In this guide we’ll take a look at the best metal detectors for gold.
We’ve compared operating frequency, technology, ease of use, and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What Is The Best Metal Detector for Gold Nugget Prospecting?
More Detailed Gold Metal Detector Reviews
This is one awesome piece of kit, and if I’m honest, it’s the best metal detector for gold on the market.
The Gold Bug Pro works on a 19 kHz operating frequency. It can detect a sliver of gold above all other metals such as a coin. That means you only need to buy one detector.
Let’s start with the search coils. This beauty has fast re-tune and biaxial coils that really pinpoint gold over other metals. They’re the standard 5″ DD round closed coils which are waterproof – a feature not all gold detectors include. I like this a lot as it makes river prospecting an option.
If 5-inch coils don’t satisfy there’s an option for an 11’’ DD waterproof search coil attachment too, but that doesn’t come as part of the package.
The audio is great on this detector. It has what they call ‘V-Break’ which is a variable breakpoint discrimination system.
You get to control its computerized multi-tone audio with mightily accurate precision. It takes some getting used to, but because it helps distinguish low audio tone iron and high audio tone gold it’s worth learning the language.
The visual ID system really helps to pinpoint target location and cuts out frustrating ‘digging around only to find iron’ time. Save your energy for the gold.
Ground balancing is essential for gold prospecting and is expected on this level of detector.
Good news then that the Gold Bug Pro has a real-time ground balancing system that’s fully computerized. It calibrates itself and indicates what minerals are in the soil to help you locate that elusive nugget.
The system monitors soil conditions, tracking down black sand areas where gold is often located. The Fe3O4 meter indicates the amount of mineralization present to make sure you don’t miss anything good.
The Gold Bug Pro also differentiates between large iron objects and smaller pieces like nails so you can get a good idea of what lies beneath the soil without digging.
It’s a soil reading machine as well as a detector and a great choice for those who really want to find that gold.
This machine weighs a tiny 2.5 pounds so you won’t get arm ache and give up inches away from the jackpot. It measures 10.2 x 6.2 x 28.5 inches and needs 1 9V battery.
This is a top of the range machine trusted by many detectorists – it’s seriously worth consideration for its barely-there weight alone.
- Easily finds small nuggets
- Works well in highly mineralized soils
- Guides you to the right soils for gold prospecting
- Only the coil is waterproof
The Garret AT Gold Metal Detector is a high tech piece of kit that’s entirely waterproof.
This gold nugget metal detector was designed to uncover tiny gold nuggets in all terrains, particularly shallow freshwater areas.
Its waterproof to a maximum depth of 10 feet in freshwater lakes and streams, so if you slip it should manage to survive a drenching.
The AT Gold has a 5×8 DD search coil which plenty big enough to pick up gold signals without wasting time and is comparable with other gold metal detectors.
It pushes out the higher kHz range that’s perfect for picking up gold signals whilst running on the All Metal Mode. This means it searches at the greatest depth but with great sensitivity. You’ll get as far down as possible with the best golden results.
The all-important ground balance is included as manual or automatic to optimize your experience and suit how you prefer to hunt.
This feature pushes The AT Gold onto the leader-board for highly mineralized soils – the type gold is most likely to be found.
But what about discrimination you ask?
Well, the AT Gold discrimination modes are highly recommended for a serious gold hunter. It has two modes alongside the True All Metal Mode. Choose DISC 1 and DISC 2 modes for changeable tone ID.
Tones tell you what you’ve found without digging the find up. If you can interpret the tones you’ll leave nails, tin foil, and coke can tabs behind.
The AT Gold’s tones work on a continuous audio response, so you can keep reading the nuances your detector picks up and better understand what is beneath the soil.
Run it in All Motion mode to pick up signals and then switch to pinpoint mode when you’ve uncovered a likely target. Hold it steady to pinpoint the exact location and prepare for the dig.
The Garrett AT Gold measures 21.3 x 14.4 x 5.7 inches and weighs 6.7 pounds.
It’s not the lightest machine, but it’s not exactly heavy either. You’ll need 4 AA batteries to power it up.
Almost forgot to say you’ll receive Mastersound headphones as part of the package!
The AT Gold has plenty of features for the serious gold hunter.
- A true all metal mode
- Can discriminate between metals with ease
- A top-notch ground balancing system
- Waterproof to 10ft
- It’s heavier than others
- It’s waterproof but not recommended for salt water
The Fisher Gold Bug is what I’d consider the best cheap metal detector for gold (in comparison to some of the other models in this list). It’s probably the best beginner metal detector for gold too, as it doesn’t require massive investment to get started.
It doesn’t have as many features as the Fisher Gold Bug Pro, but it still wipes the floor with many other brands.
The Gold Bug has a 5-inch search coil that’s comparable with others of the same price and above, but you can upgrade to the bigger coil if you want to cover a larger area or spend less time in the field.
This well-priced gold detector has a 19 kHz operating frequency and super sensitive 2 tone discrimination to help differentiate between metals found in the soil.
The two search modes are a standard metal mode that picks up everything. The second mode is discriminate for specific gold hunting. So if you’re looking for the best metal detector for gold, silver, coins and jewelry, this is a great option as you can flip between the settings.
It has good ground balance functionality too. Gold Bug uses continuous ground balance with a ground mineralization readout.
This means you can find the black sand areas that gold is commonly found in without sending the readings haywire. The 0-99 numeric identification display indicates how likely the find it is to be the metal you’re looking for – that is, gold!
One of the great features of the Gold Bug is the no-motion pinpoint, something other more expensive detectors don’t include. You don’t have to move your detector around to get a signal, just hold it over the area to pinpoint the target and start digging.
For those of us that need glasses to read, the Gold Bug helps out with a large LCD display. It might sound a bit far stretched, but when you’re wearing headphones, getting the arms of your glasses to fit in too is a trial. It’s the little things that make life easier.
And speaking of headphones it has a ¼ and 1/8 inch headphone jack.
The Gold Bug measures 28.3 x 6 x 10 inches and weighs a paltry 4.6 lbs. You’ll need 2 AA batteries to power it up.
- Great ergonomics make it a pleasure to use
- Large LCD display
- 2 search modes: all-metal and discriminate
- Large LCD screen with 0-99 numeric target identification display
- No-Motion pinpoint
- It doesn’t have the multi-tone audio capabilities of pricier models
- It’s not waterproof
The Tesoro Lobo SuperTraq is a deep-seeking gold-prospecting machine for all abilities.
So let’s start with the search coil size. It’s a whopping elliptical wide-scan 10 inches as standard, which is double the size on my previous recommendations. This is going to help if you’re covering a large area or don’t want to spend too much time in the same place.
The SuperTraq has a high frequency of 17.5 kHz for gold searching capabilities, which is not as high as the AT Gold or the Gold Bugs’ 19kHZ, but it’s still good enough to find tiny nuggets of gold in highly mineralized soils.
The ground-balancing set up is a bit different on this detector. Instead of fully computerized ground-balancing, you have the option to choose between Alkaline, Normal and Black Sand. The machine then self-regulates the ground balance in those modes.
This is pretty handy if you know where you are and what soil you’re on. Experts gold prospectors will know this but if you’re a novice, find out first.
It has great discrimination properties so you can ignore the metallic trash, track gold, or choose to shake it up for coin or relics instead – there’s no need to buy two machines.
The Supertraq incorporates a pinpoint mode so you know exactly where to dig, and when coupled with the sensitive discrimination mode you’re not going to be cleaning up tin foil and nails all day.
It measures 21.5 x 8.7 x 4.8 inches and weighs 3.5 lbs.
You’ll need 8 x AA batteries to get going and reviewers say they’ll last 20-30 hours before you need to swap them out.
- Works well in all soil conditions
- Lightweight only 3.5 pounds
- A large wide-scan 10-inch coil
- Battery pack can rattle a bit
- There’s no protection for the wide-scan coil such as a skid plate
The Minelab Gold Monster 1000 is a 45kHz gold-hunting detector with top-notch discrimination modes and ground-balancing capability.
Because high frequencies are generally better at locating gold this machine, with 45kHz frequency and a 24-bit signal processor, can really pinpoint where the good stuff is hidden without bringing noise and false signals from other metal objects to muddy the waters.
Plus it has a 10” x 6” double D coil AND a 5” double D coil in the price – no others offer that up.
In comparison with other high-frequency gold detectors on the market the Minelab Gold Monster 1000 has jacked up iron discrimination and it copes better with the conductivity of salty water.
It has full-on digital electronics to make your signals easy-to-read, and automatic ground balance to match the soil you’re working on.
You can fine-tune the sensitivity to your preference if you want to, but I like to go with the machine – Minelab did a lot of work to figure out the best settings certainly more than I can ever hope to achieve.
Automatic noise cancel lets you concentrate on weak gold signals without interference. If you like to carry out really thorough scans this is one for you.
This is also a particularly easy gold metal detector to use. It has a quick start-up for novices and the controls are straight-forward.
Those of us that can just about work our mobiles phones will breathe a sigh of relief – you don’t need to be a gadget freak or astrophysicist to work out this gold hunter.
It measures 23.6 x 5.1 x 9.8 inches and weighs 6.8 pounds. A lithium-ion battery is included in the setup.
If you’re a serious gold prospector this machine is bound to increase your finds. It does a great job of thoroughly searching for gold no matter how small the fragments.
It has fewer features than other of the same price, but the technology and super high frequency makes it the perfect gold hunting companion.
- Extra sensitive 45 kHz
- Very high-frequency capabilities
- Two search coils in the pack
- Some folk find the automatic set up and automated features mean they don’t have full control
How To Choose A Metal Detector for Gold
Of course, your final choice will come down to preference and costs, but it doesn’t hurt to read reviews and take advice from seasoned metal detecting pros.
You don’t actually need a specific gold detector to find gold, because all metal detectors will pick up its signal, but a specialist machine makes it more likely you’ll find the good stuff.
It’ll also help you located the smaller, deeper buried pieces that standard machines find it hard to register.
Gold detectors are usually priced higher than standard machines but because they do a better job the value is repaid in gold finds.
Look for features you think will help you, such as automatic ground balancing, continuous audio feedback, and technology that filters out the junk.
How The Technology Works To Find The Gold
If you don’t go to locations that gold is found in, you won’t find much even with a top of the range model.
Research pays dividends so look up gold prospecting sites, their permissions and don’t forget the rivers. Many gold rings are found in water.
Metal detectors work through conductivity. They push electromagnetic fields into the ground from the search coil and receive an electromagnetic field in return. The detector beeps to alerts you.
Specialist gold-detecting machines will pick up all metals but they are tweaked to find the conductivity that gold creates, and to discriminate between that signal and the signals thrown up by other metals such as iron and aluminum.
A kilohertz or a kHz is the number of waves a metal detector can send into the soil. For example, 5 kHz sends 5000 waves per second.
The higher your kHz the more likely you are to find gold. High-frequency kHz have shorter wavelengths and find smaller targets with less conductivity, such as nuggets and flakes of gold.
That’s why gold detectors generally have a higher kHz capacity than lower priced all-purpose models.
The mineralised soil is a problem because it causes confusion and endless hours digging fruitlessly for a target that isn’t actually there.
The soil is not simply ‘dirt’ – it’s a mix of chemicals, minerals and all good things that bring life. This means it has a certain amount of magnetism – the same property metal detectors use to find metal.
It means your metal detector may be set off by deposits of minerals in the soil.
The old soil is often highly mineralized because rain forces iron compounds to the surface. Often this soil is red or black sand. It makes it hard to figure out what is a real signal and what is from the soil mineralization.
Gold is more commonly found in highly mineralized soil, and detectors with high kHz capabilities, such as gold detecting machines, are more liable to interference from the ground.
Isn’t that typical!
But don’t worry – it just means you need a good piece of kit to sort out the soil from the gold if you’re serious about gold nuggetprospecting. The latest technology can overcome ground mineralization.
Ground balance capability for example picks up the mineralization of the soil and calibrates settings to ignore it.
The soil is literally full. It’s full of life, chemicals, minerals and our human trash.
Metal detecting is mostly digging out the trash. Aluminum foil is my pet hate, along with nails, and those pieces of unidentifiable metals twisted into weird shapes.
Trash is everywhere, and if you want to find coins, jewelry or more importantly, gold you need a detector that can sort out the trash contamination from the good stuff.
Look carefully at your metal detector’s discrimination capacity because that’s the bit that will save you hours of digging for Coke cans.
Going For Gold
If you’re serious about finding gold a metal detector with extra gold-seeking capabilities is going to make your hobby a lot more successful.
Yes, they cost more, all good things do, but the trick is to get the best metal detector for gold you can afford and keep taking it out so you tune into its capabilities and really understand what those beeps mean.
Cheaper models have less sensitivity, but they can be easier to understand particularly for beginners. (See my guide to the best metal detectors for beginner’s here).
If you pay attention and keep heading out to the right places your investment will pay for itself. The high price of gold means even the smallest pieces can be worthwhile.
And once you have bought the detector, there isn’t much else to buy.
All you need to do is research the ground, history, and required permissions. That can be done in the public library for free.
Purchasing a gold-seeking metal detector might actually save you money. Try that line with your partner and see how far it gets you!
Good luck and Happy Hunting, my fellow gold diggers.