PROS / Fully variable sensitivity and discrimination knobs put a lot of fine-tuning control at your fingertips.
CONS / With only a single audio tone and no display screen for feedback, it's unforgiving to new detectorists.
VERDICT / The Tesoro Cibola has no trouble finding targets, but its lack of targeting assistance makes it a veterans-only metal detector.
Tesoro detectors are widely recommended by hobby veterans for their high quality and precision. They tend to be deep, accurate and lightweight, and they can put a lot of power in your hands. They also lack any sort of visual display for target feedback, and are often single-tone detectors. The Tesoro Cibola is an advanced piece of machinery that veterans may find appealing, but for newcomers to the hobby, its learning curve demands a lot of patience.
At a meager 2.2 pounds, the Cibola is the lightest metal detector we've reviewed. Its tiny control box sits mounted atop an S-curve frame, while the padding on its armrest and its flared, easy-hold grip makes it all but effortless to wield. Veteran detectorists swear by Tesoro for a reason: When you're hunting all day, that half-pound drop in weight over other brands can mean all the difference in the world.
Despite its lack of display screen, the Cibola boasts the two most important features every detector should have: sensitivity and discrimination settings. And since those settings are controlled with freely spun knobs, you have far more granular control over them than you would on other devices. When you tweak a knob a fraction of a degree, you'll only slightly affect the Cibola's performance one way or the other. The detector also has a threshold knob, which lets you control how strong a signal must be before it makes an audible tone. Threshold is a setting that most manufacturers hard-code in their machines, since it can easily confuse beginner hobbyists. The Cibola’s threshold knob puts that much more power in your hands.
Despite all those control knobs, the lack of display screen and multiple-tone audio feedback can make using the Cibola a chore, especially for a beginner detectorist in a high-trash area. Without feedback on what the detector is finding, trash metals like nails and pull-tabs can easily crowd out your findings. In areas far from human habitation, the lack of display won’t matter as much, but if you're detecting closer to home, you'll want to be able to tell the difference between a piece of trash and a silver dollar. While the Cibola's discrimination knob helps to some extent, it's also much harder for a new hobbyist to master. If you're a beginner or you've used three-tone audio or target ID, you'll miss it here.
The Tesoro Cibola is an unquestionably well-made metal detector that, once mastered, can bring you a lot of success in your treasure hunting. However, because it lacks the user-friendly features that most modern detectors have, you'll need a little courage and a lot of patience to get the most out of it. You can buy the Cibola and know you're getting a solid piece of equipment, but make sure you have friends around who can guide you through the hobby.