Rank 8: Minelab E-Trac
Overall Rating: 83.4/100
Capability Rating: 53.5/60
This is a legendary detector and I featured it on my YouTube channel for many videos.. If you have excellent shoulder muscles and a thirst for silver, this is your detector! Using the E-Trac has taught me the value of an accurate Target ID. Using my test garden, I was able to max out at 8.5 inches for a dime and 10 inches with a quarter. Experienced E-Trac users can understand the "threshold skip" of a coin sized target and decide to dig. What is more valuable to me is the E-Trac's useful target ID which gives me a ferrous value and a conductivity value for a target. Think about this! Metal detecting is a hobby based upon inferencing. Detectorists inference through the number on a target id, the target's depth, the size of the target through the sound of the initial signal and the "trace" of a pinpoint. Having a ferrous value helps the detectorist make better conclusions on whether to dig or not. Personally speaking, I prefer the combination of depth and separation. Where the E-Trac also shines is sound inference. Users swear that it sings when it goes over silver.
Depth: I might be a little bit off in my depth rating because I primarily used the E-Trac with the oversized WOT Coil. Last paragraph I estimated that 8.5 inches were possible with the stock coil. I would hit dimes at 10 inches with the WOT coil, but that coil was huge and heavy. Size of coil is a huge factor in depth.
Separation: I could make it work with that huge coil, but targets would inevitably merge together. I could maneuver the detector to make sense of close proximity targets. The Equinox does that in a more efficient way but that was because of predecessors like the E-Trac, The CTX 3030 and the Safari.
Sound Inference: This detector has a following based on its ability to sing about silver. Master users swear that they can hear a specific sound for silver when it is beneath the coil of the E-Trac. The pitch of a tone is relative to a numeric value on the screen and the size and shape of a target. I stopped using the E-Trac when I learned that modern silver coins such as Roosevelt Dimes and Mercury Dimes often have a very high VDI above 45 on the conductive scale on the E-Trac. The problem is, Barber dimes and Seated Dimes ring up much lower. and have a wider variance of target ID, much like clad dimes and pennies. Once I learned that, I dove deeper in to the Equinox which was ergonomically superior and separated better. I learned in time that with some different settings, the Equinox went deeper than the E-Trac also.
Target ID Inference: You get an extremely sophisticated notch system and the ability to get an iron value and a conductivity value. This is very helpful with inferring before you dig.
Ergonomics: Hit the gym! No really! Hit the gym or your shoulder will fall off. Then again, I used the WOT coil which is heavy on its own.
Build Durability: Built like a brick house. Built to be durable yet not close to the efficiency of modern detectors. I remember running in when it was raining because I didn't want to compromise the box. I gave it a 4 out of 5 because the new generation of detectors
Battery Life: It does have a rechargeable pack available but it is nowhere near as efficient as Tesla Era batteries.
Swag (Add On's): This detector actually had a lot of swag. What I mean is that it used to have a lot of add ons that you could incorporate in to your detecting. It is my understanding that the E-Trac is in the process of being phased out and it is difficult to get the old E-Trac swag that was once available.
Pinpoint: Very efficient and effective pinpoint.
Navigation: It is really difficult to create and save a pattern for notching. If you have a PC that runs old software, you can download others go-to patterns. This method is historic. It is a first generation of peer sharing in metal detecting outside of the XP Deus. Other than the patterns, the navigation is simplistic.
Handles EMI: I recall a few issues with EMI but not many. The E-Trac did not have as sophisticated channel system as modern detectors.
Utility In Water: Box is not submersible and not waterproof. Coil is submersible but you do not want to chance a 1000+ dollar detector in the waves! It works extremely well on a saltwater beach but it is heavy as heck.
Saltwater Beach: Highly capable on a saltwater beach. Goes very deep in the sand. Your shoulder muscles will feel like you lifted with Arnold Schwarzenegger!
Trashy Park: I had many successes in trashy parks with the E-Trac. It is indeed capable but better options have come along.
Handles Iron: The E-Trac can sometimes get fooled but it is a lot harder with a ferrous value on the screen.
Relative Value: Oh I loved this detector, but people are still selling it new in the 1500 dollar price range. It is not worth that anymore. I bought mine for 800 dollars used and even that is a stretch. I can confidently say that the Nokta Makro Legend at 635 will match its performance and provide different bells and whistles.
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