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Steve Herschbach

Comparing Some Detectors In Trash & Hot Rocks

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Another great idea for a review and a fun read. You are doing work that most of us cannot, or would not, do even if we had the machines you have acquired, so a big thank you for that. This tendency of yours to write up details about detecting that almost no-one comes up with is one of the many reasons this forum is the best one going.

(I was sort of hoping you'd be unhappy with the 3030 and want to sell it (joke))

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Thanks for the review Steve

The ghosting you refer to in the GM I have always believed to be the overload response to large , close to the coil ferrous items or foil aluminium cigarette packet liners or similar and I usually ignore them as they are most commonly in the leaf litter on the surface , most other vlf machines normally just keep emitting an annoying over response but the GM cuts it down to a recognisable response that is unlike  anything I can recall in other detectors Iv,e used . It's a shame our soil is so difficult as I would like to own some of the other detectors like the GB however I think I would simply spend most of my time adjusting ground balance and sensitivity to keep up with conditions , however if it,s true that the one who dies with the most toys wins you have the completion beat hands down. 

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The most frustrating thing for me when doing stuff like this is I keep wanting some detector to really blow me away. Ignore the ferrous stuff and find the good stuff. What gets hammered home instead is how easy it is for a coin on the surface to be rendered invisible by trash or hot rocks in close proximity. At best often all you get is a one way squeak from a certain direction, then nothing from other angles. The good news is that it does mean there are many good finds out the still, but well hidden by surrounding trash. The Deus may be the current pinnacle of the technology or close to it when it comes to finding things in the dense trash, but it is far from perfect and there are plenty of targets it misses also. What edge the Deus does have can be largely negated with other detectors by simply using smaller coils.

For a different perspective on the Deus HF elliptical coil from a hard core relic hunter see Keith Southern's review.

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Great information Steve!

Hopefully individuals that are serious in being successful in detecting various types of sites will use this information and decide if the detector of their choice is the right one to use. Instead of saying this is the best detector to use, consider all these factors and use the best detector that will find what you are looking for.

I believe you created the ultimate Monte's Nail Board test.:biggrin:

 

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Hopefully nobody makes no serious decisions based on my casual and sloppy testing! My preference would be that people do their own tests and come to their own conclusions for their purposes. This does highlight a few things for people to examine on their own however. As far as I am concerned the exercise mainly confirms three things that I already thought I knew:

1. Minelab BBS and FBS detectors are renowned for their ability to accurately discriminate high conductive coins (silver) at depth while quieting nearly all ferrous targets. They are also well known to be weak at target separation and prone to target masking. This test confirms that but does not take away from the fact that these are some of the best park and beach detectors made. Just not good in dense ferrous trash.

2. Dedicated nugget detectors like the Gold Monster beat the general purpose detectors if the only goal is detecting small gold nuggets. Yet that same edge on small gold nuggets tends to make them less useful for other types of detecting.

3. When comparing top "do-it-all" VLF machines they are all very close, and getting one to display any real clear edge is often an exercise in hair splitting. In the end I can make good finds with any of them. I therefore often fall back on ergonomics (weight, balance, audio, battery type, controls, display, etc.) as deciding factors when making my personal decisions.

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Always good to hear objective opinions, and find that every detector out there has a few warts.

Your sidebar lists the White's V3i.  Why didn't you include that in this overview?

15 hours ago, Steve Herschbach said:

...general purpose tackle anything I might run into while wandering the hills machine.

I understand why no Gold Bug 2, but thought the V3i would fit this description.

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I am sorting things out for myself. The V3i is a keeper so there is nothing in my mind to sort out.

I do not consider the V3i as a wandering the hills type machine personally. Again, people are going way off track if they think this is about anything but me working out what works best for me and how. The V3i is my detector that runs my Bigfoot coil for park and sports field jewelry detecting. The ground balance system is weak compared to many detectors and the target separation is only good at best. Besides, it just strikes me as a machine I prefer to keep as pristine as possible and rolling it down dirt hills and getting tossed in the back of my truck, etc. is not something that it will be doing. The main thing though is the V3i fails the simplicity test. The MXT would fit the bill better.

Machines like the MXT and in this case Impact and CTX also get nicked for being bulky and hard to stuff in a rucksack.

The winners here as far as I am concerned are the Teknetics G2, Makro Gold Racer, and Minelab Gold Monster 1000. All other things being equal I prefer machines that are fairly simple and to the point. I also prefer they not be too expensive and not something I would hate to roll around in the dust and mud. If you set everything else aside my preferred detectors share a certain commonality that is apparent by just looking at them.

The Makro Impact, XP Deus, and yes, even the CTX 3030 are in my questionable column. The CTX is magic in groomed parks and on salt water beaches, but that is another area where my dreams exceed reality. If I was going saltwater beach detecting tomorrow I would be more likely to grab the Garrett ATX as the CTX and when park detecting I prefer to hunt jewelry and would be more likely to grab my V3i or Gold Racer for those purposes.

Right now my core list is:

Minelab GPZ 7000 - Main gold nugget detector
Garrett ATX - Saltwater detecting, backup for GPZ
White's V3i / Bigfoot- Jewelry detecting
Minelab Gold Monster 1000 - Gold nugget detecting
Makro Gold Racer - General purpose detector / jewelry detecting
Teknetics G2 - General purpose exploration detector

Less certain futures:

Minelab CTX 3030
Fisher Gold Bug 2
Nokta Impact
XP Deus

The Gold Bug 2 at the moment I intend on hanging on to just because I have owned one longer than any other detector and it is a classic. Right now I am more inclined to grab the Gold Monster however.

Even the core has weaker and stronger members. At the moment left to my own devices the GPZ, ATX, and GM1000 would account for the vast majority of my detecting hours at this point in time. If I had to shave it to the bone right now the GPZ, ATX, GM1000, and Makro Gold Racer would get me by very well. Ultimately for me it's all about the gold, with coin and relic detecting just something I dabble in if not hunting for gold. My detector choices reflect that. Other people should consider their own priorities when it comes to making detector choices.

teknetics-g2-makro-gold-racer-minelab-gold-monster-1000.jpg

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I've been on a mission myself over the last year trying out an embarrassing number of detectors in the search for the perfect few to keep..  I learned like you Steve that most of them are pretty close in performance..  I also learned that someone across the country from me detecting in their "highly minerized ground" was much different then what I experienced in my ground..  Most of my detecting is for old coins in parks and older homes..  The stand out detector for this type of hunting where I live is hands down the Minelab E-Trac or CTX. They have no real competition except maybe the V3i where I live and for the type of hunting I do.  After that you can flip a coin and choose any one of the mid frequency detectors from any of the major brands and and do about the same.   They all fall on their face in my soil after 6" ... I'm sitting on at least 10 detectors right now and desperately want to get down to around 4 or 5 at the most.. Right now my Etrac, Gold Racer and now Monster are the detectors I have no desire to sell. I think I'm going to keep my Macro Racer 2 also because it does well in heavy iron   and is a good nugget shooter too.  It also does slightly better in my ground then the other major brands. What I really need to ad is a PI machine but until I can spend more time nugget hunting I can't justify it yet. My VLFs are finding me gold when I do get the chance to go.

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The BIG advantage I see in the CTX (E-Trac, Explorer, etc.) is that nearly all these hot single frequency detectors love to call deep modern aluminum as coins. You get this sweet high tone / high VDI number in my ground with most of these machines and up comes a rolled up aluminum beaver tail. It is very hard to beat a Minelab BBS/FBS machine for pure target id accuracy. This can be very important for certain parks, school grounds, etc. where every dig matters and keeping them to a minimum is important.

I pay no attention to results from people back east. Unfortunately the depths seen in white Florida sand or rich loamy far dirt does not translate into results at west coast magnetite laden soils. Except that you can take a lot of east coast results and basically cut the depth in half and be in the ballpark for what I see.

The V3i does do very well also for me at least. I should do more coin hunting with it. But then I always am saying I should coin hunt more and then the gold beckons. I dig tons of coins but it is nearly all accidental by-product to jewelry detecting.

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    • By Steve Herschbach
      I find myself in the position of having a large number of metal detectors recently acquired or headed my way. I plan to review these detectors soon on various forums and have published my thoughts on various detectors for many years.

      Many people may be familiar with who I am but many are not and so I decided it was a good time to do a full disclosure statement. I do think it is important for people to know why I publish detector reviews and what my motivations are.

      I got my first metal detector in 1972 and have been detecting ever since. I got into prospecting for gold around the same time, and the two activities have provided focal points in my life. So much so that a partner and I founded a company in 1976 to sell prospecting equipment, including metal detectors. That company, Alaska Mining & Diving Supply of Anchorage, Alaska, went on to become one of the largest retailers of its type in the country.

      That means that for most of my life not a single day has gone by without me thinking about metal detectors and prospecting equipment. I continued to use the gear myself not only prospecting but coin and jewelry detecting. One of my main work responsibilities was deciding what equipment to stock and because of this I had the perfect excuse to try and and use hundreds of metal detectors over the years. I could simply borrow them and use them for free, or buy them at dealer cost. I have not paid retail for a detector since 1976. The only limitation on my ability to try a detector was my own interest in it.

      It is not unusual for me to grab six or eight detectors and take them all out and test and compare. My excuse often was business but the truth has always been it is because I am interested in metal detectors to the point of obsession. I like using different detectors and learning about them. I like figuring out how to best apply one to a given situation. Always, I am on the lookout for better machines for myself. Everything else is just happy side effect or excuses for doing what I do. Metal detecting is my thing.

      I am also a computer nerd and was the IT guy at AMDS. I built the company website and ran the network. I think the Internet is one of the best things to ever happen to metal detecting. I joined various forums and found I could trade information with like minded people from all over the globe. I have come to know people I would never have met prior to the Internet. I read all I could find and shared what I knew. I learned who to pay attention to and who to ignore.

      I made a key decision early on. I wanted people to know who I was. I was not interested in hiding my name or my motives and so I went the other direction. I have always used my name and never post under a pseudonym or nickname. I always wanted people to know where I was coming from and that I was in business. The truth however is that I never let business get in the way of my integrity in reporting my personal opinions about metal detectors. I had the benefit of being a multiline dealer and so could talk about all brands because in our business, we did not care what brand you bought. My goal was always just to promote metal detecting and metal detectors. The particular brands never mattered.

      The main thing though is for me it never was this versus that or any particular desire to find the perfect metal detector. I simply do not believe there is such a thing. It is like wanting to declare one car the best and all others worthless. The goal is to get from point A to point B. Every car can get you from here to there. But they look different, they sound different, they act different, they cost different amounts. People own various models for various reasons. Metal detectors are no different and that is why they all sell and they all have their fan clubs and followers.

      With that being the case, who am I to say my detector is better than your detector? In my opinion, if your $49 made in China detector truly serves your purpose and makes you happy then it is every bit as good as any detector I own. As a retailer, if there really was such a thing as a perfect detector I could just hang one on the wall, and sell every person that one detector. My goal was always to try and figure out what my customer wanted and what detector, at the lowest cost, could do everything they wanted. Honestly, I got very, very good at it. I became a walking talking metal detector catalog stuffed full of facts and figures and if I ever got stumped by a question, it did not happen twice in a row. I have over 20 years of posts on the internet that by and large is just me trying to help answer prople's questions.

      My partner and I engineered a sale of our company to our employees in 2010. I also due to some great success with a mining property at Moore Creek, Alaska was able to purchase a new home in Reno, Nevada. I sold everything in Alaska and moved to Reno, and a major goal in doing so was to be able to continue prospecting and metal detecting while I am still physically fit enough to really get out and do it to the max. Reno is centrally located in the western US and makes a perfect base for heading in just about any direction looking not only for gold, but for coins, jewelry, and meteorites. About the only type of detecting I do not actively pursue is relic hunting, as all the laws pertaining to that put a damper on my desire to get involved much in it.

      I did not retire so much as just focus my life around my prospecting and metal detecting more fully. I finally was able to devote more time to another interest, writing, to help supplement my income. Another retirement income strategy is my website at www.detectorprospector.com where I derive some income from Google ads. I always enjoyed building websites and my goal is to over time make it a fabulous resource on prospecting and metal detecting, and hopefully make a little money doing so. I also have numerous books in my head that will finally see the light of day.

      I have always got along well with people at the various metal detector companies and over the years I sometimes was sent a detector to try out and keep for my own use. I found that being a known, visible person on the Internet made companies sometimes desire to put a detector in my hands. Frankly, I can find about anything with any detector made so it makes sense. I have found that my officially no longer being attached to a company has removed any last feeling that maybe I am trying to sell people something, or maybe it is just coincidence, but in the last couple years it seems like everyone wants to send a detector my way.

      In the last two years I have received free detectors from Fisher, Garrett, Minelab, and White's. I just received one from a newer company, Nokta.

      Now, I do not always get stuff for free and I do not count on it. If I am interested in it, I get it one way or the other. I still have my company contacts and can get new stuff at dealer cost if I want it. That means I can get it, use it, and generally sell it for what I have in it. I have a pot of money wrapped up in detecting gear that just kind of rotates. I buy some and then I get too many so I sell some. The key thing is I am not actually spending household money, so my wife does not care. I just rotate the funds. I even buy a used detector now and then. The bad news for the manufacturers is they cannot escape me even if they wanted to. If they do not send me a detector, I will get it anyway. Big hint guys - you do not actually have to give them to me. Well, maybe some you do!

      This may seem whiny but it does get to be a bit of work. I am getting jaded and so I am getting less kick from trying new detectors out than I used to get just because they all are so capable these days. They all do the trick one way or the other and so it all can get to be a bit ho-hum at times. When I get sent a detector for free I do have a certain responsibility to go use it and report on it that does get to seem a bit too much like work at times so I need to be careful about that. I have found it never pays to make fun too much like work.

      Sorry if I am boring you with all this but I plan on this being a sort of definitive statement I can point to in the future should people ask. Or accuse. Or whatever. I just want to lay it all out so you know where I am coming from. And this is it.

      There is no perfect detector. There is no ability to put them all in a pile and declare one a winner. Metal detecting involves looking for nearly infinite different types of targets in almost infinite different types of ground conditions. There are other variables like electrical interference, and proximity of one type of target to another. The key thing as others have pointed out is you never know what it is you did not find. What is in the ground your detector missed?

      So you detect a 20 foot by 20 foot area, and your detector finally cannot find anything else. Then you try another detector, and you find some things the first detector missed. Does that mean the second detector is better? No, because if you did it in reverse, the same thing would almost always happen.

      Whenever you use a detector you chose a frequency or combination of frequencies, a coil, and various settings, all that combine to work on a certain set of targets that are in the ground. Changing nearly any of those parameters results in a few targets previously detected now getting missed, and other targets previously missed now being detected. The biggest offender is discrimination of any sort. Rejecting any undesired target can cause other desirable targets to be missed through what we refer to as target masking. Target masking is when a rejected target hides or "masks" another target near or under the rejected target.

      Nugget detecting is a particularly pure form of metal detecting, in that the goal is to find all metal in the ground. Or so you would think. Due to the huge volumes of junk out there people do still rely on discrimination to eliminate trash items and find gold nuggets, and so target masking still is an issue. But in many cases prospectors really do want one detector that will suck every metal item out of the ground.

      Even that is much harder than it appears. The ground itself represents a target that must be dealt with, and worse yet are the so-called hot rocks that go off like a good target on a metal detector. Dealing with ground effects and hot rocks introduces its own type of target masking. If you reject a certain type of ground, there are nuggets that will be missed because the ground rejection method employed also rejects this nuggets. You only need to air test a detector on a nugget then bury the nugget in the ground and test again to see this in action. Only in the rarest of circumstances can detectors find targets as far in the ground as in the air due to the effects of ground minerals. Size matters a lot, as a detector made to find large nuggets at absolute best depths tends to not do as well on tiny nuggets and vice versa.

      It is all about trade offs. The detector engineers have an end goal they are trying to achieve, and almost always seeking to do one thing perfectly means giving something else up in the way of performance. This means the only way to truly detect any given plot of ground is to dig absolutely all targets, and to use multiple detectors with differing characteristics to find things with one the other will miss. In nugget detecting this can be practical at times. It may even be practical for beach or relic hunters. It will almost never work for urban detectorists or people who look for non-ferrous targets in the midst of undesired ferrous stuff as the sheer volume of junk targets makes digging everything impractical.

      So here it is, my full disclosure. First and foremost, I do not care what detector anyone purchases or if they purchase one at all. My goal is to simply share what I know and to offer what advice I can best offer. My only motivation from a monetary aspect is in promoting my website where I derive some revenue from Google ads, and hopefully to entice people into reading my magazine articles and purchasing any books I may write. I do appreciate and thank the metal detector manufacturers for any free detectors I receive, but all it buys them is a guarantee I will use the detector and report on it. It does not buy my opinions or my integrity in reporting what I think. However, my mother did raise me well and so I do strive to be polite.

      Like most people I tend to find magazine reviews a bit bland. They are useful and informative, but they take being polite too far. I think I do nobody, most of all a detector manufacturers, a service by not pointing out places where improvement can be found. I also cannot stand it when people criticize without offering solutions, and so I practice constructive criticism. I want the manufacturers to know where they can do better and I wish always they would be more responsive. The truth is I and nearly anyone who is given a detector to test rarely influences the main design of the detector, which is 99% set in stone by the time any of us see it.

      Seriously, don't you all wonder why detectors are the way they are and why silly design things happen? It is because when I get a detector to test all they really want to know is if it basically just works. But if I point out that a certain design feature is weak or needs improvement, especially from a physical standpoint, it almost always is ignored. The basic design in done already. Now, you would think then that perhaps the asked for improvement or commentary might get taken into consideration on the next go round, but that never really seems to happen either. It is why after all these years there is still room for new manufacturers to jump in and give people what they want. Which I believe simply is light weight powerful detectors able to tackle multiple tasks that can be updated and modified via software. The idea should be that perfect detector that really can do it all just by pushing a button or flipping a switch.

      I digress. Since I wholeheartedly believe that all detectors have strong points and serve certain purposes well, my goal in testing and comparing detectors is not to declare one a winner and one a loser. My goal is to figure out when I should use one over the other for certain tasks based on the particular strengths of the detector. And then share that with people by trying to best help them get the best out of their detector.

      I will pick on Garrett and Minelab since I have a Garrett ATX and Minelab SDC 2300, both courtesy of those respective manufacturers. Thank you guys and gals at Garrett and Minelab! Now, these detectors are similar, but in my mind they are also totally different. My reports on the ATX are very enthusiastic as are my reports on the SDC 2300. Is that because I am fawning over the detectors to please the manufacturers? Sorry, but in my world it would never occur to me. I find life to be easier when I just say what I think. I really, really like both of these metal detectors. I am a big fan of pulse induction detectors and have been lucky enough to see ground balancing pulse induction detectors slowly grow into a force in the industry. They are rude and crude in some ways but very powerful, and getting more refined all the time.

      The Garrett ATX and Minelab SDC 2300 are both good detectors. One is not better than the other. Both detectors have strengths and weaknesses and can very well serve individuals with slightly different goals and pocketbooks. If I am to do what I see as my job properly it is for me to try and explain where they each excel and to help anyone that owns one or the other get the best out of it. But do I care if you buy one or the other or something else entirely? Nope, not at all.

      Am I afraid if I say the wrong thing Garrett or Minelab might get mad at me and never send me a free detector again? There are things I worry about in life, but that is not one of them. I have no problem telling Garrett publicly I think the ATX weighs too much or Minelab that the SDC 2300 is priced beyond the reach of many people. It just is what it is folks, and trying to pretend otherwise is a game I am not interested in playing. What I really am attempting is to influence the manufacturers in some small way to make the detectors that I want personally. If that benefits anyone else that is nice but ultimately I am being pretty selfish about the whole thing. I am trying to tell the manufacturers what I want and I am trying to get them to listen to me. Being in a position to sway public opinion gives me a stronger hand to play in that regard.

      The bottom line is if I irritate somebody by saying what I think and they decline to send me a detector I want to check out I will just get the silly thing anyway and report on it anyway so in the end it will make no difference at all.

      In that regard I finally worked myself up an interest in the XP DEUS and since they never saw fit to just send me one (and believe it or not I am too shy to ask) I went ahead and bought one at a price few will ever see and have it on the way. The whole thing with several detectors got my interest up on the White's V3i again and so I just bought one on eBay that only has a few hours use and transferable warranty. I suppose I could have tried to wheedle one out of White's but they have been so generous to me over the years that would have been a bit embarrassing for me. Kind of like going out with my hat in hand and asking for a buck, if you know what I mean. So I just got one for what I can sell it for at some point, same difference to me.

      I am not trying to set myself up as some kind of final say in all things metal detecting. I am only one guy with one opinion. I have my own built in bias as to what works best for me doing what I do, and all detectors I look at get seen though that filter. My best advice is to seek out and read multiple reviews of any machine you are interested in on the internet and kind of average them out. Beware the new posters who pop out of nowhere when new machines come out. You can always use forum searches and Google to find out which posters have been around the longest and by reading some of their posts find out if their interests mirror your own. It is kind of like seeking out a movie reviewer who likes the same movies you like.

      Well, again, I apologize for the length of this but I just wanted to get it out there and said so you all know exactly where I am coming from and why I have all these detectors and where I get them and what is in it for me. The bottom line is I love metal detecting in all its aspects and enjoy not only doing it but using the detectors and yakking it up with any and all that are similarly interested. I am very fortunate to have found a passion in life and a little niche where I am happy as the proverbial clam. I can only wish that each and every one of you are half so fortunate as I in that regard. If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and happy hunting!

      If anyone has any questions about any of this that I have not made clear, please just ask. I have nothing to hide and will answer any and all questions as honestly and as clearly as I can. Thanks.

    • By Steve Herschbach
      My main plan this year is to put as many hours as possible on the GPZ 7000. That is definitely job one starting in April. I also will be using the Garrett ATX for in water beach detecting. The ATX will also be used with the 20" coil as an alternative to the GPZ in areas where I want more ground coverage than the GPZ 14 coil provides.
      For hunting gold nuggets or coins in trashy locations I will be leaning on the Nokta FORS Gold and for in town jewelry detecting my White's V3i/Big Foot combo. For 2015 however it does look like the GPZ and ATX will be doing the heavy lifting.
      What about you? What detector or detectors will you be counting on most for 2015?
    • By Steve Herschbach
      I am pretty happy with 2015 looking back so not a whole lot different I plan on doing for 2016. Hopefully more detecting days.
      The main resolution for the new year however is a rule to keep a lid on my detector collection. So in 2016 I am only allowed one model from each of the manufacturers at any one time. And before I can get a replacement the existing one has to get sold first. I worked on getting there this year and ended the year where I need to be. The CTX sale (thanks Rob!) at the last second got me to my goal.
      Fisher F75 Ltd2
      Garrett ATX
      Makro Gold Racer
      Minelab GPZ 7000
      Nokta FORS Gold+
      White's V3i
      XP DEUS
      Out of those I am going to sell the Nokta FORS Gold+ soon as being extraneous to my needs and will wait for the Nokta Impact instead. The F75 I may replace with the F19 or maybe just wait for whatever it is new that Fisher has cooking right now. So my core units starting out for 2016 are the ATX, Gold Racer, GPZ 7000, V3i, and Deus.
      I can't honestly say I NEED even this many detectors, but part of the game for me is checking out what new stuff comes along. This rule lets me keep doing that but will prevent me going crazy and loading up with stuff I really do not need. After all, I can only use one at a time, and there is only so much time in every year to go detecting. In any given year just two or three of my detectors see any serious hours of use.
      I would be happy to do as well on jewelry and gold nuggets in 2016 as I did in 2015 so the only area I want to focus on a bit more is putting myself on sites where gold coins might be found. Another reason why I got another Deus - for hunting old camps and other habitations from days of old.
    • By Steve Herschbach
      A week ago I started an informal survey on seven US metal detecting oriented prospecting forums including this one. The survey here is at http://www.detectorprospector.com/forum/topic/1244-if-you-found-a-gold-nugget-in-the-last-year-what-detectors-did-you-find-it-with/
      This is what got posted on all the forums. I have been compiling results all evening and it is after midnight so I am calling it a night. However, I will release additional details on this forum, probably tomorrow morning. I would like to post a screenshot of the entire spreadsheet if I can figure out how to get it all on screen at once. Or I may just post a copy of the spreadsheet in the download area for forum members to access.
      I am proud to say that fully half the responses were on this forum alone, with the other six making up the remainder. There are a lot of active nugget hunters on this forum.
      The survey was not meant to prove anything per se. I was basically just curious to see what the detectors were that were employed to actually find gold nuggets in the last year.
      The survey has many shortcomings. It only polls people who were on the US forums in the last week who cared to respond. The forums have tended as a whole to be Minelab oriented and so it is not surprising results might skew in that direction. Still, I got a large number of responses and so some conclusions can be drawn.
      I eliminated duplicate and joke responses. I eliminated a couple borrowed units. It was winnowed down to just detectors that found gold for their owners in the last year. Everything else was pretty straight forward. The only thing of note is I put a couple Gold Bug SE responses under the Gold Bug Pro because they are basically the same detector. The SE was just a precursor model. Everything was compiled on a spreadsheet and totaled.
      114 people responded as having used 220 detectors to find gold nuggets. That is an average of a couple detectors per person but the reality is a lot of people owned three detectors, and then quite a few just one detector. In general you could say many nugget hunters own a couple PI detectors (or a PI and a GPZ) plus a good VLF detector. If you really want to generalize things your could say people own a couple Minelab PI type detectors and a Fisher VLF. The Gold Bug 2 and the Gold Bug Pro were the runaway favorites in the VLF category.
      Tesoro is conspicuous in their absence. Only one Lobo ST listed. I was a bit surprised to see not one Garrett AT Gold listed. Except for a few ATX units Garrett is pretty much a no-show. White's does a little bit better but still only just over a dozen units out of 220. The TDI PI models are the most popular alternative to the Minelabs with 8 listed.
      As I noted Fisher totally dominates the VLF detectors with the Gold Bug 2 and Gold Bug Pro. And I was surprised at the very large numbers for both the SDC2300 and GPZ7000. The GPZ in particular due to it being very expensive and out for only the last 6 months. The adoption rate is phenomenal in my opinion.
      Here are two sets of results. The first is simplified for easy digestion. I have lumped similar models together and not listed onesies and twosies. The second list is the full per model breakdown. Make of it what you will, and thank you for participating!
      Simplified Results:
      51 GPX5000/4500/4000
      33 GPZ7000
      33 SDC2300
      32 Gold Bug 2
      15 Gold Bug Pro
      13 GP3500/3000/GPExtreme
      8   White's TDI/TDIPro/TDISL/SPP
      5   White's GMT/GM3/VSAT
      5   Nokta FORS Gold
      4   Makro Racer
      4   X-Terra 705
      3   Garrett ATX
      3   XP DEUS
      Full Results:
      33 GPZ7000
      33 SDC 2300
      32 Gold Bug 2
      31 GPX5000
      15 Gold Bug Pro
      11 GPX4500
      9   GPX4000
      6   GP3000
      5   GPExtreme
      5   FORS Gold
      4   Makro Racer
      4   X-Terra 705
      3   Garrett ATX
      3   White's GMT
      3   White's TDI
      3   TDI Pro
      3   XP DEUS
      2   GP3500
      2   Fisher F19
      2   CTX3030
      1   TDI SL
      1   White's SPP
      1   Troy X5
      1   XT17000
      1   SD2200V2
      1   SD2100V2
      1   Tesoro Lobo ST
      1   White's GM3
      1   White's V/SAT
      1   Minelab F1A4
      1   Garrett Scorpion
    • By Danny
      Hi everyone , I'm new to prospecting and already addicted after 2 months .                                         I was lucky enough to meet an old timer who has been prospecting for most of his life but is to old to go out these days , so instead refurbishes old detectors . I picked up a sovereign gt and an old a2b gold hunter . To cut a long story short mike (old timer) had his whole yard set up for detecting in highly mineralised soils to trashy beach conditions . I learnt a lot in the several occasions I have been there as mike has pumped as much knowledge as he could into me. I've learnt how to use both machines well and found some great treasures with both machines . As with any hobby I purchased an sdc2300 , good machine in mineral soils and hard hit areas .                                             Problem: looking for an all purpose machine , I got pulled into the hype surrounding whites mx sport and sold my sdc2300 ( In addition I sold the sdc as my wife found out the price and threatened divorce) and put my a2b in my mancave in a glass cabinet next to my sporting memorabilia. So down to the sovereign gt , I have ordered a nel attack coil for it , which will slightly improve performance I'm told .                             So I need a gold detector and an all rounder to complement the sovereign get : anyone with advice - I'm thinking between the deus, gpx5000( price is so high though) garrett at pro and whites mxt. 
    • By Steve Herschbach
      I have been trying to consolidate my detector collection the last couple years to conform to my new reality of life in Reno. Lots of detectors have gone away, but new ones keep sneaking in as I fine tune the mix. I am making progress though.
      1. The GPZ 7000 - this detector got the most detecting time last year and found nearly all the gold that matters. Lots of people have issues with the GPZ 7000 but I get along really well with mine. It works and works well and for me it is a joy to use. I have no doubt most of my detecting hours this year will be with the GPZ. It will not go away until Minelab pulls the next rabbit out of their hat. My main nugget hunting unit.
      2. Garrett ATX - if I am in the water with a mask and snorkel it will most likely be with the ATX. It performs well at places with intense mineralization like Hawaii or Lake Tahoe. It is bullet proof and folds up nicely for travel. I also can cherry pick coins fairly well with it and so it gets a bit of park use. In theory it can handle hot rocks that would trouble my GPZ but so far I have not found a place where I have had to resort to that. Even if Garrett came out with a light dry land version I would keep this machine as my primary water hunting unit.
      3. Makro Gold Racer - Goes where my GPZ goes. It can find tiny gold my GPZ can't find and so is a good specimen hunter and bedrock sniper. If the ferrous trash gets too thick for the GPZ, I am getting out the GR. I have only done it once so far but I was thoroughly impressed with the 15" x 13" DD coil on this machine and it would be my choice for hunting big cobble piles or other tailing piles where large deep junk is lurking. It is rapidly becoming a favorite for hunting jewelry. The Gold Racer is the highest frequency machine sporting adjustable discrimination and a target VDI and I have yet to fully explore its potential. My main VLF nugget detector and a sleeper for jewelry detecting.
      4. White's DFX / Bigfoot Combo - this is more about the coil than the detector. The Bigfoot is unique in its ability to skim large areas like sports fields for shallow targets. I use a pinpointer and screwdriver only; the name of the game here is quick recovery of lots of targets. I run the DFX in 15 kHz un-normalized mode which expands the low conductive VDI range and run in full tones. All this combined with the DFX Signagraph display is a superb jewelry hunting combo. I have used the MXT with this Bigfoot and gave the V3i several tries but the DFX finally won out. The V3i is appealing but ultimately overkill. I thought the MX Sport might have a shot with its 20 tones at replacing the DFX with the bonus of my getting a VLF water hunter, but I am pretty doubtful of that now. Regardless, the Bigfoot goes nowhere, only the detector attached to it might change. My main dry land jewelry unit but the Gold Racer is challenging it lately.
      That is the core units and they account for most of my detecting needs. What is missing there is a good deep silver machine for parks and yards, a good machine for extremely trashy old camp or cabin sites, and a waterproof machine with discrimination. One machine might do all that but I may settle for two, putting the full collection at no more than six units. I expect to be there by the end of the year. Current units in play...
      1. Latest version Minelab CTX 3030. I sold my last one when the warranty expired. I honestly was thinking that since it has been over three years that a CTX 4040 might appear this year. I would like a better display, faster processor, and one more programmable target bin (split the ferrous). What we got instead was a minor 3030 update with better battery seal and locking armrest. I have one ordered and expect it soon. This machine can hunt the deep silver, hunt the old sites, and is waterproof. There is a high probability it takes position five in my permanent collection and there may be no need for a sixth.
      2. XP Deus waiting on V4 update. Pretty much the top iron hunter at this time, and the ability to run 40 kHz intrigues me. The idea there for me was nugget hunting but I have a hard time thinking it can knock out the Gold Racer. I doubt there is a better iron unlocker, but truth is I do not do a lot of that. And the Deus fans will never convince me that buying a $500 smart coil is great when all I need is a cheap wired dumb coil. Fabulous machine though and very fun to use so who knows. It has a shot at the optional position six, which may just be for machines that come and go.
      3. Makro Racer 2 - a really great all around detector. The main problem I am seeing is it overlaps so much with various specialty machines I also have. On the plus side it gives the Deus a serious run for the money and right this second if I had to keep one it would be the R2 due to my personal preference for the way it goes about doing things. That is not really fair though and I have lots of time yet to put on both units. The Deus V4 update with smaller coil could be a game changer.
      4. MX Sport - this machine had a shot at being a waterproof VLF that could hunt deep silver and thick ferrous trash plus maybe replace the DFX. Multiple possibilities. First impression did not go well but I am trying to put that aside and see how round two goes. Now that I have a CTX coming things just got tougher for the MXS.
      5. Nokta Impact - I am liking the thought of a selectable frequency machine that could replace at least two other machines. The Impact has just been revealed as having planned but not set in stone selectable frequencies of 4, 14, and 21 kHz. Given that it will no doubt borrow much from what is learned with the Racer 2 and my preference for wired coils this machine could replace both the Racer 2 and Deus in this shootout. All three should be playing together before the end of the year. I am drifting towards the idea of machine number 5 being a true multi frequency unit (CTX) and machine number 6 being a selectable frequency unit (Deus or Impact or ?). Selectable frequency is an underserved detector category at this time that I see as providing a marketing edge against the huge number of single frequency machines on the market so I expect we will see more of them going forward.
      6. Fisher CZX? White's Half Sine or Constant Current? Possible wild cards are coming but I do not make plans around stuff like that. We will see them when we see them and other than rumors nothing appears imminent.
      Anyway, just a ramble, nothing more. Kind of gelling my own thoughts about where I am heading I guess. Everyone has to make their own choices for their own budgets and detecting needs. In my case it may seem like a lot of bucks wrapped up in detectors but people that know me know that I am otherwise quite the frugal freddy. Detecting is my passion and I forgo other things to spoil myself there. And the fact is they do pay for themselves - not many big boy toys have that possibility. Swinging a golf club is a money pit - I would rather swing a detector!
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