I heard the "Call of the West," and I answered it. It wasn't
long before my Georgia Boots were standing on Colorado soil. The
beautiful Hudson River was behind me, and the majesty and grandeur
of the Rocky Mountains stood before me. There were several reasons
why I followed that siren's call beckoning me across the
Mississippi. I had never been to Colorado and I wanted to gaze at
the mountains from ground level, rather than from a height of
30,000'. I was going to the Rush to the Rockies hunt, put on by
the Eureka Treasure Hunting Club- and I wanted to be there for the
unveiling of the Shadow X-5, the latest release from Troy Custom
Detectors. It was a journey with few disappointments! Long awaited,
and after years of development, the Shadow X-5 bears little
similarity to its predecessor, the Shadow X-2, except in color,
lightweight yet rugged construction, and raw power. For the novice
detectorist, it can be used with the ease of any turn-on-and-go
detector, using the factory preset positions; yet for the veteran
detectorist it offers a wide range of optional settings to
dovetail the detector to your current coinshooting or relic
hunting needs. Coined by the manufacturer as an ATD (All Terrain
Detector), the Shadow X-5 sets a new high standard and has gained
near universal applause from its early users.
The Shadow X-5's versatility cannot be overstated. Designed to
meet a wide variety of needs and hunting situations, the X-5 is an
ideal detector for coinshooting, cache hunting, relic hunting,
prospecting, beach hunting, and competition hunting. I guess if
you plan on going diving for sunken treasure, this is not the
detector for you, but for any other treasure-related application,
the X-5 demands your serious consideration.
Just out of the box, the X-5 proved very easy to assemble. With
assembly complete, the first characteristic one notices is the
extreme light weight of the detector... just a little over 2 lbs.
with the standard 9" coil with which the X-5 is equipped. I found
the detector to be very well balanced, with a control panel easily
accessed with the touch of a finger. Terms like ergonomics and
user-friendly had to be major design considerations in the early
developmental stages of this detector. I sensed the X-5 was a
detector that anyone could swing for an extended period of time
without the least amount of tiring or fatigue.
Another feature of the X-5 that I especially enjoyed was the
source of power, and the ease of battery installation. Simply
depress the tab on the back of the control box, drop in a 9 volt
battery, and you're all set to go for the next 25+ hours of
detecting! There are no wires or connectors to mess around with,
the battery compartment is weatherproof, and if you'd like to
double your time in the field without battery changes, the X-5 can
be powered by a lithium battery as well.
Another asset the X-5 has going for it can be found tucked
inside the Owner Instruction Manual (which is both easy to read
and understand, and is profusely illustrated)- the warranty card.
The Shadow X-5 comes with a lifetime warranty to ensure years of
problem-free detecting in the field.
Finally, one feature I really enjoyed was the fact that the X-5
is weatherproof. No more need of carrying plastic bags in your
pocket, or a "raincoat" for your detector's control box. All the
switches have been equipped with internal O-rings, and even the
speaker is weatherproof. I don't know how many times I've been
caught in the deep woods or far in the field when the sky suddenly
opened up and caught me unprepared. With the X-5 such concerns are
a thing of the past!
While none of my tokens got me into the Top 40, Ol'
Slick was able to leave the field carrying a box full of
heavy treasures. There seemed to be no end to the number of
people offering to help carry the chest to his car!
MODE: The X-5 has a three-position Mode switch. You can
choose from All-Metal, Discrimination, or Beach
All-Metal: the X-5 utilizes four all-metal modes: a fast
auto-tune, all-metal motion search mode; a non-motion, all-metal
pinpoint mode with VCO; an all-metal, black sand motion auto-tune
search mode; and an all-metal motion discrimination mode when the
discrimination control is set for minimum discrimination.
Discrimination: The discrimination mode is a
silent-search motion ode that enables the user to select, when
used in conjunction with the Discrimination control, the amount of
Beach Discrimination: A motion discrimination mode used
for detecting on saltwater beaches for coins and jewelry, this
mode can also be used in areas where mineralized ground and trashy
conditions are a problem. It is also the best mode to use when
detecting in areas of high electrical interference.
Setting up the X-5 while on the hunt line was a breeze. I
set the discrimination a little higher than I normally would
and used the factory preset suggested sensitivity. The
frequency shifter was the only control I had to change
during either of the hunts.
GROUND BALANCE: The Manual Ground Balance feature
becomes of primary importance when detecting in highly mineralized
or "hot" ground. This control works in conjunction with a 10-turn
ground balance control. The function of this low range
discrimination system is to tune out the ground signal and prevent
it from interfering with the target signal. For most of us who
have been blessed with non-mineralized soil, the factory
calibrated Fixed Ground Balance will be all we'll need when we hit
the fields, but as I found on a recent trip to Virginia, it's nice
to have the additional backup of a manual ground balance system.
The Sand Manual Ground balance is a final GB setting that can be
utilized when searching in highly mineralized sand.
DISCRIMINATION CONTROL: This control is essential in
selecting the range of targets you want the detector to respond
to. When set to its minimum, the detector will target all
metals... the higher the turn, the more types of metal are lost.
This has always been one of those areas where individual
preferences come into play. Depending on the site you are
searching, you may opt to set your discrimination control near the
minimum range. This is especially true in the area of relic
hunting, where you may want to eliminate only small nails. In a
park detecting situation, you may prefer a higher setting to
eliminate foil as well.
Target Check is a unique operating feature of Troy Custom
Detectors. It quickly enables the detector operator to
compare target signals to factory-calibrated preset discrimination
set-points. This three-position, spring-set toggle enables you,
with the touch of a finger, to check and see if your current
target signal is below the conductivity of either a nickel or zinc
penny. With just a little experience under your belt, you'll find
this feature affords a type of "reverse discrimination," enabling
you to make a better decision on whether to dig, or not.
SENSITIVITY CONTROL: This is probably one of the most
important controls as it determines, to a great extent, the depth,
sensitivity to small objects, and stability of the detector. The
X-5 has a preset setting of 8, which is a good place to begin. If
you find yourself in a search situation where the ground is not
mineralized and there is no outside electrical interference, you
might want to run up the sensitivity a bit. However, if the
mentioned conditions do exist, then it is in your best interest to
"back off" the sensitivity control to a point where the detector
runs smoothly and is free of any erratic signals.
While I don't consider myself to be much of a
competition hunter, the X-5 sure made my searches a lot
easier at the recent Federation hunt! The X-5 is shown here
with the optional 7" open-center coil.
Battery Test: The battery check works in conjunction
with the Discrimination control. When the control is set to
Battery Test, the speaker will produce a high-pitched tone when
the battery is fully charged, a medium tone when half charged, and
a low tone when the battery is weak.
Pinpoint Button: The VCO non-motion pinpoint is a very
useful feature, and one that most detectorists will frequently use.
It is positioned in the center of the panel and quickly brought
into play with the thumb to isolate your target. Locating the
exact spot under which your target lies is a breeze.
Frequency Shifter: This three-position toggle switch
changes the frequency from the Norm, 19.0 kHz, to either a Hi
(19.2 kHz) or Lo (18.8 kHz) setting. This feature is especially
useful in competition hunts where interference and "cross chatter"
are commonly experienced. Additionally, if you happen to be
hunting with someone who is also using an X-5, shifting the
frequency on one of the detectors will allow both of you to hunt
in close proximity without interference. Recently, at the FMDAC
National Convention Hunt, I found this switch to be almost a
necessity. As soon as I heard someone "knocking at my door," I was
able to send them packing with the flip of a finger on the
Coils: The X-5 comes equipped with a 9" waterproof,
open-center, concentric "Spider" coil which provides outstanding
depth and provides good ground coverage. An optional 7"
open-center coil is an available option that I like for
competition hunting and searching trashy areas around old cellar
holes. In the near future, a 9" elliptical widescan "Double D," an
11" concentric "Spider" coil, and a 5" solid concentric coil will
be available to fill the niche for any possible treasure hunting
adventure that might come your way!
In the Field
One of the main reasons I wanted to field test the X-5 was to
bring it to some very heavily searched areas and see how it would
do. With the number of sites available to relic hunters steadily
decreasing in number, it is essential to have a detector that goes
deep and picks up small targets, and I thought the X-5 might fit
the bill. It did! I returned to three sites that I knew had been
hammered I know, because I have searched them for years. Using
the factory preset positions in both discriminate and sensitivity,
I began my search pattern up the rows of newly harvested corn.
Within ten minutes I had the first dropped ball in my hand. It was
small, probably about .40 caliber- early squirrel gun, I imagined-
but it was deep, as were most of my targets that day. From the
footprints in the field and the signs of someone having previously
dug there during earlier weeks, I knew I would have my job cut out
I have no idea what type of detector was being used by that
other relic hunter, and I certainly don't know what he was able to
recover, but I left that first field with over a dozen musket and
rifle balls, shoe buckle fragments, and a number of Colonial
one-piece buttons, all found on soil that was covered with
footprints and dig marks. One of the balls was pulled directly
from beneath a heel print!
At the second and third relic sites, the results were pretty
much the same. Even small bits of melted lead were being recovered
at depths I wouldn't have expected. I am still trying to figure
out how I could have missed several of those large coins that
showed themselves from the bottom of a few deep holes. Following
these field test finds, I knew that I would be returning to a
number of sites I had given up on years earlier!
I have never claimed to be much of a competition hunters still
don't. Any expertise I have in that area of detecting
would probably fit into a thimble. All I know is that you have to
be fast. You also need a detector that is easy to pinpoint, and
has a fast recovery speed.
I had the opportunity to test the X-5 as a competition hunter
at the recent FMDAC National Convention Hunt in Ohio. It was a
sand hunt, and as such, I knew the fields would be quickly
searched. If you don't get out of the "gate" fast and really pump
during that first 15 minutes, you probably won't fare too well at
the end of the hunt. I found the Shadow X-5 to be an excellent
competition hunting machine. Its light weight and ease of
pinpointing were outstanding. The frequency shifter came in very
handy for the frustrating "cross chatter" that you can normally
expect to find on the hunt field when searching in close proximity
to other hunters. With just a flip of the switch the chatter was
gone, with o time loss during those precious initial moments of
the hunt. With three frequency positions it was easy to search the
field and "thread the needle" around the other detector
Returning to several hammered relic hunting sites
produced a wealth of items not previously detected. Using
the X5 will compel you to return to a lot of the old sites
you thought had been hunted out!
I left the field with a lot more silver than I usually do, and
while none of my tokens got me into the Top 40, I left the field a
very happy man. The top prize of a treasure chest filled with
silver went to another Shadow user, nicknamed "Slick." It figures...
Overall, the Shadow X-5 is a superbly engineered detector and
extremely user-friendly. The X-5 offers the detectorist remarkable
depth, the ability to hunt without tiring, a weatherproof control
housing, and a wide variety of options to dovetail the detector to
your current hunting requirements. The X-5 would more than fill my
needs in a detector- but I just might have to pack along a larger
digging tool for all those really deep targets!