I have had the new Minelab SDC 2300 to Alaska earlier this summer and found it to be an excellent detector for Alaska's rainy weather and typically smaller gold nuggets. Details here and here. Now I have had a chance to give it a go on some intensely mineralized ground in California. Chris Ralph turned me on to this location. The bedrock is highly mineralized to start with, and past forest fires have baked some of the bedrock. This can actually change the alignment of the magnetic particles in the rock, making them even harder for a metal detector to handle.
The other thing about this place is the gold is close to the source, generally small but with very sharp edges and crystal faces. The combination of very high mineralization and small gold made this a great place to run the SDC 2300.
As I discovered previously the Minelab SDC 2300 is absurdly easy to use, especially in ground that is very difficult to handle with other detectors. The SDC uses a fast variant of the GPX 5000 Fine Gold timing that is able to ignore most ground and hot rocks entirely with almost no tuning involved. Basically you set the sensitivity level and just start detecting. Ground balance is full on automatic ground tracking, so that aspect of the detector handles itself.
The gold is very close to the source as can be seen from the nature of the gold in the photos. Gold is relatively delicate and cannot travel far from the source without rounding of sharp edges and faces occurring. The ground itself is very mineralized loaded with lots of magnetite lumps. Yet I was able to easily run my SDC 2300 on a sensitivity level of 4 for general hunting and I ran it at max of 5 when actually on a gold patch. The SDC basically exhibits no EMI noise and I was easily able to work with Chris only 50 feet away. There is little to no ground noise either. What you do get at higher sensitivity levels is noise introduced in the high gain circuitry that exhibits itself as what Jonathan refers to as a "sparky" threshold sound. Yet it is something you become accustomed to easily and the fact that such tiny nuggets stand out with no problem illustrates that.
People really are just missing the point on the SDC. It is not that it will find gold other detectors will not find, though in some cases that may be the case. The real thing here is that it does it easily and quickly with no fuss or muss, no special expertise, tuning, or coils needed.
Steve with waterproof headphones using SDC in shortest rod collapsed configuration on hillside
As you can see in the photo I am using the new waterproof headphones for the SDC 2300. They fit my head better than the stock headphones, sound just fine, and have a much stouter cord that will be less prone to failure. Minelab should just make these the stock headphones with the SDC 2300.
I also really appreciate the ability to rapidly adjust the SDC rod length and coil angle for any situation. It can be run extra short for hillside hunting, or the coil can be laid out flat as a pancake for shoving under the brush. I hunted a shelf at waist height by running the coil flat and shoving it across the shelf back and forth in front of me.
My last couple days of detecting with the SDC came to 5.3 grams recovered. The largest nugget is 0.67 grams. The smallest weighed on my freshly calibrated digital powder scale at 0.7 grains or 0.045 grams!
5.3 grams beautiful California gold Steve found with Minelab SDC 2300
Tiny SDC gold - 0.7 grains found with Minelab SDC 2300
I think the Minelab SDC 2300 is a great little unit. The more I use it, the more impressed I am. I have a several day backpacking trip into a remote location coming up, and have never been there before. Due to packing a tent, food, etc to cover several days, I have to choose what to take. My GPX 5000? Maybe Gold Bug Pro? How about the Gold Bug 2? Garrett ATX? Nope, they all stay home. I think the SDC has the best shot at producing gold for me so it goes and the rest stay. I do not know how to make it any clearer than that and so that is about all I am going to say on the subject going forward unless specifically asked a question. Seems like a lot of angst out there over the SDC 2300 for some reason so I think I will just keep my head down and go nugget detecting!
~ Steve Herschbach
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