This report began with a phone call from James Gifford of Tesoro Electronics asking me if I would be interested in doing a report on their new I.D. detector—the DeLeón. Would I? Show me the detector!

In a few days, the familiar brown truck rolled up to my shop. In all of about 45 seconds, I had the carton opened and had begun the assembly process. In approximately 3 minutes, I had the DeLeón ready to go. My first impression was "Wow! How do they put so much into such a small, lightweight, well-balanced machine?" When you hold the DeLeón in the proper detecting stance, it feels like it is merely an extension of your arm. When swinging this little "dynamo," you cannot believe how effortless it is.

When assembling the DeLeón, I want to stress the fact that you "snap" the battery doors close after fully inserting the battery packs. After a few moments out in my test garden, I noticed one of the battery compartment doors had opened. If this happened out in the field or woods, I would have had a problem. After inspection of the door, I discovered that it was operator error and not the machine. I had not followed the directions in the manual and had not fully installed the battery pack. Read the book first.

My test garden consists of the following basic targets: penny, nickel, dime, quarter, gold ring, pulltabs, and an iron nail. All of the targets are a measured 6" deep. The DeLeón detected and identified each target accurately. It wasn’t until I held the coil between 3 and 5 inches off the ground that the machine started giving the "I am not sure" type response. Folks, that kind of depth on a good target I.D. is remarkable. I have machines in stock at twice the price that can’t do that. The DeLeón's controls are simplicity exemplified. Three knobs and one toggle switch control this powerhouse of a detector. The threshold knob is set to a light buzzing sound and with that done, you can simply forget that control. The next knob is the on/off sensitivity control, which in essence controls the depth (achievable) and stability of the detector. The remaining knob discriminates out unwanted targets. Just remember that the higher you set the discriminate control, the more good targets you can be shutting out. Also, at the higher discrimination settings, there is normally a slight loss in depth. That leaves one control, the toggle switch, which enables the following 3 modes: battery check, discriminate mode, and all metal mode. At full battery charge, the battery check displays 8 squares. As the charge drops off, the squares start disappearing. I like this system because you can tell at a glance approximately how many hours you have left on your power supply. After about 20 hours of "off and on" detecting, my unit was still showing about 75% (6 squares) of power left. I think Tesoro’s estimate of 10 to 20 hours of battery life is very conservative.

Now for the fun part folks. This is a fun machine to use for hunting. None of the ground balancing touch pads or programming to fiddle with. Turn this lightweight powerhouse on and go get ‘em!! Targets, that is.

This detector will actually show you if the target is too close to the coil for proper I. D. "Raise coil" will appear when the machine is in overload. Simply raising the coil will give the detector the breathing room it needs to analyze the target and give its opinion. The DeLeón gives you several important bits of information to help you decide to dig or not to dig. The large display numbers are a real benefit to all of us but especially helpful to those who have trouble seeing the numbers on most meters. The depth number is displayed to the far left on the screen and is very accurate on buttons and coin-sized targets.

The most helpful piece of info is the bar graph. The manual advises that if more than one segment is displayed, then it is probably an iron target. I can say with certainty that if one segment of the bar graph locks in and the number displayed locks on, you can "bet the farm" on the I.D. of that particular target. If you have several segments or parts of segments showing on the bar graph, it is absolutely an irregular-shaped piece of iron. I dug every target for the basis of this field test, and in every case where 2 or 3 partial segments were displayed, it was iron! I used the DeLeón on several beaches, lawns, woods, and even used it in a competition hunt down south that's notorious for the amount of iron remaining in the ground. For the novice to the average competition hunter, the DeLeón could save them a lot of time in proper target identification.

The best test of the DeLeón's power came in a field that I had just gotten permission to detect. The field was adjacent to a major highway that I traveled daily. I did some research on the area and learned that several businesses had existed along the field dating back to the late 1700s. I had about 2 hours left in the afternoon before I wrapped up this field test. I took along an extra Tesoro for the property owner and would you believe that he hunted with me? I spent a good deal of time checking his targets with the DeLeón meter. He came up with a pistol ball and musketball from the War of 1812 and/or Civil War period. I found a copper badge with a number on it in old English script, still to be identified. But by far the icing on the cake for the DeLeón was a Seated Liberty half-dime dated 1848 at a measured 11+ inches and an 1865 Indian cent from 10+ inches. Both finds were witnessed by a curious detectorist who walked out into the field. I was digging the half-dime while he chatted. When I got down to the top of my trowel, I could see the, "He’s got a beer can or a horseshoe," look on his face. All the time I was mentally saying, "Baby, don’t fail me now." When I finally checked the hole again and didn't get a response, my spectator grew silent. I started brushing away the rich humus dirt when lo and behold, there was lady Liberty smiling at me. He asked me to put the trowel back in the hole. He had to see it again—11+ inches. About thirty feet farther out in the field, the same scenario. I took a 6" to 8" deep plug and started scooping out more dirt. Bingo! An 1865 Indian cent in great shape at 10+ inches deep. He said, "I think I need to upgrade my machine to a lower priced one." He asked if I had a business card with me. I told him to follow me to my vehicle.

As I was walking off the field, my host advised me that the machine I loaned him was great, but he wanted the one I was using. Oh well, I guess I can part with another DeLeón.

I even got two of my grandchildren involved in the field test. Crystal and Matthew thought it was a cool machine. I don’t know whether that statement was due to the fact that there was actually an inch of snow on the ground or because it found money. Later, I was assured that it was because of the coins found. Success! Two new converts to the hobby.

The only feature that would complete this detector would be a frequency shift for use in competition hunting. Although there were only a couple of detectors that caused interference, it was still a distraction. But let me emphasize right now that I honestly do not believe there is a better I.D. machine on the market in or out of this price range. Lightweight, easy to operate, accurate, outstanding depth, and a lifetime guarantee. Tesoro has done it again!

(Ron Barnes is an authorized Tesoro dealer who operates Bay Country Metal Detectors in Clements, MD. If you have any questions about the DeLeón or any other Tesoro metal detector, please feel free to contact him at (301) 769-4352.)

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