Sunday, March 26, 2023


Sophisticated metal detectors, now capable of discovering gold, are changing the game

We’ve covered a lot of RV travel-friendly light, compact prospecting equipment over the last few months. Prospecting is an activity that can be enjoyed profitably with very simple tools—a shovel and a gold pan. In this newsletter, you have read about sluice boxes and hand-held nugget finders. But there is one very effective piece of electronic gadgetry that we haven’t covered: metal detectors.

Metal detector technology has improved remarkably in the past decade. Old-school detectors were good at finding coins, cans, and nails, but not so good at finding the important stuff: gold. But today’s detectors are far more sophisticated and efficient, with features that are specific to different kinds of metal detection.

Types of metal detectors

When it comes to gold prospecting, two of the most popular brands of detectors are Garrett and Minelab. Here we’ll compare these two metal detectors and look at their features as they pertain to gold prospecting. I have chosen these two brands because I use them, but there are dozens of different types with different capabilities—too many to adequately cover here.

Garrett is well-known for their high-quality prospecting equipment and, in particular, is a maker of metal detectors that are used by both hobbyists and professionals. Garrett has a range of detectors for different applications, but their gold prospecting detectors are some of the most popular.

The Garrett AT Gold Metal Detector.

Garrett AT Gold

The Garrett AT Gold is a versatile detector designed specifically for gold prospecting. It is lightweight, easy to use, and relatively affordable at $640, making it a great choice as an entry-level detector. One of the main features of the AT Gold is its ability to detect small gold nuggets at great depths. This is due to its high frequency, which allows it to detect even the smallest gold particles.

Another feature I like about the AT Gold is its waterproof design, which makes it perfect for use in rivers, creeks or in other wet conditions. It can be submerged in up to 10 feet of water. The AT Gold also has a manual ground balance feature, which allows you to adjust the detector to the mineralization of the soil in which you are working.

Garrett ATX

The Garrett ATX is a more advanced detector that is designed for professional use. It’s price—$2,800—reflects that. It is a bit heavier than the AT Gold, but it is also more powerful. One great feature of the ATX is its ability to detect gold in highly mineralized soil, thanks to advanced pulse induction technology, which allows it to penetrate even the toughest soil. The ATX also uses adjustable ground balance. The ATX is another waterproof design that can be submerged in up to 10 feet of water.

Minelab metal detectors

Minelab is another well-known brand of metal detectors that has been around for more than 30 years. These are high-quality metal detectors that are used by both hobbyists and professionals. Minelab has a range of metal detectors for different applications, but their gold prospecting metal detectors, the Gold Monster 1000 and GPZ 7000, are very popular.

The Minelab Gold Monster 1000.

The Minelab Gold Monster 1000 is a lightweight metal detector that is designed specifically for gold prospecting. It is designed to detect even small gold nuggets at depth. Priced at circa $950.

The Minelab GPZ 7000 is a more advanced metal detector that is designed for professional use. Consequently, it bears a higher price—as much as $8,700.

Brand differences

Both Garrett and Minelab make high-quality metal detectors that are specifically designed for finding gold nuggets. Both brands have detectors that are waterproof, have a digital target ID system, and are sensitive to small gold nuggets. However, there are a few differences that might make one brand more appealing than the other.

Garrett metal detectors are known for their reliability and ease of use. They are also more affordable than Minelab detectors, which makes them a great option for those who are just starting out with gold prospecting. Garrett detectors are also very versatile, which means they can be used for other types of metal detecting as well.




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1 month ago

When saying it can detect nuggets at better distances — how bout some figures??? I have a fairly affordable detector (I use for finding fairly large things, not buried far, but it DOES identify metals and estimate depths, so not THAT cheap) and am curious what you actually get at 10-100X the price… I’ve found coins (sadly, fairly current issue) at 6-12″, but a pea-nugget at 2′ would impress me…

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

Both I and my wife have detectors. I have a Minelab and she has a Garrett. This allows us to razz each other on whose detector is better and who is finding more ‘treasure’ – ha. We have spent many hours in a day detecting beaches and campgrounds. It’s just fun! Like RV’s, you end up spending more money as you go along and see stuff you “absolutely need” to enhance the hobby.

A friend (who owned a White’s dealership) got me started in detecting back in the early 80’s and it’s been an on-and-off hobby since then. I put gun racks on the back of our Polaris rzr so we can get way out there with our machines and hunt old town and mine sites.

You can get started just “coin shooting” for a lot less money than the gold machines linked to here.

1 month ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

You are an interesting cat (that’s supposed to be a compliment), tell us some of your most interesting finds….please.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Larry

Howdy you two. Well, the MOST interesting find was an 1819 Large Cent I found while following the Emigrant Trail through Nevada. There’s a side story to this as well but not enough ‘room’ here for that. I had my old White’s 5000D detector which would now be considered ancient technology. My treasure hunting buddy and I were out in the blistering heat during the day and following a ‘two-track’ trail that we had determined was part of the Emigrant Trail. You don’t get too many false signals in areas like this. No pop tops, bottle caps, nails, etc., so you dig everything. I got a strong signal and started digging. About six inches down I found the coin. It was in great shape too. I wrote an article for Treasure magazine (now defunct) and it appeared in the August 1990 issue. I have found other ‘cool stuff’ but this was the best. I still have that old detector and a White’s P-1000 underwater pulse detector. Fun stuff. Hope this whets your whistle.

J.L. Holliday
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Yes Tommy, do tell….

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