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What is the Best Gold Detector for Nugget Prospecting?

Complete guide on the best equipment and techniques

Best Metal Detector For Gold

When most of us think of hunting for buried treasure, we think of gold right? Buried gold, pirate gold, gold jewelry and coins all have their allure. Of all the types of metal detectors it's not hard to imagine that its this type that is in high demand.

Anybody who dreams of finding shiny nuggets or jewelry needs to be equip with the proper tools and I like to think that an accurate detector can be worth its weight in… well, treasure. If you know the right places to search, your piece of machinery can pay for itself very quickly.

What is the best metal detectors for gold? To find out, we’d like to reveal our top picks in the market today.


Top 3 Best Gold Detectors

1

garrett at gold review

Garrett AT Gold

2

fisher gold bug pro review

Fisher Gold Bug Pro

3

Garrett ATX reviews

Garrett ATX

Ok, let’s start by looking closely at our choices for the best beginner metal detectors. We have three and all of them are terrific choices, and this review will explain why. 

Again, we have chosen three of the best gold metal detectors for sale in the market to focus on in our reviews. To choose these, we trialled and tested the features and specifications of just about all of the models out there to find those that we felt confident were the best products available.


1. Garret AT Gold

Garrett AT Gold Screen

Garrett is a well-known name in the world of metal detectors and it should come as no surprise that our first choice on our list is the Garrett AT. Anyone who is in the market for a metal detectors for gold would do well to consider this product. Here's what we found when playing with this model.

Features and Specifications

Since we know that it's all about the features when it comes to distinguishing any product, we think it’s important to be specific about what you can expect to get when you buy this one.

The first consideration is that this product is waterproof in up to 10 feet of water. That’s important because one of the easiest places to find gold is in creeks and river beds. A gold detector machine that isn’t waterproof would be limited in its use.

It’s important to note that when we say waterproof, we’re talking about fresh water. This product is not recommended for use in salt water. If you want a model that can be used in salt water, make sure to look for a model that’s specifically designed for salt water use.

Garrett AT Gold in Water

The next key feature is their Double D coil. Many of the most popular brands have concentric or elliptical coils, but the coils for this type of detector we like best are the Double D (no pun intended). They do a great job of locating gold and helping you pinpoint it, so you don’t waste time digging for trash.

Another good feature is the padded hand grip and arm rest, which are designed with your comfort in mind. If you have ever swung a gold finder detector for hours, you know how easily your arm can wear out.

The people at Garrett want you to be able to find all the treasure you can handle and still be comfortable and with their push button adjustable stem that comes with this product. People of different heights may want a model that can be adjusted and Garrett have solved that problem with this model. 

The frequency of the Garrett AT is 18kHz, perfect for finding gold coins and jewelry.

We also like that it comes with an electronic headphone port, particularly useful if you’re using your equipment in a populated area or someplace with a lot of background noise.

We also think it’s important to consider the products physical specs when buying. Here’s what you need to know about the Garrett AT gold detector:

  • The search coil is 5” by 8”
  • The stem adjusts from 43” to 56”
  • The machine weighs 3.03 pounds

These features make the Garrett AT an ideal model and one of the best metal gold detectors on the market.

Garrett AT Detector

Benefits

Now, let’s examine some of the benefits you can expect to enjoy if you choose the Garrett AT Gold. Here they are:

  • It's easy to use and it has a very fast refresh rate when you’re out in the field with it.
  • It helps you distinguish when two objects are close to one another, reducing the risk of masking gold with something worthless like a bottle cap
  • It can find gold up to 12” below the surface of the ground.
  • The depth display eliminates wasted time and helps you turn up your treasure more quickly than other model

These are some serious benefits and they explain why you should consider the Garrett AT Gold if you are in the market for a reliable electronic gold detector.

Here's a gr​eat demonstration video.

Pros and Cons

We love most things about the Garrett AT, but we also think there are a few things that could be improved upon. Let’s look at the pros and cons of this gold detector.

PROS
  • Lightweight model is very easy to carry and significantly lighter than other products in the market.
  • The small coil makes it possible to get it into tight spaces where a larger coil might not fit.
  • The pinpointing figure is quite effective on this particular model.
CONS
  • While it's waterproof, it is not safe to use in salt water.
  • There is no coil protector or carrying case included.

Our Final Verdict

If you want a gold and silver detector to help you become a real treasure hunter, we really like the Garrett AT for the features we discussed here. 

We asked our friend Tom, who was in the market for a gold detector, to test out our picks. He spent a few minutes with this one in a park and very quickly found some gold jewelry. He liked its light weight and the small coil, which he said made it easy to pinpoint his finds.

As long as you invest in a coil protector and waterproof headphones, we think this model is worth the price and that’s why it’s our top pick.

Final Verdict Hammer

2. Fisher Gold Bug Pro

Fisher Gold Bug Pro Screen

​Our next pick is the Fisher Gold Bug Pro because we had a great time using it, thanks to some cool features. Here are the things we found when using this product.

Features and Specifications

This well crafted metal detector is packed full of features which is why it couldn't be missed on our Top 3 list. First, there’s the built-in ground phase value that provides you with a digital display letting you know what kind of mineralization is in the ground where you’re using your this type of machine. 

Experienced treasure hunters will know how important this feature is because the mineralization can have a significant impact on your ability to find gold and other precious metals.

Fisher Bug Pro Screen

Next, we want to talk about the industry’s first variable breaking tone discrimination system. This technology makes metal detecting gold easier than ever before. This is a feature that really sets this model apart from its competition in the market and in this category the competition is fierce. 

The third feature we’d like to point out is the real-time computerized ground balancing. On some less advanced models, you’d have to do the ground balancing manually.

Some people don’t mind that, but if it’s important to you to have a metal detector that doesn’t make you fuss about manual settings, this one is a good choice.

We also like that this model operates on a 19 kHz frequency, making it ideal for use as a white gold metal detector, or platinum metal detector.

It’s also very lightweight, easy to use and does a good job of finding that shiny treasure buried deep in mineralized soil, making it a good deep detector, too.

  • Size: 10.2” by 6.2” by 28.5”
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds
Fisher Bug Pro and Hand with Coins

Benefits

What are the benefits you can expect to enjoy if you choose the Fisher Gold Bug Pro?

  • Easy to use design goes from the box to the fields in just minutes, you can learn as you go
  • This is an ultra lightweight product so you can keep prospecting for hours without getting tired or wearing out your arm
  • The high frequency, mineralization and other features really make this a machine that’s designed to find gold and other precious metals, you won’t waste your time on trash
  • That said, this detector can also find clad coins so if there’s no gold in the area you can still find something of value

Here's a short video showing some of it's main features.

Pros and Cons

There’s no such thing as a perfect product. We really like the Fisher Gold Bug Pro and there are a lot of pros to buying it, so let’s review them and then we’ll talk about the potential drawbacks as well.

PROS
  • Reasonably priced for such a high caliber model.
  • At just 2.5 pounds, this is the smallest metal detector and the lightest, on our list, making it ideal for long prospecting trips.
CONS
  • You’ll have to pay extra to get an extended warranty on this machine.

Our Final Verdict

There’s no question in our mind that the Fisher Gold Bug Pro is one of the best gold detectors on the market. 

A few of our friends who tried this model out, loved the fact that it skipped right over junk metal and homed in on the good stuff. Most people said they were able to find valuable jewelry and clad coins using it and it was light enough that they could walk for hours without getting tired. This machine isn’t cheap, but it’s one of the best if you want to use your time finding valuable items instead of junk.

Man holding judge hammer

3. Garrett ATX

Garrett ATX Screen and product

Our final pick is a serious heavyweight, the Garrett ATX Pulse Induction Military Grade Metal Detector. The name is a mouthful, but the features are seriously impressive.This machine is no joke. It’s not a simple detector, it’s a serious piece of machinery for serious and professional treasure hunters.

Features and Specifications

As always, let’s begin by looking at the features of the Garrett ATX.

As you might expect from a military grade detector, this machine is safe to use in dusty, humid and hot environments. It’s waterproof up to 3 meters (that’s 10 feet) and the housing is weatherproof too. That means you can take this product almost anywhere without worrying that it will get damaged or broken.

Garrett ATX

The next big feature here is the Advanced Ground Balance. A lot of these types of detectors require manual ground balancing.

This machine has the ability to ground balance from highly mineralized soil to salt water without switching to special modes, it all happens automatically.

The Garrett ATX kit is designed to be fully portable, again, that’s what you might expect from product that bills itself as being military grade.

You can operate this machine in its fully extended form, fully collapsed, or in any state in between. That makes it ideal for use in tight spaces and also makes it easy to transport.

There’s a quick iron check that you can use to determine if you’re in a high iron area, important if you hope to be able to discriminate between precious metals and scrap iron.

It also has motion and non-motion modes to suit your particular treasure hunting style.

  • Size: 68" by 5" by 4" when fully extended. 
  • Weight: 5 pounds

Don’t let the shipping weight of this item fool you. It’s actually a very manageable weight.

Garrett ATX Accessories

Benefits

What benefits can you expect to get if you splurge and buy the Garrett ATX?

Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • This is a serious metal detector and it has a scanner that can find things in areas that you think have been picked clean by other treasure hunters.
  • While the hefty price tag might be on the higher end of the scale, the truth is that this machine is a dream to use if you're an experienced hunter that knows how to use military grade machinery.
  • It can take a beating and keep on beeping.
  • You might pay a lot for it, but this is a reliable metal detector that you can expect to have and use for years and if you use it in the right places, it can easily pay for itself.

Here's a great video showing off the Garrett ATX.

Pros and Cons

Metal detectors and gold go together like a horse and carriage, but no machine is perfect. Let’s look at the pros and cons of the Garrett ATX, beginning with the pros.

PROS
  • The biggest pro as we see it is how good the Garrett ATX is at finding deeply buried gold and other precious metals, even in places that seem to have been picked clean.
  • We also like the automatic ground balancing, especially nice in a machine that can be used on land, in water and rough terrain.
  • Despite its price, this product is very easy to use and you can get going with your treasure hunt immediately.
CONS
  • There’s no question that the price is very high and not for the hobbyist or casual metal detecting enthusiasts can afford this product. If you're looking for something cheap this isn't for you.

Our Final Verdict

We also gave our friend Tom this machine to try out and he couldn’t believe how much it found. He went into an area that he’d been over before and found several items he’d missed. His one complaint was that he wished the machine were a bit lighter but other than that is was great he said. If you’re ready to get serious about finding gold, we highly recommend the Garrett ATX.

The Fisher Gold Bug made it on our Top 3 list because it's reasonably affordable, it has excellent features makes it a good pick for just about anyone who’s in the market for the best metal detector for gold and silver.

Judge Hammer

What You Need to Know Before You Buy

Hand holding golden nugget

To round out this buying guide, let’s review some of the things you should think about when buying a gold detector. Let’s talk quickly about what makes a model. The specifications are different for gold detectors than for traditional metal detectors and for good reason. I'm here to finally put the age old question to rest and that, "do metal detectors detect gold?". The answers are right here.

Robot

1. The Right Metal Detector Technology

You want a metal detector for gold, meaning one that’s designed to “hear” it's frequencies and report it back to you. The best product for this type of prospecting is never going to be a run-of-the-mill metal detector.

2. The Operating Frequency

Some metal detectors work on a very low frequency, also known as VLF. Other work on multiple frequencies and some use pulse induction technology.

Operating Frequency of a Treasure Hunter

The primary difference is that you may get more background chatter with VLF detectors, while PI inductors are better equipped to find deeply buried gold in heavily mineralized soil.

Hand and Pinpointer in Mineralized Soil

3. The Mineralization it Can Handle

Many gold deposits are found by detectors in heavily mineralized soil.

You need a model that can filter out trace metals and help you hone in on the treasure you’re looking for.

Of course, there are other considerations as well. We’ll go into more detail about what you should look for when buying these types of detectors further down the page.

4. Where Will You Be Doing Most of Your Metal Detecting?

River and mountains

The first question to ask when you’re looking for a gold detector is where you will be doing most of your prospecting?

Some people who want a detector intend to hunt for jewelry on beaches, in parks and underwater. Others live near gold prospecting areas and they want to know, more about this specific type of model. 

You’ll want to think about your most likely destinations and choose a product that’s ideally suited for them. Some are designed for varied terrain, while others are not.

5. What Size Nuggets are Found in That Area?

Gold Nugget

Another question to ask has to do with what size nugets are commonly found in the area where you’ll be prospecting. Can metal detectors find gold if the gold is just dust? Again, the answer is yes if you choose the right detector.

Some machines are better at finding gold dust, while others are specialized and ideal for finding chains and jewelry. Whatever you choose is up to you, but just be sure to have made a decision about these things before going out and buying one, or you'll regret it later.

6. Is the Soil Highly Mineralized?

Man rubbing mineralized soil in his hands

The next thing you need to consider is whether the soil in your area or where you’ll be prospecting is highly mineralized? Highly mineralized soil can include precious metals like gold, but it can also be full of iron and other trace metals that can affect your detector’s ability to find some.

Your best bet is to find a model that has been designed for use in highly mineralized soil, particularly one with the ability to filter out background noise. Iron settings are particularly helpful because a lot of the areas where gold is abundant also are rich in worthless metals that are unlikely to be what you want.

If you’re not sure what the soil mineralization is like where you live, you can do a test or see if your town or county has information that might help. Of course, you don’t want to tip other treasure hunters off, but doing a simple text or making an inquiry might be enough to point you in the direction of the right product for your needs.

Keep in mind that if you live in an area where there are a lot of relics and artifacts, those things may be just as valuable as gold, if not more so. However, you should also check your local laws to find out if you’re required to hand over items of historical importance for review.

Rusted Shipwreck

It’s important to remember, too, that clad coins, sterling silver jewelry and even gold plated jewelry can be valuable. Not every find will be pure, but they don’t have to be to help you earn some money to support your metal detecting habit.

7. Your Budget

NHI ForagerGo Treasure Hunter

The final consideration to keep in mind is your budget. As you can see from the three products we reviewed on this page, there is a wide price range when it comes to evaluating your purchase. They can range from just over $500 to over $2000 and you’ll need to think about how much you’re willing to spend to get the model that suits your personal hunting needs.

One thing that we suggest you think about when evaluating your budget is the potential for earning a big return on your investment. For example, say that you live someplace that’s near a good gold prospecting spot. Maybe you even live in a former gold rush town where prospectors struck it rich back in the 1800s.

Calculator and Pencil

You might think that the entire area is picked clean, or maybe you’ve found a bit of gold dust or a small nugget using an ordinary metal detector. Perhaps you are in the market for a gold detector because you think having one might enable you to make bigger, more valuable discoveries.

Of course, there’s only one way to find out, but don’t you want to find out? Finding jewelry and coins can be a bit of a crap shoot, but people who are persistent and spend a lot of time at beaches and parks can get quite lucky finding valuable jewelry to sell.

If you have reason to believe that you live in a very rich treasure hunting area, then springing for a serious professional model might make sense. Finding one big nugget or a bunch of small ones could be enough to reimburse you for the price of your machine and considering that the highest priced models also tend to be the most durable, your detector could pay for itself many times over.


What is the Best Gold Detector for You?

Man looking out at sea

The hunt for the right gold detector can feel a lot like winning the lottery. Specialty models are a little expensive and yet if you don’t buy a machine that’s designed to find the treasure you're looking for, you might be missing out on significant finds under your feet, under the water, or beneath the rocks.

The three models we reviewed on this page are all high-quality products and we're not the only people praising them, that’s why we chose them as our best gold detectors on the market. Buying any one of them can put you in a position to find gold to match your wildest treasure-hunting dreams and make you the envy of your friends.

If you want to compare other reviews before you make your final decision, click here more reviews on the best metal detectors in the market today.

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