Golden Mask 3 Metal Detector Review / Field Test

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rjm:
The Golden Mask 3 is a Bulgarian make detector operating at 8.2 khz with either auto ground balance or manual, selling in the UK about 389 (There is a GM3+ which is the same as the GM3 but has a switch to give up to 30% more power, and another switch to operate at 6, 7 or 8Khz. This is another 200 over GM3.)
The detector stem doesn't have the normal buttons that click to adjust height but is  altered by a screw collar. The machine is best kept extended, the screw collar can then be screwed tight, which will avoid wear and any wobble. The detector comes with a 10.5" DD coil which is resin filled and needs no scuff cover. The detector is light and well balanced so that you could easily use for a number of hours without any fatigue.
The volume switch clicks to put the machine on. A word of warning: in 20 years this is the loudest machine I have ever used. It is suggested you use quality headphones with the headphone switch half way, and the volume switch on the GM3 at half way too, otherwise you WILL go deaf! For those hard of hearing, like me, (or want a detector to use without headphones for whatever reason) you will love this machine.
The knob that sends the transmit power into the ground is the Threshold - the sensitivity button only working when in manual ground balance. The Threshold button is turned back so that any ground noise is almost cancelled. If the auto GB is chosen, it's then a case of setting the Discrim knob to the deisred position - the red line around the knob is a good starting point (set on 4 and will knock out nails) - and away to go. If any chatter. the Threshold is turned a fraction left, with the coil on the ground, until quiet. The Audio disc switch is left in Off. This setting gives extremely fast recovery speed on iron infested ground.
If the ground is fairly clear or extreme depth is needed then the manual GB is used. The manual explains how to do this but essentially this is where the Sensitivity knob comes into play along with the Audi tone switch. The recovery speed - the time taken to sound one target to another - is slower but still good. In air testing showed that manual GB did give extra depth.
On the first pasture field I searched for an hour and a half before having to leave, I used the Auto GB position and threshold was about position 8. I dug all two way targets and found small bits of thin lead and a rusted penny. I noticed rounded iron came through as a target but with not such a clear sound, and mostly a bit broken. During the following day out I noticed that switching into the VCO on the iron gave a low spluttering sound. If there is this low spluttering sound and a high squeal I would be inclined to investigate as possibly a good target near iron. During this first 90 mins I was irritated by knocking the knobs whilst bending to dig. You know when you've knocked the volume switch as it'll make you jump!
On getting home I visited B&Q and bought a pack of 5 rubber washers for a 1 and put them under the knobs. This keeps the knobs in position quite nicely with slight pressure needed to turn. Problem sorted. It looks like a factory fit and makes me wonder why this couldn't have been done at the factory.
On the second outing, I manual ground balanced and set off detecting. The third signal of the day gave a very loud two way signal and after leavering out a shovel of soil I could see the brown stains of iron. The machine continued to give a good clear signal so out came another shovel load. Running the dector over this lump, I broke it open to reveal a coin shape. Cleaning it away I suddenly realised I was holding a VF 1573 Lizzie Sixpence which a 2004 copy of Spink values at 140....if only I sold the stuff I found! I don't as I like to keep and enjoy.
Other good two way signals pulled out a couple of worn Victorian pennies and an old farm weight likely to be medieval. I had the usual rubbish and thin pieces of white lead which is prevalent on good sites and a sign of habitation. On a couple of occasions I had doubt on two way signals, so I flicked into VCO on and heard a constant spluttering. As expected it was iron on checking. Another VCO with this sound and a high pitch squeal was one of the rusted pennies mentioned.
I did dig one hot rock which the Disc knocked out at 7, with the machine still capable of finding hammered.
This is a real detectorist machine. I'm liking it more as I use it and getting more confident in it.
It looks like a TROY X5 but it is not. It reminds me very much of the XP machines, the G Maxx2 being my favourite. It is almost true to say that with the GM3 there are no faint signals because if you are in doubt, you can turn the volume up slightly to have a better listen.
It's early days yet, but on the limited time I've used it, I've enjoyed and been impressed with it's performance. It will beat most machines costing a lot lot more money.
Machines purchased through Evergreen Detectors get a 5 year warranty on Electronics and 2 years on other parts. Machines purchased via Garys Detecting get a one year warranty for some reason, possibly as he imports them himself.
On my limited use, and what I've read and seen on the web, this machine is going to take off like the XP range did.

hedgehog:
Great unbiased report and field test RJM, think they will be popular because of the price, like I said on a previous post if I hadn't got the T2 I would be seriously considering this machine!

U.K. Brian:
Gary often gets stuffed as he gives detectors a real good work out on a range of sites. Finds any problems and tries to get them sorted. Then what often happens is a bigger company comes along and says that if they get exclusive distribution rights they will spend a large sum on advertising.

Iron hearted Grog, who many think of as being a number one Minelab fan, is using and likes the Golden Mask. You can't argue with the performance/cost ratio.

Funny thing with these "new" machines is they have all been around for years. XP was selling machines such as the Adventis (you could choose plastic or a metal control box !) for years before they came here. Also in Europe you could buy double D coils for your Whites years before Whites considered them and machines like the Whites Turbo (never sold in the States) that beat the MXT by two inches on most targets.
Its always worth seeing what others are using in other countries.

rjm:
Hi Brian

Thanks for another astute posting!

I am a fan of the Minelabs except for 4 things:

a) The weight
b) The multi-tones can drive you mad especially when several targets
     close together or junky area.  (I believe you can alter this on Se and ET to single
     and doube, etc) but not Quattro or Safari
c)  The price! Minelab are very protective of their distribution network via Joan Allen.
      J.A.  will give discounts for cash but get nasty when those they supply want to do
      the same.
d)  They have only just increased the warranty period in the UK to 3 years (it is more
      elsewhere) and have made it Non transferable. !!!   Why? My car has a 7 year
      warranty with whatever is left passing to any subsequent purchaser.

The E-Trac (when used by someone who knows how to use it to it's full potential) is awesome.  But the ET costs about 250 for Minelab to make, they sell to dealer for
about 650 who then sell on to "us" mugs for 1249.

As I said before, on launch the price was 1K but the price went up when the pound fell against the dollar. The dollar has rallied so why have J.A. not cut their prices? Fuel has gone down as has Electricity and Gas!

I will probably get an ET second hand when the second hand price is sensible...won't have any warranty though and there have been software issues.

This is why I've got the GM3 as it's a sensible price with performance matching/beating  the top marques.

The XP and GM were about in Europe before getting to these shores.....we let them iron out the issues before we use them. LOL!!   

I've had all the XP range and as you can imagine I'm quite a fan. I'm quite looking forward to what they bring out next. Heard the whisper they are developing a multi-frequency machine now that Minelab have lost the sole patent.




rjm:
30 July 2009
___________
Popped out for 2 hours on a nearby Roman site that I've been going to for about 20 years which has been done to death by me, clubs and other solo detectorists using all types of machines.
I didn't expect to find anything of value...and I didn't.
I set the machine on manual ground balance for the extra depth it can give and set off.
I found lots of habitation lead (small white bits which seem common on Roman and Medieval sites). I did dig larger pieces of iron that were rounded, one was a buckle. I don't mind this as I its an old site and I know I'm not missing much.
The machine was very sensitive and on one occasion I was chasing a signal I was getting on the GM3 but for some reason wasn't being picked up on the Garrett probe. I've never had this before. Even hot rock/coke normally gives a signal with the probe.
My heart did miss a beat when I pulled out what I thought was a hammered coin, but it proved to be a "Beyer" metallic disc that was was so light would be blown about in a breeze.
All the top machines have been used on this site, many by me. I can say that the GM3 is every bit as good and probably better than any machine I have used. It's very sensitive and very deep when you want it to be. It's light to use all day without strain, it searches quietly, and is loud on targets of all sizes, and it finds targets at very respectable depths.
For 389 you'll be hard pushed to find a machine that will hold it's own with any top end makes, to search your Roman or old sites.

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