The early gold miners used wood to build their sluice boxes at their mining site. They were long and heavy, and when they were done mining in that area they would either dismantle it and move it up the creek or abandon it completely.
Fortunately we have a better option today.
The modern sluice box is portable and lightweight, allowing the prospector to easily move from location to location in search of gold. Setting them up is a breeze, and most modern sluices have recovery rates that the early miners could have only dreamed of.
Keene is easily the best known business in the gold prospecting industry, having made a variety of different equipment since the 1960s. They have built a reputation for quality gear that will hold up to the abuse of mining.
Keene A51 Sluice Box
The Keene A51 is probably the most popular sluice box on the market today. It is an ideal medium sized sluice that is a great size for most prospectors.
This sluice has been the standard of the industry for decades, but there have been some improvements made to it in recent years. The riffle system has been improved for even better fine gold recovery, and black ribbed matting has been added in front of the riffles to catch even more fine gold.
The setup and breakdown of the Keene A51 is one of its better features. This lets you easily pull out the carpet and dismantle the sluice for the cleanup process.
The other nice thing about the A51 is how compact and lightweight it is. Weighing only 5 pounds measuring 36” long and 10” wide, it is an ideal size for backpacking into remote areas.
For an even smaller sluice, there is the the Keene A51A, which has all the same features as the A51 but it weighs slightly less and measures 33” x 6.5”. This sluice is probably smaller than ideal, but if size is your primary consideration then it is another option. It even has a removable flare for easier backpacking.
Keene A52 Sluice Box
The Keene A52 is a step up from the standard A51, and it is a true high-production sluice box.
It has the same features as the other features on the Keene sluices, but benefits from having a considerably larger surface area that can handle increased material. This is a great sluice if you have two people shoveling gravel into one sluice.
It still comes with the same quality riffle system, black ribbed matting at the flare, and quality design for easy deconstruction.
It weighs roughly 11 pounds and measures 51” long and 10” wide, with a big 18” wide flare.
Choosing a Keene Sluice Box
If I were choosing between these two sluices, personally I would buy the A52, primarily because of the larger size and its ability to process material more quickly than the smaller options. However, I am young and able-bodies, so the extra weight doesn’t bother me too much. I pack all my prospecting gear onto a pack frame and the extra 6-pounds aren’t a very big deal to me.
Having said this, the A51 is more than capable and like I said earlier it is probably the more popular of the two models. It really comes down to your personal needs. Since the features are similar with both sluices you really can’t go wrong either way.
The nice thing about Keene sluice boxes is how well they are constructed. Keene has been at this for a long time, and they don’t make junk. Personally, when I buy mining gear I want it to last. I don’t like to buy cheap stuff that breaks a few years later. I have a Keene sluice that I’ve had for 15 years now and it’s still going strong.