Jump to content
Steve Herschbach

Gold Bug Pro Vs AT Gold Vs X-terra 705 Gold Vs Lobo Supertraq Vs MXT

Recommended Posts

Despite all the noise about pulse induction (PI) metal detectors these days I firmly believe that in the United States most beginning and many professional nugget hunters are often better served with a good mid-frequency VLF. For beginners I think it is more important to master the real skills involved in prospecting before investing a ton of money in a metal detector. If you can't find gold with a $700 detector there is little point in investing thousands of dollars in a detector that still probably will not find the person any gold.

Perhaps a PI is required in most of Australia but I have seen very few places in the United States where a good VLF will not work very well or at least well enough. Certainly in Alaska that is the case, where low mineral ground and smallish gold is the norm. Even locations where large gold lurks are so loaded with iron junk a PI detector has a hard go of it. It is nearly impossible to convince die-hard PI users to accept this until they experience it for themselves.

One of the best detectorists I know has found hundreds of ounces of gold including two nuggets each weighing over a pound, all with a White's MXT. He also has a Minelab GPX 5000 and is very good with it. This last summer we hunted a lot together in junk infested tailing piles. I tended to use my GPX 5000 and he tended to use his MXT. We ran neck and neck for finds, and he detected less and dug way less junk than I. When all the shallow stuff is gone a PI shows its value with extra depth. But in target rich environments, especially ones filled with junk, a good VLF is a worthy choice.

Let's set the VLF versus PI thing aside though and accept for the purposes of this article that VLF detectors are still a good choice for many people in the United States. I know for a fact I could own nothing but a VLF and do very well indeed. So what VLF to own?

Two detectors stand out in their high operating frequency as dedicated nugget detectors, the Fisher Gold Bug 2 and White's GMT. I could make a great argument for why either of these detectors will eke out gold where other detectors fail and do it consistently enough that a skilled operator would be wise to own either one. However, I think overall a better case can be made that if a person had to own just one VLF detector, a mid-frequency model would be a better choice. There is much more versatility offered plus a better balance of performance on all ground types and all gold sizes than the hot high frequency models.

The contenders from the "Big Five" brands? The Fisher Gold Bug Pro (also sold as Teknetics G2), Garrett AT Gold, Minelab X-Terra 705 Gold, Tesoro Lobo SuperTRAQ, and White's MXT. All available for around $700 more or less. This is the choice I personally faced, and the decision took several years of use to settle. What follows is purely personal but I will explain why I ended up where I did.

Fisher Gold Bug Pro, Garrett AT Gold, Minelab X-Terra 705 Gold, Tesoro Lobo, White's MXT

First up, the White's MXT. Simply a superb detector, and one that has found me pounds of gold. Yet I am just going to go ahead and blow White's off at this point! Why? The weight. I am sorry White's, but at 4.3 pounds the MXT is the heaviest detector in this slug-fest. I love what the detector does, but I am no longer willing to forgive detectors with poor ergonomic factors, weight being the most obvious. In the 21st century, the day and age of the iPhone, poor ergonomics is not acceptable. The MXT needs to lose a pound, plain and simple. So I sold my MXT after one particularly arm wearing day.

Now the Tesoro Lobo SuperTRAQ is a great beginners detector in that it is very easy to operate, but it also gets put aside. The detector is locked in ground tracking at all times while in all metal nugget mode. This is great for beginners but I personally find it unacceptable. I almost never use ground tracking systems as they mess with the signals from weak targets. If there was a locked or fixed mode it would be fine. Worse yet, the alternative discriminate mode has a factory pre-set ground balance. Sorry, fail. Just my opinion, but the Lobo is way overdue for an update after 16 years on the market.

Garrett is to be commended for finally producing a waterproof detector that does not penalize the owner by weighing a ton and removing all the features. The AT Gold is a miracle in being waterproof and yet fully featured, with even the speaker being waterproof. And only three pounds with batteries! This detector is so wonderful I really do feel bad about taking a pass on it here also. Why? Sadly, the waterproof design also means special o-ring connectors for the coils and headphones. If you do not need the detector to be waterproof they are delicate connectors that collect dirt and require quite a bit of care to not mess up. The coil connection in particular is in a maddening location making it almost impossible to connect coils with bare fingers alone. A special adapter must be purchased if you want to have a choice in headphones. If you want waterproof the AT Gold is an obvious choice but I do not need waterproof for most of my nugget detecting.

So down to two models, the Fisher Gold Bug Pro and Minelab X-Terra 705 Gold. Both under the magic 3 pound mark! Both with extremely powerful all metal modes. So powerful that in all metal mode these detectors give the PI units a run for depth in most ground on most gold in the US. This was tough for me as the X-Terra has a far richer feature set than the Gold Bug Pro and for many all around users would be the better choice. But I looked at both from strictly a nugget hunting perspective where those extra features are extraneous to the task at hand. It came down to this. In all metal mode the Gold Bug Pro is simultaneously and separately running in discriminate mode. The audio response is pure all metal, but you also get the probable target id, when possible, displayed on the screen. Very deep targets will have no target id, which is why we are using all metal prospect mode in the first place.

The X-Terra 705 you can run in Prospect Mode or Discriminate Mode, but not both at once. This one thing leads to more efficient detecting with all the information you need on screen at once. The Gold Bug Pro gives you the target id, ground phase, and magnetic susceptibility reading all on screen at once while in all metal mode.

ads by Amazon...

That is how I settled on the Fisher Gold Bug Pro as my all around do everything nugget hunting model. It is not a coincidence it is also the lightest of the bunch at only 2.5 lbs with battery and 5” round DD coil and 2.7 lbs with the 5” x 10” DD coil. It is a basic unit that gets the job done, and that appeals to me. Plus, it does just fine for coins, relics, and jewelry if I wish. if I could improve only one thing it would be to swap the position of the target id and phase readout on the meter.

I have to wrap this up by pointing out that these are all fine detectors. I can actually find gold about as well with all of them. The engineers have mid-frequency all metal detectors figured out, and in all metal mode these models are practically equivalent. Small nuances that help one model in certain ground cost it in another and it all evens out. So from a straight up all metal nugget hunting perspective I think a person can use any one of these detectors and be just fine. What differences there are show up far more when comparing discrimination features which are of little use to the nugget hunter.

With that said, the final lesson in this article is that it is all the other factors a person should be looking at when making a choice. For me it was just lightweight basic operation. But if waterproof is important, the AT Gold is a no-brainer. The Lobo is very forgiving for beginners simply because it is locked in ground tracking mode. The MXT is a superior all-arounder, and the X-Terra has various tone schemes and notch discrimination features common on top-end detectors. You can make the case for any of them depending on your own particular needs and desires in a detector, and know you will be well served for basic all metal nugget hunting capability. We are lucky to have so many fine choices, all at very affordable prices.

  • Like 6

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wanted to say I had my Gold Bug Pro in the field less than one hour and found 1.1 gram nugget. The GBP in my arms is like walking around with a feather in my hands.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great information Steve .

Just wondering with the Lobos auto tracking cancelling out some weak signals as the coil is waved over again , would switching into pinpoint mode locking the tracking stop this from happening ?  

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

What a fantastic review. I am curious why the F75 was not in the running.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Steve,

The F75 and T2 are excellent detectors. They run at a bit lower frequency than the Gold Bug Pro (13 kHz vs 19 kHz), hit big gold just a tiny bit deeper, and are a hair less sensitive to small gold. For the purposes of the comparison though they cost twice as much as all the detectors listed all for features not needed for nugget detecting.

Still, the T2, the Teknetics variant of the F75, is one of the most popular detectors used in the gold rush overseas. And the F75 got glowing review by Jack Lange at http://www.fisherlab.com/magazine/

I of course did very well with the F75 SE as shown at http://www.fisherlab.com/Hobby/finds-Steve-Herschbach.htm and in fact am writing an article for a magazine about it. But this summer I fell in love with the Gold Bug Pro with 10" x 5" DD combo and ended up using it most if the time. It really just depends whether you want the detector to skew more towards small gold at the Gold Bug Pro higher frequency or towards bigger deep gold at the F75 lower frequency.

Again though, I wanted to keep the article focused, and sticking to a similar price range makes for a better apples to apples comparison.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Jack,

Holding the Mode switch in the PINPOINT position on the Lobo removes the Auto Tune until the switch is released. It will indeed help keep weak targets from fading if employed immediately after acquiring said target. I am picking on the Lobo of course. As I note in the article I think a person can use any of them and be just fine. I know people who own and swear by the Lobo. I still think it would benefit greatly from having a manual ground balance option. For me personally having simultaneous all metal and disc modes on the Bug is the kicker.

Like I said, each person needs to decide what is most important to them. I would not want everyone to take my article as an endorsement of the Bug per se. What is important is the thought process, and somebody else may employ needs and desires to arrive at a different outcome. If weight did not matter at all to me I might still be swinging an MXT.

And if I was buying a detector as a gift for somebody not likely to really learn their machine the Lobo might be the choice. In fact I did just that. I bought my father one because it is pretty much turn on and go, and it has served him very well. The Lobo is a very forgiving machine. We used them at my pay-to-mine operation at Moore Creek for the very same reason.

  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I will soon have a Lobo super track to play with and there's a couple things I want to explore with it. First of all I will be comparing it to the other VLF gold detectors I have on hand – a Goldmaster 4B, a Gold Bug 2 and an MXT.

Besides that however I want to adjust the ground balance pot for the discriminate mode to suit my local conditions here in Arizona. Keith Southern posted a video and some information about that over on the Dankowski forum – here's the link. Keith describes at length the things about the Lobo that have him comparing it to the G2 - which, of course is the same electronically as the GB Pro.


In addition I want to try some of the stuff that Reg Sniff pointed out in his lost treasures review of the Lobo super track when it came out. He noted several interesting things in his test of the detector. First of all he believed he could clearly hear the difference between Rusty objects and foil by the pitch of the response -these targets giving a higher pitched response than lead (and therefore presumably gold). Secondly when he put the detector in the alkali mode he found that if he passed the coil over the target several times hot rocks and iron targets would fade but more conductive target such as lead and gold would not fade. This allowed him to discriminate out these targets while operating in the all metal mode with its greater depth.

I will see if I can duplicate any of these results when I get mine.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Keith is a wealth of knowledge. Nugget detecting is not his thing but maybe I can entice him here for a post or two.

"First of all he believed he could clearly hear the difference between Rusty objects and foil by the pitch of the response -these targets giving a higher pitched response than lead (and therefore presumably gold). Secondly when he put the detector in the alkali mode he found that if he passed the coil over the target several times hot rocks and iron targets would fade but more conductive target such as lead and gold would not fade."

Good luck with that. All detectors have strengths and weaknesses and experienced operators do learn tricks. But stuff like VCO pitch just reflect signal intensity. You hear it said time and again the soft signals are gold and strong ones are junk. Very true much of the time. Until it is not, and then a big nugget stays in the ground. I used to use the old hot rock fade trick with my Gold Scanner Pro. It can be used with the auto-tune system or the ground balance system, which the alkali setting directly adjusts. It just relies again on conditions that work most times in some places but which are not reliable.

Kind of like most gold goes hi-lo on a Minelab. Except the rare big ones which do not. Lo-hi is almost always junk, so an easy trick to get into habit of using. I think that one cost me a 25 ounce specimen!

Even iron disc works well until it does not, and how often it does not would freak people out if they knew the truth.

Big tip - it is all about site selection. If you do not know gold is around, be picky, use whatever tricks you want. Until you find a nugget. Once the spot has proven to contain gold, dig everything. It really is as simple as that.

But same story, the Lobo is a very good detector in knowledgeable hands and will produce the goods if used correctly. Never forget the original 19 kHz Gold Bug, 17 kHz Lobo SuperTRAQ, 14 kHz MXT, and new 19 kHz Gold Bug Pro are all Dave Johnson detectors. They are more alike than different. All ice cream, just different flavors.

  • Like 3

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll have fun trying to replicate his results anyway! You might want to read Keith's stuff about the blended tones of the Gold Maxx Pro. It gets a bit mystical at times, but I think many of us have underrated the audio information available from analog systems.

Anyway - neat forum with a quick feedback tempo - hope we can all work to expand it.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Talking about the F75 , I bought one of the first when they came out , I already had a SD2100 I got new in 1996 & an older Whites Goldmaster .

Well I read the manual & from the first hunt with the F75 I hated the thing !  :blink: far to chatty with an overload of information that slowed me to a crawl , got rid of it soon after , maybe they improved it & ironed out the bugs these days .


Shame Tesoro stopped selling their Diablo Umax ' great feather weight easy to use performer , there's one on Ebay at the moment  .

Wish Steve had tested one of these , don't think he ever got the chance .


Jack .

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

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 Steve Herschbach
      I as just alerted by a forum member that Cabelas is advertising the Fisher Gold Bug 2 for $574, a new low price. I do not know if this is a clearance sale, or a permanent price reduction, or if it is offered at other dealers. I'm sure we will sort that out real fast! 
      They also have the basic Gold Bug on sale for $375. Do not confuse this with the Gold Bug Pro. The Pro has both ground grab and manual ground balance, the basic Bug has ground grab only. Otherwise however they are the same detector.

      This may be temporary but it also in my opinion is overdue as a permanent move on the basic Gold Bug at least. That model really should just be discontinued in favor of the nearly identical Gold Bug Pro, but if not it sure needed to come down in price. It adds to the confusion out there and some people buy it thinking they are getting the Pro. Just clear it out and discontinue it.
      Gold Bug 2 is a tougher story. It is in a class of it's own as an old analog model that with 6" concentric still may best the best tiny gold getter on the market. Newer machines at lower prices may very well equal it though, or close enough for most people. The main problem with the Bug 2 is it is expensive to manufacture so I am not sure a permanent price reduction would be sustainable. Fisher has discontinued several models in the last couple years and may be consolidating or revamping their lineup around the introduction of a new website.
      Lond story short this may be just a temporary sale or a sign of bigger things... we will see.
    • By phrunt
      Note from moderator: The following posts were all moved from this thread to this location. It is worth a separate thread. See our List of Legitimate Metal Detector Dealers
      Seeing you're new to detecting you probably don't know about the pitfalls yet, there are fakes, fakes of many of the best detectors, here is an example
      Whatever you do don't buy one, it won't work well for you.  Also if you're buying second hand Minelab are extremely helpful in verifying the detector you're buying is genuine, contact them about it! get the serial number off the seller, they can name the seller and where they purchased it from for you if it was a real one.
      I hope you purchased your Gold Bug Pro from a reputable dealer as it's also a highly faked detector.
      Here is a fake Gold Bug Pro for sale
      It looks like they're clearly made to be sold to the African market, note the Depar sticker on the shaft

      Since its origins in 1976, DEPAR has been, and still is, Middle East, Africa and Turkey leader in distributing quality metal detecting technologies for consumer with its experienced personnel and succesfull dealer network and serves as an authorized technical service.
    • By Steve Herschbach
      There are three versions of the First Texas 19 kHz circuit for sale at many retailers. One is based on the original Gold Bug Pro model, sold with various coil options, and includes the now discontinued Teknetics G2. There is also a basic Gold Bug version with no manual ground balance, the bottom dollar variant.
      The third version is a later design that added features to the Gold Bug Pro, the result being the Fisher F19. This is now also being sold with various coil options. The F19 is also available under the Teknetics label as the G2+, and now just released under the Bounty Hunter label as the Time Ranger Pro.
      To reiterate, the Gold Bug Pro and G2 versions are the same circuit board, the only difference between the models are coil and rod options plus cosmetic differences.
      The same goes for the F19, F19 Ltd, G2+, and new Time Ranger Pro. The same circuit board with different coil and rod options.
      It is interesting then that the Gold Bug DP, the Gold Bug Pro with 7" x 11" coil sells for $100 more than the more capable Time Ranger Pro. "How can this be," you wonder? The power of name brand and a name, plain and simple. Fisher has a name equated with more expensive detectors, and the Gold Bug name carries it's own cachet. The Bounty Hunter name is usually for lower price models. Welcome to Marketing 101. Based on comparative capability I’d say the Gold Bug Pro is more like a $399 detector these days, so it’s fetching quite a premium.
      Guide To Gold Bug Versions
      Gold Bug Pro / G2 versus F19 / G2+
      click or double click for larger versions....

      Fisher Gold Bug DP and Bounty Hunter Time Ranger Pro

      Gold Bug Pro and Time Ranger Pro features comparison

      Gold Bug Pro and Time Ranger Pro controls
    • By Steve Herschbach
      Fisher Research originally released the 19 kHz Gold Bug model about 1987. It was a real breakthrough design at the time with a compact control box, S-rod, and elliptical coils. The detector is a good unit but is strictly all metal (no discrimination). It has no LCD readout and looks much like the current Gold Bug 2 but has a white lower rod and a black control panel face. Some people are confusing this old model with the new so be aware of this when looking at used detectors. The 19 kHz coils for the old Gold Bug will not work on newer versions of the Gold Bug below.
      Around 2010 a number of new Gold Bug models were released by Fisher. First came the Gold Bug in 2009. Then came the Gold Bug SE (Special Edition) which added manual ground balance at a bargain introductory price. The SE with minor tweaks later became the Gold Bug Pro at a higher price. So now we have two basic versions, the Gold Bug and the Gold Bug Pro. They differ from the old 1987 model by having an LCD readout. The standard version of either detector comes with a 5" round coil. There is a Gold Bug DP (Deep Penetrating) which is nothing more than a Gold Bug Pro with an 11" x 7" DD elliptical coil instead of a 5" round DD coil.
      The only difference listed by Fisher between the Gold Bug and the Gold Bug Pro is that the Gold Bug Pro has a manual adjustment option for the ground balance and also offers "higher sensitivity".
      Both models use a "Ground Grab" button as a simple ground balance method that is quite effective. The Gold Bug Pro allows you to also manually adjust the ground balance setting up or down. The manual adjustment can be used in conjunction with or separately from the Ground Grab button.
      The big question is the "higher sensitivity" claim. There are two possibilities here. First, that the Gold Bug Pro actually allows for higher gain or sensitivity levels. However, I was in marketing too long and have a more jaded thought. Manual ground balance allows for a higher degree of control that if used properly can get you more sensitivity. There is a very distinct possibility the higher sensitivity claim follows directly from the ability to manually ground balance the Gold Bug Pro. This could be tested with both units set side by side with identical ground balance settings and max gain. If the Gold Bug Pro is inherently more sensitive an air test should show it. I have not had the chance to do this my self but if somebody wants to there you go.
      ads by Amazon...
      My opinion? I believe the Gold Bug and the Gold Bug Pro if outfitted with the same coil are basically the same detector. The only real difference is the manual ground balance option on the Gold Bug Pro. Do you need it? Not really, and especially when you consider that for $499 vs $649 that is probably all you are getting. The Ground Grab function is remarkably effective and would suit most people just fine.
      I personally do like manual ground balance and so for me spending the extra money to get it is a non-issue. I do as a rule tell people that if cost is not an issue get the Gold Bug Pro. It is far more popular and would be easier to resell. But in all honesty I think the Basic Gold Bug is the real bang-for-the-buck unit. There is nothing else close to it at the $499 price point that offers full LCD readout target discrimination while in full power all metal prospect mode.
      I should note that First Texas owns both Fisher and Teknetics. The Fisher Gold Bug DP (Gold Bug Pro with 11" coil) is marketed by Teknetics as the G2. The Fisher Gold Bug DP goes for $699 and the Teknetics G2 is $749. The $50 extra gets you a pistol grip rod instead of the Gold Bug S-rod and an arm strap. Nice gray paint scheme also. Really boils down to pistol grip vs S-rod, purely a personal preference thing.
      I use the 5" x 10" elliptical myself and consider it to be the best all around coil for the Gold Bug. However, right now you have to get it as an accessory or as part of a two coil package. Fisher would be doing us a service to release the Gold Bug with this coil as standard on the unit.
      My Gold Bug 2 is slightly better on the tiniest of gold but the Gold Bug Pro easily outperforms the Gold Bug 2 on larger nuggets at depth. For all around nugget detecting the Gold Bug or Gold Bug Pro (and G2) have a better balance of both small gold and large gold capability than the Gold Bug 2.
      Fisher Gold Bug Pro & Teknetics G2 Detailed Comparison
      To recap first came the original 1987 era Gold Bug with knobs and switches:

      1987 era analog Fisher Gold Bug
      Then in 2009 we got the new Gold Bug:

      Fisher digital Gold Bug
      Followed quickly and briefly by the Gold Bug SE. Note how the plus and minus buttons now have dual functions, both Disc and Ground Balance, compared to the basic Gold Bug above:

      Fisher Gold Bug SE
      The Gold Bug SE was basically the prototype for the Gold Bug Pro, which got a new faceplate decal and a higher price:

      Fisher Gold Bug Pro
      And finally, the Gold Bug Pro was also marketed under the Teknetics line as the G2 with a different rod/handle assembly:

      Teknetics G2
      Gold Bug Pro DP compared to Teknetics G2:

      Click on images below for larger versions.....

    • By Tometusns
      Is the connector for the headphones the same on a max as the at pro. Thanks!
    • By phrunt
      Here where a majority of our old coins are deep it makes absolute sense to hunt in all metal on the Bug, the depth is better in All metal, and the detector is still smart enough to give you an ID in all metal so it's a shame you can't take advantage of that to it's fullest by having the ID's in the location they should be.  The ground phase being dominant is a puzzle to me.   They must still have someone there who is alive and kicking and knows how to change the software.  I would not think that would be a significant change either, it's just the source of data to the display output being modified.  It would have been harder for them to display the serial number on startup which they do on the newer ones.
      The thing I've noticed with large UK old half crown sterling silver coins on the Bug is they can wrap around in disc mode depending on the depth from the coil, they can go beyond the 99 of the ID and be a weird scattered rejected target that shows up bouncing in the high 90's to iron.  In all metal they work and show up right high in the 90s.  I would say it's not a good large silver detecting unit.  The smaller silvers are no problems but this weird large silver oddity is a bit of a worry.    It might be fixed in later models who knows but mine both do it.
  • Create New...