There are easily a dozen different detectors to chose from that are capable of finding gold nuggets, but at the end of the day, you can only swing one at a time.
What is the best one? I don’t know if best is the right word, but I’ve found a setup that works very well for me, and I’m pretty confident that I am not missing much gold with it.
Here it is:
Minelab GPX 4500
The GPX 4500 is a pulse induction detector that is specifically designed for gold hunting. It handles heavy mineralized ground very well, and can find small nuggets as well as those big deep lunkers.
I also like the versatility of this machine. It has so many adjustments and settings that you really won’t have any trouble running it in just about any type of ground. If it runs erratically, simply dial back the gain or change whatever you need until you get a smooth threshold.
There are newer detectors out there from Minelab including the GPX 5000 and the GPZ 7000. These are both quality detectors for sure. I just don’t see the advantages being enough to rationalize the price difference. For me, the GPX 4500 is the best deal right now on a quality pulse induction gold detector.
Coiltek Elite Coil
The other really nice thing about the GPX series of metal detectors is the versatility of different coils that you can use. Some of the newer detectors are limited to just a couple coil choices, and some (like the SDC 2300) are hardwired with just one small coil.
There are literally dozens of different coils that you can use on the GPX detectors, and right now I am using the 11” x 17” Coiltek Elite Mono Coil for 90% of my hunting.
This is a nice large coil that covers a lot of ground. It also has some newer technology that makes it even more sensitive than some of the older coils out there. In fact, any of the coils marketed under either the Coiltek Elite or Nuggetfinder Evolution name are worth the money in my opinion.
Your needs may vary, but for my hunting style this bigger coil is awesome.
While this certainly isn’t a “must have” item, I like to carry a pinpointer with me when I am nugget hunting. I find that it speeds up target recovery, and more targets at the end of the day should mean more gold!
The advantage of pinpointers is more apparent on large coils like I am using. If you use a smaller coil, say 12” or under, you can probably find the nugget just as easily and quickly without it. But when you are digging large holes for deep targets I think they are worthwhile.
I have a Garrett Propointer, but I have also heard lots of good things about the new Fisher Pinpointer. I don’t think its too important what brand you have really, just as long as it works.
I use a large Apex Pick 100% of the time. I am a tall guy so I like a long handle, plus I expect to dig deep holes so all that much better.
I like it because it’s heavy duty. I’ve used it for years and years and it still digs holes just fine. I expect to have it for years to come.
Of course there are all sorts of smaller things that I like to carry with me. Whether you find it worthwhile to carry will probably be up to your specific needs.
This article, Smart Stuff to Have When Metal Detecting, goes over some of the basic gear that is worth having when you are spending a day out in the fields.
Find What Works for You
Everyone’s situation is different. In some areas you might want to use a smaller coil. If you’ve got the money, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the GPZ 7000 (despite it’s $8,000 price tag).
I feel that the Minelab GPX 4500, outfitted with a good Coiltek Elite coil is a killer combination. I don’t think I am missing too many nuggets with it. I can cover a lot of ground with the large elliptical coil, and the Propointer helps me to recover targets a little bit faster so that I can move on to the next one.
Acquiring all this gear will cost you a couple thousand dollars, but it’s a good investment if you are serious about metal detecting for gold.