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Comfortable arm grip
False positives on high settings
Detailed customization combined with an easy-to-read interface allows for tailored fun on the trail or at the beach. Bonus points for the adjustable audio and lightweight build.
Metal detecting can be a fun way to snag some extra vitamin D outside while channeling your inner pirate. But seeking buried treasure can be hard without the proper equipment. Fisher’s F22 Metal Detector, a mid-range detector featured in the company’s hobby line, checks all the boxes—a waterproof, sleek design, a large interface, and multiple settings. Over two weekends, we trekked the trails and strolled beaches with the Fisher F22.
First things first—at a mere 2.3 pounds, this detector is incredibly lightweight. With a thin design of 22x8x5 inches it's designed for reach.
The handgrip is lined with spongy padding, giving the user extra gripping power in harsh weather conditions. A long stem extends to an elliptical-shaped search coil. Normally, we’d find the elliptical shape detrimental, but when you’re walking, it helps against accidentally bumping the coil.
The real MVP of this design, however, is the easy-to-read interface, or Control Housing. While small, its screen boasts a large Target ID number and depth meter. Other models would leave you squinting to pinpoint underground goodies, but Fisher ensures that you can easily read the interface.
The real MVP of this design, however, is the easy-to-read interface.
We have to credit Fisher with their bluntness: on the “assembly” page of the instruction guide at the very top, it says, “Tool Required: #1 Phillips Screwdriver.” They were not kidding. We needed one to remove the screw from the armrest and secure the Control Housing, or the interface, onto the stem.
Once you secure the interface onto the stem, the rest is easier. Using the o-rings, attach the stems and tighten the rings so that the stem is complete. Make sure that you straighten the stems properly—it was here where we realized we’d flipped the stems and needed to separate and reattach them. Align the nine inch-wide search coil to the stem, add the coil washers, and secure it all with the knurled knob and the bolt. It should be tight enough that it won’t flop, but loose enough that you don’t have to use your entire body strength to shift it as you’re detecting.
Finally, take the search coil and wrap it around the stem. There are two velcro straps that make it easy to keep the coil close to the stem. Secure it against the stem and insert the cable plug into the port. Twist it to tighten. Once the coil is tight, the battery port is located in the undercarriage of the Control Housing. The detector requires 2 AA batteries, which aren't included. Insert the batteries, press the power button, and it’s ready to go.
One of the great features that sets the Fisher apart from other brands is that they are straightforward with their detector strengths. The F22’s performance relies on its use as a coin hunter. With ten levels of sensitivity, four operation modes, and an iron identifier that includes a specific audio indicator, we were in for a treat.
Starting on Jewelry Mode (we’re shameless), we hiked through the woods, mimicking the half-circle motions from the accompanying 55 page instructions. Instead of detecting jewelry, the F22 located the most intriguing Corona bottle caps the Western side of the Mississippi could offer. Each time we scanned a random piece of trash, it beeped on this mode. Fisher’s claim that the F22 would single out different metals was thus proved unfounded.
The F22 shined on trails.
Despite minor audio setbacks, the F22 shined on trails. Each time it pinged it registered some kind of metal. The LCD Indicator Screen was on point with how it showed each metal. The numbers go from 0-100, and each set of numbers differentiates between metals. Our experience was that we received a lot of teen numbers. As it turns out, these numbers indicated the type of metal the Fisher detected: iron. The depth meter accurately predicted within two inches where items were located. In a lake bed, it was able to find a plethora of old iron railroad spikes with ease and spot-on precision.
Beaches, however, were more challenging for the F22. The detector kept alerting us to objects that registered in the high 90s, indicating some unidentifiable metallic item. We dug deep into the sand but finally gave up when nothing appeared.
Despite changing modes and altering sensitivity and notch settings, the F22 still picked up enough false positives that it made us question its utility for beach hunting. Not all was lost there, however. The beach was the only place where the F22 pinpointed a nickel, three inches under the sand.
The detector will operate for a long period of time on a single charge, with a maximum battery life around 15-20 hours. It’s also really good about helping you keep track of the current charge level. The LCD screen has a battery bar conveniently located on the interface, so you’ll know when to take a spare set on the trails.
The Fisher F22 can be yours for around $220. The price is a little on the higher end, but it’s also definitely a high-end detector. Plus, as we’ve discovered, not a lot of detectors in that price range are weatherproof.
We completely understand that spending more than $200 on a detector might seem a little excessive for some. For those that don’t want to drop that much on a detector, Bounty Hunter offers a more budget-friendly option, the Tracker IV Detector. At around $100, it’s a much cheaper option, but with that lower price tag comes some sacrifices.
The Fisher F22 is really nice in that the LCD interface tells you exactly what’s going on and where. On the other hand, the Tracker IV Detector eschews all the bells and whistles, only allowing for a low battery light and a bar indicating target strength. While they each come with various modes for hunting for coins and jewelry, the Fisher shines for its ease of use—and even its weight is better, at 2.3 pounds compared to 3.7 for the Tracker IV. This may seem like a minute difference, but when you’re walking and gently swinging a detector for miles it can make a huge difference. If you can afford to splurge, we recommend the Fisher F22. If budget is your top priority, then the Tracker IV is a fine substitute.
Worth the purchase.
The Fisher F22 is a great, mid-ranged metal detector, capable of scouring all terrains for fun items. The price tag may be a deterrence, as well as its weakness on sand, but the ease of use and easy to read LCD screen makes it a real winner in our book.