DetectorPros Headhunter PiratePRO
DetectorPro is one the newest metal detector and accessory manufacturers to enter the market; however, since it opened its doors in 1996 it has introduced a number of innovative products that have proven themselves where it countsin the field under a wide range of conditions used by novice and veteran treasure hunters alike. When Gary Storm started the company, his goal was to build quality equipment that addressed many of the equipment-related comments voiced by hobbyists around the world. Four of the most common issues that came up were weight, balance, durability and complexity. With these issues in mind, DetectorPro developed what has turned into a full line of more than a dozen headphones designed specifically for the treasure hunter, four unique detectors, and two target pinpointing probe systems. The latest addition to DetectorPros metal detector line is the Headhunter PiratePRO. Gary designed this machine to incorporate features typically found on detectors costing hundreds more into his time-proven packaging. I had the opportunity to chat with Gary about the new detector at the 2009 Treasure Expo in Myrtle Beach and, based on some quick tests at the show, could easily see that it offered a good deal of performance for far less than one would expect. When Lost Treasure informed me that one was coming for a field test, I lined up a few local sites to take it to.
Features The detectors in the DetectorPro line are truly unique in terms of design and have been so since the first model was introduced. Gary started the company by building several high-quality, rugged headphones, which quickly set the standard against which other products were and still are judged. Looking at the four issues mentioned above, Gary and his engineers came up with the innovative concept of mounting all of the detector electronics and batteries inside the earmuffs of their headphones, resulting in the only weight a user having to contend with being the shaft and the coilless than two pounds! They also minimized the number of adjustments required and, since the first model came out, there have never been more than three easy-to-understand controls on the side of one of the earmuffs. The new Headhunter PiratePRO utilizes this proven and effective design with the electronics mounted inside a set of comfortable black headphones bearing its striking logo. The PiratePRO is controlled through three knobs which are labeled VOL(ume), SENS(itivity) and DISC(riminate). The Volume control also serves as the ON/OFF switch. Both the Volume and Sensitivity controls are continuously adjustable yet provide just enough resistance to keep them from being moved accidentally. The Discrimination control has what DetectorPro calls Stay-Put segmented adjustments, where the knob clicks into each individual position which range from 0 (all-metal) to 10 (max discrimination). This feature allows users to adjust discrimination settings as they hunt if trash conditions change or they want to identify a target based on where the signal starts to break-up without looking at the control. With a little practice, one simply counts clicks and instantly knows what discrimination level has been selected. The operating manual contains a chart to fill in that shows where specific targets are rejected and, armed with this information, I found that selecting the proper level of discrimination or identifying targets based on when the response changes became second nature. The Sensitivity control is worth a brief discussion. For maximum performance, this control should be set as high as possible while not producing excessive falsing or chatter. In most areas, this will be in the 8-9 range; however, even at lower levels, the PiratePROs detection depth is more than adequate. An important point to be aware of when adjusting this control is that, while the indicated range is from 0-to-10, dropping it below 5 will prevent target detection. There is nothing wrong with this and, once you recognize that the full adjustment range is in fact from 5-to-10, setting the PiratePROs sensitivity for any location is quite simple and straightforward. The PiratePRO was designed to be an all-purpose detector capable of hunting sites ranging from parks, schools and yards to long-forgotten foundations, military skirmish sites and even shallow water areas without fear of being caught in an unexpected downpour. That sounds like a mouthful, but Gary and his team understood that there were many detectorists interested in trying different facets of treasure hunting, yet not willing to buy a closet full of machines to do so only a few times a year. A feature as simple as making the detector water-resistant so that hunting a beach in the rain without the crowds present, or staying at a productive site a mile or two from the car when a rain shower comes up, is one that has been overlooked by other manufacturers (unless you spend a small fortune for an underwater detector and then deal with the added weight). Using their proven Headhunter design, the PiratePRO was made to satisfy these requirements. It uses a slow-motion VLF circuit operating at 2.4kHz and, while there is no non-motion pinpoint circuit, a slight side-to-side motion is all that is required to produce a response, and zeroing in on the target is easily learned with just a little practice. The PiratePRO is equipped with an 8-inch concentric searchcoil mounted on a typical S-shaped shaft. Since more than half of the detectors 3.5 pound weight is in the earphone assembly, the PiratePRO can be used for hours without fatigue by anyoneeven when wading in shallow water! The shaft is adjustable over a 10-inch range and, having several people try it out during the field test, including some teenagers, two women and a few men; the adjustment range was sufficient for all to use it comfortably. The PiratePRO operates on two 9-volt batteries contained in the earpiece opposite the one with the knobs on it. Any type of 9V battery can be used with longer life provided by alkalines - up to 50 hours of continuous use, which makes it extremely economical to operate. While Gary indicated that rechargeable batteries could be used in the detector, they do produce shorter battery life. With a quality pair of 9Vs costing under $5 and providing the operating life they do, the expense of rechargeables and a charger may not be justified.
Field Test As with any detector I field test, a bench test using the type of targets I expected to come across was conducted followed by a spin through my test garden before venturing out in the field. The responses produced by a wide range of targets were clear and the use of the Discrimination control provided distinct points where targets could be identified based on the audio signals they produced. A co-worker, Lee Harmon, had expressed an interest in getting a metal detector after seeing a number of interesting sites while out with her other passion of kayaking. When the PiratePRO arrived, I gave her the box and asked her for a novices assessment of the detector from setup to in-field use. She said it was extremely easy to put together, and after just a few minutes of testing coins on the front lawn, felt it would be simple to use. We decided to try it at a few sites on a nearby lake that were only accessible from the water so, loading the gear and a pair of kayaks into her truck, we were off. The ability to quickly break down the PiratePRO and pack it into a small space such as behind the seat in the kayak (and then not have to worry about it getting splashed) was a factor that we both immediately appreciated. The first site was a small beach about a mile from where we put in and it took just a few minutes to have the detector re-assembled and start hunting. With the Sensitivity at 10, the detector chattered as the coil was swept across the beach containing black sand, but dropping it to 7 quieted it right down. Signals were sparse due to being early June, but we did manage to find a small handful of coins, a car key and several fishing weights at depths ranging from just under the surface to a good 8 inches deep. Opting to try another island in the lake, we broke the detector down, packed up and were off in minutes. The next site as well as the last one we visited turned up a few more coins and, unfortunately, a pouch full of pull-tabs and screw cap,s but when looking for gold, you need to dig the trash. What was Lee's impression after a morning of kayaking and detecting? She already has one on order and is looking forward to bringing it along on all of her trips, packed behind the seat, looking for interesting areas to search. She said the weight was perfect and the ability to carry it on the water and not be afraid of ruining it tipped the scales for her. Over the next two weeks, I took the PiratePRO to several nearby sites including a few parks and schools and a public beach. In shallow water (up to my neck at times), the detector worked as well as any single-frequency water detector Ive used. I recovered a number of coins and two Avon-type rings up to two-scoops down. Making adjustments to both Sensitivity and Discrimination settings on the fly were simple and did not require removing the headphones to do so. What I found while bench testing the PiratePRO was that discrimination needs to be used sparingly to ensure good targets are not inadvertently rejected, or detection depth adversely affected. By running at 2, audio signals from larger pieces of iron tended to break-up and were easily distinguishable from the crisp signal from the gold targets tested. If you go to 4 and reject the iron totally, the gold starts to break up and the depth at which they are detected drops off noticeably. Most of my searching was done at settings of 2 or 3. Pinpointing without a true non-motion pinpoint mode was a non-issue in the water, as most of the water machines I use operate the same way and, with a little practice, recovery becomes second nature. Land hunting was also fairly productive, with more then 30 coins winding up in my pouch. At one park I did bump the Discrimination up due to the amount of pull-tabs present and, while this did prevent me from hitting small gold or nickels, I played the odds and opted to recover more coins in the time I had allotted by rejecting the tabs. Pinpointing here took a little more effort; however, by using the Pistol Probe also from DetectorPro I was able to quickly locate and recover targets once I had opened a plug. Spending some time honing your pinpointing and recovery skills in your yard, or a site that may not be in the best shape, is recommended before asking to search a manicured yard. For more information on the PiratePRO and infield test results, check out the online version at www.LostTreasure.com
Summary Since its inception, DetectorPro has taken a different path in terms of detector design, and their decision has been vindicated over the years through the positive feedback of those that have used them at sites around the world. The PiratePRO has remained true to the DetectorPro philosophy by offering a solidly built detector with strong in-field performance capable of hunting under even adverse weather conditions for a price that wont break the bank. For those interested in doing some shallow water hunting a few times a year, the PiratePRO is a perfect way to give it a try and have a detector that can be used effectively at local land sites the rest of the year. Dont interpret it to mean that the PiratePRO cant be used for water hunting on a regular basis, as it can and will do well in that roleit's just that one does not have to spend hundreds more to get a detector that works in a wide range of environments. The ability to break it down and put it in a briefcase-sized bag is another plus if you intend to do any detecting while traveling. DetectorPros tagline of "Innovative Treasure Hunting Concepts" clearly applies to the new PiratePRO! The Headhunter PiratePRO lists for $439 with the 8-inch coil and, as with all DetectorPro detectors, comes with a 2-year parts-&-labor warranty. Considering what you can usually expect to pay for a detector capable of searching not only land sites, but shallow water sites as well, the PiratePRO has to be one of the best bargains in the detector market today! For more information on the PiratePRO or any of their other models, contact the factory at (800) 367-1995 or visit their web site at www.DetectorPro.com and mention that you read about the new PiratePRO in Lost Treasure Magazine.