Minelab and Fisher are both industry titans when it comes to metal detector manufacturing. Both have spent decades creating innovative technologies to make metal detecting easier and more successful. In this article, we will compare the Minelab Vanquish 540 and the Fisher F44.
Minelab’s Vanquish 540 is the top dog in its new Vanquish line of metal detectors, and Fisher’s F44 is one of the best entry level metal detectors on the market. We will learn about each model, compare their similarities and differences, and ultimately decide on which model is best in Minelab Vanquish 540 vs Fisher F44.
|Garrett AT Max||$$$||Waterproof to 10 feet|
|Fisher F22||$$||9″ Triangulated Concentric Coil|
|Garrett Ace 400||$$$||8.5 x 11" DD coil|
|Minelab Vanquish 540||$||Search Modes: Coin, Relic, Jewelry, Custom, All Metal|
The Vanquish 540 is the top tier metal detector in Minelab’s new entry level Vanquish series. The Vanquish 540 comes with Minelab’s patented Multi-IQ technology making it a huge contender in the entry level detector market. The Vanquish series of detectors features the Vanquish 340, 440, 540, and 540 Pro Pack. While this may be an entry level metal detector, it has enough features to keep an intermediate or even advanced detectorist happy.
Multi-IQ is Minelab’s multiple frequency technology. This means the detector operates on multiple different frequencies simultaneously. Rather than using a single low frequency, as is common with VLF (Very Low Frequency) metal detectors, or adjustable single frequency, the Vanquish 540 can operate on 5 different frequencies, ranging from 5 kHz to 40 kHz, at once.
The lower frequencies are best for finding highly conductive metals like silver and the higher frequencies are best for finding lower conductive metals like gold. Most entry level detectors operate at around 7 – 8 kHz, making them good for highly conductive metals. But the Vanquish 540’s ability to use frequencies above 18 kHz make it great for gold prospecting.
The Vanquish 540 features a large LCD screen with red LED backlight. This is the only Vanquish model to use a backlight making it great for low light hunting. It has 5 search modes plus a pinpoint mode:
This model maintains accurate Target identification at maximum depth and because of the multiple frequencies, can maintain sensitivity to targets across all target types while minimizing ground noise. The Vanquish 540 has 19 channels of noise cancelling which is extremely helpful in areas with high soil mineralization. You will be able to adjust the ground noise and chatter so you can hear targets more clearly. It features iron bias adjustability to customize the detector further.
The Vanquish 540 has 10 levels of adjustable sensitivity, 10 levels of adjustable volume, and 5 target tones. Discrimination has 25 segments so you can accept or reject a wide range of metals. The LCD screen features numerical target ID making it easy to interpret. This is the only Vanquish model with rechargeable batteries so the cost of using the detector is quite low. This model is lightweight at just under 3 pounds. It features Bluetooth connectivity so you can use wireless or wired headphones.
The Vanquish 540 comes standard with Minelab’s V12 12” by 9” waterproof Double-D search coil, but you can also purchase the V8 or V10 search coil to use with this model. All Vanquish search coils are interchangeable. While the search coils are waterproof, the control box is only water resistant. The detector should never be fully submerged, and great care should be taken near water. Minelab offers a 3-year warranty on the Vanquish 540.
Minelab Vanquish 540 Pro Pack
The Vanquish 540 Pro Pack comes with the Vanquish 540 metal detector and all the features listed above. This Pack allows users to get another search coil bundled with their purchase. The Vanquish 540 comes with the V12 12” by 9” waterproof Double-D search coil.
The Pro Pack comes with the same V12 search coil and the V8 8” by 5” waterproof Double-D search coil. This smaller search coil is great for metal detecting in areas with high soil mineralization, trashy areas, and is more maneuverable in small areas or heavy vegetation areas.
This smaller coil also gives better target separation and makes pinpointing easier in areas with soil mineralization or moderate trash. The larger search coil gives the most depth and will go even deeper under ideal conditions.
So far, the Vanquish 540 is a strong presence in our ongoing battle of Minelab Vanquish 540 vs Fisher F44!
Fisher’s F44 detector is one of the best entry level models in Fisher’s F-Series of metal detectors. This model is a single frequency VLF metal detector that operates at 7.69 kHz. This is a great frequency range for general treasure hunting but will not prove overly successful at gold prospecting. Gold is best found at frequencies above 18 kHz. That is not to say the F44 cannot find gold, only that it will struggle to find small gold nuggets, flakes, and thin gold jewelry.
The F44 is weatherproof, but not fully waterproof. As with the Vanquish 540, care should be taken near water. Because of the low operating frequency, the F44 will not thrive in areas with saltwater. Saltwater is naturally conductive, and the low single frequency of this detector will cause extra ground chatter and may even overload the detector causing it to shut down.
The F44 features a large LCD screen with backlight. It has numerical target identification making it simple to read. It also features a 9-segment visual target ID, depth indication, and FeTone adjustable iron audio. Iron audio is an important feature for many detectorists. It allows you to change the volume of iron targets from silent to maximum, while keeping all other targets at maximum volume. This way you can hear all targets and decide if they are worth digging.
Fisher’s F44 has 5 operating modes:
- Coin – Filters iron signals, pull tabs, and other trash targets
- Artifact – Allows iron signals
- Jewelry – Notches out iron signals
- Custom – Allows you to notch any metals you wish in or out to customize your search
- All Metal – Searches for all metal types with no discrimination
This model features Ground Grab computerized ground balancing as well as manual ground balancing. This is extremely helpful in areas with differing mineralization as the detector can adjust itself to the surroundings so you can find more treasure. The F44 has 20 levels of volume adjustment, 20 levels of sensitivity adjustment, and 4-tone audio identification. It also features non-volatile memory which saves your last settings after the machine is turned off.
The F44 is a lightweight model at just 2.3 pounds. It comes standard with an 11” concentric elliptical waterproof search coil. It operates on 2 AA batteries, so the operating costs are low. Fisher offers a 5-year warranty on the F44.
Minelab Vanquish 540 vs Fisher F44
Both the Vanquish 540 and F44 are fantastic entry level metal detectors. Both have numerous features that will keep intermediate or advanced detectorists happy, while maintaining a level of user-friendliness that makes them simple to use for first time detectorists. The Vanquish 540 has multi-IQ technology so it searched multiple frequencies simultaneously. This beats the F44’s single low frequency of 7.69 kHz. However, for general treasure hunting, the F44 is amazing.
If you are interested in gold prospecting, the Vanquish 540 is the winner. Because this model has search frequencies of 20 kHz and 40 kHz, it will be much more sensitive to small and fine gold. And that is the most found type of gold. Large nuggets are not found nearly as often as small and fine nuggets. The Vanquish 540 also wins in areas of saltwater. Saltwater’s conductivity makes using a single low frequency metal detector difficult.
One advantage of the F44 is its ground balancing abilities. The Vanquish 540 does not feature a manual ground balance option. This makes it easier to balance the F44 in areas with high soil mineralization. The Vanquish 540 still does an excellent job in these areas, though. Both models are lightweight, at under 3 pounds. The F44 is a few ounces lighter than the Vanquish 540. The Vanquish has Bluetooth technology so it can be used with wireless or wired headphones while the F44 can only use wired headphones.
Both metal detectors have 5 search modes and a pinpoint mode. Both have a large LCD screen with backlight. Both use AA batteries, but the Vanquish uses rechargeable batteries. The F44 has 20 levels of adjustable volume and sensitivity, while the Vanquish 540 has 10 of each. The F44 has 9 discrimination segments while the Vanquish 540 has 25. This makes the Vanquish more adjustable and customizable. In terms of price, both models are within $30 of one another. The Vanquish 540 Pro Pack is about $100 more than the F44 but does come with the extra search coil.
Neither model is waterproof, but both are weatherproof. Care should be taken with both models when searching near water to avoid damage to the control boxes.
So, do we have a clear winner in Minelab Vanquish 540 vs Fisher F44? While I have my preference, I cannot recommend one of these metal detectors over the other. Both have their strong points, and both have their weak points. It really depends on what you will be using your metal detector for and in what type of terrain. It also depends on your preference in manufacturer. Fisher is made in America, Minelab is made in Australia. Both are built to the highest quality standards and both companies have been manufacturing metal detectors for decades.
The Minelab Vanquish 540 is an amazing metal detector and I really like that it has multiple search frequencies. This is a great selling point. Earlier models of multiple frequency metal detectors tended to have slower processors because of the extra data coming into the unit. The Minelab Vanquish 540 does not have this problem.
Minelab has several multiple frequency models, so they have worked extremely hard to eliminate the lag in processing information. Minelab is also known for making models that work well in areas with high soil mineralization. This is a problem for many entry level metal detectors.
The first detector I ever used was a Fisher F11. It was simple to use, easy to understand, but terrible in high soil mineralization. I constantly had false readings, detector chatter, and overloads. The F44 outperforms this model by leaps and bounds. The F44 has automatic and manual ground balancing so you can adjust the detector as needed in areas with soil mineralization, or you can allow the computer to adjust it for you. The F44 is a tried-and-true model that has been on the market since 2015 and continues to be one of Fisher’s top selling detectors.
If you plan to prospect for gold, I recommend the Vanquish 540 over the F44. The F44’s single low frequency will not be great for finding gold. It will find large gold nuggets, or maybe shallow small gold, but the reality is, most of the gold you will find will be smaller. The Vanquish 540’s 2 highest operating frequencies: 20 kHz and 40 kHz, are perfect for finding small and fine gold. As I mentioned, gold is best found at frequencies above 18 kHz, so this detector has 2 higher frequencies that are perfect for prospecting.
If you plan to detect on saltwater beaches, I will again recommend the Vanquish 540. This model will perform better than the low single frequency of the F44 in saltwater. Saltwater’s conductivity wreaks havoc on low single frequency detectors. Although you can adjust the F44 and ground balance it, it will not be enough for wet saltwater or in the surf.
If you will be just general metal detecting in fields, mountains, and yards, the F44 is a fantastic option. Again, so is the Vanquish 540. This comparison has me truly stumped! The ultimate decision will rest with you. If you think multiple search frequencies are something you need or want, the Vanquish 540 is your model. If that sounds like something you do not want, and you would rather go with a proven model, the F44 is your model. Either way, you will be getting a fantastic metal detector!
Q: What laws and regulations should I be aware of when metal detecting?
A: There are a multitude of laws and regulations pertaining to metal detecting. You should always check with your individual state, city, and county before metal detecting. Each may have different statutes you need to know about. There are also federal level laws and act protecting artifacts and historical or cultural sites. As a rule, state and national parks are off limits to metal detecting, while national forests are typically okay to detect in. But again, check with your location prior to detecting. You can be fined, have your finds and equipment confiscated, or even charged with a felony for metal detecting in areas where it is prohibited.
Q: I like Fisher’s metal detectors, but I am interested in prospecting. Will the F44 find gold?
A: Short answer: yes and no. While all metal detectors have the capability to find gold, the F44, and all lower frequency metal detectors, are not suited to finding smaller, finer, and deeper gold. Fisher makes specific models for gold prospecting, and these are some of the best prospecting metal detectors on the planet.
But for general prospecting, the F44 is not the best choice. The Vanquish 540 will have a much easier time finding gold than the F44 will. The F44 will still find gold jewelry in areas like fields, yards, and freshwater beaches, but for actual prospecting, I would not recommend this model.
Q: Is the Vanquish 540 Pro Pack worth the extra cost?
A: That depends on your needs. The Pro Pack offers the largest Vanquish search coil and the smallest Vanquish search coil. Smaller coils are better at getting into nooks and crannies, and in trashy areas. Larger search coils are best for covering more ground quicker and for depth. While the Pro Pack costs a little over $100 more than the standard Vanquish 540, the extra coil might make it worth it for you.
Search coils range in price, and the Vanquish search coils are no exception. Most I have seen are $100 or more, so it is about the same as ordering one after you purchase the detector. The only difference is you start out with both search coils. This is something you will have to assess and see if it fits your desires and needs.
Q: How deep can each of these metal detectors search?
A: Typically, the diameter of the search coil is the maximum depth a metal detector can reach. Fisher’s F44 can find targets up to 11” deep in premium conditions. It can find coins 5” deep in wet sand, and 11” deep in dry sand, and has found quarters 9” deep in sandy soil. The Vanquish 540 can find targets up to 12” deep with the largest search coil in good soil conditions.
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