By Steve Herschbach
Our cup runneth over!
Just a few years ago the market for "over 30 kHz nugget detectors" was quite limited. For a long time there were only a few options:
Fisher Gold Bug 2 (71 kHz) $764 with one coil
Minelab Eureka Gold (6.4, 20, & 60 kHz) Discontinued $1049 when new with one coil
White's GMZ (50 kHz) Discontinued $499 when new with one coil
White's GMT (48 khz) $729 with one coil
Things were that way for over a decade. Then in 2015 Makro introduced the Gold Racer (56 kHz) $599 with one coil. Sister company Nokta released the AU Gold Finder (56 kHz) $799 with two coils
Then in 2017 we see the Minelab Gold Monster 1000 (45 khz) at $799 with two coils. And although not a dedicated nugget detector, the Deus high frequency coil options (up to 80 kHz) were also released, $1520 for complete detector with one HF coil.
Now in 2018 we get another general purpose machine, the Equinox 800, that can hit 40 khz, $899 with one coil. And just announced...
the Makro Gold Kruzer (61 kHz) $749 with two coils and
the White's Goldmaster 24K (48 khz) $749 with two coils
These last two announcements have made barely a ripple in the prospecting world, or at least going by other forums that seems to be the case. There are various reason for that (forums not being prospecting oriented or being Minelab centric) but still the lack of buzz is interesting. I do believe people are both burned out by all the new introductions and that the market is saturated with high frequency models. Leaving out the general purpose machines to sum up the current options it looks like the current "sweet spot" for pricing is a high frequency model at $749 with two coils.
Makro Gold Racer 56 kHz - $599 one coil
White's Goldmaster 24K 48 kHz - $649 one coil
White's GMT 48 khz - $729 one coil
White's Goldmaster 24K 48 kHz - $749 two coils
Makro Gold Kruzer 61 kHz - $749 two coils
Fisher Gold Bug 2 71 kHz - $764 one coil
Minelab Gold Monster 1000 45 kHz - $799 two coils
Nokta AU Gold Finder 56 kHz - $799 two coils
High Frequency Gold Nugget Detector Roundup
Hi, I am looking to purchase a gold finding metal detector that can handle mineralized soil well, but also locates smaller gold. I live in southern Nevada and it seems that the more I read, the more confused I am getting. I guess I'm looking for a detector that does well with tiny and larger gold. I had the Gold Bug 2 for a while and it was way too sensitive for me and not rain-proof. The Makro Gold Kruzer, The Gold Monster and others on that level are all within my price range, so I am having trouble making a decision. I understand that the right detector for someone may not be the right detector for someone else, but I do believe the right input is valuable. I haven't seen any head to head videos using the Gold Kruzer yet (still too new) but it looks promising so far. The reviews of these detectors are great, but nothing beats real world testing under various conditions and soil types. I am not one for air testing due to it's controlled nature, so the confusion grows. I know many of these detectors can locate tiny gold due to their higher kHz, but there is a trade off. I appreciate any suggestions. Thank you, Mike
By Steve Herschbach
I have used many metal detectors over the years, and right now I have to say that the new Makro Racer 2 has perhaps the easiest to understand, best laid out, most practical display and menu system I have ever seen in a top end detector. Now, you can sure say you hunt by ear and do not need a screen and I get that, but if we are going to put a screen on a detector, then let's do it right.
Simple detectors with few functions are easy to make screens for - there is not much you need. But even then just the basics are often wrong. Machines that feature target id numbers, what is the thing you will most look at on screen? The target id numbers! Yet these are often way too small or off to the side as if an afterthought.
The Makro Racer 2 id numbers are huge, much larger than on the original Racer and Gold Racer, which are already good sized. The number 88 display in the diagram above is fully 1.5" x 1.5" in size in real life. Other machines have some pretty big numbers but I think this sets a record as I can't think of any machine with larger id numbers on screen though some are close.
Makro Racer 2 LCD display and controls
Makro Racer 2 screen layout
Makro Racer 2 screen and control descriptions
The number can be the ground balance number, target id, or depth reading. You get a text display just above the number confirming which it is. Below the numbers are three zone references, Fe, Gold/Non-FE, and Non-Fe, that are used to set tone breaks and audio for the three main zones or bins as they are sometimes called.
Another basic feature lacking on a lot of machines - the meter backlight. With the Racer 2 you get off, intermittent, or full time backlighting, and it includes the translucent red control buttons. The control ranges between 0-5 and C1-C5. At 0 level, the keypad and display backlight are off. When set between 1-5, they light up only for a short period of time when a target is detected or while navigating the menu and then it goes off. At C1-C5 levels, the keypad and display will light up constantly. I do not know of anyone doing a better backlight.
The right side of the meter is informational - ground phase (ground balance number), mineral % (ground magnetite content), coil warning notices, and a six segment battery meter.
Across the top below the 0 - 99 reference sticker, is a series of 50 "bullets" each of which covers 2 target id numbers. Open bullets (which appear gray in the diagram but are invisible in real life - see top photo) indicate accepted target id numbers. Blacked out segments show what discrimination and notch setting you have programmed in a single quick glance. When a target is detected, the big number on the display will be mirrored by one or more of the bullets flashing dark.
The four control buttons are simple as can be - up and down takes you through the left hand menu area. Right or left lets you set each function selected by going up and down. The menu is basically the entire feature list just laid out right there for you to see. You want to know what this machine can do, just look at the screen. Most other machines you have no clue without reading the owners manual or at least pushing buttons to see what functions appear.
Some settings like the backlight are system wide for all modes. All other settings like Gain are independent in each mode, and can be saved independently in each mode. This means you can play neat tricks like setting up a couple modes with dramatically different settings and then flip back and forth easily between two modes for target checking.
You even get to decide what mode is the default start up mode. The Racer 2 starts up in the last mode where the save function was performed. If you always want to start in Beach mode, just modify and save something in Beach mode. Next time you start the detector, you will be in Beach mode.
It is simple. It makes sense. No cryptic abbreviations or acronyms. No sub menus. It is, in metal detector terms, a work of art. Whoever designed this should sign it so I can frame it and hang it on my wall.
By Steve Herschbach
First Texas (Bounty Hunter, Fisher, Teknetics) - last new models Fisher F75+ and Teknetics T2+. Next up a new pulse induction (PI) beach detector. A new digital multifrequency to replace the Fisher CZ3D is long overdue but at this rate we will be lucky to just see the PI before the end of the year.
Garrett - last new model the AT Max. Hard to believe the flagship GTI 2500 has been around since 1999 with no updates. Garrett so far has shown no interest in multifrequency. The most I was hoping for was a lightweight dry land version of the ATX, but so far no sign of that happening either. I doubt we will see anything else from Garrett this year but they could surprise.
Makro - last new models the Multi Kruzer and Gold Kruzer. Makro has mastered single frequency so everyone would like to see what they can do with multifrequency or pulse induction. I expect Makro is done with new models for the year.
Minelab - last new models Equinox 600 and 800. I have no idea what’s up next for detectors but I sure would like to see that small coil for my GPZ 7000. I really don’t expect anything new for the rest of the year besides Equinox accessories.
Nokta - sister company to Makro. Last new detector the Nokta Impact. I actually bet on a PI under the Nokta brand rather than Makro brand simply because the Nokta housings like the new Impact housing would better contain a high power PI.
Tesoro - Who? What?
White’s - last new models the MX7 and TDI SL Special Edition plus the just announced Goldmaster 24K. Hopefully that new tech will eventually see the light. Right now just getting the 24K out the door is job one.
XP - last new products the HF coils for the Deus, with X35 coils due by end of year.