Best Metal Detectors For Gold
Perhaps you’re dizzy from the number of different gold metal detectors available (as well as their dizzying price tags). Here I’ll discuss your best options – cutting to the heart of the matter. This article will help you to make a decision, whether you’re going for value or functionality, whether beginner or pro.
When it comes to gold prospecting it’s important to note that cheap metal detectors will be next to useless. Unless gold nuggets happen to be lying about at your local park, hidden by blades of grass, you’ll need something much more well-attuned to your goals. The reason for this boils down to 2 things:
- Gold nuggets are found in very mineralized earth
- Gold nuggets are often very small (large nuggets are less common)
Most gold nuggets are under a gram in weight – incredibly small and for this reason, the sensitivity of your metal detector is critical if you’re to have a chance of picking them up. And almost all are found in the ground that’s highly mineralized (within soils composed of high amounts of iron).
For a non-specialized metal detector, even the ones with discrimination features, finding gold in high-mineral ground is like walking blindly through a minefield hoping to not misstep (only reversed!). But modern detectors used for gold prospecting can detect gold the size of half a grain – and the bigger the nugget the more success a detector will have found it at increased depths. For example, a gold prospecting detector could detect a nugget the size of:
- a single grain lying at a depth of 1-2 inches.
- a match head at 3-5 inches
- a $0.50 coin at 9-11 inches
- pulse induction detectors can detect nuggets that are larger at over foot depth
What should you be looking out for?
Keep and eye out on the transmitter coil (aka search coil) size and type. There are two types: wide scan and concentric. Widescan coils show more resistance to feedback from the highly mineralized ground. Concentric coils have more sensitive discrimination abilities.
The size of the coils also matters; the larger it is the more depth/area you can search when it comes to finding larger-sized nuggets. With greater size, however comes reduced sensitivity to smaller-sized nuggets, but smaller coils excel in discriminating small flakes – particularly when dealing with polluted ground.
For gold prospecting you’ll also want to focus on one of two main types of gold detectors:
A. Very Low Frequency (VLF) circuits are especially sensitive to gold (as well as soil minerals – however many detectors can be programmed to exclude mineral frequencies using the “ground balance” feature)
B. Pulse Induction (PI) circuits excel in resistance to soil mineral interference and are therefore often chosen to detect larger nuggets at great depths
Both PI and VLF detectors should have a ground balance feature, which can be used to discriminate against iron. Automatically adjusting ground balance detectors, however, are perhaps superior in terms of their discrimination accuracy compared to manually adjustable ones.
With that said, here are the top metal detectors to consider – all are renowned for their gold-detecting abilities and most are extremely popular in today’s prospecting world.
What Are The Best Metal Detectors For Gold?
Best entry–mid level gold detectors
#1 Fisher Gold Bug Pro
The most recent from manufacturer Fisher Labs, this detector delivers the goods. It’s easy and fun to use. Because of its simple design, a complete novice to gold prospecting could have this up and running quickly. Strengths include quality of discrimination and its ability to tolerate “hot ground” (high iron content ground) exceptionally well.
This extends to if you’re searching around trash-filled areas. In that situation, this detector is good at overlooking any present iron among the trash (flashing you an identification of iron on the LCD screen, even when you have it set to non- discriminate mode). It’s not however, suited for serious depths – you’ll need a pulse detector for that.
You can purchase this with an optional 5” x 10 “ coil, which I’d recommend as it’s a snug stable fit. Overall – a detector with exceptional sensitivity and especially useful when scanning around loose rock and soil areas, as well as around trees and undergrowth.
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#2 Tesoro Lobo SuperTRAQ
This is a reliable veteran of gold detectors, also considered entry-level due to its simplicity. As a VLF metal detector up this is very suited to detecting the tiniest of gold nuggets, but may not be ideal when dealing with interference from highest mineralized ground (it does, however, use automatic ground balance adjustment which is generally quite accurate at offsetting this noise).
Largely this detector is less used nowadays, partly because of its age; for example, it lacks an LCD screen and also has a significantly lower sensitivity (17.8 kHz) than some of its competitors (e.g. the Gold Bug 2 works on 72 kHz). However I’ve added it on the list as I think you can consider this a good gold detector most suitable for entry-level prospectors looking for a simple machine that can do the job and is very lightweight.
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#3 Garret AT Gold
A well-known brand that emerged in the mid-60s. It really took advantage of the re-emergence of interest in gold prospecting about a decade ago when gold prices boomed. This model, the AT gold, is the latest in their line and has been in popular demand since. It’s a sophisticated machine and highly customizable/adaptable for your needs – including very accurate iron discrimination and automatic ground balancing.
It’s completely waterproof, which is not very common at all when it comes to gold detectors – so this is your choice for searching at the bottom of streams and rivers. One standout aspect of this product is that comes with several choices of coils, which is excellent value. AT Golds also tend to be fantastic deals when it comes to accessories.
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#4 Fisher Goldbug-2
This may be the reigning champ of detectors, at least in terms of popularity, in the gold hunting world. As a VFL it’s specialized to finding the smallest of nuggets down to the size of a small grain – we’re talking incredible sensitivity. Which, as it were, is also its weakness; when it comes to very mineralized ground it can be thrown off by interference.
There are however, customizable settings you can use to ring out specific tones for hot rocks being detected (as opposed to gold). You can choose between three mineralization options: low, medium and high, in order to customize to the type of ground you are searching (ground balance is manually adjustable).
In many ways this is all you need in a solid gold detector (unless you’re looking to search for larger gold bullion stores at greater depths). It has a proven track record of finding gold, particularly along bedrock containing cracks of about a few inches in depth (small nuggets of gold can sometimes sit in these grooves). You will have less success for anything at greater depth.
Standout features of the gold bug includes its very lightweight, large 10-inch coil and high frequency – allowing you to search across large areas easily, as well as to detect the smallest pieces of gold.
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#5 White’s Goldmaster GMT
Another well-known brand. The GMT is a bestseller and potential rival to Goldbug in the gold prospecting world. Despite being around for many years now it easily competes with and in many cases beats newer gold metal detectors being released even now (although lacking the latest additional features that some of these have). It doesn’t lack the LCD display however, having been an innovator at the time of its release, which can give you a better feel for exactly where to dig and what you are look looking at.
Like the Goldbug, it’s a VFL detector so can sniff out the smallest of gold crumbs. It features automatic ground control to deal with specific mineralization conditions of your location. Despite it having a slightly lower frequency of 48 kHZ it makes up for this with an iron target analyzer and its elliptical coil also helps to filter out extraneous metals.
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Best pro-level detectors
#1 Garrett ATX
This one looks to me a bit like a military sub machine gun/watering hose. The ATX was Garrett’s first gold detector that worked exclusively by pulse induction. Completely waterproof, you can take this down to the depths of up to 10 feet. On a pragmatic level if it rains you have no need to close up shop. It’s a high-level machine for professionals. It’s PI capabilities lets the hunter seek at extreme depths for large gold nugget stores – a useful machine to have particularly in areas with a track record for bestowing large gold stores.
It’s foldable, so you can pack it into a bag and it comes with different options of coils – the DeepSeeker mono coil is the most suited for large gold nugget collections buried deep. But its weight might detract some users – swiping this for hours may be challenging. Which is not surprising considering the machine was based on a Garret design line of landmine detectors and contains a 20” DD coil.
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#2 Minelab GPX 5000
The GPX 5000 is Minelab’s most recent in the GP/GPX series. It’s considered by many to be the standard for PI detectors when looking for large gold nuggets at massive depths. It has a reputation for being uncannily good at this task – specifically designed to pinpoint gold in ground with a high percentage of iron (and has gained a reputation in Australia, which happens to have very high iron levels in its gold-carrying areas).
You’ll also get an enormous range of coils to choose from – small coils can work a charm with this detector and let you reach incredible depths with the right adjustments.
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#3 Minelab SDC 2300
The SDC is a great choice for gold hunters looking for a rugged tough detector that can also search in water – and its lightweight and comfortable design that makes it a pleasure to use. The unusual thing about this detector is that it is fills a niche missed by both PIs and VFLS – if you’re looking to search for the smallest pieces of gold nugget that are scattered in highly mineralized ground this is your weapon of choice.
It uses PI technology but is fitted with a small coil, so while this detector is resistant to interference from minerals it is extremely sensitive to small pieces of gold, which can often lead a trail to even bigger deposits. This device may lead to a new not-before-seized opportunity in gold hunting. Also foldable for easy transportation in a backpack.
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#4 Minelab GPZ 7000
Minelab’s latest baby – and a beast of a detector that appears to have an unparalleled ability to discover gold nuggets even in areas previously drained by hunters, which is of course partly why it costs a whopping $10K. So if you’re willing to put up some initial capital and go for a long slog you will have a dangerous weapon at your hands that can see things other detectors pass by. Perhaps the best gold detector available right now.
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Having the exact gold prospecting detector you’ve been looking for doesn’t remove the essentialness of ensuring your site has a proven track record for gold harvesting. It’s more than worth the extra time doing your homework as gold is valued for a reason – it’s rare, which means you won’t come across it accidentally in most cases. Strategy beats coincidence here.
I’ve covered some very solid gold detectors, some of which have been around for while. But with the likes of brand-new models such as Minelab’s GPZ 7000 we are seeing some of the best yet to have ever been made. Nevertheless, all of the machines listed are proficient gold detectors and at a point it comes down to being proactive and doing the work.
- Looking for a very good value for money all-around detector? You may want the official Goldbug Pro – it’s powerful and is affordable an ideal for beginners.
- If you want the best out there – then the GPZ 7000 will give you a serious edge over the competition.