Tesoro Electronics was founded more than 20 years ago as a family-owned, family-run business with the simple goal of building quality, affordable detectors for treasure hunters around the world. In the ensuing years, founder Jack Gifford and his family have never wavered from that goal and have earned the reputation of a company that builds reliability and performance into every one of their detectors.
In 2003, Tesoro's engineers introduced the Tejon, which incorporated some of the technology found on their respected Lobo SuperTraq. The Tejon has proven itself as a top-of-the-line performer in the harshest ground conditions. Tesoro's engineers have begun to develop additional models based on the Tejon's technology and the first new detector in this series is the Vaquero. Having always done well with Tesoro's in the field, I was looking forward to seeing how the Vaquero performed when James Gifford called to tell me one was on the way.
FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS
The first points that strike everyone when they first look at a Tesoro detector are the size of the control housing and the overall weight and balance of the unit. Through the use of surface-mount technology and sub-miniaturization of the components used in the circuitry, Tesoro has been able to "squeeze" high-end performance into a package smaller than the battery packs found on many other manufacturers detectors. The Vaquero's gray and purple housing measures a diminutive 3.5 wide by 3.25 high by 2.25 deep - and that includes space for the single 9V battery that provides up to 20 hours of use! Weight is another factor where Tesoro leads the competition . . . the Vaquero weighs less than 2.5 pounds with the battery and stock 9"x8" coil, which allows anyone to hunt for hours without fatigue.
Besides being lightweight and well balanced, the Vaquero is also extremely simple to operate - requiring only 4 knobs, 1 toggle switch and a pushbutton to make any adjustment required.
The SENSITIVITY knob serves a dual role - it turns the unit on and off and allows the user to adjust the power output from the coil. The DISCRIMINATE knob also serves a dual function - it allows users to determine what type of objects will be accepted or rejected and selects the desired search mode Threshold-Based All-Metal or motion-Discriminate. The THRESHOLD knob is used to set the audio threshold heard when the unit is in the All-Metal search mode or when using the pinpoint feature. The GROUND BALANCE knob is a 3.75-turn control that is used to make any necessary adjustments to compensate for ground conditions in the search area. The adjustments apply to both search modes ensuring that the Vaquero operates smoothly and provide the most detection depth in all ground conditions. The FREQUENCY toggle switch allows you to select one of three possible operating frequencies (14.3 kHz, 14.5 kHz & 14.7 kHz) which is extremely useful when using the Eldorado in competition hunts where other detectors may be operating in the same frequency or in areas where electrical interference may be more pronounced at one frequency versus another. The pushbutton switches between the selected search mode and a non-motion all-metal pinpoint mode. The three-piece rod assembly is another plus found on most Tesoro detectors. Combine the small breakdown size with the Vaquero's 2.5-pound weight and you have a detector that can easily be put into a backpack when hiking into a remote site or a small carry-on suitcase when traveling. A -inch jack on the rear of the control housing allows a set of stereo headphones to be used, which not only helps one hear the fainter signals but extends the battery life as well. Battery life from a single 9-volt battery ranges from 10 to 20 hours.
While there was not a lot of time available for conducting this field test due to the magazine's print deadline, the timing worked out in that I would be traveling to Atlanta and then up to Pennsylvania over a 10-day period. This would give me the opportunity to do some Civil War relic hunting and hunt some highly mineralized sites in the Pennsylvania coal-mining area in addition to hunting a few local sites in the Charlotte, NC area. Rick Baker, a fellow club member, was at the house when UPS delivered the Vaquero. One of his detectors is a Tesoro and he commented on much he and his oldest son liked it for coin hunting or competition hunts. The two of us took the Vaquero to a local school with one eye watching the impending rain clouds starting to fill the sky. Ground balancing was a snap and after setting the Discriminate control to "Preset" (just below 5c), we started searching the side yard. When coin hunting I've found a convenient "trick" that helps me reduce the amount of trash I recover while not sacrificing detection depth or ground coverage as I hunt. As with almost all detectors, as you increase the discrimination control to reject more targets, you will start to loose some detection depth. With the knob layout on the Vaquero's control housing (and most Tesoro models), it is quite simple to rotate the Discriminate control upwards from the Preset mark once you receive a signal. By seeing where the signal begins to break up and then disappear, you can determine the target's ID with a high degree of accuracy. Once you have decided if the target is worth recovering or not, simply return the knob to Preset and continue hunting with no loss of detection depth. If you have a Tesoro and have never tried this technique, give it a shot and you'll find that you will be able to ID targets as well as someone using a target-ID detector costing $100's more. The first few targets seemed to be Pull Tabs based on the point the signal disappeared and after checking each of them, their identify was confirmed. Unfortunately the rain soon arrived but we had recovered several coins at depths that indicated they had been there for a while. The following day I drove to Atlanta and met Martin Grill, a fellow treasure hunter, for an afternoon of detecting near the downtown area. The first site we visited was a youth club that had been built as an elementary school in the 1920s. Since much of current downtown Atlanta had been the center of the siege during the Civil War so you never know when you might uncover a relic from that period. We spent about 45 minutes at this site and while it had obviously been hunted in the past (several times by me), I recovered a number of recently lost "keepers" as well as a wheat cent, a piece of oxidized lead that may have been a Civil War bullet and an ornate brass button that dated back to the late 1800s. The deeper targets had produced clear, repeatable signals and had been in the 6"-to-8" range.
The next site as a school currently in use connected to a public park. Martin and I alternated using the Vaquero and both of us were able to pick out a number of coins from amongst the phenomenal amount of trash that was present in the area. After demonstrating the "target ID" trick, Martin found it to be quiet simple to determine if a target was worth recovering.
During the week I visited two Civil War campsites that I have hunted on and off for more than 10 years just to see if I could pick anything else out of a site that has really been "hammered. One was a Confederate camp in a small wooded area north of Marietta. I opted to use the All-Metal search mode to ensure no targets were overlooked and after ground balancing the Vaquero, I began scrubbing the area. The first few signals turned out to be the bane of relic hunters . . . shotgun shell casings. Near a rotten tree I received a faint but repeatable signal. At just over 9" I recovered my first bullet from this site in a while - and it was a carved one at that! As the sun began to set I headed back to the car and tallied up my finds. Four bullets, three percussion caps and a few pieces of melted lead definitely made my day at this site. The second site was near a creek where both Union and Confederate troops had visited during the three-week period the area was occupied. I hunted most of the time in Discriminate (set just above Minimum) and recovered several "keepers" including five more bullets and the back of a button. On the way back to the car I tried a different search method and found it to be quite effective. Pressing the pinpoint button places the Vaquero in a non-motion All-Metal mode so, I hunted by holding the button in the depressed position; i.e., in All-Metal. When I got a signal, I simply released the button, which switched back to the Discriminate mode and checked the signal. This way I could quickly switch between the two modes and obtain maximum detection depth from the detector. I hunted a few sites in central Pennsylvania as well as several in the Charlotte-area when I got home and in each case, I found the Vaquero to do an excellent job handling mineralized ground while detecting targets at above-average depths. The on-line version of this field test contains additional details on these outings.
The Vaquero provides the performance users have come to expect from Tesoro detectors and does so in an uncomplicated manner that allows even novices to keep up with experienced hunters. If you're looking for a deep-seeking detector without unnecessary bells-and-whistles, take a look at the new Vaquero before you make your final choice.
Since the Vaquero is based on the circuit used in the Tejon and Lobo SuperTraq, one must choose optional coils designed for those specific models. At this time, Tesoro offers several optional coils ranging from a 5.75 solid concentric coil (ideal for trashy sites) to a 12x10 wide scan spider coil (which provides exceptional ground coverage and reduces interference from ground mineralization). The wide range of coils available from Tesoro has always been a real plus in that it greatly expands the versatility of their detectors for a wide range of applications.
The Vaquero lists for $525 and includes the legendary Tesoro true-lifetime warranty . . . something unique in the metal detector industry and clearly shows that the company has a high degree of confidence in the quality of the equipment they build.
For more information on the new Vaquero or any of the other detectors & accessories in the Tesoro line, contact the factory at 715 White Spar Road, Prescott, AZ 86303, call them at (928) 771-2646 or visit their website at http:\\www.Tesoro.com. Be sure to mention that you read about the new Vaquero in Lost Treasure magazine!