Gold is the “holy grail” of metal hunting. The problem is you need a serious metal detector for finding gold nuggets. You also need something that can detect metals hidden deep in the ground. Most of the beginner metal detectors won’t make the cut when it comes to gold prospecting.
Gold hunting is exciting, not forgetting you can make some money out of it. Imagine finding a lost bracelet worn by a famous queen who reined in the 16th century. The problem is if you do not have the right equipment, you may end up frustrated as your metal detector keeps detecting trash.
Another potential hurdle is that gold nuggets are often found in highly mineralized soils. This necessitates equipment with a high frequency, manual/automatic ground balance, and pulse induction technology. The downside is this kind of metal detector doesn’t come cheap.
We have taken the time to examine and select some of the best gold detectors in the market. All you need to do is sit back and read this guide to completion.
Choosing the Best Metal Detector for Gold
Gold prospecting with the right device can be very lucrative. You can find some lost hidden treasure worth a couple of thousands of dollars. However, gold hunting is not as simple as hunting for coins or relics. Gold nuggets are often buried deep in the ground, making their reach a bit complicated. Then you have to battle with highly mineralized soils, which can tick off your metal detector all the time.
To navigate such terrain, you need a device that is on point when it comes to discrimination. When it comes to metal detectors, you have those that go for less than $200 to some as high as $2000. Your budget should determine your price range. There some features; however, you should not compromise on if you want to find some gold nuggets.
If you are a beginner in metal detecting, then you may live in the false assumption that all metal detector coils are the same. This is not the case. Coils can either be DD or concentric. The concentric coils come oval in shape and emit a cone-shaped search field. Note that this field is as deep as the diameter of the coil. So if you have one that is 6 inches, then expect it to detect items that are 6 inches deep.
Next, we have the DD coils that you see in high-end metal detectors. Instead of the cone-shaped design in the concentric coils, the DD has two D’s facing each other. The result is that the DD shaped coils produce a blade-shaped magnetic field. The benefit of using this DD coils for gold hunting is that they offer a thinner magnetic field that the concentric coils. This means you can differentiate more metals with ease with the coil. The magnetic field produced is also larger.
Pulse Induction detectors
Gold is often located in highly mineralized grounds. This increases your odds of capturing false signals. While the pulse induction detectors are pricier, they are great for discriminating against targets and can identify large gold nuggets buried deep in the ground. The problem is they are not suited for small gold objects that are buried on the surface.
When it comes to getting started prospecting for gold, it can be confusing identifying the right device. You have pulse induction detectors and high-frequency VLF detectors. Gold has a higher operating frequency than other metals. If you are going to be successful in doing gold searches, you will need a device with a frequency of around 15-75 kHz. The problem is, the higher the frequency, the better the sensitivity to small items like gold, but you also compromise on depth. If a VLF detector has a low frequency, it has more depth but may not be too effective in detecting gold nuggets.
To mitigate this problem, some of the high-end gold detectors will come with double coils operating at different frequencies – one low the other high. Most of the VLF devices come with the benefit of discrimination. This allows them to filter out junk materials in the soil. They are also less expensive than the pulse induction detectors. The downside is that the VLF detectors are highly sensitive, making them pass false signals in highly mineralized areas.
Gold is one of the most valuable items for metal prospectors. However, gold is often found in highly mineralized soils. When you are searching for gold in, let’s say a beach, you will notice that they are also a lot of junk metals. To differentiate the valuable from the worthless, most gold detectors for gold will come with a discrimination feature. This works by receiving signals from the ground then comparing these signals against a database of known metals. When it finds that the metals underneath belong to old nails, they will discard them. This allows you to keep your focus on gold items only hence saving you time.
Gold exists in deep grounds. When prospecting for gold, you need to identify a device that allows you to search a large surface area but at the same time, allow you to narrow down your search to specific locations. This means your detector should be maximized for detecting gold nuggets hidden deep in the ground. A device with a small frequency is great for depth, but then you have to compromise on sensitivity. Such a device will often be ticked off by the smallest signals, making prospecting difficult in highly mineralized soils.
At the end of the day, it boils down to how much money you are willing to spend for a gold metal detector. Device prices vary from a low of $200 to some going for over $5,000. Some devices will come with some of the most innovative technologies the world has seen while some have basic controls. At the top of the pyramid are pulse detectors, which can cost thousands of dollars. Before going to the market for a purchase, you will need to ask yourself why you are doing gold prospecting and your skill level. If you are doing it just for fun, then it would not make sense to purchase the very expensive equipment only for it to sit at home and gather dust. If you are looking for a good device that delivers but is not that expensive, you may want to consider the high-frequency VLF detectors. However, if you are serious about gold prospecting and are sure that your finds will be worth the effort, you may go with the Minelab GPZ 7000 but be prepared to cough a lot more dollars for this device.
This is a feature that is almost a must when it comes to searching for gold. Automatic or manual ground balance allows you to filter out the iron content in the soil. Most of the budget-friendly gold metal detectors in the market will come with automatic ground balance. But, if you are looking for the best gold metal detector, then we would advise you to go with the manual ground balance detectors. This offers you the flexibility of adjusting the device settings for ground balance, depending on the mineralization of the soil. The downside is that the manual ground balance comes a bit challenging for beginners, but with time you should get the drift of how the device works.
The type of frequency that you choose should be just right if you are going to uncover very small gold nuggets. Here is the catch. The higher the frequency of a device, the more sensitive it is and therefore increases your chances of finding very small gold objects. The downside is you have to compromise on depth. Gold is known to exist at deeper depths than other metals. A small frequency while having advantages for depth they are not sensitive to small signals being emitted by gold objects. A compromise is needed. You will have to carefully study the terrain you are prospecting before choosing a device. If you know that most of the gold nuggets are surface deep, then go with a higher frequency device while if you are certain that the gold will be hidden in greater depths, go with a small frequency. Some devices like XP Deus come with multiple frequencies that you can easily adjust depending on the terrain.
This is a great feature that uses a numerical scale to tell you what type of metal is being detected underneath the ground. Most devices have 0-99 numerical numbers with metals like gold having higher numerical scores. Target ID saves you time digging for worthless items.
Gold prospecting is not for the faint-hearted. You will need some extra accessories to get you started and ensure the success of your hunts. Firstly, it is prudent to have a pair of headphones. This allows you to have audio of signals being emitted. An LCD screen is worth having as it displays more information than the analog ones. You can also transfer your device data to your laptop for further analysis.
The 9 Best Metal Detectors for Gold
1. Fisher Gold Bug Pro Metal Detector
It is hard to mention the word “gold hunting” without giving credit to the Fisher Gold Bug Pro. It is one of the most versatile gold metal detectors in the market. For one, the Fisher operates at a frequency of 19 kHz. With a first re-tune, you are able to separate the gold from other worthless metals like nails or bottle caps fast.
The good thing about the Fisher is that it is a decent entry-level metal detector for those who are getting used to the idea of metal hunting. It is a VLF detector with a 5” search coil. You also can get an 11” DD waterproof coil should you desire an upgrade. The Fisher Gold bug pro is lightweight at 2.5lbs and uses an LCD screen display. Here you can get a real-time computerized ground balancing date. Through the feature, the device is constantly calibrating itself so that you can locate the ideal place for gold-digging.
One of the things you need when prospecting for gold the ability to distinguish between the various metal tones. The Fisher multi-tone audio lets you distinguish between the high audio tone for gold and the low tones for iron.
Since gold is found in highly mineralized soils, the Fisher Fe304 meter will track the soils and give you an update of the mineralization of the soil. This saves you time in worthless gold pursuits. It will also give you clues as to the size of the object underground.
The Fisher is powered by a 1 9 V battery. It measures 10.2 X 6.2 X 28.5 inches, and this contributes to its maneuverability. Overall, this is a decent gold metal detector for those just getting started on the hobby. It offers a short learning curve, is affordable, and offers good value for money.
What we liked:
- Works great in finding small gold nuggets
- You can use the device in highly mineralized soils
- Offers reasonable depth for hidden gold
- Comes with manual and automatic ground balance settings
2. Minelab Gold Monster 1000
The Minelab Gold Monster is a fully automatic gold metal detector operating on a VLF frequency of 45 kHz. This makes it stand out in gold metal hunting as it operates in higher frequencies. When sweetens the deal is the fact that you get two coils in the package offering – a 5” DD coil and 10” X 6” DD coil.
One of the biggest challenges you will face in metal hunting is competition for signals by iron elements. If you do not have a serious metal detector, you may find yourself engaging in worthless pursuits. The Minelab Gold monster comes with iron discrimination that allows you to sort out trash better. The LCD screen is legible and easy to understand.
With automatic ground balance, the device will identify the right ground for gold hunting. You can adjust the settings manually, but if you are not a pro, just let the machine fine-tune the sensitivity settings for you. It is irritating having constant interference from weak signals when you are so close to finding gold nuggets. It is for this reason that the Minelab gold monster comes with an automatic noise cancellation feature. This allows you to focus on pursuits that are more fruitful.
The Minelab has simple to use control, meaning you do not have to be so familiar with gadgets to use it. It also offers a short learning curve for those starting out on gold prospecting. The Minelab gold monster measures 23.6 X 5.1 X 9.8 inches and is powered by a rechargeable Li-ion battery. It is a bit heavy at 6.8 pounds, but this is to be expected considering the kind of features you get.
Included in the packaging is an armrest, car battery cable, digging tool, headphones (3.5mm), collapsible shafts, universal shaft adapter, AC charger, and getting started guides. With the adapters, you can take your gold search deep into the mountains.
What we liked:
- Comes with 10” X 6” and 5” DD coil
- Automatic ground balance settings
- Automatic noise cancellation feature
- High sensitivity at 45 kHz
3. Garrett AT Gold Metal Detector
What makes gold hunting thrilling is hearing the constant beeps of your metal detector as you approach a target and knowing that you could find some valuable buried treasure from another generation. However, your pursuits can turn out frustrating if you do not have the right metal detector around that is optimized for gold prospecting. The Garrett AT is the ideal device to get your hobby for gold hunting started.
Firstly, the device runs on a frequency of 18 kHz, which is good for hunting for relics and gold nuggets. You also have the choice of three sensitivity levels that you can adjust depending on the soil levels. The control box is simple, with easy to understand dials.
You can use the Garrett gold in shallow streams as the coil is waterproof. It allows you to search to a depth of up to 10 feet. You also have the option of choosing from two of its discrimination modes – DISC 1 or Disc 2. This helps you differentiate your targets hence reducing the probability of digging for iron elements. You will find the all-metal feature interesting as it allows you to adjust the device for depth and sensitivity. With a pair of headphones, you can hear even the smallest of signals.
For you to succeed in gold prospecting, you need a device with manual and automatic ground balance settings. This lets you operate in highly mineralized soils. The Garrett offers this plus a pinpoint mode. This increases your odds of finding gold in highly mineralized soils. Overall, this is a decent gold metal detector that is easy to use and increases your odds of finding something valuable in highly mineralized soils.
What we liked:
- Two discrimination modes
- A simplistic design and easy to use controls
- Ability to change and upgrade coils
- Operates to a depth of up to 10 feet
4. Tesoro Lobo SuperTraQ Metal Detector
At first glance, you may dismiss the Tesoro Lobo for being outdated. It does not even have a modern LCD screen, but don’t let this fool you. The device is well capable of sorting out the gold nuggets from the trash. Firstly, the Tesoro Lobo comes with a 10” coil as standard and operates on a frequency of 17.5 kHz. This enables you to find what you are looking for in highly mineralized soils.
For its price range, you do not get computerized ground balancing, but this does not mean you are only going to be picking up nails and old trashcans. No, you have the option of selecting from normal, alkaline, or black sand. This allows the device to operate in a variety of soil conditions. While not fully computerized, the device is constantly self-regulating itself depending on the terrain.
The Tesoro Lobo SuperTraQ is a great device for both beginners and gold experts. You have the controls strategically located on the control box hence making it easy to maneuver. The readings on the device are very accurate, so you do not have to worry about wasting time prospecting for gold.
While the frequency is a bit lower than the competition, it comes with the upside of being extremely sensitive to small objects. It also provides you with greater depth than the higher frequency models. It’s also a VLF detector, not a pulse induction. Apart from these shortcomings, you also get an adjustable threshold, sensitivity control, and audible signals. All this ensures you do not miss out on a gold nugget buried in the ground.
The Tesoro measures 21.5 X 8.7 X 4.8 inches, and at a weight of 3.5lbs, it is lightweight for your pursuits. The device is powered by 8 AA batteries that deliver over 30 hours of search time. Overall, we were impressed with the SuperTraQ pinpoint mode that allows you to filter the gold from the trash.
What we liked:
- Easy to operate
- Comes with three ground balance modes
- Works in a variety of soils
- Long operating times
5. White’s Goldmaster GMT Metal Detector
When it comes to gold hunts, then the need for high frequencies cannot be underestimated. The White’s Goldmaster comes with a 6” X 9” search coil that operates on a frequency of 48 kHz. The product was initially launched in 2000. Soon it made its mark as a top metal detector for gold hunts in Alaska’s cold terrain. It is usual to find gold detectors operating at such a high frequency as the Goldmaster GMT does. The device mixes both analog and digital functions.
The digital display is not like what you find in most high-end metal detectors, but it offers a visual display for iron ID. To enhance your chances of finding some gold in highly mineralized soils, the Goldmaster comes with automatic and manual ground balance settings. To sort out your iron targets, it comes with an iron target analyzer. The device can accurately display the magnetic amounts in a particular soil.
While you do not have a serious LCD screen, the manual controls are easy to operate and understand, making this device an excellent choice for beginners. You can also use the controls to find information like S.A.T speed, audio threshold, and ground balance mode. You also do not need to worry about constantly charging your device as it comes with 8 AA batteries. This offers you over 40 hours of uninterrupted gold searches.
What we did like about the Goldmaster GMT is that it offers more depth than other metal detectors on the list. Its rugged design is great for those trying out metal hunting as a hobby. This comes in handy when you are prospecting for small gold nuggets.
What we liked:
- Operates at a high frequency
- Comes with both automatic and manual ground balance settings
- Long battery life
- Easy to understand and operate
6. Minelab GPX 5000 Metal Detector
Minelab has, over the years, built for themselves a solid reputation for producing high-quality products, and the GPX 5000 is no exception. With the device, you can identify gold, silver, and relics. To start with, like most Minelab products, you get to benefit from their innovative technologies across various product ranges. The Minelab GPX 5000 offers serious competition by deploying DVT, MPS, and SETA technologies. This takes the GPX 5000 to the top of the pyramid for the most advanced metal detectors for gold. Your gold searches are improved as you can identify both small and large targets. The GPX 5000 operates through an 11” and 15” X12” DD coil.
Gold is mainly found in highly mineralized soils. This necessitates a detector that is able to sort out the targets accurately. Due to its high sensitivity, the GPX 5000 can be used for salt gold, fine gold, and relic hunting. Due to the use of some of the most innovative technologies in the market, the GPX 5000 has superior ground balance settings that enable it to operate quietly. It also can uncover gold at deeper depths.
You will not find a fine gold timing in most devices. The GPX uses this feature to identify gold nuggets on previously searched grounds. This is because the feature offers more depth and sensitivity. The device operates through six preset search modes. You have hi-trash, hi-mineral, hi-patch, and pinpoint. You can easily switch between the different modes and even personalize the settings to match your preferences. The search modes can even be named to your liking.
The GTX 5000 offers more ground control options. It sets itself to adjust to the ground conditions through the following controls: tracking, tracking speed, fixed, ground balance type, and a quick-track button. For improved audio, you can adjust the device to audio type, threshold, signal peak, target volume, response, and volume limit stabilizer. This means you will never miss a signal for gold objects.
Lastly, the GTX 5000 comes with a feature called Pro-swing 45. This detecting harness increases your comfort and time spent in the field. The design is also responsible for equally redistributing the device weight so that you do not strain your back or wrists. For optimized performance, the device comes with an increased RX gain adjustment. Included in the purchase package is a lithium-ion battery, Minelab finds, metal detecting harness, battery charging system, and a rubbish bag.
What we liked:
- The device can handle all manner of grounds
- Six preset search modes
- Automatic ground balance
- Many personalized options
- Allows one to capture salt gold at deeper depths
7. XP Deus Metal Detector
The XP Deus is the ideal device for taking your metal hunting hobby experience to the next level. Everything about the design speaks of innovation and the latest technology. For one, the XP Deus is fully wireless, from the search coil to the headphones. It even comes with a remote control that you can attach to your hips.
One thing that sets the XP Deus apart from the other metal detectors is that it is fully multi-frequency. The main frequencies are categorized into five main parts: 3.7 to 4.4 kHz, 7.1 to 8.4 kHz, 10.5 to 12.4 kHz, 15.2 to 17.8 kHz, and 23.5 to 27.7 kHz. With such an array of frequencies, there is no limitation as to what you will find during your metal hunts.
You may be wondering how the XP Deus helps you find gold. The device comes with a goldfield program mode that adjusts the device settings to accommodate signals from highly mineralized soils. You can also switch it to the all-metal mode for the detection of extremely small targets like gold nuggets.
While the XP Deus comes with some innovative technologies, it does take some time to get used to it. You also get an array of features common in expert metal detectors like automatic and manual ground balance settings. This offers great depth and sensitivity. This has the advantage of rapid recovery so you can cover large areas with ease.
The XP Deus is designed with a faster processor; hence, it can discriminate targets in areas that are highly mineralized or filled with trash. It is highly versatile and can detect gold nuggets deep into the rocks. You will find the XP Deus highly comfortable to carry while offering very high detection speeds. In addition, the XP Deus comes with nine pre-configured factory programs and an extended discrimination range.
What we liked:
- The innovative processor helps find targets fast
- Wireless connection to the coil and headphones
- Applications for gold prospecting
8. Fisher Gold Bug-2 Metal Detector
The first fisher we reviewed operated at a frequency of 19 kHz, but this model delivers a high frequency of 71 kHz. This enables it to detect very small gold nuggets. At first glance, the Fisher appears rugged, but don’t be fooled, it is loaded with awesome features to boost your odds of finding something valuable while at the same time discriminating against iron targets.
Fisher has a reputation for manufacturing high-quality metal detectors, and the Gold bug two does not disappoint. Everything from the control box to its ergonomic design is meant to help you maximize your gold prospecting with minimal effort. At a frequency of 71 kHz, the Fisher is in a class of its own.
The fisher weighs 2.9 pounds, which makes it very lightweight; you carry and swing it as you wish without putting too much strain on your back or wrists. The electronics on the device are quartz-crystal locked while the dials are simple and easy to operate. You do not have a complicated LCD screen – which makes the device appear outdated, but the Fisher delivers when it comes to locating extremely small gold nuggets.
It also features iron discrimination, moisture resistance, and an audio boost. All these features work together to help you locate gold in highly mineralized soils. We found most of the controls on the fisher easy to use, but you have to get used to the iron disc mode.
If you want to increase your odds of finding gold, then you need to go with the pulse induction detectors. The Fisher is a VLF detector and may not be suitable for all ground conditions. The lack of a digital screen means you need to focus your attention mainly on the audio. The price tag is also a bit high, but the device does perform well in detecting gold nuggets in shallow depths. Overall, it is an awesome device to have.
What we liked:
- High operating frequency
- Great at detecting gold at shallow depths
- Easy to operate dials
9. Minelab GPZ 7000 Gold Nugget Metal Detector
We added the Minelab GPZ 7000 to our list because it is marketed as a heavyweight in gold prospecting. In fact, it goes up to 40% deeper than the GPZ 5000 we previously reviewed. This is the right device for someone who wants to take gold prospecting seriously.
Minelab has been at the forefront in developing innovative technologies to support its array of metal detectors. The Minelab GPZ uses a specially designed technology called the zero voltage transmission (ZVT). Unlike the pulse induction detectors or the more commonly used VLF, you have problems finding a balance between depth and sensitivity. When you have a device offering greater depth, you find yourself compromising on sensitivity – especially to small objects. On the other hand, if you have a device that offers higher sensitivity, you get less depth.
Minelab GPZ 7000 ZVT technology tries to find a balance between depth and sensitivity. In this instance, you can detect highly sensitive items at a greater depth. Here is the good news. Gold nuggets tend to be found in such conditions. Having the Minelab GPZ around boosts your odds. However, it is pricier than other models.
The other benefit of owning this device is you can prospect for gold nuggets in highly mineralized soils. You can detach the swing arm the moment you find yourself being restricted in tough rocky grounds. The device is heavy, so you will have to get used to maneuvering with it. The control box is digital, but it can get complicated with the array of buttons needed to run this device. You have various modes – gold and ground type and several advanced settings. You also have inbuilt GPS settings and awesome software to run the device.
Overall, the Minelab GPZ 7000 is an awesome device for gold prospecting. It uses some of the latest technologies that Minelab has to offer for their metal detectors. The downside is it is complicated, and you will need several hours of use to get used to it. Also, the device is a bit heavy, and let’s not forget the high price tag.
What we liked:
- Innovative technology that maximizes depth and sensitivity
- Offers up to 40% more depth than its predecessor
- Works great in highly mineralized soils
- Comes with awesome software to boost your odds of finding gold
Concluding our Best Gold Metal Detector Guide
Gold prospecting is a worthy hobby. However, it is not one of the easiest metals to find. For one, gold is often found in highly mineralized soils. This necessitates a serious gold metal detector that can discriminate against the many false signals. You will also need to factor depth and sensitivity in your gold pursuits.