As a metal detectorist, there isn’t much more exciting a find than a gold nugget. Gold nuggets tend to be found where gold has already been known to exist. Meaning you likely can’t go out in your backyard or the neighbor’s yard and find a nugget. But if you are in the right area, and have the right equipment, there is no reason why you can’t walk away with gold nuggets or flakes!
All but one of the detectors on this list are VLF metal detectors (VLF stands for Very Low Frequency), which is the most common type of metal detector. However, PI metal detectors (or Pulse Induction for short) work a little differently than VLF and are great for hunting in saltwater areas and areas with high levels of mineralization. Many of the gold specific VLF machines have technology to compensate for these mineralization levels. If the operating frequency is too low, the metal detector will struggle in areas where gold is typically found.
One note: be sure when prospecting for gold that you are not hunting in someone else’s claim. In southwestern Idaho, for example, much of the river land where gold has been found is still claimed.
So, rest assured, gold nuggets are out there! Start your gold hunting trip with plenty of research on where gold can be located near you, and enjoy this article detailing the 10 best gold metal detectors!
Before we get started, please feel free to use the interactive guide below, which will help you directly compare some awesome detectors best used to find gold in a variety of areas across the country and globe. On top of that, here are 50 great metal detecting tips for gold I put together that should help you on your next treasure hunt.
|Garrett AT Max||$$$||Waterproof to 10 feet|
|Fisher F22||$$||9″ Triangulated Concentric Coil|
|Garrett Ace 400||$$$||8.5 x 11" DD coil|
|Minelab Vanquish 540||$||Search Modes: Coin, Relic, Jewelry, Custom, All Metal|
The Fisher Gold Bug Pro is a great and easy to use model for finding gold nuggets. This model comes with a 5” waterproof round Double-D coil, making it easy to get into smaller places where gold likes to hide. The Gold Bug Pro operates at 19.2 kHz and comes with 2 operating modes: All Metal and Discriminate. It has a good sized, easy to read LCD display with numerical target ID and Large Target Alert. The Gold Bug Pro does very well in highly mineralized soils, which is where gold is often found.
The Gold Bug Pro has adjustable Threshold and Gain, computer assisted Ground Grab and Ground Balance, and Continuous Ground Phase and Ground Mineralization Readout. Ground Phase indicates the type of mineralization in the soil and FE3O4 graphic shows the amount of mineralization. Ground balancing is shown in real-time and adjusts continuously. This model also has a static pinpoint mode with a built-in depth indicator.
Audio is 2 tone VCO (Voltage Controlled Oscillator) and the Gold Bug Pro has 2 headphone jacks: ¼” and 1/8”. This model has V-Break which is the first Variable Breakpoint tone discrimination system. It runs on a single 9-volt battery and is very lightweight at just 2.5 pounds. This model is simple to use and would be a great choice for a beginning prospector, or anyone looking for a great detector for gold at a reasonable price.
Fisher offers a 5-year warranty on the Gold Bug Pro.
The Garrett AT Gold is a great detector for gold and is designed for beginning or intermediate detectorists. This model operates at 18 kHz and is fully waterproof up to 10 feet. Because of the operating frequency, this model will not perform very well in wet salty sand or saltwater. It is best used in freshwater areas. This model has an easy to read LCD screen with digital target ID. Graphic target analysis shows the conductivity of each target and the discrimination pattern of the detector. This model has a high resolution of iron discrimination and is paired with Iron Audio, to give signals specifically from ferrous objects.
Ground balancing on the AT Gold can be done manually or automatically. Fast Track Ground Balance automatically ground balances the conditions of highly mineralized soils, and there is a Ground Balance Window that prevents the unit from giving false readings caused by changes in soil composition. This model has 3 search modes: All Metal, Discriminate, and Customizable Notch. All Metal will give the highest sensitivity, Discrimination will filter signals from iron objects, and Customizable Notch allows the user to notch in or out specific target types.
The AT Gold weighs 2.8 pounds and runs on 4 AA batteries. The shaft is adjustable for the user’s height. It comes with a 5” by 8” Double-D PROformance search coil. There are 8 Sensitivity and Depth adjustments and 44 Iron Discrimination segments. Headphones can be used with the ¼” jack.
Garrett offers a 2-year warranty on the AT Gold.
The Bounty Hunter Gold Digger is the least expensive detector on this list, but that doesn’t mean it won’t still find gold! This detector was designed to be simple to use, basically a turn on and go model, making it perfect for beginning detectorists or kids. This model does not have an LCD screen and is controlled by 2 knobs. One controls the power level and sensitivity and the other is the trash eliminator. The control box consists of the knob controls and a sensitivity meter which lets the detectorist see the strength of the target signal. Audio target ID has 3 tones and headphones can be used with the ¼” headphone jack.
The Gold Digger weighs 2.5 pounds and comes with an 8” waterproof round search coil. It operates at 7.8 kHz, meaning it will not perform well in incredibly mineralized soils or saltwater beach areas. The shaft is adjustable making it comfortable for all sizes of detectorists. All Metal mode allows users to find all types of metals, while Discriminate will filter out iron-rich targets. Ground balancing is preset and not adjustable. The Gold Digger runs on 1 9-volt battery.
I would not recommend the Gold Digger to an intermediate or advanced detectorist, but for beginners, or kids, this is a perfect beginning gold detector.
The Gold Digger comes with a 5-year warranty.
The Gold Bug 2 is an upgrade to the original Gold Bug series of metal detectors by Fisher and one of the best metal detectors for gold. It is designed for more intermediate or advanced detectorists. This detector is extremely sensitive and offers the highest operating frequency on the market, at 71 kHz.
With an operating frequency this high, the Gold Bug 2 will have little difficulty finding even small gold nuggets and flakes. Lower frequency models struggle to find smaller bits and flakes of gold due to lower operating frequencies. This model has great discrimination and can reject iron pieces and hot rocks, making detecting gold more productive. Audio signal boost increases weak signals from potentially valuable but small, or distant targets.
The Gold Bug 2 has adjustable sensitivity, and the length of the shaft can be adjusted for each user. It has a single operating mode: All Metal and manual ground balancing. It can be chest or hip mounted for user comfort, although the detector is quite lightweight, at 2.9 pounds. The electronics are quartz crystal locked, which improves reliability and stability while protecting the unit from dust and moisture. It uses 2 9-volt batteries and has a ¼” plug for headphones. This model does not have an LCD display, vibration target ID, or pinpoint mode. The control box consists of 2 knobs: Battery Test/Sensitivity, Ground Rejection, and Volume, all adjustable from 1 – 10. It also shows iron discrimination, audio boost mode, and mineralization level. It comes with a 10” waterproof elliptical Double-D search coil.
Fisher offers a 5-year warranty on the Gold Bug 2.
White’s Goldmaster GMT is a great gold detector with the ability to ignore the harsh ground conditions typically found in gold-bearing areas. This detector was designed to find all sizes of gold nuggets and coins. It operates at 48 kHz. It has an iron target analyzer making hunting easier. Controls can be switched to manual for more advanced users, while newer detectorists can use the initial recommended settings.
The GMT has variable self-adjusting threshold, Grab Pushpad for setting ground balance instantly, automatic ground balancing, and Follow the Paystreak feature, which displays the amount of magnetic minerals in the ground. Iron Audio offers a grunt upon finding iron targets.
The GMT is slightly heavier than some metal detectors, at around 4 pounds. It runs on 8 AA batteries and comes with a 6” by 9” elliptical search coil. Headphones can be used with the ¼” headphone jack. The control box is mounted behind the arm rest and below the hand grip is a small LCD screen. The screen shows a full-time Iron ID Bar Graph.
White’s offers a 2-year warranty on the GMT.
The Tesoro SuperTRAQ is a great metal detector for gold. It features Tesoro’s SuperTRAQ Computerized Ground Tracking System, allowing users to continuously and automatically compensate for mineral changes in the soil. This model operates at 17.8 kHz and is designed to find gold, coins, jewelry, and relics. This model comes with 3 detection modes: All Metal, Silent Search Discriminate, and No Motion All Metal (pinpoint). It also has 3 ground tracking modes: Normal, Alkali, and Black Sand. Threshold and sensitivity are both adjustable.
The SuperTRAQ weighs 3.5 pounds and runs on 8 AA batteries. It comes with a 10” wide scan elliptical search coil. This model can use headphones via the ¼” headphone jack. The shaft is adjustable allowing users to customize the unit for their height. Audio target ID is a single tone and this model does not have an LCD screen (I have never seen a Tesoro model with an LCD screen, actually). This can help new detectorists not get so overwhelmed with so many things on the screen. Simply turn a couple of knobs and you are ready to find some gold!
Tesoro offers a lifetime warranty on all their metal detectors, including the SuperTRAQ. This is the very best warranty I have seen in the metal detecting industry.
The Minelab Gold Monster 1000 was designed for detecting gold nuggets, flakes, and dust. Unlike some other machines, the Gold Monster 1000 has an almost fully automatic operation (users will only have to adjust the sensitivity and volume), allowing beginning detectorists to enjoy this machine. More advanced detectorists will appreciate the consistency and reliability of the unit. This model has a unique feature called Gold Chance Indication, which goes from low to high with the probability of spotting gold in an area.
The Gold Monster 1000 operates at an ultra-wide dynamic range 45 kHz, allowing the machine to have a very high sensitivity for small gold bits. It has a monochrome LCD screen with automatic Easy-Trak Ground Balance, Discrimination, and automatic Noise Cancel. There are 2 detect modes on the Gold Monster 1000: Gold (Iron Reject) and Deep All-Metal.
The kit comes with 2 search coils: A 10” Double-D and 5” Double-D, both waterproof. The control box is weatherproof, but not fully submersible. The unit runs on 8 AA batteries and weighs 2.94 pounds (with the 10” coil). This detector has improved ferrous/non-ferrous discrimination and can cope with mineralized soils and salty soils better than other detectors.
Minelab offers a 2-year warranty on the Gold Monster 1000.
8) XP Deus
The XP Deus (pronounced day-uhs) is a great metal detector for gold and other precious metals, relics, and coins, with exceptional comfort, speed, and performance. This detector is the first wireless detector and can be customized with 3 wireless elements: search coil, digital LCD display remote, and headphones. XP states that these 3 devices communicate with each other by a digital wireless link specifically designed for metal detecting.
This design gives crystal clear audio while delivering efficient power consumption. The entire metal detector can be controlled with a remote or with the specialized weatherproof headphones XP has created. It comes with a wireless LCD remote display with backlight and a hip mount case. Menu options include audio response, iron level, tones, notch, discrimination, and advanced features. Ground balancing has 4 options: tracking, pumping, manual, and beach.
The XP Deus is different than other detectors: the entire detector is built into the search coil. No wire is required to convey the target signal. It is digitized and analyzed instantly and directly at the source by specialized digital circuits. This model is an adjustable frequency metal detector and can operate at 4 kHz, 8 kHz, 12 kHz, and 18 kHz. It comes with 10 preset factory programs and 8 user customizable programs. Software updates are available from XP for the Deus by plugging a USB cable into the remote and your computer.
The XP Deus weighs just 2 pounds. It comes with a 9” or 11” Double-D waterproof wireless search coil and rechargeable battery pack. This model is easy enough for a beginning detectorist and has enough options and features for a more advanced detectorist to enjoy.
The XP Deus comes with a 5-year warranty.
- Check out my review of the XP Deus right here!
9) Garrett ATX
The Garrett ATX is a rugged, all-terrain, all-purpose metal detector that runs on pulse induction (PI) technology. Many metal detectors run on VLF (very low frequency) technology. This detector is fully submersible up to 10 feet and comes with:
- MS-2 headphones (not waterproof)
- A sling
- A battery charger
- AA rechargeable batteries
- Soft storage/travel case
- User Manual
The excellent sensitivity of the ATX ensures it will have no trouble finding even the smallest, low conductivity items like tiny gold nuggets.
Ground balancing is done with Fast Track and Continuous Ground Track. Continuous Ground Track has 4 settings: Off, Slow, Medium, and Fast. This allows for a wide range of ground balancing to compensate for highly mineralized ground conditions. Because the ATX is a PI machine, it works extremely well in saltwater areas. The ATX has 2 search modes: All Metal and Discriminate, and 2 detection modes: motion and non-motion. It comes with an LED target ID indicator.
Discrimination has 25 settings and Sensitivity has 13 settings. Audio modes are VCO and Iron Audio. The ATX comes with a 12” Double-D search coil and a military grade hard case. Detection frequency is 730 pulses per second, which is adjustable. It runs on 8 AA batteries, and is by far the heaviest detector on this list (as most PI metal detectors are) at 6.9 pounds. This metal detector would be best for intermediate or advanced detectorists.
Garrett offers a 2-year warranty on the ATX.
White’s Goldmaster 24k is a great metal detector for gold. As with the Goldmaster GMT, the 24k operates at 48 kHz and comes with an all-new XGB ground balancing system. This system can handle even highly mineralized soils and for more advanced users, TracLock and Ground Grab can be used to ground balance. It comes with a large, backlit display to show the settings and target information.
he Target Graph at the top of the display will show Ferrous, Gold, and High Conductor ranges, mirrored with numerical target ID. If users prefer dry washing, sluicing, or panning, the 24k has a Ground Scan mode to show where paystreaks in streambeds and washes are.
The Goldmaster 24k features 10 levels of adjustable sensitivity, adjustable audio with Boost, adjustable discrimination, vSAT (Variable/Self Adjusting Threshold), pinpoint mode, and Tone ID mode. Sensitivity can be set to balance out ground mineralization. Iron Cancel helps silence hot rocks and iron rich targets. Ground Scan can be used to show the ground mineralization strength, ground type, and is extremely useful for tracing paystreaks.
The 24k comes with a 6” by 10” waterproof Double-D search coil and runs on 8 AA batteries. It weighs 3.6 pounds and is dust proof and weatherproof, but not fully waterproof. This metal detector has numerous features to make advanced gold prospectors happy but has a turn on and go feature allowing beginning detectorists to enjoy this machine, too.
White’s offers a 2-year warranty on the Goldmaster 24k.
While these 10 are by no means the only gold metal detectors out there, they are some of the best. Each detector is specifically designed to find gold by the metal detecting industry’s leading manufacturers. A gold specific metal detector is always your best bet when prospecting as they have a higher operating frequency than typical all-purpose detectors.
This is important because gold can often ring similarly to iron, and a specified machine can decipher the signals the best. These detectors range from entry level to advanced, with a variety of prices and features, and are set up to guarantee you’ll find what you are looking for! A few things to remember when hunting for gold:
- Use a metal detector specifically for gold
- Read the manual carefully
- Learn to ground balance and tune your metal detector
- Choose the right search coil
- Dig all targets (at least initially)
- Use headphones
- Stay determined
Using headphones is a very good idea when gold hunting so you can make sure to hear faint or very deep signals you may otherwise miss using only the external speaker. It can get discouraging to detect for hours and not find a single nugget, but rest assured, there is plenty of gold out there just waiting to be discovered! Who knows?
You may find the next Boot of Cortez or the next Hand of Faith, which is the huge nugget housed in the Las Vegas casino the Golden Nugget! So, get yourself a metal detector specifically for gold, do your research to find a good hunting place, stay determined, and find those nuggets!
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