By Steve Herschbach
I was on the development team for both the Minelab GPZ 7000 and GPX 6000 detectors. I’m also a well traveled detectorist, familiar with the type of gold and ground conditions commonly encountered in the U.S. There are questions about how these two detectors compare, and I think I am ready to make some recommendations for U.S. prospectors. I make zero claims about these opinions applying to Australia or anywhere else. This is just my take on the current situation on the ground in the U.S. as regards these two metal detectors. This commentary is aimed specifically at a person considering both models, never having owned either one. You want to step up from what you have, to either the Minelab GPX 6000 for US$5999, or the GPZ 7000 for US$7999. What do you get for the extra $2000, and is it worth it?
Famed detectorist Lunk was in the area, and gave me a yell a few days ago. We met for a couple days of GPX and GPZ hunting. I’ve never hunted with Lunk, and wanted to, as I admire his detecting skills. He of course wanted to see the 6000, so we got together to do a little testing, and to compare thoughts.
The reality of nugget detecting in the U.S. is that we are on the tail end of the electronic gold rush. We never had the quantities of very large nuggets that Australia had, and many locations are nothing but small gold. People do not like to hear it, but the bigger the gold, the easier it is to find. The larger it is, the faster it goes away. Each nugget detected is one less to find, and anyone who has worked the goldfields for many years knows the patches are playing out. The determined detectorist can always find gold, but finding large nuggets, or large quantities of gold, is an ever more difficult task.
The technology is mature, with gains there hard won, and usually only on a certain class of gold, like specimen gold. The technology to find large, solid lumps of gold, is not improving as fast as the nuggets are depleting. Ultimately the geology rules, and the U.S. has many shallow placers that do not extend to depth. In the areas I hunt, gold is found down to, and on top of the caliche layer. The old timers and more recently bulldozer scrapes show that more often than not, gold does not extend at depth. A deeper detecting machine offers no real benefit in the expectation of super deep, large nuggets.
In my opinion, straight out of the box, the GPX 6000 is the better choice for most people in the U.S. who are considering the two detectors. The GPX 6000 simply does a better job without modification, on bread and butter, 2 gram and smaller gold. On larger stuff, the GPX 6000 will almost always hit the same gold the GPZ 7000 will find. I no longer recommend the GPZ 7000 to anyone but the most committed power users. Literally, the people who must have the most power obtainable. To actually make this happen, you will need not just a GPZ 7000, but some aftermarket coils for it to really get the full potential out of the machine. If you are that person, budgeting $10K for a GPZ 7000 and a couple accessory coils is not crazy, or out of the question. If you want to get the most power you can buy, go GPZ 7000. If you are convinced large multi ounce nuggets teams in at depth, and you want to get them, a GPZ with some aftermarket coils is probably your best bet.
0.037 gram bit, decent signal, not surface
I argue however that for anyone else, anyone else but the most committed power users, that the GPX 6000 is the better choice. I’ve said I have no issue hunting with GPZ owners as a 6000 user. I’ll now go a step farther, and say that as far as I am concerned, stock detector to stock detector.... I think I have the edge on the GPZ user for finding gold in the U.S.
The GPX 6000 out of box will clearly and easily hit small gold targets the GPZ 7000 misses entirely, with performance more like GPZ users experience when running a small aftermarket coil. The GPZ can match or exceed the 6000 on small gold with the use of the aftermarket coils, but you have to invest even deeper than the already large $2000 differential. The GPX 6000 with the 11” mono is close to Gold Monster sensitivity, though a smaller coil is needed to really make that obvious.
Further, the 6000, even without the DD coil, handles salt ground better than the GPZ 7000. Finally, the 17” mono can be added to the 6000 and still be under the price of the GPZ 7000, so you have a three coil machine for less than the single coil GPZ costs. The 17” mono is almost as hot on small gold as the 11” mono, while giving excellent depth on the larger stuff. It's light weight, and small gold capability, make this a near perfect patch hunting coil.
To sum up, if dropped on random locations in the United States, and I have to go with one of these machines, and my buddy gets the one I do not choose... he can have the stock 7000, I’ll take the 6000. I honestly think it’s my better choice for getting the most gold signals out of the majority U.S. ground.
Just my opinion, and feel free to argue otherwise. But from what I saw the last couple days, I have nothing to fear from going head to head with GPZ operators in U.S. ground. If anything, I think I have the edge. Toss in aftermarket coils and that changes, but stick to stock, I’ll choose GPX 6000 every time, not just for ergonomics, but for actual performance. If the gold in the photo below is your bread and butter, the GPX 6000 is a great way to go.
GPX 6000 Initial Report
Full manual sensitivity with threshold, low mineral setting, external speaker employed (no headphones):
5.68 grams added to 6000 running total, 27.26 grams
Minelab GPX 6000 Data & Reviews
Minelab GPX 6000 Accessories and Spare Parts
Minelab GPX 6000 Owner’s Manual
By Steve Herschbach
Out detecting with mates and took the opportunity to have a play with the new GPX 6000, and matched it against the older GPX 5000. Not a like for like comparison as the 5000 had a 12 x 8" Evo coil on it, but the results were interesting anyway....
A bit of a 'non-scientific' test of the two machines, to see how the new GPX 6000 performs. Done using two small nuggets and a sliding rod.. bit of fun!
It’s exciting when a new detector emerges, none more so than a new top notch gold getting machine from Minelab and the new GPX 6000 is as exciting as it gets. Just a little reminder about the virtues of the GPZ/14” an older brother he may be a little thick in the middle but this heavyweight can still sniff out a few crumbs in the pounded terrain in the desert of Gold Basin Arizona, from a few recent hunts.
I am starting this thread to ask the folks who have used both to give their thoughts, opinions, comparisons and experiences with both. I have only seen JP and Rob post on the Nugget Finder coil and have only seen it in action on the Outback Gold Fever Channel. We all know that the 6000 blows away any competition with weight and ergonomics, but would still like to know if it gets any closer to this with Z and the 12”.
Performance wise is really what I am after and these two sizes are only an inch apart, but 2 different techs. I am on the fence, do I buy a new coil for my Z or sell/save for a 6000? I am truly in the middle on this based on my terrain, age and gold I am after.
My terrain: is the woods and broad gulches. There is always overburden and vegetation so I need the power to bust through that to get to the start of the bedrock erosional surface and hopefully close bedrock. However, wearing a harness does not work and is cumbersome for detecting in this environment, its never flat so you never feel the help from a bungy, its pointless for this area.
My age: is 45 and I can go about 5-6 hours max before being whipped, thats not just from detecting but digging and hiking in and out too, so I know as age goes on the hours will be less but new tech could come out too.
My gold: is sub grammers, that is the majority. We have hit larger pieces but the bread and butter is sub grammers and the Z is getting them through all that overburden but I am not sure if the GPX6000 would.
So my “dream” detector would be ZVT tech in a compactable SDC form with interchangable coils, light and ergonomic. Is that to hard to ask? 😂😂😂😂
So, in the interim, it’s either a lighter coil for the GPZ that supposedly is more sensitive and can get a little deeper and reduce the weight for non bungy users OR a new detector that is lighter, that is also more sensitive at least on surface gold, that we have seen so far, but has the possibility as more reviews come out to see if you can actually hit small gold at depth like a GPZ. Can’t have both, the coil I could afford, The GPX would require selling off the Z. I also don’t have the ability to drive to the closest dealer that would have both in AZ. Thats a two day drive one way. So please, if you may, would love feedback on this vs the two. In the end it sure helps me out and probably many others too. Thanks!
Well I'm laying over in northern Nevada for some detecting before heading back to Idaho and my summer job, and decided to go revisit an old dink patch with the GPZ 7000 this afternoon. Since I've hit this place pretty hard, I figured I better use a higher sensitivity setting to see if it would light up some bits that were missed last time using a lower sensitivity that helped keep the alkali rich ground feedback under control. Needless to say, I had to move the coil painfully slow over the really noisy areas, but the extra sensitivity started working its magic right away, as I got a faint but repeatable little wobble. Digging down about 3 inches or so revealed the first little bit of yellow. 🙂
Soon there was another signal a few yards upslope; another shiny golden bit, this time a little deeper.
I couldn't help but wonder at this point how much deeper the new GPX 6000 will be able to snag dinks like these, and how many the Zed is leaving behind. 🤔 Guess I'll find out when I finally get mine. Just then I was awakened from my wonderings by a sharp response from the Zed; sounding pretty shallow, the tiny target was out from under a bush with just a boot scrape. And I mean tiny!
One more golden goodie sitting on bedrock ended a splendid, sunny afternoon in the goldfields.
Total weight of todays finds, zero point six of a gram.
Good luck out there!