Fisher Gold & Treasure Detectors | Field Test Reports

Fisher F19 LTD #2 Review


Sometimes we are treasure hunters gleaning beaches and parks for lost treasures. Sometimes we are amateur archeologists, or maybe not so amateurish; historians and restorers of the past. Sometimes we are coin collectors looking for those beautiful silver and bronze coins of centuries past. Sometimes we are walking in the path of the old prospectors, looking for our own golden bonanzas. And maybe sometimes we just like spending a quiet hour or two peering into the darkness of the earth just to see what there is to see. Our tool of choice?  The metal detector. 

Fisher® Research Labs has been providing metal detectors to the above mentioned groups since 1931.  Regardless of what it is you search for, if a metal detector can help you find it, Fisher has one that will make your search easier and more productive. The Fisher F19Ltdis the newest metal detector bearing the Fisher brand.  When looking at the current line of Fisher metal detectors it was easy to see there was a gap in coverage. There was no metal detector specifically designed for the Relic hunter.  The Fisher F19Ltd is designed to fill that gap.

Fisher didn’t have to go far to do that. The platform was already there, it was just missing the feature set that would make the relic hunter more efficient and successful in their quest to save the history of past generations. The Fisher design engineers took the Gold Bug Pro, with its 19 kHz operating frequency, already a success story in gold prospecting circles, and updated the Discrimination Mode with features more suited to relic hunting.  Yes, you heard me right.  The Fisher F19Ltd is a Gold Bug Pro with enhanced Discrimination features.

The F19Ltd physical package is the standard three piece S-Rod with locking collars. The searchcoil supplied as the stock searchcoil is the 5x10” DD. It was selected as the stock coil because it’s solid design, shape, coverage and performance best suited the relic hunter’s search locations. It can be easily maneuvered in amongst rocks or standing stubble, or the clods of the freshly ploughed field, while the DD design ensured better ground coverage as compared to a concentric coil design. Some might question the depth abilities between the DD and Concentric coil designs, but today’s technology makes the DD coils just as deep or deeper than the concentric coils we relied on in the past.

The control head is the same size, style and design as the Gold Bug Pro and is powered by one 9-Volt battery.  It also includes a very functional rubber headphone plug for the ¼” headphone socket.  The control head, armrest and searchcoil are all done up in attractive forest camouflage -- Very handsome looking!  When I unpacked and assembled the F19Ltd, my wife, who normally yawns and rolls her eyes when I present yet another metal detector before her for inspection and approval actually commented on how nice the F19Ltd looked -- That was a shocker!  I wonder if I’ll have to hide it from her now.   I haven’t told her they offer the F19Ltd in a pink camouflage yet, though I guess I’d be remiss in my duties as a husband if I didn’t. Especially since I caught her trying the weight of it. It only weighs 2-1/2 pounds.

The F19Ltd is controlled by two dials and four touch pads. The dial on the left turns the detector on and adjusts the Gain or sensitivity of the detector. Please note that the Gain setting also affects the Pinpoint sensitivity so you may find yourself adjusting this more than you have been accustomed to on other metal detector models. The dial on the right is used to select the operating mode, either Disc or All Metal. Once clicked into the All Metal Mode it is also used to adjust the threshold tone used in All Metal detecting. There is a Menu/GG touch pad in the center which is used to display and select menu items in Disc Mode or for activating the Ground Grab® functionality in the All Metal Mode. This menu touch pad is flanked on the left with a – touch pad and a + touch pad on the right. These are used to make adjustments for the menu item selected. Below the Menu/GG touch pad is the Pinpoint touch pad. It is used to activate the Pinpoint Mode. The operating manual is well written and is full of instructions for their use.

Now to the good stuff. The F19Ltd has three operating modes, Motion All Metal, No Motion Pinpoint, and Motion Discrimination. The Motion All Metal Mode has already been previously detailed in the Gold Bug Pro reports so I’ll not spend any time there as they are unchanged (the F19Ltd will come right out of the box as a proven successful prospecting metal detector). What I want to focus on are the enhancements found in the Discrimination Mode for the Relic hunter.

Looking at the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) in Discrimination Mode you’ll notice Fisher has thought of the important things. On the top left is a 3 segment battery monitor. This measures the battery under load, so you’ll always know your battery condition. In the top right hand side, invisible unless turned on in the menu will be a backlight indicator. The F19Ltd has an adjustable back light with five brightness levels. The neat thing about the backlight is that Fisher engineers listened to the feedback from folks about backlights ruining their night vision. So they made the backlight on the F19Ltd red.  A red light will not ruin your night vision. You might sometimes find yourself detecting with the backlight on just because it looks so cool, but keep in mind it does drain the battery faster.

Running across the display is a conductivity graphic designed rather like a speedometer, 0 (zero) on the left edge, 99 on the right edge and target responses will generate a three segment indication of their conductive place along this graph. A large, easy to see Target-ID number will display below this conductivity arc giving the user a specific TID number based upon the detected objects peak phase response. To the left of the TID number is a 7 segment signal intensity meter that displays how strong the response is. To the right of the TID number, the Disc setting is continuously displayed, unless you are making menu setting changes, in which case you will see the menu object’s setting displaying here.

Finally, I’ve gotten back to the menu. Thank you for bearing with me this long. The menu touch pad allows the operator to perform the following actions: turn on or off the back light and make adjustments to the brightness level, set the audio volume including the iron response (FE volume), set the V-Break® audio set point, set the notch width size and adjust the notch location on the conductive arc, and lastly to adjust the discrimination level.

One of the best things I like about the Fisher F19Ltd is that it puts me in the driver seat. Each of these discrimination features can be operated individually or in combination with each other to create an instrument specific to the site conditions and objects I’m searching for. By just turning on the detector and setting my ferrous volume setting to 10, I’ve have just removed all ferrous audio responses, but can still see them responding on the display, or with a setting of 11, I added them back as a very light background sound. The Audio feature has two ranges of settings, 1 through 9 affect all responses, 10 -20 only affect ferrous responses. The key thing to remember here is that the FE volume audio affects anything that responds within the TID range of 1 to 39. So if you decide to activate the V-Break feature and set it below 40, and activate the FE volume feature, any audio responses above the V-Break setting, but below 40 will also be affected by the FE volume setting.

This is a good place to talk about the audio response of the F19Ltd. There are only two audio responses available, a low tone and a VCO (voltage controlled oscillator) tone.  VCO just means that the pitch changes based upon how close the metal object is to the searchcoil. But what you really need to know is that you are in charge of where these tones change. V-Break lets you pick the TID number where response below that set point will give a low tone response, and responses at and above that point will give the VCO audio. I want you to think about the versatility that gives you. I can set the V-Break to 1, causing every response to generate a VCO audio response, then use FE volume settings to discriminate ferrous targets by the audio volume level setting I chose.  Or I could set the V-Break down into the ferrous range just to the point where it rejects nails, so that any iron target response that would be a nail or other small ferrous item would give a low tone and everything above a nail would give the VCO response.  I could then add some FE audio at this point if I wanted to so that I would also recognize a ferrous range VCO response without having to look at the display.   If I wanted to, I could max the V-Break setting out at an 80 setting so that only high conductive responses like silver coins would give a VCO response, and everything else would give a low response, and once again, if I wanted to discriminate the iron responses, I could simply activate the FE volume settings.   There is just a lot of functionality packed into the V-Break feature. I hope you can see the possibilities of the V-Break feature used alone or in combination with the FE Volume feature.

There is another feature contained in the F19Ltd’s Discrimination menu that often times gets pooh-poohed as not needed on a relic machine, and that is the Notch feature. I bet the folks that feel this way sometimes have to walk away from some locations looking for greener pastures, or least locations with less trash objects. The real problem is not that notching is bad, but that the relic hunter wasn’t able to be precise enough in his placement of the notch. Think back and remember those locations where the 22 shell casings were just too plentiful, or those places where the wire drove you crazy, or the shot gun hulls were wearing you out. I’m sure many of us have those type of memories. The only option was to raise the discrimination level above the offending object or move away from their location. Think how it might have been different if you could have created a notch just for that 22 shell casing and nothing else. The Notch feature on the F19Ltd lets you do exactly that. You can create a notch window anywhere from 1 to 20 segments in size, and then move that notch window anywhere along the conductive scale. You can be as precise or as broad as you might need for your particular trash headache. At this point I’ve only discussed the Notch Reject feature, but when the Disc level is raised above the notch setting, it turns into a Notch Accept feature. Notch Accept is just as precise as Notch Reject and all features that affect the audio responses work inside the Notch Accept Window. The Notch Accept window may not be as useful for relic hunting but if you also like to do a little coin hunting on the side it could come in handy when you move into high levels of non-ferrous trash.

Last feature to discuss is the Disc feature, and that of course, works like all other Disc features. Responses below the Disc setting are rejected both audibly and visually, while target responses above the Disc setting are reported. It is an independent feature, and it also can be used by itself or in combination with the other features I’ve already discussed. I hope I have given an accurate picture of the versatility of the Discrimination mode features. As you review the Fisher F19Ltd, think about how you would set up for your sites. How you would set each of the features, fine turning the F19Ltd into your instrument of choice for a particular site.  Of course the F19Ltd has the fast response speed that is the trademark of the new Fisher models, and the 19 kHz operating frequency hits hard on those low and middle range conductors and it handles iron trash surprisingly well.

You can see that I’ve kept a positive tone throughout this report because the Fisher F19Ltd is a positive addition to the Fisher line up. There are also a lot of accessory searchcoils available from both Fisher and aftermarket manufactures to meet almost every need. Keep an eye on the metal detecting forums for ‘in the field’ reports. There you will read reports where the F19Ltd is used for relics, jewelry, prospecting and coin hunting (yes, even coin hunting although that is not its forte). See you on the boards and wishing you success.

Mike Hills