Over the last several months, Fisher Research has put forth a considerable effort in developing new models to add to their current line of metal detectors. One of their new entries is the 1212-X which has been designed to provide treasure hunters with a quality detector at a reasonable price.
Having used other "entry-level" detectors in the past with somewhat disappointing results, I was anxious to see how this new addition to the Fisher family performed in the field.
According to Jim Lewellen, president of Fisher Research, the engineers who designed the 1212-X had simplicity of operation and overall performance as their primary goals. The 1212-X follows in the footsteps of other X-series Fisher detectors and is an automatic ground canceling, silent search discriminator.
The detector is mounted on the modified S-shaped handle that Fisher originated with the 1260-X in 1982, and at2 pounds, 14 ounces, is one of the lightest metal detectors currently on the market. The 1212-X comes equipped with an 8-inch concentric searchcoil that is hard-wired to the control housing and is not interchangeable with any of the other Fisher coils.
Experience, however, has shown that this is a good general-purpose coil that works well under almost all conditions. The detector can be submerged to the control housing which allows the user to search in the water at the beach for coins and rings or other types of artifacts.
There is only one control on the face of the 1212-X which controls its operation. The knob is labeled "TRASH REJECTION" and is used to turn the detector on as well as select the amount of discrimination to be used while searching. The sensitivity has been preset at the factory to a level that will produce the maximum useable detection depth under most conditions, while at the same time eliminating falsing or chattering that would be caused by operating at too high a level.
There is a standard 1/4-inch headphone jack located on the face of the 1212-X which should be utilized to enhance battery life and to ensure the weaker signals are not missed.
The 1212-X is powered by one 9-volt transistor battery located in a compartment on the back of the control housing. The carbon-zinc battery that came with the detector provided me with nearly 10 hours of use. I replaced it with an alkaline battery and after 18 hours of use, it was still producing a strong signal over buried targets. While a ni-cad battery can be used with no loss of performance, the factory does not offer one as an option at this time.
After removing the 1212-X from its box and reading through the instruction manual, I proceeded to perform an air test to check out the sensitivity to regularly found objects. With the discrimination level set at "3," I found that coins and jewelry items could be detected at depths of up to 7 inches with a clear, repeatable signal.
As I increased the amount of discrimination, there was a slight decrease in the detection depth and gold objects were lost at a setting of "6" or higher. While an air test is useful in checking how a detector responds to various targets, it does not give a true indication of how it will work in the field, so I took the 1212-X outside to my test garden.
I started with the TRASH REJECTION knob set at "0" which allowed the 1212-X to respond to all types of metal and provide the deepest detection depth. I found that the detector produced at least some type of signal on all of the targets except a silver dime at 7 inches, a thin gold ring at 5 inches, and a .69 caliber minnie ball at almost 9 inches.
Only the more expensive detectors have been able to consistently respond to these targets. By increasing the discrimination control to the point where pull tabs were rejected, I found that the coins at 5 inches would only produce a faint signal which emphasized the importance of using headphones to avoid missing any deeply buried targets.
Since the 1212-X was designed primarily to be an entry-level detector, I decided to try it out in those areas that most beginners would initially head. A few miles from our house is a large playground that was built about a year ago, so while my wife kept an eye on our son, I pulled the detector from the trunk of the car and headed toward the swings. I set the TRASH REJECTION knob to "4" (which eliminated the bits of tinfoil that seemed to be everywhere) and began searching. Almost immediately I received a strong signal and quickly recovered a penny 3 inches deep in the dirt and wood chips that covered the playground.
I continued to search the open areas around the equipment and found a handful of coins including a few dimes and quarters at depths of up to 4-5 inches. As I got near the supports for the climbing gym, the detector responded to them. I found that by slowing down the sweep speed and keeping the coil a constant distance from the posts, I was able to search extremely close to them and still recover coins buried a few inches deep.
After 45 minutes, I felt that I had covered the playground quite thoroughly and with 28 coins in my pouch, decided to try searching near several benches that had been placed along the jogging trail running through the park.
The first sweep I made produced a clear signal and, after quickly pinpointing the target, I cut a small plug and checked the hole. I found that l had missed the target by almost two inches and had to cut another plug to recover what turned out to be a pull tab at about one inch. I realized two things-first, since the 1212-X did not have a non-motion pinpoint mode which I was used to, pinpointing a target accurately required a little practice. Second, with the amount of trash visible on the surface, I would need to use more discrimination to avoid excessive digging.
I went back over to the playground and buried a coin at 3 inches and practiced pinpointing with the 1212-X.I found that the sweep speed needed to produce a signal was extremely slow, and that by crisscrossing the target from two or three different directions with short sweeps made pinpointing the target quite simple.
With this lesson completed, I headed back to the benches and increased the TRASH REJECTION knob to "6 1/2" to reject pull tabs before continuing my search. After 30 minutes, my son decided it was time for us to leave, so I worked my way back to the car. Other than 3 large screw caps, I had not recovered any other trash targets (despite the amount of visible pull tabs and tinfoil) and with another 14 coins and a car key in the pouch, was fairly impressed with the 1212-X's performance.
I frequently bring in items I find during my searches to show people I work with and many of them have expressed an interest in trying TH'ing. One co-worker, Ed Steudel, had wanted to try searching for Civil War relics so I asked him if he wanted to help me with field testing the 1212-X and hopefully find a few relics.
We decided to try a site about 25 miles north of Atlanta that had been the site of a Confederate cavalry camp early in June of 1864 which was being cleared as part of a new industrial park. Several local relic hunters had already searched this area since the trees had been cleared and a number of exceptional relics had been recovered.
I met Ed and his 14-year-old son, Mark, at the site one evening after work and we were disappointed to see that much of the area had already been graded and backfilled. Along the back of the construction site only the larger trees had been removed, so we headed in that direction to start our search.
After a quick demonstration of the 1212-X's operation, I handed it to Ed and he began searching near a large oak tree that was still standing. The detector began to produce some chirping signals and after investigating them we found that they were being caused by small pieces of rusted barbed wire just under the surface. Ed increased the TRASH REJECTION level to "4" which eliminated the signals from the wire and continued searching near the base of the tree.
A few minutes later he received a solid signal, and from several inches underneath a mass of tree roots, he pulled a tie-down clamp from a Civil War gun carriage-sure beats finding a pull tab or memorial penny in the local park as your first target with a metal detector!
Continued searching failed to turn up any other relics, so we headed up toward a high point farther along the ridge at the back of the site. As we walked along the tree line, Ed searched an area that had been cleared earlier that day; however, the 1212X remained silent.
Suddenly it gave a faint signal that we nearly missed since we were not using headphones. Ed moved a rock out of the way and rechecked the area-this time the signal was quite distinct. Using a small mattock, his son removed about five inches of dirt and Ed swept the coil over the hole.
The target was in the pile next to the hole, and by carefully searching through the loose dirt, a .58 caliber minnie ball saw the light of day for the first time since it was fired over 127 years earlier.
Both Ed and his son were excited to have found a piece of history and they began searching again in earnest. A few feet away, the detector indicated another target and soon another minnie ball was tucked inside Ed's pocket. Ed and his son took turns using the metal detector and it didn't take long for Mark to start giving his father advice on how and where to search.
After 1-1/2 hours we decided to call it a night due to the heat and mosquitoes that had discovered our presence, so we headed back across the construction site to our cars. Ed emptied out his pocket and in addition to the gun carriage clamp, he had 16 minnie balls from both the Confederate and Union armies. Based on the look in their eyes, I could tell that the ranks of metal detector enthusiasts had just increased by two.
The next site I took the 1212-X to was a nearby schoolyard. I took our 20-month-old son, Paul, along since he likes to explore the playground in the front of the school. I started out be setting the discriminate level to "4, but after recovering 5 or 6 pull tabs in a row, I started to get a little frustrated.
By laying several coins and trash targets on the ground, I found that with a little practice I could tell with a high degree of accuracy what a target was before recovering it. Since the TRASH REJECTION knob is within easy reach of one's thumb, it was quite simple to increase the level of discrimination while checking a signal and seeing where it was rejected.
Nickels were rejected at "6," pull tabs at "6 1/2," square pull tabs at "7," and zinc pennies at "8." I tried using this technique over the next 30 minutes and after "guessing" what each target was, I recovered it to see what it actually was. Of the 12 targets located, I had identified 7 correctly as coins (including 2 nickels), 4 as pull tabs, and had only dug 1 large screw cap that I had guessed as being a zinc penny.
It's hard to believe that an entry level detector actually has target ID capabilities; however, with a little practice, a great deal of needless digging can be eliminated.
Despite the success I had had with the 1212-X so far, the best part of the field test was yet to come. My son has been exposed to metal detectors since he was born, and he often picks them up and mimics the movements my wife and I make while hunting. At some of the competition hunts we have taken him to he has even walked over to detectors belonging to other people, picked them up, and turned them on.
When he became bored with the swings and slide, he came over and grabbed for the 1212-X. He looked at the control panel, turned it on, and started pushing it in front of him near the swing set. Suddenly, the detector produced a loud signal and he stopped with a look of surprise on his face. He moved the searchcoil back and forth, listening to the beeps coming from the speaker. Then, squatting down, he began to run his hand through the sand beneath the coil. After a few seconds, a coin rolled out of the sand and he quickly picked it up!
He then stood up and continued pushing the detector in front of him. A short time later an old pencil caught his attention and he gave up on the metal detector, but still, he had found his first coin-a 1965 quarter. With success like that at 20 months, one can only wonder what he'll be coming home with in a few years. What a testimonial to how simple the 1212X is to operate!
The 1212-X performed well under the conditions I tested it in and I was able to recover coins and other "keeper" targets in areas that I had hunted previously with several top-of-the-line detectors. Pinpointing targets accurately without a non-motion mode does take some getting used to and I would recommend that before digging large holes in the lawn of your local school or park that you bury some targets in your yard and practice.
The 1212-X operates at a frequency that, except for the 1210-X, is used by no other detector; this eliminates any interference such as experienced in competition hunts. The 1212-X provides an excellent choice for TH'ers that are looking for a lightweight detector with good detection depth at a reasonable price.
The 1212-X sells for $230 and comes with the standard 5-year Gold Seal warranty. For more information on this new addition to the Fisher line, a copy of the latest company newsletter, and the name of your nearest dealer write: Fisher Research, Dept. LT, 200 W. Willmott Rd., Los Banos, CA 93635 or call (209) 826-3292 and mention that you read about it in Lost Treasure.