or any beach use. (Once buried a coin an inch down in dry sandbox style sand and lost it.) Discrimination is excellent, with few bad targets pulled unless searching below the pull tab range. Signals are simple to read, with clear bong rather than a broken up signal. Pinpointing is good enough that you can pop your probe right on the coin first try if you want. I like to hunt fast for current coins.(too many rocks here in MT..When I was in Iowa I hunted deep).The fast sweep works well for that. On one occasion in a packed area I filled both jeans pockets to the top in 3 hours...about $10.00 in coin. Occasionally find rings but hate pull tabs so only one gold so far. Battery life is excellent, hunting weekly, they last all summer.
Downside, it is complicated to operate without reading the instruction manual. Battery pack seems to have some trouble with oxidation of terminals and I need to scratch them frequently...have some trouble with stability at times and it goes erratic. It is heavy, not an SL design, killing the wrist after a while. Search coil is a little heavy and too small 8".
I hunted against a friends non ID classic...signals on his were obscure and hard to figure out. Did much better with the 4900 than his...tried his as well. One comment made about a 4900 in this forum was that water would run into it. Rod is outside the unit, so not possible on this. Circuits are mostly IC's and neatly done. Was a good first detector, would still be a good spare. Original retail on these was $300, discount price was $200.
I have been detecting for about 6 years. Living in Colorado's gold country and after reading articles that said people were Still finding gold, I thought I'm gonna try to get in on this too. I Bought a White's GoldMaster VSat. It is a very good detector and I was Going to go out and find gold nuggets. Well, I looked for about four Years off and on and never did find a gold nugget! However, what I did find out was that the GoldMaster is a great detector for locating just about anything that is metal. Yes, you do have to ground balance it but I consider that an insignificant part of detecting. The GoldMaster turned out to be a great coin machine and also a great relic machine. I found lots of coins and other interesting things but because it only operates in all metal mode, there is no discrimination at all. I know many of the Shadow users hunt with no disc. anyway so this worked out fine for finding any metal object.
My switch to the Shadow came after I went to the Leadville Hunt and was going to use my GoldMaster in the competition. I did OK but at that hunt, a good friend of mine had a ShadowX2 and I got to see how it performed against some of the really big name detectors first hand. I was impressed! I bought one shortly thereafter and have been using it ever since. Needless to say, I love the Shadow. I don't get out as often as some of the real hunters but when I do, I never fail to find my share. All that is said about the Shadow is true. It is so much lighter in weight that you can literally hunt all day long if you care to. Plus it is as good, if not better, at locating the treasures, as any of the most popular brands from what I've seen. I will still keep my GoldMaster for nugget hunting because I know the Shadow isn't made for this but when I want to look for coins or relics the Shadow is my choice for sure. These are my two detectors and I am entirely satisfied.