Rank 5: Minelab Equinox 600/800
Merrill's Thoughts: Minelab Equinox Series Metal Detector (Equinox 600 & Equinox 800): As far as I am concerned, the best detector in the world up until early 2022 was the Minelab Equinox series of detectors. If you watched my YouTube Channel Metal Detecting NYC, over the past few years, you saw me use the Equinox on the vast majority of my hunts. It is extremely versatile and can handle the target rich (trash rich) parks of New York City but also does not miss a beat on a beach. Its target separation is second to none and its depth is exquisite; especially if you use the 15 inch DD coil . Having all of this said, I see the Deus 2 pass the Equinox in capability and the Legend pass the Equinox in value. But it remains extremely formidable and still deserves to be in the conversation for the number one spot. There are 2 major flaws with the Equinox. 1.) it is marketed to be a detector that is capable of being submerged, but I can count on two hands, the number of people I know who have had the control box flood. 2.) The shaft design is archaic and eventually seals itself in to place meaning that you cant move it. There are better options out there on cheaper detectors. The function of the Equinox is only bested by the Deus 2, and not by much. I have seen experts pull dime sized objects at 9-10 inches (and up to 11 inches with a threshold skip) with the stock coil and dime sized objects at 13-14 inches with the 15 inch coil. It is the game changer of metal detectors that every other company is trying to catch up to. Ergonomically speaking, the weight of the detector is tolerable. It is not feather light like an XP Deus or even a Garrett AT Pro but it is tolerable to the arm. My favorite characteristic that I have observed with the Equinox is its flexible ability to sort out close targets. Its separation is exquisite! SLIGHTLY alter the center of your swing when 2 objects are close and you have a chance of differentiating them. I have tested this with coins and nails in my test garden. You have a great chance of making out individual targets when targets are close and their signals partially overlap and mask each other. In New York City this ability is absolutely crucial for a detector to have! Long story short, the Equinox can be configured to handle almost any condition and its ability to detect in simultaneous multi frequency (or just one frequency at a time) is revolutionary. While the Vanquish is a multi frequency detector, it does not have the elite separation ability that the Equinox has. I bought my Equinox 600 in 2019 and it has been a game changer. I got my own Minelab Equinox 800, in 2022 and to be quite honest, there is very little difference in depth and separation if any. For 150-200 dollars more, you do get some great wireless headphones that are easy to pair, and you get more flexibility with recovery speed and iron bias. Speaking of Iron Bias, I have learned that the lower the iron bias, the deeper that it can detect, but keep in mind that you will also dig more iron. The Equinox 800 also has an additional gold mode which is mostly irrelevant in New York.
Separation: Exquisite. A user can somehow change angles on a coil and get different understandings of targets. What amazes me is how the detector can make clear distinctions of targets even if they are practically on top of each other. It would take defying physics for another competitor to improve on this.
Sound Inference: After using the Equinox for more than 2 years, I can partially predict what the target will be due to its audio response. The Equinox is a second to the XP Deus 1 and 2 in this realm.
Target ID Inference: The scale of the target ID could be split up more but the more that I have learned that coins minted the same way in the same year can have slight differences in composition, the less I value a target ID. Long story short. The Nox has a very good, but not exquisite visual reference system. The Minelab E-Trac gave ferrous readings to their targets and that was extremely helpful
Ergonomics: The detector is reasonably light, but it is not Deus light.
Build Durability: NOPE! Here is where I have to challenge the capability of the Equinox. The problems with the box being submerged and flooding is very well documented. The shaft will last you but it is subpar even to the Vanquish shaft (which is telescopic). After moderate use the bottom of the shaft will lock in to place and you will never be able to adjust it again. Detect Ed became incredibly popular because of the deficits in the regular shaft.
Battery Life: Supposedly you get 12 hours of battery life. I would estimate that that is a conservative estimate. The problem is that the battery degrades over time. Now that I have used my Equinox for over 2 years, the device runs unstable when the battery approaches 2 bars.
Swag (Add On's): You get a lot of add on options for the Minelab Equinox. The 5 inch Smart Coil is a game changer. The 15 inch Smart Coil is a game changer. You get the option to use Coiltek Coils (which I didn't like as much but many people swear by).
Pinpoint: I love the pinpoint of the Equinox. Expert users can trace out their target to deep depths. Also, deep non ferrous targets have an extremely localized pinpoint that differentiates it from iron.
Navigation: I have so much experience with this detector that I might have a bias here. There are some hidden items such as Iron Bias, F2 and Tone Breaks, but for the most part, everything is easy to access.
Handles EMI: The Equinox seems affected by its surroundings. Electromagnetic interference can be a problem on the Equinox. It has channels that you can change, The 600 has to do this through AI, the 800 gives the user the choice (as well as AI). But the bottom line is that EMI is not always perfectly mitigated.
Utility In Water: The Equinox gets points taken off for the numerous reports of flooded control boxes. In fairness, I have submerged mine and I never had that issue. The Equinox is outstanding in still water and still formidable at the beach. It has issues in moving sand (under the water) but that is an issue with many detectors.
Saltwater Beach: It is the industry standard right now on the beach. The 15 inch coil and the Equinox are extremely formidable but the Deus 2 is right on its tail and is perhaps superior. More time will tell.
Trashy Park: There is nothing like an Equinox to CARVE UP a trashy park. I have seen signals almost one on top of another clearly separated and differentiated. If you want to attempt micro surgery, put on the 6 inch smart coil and you can get to 7 inches down on a dime signal and all the spacing you could ever dream of, even in bottle cap land!
Handles Iron: I admit that I am Mr. Iron with the Equinox. I run my iron bias low because I believed that it maximized depth (that remains to be seen) and iron has tricked me. Having that said I PREFER to dig the toss up signals! Could it be deep silver or could it be iron. I would rather dig everything up to be sure. Having all of this said, a more restrictive iron setting would have me dig less iron.
Relative Value: The Equinox is still the gold standard for the market in early 2022, so its price point can and will affect other detector's price points. The Nokta Legend is priced at $635 dollars and you get wireless headphones, a flashlight, a clock on a detector that is similar in capabilities to the 800 (which costs $999). So far, the Legend has matched signals with the Equinox successfully on 29 of 30 holes in varied settings. Keep in mind that Nokta just came out with its first round of updates and the Equinox has had multiple versions already. The Equinox might be more capable than the Legend (that remains to be seen) but the value goes to the Legend.