Fisher Research 1266-x
By Andy Sabisch
From Page 24
July, 1991 issue of Lost Treasure

The Fisher 1260-X, introduced in 1982, was the first fully automatic, silent-search detector on the market, and quickly became popular with both novice and experienced TH'ers. The 1265-X, introduced in 1985, provided a number of improvements over its predecessor, including non-motion pinpointing and additional sensitivity. The 1266-X is the newest release from Fisher and is the result of over 2 years of research and development.


The Fisher 1266-X is an automatic ground-cancelling discriminator with two independent silent search, motion discriminate circuits and a non motion all-metal pinpoint mode.

The control housing is mounted on a modified S-shape handle and at 3 lbs. 14 ozs. with the batteries and the new 8-inch open searchcoil, is extremely well balanced.

The battery packs are built into the armrest which also incorporates a stand to keep the detector upright when recovering a target. The lower shaft extends from 43 to 54 inches which is long enough for even the tallest treasure hunter.

The 1266-X features a newly designed 8-inch concentric "spider searchcoil that is not only lighter than the coil on the 1265-X, but is much easier to use when shallow water hunting due to its open design and thin profile.

The 1266-X has 4 knobs and 1 push button on the front face plate and a 3-position toggle switch mounted on the bottom of the control housing that control its functions. The 2 knobs located in the upper left and right comers, labeled DISC 1 and DISC 2, are used to set the discrimination level desired in each of the two independent discrimination circuits.

The knob in the lower left comer marked VOL serves a dual function-it turns the 1266-X on and adjusts the volume heard through the internal speaker or optional headphones. The knob in the lower right comer labeled SENSITIVITY is a dual-range control. With the knob pulled out, the lower sensitivity range is selected, and sensitivity can be increased by turning the knob in a clockwise direction from 8 o'clock to 4 o'clock. By pushing the knob in, the higher sensitivity range is selected, and is increased by also turning it in a clockwise direction.

This dual range control allows for the sensitivity level to be adjusted more accurately depending on the type of soil you are searching in. The push button located below the VOL control is labeled BATTERY CHECK and, when depressed, will indicate the condition of the batteries by the relative strength of the tone produced. The three-position toggle switch located on the bottom of the control housing and in front of the padded hand grip allows the user to switch between the two discriminate modes and the pinpoint mode.

The center position is the normal search mode and activates the DISC 1 (left discriminate control) circuit. By pushing the toggle forward and holding it, the DISC 2 circuit is activated and can be used to aid in identifying a target before recovery. By pulling the toggle towards you and holding it, the non-motion all-metal pinpoint mode is selected.

There is a headphone jack located on the front of the control housing which accepts any standard 1/4-inch headphone plug. Headphones should always be used to ensure that deeper signals are not missed and to increase battery life.

The 1266-X is powered by 8 AA penlight batteries which arc located in 2 compartments in the armrest assembly. They are replaced by unscrewing the cap and sliding the packs out. There are no wires connecting the battery packs to the detector which eliminates the problem of broken leads, and there is only one way to re-install them to avoid damaging the circuitry.

Standard carbon batteries will provide 20-30 hours of use, and alkaline batteries will provide approximately double that. The 1266X includes recharge circuitry built-in and an optional ni-cad battery kit can be purchased from the factory or your local dealer.


After unpacking the 1266-X and reading over the instruction manual, I performed an air test to see how the detector responded to targets of various size. With sensitivity control pushed in and turned fully clockwise (maximum setting), some circuit noise and interference from the florescent lights was evident. By decreasing the sensitivity to the 12 o'clock position, the 1266-X became quiet and I proceeded with the air test.

With the DISC 1 control set at 2, the 1266-X produced solid, repeatable signals at impressive depths on all of the targets including coins, some small pieces of gold jewelry, a thin gold chain, and .22 caliber shell casings.

The dual independent discrimination circuits on the 1266-X are extremely useful in achieving maximum depth while recovering less trash, as well as enabling the user to identify many types of targets before digging. As with any detector, the depth that a target can be detected and the width of the actual search area will decrease as the discrimination level is increased. By setting the DISC 1 control at 2 or 3 and the DISC 2 control at 5 or 6, this problem can be avoided.

When a target is detected in the DISC 1 or normal search mode, the toggle switch can be used to select the DISC 2 mode to check the target. If the target still produces a repeatable signal, it will be worth digging. This method of searching allows you to get the maximum depth possible from the 1266-X while still ignoring a great deal of the trash items located.

Another way the dual discriminate circuits can be used is to aid 'in eliminating pull tabs while still locating nickels, even in high trash areas. The DISC 1 control should be set so that nails and tin foil are rejected, but nickels still produce a clear signal. The DISC 2 control should be set so that when a pull tab is passed under the coil, a broken or scratchy signal is produced and the nickel is rejected.

With the controls set this way, when a signal is detected in the DISC 1 mode, it should be re-checked in the DISC 2 mode. If the signal disappears, the target is probably a nickel or piece of gold jewelry. If the signal is scratchy, it is likely to be a pull tab, and if it is clear and repeatable, the target is a coin (such as a penny, dime, or quarter), a silver object, or a large screw cap. With a little practice, most trash can be ignored while missing very few good targets.

After completing the air test and calibrating" the discrimination settings to reject the trash objects commonly found, I went outside to see how the 1266-X responded to the objects in my test garden.

The soil in north Georgia is mostly made up of highly mineralized red clay, and I was interested in seeing how the detector would handle these conditions. With the SENSITIVITY control pressed in (HIGH) at the 12 o'clock position, the detector produced only an occasional "chirp" or 11 pop" due to the mineralization, and was able to detect all of the buried targets.

After a few minutes it was quite easy to distinguish between the signal of a good target and one caused by ground conditions or a large target that the detector was trying to reject. On the coins which were buried in the four- to six-inch range, the loop could be held a few inches above the ground while still getting a solid, repeatable signal.

One difference between the 1265X and the 1266-X that was readily apparent was in the strength of the signals produced when passing over a target. The 1266-X gave a loud, clear signal on targets that were 6-8 inches deep, whereas the 1265-X would produce weaker signals on the deeper targets. This feature will ensure that deep targets are not missed, especially in areas of high background noise such as on the beach or near construction sites.


The first site I took the 1266-X to was an old college in the north Georgia Mountains that has been in use since the mid-1800s. The grounds have been searched repeatedly over the years and, while no place is ever truly worked out, decent finds have become few and far between.

Arriving at the campus, I checked in with the security officer and told him where I would be searching. The area near one of the dormitories was where an old band shell had once stood, but due to years of dirt being washed down the hill, most of the coins there were quite deep. I set the two DISC controls as described in the INITIAL IMPRESSIONS section so that I could ignore nails and tin foil and identify pull tabs by the broken response in the DISC 2 mode.

I started searching parallel to the slope in front of the old band shell, taking the time to overlap each sweep to avoid missing anything. After nearly 10 minutes and no signals, I began to think this site was actually worked out.

I turned and walked up the hill, hoping to find some targets where the students had lain on the grass years earlier. Over the next 45 minutes, I did locate a few clad coins that had been lost recently, and 2 wheat cents from the 1930s at 4 inches, but nothing else worthwhile.

I decided to work back to the car and try another area when I received a sharp signal and switched to the DISC 2 mode to check it. Upon receiving a solid signal in this mode as well, I quickly pinpointed it and carefully cut a small plug. After removing the loose dirt and placing it on some cloth, I checked the hole and the detector indicated that the target was still deeper.

While removing some more dirt from the center of the hole, I saw the edge of a silver coin sticking out of the side at almost 8 inches. Carefully pulling the coin free, I brushed the dirt away to reveal an 1876 Seated quarter in extra-fine condition (not bad from a "worked-out" site).

Filled with renewed enthusiasm, I continued to hunt the hill and, over the next 3 hours recovered 5 Indian head pennies (18 8 2 through 1902), 2 Barber dimes (1892 and 1899), 3 Buffalo nickels (no dates) and a Mississippi state sales tax token along with a number of clad coins and some dorm keys. All of the older coins had been at least 6 inches deep and produced clear, repeatable signals.

Only a few deeply buried rusted bottle caps had been recovered; however, as shown in the instruction manual, they are extremely difficult to reject unless a high level of discrimination is used which could result in missing a valuable target. As I headed home, I was quite satisfied with the finds that had come from this heavily hunted site.

Later that week, I gave a friend, Earl Young, a call to talk about the new 1266-X. Earl is a dedicated Civil War relic hunter who spends nearly every waking moment either researching new sites or swinging a detector, recovering relics that make up an enviable collection he has amassed over the last few years. Since he uses the 1265-X exclusively in his searches, I asked him if he wanted to take the 1266-X to some of the sites he had hunted previously; he readily accepted my offer.

The first site he went to was a union position north of Kennesaw Mountain that had been occupied in May of 1864. This site was currently being used as a pasture, and had been heavily hunted over the last 20 years. Earl and his partners had spent many hours here and the number of finds had dropped to the point that recovering one or two relics was considered a good day.

He set the DISC 1 control to 2 1/2, the DISC 2 control to 5 1/2, the SENSITIVITY control to just below maximum and began searching near the edge of the woods. The soil at this site is extremely mineralized, and most detectors are plagued with false signals from these conditions. Earl said that, despite the high level of sensitivity being used, the 1266-X produced very few false signals and they were easy to differentiate from good signals. Less than 10 minutes after starting, he received a strong signal and recovered a fired .58 caliber minnie ball at nearly 9 inches.

Continuing across the field, he received another solid signal that registered good in the DISC 2 mod as well. After pinpointing the signal he began to carefully probe for the target. At slightly more than I inches, he pulled a brass object from the red clay and, after knocking some of the loose dirt free, saw it was the under-plate for a Borman fuse-a nice find.

Earl spent nearly 5 hours at this site and recovered another 14 .58 caliber minnie balls, 10 lead canister shot, and a cartridge finial at depths of 7 to 13 inches. He said that the 1266-X had been more stable and penetrated deeper than any other detector he had used and was certain that the relics he found would still there if he had not been using the 1266-X.

The next site he went to had be one of General Hardee's camps during the Atlanta campaign. As with most sites in the Atlanta area, this camp had been heavily hunted and most of the remaining relics we small and deeply buried. After nearly two hours without receiving even one good signal, Earl began to think the site was about as worked out as the college had been that I searched.

Finally, near a fallen tree, he received a good but faint signal an removed some of the leaves t recheck the area. The signal was little stronger so he started to dig in the clay. After removing a few inches the 1266-X indicated the target was out of the hole and, after going through the dirt, he found a fire percussion cap about the size of a .22 caliber short casing. While literally tens of thousands of these were use: during the Civil War, their size makes them very difficult to locate.

As he continued to search the slope on the edge of the camp, he located fired round musket balls within few feet of each other at 7-9 inches Near the base of a tree, he received strong signal that became scratch when checked in the DISC 2 mode Figuring it was a large iron object o some type, he began digging an recovered an iron Civil War fork at 9 inches.

As he was heading back to the car, he heard a solid signal that produced the same type of response in the DISC 2 mode. At nearly 8 inches, he saw a metallic object at the bottom of the hole and, after removing it, saw that it was a cast I (Infantry) uniform button in excellent condition. Figuring it would be hard to beat that find, he decided to call it a day.

Over the next two weeks, Earl spent nearly 30 hours in the field with the 1266-X and found artifacts in every site he searched. Some of the finds he made included a carved bullet, a mechanical pencil, and over 20 bullets (both dropped and fired) in one of General Hood's camps; various pieces of ordnance from a World War I training site; and a number of Union Cavalry relics from a small campsite.

Overall, Earl said that the 1266-X was extremely stable and many of the relics he located were found at depths that exceeded those he normally found them at and were in areas that had been hunted extensively in the past. It also appeared to be able to detect larger items such as artillery shells deeper than the 1265 X by 12-14 inches and give a more defined signal at those depths. When he returned the 1266-X to me, the last thing he said was, "Well, I guess I'll be buying my fifth Fisher any day now."

I used the 1266-X at several other sites over the next few weeks, and was able to recover a number of coins and Civil War artifacts from areas that had been heavily hunted in the past. I did have some difficulty at two sites--one was in a downtown area where nearby transformers caused electrical interference resulting in some erratic operation. The second site was an old farmyard that was filled with iron trash. The 1266-X was able to locate some good targets; however, the ferrous items caused a fair amount of falsing while trying to reject them.


The sensitivity of the 1266-X combined with the new audio boost circuitry will ensure that very few valuable targets are left in an area after searching it. The detector worked well in all areas despite the high mineralization and other trash items that were present. Large concentrations of ferrous trash did result in some false signals; however, after a little practice, these targets could be easily ignored. The 1266-X is extremely well balanced and even after several hours in the field, one does not feel worn out.

The use of the optional Fisher searchcoils will expand the versatility of the 1266A. The 3-3/4 inch coil is excellent for use in high trash areas or when searching in heavy underbrush, and not much depth is lost when compared to the standard 8-inch coil. The solid 8-inch searchcoil can be used, and pinpointing is a little easier with this coil as compared to the open coil that comes with the unit.

The 10- 1/2 inch open spider coil and the 11 -inch solid coil are designed to give more depth on coin sized and larger objects and are recommended when searching sites where the targets are deep or where the trash content is low.

Fisher offers two different types of loop covers-an open and a solid design. The solid design is quite helpful when relic hunting or searching in overgrown sites as the spider coil frequently gets caught on sticks and branches without it. Both are available from your local dealer.

The 1266-X lists for $549.95 and comes with the standard 5-year Gold Seal Limited Warranty. The same detector is also available as the 1266-XB which breaks down for travel and includes a hard carrying case for $649.95. For the name of your nearest local dealer and a copy of the new Fisher catalog and Treasure Hunters newsletter, write the factory at Fisher Research Laboratory, 200 W. Willmott Rd., Dept. LT, Los Banos, CA, 93635 or call (209)826-3292 and mention that you read about it in Lost Treasure.

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