If you’ve been around metal detecting for even a short while, you’ve probably heard rumours from other detectorists about the New Minelab and maybe even talk of a metal-detecting beast! Well, both of these rumours are true, as in September 2022 Minelab announced their new flagship coin and treasure detector, the Manticore.
The Manticore is a high-performance metal detector which sits in the higher echelons of the Minelab detecting hierarchy. This is the next generation of metal detector, both physically in its construction, and through its power and intelligence.
The Minelab Metal Detector range is quite diverse in terms of aesthetics, in this regard they’ve always been very considerate, and not lazy when it comes to product design. If we compare for example the Go Find range, with their portable, boxy style with that of the very, loud and dramatic red, angular styling of the Vanquish range and then finally into the elegant, slimline, cool grey styling of the Equinox series you can really see diversity in construction and market potential. We think Minelab have catered to another segment of the detecting community with the design of Manticore, we’ve reached what we would describe as, tactical or stealth mode and this is reflected in the almost military and advancing colour and construction.
Feeling somewhat like a toy for a 00’ agent, due to its lightweight, black carbon fibre stem the Manticore reduces down to the size of a dumbbell. Gone are the days of worrying about detector length, and having to angle your machine into the boot of your car, or purchase telescopic aftermarket shafts,
Then there’s another spy-like feature, it’s waterproof nature. The Equinox & CTX3030 series were waterproof to 3 metres, but this has been expanded to 5 metres. The 5-metre waterproof rating seems slightly un-impressive, but please take the time to appreciate that in metres, particularly depth, that 5 metres is a very significant amount.
New Scorpion Arm Rest
The new Scorpion Arm Rest which although named after something which we would be quite uncomfortable to encounter is actually one of our favourite things about the machine. It is so comfortable. When you hold the machine, it just hugs your arm in a way that no other detector does. This is probably mainly due to the more flexible material and inner cushion, but also due to the machine's previously mentioned lightweight and great balance.
Can it deliver where it counts? The short answer is yes!
2D ID Mapping
The CTX3030 from Minelab, is a highly-regarded coin and treasure detector, maintaining its status as a high-performance metal detector for 10 years now. And one of the features that made this machine so popular is its visual XY, 2D presentation of targets. The FeCo system, or Ferrous and Conductivity to the uninitiated visually plotted the two different attributes on display, allowing the detectorists to analyse and decide on what a target could be due to the plotting position of a target. Minelab has taken this system and made it even more sophisticated. It has a new 2D mapping system which has a horizontal line running through its centre. Targets which are plotted along this central line are non-ferrous and the further they stray from it above or below means they contain a higher iron content. It covers the target's position along the y-axis, and this leaves the left to right or x position which then covers conductivity, with low conductors on the left and high conductors on the right.
But here’s where it reaches the next level, the shape of the indicator on the map is also related to the target. A solid, concise object, like a coin, will most likely be represented as a nice, clean dot on the screen, whereas a more erratic object will be represented as a more irregular shape. For example; a silver coin would show up along the centre line, as a tight dot, and towards the right side of the screen (due to its high conductivity), whereas a small iron nail would show up far from the centre line, as an irregular shape, and further towards the left of the screen (due to its lower conductivity).
The Term, 50% more power than Equinox has been flying around since the machine’s announcement and the sceptics, rightly proclaimed immediately, this does not equate to 50% more depth, and they are right! 50% more power. The energy within the electromagnetic field emitted from the search coil of a detector dissipates fairly quickly, tapering into a peak in the soil or sand. The ratio of dissipation is not relative to the power utilised and this is the reason that 50% more power isn’t 50% more depth. But, there is more depth! How much deeper is the Manticore than the Equinox? Moisture, target composition, target position/angle, mineralisation and a heap of other things can affect the depth of a machine, but we would expect another 10-15% of depth on some target types.
It’s much deeper than the Minelab Equinox and is equal to the previous elite Minelab coin and treasure detector, the CTX3030 in terms of depth. Minelab happily describes the Manticore as a hybrid between the CTX3030 and the Equinox range and also note that is beats the Equinox in all areas of performance and equals or beats the CTX in every element, except for GPS location tracking – The CTX3030 still wins on this one.
Here’s something we have to tell you, as it blew our minds. Ensure you’ve read the above about 2D ID mapping to fully understand this bit.
We were given a demonstration by Mark Lawrie, The Chief Engineer at Minelab and this demonstrated how good the Manticore is at target separation. Mark first showed us how the it would communicate a hammered coin. He waived it left to right above the coil, and sure enough, as described previously we saw a nice, tight dot, on the centre line of the display. What was really impressive however was when Mark added a second target into the mix. On the second demonstration, Mark waived the hammered coin again, but also a large piece of lead with his other hand, both passing from left to right over the coil. We once again saw the hammered coin’s dot in the same place, but now saw a larger, messy splodge in the far-left corner of the screen. This easily illustrated that two targets were present and that the Manticore is easily able to separate targets and reduce masking. This is a real game changer in terms of knowing when to dig, particularly in trashy sites like Roman settlements where lots of iron may be present and would therefore sometimes cause detectorists to doubt signals and decide not to dig.
Ease of Use
The Equinox 800 comes with 4 preset modes, field, park, beach and gold and although is a brilliantly versatile machine can also be used by a beginner with little training. The CTX3030 in contrast requires a little more time invested to decipher the received information.
The Manticore combats this by having a few more preset modes and adapting the previous 2D ID mapping system of the CTX3030 into a much simpler, and easier-to-read system (more on this in a minute).
The telescopic nature of the shaft, quick locking bolts, and quickly adjustable scorpion armrest even mean that physically, it’s simple to set up and adjust. We know that Minelab spent a particularly long time on the main preset. Their aim was to create a machine which was as optimised as possible for the widest variety of detecting situations.
Preset modes available:
5 x All-Terrain Modes
4 x Beach Modes
1 x Goldfield Mode
We caught up with Detexpert Paul Cee who was an official tester and asked him his thoughts on how easy to use the machine is. Paul told us that even though it’s a high-performance detector, you can get a handle on the controls and be confident within a very short time.
More power didn’t just mean more power in the coil, it meant more power in the brain too. We don’t yet know the specifics, and maybe never will, on how Multi-IQ+ differs from Minelab's first version of Multi-IQ found in the Equinox and Vanquish series. We do know however that the increase in presets requires more in terms of how Multi-IQ+ processes and delivers information. Also, in terms of general processing, there are a lot of neat, configurable characteristics (see below) within the machine, which isn’t relevant to Multi-IQ+ but must be enabled by an increase in general processing power.
You can configure anything on this detector that you would expect with other sophisticated metal detectors such as Equinox, but there’s a lot more to be tinkered with if you so wish. Here’s a great example of how adjustable this machine is to the user’s preferences.
We watched as the detexpert auditioned a variety of tones to the new detectorist to find a specific pitch that he liked. This specific pitch was then assigned to a band of frequencies on the Manticore, meaning that when a target triggered in that range, the detectorist would hear his desired sound. This frequency range was then altered, shuffled around if you will, to common band where hammered and other coins present signals. The remaining bands in the frequency spectrum were then assigned other non-intrusive tones and then a demonstration was provided. We watched with glee at the smile on the face of the new detectorist as he scanned the floor over a variety of targets, easily plucking out, and even enjoying the sound of hammereds as he scanned. He was so happy that we couldn’t believe it and he left shaking the detexperts hand. Of course, not everyone wants their machine set up to such a narrow search band. Most of us would relish relics as much as coins, but with patience and time, you really can configure it to be just how you like it. Think about it like either a lantern or a fine-beamed torch!
We really believe Minelab have sat back and watched and learned from the metal detecting industry with the Manticore. There have been some good competitor machines over the last 18 months, but to some degree, they’ve been the same generation of detectors that we already had in the industry. As a metal detecting retailer, we regularly see detectorists looking to improve their machines physically, making them more portable, stylish, stronger or lighter, but that’s just not going to be needed now. The Manticore is strong, light, very portable and looks amazing.
Minelab has also examined its own suite of metal detectors and pulled the best elements from across its range. Their new offering is as deep, lighter and more intelligent than the CTX3030, and according to Minelab themselves, surpasses the Equinox range in every way.
It’s hard not to be excited about the Manticore. This is not just hype, this is the future of metal detecting.