Field Test: Minelab Vanquish 440 Metal Detector Review

Purpose: Evaluate the overall operational capability, sensitivity and stability of the Minelab Vanquish 440 metal detector under various test conditions. As always, I report findings and provide comments from strictly a user perspective–not that of a technical engineer.

Procedure: Tests were designed to examine sensitivity at depth, ability to separate good targets from junk, performance in dry soil and wet salt sand as well as operational stability in saltwater.

Sensitivity at Depth: Determined by reporting the greatest depth at which a modern nickel and a 14K gold wedding ring could reliably be detected by tone and target ID under the established test conditions in both dry soil and wet salt sand.

Separation: Conducted on dry land, each of the various targets shown/ below were positioned between two rusted, dime size iron washers. Both washers were then moved equally and incrementally toward that target. The test continued until the closest point at which the target could be clearly detected and not masked by the junk was determined.

Saltwater: Stability at various levels of sensitivity was noted while detecting in saltwater surf.

Detector settings were selected to optimize performance of the overall system under the specific test conditions and are detailed in the test data sheet.

Separation test target array: Array of coins and jewelry used in Minelab Vanquish 440 Field Test

Silver Quarter

Clad Dime

Modern Nickel

Copper Penny

14K Wedding Band

925 Silver Ring

Rusted Washers

Findings: Detailed findings are as shown on the test data sheet with comments and conclusions directly below.

Comments: I chose to test the Minelab Vanquish 440 instead of the Vanquish 540 simply because there have been multiple videos published on the 540 performance but none that I’ve seen on the 440. I also thought the 440 at $279 might be a bit more attractive to first time buyers or beginners than the 540 or Minelab Equinox.

Initial Impression: The 440 was very simple to assemble. It uses pictures! The user instructions were just as simple and very brief–one page with illustrations! Looking at it for only a few seconds, I soon realized you don’t need more detailed instructions than that. This machine is exceedingly simple to operate yet has many features found in higher priced models. I’m liking it right out of the box.

I was impressed how adjustable for overall length this detector is. Not only can you adjust the lower shaft for length but the arm cuff shaft as well. This again is perfect for those little ones in your family just getting into the hobby.

Operational Impression: As with any machine, regardless of cost, there are always pros and cons. The pertinent question is, do the pros outweigh the cons? For the 440, the answer is definitely yes; pros far outweigh the cons!

Graphic image showing Minelab Multi-IQ technology as a gradient rainbowPros:

The operational features for a $279 detector are quite amazing. The most impressive to me was the Multi-IQ technology it shares with the Equinox series. This machine can productively detect the beach, park and field providing the same Target ID range on the LED display as the Equinox series (-9 through 40). You can select any of the four modes with the most obvious difference being the factory preset discrimination patterns. Although it doesn’t offer a separate beach mode, the 440 performs just as well on the beach regardless of the mode selected thanks to the Multi-IQ technology.

I found the stability at the beach to rival that of other Minelab multi frequency detectors. It’s truly at home in a salt water environment. In discrimination mode, it was quiet and stable throughout the wet sand. In the surf, I reduced the sensitivity from level 10 to 8 and it performed flawlessly.

The Minelab Vanquish 440 is the epitome of user friendliness, comfort and effective simplicity. It weighs a minuscule 2.6 lbs with batteries installed and the balance is very good with the 10×7 coil. The control box display is large, very readable and all controls are easy to reach and a snap to use.

I’m confident that even the true novice will be using the Minelab Vanquish 440 effectively in no time. Minelab engineers have thought this through in detail and gave us a product that will put smiles on many faces.

Sensitivity at depth was excellent. See the test data sheet below. The factory preset zero threshold didn’t seem to hamper target ID capability. One noted shortcoming was with thin gold chains. See Cons below.

I’ve always focused on sensitivity at various depths in my field tests rather than putting any stock in unreliable raw depth numbers. There are numerous variables that affect raw depth performance in any detector such as soil type and mineralization, possible electromagnetic interference (EMI), target metallurgical composition, and orientation in the soil to cite just a few examples. The depth that I can achieve under my test conditions most likely would not apply under different conditions. Therefore, any raw data I would report from my Florida environment would be so site and situation specific as to be unreliable to the reader in Virginia for example. I always value sensitivity at depth over raw depth which provides at least some indication of the detectors capability to find the test target under the established conditions. I also found that the pinpoint function worked very well in these test cases.

Separation was again excellent overall. On most test targets I was able to place the junk right against the good target and the Vanquish 440 was able to separate the good from the junk with ease. I used All Metal for this test so I could clearly hear the “iron grunt” of the junk.

Closeup of a Minelab Vanquish 440 Metla Detector control box for a field testCustom mode:

Minelab has provided an option for the user to save a preferred setting to which they can easily return that is most effective in their environment for the type of hunting they do.

Three tones are factory set at Low, Medium and High all of which are clear and very distinguishable. Not surprisingly, I like this set up since I programmed my Equinox 800 and my CTX 3030 years ago to report 3 tones. Personally, I don’t need any more than 3 since ALL targets encountered are either low, medium or high conductors so why not align the tones accordingly? A simplified plus in my book.

The Vanquish 3 year warranty is truly superb for any detector let alone one that costs a mere $279.

Cons:

Water resistant vs waterproof. The Vanquish 440 control box is weather/water resistant but the coil is waterproof. To my way of thinking, all detectors should be fully waterproof if not weatherproof. Why? Ours is an outdoor hobby and even if you’re not a water hunter, a heavy rain could do a detector in if it isn’t waterproof, but that’s just the view from my foxhole. The Vanquish does come with a nice control box cover so Minelab has taken the possible pop-up shower into consideration.

Although fully clear and functional, the Vanquish headphones are not the most comfortable I’ve ever had on my head. The ear pads are soft and they are very comfortable but the head piece is fairly wide (ear to ear) and stiff with no soft padding. Also, I found the headphone cable thin and so long as to get tangled around the control box and cover at times. I would be using an after-market set of headphones with a 1/8” connection. However, I’m a big fan of wireless headphones and Minelab has again provided that convenient option with the Vanquish 540 series.

Sensitivity on thin chains. I was somewhat surprised that the Minelab Vanquish 440 I tested didn’t like thin gold chains. I tried my best to adjust the settings so that it would pick up the thin strands but unless I bunched the chain up into a pile, the 440 didn’t see it where my Equinox has no trouble seeing such thin chains.

Minelab Vanquish 440 Metal Detector on a white background

Conclusions:

Bottom line up front: I believe Minelab has another winner here for the first-time user, the younger detectorist or those stepping up their game to the multi frequency world and do so at an unbelievable price point! The pros, as you can see, far outweigh the cons in my estimation. Admittedly, those cons I listed were primarily based on personal preference rather than any operational shortcomings. As far as operationally, the Vanquish series employs virtually the same Multi IQ technology as the Equinox so that alone gives the detecting world an outstanding way to get into the hobby by both improving their chances of success and widening their possible detecting environments. At the Vanquish price points from the 340 to the 540 Pro-Pack, users can now hunt any environment they choose – park, field or beach!

Dan Dall and Gary Bronga for Kellyco Metal Detectors

My final opinion:

I was impressed enough that the Minelab Vanquish 440 will immediately become my 10-year-old granddaughter’s new machine!

Note of appreciation: I want to thank Kellyco Metal Detectors for providing the Vanquish 440 for me to evaluate as well as my hunting buddy and good friend Gary Bronga (pictured right) for his valued contribution to this report.

Caveat: As with any field test, the results reflect and are dependent upon the specific test conditions/environment, selected targets and mineralization level of the soil, sand and water. Results of similar tests conducted under different conditions can be expected to vary from those reported here.

 

 

Test Data:
Sensitivity at Depth
Nickel Gold Ring
Depth: Dry Soil Wet Salt Sand Depth: Dry Soil Wet Salt Sand
3” S/St S/St 3” S/St S/St
4” S/St S/St 4” S/St S/St
5” S/St S/St 5” S/St S/St
6” S/St- S/St- 6” S/St S/St
7” S/St- S/St- 7” S/NR S/St
8” M/NR S/NR 8” S/NR S/NR
9” M/E S/E 9” M/NR S/NR
10” NT/NID NT/NID 10” M/NR S/NR
11” M/E M/E
12” W/NID W/NID
Settings Settings
Mode Coin Coin Mode Jewelry Jewelry
Sensitivity 10 10 Sensitivity 10 10
Discrimination Discrimination

 

Tone/Target ID
Strong S Non Repeatable NR
Moderate M No Tone NT
Weak W Stable St
Repeatable R Erratic E
No Target ID NID

 

Separation on Dry Land
Settings: Distance Sensitivity All Metal
Silver Quarter 0 6
Clad Dime 1 6
Modern Nickel 1.5 6
Copper Penny 0 6
14K Ring 0 6
925 Ring 0 6
About The Author
Colonel Dan
Colonel Dan bought his first metal detector in 1970 and was at it off and on as opportunity and Army requirements permitted. He retired from the Army in 1995 after a 24 year career that took he and his family around the world. He then spent 13 years as a Program Manager and Vice President for Science Applications International Corporation entering full time retirement in January of 2008. Now free from career obligations, Colonel Dan volunteered part of his early retirement days formally field testing and reporting on numerous metal detectors and associated equipment for Kellyco. He now spends his time regularly metal detecting central Florida beaches with his full time hunting buddy Gary. Colonel Dan was also a member of the search team that supported a local museum by detecting and recovering many significant artifacts from the Second Seminole Indian War, artifacts that served to verify the location of Ft Lane. Traveling the world, this time as a civilian tourist, avidly detecting the beaches, spending time with his 3 children, 7 grandchildren and close friends, church activities and writing takes up the majority of his time these days.