Tesoro Electronics Cibola
By Andy Sabisch
From Page 14
May, 2005 issue of Lost Treasure

The Tesoro name has become synonymous with lightweight, performance-oriented, simple-to-use and affordable metal detectors since their inception more than 20 years ago. Unimpressed with many of the bells-and-whistles found on some other detectors that really do not equate to more success in the field, the Gifford family and their staff have remained focused on what they did when the company was founded to provide the treasure hunting community with high-quality, dependable equipment that anyone could afford.

Having used the Cibola's bigger brother, the Vaquero, and its father, the Tejon, with a good deal of success over the past year or so, I was looking forward to testing out the newest addition to the Tesoro line.

FEATURES The Cibola was designed as a turn-on-and-go detector that shares much of the performance of the Vaquero or Tejon models. Unlike these other detectors, the Cibola features preset ground balance selected to handle most conditions detectorists may find themselves in and as a result, it is extremely simple to operate.

The Cibola uses only three knobs, a toggle switch and a pushbutton to control the unit's operation. The functions of the controls on the housing's face are similar to many of the current detectors in the Tesoro line. The 'sensitivity' knob serves a dual role it turns the unit on & off and allows the user to adjust the power output from the coil.

The 'discriminate' knob allows users to select what type of objects will be accepted or rejected. The 'threshold' knob is used to set the audio threshold heard when the unit is in the non-motion pinpoint mode.

The frequency toggle switch allows the user to select one of three possible operating frequencies (14.3 kHz, 14.5 kHz & 14.7 kHz) which is extremely useful when using the Cibola in competition hunts where other detectors may be operating on the same frequency, or in areas where electrical interference may be more pronounced at one frequency versus another.

The 'pinpoint' pushbutton allows one to switch to a threshold-based, all-metal mode to zero in on detected targets. The pinpoint circuit features a Voltage Controlled Oscillator which helps one accurately pinpoint detected targets. As the center of the coil approaches the center of the target, both the volume and pitch heard through the speaker or headphones will increase.

The Cibola utilizes circuitry originated on the Tejon and also found on the Vaquero, known as High Output Technology or H.O.T for short. This circuitry provides impressive detection depth and enhanced sensitivity to a wide range of targets packed into a control housing that measures an amazing 3 1/8 inches wide by 2 3/4 inches high by 2 inches deep almost makes you wonder what's in those large housings you see on other detectors! Powered by a single drop-in 9V battery, one can expect up to 20 hours of use on an alkaline cell.

A standard headphone jack is located on the rear of the control housing and the use of headphones will further improve the Cibola's battery life along with ensuring even the faintest of signals is not inadvertently missed. The construction and design of the Cibola follows along that found and proven on other Tesoro detectors.

Lightweight (weighing just 2.2 lbs.), extremely well balanced and featuring a 3-piece breakdown rod, the Cibola can be used all day without fatigue and broken down to fit into a briefcase-sized carrying bag. The Cibola comes equipped with the 9x8 open concentric search coil that is fully waterproof and can be submerged for searching in creeks or shallow water areas off beaches.


Fortunately we were having a mild winter in the Southeast and the weather was ideal for a field-test 60 degrees and damp ground! As with any detector I test, the first thing I did was a quick bench test to get an idea as to where specific targets were rejected as discrimination was increased and then took the Cibola through my test garden to see how it responded to known targets. Even small targets such as a Civil War era percussion cap at 4 inches produced a solid signal (which some high-end detectors have not been able to see) so I was hoping for a productive field test.

The first site I went to was a local park where I'd found some wheat cents and silver dating back to the 40's and was still actively used, so targets would be fairly plentiful despite being hunted regularly by local detectorists.

Since ground balance is not adjustable on the Cibola, I opted to check the ground conditions before starting. Holding the coil waist-high, I depressed the 'pinpoint' button, adjusted the 'threshold' knob to where a hum could be heard and lowered the coil to the ground. There was almost no change to the threshold indicating that the preset point was very close to the optimal setting for this area.

As will be covered later in the report, doing this type of test as you visit different sites is extremely simple and is recommended. Sites that contain highly mineralized ground where the threshold goes silent as the coil approaches the ground may result in reduced performance, and being aware of this ahead of time will allow you to adjust your hunt style or select a different location.

Starting near the edge of a large lake in the park, I set the DISC just below 5c and the 'sensitivity' at 10. Unlike most detectors with preset ground balance, the Cibola ran virtually silent producing signals only when something was detected with no raneous chirping or popping. Clad coins were plentiful and produced clear signals that were impossible to miss.

A trick that I have used for years on many Tesoro detectors without target ID meters is to slowly increase the 'discrimination' control with my thumb (the knob is ideally situated for that) and see where the signal starts to break up or disappear. Based on the testing I did before I headed out, I found that I could identify targets with a high degree of accuracy without a meter or change in audio tone. Signals in the PINPOINT mode varied in strength based on the depth of the target, which allowed me to gather more information about the object before recovering it. A softer signal on the bank of the lake produced a 1944 Wheat cent from 7 and two more wheat cents from similar depths followed soon after.

Tightening up my search pattern, I received a solid signal that remained even after turning the DISC knob fully clockwise (maximum). Switching to pinpoint indicated that it was another deep target, so with high hopes I centered the coil over the target and cut a deep plug.

As I removed the plug, I saw a Mercury dime at a 45-degree angle at the bottom of the hole and it quickly went into my film canister filled with cotton balls to keep it from getting scratched before I got home. Unfortunately that was my only piece of silver at the park but I did pick up more than 50 others coins along with several keys and other items during my trials.

On the way to try hunting a foundation site that I had been to previously (that dated back to the early 1800's), I stopped off at an older house in town that I had received permission to hunt last summer when the ground had been too dry to hunt. Knocking at the door, the owner said hello and gave me free run of the yard. The ground here consisted of dark, loamy soil and I knew that older coins would be deep.

A trick that Tesoro users have found to be effective in going after those deep keepers is one called Super Tuning. By turning the 'threshold' knob clockwise well past the point you would set it at to obtain a slight hum in the pinpoint mode, both detection depth and sensitivity will be increased. The downside of this technique is that the pinpoint mode is rendered virtually unusable since you will only hear a loud threshold signal when depressing the push button; however, if you need that extra "umph" to reach targets that might otherwise have been just out of range, Super Tuning is a proven way to reach them.

While the house looked ideal for a pouch full of goodies, targets were few and far between. I did pick up a nice 1902 Barber dime at 9" along with 2 Indian Heads, a few wheat cents and some clad coins. Finally deciding to head over to the foundation I had started out for, I said goodbye to the homeowner and showed him my finds. Unfortunately he told me after I was done that he & his wife had never had kids, which explained why there were so few targets in the yard (he had lived there for more than 40 years).

The foundation I went to have previously turned up some coins and relics from the late 1700's thru early 1800's, so I was hoping the Cibola could turn up a few that may have been overlooked. Square nails littered the area surrounding the cellar hole; however, I had heard that both the Cibola and Vaquero did an excellent job detecting good targets from amongst iron which demonstrating what few detectors were able to do; i.e., see through the iron to pick out the keepers.

Setting the 'discrimination' control to the iron position,' sensitivity' to "9" and using a slower sweep speed, I started hunting a tight pattern near the cellar. The iron was readily identifiable by the sharp pops and broken signals which saved time chasing after rusted iron that often sounded like a good target on many other detectors. It took awhile for the first good signal to be detected, and I used the "manual target ID" technique described above to get an idea as to what the target's composition might be.

It broke up just above the TAB mark and turned out to be a lead round ball from a Colonial-era musket. Two hours of methodical hunting netted me two more musket balls, three plain flat buttons and a coin that was too corroded to identify (about the size of a large cent). Virtually no iron had been recovered and the "keepers" were easily discernible from the trash that littered the site.

Just before I finished this test, I lent the Cibola to fellow club member and long-time Tesoro user, Chuck Smith for another opinion on its performance. I asked him to take it to a site or two that he had hunted in the past and compare the Cibola to what he experienced with his other machines. He spent some time at a nearby country church, which had been hunted dozens of times over the years.

In just over an hour, he found several clad coins along with three wheat cents and a silver dime. His comment to me that evening was that "the Cibola offered surprising performance for what seemed like a basic turn-on-and-go" detector."


In today's detector market, where some models cost more than what a used car sells for, Tesoro has held the reigns on pricing and provided another detector offering high performance with an affordable price tag. Under most conditions, the Cibola will provide users with stable, deep-seeking performance capable of detecting even small targets at impressive depths.

In highly mineralized ground the Cibola will tend to loose some sensitivity being a preset ground balance detector, so if you find yourself searching extremely hot ground on a regular basis, the Vaquero with its manual ground balance may provide deeper detection capabilities and smoother overall operation.

Even with that said, the Cibola is well suited for wide range of applications and its ease-of-use makes it ideal for newcomers to the hobby, detectorists that would rather hunt than adjust, or as a backup detector to your current unit. The new Cibola sells for $425 and comes with Tesoro's limited lifetime warranty something Tesoro has always offered and truly demonstrates how confident the company is of the quality and durability of their products! Tesoro offers several optional coils in both the concentric and wide scan (Double-D) design ranging in size from a round 5.75 to an elliptical 12x10.

Call the factory at (800) 528-3352; write them at 715 White Spar Road. Prescott, AZ 86303 or visit their web site at, for more information on the Cibola, any of their other detectors or to obtain a copy of their informative Metal Detector Information booklet. Be sure to mention you read about the new Cibola in Lost Treasure magazine!

Tesoro Electronics Cibola

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