Running With the Beast -A Hard Look into the Minelab Manticore and Its Users

The Never Ending Desire for Depth and When and How to Use It

Why is depth such a crucial factor in metal detecting? It’s not just about the detector; it’s also about the detectorist also. What are your objectives? Where are you conducting your searches? What treasures are you hoping to uncover? How much time can you commit to a specific location? Are you inclined to delve into the intricacies of settings, or do you prefer sticking with the factory presets? In this article, we’ll delve into the Minelab Manticore, explore different types of detectorists, share some of my preferred settings, offer insights into comparable detectors, and discuss various observations as I constantly test the limits of what’s considered discoverable with the Manticore.

Minelab Manticore Settings

The significance of depth is evident—it can lead you to previously unexplored territory. However, is it always a necessity? Consider this: while depth can unveil hidden treasures, it can also pose challenges. Picture this scenario: you’re scouring through 40-year-old fill dirt, only to encounter demolished building foundations underneath, interspersed with aluminum chunks, iron fragments, and remnants of old copper pipes—yielding countless false signals. If your goal is to unearth modern coins and currency, perhaps delving into extreme depths isn’t the most efficient approach. Modern fill areas often harbor valuable items, like rings and necklaces, just inches beneath the surface due to high traffic.

Conversely, imagine exploring well-known historical sites that have been thoroughly combed over for decades by numerous detectorists seeking the next significant find. In such instances, understanding your detector’s capabilities in terms of depth and target separation becomes paramount.

Now, let’s consider the beach—a dynamic environment where depth takes on a different significance. Are you searching post-storm, amidst black sand remnants? Or perhaps it’s the day after a bustling holiday, and you’re scanning the dry sand for recent drops amidst the crowds. In these scenarios, adjusting your depth settings accordingly is crucial. Sometimes, the challenge lies not in depth but in separating valuable targets from the surrounding debris.

Ultimately, the decision to prioritize depth depends on your specific circumstances and objectives. It’s about having a strategic approach, knowing when to leverage depth, and perhaps most importantly, exercising patience to maximize your chances of uncovering remarkable finds.


The world around us is in a constant state of flux. The position of the Moon, for instance, can cause variations in electromagnetic fields within the atmosphere, influencing targets on the ground. Similar to solar flares, the Moon alters these fields around objects resonating with specific frequencies. Different phases of the moon reveal distinct targets throughout the month.

Sun flares and diurnal variations further contribute to the transient nature of detecting. The rhythmic pounding of waves against wet sand generates shock waves, inducing electrical fields that interact with the environment. Beaches, with their unique resonance frequencies, can obscure targets from detection at certain angles due to these phenomena.

Rainfall, particularly prolonged periods, saturates the ground, creating electromagnetic halos around buried coins, enriching the depth of detection. Valuable cues worth noting and exploring.

I’ve experienced nights in fields and parks where every memorial and wheat penny seems to come alive, while on others, the same locations remain dormant in the copper range but reveal silver coins.

The expansion and contraction of soil due to moisture content can subtly displace coins, aided by small wormholes and the leaching of silver into the ground, mirroring the behavior of iron, creating detectable halos.

What sets the Manticore apart is its customization. With approximately 1000 combinations for each program, users can finely tune settings to their specific environments. I’ve unearthed silver dimes buried 18 inches deep in highly mineralized soil, concealed by zinc pennies and iron, all within the same hole. A barber quarter retrieved from over 25 inches deep and gold bracelets discovered at depths exceeding 2 feet on the beach exemplify the Manticore’s capabilities.

While such depths may defy logic in air tests, once the settings are honed, these hidden treasures become audible. Despite not having all the answers regarding the intricate interplay of environmental factors, it’s undeniable that they play a significant role in detection prowess.

The Evolution of a Detectorist

When I first embarked on my metal detecting journey, the allure of discovering jewelry was undeniably captivating. However, as I immersed myself deeper into the hobby, I unearthed a new fascination—one that transcended the mere sparkle of rings and necklaces: the allure of uncovering a silver coin. I suspect many can relate to this progression.

Initially, it was the thrill of finding silver Roosevelt dimes that ignited my enthusiasm, but as they became more commonplace, their novelty gradually faded. Soon, my sights were set on the prospect of discovering Washington quarters, only to be surpassed by the excitement of stumbling upon mercury dimes, which quickly became the new benchmark of success.

As my journey unfolded, my pursuits continued to evolve. I found myself drawn to the challenge of unearthing barbers and large coppers, each find marking a milestone in my quest for hidden treasures. Yet, I cannot help but anticipate that my focus will eventually shift towards even more elusive prizes, such as seated coins, each discovery representing a new pinnacle in my metal detecting journey.

However, even these thrilling pursuits will eventually lose their shine, paving the way for a natural transition into the realm of relic hunting—exploring ancient sites and unearthing artifacts from bygone eras. Here, the allure lies in discovering the oldest artifacts and the elusive charm of uncovering gold coins.

While I am currently entrenched in the excitement of finding silver, I am keenly aware that my journey in metal detecting is dynamic and ever-evolving. It is a journey characterized by shifting interests and discoveries, and I believe many fellow enthusiasts are on a similar path of discovery and growth.

The Types of Detectorists

One recurring observation that has become evident to me is the diverse expertise exhibited by detectorists, each specializing in distinct areas of interest or employing unique methodologies. Within this vibrant community, I’ve encountered several remarkable examples that highlight this diversity.

Firstly, there are those with a remarkable talent for uncovering coins, meticulously scouring historical sites and beachfronts with unparalleled precision. Their deep understanding of historical contexts often leads to impressive discoveries, enriching our understanding of the past.

Then, there are the relic hunters—individuals driven by a passion for unearthing artifacts from bygone eras. Armed with historical records, maps, and a keen eye for landscape interpretation, they meticulously search for promising locations. Their findings not only provide glimpses into history but also contribute invaluable insights to archaeological research.

Another distinct category comprises the jewelry hunters, who specialize in detecting precious metals, particularly on beaches. Their expertise lies in uncovering lost rings, earrings, and other valuables, showcasing the remarkable capabilities of modern metal detecting technology.

Furthermore, there are those detectorists dedicated to uncovering relics such as military badges, buttons, and ammunition. Their unwavering commitment to preserving history leads them to explore battlefields, trenches, and other historical sites, unearthing poignant reminders of human conflict and resilience.

In essence, each detectorist brings their own unique skills, interests, and expertise to the hobby, driven by a shared passion for exploration and discovery. These individuals I’ve had the privilege of hunting with exemplify the diverse and enriching experiences that metal detecting offers.


For the first example, let’s consider my good friend Vince Rizzo, fondly known as “The Speedster”. Whenever I’m out detecting with Vince, it seems like we stumble upon rings effortlessly, sometimes not just one but five! It’s as if rings have a magnetic attraction to him. But is it merely luck? Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that luck has very little to do with it. Observing Vince’s consistent success, I’ve realized that what may appear as luck is actually honed skill. When you repeatedly engage in an activity, chance plays a diminishing role, and skill takes center stage.

Now, why is it that Vince manages to unearth over 500 rings a year? No, that’s not a typo. In the realm of ring hunting, Vince reigns supreme. Whether it’s the beach, parks, playgrounds, fields, or even curb strips, Vince has a knack for finding rings anywhere. The key, as I’ve observed, lies in his incredible speed. Vince doesn’t just dig targets; he does it at a pace that seems almost superhuman. With the ability to explore up to 500 targets in a day, his odds of success skyrocket, regardless of the location.

Another factor contributing to Vince’s success is his mastery of the Equinox 800, operating it at stock settings with unmatched precision. In ring hunting, depth rarely proves to be a decisive factor. Personally, I use the Manticore, yet I’ve found no noticeable difference in outcomes. However, Vince’s expertise extends beyond rings; his collection boasts an array of relics, silver coins, and other remarkable artifacts fit for a museum. He truly embodies the essence of a professional detectorist.

Furthermore, Vince possesses an underrated skill: understanding human movements. When you’ve dug as many rings as he has, you develop a keen sense of where people have been, where, they are, and where they’re likely to go. This insight, combined with his lightning-fast recovery speed, allows him to cover an extensive amount of ground efficiently.


The second type is embodied by my good friend Rick Hunter, aptly nicknamed “The Hunter.” He possesses an unparalleled skill for locating items in the most challenging of environments. Rick has a knack for uncovering not only difficult finds but also high-quality ones. His hunting grounds are what I would consider formidable obstacles—whether it’s against a backdrop of rebar-filled walls, amidst raised tree roots, or within trash-strewn lots, Rick thrives. He gravitates toward areas saturated with iron, deftly sifting through the densest concentrations.

Identifying this type of hunter is relatively straightforward. Firstly, he typically opts for a small coil. Secondly, Rick’s expertise lies in his mastery of frequencies and settings; he forgoes stock programs in favor of customized configurations. Lastly, his methodical approach is evident in the purposeful manner in which he navigates, meticulously covering every inch with a grid pattern, ensuring no potential target is overlooked.

Rick’s proficiency sets a high standard, often leaving me trailing behind. Maneuvering around walls and under bushes proves challenging enough, let alone selecting targets amidst such noise. Undoubtedly, Rick exemplifies the epitome of a hunter-type detectorist—a formidable force in the field, leaving no stone unturned with his methodical style.


The third category comprises the Veterans, individuals who have dedicated five decades to the pursuit and have unearthed treasures beyond what most can fathom. These seasoned detectorists were uncovering silver coins when they were merely an inch beneath the surface. They traversed uncharted territories, delving into sites when their potential was yet unknown—the golden age of metal detecting.

Upon encountering these veterans, one immediately notices their flawless technique. Their swings are executed with precision, embodying the epitome of “low and slow.” Their reluctance to embrace change is palpable, a sentiment amplified by the surge in competition over coveted spots and beaches. Many adhere steadfastly to stock programs, a testament to their steadfastness amidst evolving technology. Remarkably, they adeptly handle the highest sensitivity settings, extracting valuable insights from amidst the chatter.

Furthermore, their expertise lies not only in their mastery of equipment but also in their intimate knowledge of historical locales, often secured through longstanding permissions and connections. Their consistency is unparalleled; veterans navigate through countless beach cycles, knowing precisely where and when to seek their bounty.

In essence, the veteran detectorist possesses an unparalleled ability to fulfill their quest. They possess an intuitive understanding of where and when to search, a wisdom honed over decades, surpassing that of the newer generation of enthusiasts.


The fourth type of detectorist, which I’ll delve into now, is what I consider myself—the proverbial “Analyzer.” I’ve immersed myself in every resource available, devouring written articles, blogs, and videos on the subject, leaving no stone unturned in my quest for knowledge. I meticulously research every aspect, from equipment to hunting locations, ensuring that I’m armed with the best gear and information before setting out.

My specialty lies in my ability to dig deep—deeper than anyone else I’ve encountered thus far. The targets I unearth often astonish others, prompting disbelief at the depths from which I retrieve them. I’m not afraid to tackle iffy signals or pursue targets that others overlook, including those that evade conventional VDI readings. Why? Because I focus on areas that have been thoroughly hunted, often in close proximity to where I reside. These accessible sites, believed to be depleted, yield treasures that justify the effort of digging 20 inches deep.

Since January alone, I’ve unearthed over 100 silvers, a staggering 90% of which originate from locations deemed barren by conventional standards. My approach is deliberate and methodical—I move slowly, exploring every nook and cranny from various angles, envisioning how someone might naturally traverse a field before veering diagonally.

For those interested in adopting a similar approach, my advice is to familiarize yourself with your detector inside and out. Know every setting, every menu option, and master the art of tweaking and testing to tailor a program on the fly for each new hunting ground. And remember, always swing low to maximize your chances of detecting those elusive treasures hiding beneath the surface.

Specialty Fields

There are several types of detectorists that I admittedly don’t know much about: the GOLD prospector, the traveler, and the underwater treasure hunter. While I have dabbled in underwater detecting myself, I feel I lack the expertise to speak confidently about these other types. However, I am eager to learn more and expand my knowledge in these areas.

I believe many enthusiasts share the dream of embarking on adventures to England or venturing out to prospect for gold nuggets. However, mastering all aspects of metal detecting can be challenging, and access to suitable locations may be limited. Nonetheless, the allure of these pursuits remains strong, and I am keen to explore and understand them further.

Comparable Detectors

After extensive research, I found the Deus 2 to be an impressive detector, boasting underwater capability, excellent target separation, and depth. Despite its merits, I ultimately chose the Manticore. However, the Deus faces criticisms regarding cable durability and the inconvenience of charging three stations separately, issues that may need addressing.

Having used multiple units, including the Nokta Legend and Equinox 800 and 900, I acknowledge their excellence. The Equinox 800, in particular, stands out for its significant impact on metal detecting history.

Yet, in my opinion, the Manticore surpasses them all. Its advanced algorithms and processor elevate it to a league of its own. Unfortunately, the Manticore is often misunderstood, much like a misunderstood pit bull breed. Misguided information spread by certain individuals on YouTube only adds to the confusion surrounding this exceptional detector.

When people express frustration over the inability to run sensitivity higher than 22, I find it amusing. The true limits of the Manticore remain elusive; every time I think I’ve reached them, they are surpassed. Relying solely on videos or air tests with makeshift objects fails to capture the complexities of real-world conditions. Factors such as soil composition profoundly affect detection depth and VDI readings, rendering air tests inadequate for accurate assessments. Therefore, thorough reading and understanding are essential for unlocking the full potential of the Manticore.

The Settings

Silver Shooting Program: I have several starting points I like to look for in a setting. What condition am I focused on? Let’s start with the completely hunted out park and shooting for just silver coins only, when I say just silver I mean purely silver. For this hunting type I use the high conductor mode primarily. I start with the understanding that I will be digging a lot of iron when doing this. Iron masks coins and so do pull tabs, bottle caps, pennies, and can slaw (chopped up beer cans). When focusing on purely silver, I am obviously focused on high tones, traces of high tones, and tones that only seem to squeak through. Here, I take some of the teachings of Neil Jones and his method of understanding slow and low along with a focus on when ground mineralization will create false blips on the 2D screen. I almost always start with the discrimination program he built as my base, this being the freestyle mode which you can find on his YouTube channel. First, you have to swing for a couple of minutes to get a feel where iron is coming in at on the VDI range, where it’s showing up on the 2D screen. If you consistently see that iron is in the upper portion of your 2D screen in a range from 55-67 then you need to shift the discrimination bar to cover those areas. If everything you are getting is in the 98 to 99 with a wraparound back into the 1-4 range while still observing a centered trace you are most likely looking at deep iron if your target trace is jumping from the top of the screen while shooting diagonally down at a 45-degree angle to the bottom quadrant then this is also going to be iron. I create iron buckets for the tones while in this mode by going into the 5 tone all tone mode in enhanced audio and bringing 3 of the 5 tones down to the bottom line I will place the remaining two tones starting at typically a VDI of 75 to 81 being the first audible tone then 82-99 being my second tone. The reason why I do this is that the more discriminations you input into the detector, the harder it has to work to classify the target leading to targets that may be wrongly classified in the detector’s algorithm. I often open the top bar substantially to allow easier processing of the detector. This program again is going to have you dig a substantial amount of iron along with the silver. Another overlooked aspect many people seem to pass over is the recovery speed. I often will cover an area with a higher recovery speed as high as 5 but depending on the number of targets and whether they have been cleaned out well of no, I may bring it all the way down to 2. The amount of depth that you can gain is greatly dependent on your recovery speed and your willingness to slow down. When using this mode, I will often turn the auto ground balance off and manually ground balance every 5-10 minutes as I’m moving.

Coin Shooting Program: My coin shooting program starts off in fast mode then proceed to my custom ferrous limits and start by leveling my top bar all the way across, I adjust this level dependent on the amount of iron. I also level the bottom bar to flatten fully across, again dependent on your site. If shooting for clad, typically I utilize heavy discrimination and high recovery speeds and implementing lower sensitivity’s. This combination of limits is also excellent with the smaller M8 coil. Quite often when coin shooting the focus is not depth but rather target identification and speed of recovery. If I’m digging targets past 6” often I will lower the sensitivity. With this mode, I use discrimination blocking the area from 1-25 covered 29-70 covered and 97-99 covered. This allows me to use the horseshoe to turn on and off the discrimination at will. In this mode keep the manual ground balance mode in auto. The fast program is designed to use maximum power to the processor although it will not give you the maximum depth. This mode tends to be also the best for cutting small foil. When using the enhanced audio mode, it will help by cutting down on small false’s or chirps. The audio theme I prefer is using medium in single all tones although you can also implement the same concept from the silver shooter program by creating iron bins and instead shifting tone two from 26-28 up into your desired audio tone to cover nickels then 71-80 covering both dimes and copper pennies being your fourth tone. Fifth tone being from 81-99 which will cover wheat pennies quarters, silver rings, and possibly coins and then quarters. This mode I like to run at a higher recovery speed of as high as 7 while a rarely will run this mode lower than 5.

General Mode: I have a special love for this mode as it is a bit of both worlds. I use park general then use the same ferrous limit custom program from my fast mode and then use discrimination to cut out 1-3 and 98-99. This mode I use for the times when I am digging everything. If you are focused on jewelry in parks you can play with your discrimination mode and cover everything from 43-80 which will cut out all of the zinc pennies and also dimes and memorial copper pennies including dimes. If you want to still dig everything you can still use all-metal mode (horseshoe) to cut on and off your discrimination. This mode works really well for finding gold and silver jewelry and run the recovery at a speed of 5 with sensitivity typically at 28+. This program can still provide a good amount of depth while giving the option to cut out dimes and pennies. This program is easy to adjust and you can normally do quite well with the M15 coil.

Beach Picking: I don’t run too many variations in my beach modes. I start off by setting up the beach and surf mode as I am often moving up and down the beach between wet sand and dry and then even down into the water. I like this mode as it has been the best for me in almost all areas of the beach. If I’m looking for fresh drops I will run the recovery speed up to 7 and also when a lot of black sand is present. If I’m detecting a sanded-in beach I will lower it to a 3 and slow down. I run the ferrous limits by starting off in the Neil Jones freestyle mode then adjust the program as necessary to the conditions of the beach. I will use my discrimination to cut only my number 1 VDI if the sand is really hard to deal with. Otherwise, I keep it off. One thing that I will do when looking for deeper targets is I will move the second zone in the top bar of my ferrous limit and move it to just enough to cover up a bobby pin buried an inch under the sand. I carry one with me along with typically a small test gold ring so that I know where my points are coming in at for the given beach I am detecting. If you are only going after gold then you can discriminate everything from 45 and up as I haven’t come across too many gold rings that will ring up higher than this in my VDI range. An important thing to remember is that black sand can change the VDI drastically in wet sand and I recommend digging all tones that are repeatable when in wet sand. Because I’m digging all tones, my preferred audio is to use prospecting audio as this takes a load off the processor and also gives me a good idea of how big and how deep a target is. If you preferred depth mode then that is an option too. There is an important aspect to digging gold rings on a beach and that even gold will display as iron when it is deep. This is why I like to adjust my second upper ferrous limit to be very nonrestrictive as when you will notice that even a gold coin will be initially in that zone and as you take some sand off the time the VDI will typically jump slightly up and your target trace will move towards the center line. I have had really good success in this mode on the beach digging 100+ rings in the last 4 months.

In Closing

An essential aspect of metal detecting is realizing that your coil can only detect what it swings over, so keeping it low is crucial. The Manticore detector is advanced and offers various settings that require a deep understanding of programming and frequency weighting. Contrary to some claims, it’s possible to set sensitivity higher than 22-24, potentially up to 35, unlocking the detector’s full potential. Adjusting settings, such as sensitivity and recovery speed, can enhance performance, particularly with a sensitivity of 35 and a recovery speed of 1-2. The maximum detection depth, especially with the M15 coil, remains uncertain, suggesting the Manticore’s capabilities are still being explored.

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