Safari Review

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Joined: Fri May 06, 2011 2:39 pm

Safari Review

Post by Dave15 » Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:39 am

I've owned my Safari for 5 weeks, having upgraded from a Garrett Ace 250. I am currently using the detector 2 or 3 times a week for up to 6 hours at a time.

The detector comes with a coil cover (skid plate) and alkaline battery holder. The dealer had an offer of a free set of Predator Excelsior headphones and also included a Minelab control box cover. Some offers include 8 rechargeable batteries and a charger, so it is worth asking what extras might be included as a decent pair of headphones or some rechargeable batteries are worth having.

A Garrett Ace dismantles in a matter of seconds and will fit into a medium sized ruck sack for transport, the Safari isn't so easy to dismantle with most E-Trac/Explorer/Safari users appearing to keep their detector assembled and put it complete into the car boot or on the back seat. I eventually bought a Minelab padded carry bag for mine.

The Safari is sturdily built and comes with a 3 year transferable warranty (from July 2011). I did ask Minelab a question by e-mail, they replied in less than 24 hours, this quick reply combined with the build quality and warranty is very reassuring.

I had concerns over the rain resistance of the Safari, the Minelab control box cover is only rated for light rain and there is no mention of water ingress into the seams of the housing which hold the battery pack and headphone socket. I bought a Pro-Tector cover for the handle and have used the Safari in heavy rain without any damp getting into the handle/battery area courtesy of the Pro-Tector and a rather basic but effective freezer bag over the control box cover to provide an additional level of weather resistance. Discussing rain issues with another Minelab user, who has used an Explorer since they came out, he said only the control box needed to be protected as any moisture in the battery area drains easily and he's not had an issue despite detecting in pouring rain on many occasions... I still prefer to keep rain out in the first place.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, the Safari feels quite heavy in use. I am only lightly built but reasonably fit and have no issues using a Safari all day. I appreciate some users may have arm or shoulder weakness and would find a Safari hard work compared to some of the lighter detectors.

I was given a set of 8 alkaline batteries by the dealer but chose to use a set of NiMh rechargeable "Maplin" 2000 mAh batteries, these were a tight fit in the alkaline holder and eventually I bought a set of Duracell 2450 mAh NiMh batteries which fit better. There are optional battery packs available from Minelab, but for me the alkaline battery holder and a set of NiMh batteries work well and are better value.

The Safari is a lot more "lively" than a basic detector such as the Garrett Ace series... like many other upgraders I was left wondering if I had made a good move.

As recommended in the manual my initial use was in auto sensitivity and the "coin & jewellery" mode. I quickly migrated to manual sensitivity and found a much improved depth performance. Initial testing with a very thin clipped hammered silver penny showed an ID of -3 when laid on the soil, an air test of the same coin gave an ID of 14, after a little internet searching I came across several Safari users suggesting removing all the discrimination notches except perhaps the lowest one or two and to use the conductive tones rather than ferrous ones. My current settings are basically the same as those suggestions and are set as follows:

Select "coin and jewellery" mode, remove all the discrimination notches except for -10 and -9, save the settings on the "all metal" button by pressing and holding that button. This will give conductive tones on that button when the alternative button function is used (press it once for normal, press again for alternative).
Set sensitivity as high on manual as the conditions allow, typically 18 works well for the fields I search on.
Most of my fields have sufficient minerals and iron junk to need a trash density setting of high, I often switch to low trash density before going back to high and continuing searching in order to better identify some marginal targets to avoid digging junk. The low trash setting seems to ID targets slightly better than high but is slower to respond.

I like to use tones to ID targets, the conductive tone setting gives a high pitched beep for some iron and also copper/silver targets. This might sound (pardon the pun) a bit confusing, but by notching out the two lower notches of iron it's quite manageable. The big advantage is that low conductive targets give a very noticeable low to mid tone that is impossible to miss and we all tend to day dream at times while detecting. For the higher tones all that is needed is a quick glance at the screen to see the ID, a positive number needs investigating, negative numbers (with the high tone) can be ignored. Small buttons, small musket balls, lead seals, small thin coins, etc. all come through without difficulty with low/medium tones.

Pin pointing works very well with an automatic sensitivity feature giving an easy to see/hear peak when over the target, checking at 90 degrees gives a very accurate position for coins laid flat. Like other detectors the position can be off centre for odd shaped targets.

Only the largest pieces of "coke" are detected, the Safari is not bothered by the more common walnut and smaller sized pieces.

Compared to an Ace 250 and a EuroACE, I was able to detect a copper 1p coin placed 6" deep near iron junk in my lawn with the Safari, although the signal wasn't a definite "dig this" signal. Neither of the Garretts were able to give any indication of a good target. I am able to search an area more quickly with the Safari than an Ace as target ID seems to be far easier, basically with an Ace I spent more time closely checking a potential target than I do with the Safari. Finds in group searches seemed comparable to others using high grade detectors such as E-Trac, Explorer, Deus, T2 and F75 detectors. I haven't done side by side comparisons on target depth/ID with other high end detectors.

East Yorks
Minelab Safari
XP Goldmaxx Power with WS3 phones


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