Unknown to most detectorists, First Texas Products is actually the worlds largest manufacturer of metal detectors. In addition to building detectors they market themselves under the Bounty Hunter brand, they produce private-label models for a number of companies including Radio Shack, Wal-Mart, Sams Club and others.
While the various models may appear similar in appearance, they are built to the specifications requested by each company and as a result, their performance varies. The model tested in this report the Discovery 2200 is one marketed by Radio Shack.
The Discovery 2200 is a turn-on-and-go VLF detector with both motion All-Metal and Discriminate search modes. The first thing that strikes one when picking up the detector is its weight (or lack thereof) less than 3 pounds with the batteries!
First Texas has incorporated many of the features they developed for their other, higher-priced detectors into the Discovery 2200. These include a 9-segment visual target ID system, a 4-tone audio target ID system, target depth indication, variable sensitivity, notch discrimination, selectable learnreject capabilities, interchangeable search coils and a headphone jack.
The ergonomic design of the Discovery 2200 is ideal for women and children yet by providing an adjustable armrest, will fit even larger mens arms. The control housing is well laid out with an easy-to-read LCD display showing probable target ID & depth as well as the search mode selected, battery strength and sensitivity level. The detector is controlled through the use of 4 touchpads and two sets of increase/decrease arrows used to adjust the sensitivity and discriminate levels.
The POWER and DISC(riminate)/A-M touchpads are self-explanatory; however, the remaining two are worth a brief discussion. The ZAP control allows you to reject any pesky unwanted target you might come across by simply pressing the touchpad and sweeping the coil across the object. An R will appear under the ID label associated with the unwanted target and you can hunt without being bothered by more of the same. The NOTCH circuit allows you to selectively accept or reject any target on the target ID menu by using the DISCRIMINATION arrows to choose what you want to pick up or eliminate.
Remember that you are limited to accepting or rejecting any of the 9 segments, and while they are labeled as to what common targets fall into each, a wide variety of other targets may also register in those regions that might be desirable. For example, some gold jewelry and Civil War artifacts will register as Pull Tab or Screw Cap. It is highly advisable to pass the type of targets you will be searching for across the coil and see what target ID indications you get so you can be prepared when you venture out into the field and do not inadvertently reject targets you are interested in finding.
The 2200 is powered by two 9V batteries that provide about 20 hours of use. Rechargeable batteries can be used with no impact on performance. Using a set of headphones can extend battery life and their use is recommended to ensure signals are not inadvertently missed due to outside noise. It comes equipped with an 8 open searchcoil. Both a 4 and 10 coil is available as optional accessories.
I was in Chattanooga, TN for a 7-week period as part of my job and spent much of my free time detecting. There were several promising sites near the hotel I was staying at including two parks, a few schools and a walking trail along a creek. I was also in prime Civil War relic hunting territory so I had the opportunity to try the 2200 out under different conditions and applications.
One site I selected was an elementary school built in 1937 according to the sign out front. Hoping to find a few older coins in addition to the newer ones I was sure were there, I drove around to the back of the school and walked out into the grassy field. I opted for the Discrimination search mode and quickly rejected lower four segments leaving the all of the upper coin segments clear; i.e., accepted. Pressing the NOTCH touchpad, I moved the flashing R under the 5c/PT segment to accept nickels while still rejecting most of the trash that might be in the area.
I started out across the grass in search of lost loot but the 2200 produced chirps and spurious signals with almost every sweep. While I immediately recognized that the sensitivity was set too high, this point was clearly described on a label affixed to the top of the control housing along with guidance on how to address it.
I reduced the sensitivity setting to the 50% level and continued with my search with only an infrequent pop. Signals were surprisingly plentiful and coins started to fill my pouch. The one drawback on most lower-priced detectors is the lack of a non-motion pinpoint mode; however, a little practice combined with the fast response of the Discovery 2200 allowed me to get fairly close to detected targets when recovering them. Burying targets in your yard and practicing the techniques described in the Owners Manual is highly recommended to avoid unnecessary frustration when you head out in search of buried treasure.
I did find the lack of a non-motion pinpoint mode a bit of a challenge when I got into areas that were quite trashy but simply moving to a less target-rich area eliminated this frustration.
I found that the audio and visual target ID indications were extremely accurate in that every target I recovered matched what the 2200 had said it was; however, the depth indication appeared to be a bit optimistic.
The indicated depth tended to be deeper than the actual target depth. The error was greater as the target depth increased and indications ranged from 1-to-3 inches deeper than actual. Why you need to be aware of this is that you can inadvertently damage a keeper if you think it is deeper than it actually is--again, a little time practicing in your yard will pay off in spades!
I spent almost 6 hours at this school over a 2-week period and wound up with 132 coins, a game token from a local bowling alley, a silver ring and a nice silver & gold bracelet from depths up to 5 inches. An important observation was the fact that I had probably only picked up 10-15 pieces of trash such as twisted pull tabs, aluminum strips from soda cans or pieces of chain link fencing from amongst the goodies which would help keep a newcomer interested in the hobby!
Throughout my stay in Chattanooga I visited several other similar sites and, while my take did match that from the elementary school, I did pick up close to 100 additional coins and a few other items such as keys, dog tags and Matchbox cars.
I took the Discovery 2200 along when I went into north Georgia to do some Civil War relic hunting. I used a top-of-the-line detector from another manufacturer and compared signals to see how the 2200 would fare. The combination of highly mineralized soil and the depth at which the targets were buried challenged the Discovery and as might be expected, it was not able to detect most of the relics found that day. Summary
The Discovery 2200 proved to be an effective detector for coin hunting which is its primary intended function. The target ID was quite accurate and it was virtually effortless to swing even after hours in the field. It was actually fun to use and provides a good value for the price. It wont replace your more advanced detector but that was never its intent.
The Discovery 2200 is available at your local Radio Shack dealer. The list price is $199 making it well suited for use as a backup detector, a unit to get a spouse or child interested in the hobby or even for competition hunts. It comes with a 90-day warranty. If you need longer coverage, you may want to check out one of the models in the Bounty Hunter line that carry a 5-year warranty.
For more information on the Discovery line of metal detectors, stop by your local Radio Shack store or visit their web site at www.RadioShack.com. For information on First Texass Bounty Hunter line, check out their website at www.Detecting.com.