Metal detector for gold – how to choose the right one?

Choosing the best metal detector for gold is not an easy task and for beginners it is almost impossible thing to do. On the market there are lots of offers and if you try to gain some insight on these devices, you will find yourself lost in the variety of models and prices.

Besides, treasure hunting for gold can be very different. Someone is looking for it on the beach and someone is looking for gold nuggets. Both these targets require using different metal detectors.

In the current article we’ll discuss types of metal detectors, choose the best ones for gold, perform comparison study of the most popular models and help you to select the device with optimal combination of price and parameters.


Actually, on the market there are no metal detectors that can detect only gold. All these devices are capable of equally detect copper, aluminum, lead and other metals, not just gold.

However, there are metal detectors that are very good at detecting gold nuggets and jewelry/coins made from gold that rest quite deep under ground.

We can conventionally divide such models into two groups: devices for underwater and on the ground treasure hunting.

Quite often completely different demands are made for these devices because they function in various conditions.

In this article we’ll consider models that are used to find gold onshore, since we’ve already written about the best underwater metal detectors here.

In most cases people look for gold, silver or platinum jewelry in water. If you are going to look for jewelry on the beach or under water, you’d better read that review.

What are the features of these metal detectors?

So, let’s see, what metal detector is the best when searching for gold?

A metal detector for gold has some differences if compared with metal detectors of other types. These distinctions are due to features of the technology they use. Its main aim is to detect the smallest particles at final depth.

Though these devices can detect other metals, yet it isn’t proper to use them for ordinary metal detecting. The thing is, that the process will be complicated with constant signals received from metal rubbish which these devices are highly sensitive to.

Golden coins and other jewelry items are easily detected by devices that use high operation frequencies (i.e. higher than 14 kHz). The advantage of working at such frequency is the ability to detect small objects such as earrings, rings, coins.

Metal detecting of golden items has some peculiarities. Gold has conductivity and discrimination scale parameters similar to those of oxidized iron. Due to this a metal detector for gold should have an expanded range of ferrous metals.

Coins, gold nuggets and jewelry made of precious metals is most cases are small, that’s why the device should also be highly sensitive to small objects.

It has to be able to function on highly mineralized soils, since usually these are the areas where golden items and gold nuggets are detected.

Metal detectors for gold, gold nuggets and coins hunting mainly use VLF (Very Low Frequency / Low Frequency) and PI (Pulse Induction) technologies. Some of them are designed to work either on the ground or underwater, the others can function both underwater and on ground.

Nowadays VLF technology is a more widespread one, since it is more multi-purpose approach. Metal detectors that are using this technology have operation frequencies up to 100 kHz. The devices utilizing VLF- technology have efficient discrimination and support multi-frequency functioning.

However, one of the most expensive devices for gold hunting use PI technologies. These metal detectors have high sensitivity to the smallest objects and demonstrate stable productivity on mineralized soils where ordinary metal detectors just fail. The key feature of such metal detectors is minimal set of functions and high energy consumption.

VLF and Pulse Induction – what’s the difference?

VLF-metal detectors have operation frequencies from 3 to 30 kHz; from 30 to 300 kHz (deep search) and from 20 to 100 kHz (in the upper soil layer), but there are also multi-frequency devices. They allow detecting large targets at low frequencies as well as coins, earrings, rings – at high ones.

PI technology means that the device emits a bunch of alternating short or long electric pulses (MPS, Multi Period Sensing) or alternating voltage is applied to its head (DVT, Dual Voltage Technology).

PI-detectors «see» gold deep under ground, they are very sensitive to small objects, ignore noise generated by soil rich in magnetic inclusions (sodium and potassium salts, ferriferrous oxides) and «rubbish» (nails, pieces of various metal containing objects).

Often these devices function using some special programs.

For example:

  • «leveled sensitivity» (improves response from small fragments in mineralized soil, excludes signals from magnetic rocks)
  • «small gold» (improves the device sensitivity to coins and jewelry in mineralized soils)
  • «Salt / gold» (helps to perform treasure hunting in alkali soil, beaches, deposits with mineralized soils)
  • «Improved sensitivity» and / or «fast response» (for deep metal detecting in neutral soils)

Example with a gold chain

One of the most popular things found by means of metal detecting is a chain or some parts of it. However, this is one of the most hard to find targets for a metal detector (it can be made from any metal, not necessary from gold).

The metal detector sees the chain not as a single object, it detects its chain links. The coil of the device doesn’t identify mass of the whole chain and it seems that it tries to ‘divide’ it into separate chain links and detect them as different targets located close to each other.

That’s why if the chain lies lengthwise, you won’t get sufficient detection depth. If its rests as a ‘pile’, there is a chance to detect it even at a large depth. Another key factor is the chain link size – the larger (the heavier it is) the deeper the device can see such a target.

As a rule, only expensive VLF – detectors can see a chain even not very deep, if it lies lengthwise and yet not all of them can pass this test. PI detectors deal with this task more successfully.

Best metal detector for gold

I have chosen the most time-proven and high efficient ground metal detectors for gold, though yet there can be another opinions. If you think that there are more recommendable models, you are welcome to write me a message and I will include them into the list.

Fisher Gold Bug Pro

Fisher Gold Bug Pro is a multi-purpose, high efficient metal detector for coin, relics and gold nuggets hunting on very mineralized soils. Despite the fact, that this model was designed specially for detecting small gold nuggets, unlike other metal detectors designed for gold digging, it can also be helpful when using small coins and jewelry.

Traditionally Fisher Lab designed Gold Bug control simple and easy-to-use even for beginners. Distinguishing characteristic of Fisher Gold Bug is that it uses sequential discrimination scheme, which is the most proper one when gold nugget hunting.

Sequential discrimination is a process when objects are excluded from the search one by one starting from metals with the lowest conductivity and further. Also this metal detector has a ground balance function that can be adjusted both manually and automatically.

Fisher Gold Bug operation frequency is 19 kHz. It weighs only 1, 25 kg!

Fisher Gold Bug Pro Metal Detector
34 Reviews
Fisher Gold Bug Pro Metal Detector
  • Finds the smallest gold nuggets in highly mineralized soils - v-break tm; industry's first variable breakpoing tone discrimination system - computerized ground grab tm
  • Real-time computerized ground balancing - v.c.o. audio in all metal & discrimination mode - independent control over treshold & gain - continuous ground condition readouts
  • Ground phase value indicates type of mineralization - fe3o4 graphic indicates amount of mineralization - static pinpoint with depth indicator - dual headphone jacks
  • 19kHz Operating Frequency - Ultra Simple User Interface - Ultra-Lightweight (2.5 lbs)
  • Recommended for gold nugget / prospecting

Minelab GOLD MONSTER 1000

Minelab GOLD MONSTER 1000 – is a high frequency metal detector designed for treasure hunting on highly mineralized soil. Due to its high operation frequency 45 kHz it has very high sensitivity to small sized gold nuggets (0,2-0,3 gram). This metal detector was designed as the most adaptive system with several different configurations.

Minelab GOLD MONSTER 1000 is completely automated device. That’s why you won’t have to adjust ground balance and threshold tone all the time. Therefore, while searching you will be able to devote more time to the process itself and not to the device settings.

You have to make up your mind if you adjust the device sensitivity level yourself or use auto adjustment. At that you should keep in mind that automatic mode will decrease the device sensitivity for a sake of more stable productivity.

Minelab GOLD MONSTER 1000
14 Reviews
Minelab GOLD MONSTER 1000
  • Fully automatic operation
  • Automatic Noise Cancel, Auto Ground Balance, Automatic Sensitivity
  • Extra sensitive 45 kHz VLF performance
  • 2 waterproof search coils included
  • Easy quick start

White’s Goldmaster GMT

Whites GMT GoldMaster Series is aimed at gold nuggets hunting and this is a further developed model of Goldmaster family. This device has a perfect ground balance function and it is convenient to use it even in very tough conditions.

In comparison with the previous models of metal detectors made by this company, its sensitivity to small sized objects has increased due to using high-speed threshold adjustment control.

Ground balance function was simplified and improved, it became more precise and it’s performed in increments of 1/1000 by means of two buttons (“+” and “-”) on the front panel. Whites GMT metal detector has an adjustable speed of the threshold automatic tuning and response range switch.

Since gold nuggets hunting is rather specific process, to perform it discrimination was minimized. In Whites GMT discrimination functions only in ‘Iron/non-ferrous metal’ range. A special analyzer helps to define presence of iron in the soil and increases this probability.

Fast change of soil mineralization is offset by speed adjustment of threshold automatic tuning SAT. The device ground balance function has become easier to use and more functional. It is performed by means of two buttons on the device control panel. Whites GMT is also equipped with a mode of precise target detection (pinpoint).

White's Goldmaster GMT Metal Detector - 800-0294
10 Reviews
White's Goldmaster GMT Metal Detector - 800-0294
  • Auto Ground Balance
  • Optional Audio
  • Iron ID - bar graph
  • Displays the amount of magnetic minerals in ground
  • Model Number: 800-0294

Tesoro Lobo SuperTRAQ

This metal detector was specially designed by Теsоrо engineers for treasure hunters who search for gold nuggets and jewelry. In many countries of America and Europe those who go treasure hunting for gold leave very positive feedback about this device.

Tesoro included some new schemes into its new Lobo Super Traq metal detector, they sufficiently increase both sensitivity and ground balance quality of the device. This metal detector is perfect for gold nuggets and relic hunting, because its high frequency and quality coil allow detecting small objects at essential depth.

This device has three ground balance modes: alkali soil, ‘black sand’ and saline soils. On the control panel you will see just 5 regulators: discrimination, ground balance, sensitivity on/off, modes switcher, threshold regulator.

After studying this device in details and going metal detecting several times with it, any user will be able to adjust it properly to the most common search conditions in the area and to his style of metal detecting.

Garrett AT Gold

Garrett has designed a new model of metal detector Garrett AT Gold specializing in non-ferrous metal and gold nuggets detecting. AT Gold has high sensitivity to small objects. For successful detection of gold nuggets, jewelry and small coins the device has high operation frequency (18 kHz) and minimized size of its search sensor.

Due to the fact, that Garrett AT Gold was designed basing on AT Pro, it can function under water, when it rains and in the places with heavy accumulation of dust and dirt.

The main difference between Garrett AT Gold and Garrett AT PRO, is that Garrett AT Gold metal detector has higher operation frequency 18 kHz (Garrett AT PRO has 15 kHz operation frequency); Garrett AT PRO is equipped with AT 8,5×11 DD coil in its set (it is a bit larger), while Garrett AT Gold has AT 5×8 DD coil (which is smaller).

Also Garrett AT Gold has wider possibilities when metal detecting on heavy-textured soils.

Minelab SDC 2300

MINELAB SDC 2300 beyond all doubt is a milestone in production of metal detectors for gold nuggets hunting – it represents combination of pure functionality and efficiency.

It doesn’t have the slightest hint of some ‘ornamental’ options. The device demonstrates perfect performance characteristics when going metal detecting at highly complicated conditions.

This multi-purpose device allows quickly and thoroughly examine a prospecting site concerning possible detection of gold nuggets that may indicate the presence of larger nuggets deeper in the ground.

The metal detector is small sized and waterproof. It has a reliable structure and it is easy to master even for beginner. All these characteristics are based on call of the times and completely meet the requirements of modern gold nuggets hunter.

It is convenient to carry SDC 2300 in a rucksack and it is perfect for treasure hunting in shallow waters. Yet it performs better when jewelry hunting, than when gold nuggets detecting. It is capable of ‘seeing’ even thin chains and bracelets.

Minelab SDC 2300 Special Bundle with Free Minelab Gloves, Carrybag, Headphones and Smart Charger
1 Reviews
Minelab SDC 2300 Special Bundle with Free Minelab Gloves, Carrybag, Headphones and Smart Charger
  • Free Minelab Gloves and Carrybag, Headphones and Smart Charger
  • Ni-Cd & Ni-MH Computer Controlled Smart Charger
  • Compact - 16 inch (40.64cm)
  • Waterproof - 10ft (3m)
  • Audio and Visual Target Response

Minelab GPX 5000

New metal detector GPX 5000 has a range of innovations in comparison with the previous model GPX 4500. The device uses modern noise reduction technologies and complex probing pulses which allows applying it at the most complicated search conditions.

Extremely high sensitivity of the device provides maximum detection depth as well as successful detection of the smallest gold nuggets. This model is aimed not only at gold nuggets hunting, but it is also adapted for relic and beach hunting which requires super sensitivity to very small targets.

GPX 5000 is supplied complete with round shaped 11-inch mono-coil and DD-coil. There are 100 coils you can get to replace the ones you have and this number grows each year. This is a reliable, time-proven metal detector suitable for almost any situation.

Minelab GPX 5000 Metal Detector with 2 coils - 11" Round DD and 15x12 Mono Search Coil
  • Minelab GPX 5000 Metal Detector with Commander Series 11″ Round Double D Coil, 15″ x 12″ Monoloop Coil, Coil Covers, Metal Detecting Harness, Lithium Ion Battery, Koss Headphones, Battery Charging System and Minelab Finds and Rubbish Bag.
  • MPS, DVT & SETA Technology- delivers to you the most technologically advanced detector yet, making small hard to hear nuggets more obvious. New Timings- make the GPX 5000 the most versatile ever. It's like having 8 detectors in 1. In addition to five of the Timings found on the previous model the GPX 5000 introduces three new Timings: Coin/Relic, Salt/Gold and Fine Gold.
  • Fine Gold Timing- gives even more depth and sensitivity than Enhance bring home more nuggets even from ground thought to be completely worked out! Salt/Gold Timing- is great for all nugget sizes in salty ground outstanding at the beach! Coin/Relic Timing- is the deepest ever for benign ground conditions. Improved Enhance Timing- for more depth Improved electronics- for increased target sensitivity and ground balance performance
  • Six preset Search Modes- gives you easy switch on and go detecting. In addition to General and Deep search are: Hi-Mineral, Patch, Hi-Trash and Pinpoint. All six Search Modes can be modified to your personal favourite settings. Menu accessible Search Modes can also be renamed. Increased Rx Gain adjustment- allows you more precise sensitivity control for optimum performance.
  • Automatic Ground balance- options make it easy to adjust the detector to suit all ground conditions. e.g. (Fixed, Tracking, Tracking speed, Ground Balance Type, Quick-Trac button). Audio adjustments- to maximize target signals for your personal hearing ability e.g. (Threshold, Tone, Audio Type, Signal Peak, Response, Target Volume, Volume limit, Stabilizer). Iron Reject adjustable- to suit the iron trash level where you are detecting.

Minelab GPZ 7000

This new metal detector by Minelab uses a breakthrough technology of gold detection – ZVT. This device stands head and shoulders above metal detectors of GPX series when detecting large and deep resting gold nuggets as well as detecting gold at any depth.

The device weights 3,32 kg, it has 14х13 waterproof coil. We can even call it a metal detector of tomorrow. All the results it demonstrates are significantly higher than that of previous Minelab models.

By means of this function (GPS-navigation) and application XChange 2 for PC you can put the marks you need on the map and also create a table of your own findings, record occurrence depth and weigh of gold nuggets and make any other notes in the field.

Now you won’t need a separate notebook or GPS, all information can be stored as a GeoHunt in your device and when you come back home you can copy all the data to your PC and show them on Google maps.

Supporters of serious, thorough approach to metal detecting by means of screen ‘Map’ can travel to the places they are interested in and look through GeoTrail, where they’ve been to, save their WayPoints (points that are of some interest to them) and FindPoints (their findings).

Another distinctive feature of Minelab GPZ7000 metal detector is its high noise resistance and nowadays its is second to none in terms of this parameter. Due to its 256 channels of noise suppression you can use the device at maximum level of concentration, nothing strains your ears, there are no noises or sounds that distract you from the detection process, you won’t miss even the quietest and weakest signal from a target.

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Last update on 2019-08-19 at 00:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API