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Nautilus Metal Detector Review

Over 20 years ago, for a few years, I had the opportunity to work on a 1963 corvette that had been stripped down and made into a full-blown race car.

The owner raced it at road course tracks and his competition had much deeper pockets. It didn’t stop him from competing and even winning many races. He would chuckle telling me how he was the only one at the race with a single car trailer instead of a semi.

While he was mostly racing fuel injected imports with 5 speeds, he was running a carbureted engine with a 4 speed. Although nothing fancy it was one impressive car!

When I think of analog metal detectors (think knobs and switches) versus digital metal detectors I think of that old 63 corvette running up against more modern cars.

By today’s standards most people think of analog metal detectors as obsolete but I assure you for certain situations that just isn’t true.

Anyone who knows me knows I prefer analog in most relic hunting situations. In my experience where heavy concentrations of iron are the obstacle to overcome, put an analog detector in my hands!

I have wanted to try a Nautilus detector for a long time. I only had ever even seen one in person but I sure have heard a lot of good things throughout the years.

A few weeks before I was to leave for Ohio I decided to call Wayne Lee at Nautilus and see if I could get my hands on one to borrow since I would mostly be relic hunting.

After a great conversation. Wayne agreed to send me one to play with. Only then did I decide to start researching it!

I’ve had my hands on a lot of metal detectors over the years, detectors don’t intimidate me! I will be real honest here though and will admit that the more I read the more I was intimidated and a little concerned!

Boy did it sound complicated to set up! Another thing that concerned me was on some of the different forums I was reading that the Nautilus is not great in heavy concentrations of iron. This was more than a little concerning since this was exactly what I was going to be up against. At this point I was questioning what did I get myself into!

 If I am going to be totally honest with you it was a little tough to learn to set up. Before you get started you have to tune the coil. Not so hard once I understood what to listen for. After than you have to ground balance it. Once I did it a few times then found my best settings, it was nothing to do.

The first site I went to it took me no time before my mind was at ease over the concern on how it would handle iron. I didn’t dig any small iron and I had hunted this particular site several times with other detectors that I know well and I assure you it is riddled with iron.

I did find myself digging a lot of big iron at first but I will say most of those were iffy. Either the tone was clipped or if I turned 90 degrees it would go away. Once I figured that out I was digging a lot less big iron but like any detector I’ve ever used, some big iron does fool it.

I will say it took me probably less than an hour to really start enjoying the Nautilus. It’s such a unique metal detector and due to some circumstances that arose on my trip to Ohio I didn’t get to spend nearly the time with it I had hoped but I did truly love my time with it. My Ohio trip didn’t produce much in finds with any detector, I wish I could show you some amazing things found with the Nautilus but it just wasn’t to be this trip. I can however tell you the Nautilus impressed me by its performance.

I would say my first real impressive find was a pull tab. Ok, the pull tab wasn’t impressive but the depth was. The Nautilus picked it up at about 8 inches with small iron all around it. Off the subject slightly but this finds pretty much summed up my Ohio metal detecting trip. A pull-tab out in the middle of a farm field on a house site that was gone by 1875, yea, that sums up this trip!

The Nautilus impressed me so much all around but there were a few other examples that really stand out. One was a small musket ball that was probably every bit 10 inches deep, the Nautilus sounded off on it with no problem in the moderate iron area. Another example was a piece of wadded copper that I can’t even begin to tell you how deep. I roughly know how deep it was but for the sake of being called a liar, I’m going to leave it at… IT WAS DEEP!

For the last several years I’ve been using mostly analog metal detectors when relic hunting and I’ve had the opportunity to use many. By no means have I had time to master the Nautilus but it quickly became my favorite analog for the fields of Ohio, I only wish I would have had more time to run it and master it.

It took a lot to keep that old 1963 Corvette performing at its peak. Constant carburetor adjustments, rear end changes, engine tuning, clutch replacement and much more. The Nautilus reminds me of that old corvette. If you want a simple, turn on and go relic detector the Nautilus isn’t for you but if you want peak performance out of a high-performance metal detector the Nautilus will take your relic hunting to the next level!

I thought the hardest part was going to be learning the Nautilus. Although I was slightly intimidated with the coil tuning and all the different knobs and switches its really quite simple once you do it a few times and get it tuned it. I was wrong, for me the hardest part was packing it up and shipping it back!


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