I’ve used a Lesche digger for the last few years. It’s a great tool for quick, clean recovery in areas where you can’t afford to make a mess, like a park or a well-manicured front lawn. But what about Lesche’s shovels?
“Aw hell no!” Not me. I’ve carried my trusty old drain spade around for years and that’s all I need. I wield it like a battle-axe and I’m surgical with it. I’d even given it a name: “Liberty.” And it’s never failed me…until it failed me. It was old in the first place when I got it. And a couple of months ago it finally snapped in half while I was relic hunting in a pasture near Franklin, TN.
You want to hear about a grown man almost crying over a broken shovel? I didn’t think so.
No big deal. I just went to a nearby Tractor Supply and grabbed another drain spade. However, once I realized that I wasn’t attached to this one, I could finally acknowledge the weaknesses of the drain spade. It is heavy. It is bulky. It is a source of heavy metal near my detector. I’ve recently started wearing air-port friendly shoes with no metal and am convinced that your your shoes and shovel can interfere with a good, sensitive metal detector. Worst of all, the sharp top of the spade was splitting my shoes.
So I started looking for another digging tool to meet my needs. I’d looked at the Lesche shovels before, but had quickly dismissed them, laughing to myself: “It’s like a shovel, only smaller.” I checked out the forums and looked at various different diggers and read various reviews. The Lesche shovels were getting rave reviews from some serious detectorists, like Scott Clark aka Pocketspill. So I decided what the heck. I’d get one, use it once and throw it in the garage with my other hoardings.
Well my next challenge is deciding which Lesche to get. Apparently Lesche is hardcore about their tools, because they have like 20 or more variants. They have different models for different purposes, different shaft links, Ball handle and T-handled versions. Different blade types: Plain, serrated on one side, or serrated on both sides. After much probably-unnecessary wringing of hands while looking through them, I finally settled on the Sampson, which seemed to be one of their most popular models. I chose the T-handle , and a blade serrated on one side. It was about $80 on Amazon. I begrudgingly hit “One-Click Order”, because there was no-way I was going to make it through a full checkout process without canceling my request for a $80 dwarf shovel / glorified spade be delivered to my door. I hoped it showed up in plain brown packaging so no one would see it delivered.
And I must admit I wasn’t very excited about receiving my Lesche “miniature-shovel”. It sat unopened in the box through a couple of more hunts, until I almost split my shoe open digging in hard ground with the drain spade. The middle of my foot was sore and I was done with the Drain Spade. I was now in the uncomfortable position of having to remove the Lesche Sampson from its package, and take it on a hunt.
LIGHTWEIGHT and NOT BULKY
Well, trying to make myself feel better about my purchase, I acknowledged a couple of things immediately: The Sampson was way lighter, probably at least 70% lighter than my drain spade. I also admit I had ignored the statement “Each Blade is Crafted From Aircraft Quality Steel” as just crafty marketing prose, but now I realized that the Sampson is freaking made out of freaking Aircraft Quality Steel. It was also way smaller and shorter, and thus easier to carry around.
LESS ELECTROMAGNETIC INTERFERENCE
The second thing I realized is that, due to the smaller size and the alloy used in construction, the Sampson was far less likely to interfere with my detectors, especially when I choose to run them with sensitivity jacked up near maximum when I am hunting fields and hunted out spots. I’ve been on a metal-free kick lately, and I now wonder how much my drain spade was costing me depth-wise. Carrying this thing, no cell phone or keys, and no metal in my shoes, my e-Trac sounded crystal clear at almost max sensitivity. But all of this didn’t matter unless….
THE STUPID LITTLE THING COULD DIG.
When I dug my first hole with the Lesche (a shotgun shell at almost ten inches, of course) I couldn’t believe it. It was like an optical illusion. The little shovel cut through the ground like butter. I’ll try to describe it, but until you’ve used one, you probably can’t comprehend what I am saying. The blade comes pre-sharpened. The serrated edge dealt with fairly thick roots much easier than I thought it might. Something about the size and leverage you get with this tool makes it just “punch” through the ground. And here in Middle Tennessee we have some hard, rocky ground with the kind of tough roots that can thrive in such an environment.
Needless to say, I was blown away. I beat myself up for not trying the Lesche a couple of years ago when I realized that the regular Lesche digger spade was a great product.
CLEANER DIGGING / LESS CHANCE OF DAMAGING TARGET
One of the things I always liked about the Lesche digger is also implemented in the Sampson, the blade is offset from the handle, and the offset is at a right angle. What this means is that when you dig with a Lesche shovel, you can easily dig straight up and down, even when the entire blade of the shovel is underground for a deep target. This allows you to dig much more precise holes and reduces the chance of scratching your target. And if you’ve ever scratched a great find with your digging tool, you care about that. Also, I was pulling less dirt out of the ground with the Sampson. In retrospect, even though the drain shovel dug easily, except for very large targets, I was usually digging too deep, and pulling way to much dirt out of the ground.
I chose the T-handle version even though I think the ball handle might be less shovel-looking to a tattle-tale busy-body or nervous property owner. The T-handle was a good choice for me. This handle gives a lot of leverage, and brings to mind not a shovel, but an entrenching tool:
I also bought this great holster for the T-handle which allows it to hang on my belt, freeing up my non-detecting hand!
So now I’ve got the Drain Spade monkey off my back, literally. I can’t believe I was lugging that monster around with me. I am carrying less weight, and with the holster my arm is free. This means less fatigue, and extended, more productive hunting sessions as I don’t wear out as easy.
I have an engineering background and I’d love to meet the person or people who designed these shovels and hear the story. Someone really cared about designing and building shovels specifically for metal detecting. The Lesche Sampson is not just marketed as metal detecting shovels, they are designed specifically for the use case of metal detecting, which is completely different from gardening, where you typically aren’t concerned with precision digging or damaging a target, or construction such as ditch digging, where you need a big shovel used on the spot, a shovel that you don’t have to carry around with you. The Lesche shovels are designed to do exactly what we need them to do in an excellent manner, yet are as lightweight and compact as possible.
Yes the Lesches are pricey compared to a regular shovel or spade: $60-$80 and up depending on the configuration, but you really get what you pay for. The materials are selected to make the tool strong yet lightweight.
I put in an order for the mini version of the Sampson almost immediately after I started using the regular sized one. I can keep this one in my truck with my spare detector when I get a sudden opportunity and can’t go get my equipment.
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Mini Sampson: Metaldetect-SWMO eBay
WWII Entrenching Tool: eBay