I have been an active treasure hunter and metal detector dealer for over six years and, as such, have tried virtually every top-of-the-line detector as it has become available. When I heard that Minelab, a company from Australia, was coming out with a new coin detector that claimed to get exceptional depth even in highly mineralized ground, I was a little skeptical.
I received the Sovereign and without reading the instruction manual that accompanied it, I went outside to see how it worked in my test area. The Sovereign operates on an entirely new principle which does not respond like other detectors currently on the market. After 30 minutes, I decided it would be better to read the manual before trying to test the detector's response on buried targets. After that, the innovative features and method of operation became clear to me.
The first site I took it to was an old military post along the Delaware River near my home in southern New Jersey. This site was used as a shore defense battery from the 1880s through the 1940s; it was then turned into a public park. The grounds have been hunted heavily for over 15 years and because of this, the number of finds have dropped off in recent years.
I have searched most of the areas countless times with several detectors and lately a good day would be a wheat cent or two, or possibly a military artifact after four or five hours of concentrated searching. I started on the far side of the main field along a row of trees that marks where the barracks once stood. This area is heavily littered with tin foil, and rusted nails and bottle caps.
Setting all the controls to the PRESET marks, the first thing that became evident was that the Sovereign did not false or chatter from the mineralized ground or trash targets that were present. After about five minutes, I got a solid signal and recovered an old pull tab at about six inches. By adjusting the NOTCH control slightly, I was able to completely reject the pull tab, and didn't dig any more at this site.
Near one of the large trees I received a solid signal that sounded like a can just under the surface-it seemed to give a signal over quite a large area. By checking it in the PINPOINT mode, I was surprised to see that the Sovereign indicated that the target was small and deep. Digging carefully to check the depth of the target, I finally found an 1882 Indian head penny in fair condition at almost 12 inchesmy deepest coin ever found at this site.
Over the next 45 minutes I found several new pennies and clad coins ranging in depth from the surface to a few inches down when I got a solid signal that sounded like a "keeper" in the PINPOINT mode. At 10 inches I pulled a U. S. Army eagle cuff button from its resting place which dated from prior to 1900. These buttons are less than 1/2 inch in diameter and are usually quite difficult to find.
I walked over to the flag pole which is where the reviewing stand once stood and started searching a random pattern to see if anything was left. After 15 minutes, I had only received one good signal which turned out to be an eagle coat button, also at nearly 10 inches. It was almost on edge, making it very difficult for any detector to locate. As I headed back to the car I only found two more coins--a 1940 wheat cent at 8 inches and a 1925 wheat cent at almost 9 inches. Both of these coins had given me solid, repeatable signals.
I picked up a sand scoop from the car and headed down to the old officers beach along the Delaware River. This site is not only affected by the brackish water of the river, but has a considerable amount of both old and new trash targets-including large pieces of iron from ship traffic, tin foil, aluminum cans, and the usual number of pull tabs and screw caps. These factors have caused most TH'ers, myself included, to give up on this area in the past.
I started searching near the site of the old bath houses, and left all the controls where I had set them earlier. The Sovereign did produce some chirping when the coil passed over the large ferrous trash; however, I found that by selecting the NORMAL mode versus the IRON MASK mode, these signals were entirely eliminated.
As I searched the beach, I was impressed at the discrimination capabilities of the Sovereign as I passed the coil over the pull tabs and other trash that was present and did not even receive a hint of a signal. The first solid, repeatable signal I got turned out to be a wheat cent, at just over six inches, so worn that I couldn't read the date.
After I recovered the penny, I checked the area in all-metal and found that there were several trash targets nearby that the Sovereign had ignored while providing a solid signal on the penny. A short distance away, another solid signal produced a little teddy bear clasp charm from about eight inches. With the sun going down, I made one more pass down the beach in the wet sand when the Sovereign gave a loud signal, At nearly 10 inches I pulled out a large encrusted object which I was unable to identify so I put it in my pouch and headed home. After lightly cleaning it, I could see that it was a large cent dated 1857--only the third one I have heard of coming from anywhere on this site.
The next site I took the Sovereign to was an old ball field in a nearby town that nearly every TH'er within 20 miles has searched. This area has been landscaped several times over the past 25 years and most of the good targets are at least 5 or 6 inches deep. In addition, the nearby school used to dump the cinders from the coal furnace on the field which causes the mineralization to change drastically with every foot.
While other detectors will work here, the ground conditions force you to either greatly reduce the sensitivity or to slow down the sweep speed due to the chattering and falsing. Leaving all the controls at the PRESET marks, I increased the discriminate setting to maximum. This would reject virtually all trash targets while still detecting wheat cents and silver coins I hoped were still there.
As with the previous site, the first thing about the Sovereign that quickly became obvious was that it ran completely silentthe mineralized ground and trash targets had no effect on it. Near the outfield fence I received a solid signal, and by checking it in the PINPOINT mode, determined that it was a coinsized target fairly deep.
Cutting a plug, I checked the area and the detector indicated that it was still in the hole. At just over six inches I found a small copper button with ornate engraving on the front. The next couple of hours produced various clad coins from shallow depths as the ball field is still used by local sports teams.
As I was getting ready to leave, the detector produced a somewhat choppy signal. At first I thought it was a piece of trash or a hot rock but the signal was definitely repeatable. At seven inches my knife blade hit a fist-sized coal cinder; I removed it and checked the hole again. To my delight, after removing some more dirt, I pulled out a 1911 V nickel in fine condition!
On the way home one day, I stopped off at a heavily hunted beach on a lake that has been partially drained for two or three years. The sand has washed down toward the water over the years which has resulted in even newer coins being down at least several inches. Since I only had an hour to spare at the site, I turned the discriminate control nearly all the way up and started searching near the waterline.
Almost immediately I received a good signal that sounded promising in the ALL-METAL mode. At a measured 10 inches I found a mediumsized religious medal in fairly pitted condition. The potential for this site was starting to look up. The next two signals resulted in screw caps at fairly shallow depths; however, after a little practice, I was able to tell what they were by listening to the signal produced by the audio target ID circuit of the Sovereign.
At the far end of the beach I found two pennies at about six inches in amongst a number of pull tabs that were on the sand's surface.
A short distance away I found another religious medal at just over 11 inches and it produced a solid, repeatable signal that was quite distinct.
My only other finds before having to leave were two more older pennies around seven inches, but most importantly, other than the two screw caps, I didn't dig any other trash targets despite the amount I knew were present.
In summary, I found that the claims made by Minelab regarding the performance of their new detector to be, if anything, understated. Each of the sites that I took the Sovereign to had been heavily hunted by experienced treasure hunters and many of them also had a large amount of trash present or were highly mineralized.
In all cases, the Sovereign was able to find targets deeper than I had been able to find them in the past and did so with virtually no falsing. On the salt water beaches of the New Jersey coast I did comparison testing with several other top detectors.
In the wet sand at the water line and when the surf washed over the loop, the Sovereign turned out to be the winner.
The new technology introduced by the "folks down under" has proven the old adage "there's no such thing, as a worked-out site. " I'm looking forward to re-hunting many of the sites that I have done well at in the past to see what I and others may have missed.