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Test Report - Laser Hawkeye

Laser Hawkeye  - Field Test by Mick Turrell
(reproduced by kind permission of Searcher magazine)
 
Introduction
About three years ago I was so impressed by the Laser Rapier that I put my name into print suggesting "I defy anyone not to like this machine!" This has been proven since with the last Laser Rapier becoming one of our top selling machines and still remains up there, even today.
Bearing this in mind, you can understand why I was so interested to hear that the Laser was about to launch a new model onto the market - called the Hawkeye. The importer knew that I would want to field test it as he admitted he'd already posted it before asking! He then went on to point out the improvements that had been made and why he felt that the Hawkeye would sell so well. If what he said was true, this was certainly going to be a cracking machine!
Before talking about this new model, I should firstly say a little about the Laser Rapier. It was liked by most people because it was light, loves small hammered/Roman coins and most important of all - it is simple to use! The Rapier is a simple 'switch on and go' metal detector that does the business at a very good price and I was hop­ing that the new Hawkeye was going to be somewhat similar.
Opening the box I was very relieved to see that the Hawkeye looked as good as I had been told. In design it is similar to the Tesoro Cortes. It took seconds to put together and was light to han­dle. The eight penlight batteries go into two battery pods which fit under the armrest. The controls will be recognised by most detector users.
Sensitivity - goes from 0-10 (and then into the red for added depth).
Discrimination - used to reject unwanted targets (e.g. iron, etc.).
Threshold - used in all metal to maintain a low background noise.
Battery Test/All Metal/Disc. - mainly used for non-motion pinpoint­ing.
Light - to read meter in low light conditions.
Meter - this has several features. The number on the lefthand side of the meter will give the probable depth of the target. The number on the righthand side of the meter will give a 'conductivity' reading of the target (as a general rule, the larger/thicker the target, the higher the number). The centre of the meter is split into five sections which narrows down your target into groups such as small hammered coins, ringpulls, £1 coins, etc. (note that these are English not American settings!). As expected, it had fitted to it the hugely popu­lar 9 in. x 8 in. web coil.
Bench Test
I do not approve of in-air bench tests to give you the distance away from a coil that it will locate a target, as this is extremely misleading. I could show you a machine priced at under £150 that will give bet­ter in-air depths than that of a very good 'top-end' detector. However, the cheaper model will only penetrate the soil by a couple of inches whereas the better detector will locate coins easily at up to 10 in. What the bench test does help you to do though, is to find out what positions the varying controls should be set at as it will possibly save you hours of time wasted on the wrong settings.
I managed to raise the sensitivity setting up into the red (about 12) before the machine started to chatter. This would probably need to be lowered out on site. The discrimination was set at 'iron' to reject small iron whilst still finding the smallest/thinnest hammered silver coin. The mode switch is flicked to discrim. The threshold control was adjusted so that a faint threshold could be heard briefly when the mode switch was flicked into all metal. The light was turned off. I felt sure that these settings would suit most sites.
Field Test
I had permission to search a 'small' site close to Silchester. It was late June and the crops were growing everywhere, but this farm was all under grass with sheep grazing - in other words this was an ideal site to tryout the Hawkeye. The fields had been detected by others
in the past and had not been ploughed since, so I presumed that only the deeper targets would remain. The ground was very, very dry and hard to dig so I knew that the conditions were not good for depth.
Using the settings above, my first signal was a pre-decimal penny at under 6 in., followed by another and then another! In .fact, during the morning I found fourteen 19th/20th century coins most of which were less than six inches deep. I was also getting a lot of iron sig­nals (spits and splutters) but a quick glance at the meter confirmed that I should ignore them as it read 'zero'. I also recovered a large quantity of buttons, so many in fact, that it seemed as though this field had never been detected on before. By the end of the day I had a pouch full of non-ferrous targets and they were laid out on a news­paper and shown to the farmer's wife. She said that other detector users had searched this area in the past but gave up because of the amount of iron (rubbish) buried there. The Hawkeye had no such problem as I 'heard' the rubbish but a quick glance at the meter ensured that only the good targets were dug up. The ground was rock hard and difficult to dig, so I appreciated the fact that I only had to recover the 'good' signals. As expected, due to the dry conditions, no great depth was achieved - but this was about to change.
Due to work, I was unable to use the Hawkeye for a few days and luckily the Berkshire countryside was treated to a couple of days of torrential rain making conditions ideal. We were now into July and as most of you already know, the farmers are allowed to plough up their set-aside fields after the first of the month, so I had a choice of fields to search. I would normally choose, wherever possible, a new field that had not been searched before, but for a Field Test. this would prove nothing. I therefore instead went back to what had once been a very good field in the past with coins and artefacts from all periods being recovered. In recent years though, I have been pleased to go home with just a couple of coins as the finds have now virtually dried up. The field was quite big and had been ploughed but was fairly easy to walk on as they had used rollers to level it out. As mentioned previously, the heavy rain had started to penetrate, but it was still dry when you go down to around 8 in. I set up the machine as before and apart from a few shotgun cartridges had nothing for about half an hour. I then found a Roman 'grot' followed by another!
By the end of the day I had recovered 12 Roman coins, a couple of which were quite nice and two very battered hammered silver pennies (probably Edward 1). I also found a pocketful of non-ferrous artefacts such as buttons, buckles, pieces of lead, etc. I can honest­ly say that I was very surprised at the depth I was getting and the sharp response that each target gave me. By way of an example, the small Roman coins were being recovered at up to a good 6-7 ins. with a sharp 'two-way' signal and a positive meter reading. Equally important, I was now recovering larger targets from around the 12 in. mark!
Over the next few days I had several more opportunities to tryout the Hawkeye and on each occasion I was getting good depths whether it was on grass, ploughed or 'set-aside'. Most important of all I always came home with my pouch full of non-ferrous 'bits and pieces', whereas I would normally have found around half this amount.
Conclusion
Whenever I read a field test I normally go straight to the final chap­ter entitled Conclusion as this usually tells me all I need to know. In other field tests you get the usual sentences ranging from 'ideal for beginners', 'suitable for the more experienced user' and 'good value for money'. My comments are going to be very direct, I'm simply going to say to all of you "This is an excellent machine, go out and buy it!' The Hawkeye is light, very easy to use, finds hammered sil­ver coins at incredible depths, identifies the iron and is well priced at £595.00! If you are considering purchasing a new machine, I strong­ly suggest that you immediately visit your local dealer and try it out as you are going to be very impressed! This model is going to be one of the top selling machines this year, and is going to be around for a long, long time!