20 Years of Treasure Hunting with the Minelab EXCALIBUR II by Gary Drayton

20 Years of Treasure Hunting with the Minelab EXCALIBUR II by Gary Drayton

One of the best metal detecting decisions I ever made was buying my first Minelab EXCALIBUR II. I remember the time I spent researching what metal detector would be the most suitable for Spanish treasure and modern jewelry hunting in my adopted home state of Florida.

I decided the Minelab EXCALIBUR II would be the perfect fit, a fully waterproof metal detector I could use in the ocean diving for treasure or on the beach during a heavy rainstorm.

My trusty EXCALIBUR II accompanied me on many a metal detecting trip to England where a rainy day never dampened my chances of detecting treasures in the field.

In my opinion, the Minelab EXCALIBUR II is still one of the best metal detectors available today and no surprise it is still my first choice for on and offshore metal detecting at ocean beaches.

Today’s advanced metal detectors with VDI screens and target IDs are very cool, but there is still something special about old-school toggle and knob metal detectors like the EXCALIBUR II. Over the years I became adept at distinguishing between gold rings and aluminum ring pulls using the EXCALIBUR II, even hearing the round shape of rings.

The gold tone through a set of EXCALIBUR II Koss headphones still makes my toes tingle on the beach or inside the water.

EXCALIBUR IIs are also built like tanks and really quite well-balanced when hip/chest or straight shaft mounted. The weight and tubular shape of the metal detector controls pod actually becomes an advantage in the water.

When I first took my EXCALIBUR II out of the box and assembled it, I soon found the metal detector mounted on the S-shaft to be a little bottom-heavy for beach hunting. It is a submersible metal detector with two shafts more designed for underwater metal detecting, but there are various aftermarket straight shafts more suitable for metal detecting on the beach you can buy.

If you really want to customize your EXCALIBUR II there are other aftermarket accessories that you may like, for example knob guards and chunkier control knobs.

I am not, however, a big fan of using inline cable connectors so you can change search coils or headphones, because in my opinion they create a weak link and they also void your original warranty.

Perhaps Minelab in the future will make changing search coils and headphones an option, until that happens I will keep my EXCALIBUR II cable connection points intact and free from potential problems.

Getting two decades of service from any metal detector is quite something to be happy and proud about. My 2003 model EXCALIBUR II has helped me detect over 5lbs of modern gold jewelry and many more pounds of silver jewelry.



The same EXCALIBUR II has detected Roman artifacts in England, US civil war relics in the southern states, and Spanish treasure coins and artifacts in Florida and the Caribbean.

If you are looking for a bulletproof metal detector with a reputation bar none, look no further than one of my favorite metal detectors, the Minelab EXCALIBUR II.

I look forward to getting many more years of service and, of course, many more Bobby dazzlers and top pocket finds from my trusty EXCALIBUR IIs.



The difference between the disc (Discrimination) and pinpoint mode (All metal) search modes is approximately an inch in target depth. In my opinion, it is not worth the hassle of using an EXCALIBUR II in anything but Disc mode; one inch more target depth is not a good trade-off for digging countless pieces of corroding iron.



There are thousands of corroding fish hooks, hairpins, and bottle caps near bodies of water you will never hear or dig when you have your EXCALIBUR II set in Disc mode.

Always have your volume set to the loudest setting; put cotton wool in your ears to soften the volume if it’s too loud for you. Word to the wise, lower volume settings lower your target depth.

Dig all signals, including one-directional clicks.

I’m usually a fan of only digging two-way repeatable signals if I only have a limited time to metal detect, meaning hitting a target when sweeping your coil over it from any direction.

A soft clicking signal detected only from one direction is more than likely a target on edge or a really deep target on the edge of discrimination detection range.

Avoid floppy search coil cables, the reason I do not recommend hip or chest mounting the EXCALIBUR II anymore. False signals from detected coil cables happen on windy or rough water days. Wrap your search coil cables with Velcro cable ties or electrical tape, preferably onto a straight shaft.

It’s only a matter of time before a hip or chest-mounted EXCALIBUR II search coil cable is stepped on or tugged loose by a falling scoop handle.

Buzzy bees is my preferred threshold level setting. Turn your EXCALIBUR II on and increase the volume until it is too loud; steadily drop the threshold level until all you can hear through your headphones is a faint buzzy bee sound.

You may have to adjust this setting throughout the search to keep the buzzy bees threshold, especially when you go over large metal objects as the threshold will return to a louder volume.

Use the Auto sensitivity until you get used to your new EXCALIBUR II; when you have a few hours using the EXCALIBUR II under your belt it’s time to set the sensitivity level manually.

Think of the EXCALIBUR II Sensitivity knob as a clock and remember the following beach and shallow water hunting settings.

Set the sensitivity control to the 11 am setting position for most beach metal detecting situations. If you encounter chatter from black sand or seawater washing over the search area move the control knob to the 12 o’clock position.

If you are searching inside the water close to shore, start at the 12 o’clock position but be prepared to increase the setting to the 1 pm position depending on the wave action.

I have very rarely ever had to use more aggressive sub-aqua settings, even when scuba diving.

Don’t forget to put a couple of wraps of electrical tape over your search coil cover to prevent your search coil cover from washing off and away in the surf zone.