Beach and water hunting have been passions of mine for more than 35 years. Starting with equipment that would be considered crude by any standard today, the group of detectorists that I hunted with in the early-1970s made many great finds on beaches throughout the northeast. Over the years, virtually every manufacturer has added detectors geared for beach and shallow water hunting to their lines as the popularity of this form of treasure hunting has increased and, in doing so, the quality and performance of the equipment available to detectorists has improved dramatically. Whites Electronics has been building waterproof detectors for decades since getting into water hunting and I have had the opportunity to use most of them including the original Beach Hunter ID - with great success. With some vacation time planned on the Carolina coast, I was looking forward to taking the latest addition to the Whites line for a test drive to see how it performed compared to its predecessor.
The BeachHunter ID (BHID) was first introduced in the 2001-time frame and utilizes a dual-frequency circuit designed to provide a high level of performance in either fresh or saltwater sites. Typically, single-frequency VLF detectors are best suited for use in fresh water and pulse units are best in salt water. While pulse units can be used in fresh water, they lack true discrimination capabilities which results in unnecessary digging in areas that contain a large number of trash targets (which is often the case in fresh water sites where even bobby pins can remain for decades).
The main difference between the original BHID and the new BHID 300 is the addition of the new 12-inch concentric search coil which provides exceptional ground coverage and above-average detection depth while still retaining sensitivity to smaller targets. Surprisingly, it is also fairly easy to pinpoint targets quite accurately, which is often not the case with larger coils.
Simplicity in operation was clearly one of the main goals that the engineers at Whites strove for when designing the BHID ID 300, as it only has three knobs that control its functions. The THRESHOLD knob is a dual function control and is used to turn the unit on as well as adjust the background hum heard through the waterproof headphones. The optimal setting for this control is when just a slight hum is heard which allows the deepest targets, which may only produce a slight audio change, to be detected.
While the BHID 300 can be run completely silent, some loss of detection depth will be noticed. The SENSITIVITY knob is also a dual function control. By turning the knob to the BATT CHK position, the green LED will indicate relative battery. In any other position, it controls the power output of the coil. A common misconception is that more power equals more depth; however, if adverse ground conditions are present, less depth may actually be the result. There is a preset mark which is a good starting point and you should turn it up as high as possible without sacrificing stability; if the detector starts acting erratically, lower the sensitivity level until the unit stabilizes. This control can also affect the target ID capabilities of the detector; if set too high, the accuracy will be reduced due to the falsing caused by electrical feedback.
The final control is the GROUND knob that adjusts how the detector's ability to compensate for ground mineralization. The more precisely this control is set in each area the detector is used, the better the detection depth and target ID accuracy will be. The adjustment is very simple and takes less than a minute under even the harshest conditions. While raising and lowering the coil within a few inches of the ground, the control is adjusted until the threshold hum shows no change. Once that is obtained, you are ready to huntcould not get much easier than that! One key point to remember, however, is that any time you make a change to the Sensitivity control, you need to readjust the Ground control in order to maintain optimal performance.
There are two distinct search modes on the BHID 300 ALL METAL & DISC(riminate). When operating in the DISC modes, one of three distinct audio tones will be produced depending on what type of target has been detected. A low tone indicates iron or steel; a medium tone indicates lead, nickels, pull-tabs and most gold jewelry, and a high tone is indicative of coins or silver targets. In addition to the tones, there are three colored lights (LEDs) RED, YELLOW and BLUE/GREEN - on the face of the control housing that correspond to the tones being produced to help aid in identifying targets.
The ALL METAL mode is extremely helpful for pinpointing or when searching in confined spaces, since the amount of coil movement required for optimal performance is considerably less than the DISC mode. When operating in the ALL METAL mode, the audio ID feature is disabled; i.e., all targets produce the same response; however, the LEDs still provide probable target ID that is a real asset in terms of being able to identify targets in either search mode.
The BeachHunter ID 300 uses a drop-in battery pack that holds eight AA batteries. Whites recommends that one use alkaline cells for optimum performance which will provide better than 30 hours of operation. Whites offers a NiCad rechargeable pack; however, with the exceptional battery life obtained with a set of alkaline batteries, the cost-justification of purchasing a NiCad pack and charger will be a personal decision.
The BHID 300 arrived just before Spring Break and, with a planned trip with the family to Myrtle Beach, SC, the timing of this field test was perfect. Having been forewarned about the depth at which the BHID was able to detect targets, I opted to bring one of my heavier stainless steel scoops in addition to a lightweight hand scoop for use in the dry sand areas.
After checking into the condo we had rented for the week, I checked the tide tables, put the BHID 300 together and headed down to the beach just as the tide was going outideal hunting conditions.
Unfortunately, the section of beach we were staying at was not as heavily used as the stretch in front of the boardwalk; however, there were pockets of people on the beach and plenty of sand to search. Walking down to the wet sand area being exposed as the tide went out, I found ground balancing the BHID 300 to be a 30-second evolution and in no time I was off scanning the beach. Even with the small crowds I was surprised at the lack of signals, but in talking to a few other detectorists, no one was finding much of anything.
As I approached the surf line, I received a solid signal that produced a medium tone and illuminated the yellow light on the housing. Removing a deep scoop of packed black sand, I swept over the hole and the target was still there. I was surprised when it took several scoops to finally reach the target which turned out to be a WWII-vintage .50 caliber machine gun shell casing that had been over 15 deep! Over the next few hours I recovered a pouch full of similar casings and the bullets both conventional rounds and tracers from depths ranging from 10 to close to 24and in each case, the targets had produced a solid, repeatable signal.
As a side note, three or four other hunters came over and checked signals that the BHID had found, but were unable to even get a response in most cases. With an arm that needed a break, I headed back up to the condo after a few hours of hunting quite impressed at the depth at which the BHID 300 had located the artifacts that dated back some 65 years. I did a little research when I got home and found out they had come from an Army Air Corps base built in Myrtle Beach during WWII which was used to train pilots on conducting strafing runs off the beach before sending them to Europe or the Pacific. All of the casings were marked 1942 or 1943 and finding the story behind them brought history to life.
I searched a few other sections of the beach from Myrtle Beach up through North Myrtle Beach and, while I did not make any great finds in terms of jewelry, I did find a decent number of coins in the wet, black sand that typically causes other detectors to operate poorly at best.
With a short deadline looming for completing this field test, I was only able to take the BHID 300 to two sites on a freshwater lake located about 30 miles south. Due to the severe drought that much of the southeast had experienced since the summer of 2007, most lakes had reached record lows and were hunted heavily by detectorists that might otherwise never had tried to search the swimming areas that were left high and dry.
Hoping that the addition of the Super-12 coil would give me the extra detection depth needed to possibly pick up some of the deeper targets that might have been overlooked, I loaded up my gear and hit the road. Arriving at the first site, I was surprised to see that with the limited amount of rain we had received in the last few months, the lake was almost back up to full pool. Getting into my wetsuit, I grabbed a long-handled scoop, waded out to waist-deep water and started searching parallel to the beach. With the control housing actually beneath the surface of the murky water, I made the ground balance adjustment by feel and very quickly was scanning the bottom.
The murky water had another impact on my technique, as I could not see the three target-ID lights; however, since the BHID 300 provides target ID audibly via the three distinct tones, it was really not a hindrance. Despite the fact that the site had been hunted before (based on holes I could feel in the bottom), there were still a number of targets remaining, as indicated by solid signals from the BHID 300. Many were identified by the detector as being ferrous and, after checking a dozen or so, I felt very confident that I could trust it and pass up those trash targets even at depths exceeding 10+ inches. Several clad coins, pull-tabs and screw caps turned up at depths ranging from one scoop (6) to three scoops (close to 12). Since I wanted to check the BHIDs target ID accuracy as well as not overlook a possible piece of jewelry, I recovered any target that produced a medium or high tone (and corresponding light indication when they were visible). A few hours at this location netted a handful of coins, including one very black Mercury dime and two wheat cents along with a set of car keys and two Avon rings.
The last site I had the chance to hunt before the report was due was on the opposite side of the same lake. It was a smaller beach, but had a platform anchored at the edge of the swimming area and, since the water had not receded to that point even at the height of the drought, I was hoping to make a decent find or two with the BHID 300 diving around the float. Recognizing the 25-foot depth limitation on the BHID 300, I suited up with my dive gear and checked out the depth beneath the platform and, finding it was only around 15 or so, returned to the shore and picked up the detector.
Doing a quick ground balance, I started scanning the bottom around the edge of the platform and it wasnt long before I started picking up signals. Even in the murky water, the target-ID lights were easily visible and, combined with the audio response, made it quite easy to select the targets worth recovering. Since it was virtually impossible to see what each target was once the silt on the bottom was stirred up, I just put each in my mesh bag once I knew it was it my hand. I spent a bit over an hour on the bottom and, when I got back to the surface and looked over my finds, I was happy to see the unmistakable glint of gold from two rings a 14KT wedding band and a small ladys ring with three synthetic stones. The nice part of diving in areas like these is that there was very little non-ferrous trash and I had only recovered four pull-tabs during my dive.
The only comment I had on using the BHID 300 while diving was that the shaft could not be collapsed far enough to search comfortably, but Whites does offer a dive shaft designed for that purpose, if you are interested in using the BHID 300 for diving in areas less than the 25-foot depth rating.
The BeachHunter ID 300 is a water detector that has not been in the spotlight much when it comes to the detectors one sees most often on a beach, however, since its introduction, it has garnered a loyal following. With the addition of the new Super 12 search coil, it now offers beach and shallow water hunters depth capabilities that will surprise even seasoned detectorists. Being able to identify targets using the three light / three tone target ID in both search modes (remember, lights only in All-Metal) is a feature that will enable you to separate the good targets from the trash and works well for the application it was deigned for.
If you are a beach or shallow water hunter or even just thinking about giving this type of treasure hunting a try, contact your local Whites dealer to take a look at the new Beach Hunter ID 300 as you get ready for the upcoming water-hunting season. The detector comes with the standard 2-year transferable warranty and retails for $999.95. Contact the factory at 1011 Pleasant Valley Road, Sweet Home, OR 97386; (800) 547-6911 or visit their website at whiteselectronics.com and be sure to mention you read about the latest addition to the Whites line in Lost Treasure Magazine.