I sold my Minelab Etrac and bought myself a beach machine since I found myself 99% of the time beach hunting. If the Etrac was waterproof, I would never have sold it but since it was not, the time came to rather invest in a fully waterproof machine, one that would let me venture out into the deep waters with no worries… and even though I was set on a Minelab Excalibur II, due to price and good reviews, I settled on the Fisher CZ21. So now that I have had it for roughly 4 months, its time to post my thoughts on this water machine.
I am not going to do the usual standard review of mentioning all the specs of this machine, that can be found easily on Fishers website. This is more about my personal findings about the machine and how it has performed with me so far.
You get a choice of an 8″ coil or the 10″ coil, to which the dealer I bought from only had the 8″ version available so my choice was already made for me. The machine is completely sealed, you cannot change coils so make sure you choose wisely when you first make your purchase. The headphones are also connected as part of the machine, so they are not replaceable. This so far is all good, but the concerns I have are when the headphones pack up one day, it will mean that there is no way to replace just the headphones, I will need to send the whole machine back to Fisher or my dealer in order to get it fixed which is certainly less than ideal – fingers crossed nothing packs up!
Now that I have had a good chance to use the machine, looking back I think I would have chosen the bigger 10″ coil had I been given the choice. There is nothing wrong with the 8″ coil, it finds deep targets and easy to pin point with but I would have appreciated the wider coverage that the 10″ coil offers.
The shaft that is supplied stock with the machine, in my opinion is terrible in every way. It feels cheaply made and the lower rod also seems to be made of a cheap plastic which coming from the carbon fibre shafts and rod of the Etrac, was a big disappointment to me. Not only does it feel cheap but it also feels very unbalanced because of the placement of the unit on top of the handle and makes the machine feel extremely heavy. I would not have been able to detect for more than an hour at most without it killing my arms in stock configuration.
I think Fisher are well aware of this issue which is why they supply a belt clip where you can take the CZ21 unit off the shaft and attach it to the belt clip to wear around your waist. This does indeed make it much lighter but also comes with its own set of problems. Firstly the cord could get damaged as you should never tug hard on the chord that is attached to the unit and by placing it on your belt, I feel that there is more of a chance that the chord could get twisted or pulled harder than it should. Another big factor when I tried this method was that the back of the top of the shaft would often catch on the unit during my swinging. To alleviate this issue, I had to place the unit further away from my side, more towards either the front or back of my body which again, was less than ideal.
Luckily there are alternate aftermarket shafts and I ordered myself the Anderson carbon fibre shaft for the CZ21. The quality and workmanship of the shaft is superb and places the unit behind (and upside down) the shaft making it feel much more balanced and much lighter. I can now detect for 3 hours with no weight problems whatsoever. After seeing just how good the shaft is, I have ordered the Anderson carbon fibre lower rod which will soon replace the cheap stock plastic lower rod that I am currently using.
What really grates me about the quality of this machine, is the fact that it was designed for sea and fresh water hunting, designed to be fully waterproof, designed to even go diving up to 250 feet yet there are signs of rust on the machine.
On the knobs of the main machine, the screws are all rusting… now this may not have any particular negative impact on the machine itself, it certainly is not aesthetically pleasing. Also on the lower rod, the little silver ball that “clips” into the holes of the shaft, is also rusting away. This was another reason I ordered the Anderson lower rod as I don’t expect that one to rust as my Anderson shaft has shown no signs of rust whatsoever (I do believe if I was still using the stock shaft, that it would certainly have signs of rust).
Ground balancing the unit I find rather tricky as well. I have read from other user reviews that each machine is different, even people who own two CZ21’s say that each one sounds and behaves differently. I have watched a youtube clip which makes ground balancing look so simple yet on my machine it seems to be a little tricky. Now this may not exactly be the machines fault, it could well be the mineralisation of the different beaches that plays havoc with me but this is one side of the machine that I find difficult to use. I have tried both the bobbing and the easy method and certainly find the easy method easier but still not easy on the beaches I frequent.
The discrimination is top class, with an easy to hear low, mid or high tones. The low tones are generally the iron which I ignore, the mid tones are the gold / pull tabs / foil and the high tones are generally the coins / silver range. The discrimination notches from 0 to 6, where on 0 you will hear all the tones, but I usually leave it on 1 where it will ignore the low tones and only hear the mid and high tones. Anything from 2 and above and you will start missing gold targets so it’s not worth putting discrimination on anything higher than 1.
The volume is great with levels 1 – 5 which will make you hear deep targets as faint tones and shallow targets as loud tones or from 6 – 10 which puts you in “boost” mode and even the deep targets will be enhanced as a loud tone. I often keep my machine on around 7 or 8 and even in extremely windy conditions, have a clear loud volume.
Sensitivity as with all machines, try and run as hot as possible without getting false signals. Sometimes in the wet surf, I often have to reduce very low between 3 – 5 to reduce the falsing which does worry me about what kind of depth I am getting from reducing the sensitivity that low but naturally there will be a trade off of depth but at least the machine runs stable and does still find targets.
There is also the “All Metal” mode which does not discriminate at all, and produces a very different kind of sweeping tone. I often like to hunt in this mode and once a target is found, switch to discrimination mode and find out what kind of target I am over. You can also run the all metal mode with a higher sensitivity with less falsing and therefore should be able to pick up deeper targets. However on certain tests I have done, it seems at times that the discrimination mode picks up deeper targets even at a lower sensitivity better than the all metal mode.
I have found tiny board short buttons at reasonable depths so I am confident that this machine is capable of finding the tiniest of objects at acceptable depths comparable to that of my previous Etrac.
Am I happy with this machine and would I have bought it again if I could go back in time – the answer is yes, loving the waterproofness and the batteries seem to last forever but the Garrett ATX is certainly still high on my wish list.
I have a hunting buddy who seems to find gold and platinum rings often and he uses the same machine, so I know the CZ21 is a capable performer. In my find lists from this machine are coins, chains, watches, rings and jewellery items (mostly junk or silver) – but this particular machine still needs to prove to me that it can find gold.
I bought my machine from MetalDetectors 4 Africa who are the official Fisher suppliers for South Africa – Contact Wolfgang Roux at http://www.metaldetectors4africa.com/