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Author Topic: can a cheaper metal detector detect placer gold?  (Read 32718 times)

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Offline skodaboy23

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can a cheaper metal detector detect placer gold?
« on: July 29, 2013, 07:10:00 PM »
Hi All, I'm new to prospecting and gold panning, but I got into it heavy this spring and summer and I'm looking to get some more equipment.
  I'm liking the looks of the little hand pumped suckers, and also was wondering if a cheap (300$) metal detector would be helpful prospecting?  I was looking at the entry level garrett ace or bounty hunter 2200, but would this be a waste of money and time?
  I don't think I'm ready to drop 1000$ on a detector yet.  Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Offline XT18000

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Re: can a cheaper metal detector detect placer gold?
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2013, 06:35:00 PM »

    Placer gold is normally to fine to be detected with most metal detectors, the reason being is the lack

   of mass. most have trouble detecting small link ( fine gold links ) chains for the same reason; you have all

   those tiny particles  but there not connected to give them mass. Mass is what creates the magnetic response

   to the detectors transmitted signal that you hear as a beep, ( this is a quick and dirty explanation ).

   I said most detectors will not detect placer gold, the old "gold spear" detector would but only if its probe

   type " search coil " came into direct contact with a piece of gold. These detectors were designed just for

   this kind of gold, but they haven't been on the market for several years, but reports have it as going to be

   back on the market in a year or so if all go's well.

   What you can do with a good detector is hunt for " black sand  " deposits instead; as gold and black sand are

   usually found together ( BUT NOT ALWAYS ), The black sands ( Magnetite;) are a type of iron ore and very heavy

   so it accumulates in the same kind of places that you will find gold. As for what detector to buy, you need one

   that you can ground balance manually, Fisher gold bug, gold bug 2, Garrett AT Gold, Scorpion, Whites MXT,

   to name a few will serve the prospector well, and there in a price range that most can afford. Get on the web

   and hunt a dealer for them to get a feel for there price range. The ACE 250 falls short in this line of work, it

   can pick up small nuggets but it will miss a lot more, coin machines for the most part make poor gold machines,

   stick with one that is made to find gold and you will be far ahead to start with. At todays price of gold, it takes

   only around 1/2 oz. to pay for a good machine. But always remember, you have to do your part first ( research )

   to find an area that has gold, the machine will do its part if you give it half a chance. A #2 shovel and a gold pan

   has found more  gold than all the detectors out there. If your area has only fine gold, spend more time looking for

   black sands and let that find the gold for you.

Offline skodaboy23

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Re: can a cheaper metal detector detect placer gold?
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2013, 07:39:04 PM »
Thanks for the information.  I'll think I'll wait on the metal detector and spend some money on a gold sucker and other toys.  I got to gear up for my prospecting trip next week  ;D

Offline Gregor

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Re: can a cheaper metal detector detect placer gold?
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2014, 07:18:47 PM »
I actually tried a cheap coin shooter at a hydraulic mining pit.  I found bullets, but the mineralization in the soil produced all kinds of false positive signals.     I bought a secondhand White's MXT a few years later.  It is a good general use machine, but if you really want to find small gold, you need one that runs on a higher frequency, such as the GMT.   

Any good metal detector will have circuitry to help you distinguish between iron ("hot rocks" and so on) and non-ferrous metal objects -- bullets, sinkers, shot, brass, aluminum, silver items, and gold.
My GMT also IDs pull tabs and other trash. 

Coils also matter.  Large coils detect deeper but can miss more small gold and can be hard to maneuver into crevices.   A small elliptical will work better for prospecting crevices and tight areas in bedrock.   It will also help you find smaller gold.

The IMCJ Prospecting and Mining Journal has been running a great intro series on metal detectors and prospecting by Steve Herschenbach.  Excellent material, highly recommended reading.

PS -- If you're in an area where all the gold is fine, don't waste your money on a metal detector.  You'll do better with a good sluice, which is substantially less expensive.

Offline fraser river dan

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Re: can a cheaper metal detector detect placer gold?
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2014, 06:24:44 AM »
  I recently went up to the nass valley and found out the rivers and creeks where way to high to work
 so when i went into terrace i bought the low end detector and brought it out too have some fun and learn how to use it.
 i had a small vial with some flood gold in it and tested it out last summer on the higher end model one up from mine
 and it picked it up.I tried the same said v ial with the cheaper one i bought and it didnt pick up the gold in my vial.
so on my way back to home i dropped it off and got my money back and said it didnt work for what i wanted and got my money back.
Lucky for me one of the guys i was with on the trips fathers had passed away awhile ago and has an older whites he is will to let me buy.
In my experience NO the cheaper ones dont detect gold.

Dream Big or  go Home!!

Offline ryanonthevedder

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Re: can a cheaper metal detector detect placer gold?
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2014, 06:37:56 AM »
I have never used a metal detector, but I am in the same boat as Dan. I am prospecting a high bench and am leaning towards a detector to take it up a notch (as opposed to a highbanker). From my research it looks like the units in the $700-$800 range are what a guy needs to find gold. Currently I am looking at a Garrett AT Gold. The best price I have found was a website in the states. $675 and it comes with a "prospectors kit" which adds some value too. Used is good too, but I am looking at $400+. So I'm just circling waiting for the right deal to come along.
Cheap detectors just wont do it IMO.

Offline Top Cat

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Re: can a cheaper metal detector detect placer gold?
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2014, 07:40:35 AM »
I have been metal detecting since 1997, the Garrett Ace 250/350 will only pick up Gold about the size of your little finger nail (picker size). Stay away from the Bounty Hunter machines. They are not user friendly.

The ATPro Gold (Garrett) or the Fisher Gold Bug will do the job at a reasonable price range. There are better detectors for gold but they are in the $2,000.00 plus range.

Good Luck & hope this helps.


Offline sunshine

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Re: can a cheaper metal detector detect placer gold?
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2014, 08:19:36 AM »
A cheap detector will find large nuggets.  It will likely have a great deal of trouble with hot rocks and you will think you have a target and it is just a big ol boulder. 
See my YouTube channel for fun amateur video:

Offline undersc0re

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Re: can a cheaper metal detector detect placer gold?
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2014, 11:21:32 AM »
I tried without success at all finding anything unless it was a test nugget or large flake no deeper than 2-4 inches, I used the at gold and goldbug 2 with 6 inch coil in the kamloops shuswap and in some places along the fraser canyon. The ground is way too mineralized around here, and probably no big nuggets or flakes close enough to the surface, as well as all the false signals driving me bonkers, even after many hours it is hard to tell the difference between the goldand other objects. There is a lot of crap along the banks hiding there other than hot rocks that will make you dig and dig and dig. The larger new flood gold flakes seem to be deep enough that the detector can not pick them up, or the hot rocks throw you off. I figured the detectors would help find the hot spot flood gold areas at least, but your better off panning to find your workable areas with my experience so far. I sold the goldbug 2 after a couple years, it was way too sensitive, and the atgold detectors at least discriminates the hot rocks for you, and lets you know for the most part if it has picked up nails or other crap and not gold, its just not as sensitive. My detectors have found much more $$$$ worth of stuff than my pan has, but the pan has found all the raw gold.