Pros / This metal detector is very light.
Cons / It doesn’t have a display.
Verdict / The Tesoro Cibola is simple, but simple doesn’t mean better. Without a display, it lacks depth indicators, target IDs and so much more.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Tesoro detectors are widely recommended by hobby veterans for their high quality and precision. They tend to be accurate and lightweight, and they can put a lot of power in your hands. They lack any sort of visual display for target feedback and are often single-tone detectors. However, the Tesoro Cibola is an advanced piece of machinery that veterans may find appealing, though for newcomers to the hobby, its learning curve demands a lot of patience.
We tested every metal detector in our review by burying coins and other metals in a grid on a field. Then we swept across the field and recorded the information that each metal detector found for each hole we dug. We ran into a problem with the Cibola, because it doesn’t have a display. When it gets a hit, you only hear a tone. The tone sounds strong or weak. It’s reminiscent of the pinpoint features on most metal detectors – gets louder when close to metal and quieter as it moves away. This made testing the accuracy difficult to measure.
To test the Cibola, we recorded whether the hit was strong, medium or barely a blip. So while it doesn’t tell you if you’ve found a quarter or a Russian submarine, you can listen to see if the metal is big enough to be worth digging up by the tone. It got hits on 85 percent of the buried treasure, including some that were at 12 inches. This was about average in our comparison. That said, only 19 percent of the hits produced strong tones, and only 23 percent produced weak tones.
At a meager 2.2 pounds, the Cibola weighs almost 1 pound less than the Fisher F4 and 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 make 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. But that also presents a higher learning curve. 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 this machine a chore, especially for a beginner detectorist in a high-trash area. This is why it earned a C for ease of use with only the Minelab X-Terra 305 earning a worse grade in this catetory. 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.
The Tesoro Cibola is a 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.