Jump to content

Recommendation On Locations And Multiple Detectors?

Recommended Posts

My apologies in advance for asking so many questions in one post.

Two of us in Alabama are planning to drive west in October or November to go prospecting / nugget shooting for the first time. We plan to devote a solid 2 to 4 weeks to learning to find nuggets and placer deposits. Priority will be on shooting nuggets with metal detectors and experimenting with ground penetrating radar. 

What locations or regions should we hit? Northern Nevada seems favored by various blogs and the BLM claim data.

Which two or three detectors should we buy given about $3000 to put towards detectors? Would it be better to get three detectors (one as a spare) or put more money into two better detectors?

Steve's guides are the best resource I've seen and suggest the following detectors:

Fischer Gold Bug Pro
White's MXT or GMT
Minelab X-Terra 705
Used Minelab GP 3000/3500 or GPX 4000/4500

Is interference a concern because two of us will be operating simultaneously? Or should we plan to operate some distance away from each other?

Thank you!!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just have to ask.... have either of you any experience at all with detectors?


If not, you should get some long before you come West. (even relic or coin experience would be a great help)


It takes some people months if not years to learn their detector and find their first nugget.


It may take some time to find an area that is not claimed or private to detect also.


My suggestion before you buy anything, contact someone like Arizona Outback Prospection(one that comes to mind) which sells detectors and gives "on ground" instructions on how to use them and get their suggestions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just curious. Ground penetrating radar? Are you looking for gold using ground penetrating radar? If so, invest less money there and more in better detectors.

Your questions are simple but basically cover the entire field of gold prospecting. Where to go and what to use? Entire books can and have been written on the subject. The questions have been asked a thousand times on dozens of forums and answered with every opinion imaginable. There are no definitive answers because there are so many ways to approach the subject.

Being new, sad to say, just making your trip and finding just one nugget each is going to be a challenge for you and you friend. Problem number one? The maybe 100 hours of use it takes to become reasonably proficient with a metal detector. You may just start getting the hang of it when you run out of time.

You really do not have a ton of time to play with. I can spend weeks at a single location, in fact just spent two months detecting on a single creek and could go back and hunt there for years. So you really only need to find one or two locations to focus on.

I am in northern Nevada, new to the area, but I think Northern California offers me better opportunities so am concentrating there. But when it gets cooler I will shift to northern Nevada, then follow the weather south, ending up in Arizona this winter. There are opportunities everywhere.

If you hit a known location, say Rye Patch, you have the benefit of knowing gold has been found there. Apply yourself, you can find a nugget. If you do blue sky prospecting in unknown areas you have to expect to find nothing but if you do score the payoff can be much larger. Best best is to initially try and get into a known productive area.

You can find gold with any good detector if you know what you are doing. I would go with a GPX 5000 and Gold Bug 2. Since your budget is limited substitute whatever used Minelab will replace the GPX 5000. If new with warranty is the goal a Garrett ATX and Gold Bug 2 would do the trick.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve & LipCa,

Thank you for the detector recommendations. Sounds like the GPX 5000 or its predecessors are the best detectors to invest one's time learning. Which predecessors of the GPX 5000 could best transfer learned-skill to the 5000? The 4000/4500? What about earlier models?

You're both absolutely right. We basically have zero experience with metal detectors. But we're willing to spend time and money learning, hopefully with good detectors in a good location. I did become effective with several detectors as a child in the late 1980s for coin and relic hunting. And I bring decent experience in geospatial software, 3D sensing, signal processing and general RF work.

Has anyone published a list of locations to hunt for nuggets? Maybe even a list of geographic coordinates? I can analyze that with DTED and BLM claim data, pick out some patterns and maybe narrow down the list.  

This GPR is for indirect detection. Characterize the mineral content and layering rather than find nuggets directly. Its also fully experimental (don't mind if it fails), and quite inexpensive (less than $2000 total investment so far). While GPR will have excellent ground penetration, the discrimination challenge will be much harder versus a metal detector. Smooth rocks and conductive minerals will have similar radar cross section. I have no doubt that modern metal detectors are impossible to beat for direct detection. Its possible GPR might be capable of direct detection and discrimination of nuggets. But that would require a contrast mechanism other than basic radar cross section.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  I would recommend something in the way of the ATX or SDC. They are far easier to use, perform very well and cost less than the 5000. With your limited experiance using detectors, these would be far less intimidating. You also get the added water proofing and compactness for easy transport, and ease of operation. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have owned each Minelab PI model in order and never regretted each upgrade. Each is better than the last, even if only by a tiny amount. They are in order:

SD 2000

SD 2100 (or SD 2100v2)

SD 2200 (or SD 2200v2)

GP Extreme

GP 3000

GP 3500

GPX 4000

GPX 4500

GPX 4800

GPX 5000

Details at Steve's Guide to the Differences Between the Minelab SD, GP, and GPX Detectors Start with the GPX 5000 and work backwards until you can find what you can afford. In a nutshell they all excel at finding large nuggets at depth. The newer the model, the more options for handling difficult ground and the better the small gold capability. Coils are compatible on all models. GP 3500 and earlier use a different battery and battery cable than the GPX 4000 and newer. The only model I would avoid is the SD 2000 as it is now considered obsolete and will not be serviced by Minelab http://www.minelab.com/gold-mining/customer-care/obsolete

Locations? That is easy. Go to http://mrdata.usgs.gov/mrds/map.html# and click gold on the left. Zoom and choose location details. This is historical geologic data only, and so ground may be private, parks, claimed, etc. Finding where the gold is really is not so hard. Getting legal access is actually the biggest issue and one that can be a research nightmare. Alaska is the only state that has a relatively simple and up-to-date interactive land status mapping system. I use a combination of ONXMAPS http://www.huntinggpsmaps.com/ and Minecache http://www.minecache.com/ to at least get aimed in the right direction. Between the two I can stay off private property (ONXMAPS) and determine what sections are void of claims (Minecache). The problem with Minecache is figuring out exactly where claims are located within a section, or in dealing with claims only filed at the recorder office level. That would be recent filings, normally within last 90 days.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

GPR for location nuggets???  Man, if you find one, you'll be rich because it will probably have to be many pounds(which is not very large in volume) in size to be visible..


Again, as Steve said, not trespassing on someone else is going to be a challenge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve, thanks for the USGS link. The mine location data is probably more useful than the BLS claim data I've been working with.


I will let you know how the GPR works. It can already detect pieces of aluminum foil. Still lots of work to do. Even my homemade PI detector could detect small pieces of aluminum. 


LipCa: even if a GPR was limited to targets weighing over a pound (which it wouldn't be), I could still mount it on a truck and survey tens of square miles per day. A suitable radar antenna can achieve a decent stand-off distance and possibly a 10 cm to a meter penetration through ground, depending on the ground type and frequency. A metal detector has a field strength that rapidly decays away from the coil. Enlarging a metal detector coil to achieve greater depth increases the necessary target size. Radar works by very different rules. 


Based on this video:


the Garrett ATX appears to match or slightly outperform the GPX 5000. Is there anything wrong with this comparison? Looks like this was done with both detectors on default settings. Probably the GPX 5000 can be optimized by a skilled user.


EDIT: Just found Steve's review here: http://www.detectorprospector.com/forum/topic/160-garrett-atx-vs-minelab-gpx-5000/


The ATX looks like a winner for me. I would indeed use the underwater capability. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nothing wrong with the comparison per se, just more in what it leaves out. As you say, the GPX can do better in skilled hands, and certainly nothing matches it for overall performance in a wide range of ground conditions. If you go back you will see I recommended the ATX as an alternative if you want new with warranty and want to stay in the $3000 for two detectors range. Which I see Ken seconded.


If I had to get a PI to nugget hunt and was prohibited from getting a Minelab the Garrett ATX is what I would get. Most of my caveats regarding the machine for nugget detecting have more to do with ergonomics than capability. I would be happy to give up a little Minelab edge and go Garrett if they would just stuff the ATX in a 3.9 lb box instead of the 6.9 lbs it is currently saddled with.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  I would in no way say the ATX performs at the same level as a GPX5000. The ATX is a very good detector for what it is designed to do, Be a waterproof, portable easy to pack detector that has very good sensitivity to small gold, and works very well in hot ground.

For most people, the ATX will be all the detector they need, For those that want the biggest baddest detector, with the most performance currently offered then its the GPX5000. 

Steve has used the SDC, ATX, and the GPX, and has alot of info on all three posted here and on many other forums that makes for some very informative reading, and he knows what he is talking about and explains it in terms we can all understand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Steve Herschbach changed the title to Recommendation On Locations And Multiple Detectors?

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Similar Content

    • By Lachie
      I already have a V440, GF 66 and a GM1000. I am getting too old to be digging all day and would rather walk in preference to digging. Thus I prefer sites where it is lesser known so it has not been worked to death. I don't dig beyond 6in and work on the principle that the old timers the old have missed the eluvial and alluvial that was lying just below the surface. Also the fact that not many have hunted there. Anyway that's my rationale for gentlemenly prospecting. After waffled on above what are your thoughts on the best detector that will find gold larger than 1 gm down to 6ins ie not interested in the tiny pieces .Also can find coins etc if possible. I am not interested in 2300,7000 etc as they are well outside my price range. If you have any suggestions I would appreciate it thanks.
    • By NV-OR-ID-CAL-AU
      Hello all,
      My name is Ron and I'm new to the forum and have been learning a lot from it's members and really appreciate all the time everyone puts into this forum, some really great information comes from this forum.
      I'm in the market for an upgrade from my current detectors and am trying to decide on which would be the best detector for the worst case scenario as I have currently been detecting in the Siskiyou's serpentine gold belt (pretty much to hot for VLF's) and this gold belt also contains a very large amount of trash. The Equinox 800, Gold Bug 2, Garrett AT Gold have not been able to handle the mineralization of this ground very well. I have not tried any other VLF’s here though.
      I usually rely on my Minelab Pulse Induction unit in this ground and use the iron disc. to save probably 75% of my time from digging unnecessary holes. I'm still interested in owing a top of the line VLF due to I detect mine dumps in the backcountry of Idaho, Nevada, and eastern Oregon where the trash is less abundant and the ground is not so mineralized even though it is usually steep and rugged (great VLF areas). 
      After reading several posts on this forum I have narrowed my research of VLF metal detectors to the Equinox 800, Gold Monster, X-tera 705 Gold Pack, Nokta/Makro Gold Kruzer or AU Gold Finder, White's 24K or MXT, or a second back-up Gold Bug 2. I am really looking for the machine that can handle the hottest ground and has the sharpest sound on small and deep gold. Although no detector is a do it all machine I'm hoping the one that can handle the hot ground the best should be able to excel with better iron/disc. and target separation regardless of it being a multi-purpose detector or gold only detector, my assumption only. Does the frequency of detectors change their ability to handle hot ground like Australia. Has anyone tried these detectors in highly minenalized ground with any good results?
      For Pulse Induction I'm narrowing my research to the GPX 6000 and/or GPZ 7000 both non disc. units for a great option for Idaho, eastern Oregon, and Nevada were there is less lead and iron trash present. For these Siskiyou's trash sites I'm looking at the GP/GPX series with iron/disc. Garrett ATX, Fisher Impulse Gold (has anyone been able to separate out lead and iron trash with the Fisher limited AQ  Impulse version and still find small and deep gold)? Has anyone got a good grasp on these machines being affective  in iron and lead infested areas?
      Thank You for your time.
    • By Tony66
      I'm starting up detecting again so I'm looking for opinions on a new machine. Money is an issue, but I know a descent machine will cost a little bit. So far I'm leaning towards a Fisher F22 or one of the Garret models. By all means, give me opinions on not just those mentioned, but any that would be good for someone not too far above beginner (have to learn everything again).
    • By Joe D.
      Hello all,
         I recently saw someone state that they didn't fully understand why they sometimes get the urge to buy a certain detector! And for one reason or another, fail to pull the trigger, or asking the question of why not!
         I, like many here, have questioned why i would want to purchase; and have purchased, what would "technically" be an "inferior" detector! If there is such a thing; they all find stuff!!
         I think the reason's are as numerous as one can imagine! So i won't bore everyone with what i think their reasons are! I can only speak for myself!
         Probably my number one driving factor are places like this forum, and other sources for research! Once you really start to get the "bug" for detecting, you begin to understand that it can go beyond just finding treasures! In fact, my reading, and quest for information, far exceeds my actual detecting hours! Of course, there are also "real life" reasons that prevent me from getting out there as often as i would like! But instead of that being a negative; and me being bitter about it! I funnel that energy into trying to soak up more knowledge to make my actual detecting hours more productive! Many here will understand this!
         So, for those thay are unclear what that has to do with buying older, or less advanced detectors, i will explain!
         Like many, i detected a few years when i was young! Stopped for a career, and family; among other reasons! And got back to it, a few years before my retirement five years ago! Not being involved for all those years, i went with a new detector; among others i researched at the time!
         Now fast forward to today! I'm much more knowledgeable than seven years ago; detecting and theory wise, but have barely scratched the surface! I own several detectors for various functions! Some overlapping each other a bit in operation! A few others are just for fun, or for something i feel i missed, in my absent years! Other's were too good a deal to pass up! And I could get a good return for, if i chose to!
         So, to summarize! In my opinion, the longer your in it, the wider range of technology, legends, varations, etc... you are likely to buy, and try, for no very practical reason! Cost not withstanding; as you advance in this hobby! Or as some jokingly refer to it as a "sickness ", or "obsession "! 🤩 👍👍
    • By GoldenHillbilly
      I'm looking to buy my first detector this year, specifically for nugget hunting. After lots of research I'm leaning towards the SDC 2300, but wanted to see if you have other suggestions based on my terrain/conditions. We don't have much public land for detecting because the national forests and state parks don't allow it. But I have access to a private 10 acre property with a creek flowing through it. There was allegedly an old gold mine that was buried decades ago in a neighbouring property, so hopefully it is a good place to work. The ground is covered in lots of organic matter sitting on top of soil heavy in granite and red clay. The creek contains a wide variety of minerals specimens and a good amount of magnetite. So it looks like I'll need to focus on PI machines. Here are my main questions.
      Will my time be better spent in the creek where the gravels and rocks are exposed, or should I also focus efforts in the higher areas covered in humus?
      Should I wait for the Fisher Impulse Gold to come out (and prove itself with users) before dropping a few grand on older technology?
      Does anyone recommend the Garret ATX or any other detector over the SDC 2300 for the area and conditions I'm dealing with?
    • By JesseAllen2
      Hello everyone!
      My name is Jesse, and I dig trash on the beaches of Santa Cruz, California with my White's TDI BeachHunter. Tent Stakes, Bottle caps, clad, you name it. Occasional gold (around an ounce in the last year), but wayyyyy too much garbage for the time spent out there. No, more like the right amount of garbage dug on a trashy beach with a PI with no discrimination settings LOL.
      I love this machine. It's stable, reliable, punches very deep, and was a great first "real" detector. The  weight sucks (though it can be hip mounted, but I found myself getting tangled in the wired in that configuration), and the shaft sucks too.
      I have saved some money, and am planning to shoot for the moon. I want the best beach detector out there, VLF, PI, or otherwise, that will help me dig 99% less garbage, and still punch deep and be fun to swing.
      So far, considering a CTX 3030 or Equinox 800. Big coil for either.
      Reading the forum for a few months, following developments, it seems that the metal detector market moves about as slowly as the "games in development" market. I may be outing myself as a Zoomer here but waiting for these new machines really brings me back to waiting for games to go from beta to 1.0. Anyways I'll be in possession of my next detector for the foreseeable future, and am having a hard time deciding what choice to make.
      Do I get the 9 year old, 50 lb dinosaur with *slightly better VDI depth on higher conductors that costs almost double what a proper Nox setup would cost (with accessories), or do I get the Nox? Which feels just past its prime, with direct replacements probably coming out soon?
      Do I wait for these detectors that exist only in the imagination? The new fisher PI, possible CTX replacement?
      I have a nice pile of coin after selling some finds and other detectors and would really like to make this purchase count, any input is appreciated!:)
  • Create New...