Exploring the Minelab Manticore and Minelab Equinox: In-Depth Insights from Ryan McKnight on Differences and Optimal Settings

Metal detecting with the Minelab Manticore, Minelab Equinox, and Garrett ACE Apex in Northern California, particularly in the Gold Rush area, Ryan has become highly proficient with all three metal detectors.

The location where he lives and detects is rich in history. Ryan’s favorite relic that he has found is a military button. He also enjoys exploring larger cities, detecting in older parks for ancient coins—yielding a 1901 $5 Gold Coin—and modern parks for dropped gold and silver jewelry.

1901 Liberty Gold Half Eagle $5 Coin

Ryan’s metal-detecting philosophy is simple: “If he sees a patch of grass big enough for a dog to have room to soil it, he will detect it.” For instance, he found a class ring in a ditch that most people would have overlooked for metal detecting.

He initiated his metal detecting journey with a Garrett Apex and later transitioned to the Minelab Equinox 800 detector before ultimately adopting the Minelab Manticore detector.

Sample of Ryan’s Day of Detecting Coin and Relic Finds

This interview will focus on comparing the Manticore and Equinox, exploring their strengths and best settings. Ryan has accumulated approximately 700+ hours on the Manticore and 5000+ hours on the Equinox 800. Below are my questions and his answers.

Minelab Manticore

Where do you find that the Minelab Manticore outshines the Minelab Equinox?
In every aspect except for price, you get what you pay for. I love my Equinox 800, and I’ve had great finds with it. I keep it in my car alongside the Minelab Manticore at all times, set up with the 6-inch coil. However, in my opinion, the Manticore operates on a different level. A better level.

Here’s the deal with the Minelab Manticore: metal detecting is all about time. With both metal detectors I walk slowly and swing slowly. With the Minelab Equinox 800, I dig iffy signals; most of my great finds are from such signals. However, with the Minelab Manticore, and after extensive testing, I don’t chase as many iffy signals. You can place more trust in the Minelab Manticore. If a signal sounds iffy, that’s when I consult the 2D screen. I watch the dot; the more it deviates from the centerline and goes up, the more likely the target contains iron. If the Minelab Manticore indicates a bad target, it almost always is. You can also observe the screen for a dot that looks good surrounded by fuzzy, bad dots. The Manticore will lock onto that good target, and the bad ones won’t come through the headphones as much. If you’re still unsure, switch to All Metal: Red, don’t dig; Black, dig. I initially had a hard time placing this much trust in it, but it usually proves accurate. I don’t worry about applying some discrimination, like Ferrous Limits. Some say don’t discriminate as you lose targets, but much of that concern is now addressed. I’m more concerned about how many good targets I might miss while busy digging through trash. Time is everything, and I dig way less trash and get way more good targets.

What are your Minelab Manticore settings?
It’s hard to answer, but a lot of times, I just keep it simple. All Terrain General 5 Tone All Region Enhanced Tone filter on. Stabilizer I adjust to the site. I keep lower Ferrous Limits at 1, and I hardly ever raise it. Most of the trash in my area is iron, which falls within the upper Ferrous Limits. Right now, I have the upper set at 12. I’ve never found anything good in the Upper Limits. If I really want to get technical and have time, I will adjust my Upper Limits to the site. For example, if an iron nail comes in at a VDI of 80 and others at 62, I’ll drop the Upper Limits on those VDI. So, I’d adjust the 76-84 VDI Upper Limits, dropping them down until it’s missing the iron. You won’t lose that VDI; you will only lose an object that has the same ferrous content as the square nails. This does take a few minutes to do, but it’s well worth it.

The Minelab Manticore VDI ranges from 0 to 99, whereas the Minelab Equinox ranges from -9 to 40. Was it an easy or challenging learning curve transitioning from one set of numbers to another?
It took a little bit to get used to, but I kind of prefer it now. For instance, if something on the Minelab Equinox is jumping from 25-27, that’s equivalent to 78-82 on the Minelab Manticore. The difference is that on the Minelab Manticore, a good target doesn’t jump around as much as on the Minelab Equinox.

Sample of Ryan’s Day of Park Detecting With the Minelab Manticore

At the parks, when metal detecting for gold jewelry with the Minelab Manticore, what VDIs do you dig?
On the Minelab Manticore, the larger VDI actually seems more accurate. I’ll dig any VDI with a good sound and screen display, and if it shows in the black with all metal. When I get tired after 6-7 hours, I’ll avoid clad pennies and pull tabs—the modern ones. However, even the Manticore picks those up, along with the 32-ounce twist-off beer tops. There’s nothing I have found to get away from them; they sound and look too good. But after finding the 15k old gold ring, I find myself digging a lot of foil. I just can’t help it. The Manticore is great, not perfect.

I know you got your gold coin and military button with the Minelab Equinox, but what have you found with the Minelab Manticore that are your upper pocket finds?
I got a stunning 15k gold ring. I am sure it was a pre-1920s ring. It was deep with a couple of pieces of trash with it. I also got a decent gold bracelet as well as a couple of beautiful old silver rings, pretty deep. Coin-wise, a semi-key date Mercury Dime and lots of silver coins.

Various Gold and Silver Ryan Found Metal Detecting

Minelab Equinox

What are your Minelab Equinox 800 relic settings?
Neil Jones’ “Beach to Land” settings have been my go-to for well over a year. Neil has been immensely helpful; he worked on my swing a few times via video, and I am grateful to him for getting my swing to its current state, which has significantly contributed to uncovering more finds. This may sound odd regarding “Beach to Land,” especially in all-metal, iron-infested sites. You hear a ton of iron, but that can be the point. Listening to iron for an hour, you swing over a coin, anything with silver, brass, copper, or gold, and it stands out. You really can’t miss it. This approach may not be for everyone, but it works great. I have found some amazing relics and coins using “Beach to Land.”

Pre-Civil War Era Eureka California Military Officer’s Brass Button Waterbury

What are your favorite Minelab Equinox 800 settings for metal detecting older coins or silver and gold jewelry?
For parks to find older coins and jewelry, I stick with the “Beach to Land” settings. I also use Park 1 a lot, lowering my recovery to 4 and setting lower F2 down to 3-4. I use the same tone break as “Beach to Land.” With the Minelab Equinox 800, you can really use the modes just as the factory suggests. In a trashy park I use Park 1. For clean park not much trash, I use Park 2. Minelab Engineers and testers knew what they were doing when they created the stock settings.

Class Ring Found By Ryan Metal Detecting and Returned to the Owner

With the Minelab Equinox, which VDI numbers do you dig?
I dig anything with a good two-way signal. I have tried to avoid clad pennies, but I’ve found a lot of rings that I initially thought were clad pennies. Therefore, it is best to dig anything with a good two-way signal, even penny signals. Even junk rings can be fun. I also used to stay away from lower VDI’s until I got my first gold ring at a VDI of 6 in a Tot Lot.

In conclusion, our exploration into the Minelab Manticore and Minelab Equinox, guided by the seasoned insights of detectorists Ryan McKnight. His extensive experience in Northern California’s historically rich areas, combined with his meticulous approach to metal detecting, has provided a wealth of knowledge. Ryan’s willingness to metal detecting various locations whil digging targets across a range of VDI numbers with both detectors underscores his open-minded approach to metal detecting. Whether uncovering historic gold rush relics in or searching for gold or silver jewlery  in modern settings, Ryan’s insights provide insight to getting better finds with the Minelab Manticore and Minelab Equinox.

As we conclude this interview, we extend our gratitude to Ryan McKnight for sharing his expertise and valuable tips, contributing significantly to the metal detecting community’s knowledge base. May your future metal detecting endeavors be as rich in discoveries.. Happy hunting!

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