Looking to strike gold during your next treasure hunt? First you need to find the best metal detector for gold.
A high-quality metal detector can do just that. While there’s no shortage of metal detectors on the market, not every piece of equipment is capable of recognizing the precious metal.
Whether you’re looking for nuggets, jewelry, or fine grain, you’re going to need gear that’s fine-tuned to work with the unique properties of gold.
In this guide, we’re going to go over some of the best gold metal detectors that money can buy. Check out our comparison table and buying guide to gain more insight into what these products have to offer.
If you want to know:
➜ Why Garrett AT Gold is the best metal detector for gold
➜ Why not all metal detectors can detect gold
➜ What to look for when deciding what gold detector to get
➜ How can a metal detector find gold
Then you’ve come to the right place.
Top 7 Gold Metal Detectors 2023
- Garrett AT Gold – Best Gold Metal Detector
- Minelab CTX 3030 – Most Popular Option
- Fisher Gold Bug Pro – Best for Ground Mineralization
- Minelab Gold Monster 1000 – Best for Beginners
- Fisher Gold Bug – Most Affordable Option
- Minelab GPZ 7000 – Professional Gold Metal Detector
- Fisher Gold Bug 2 – Best High-Powered Option
1. Garrett AT Gold – Best Metal Detector for Gold
Garrett is a relatively popular brand that’s known for making some high-quality gear.
This gold detector model is no different. While it’s marketed to those seeking gold, this unit is perfectly capable of finding any type of metal.
The detector is well-designed and features a very user-friendly control box.
When it comes to performance, this detector has a lot to offer. It features an adjustable frequency setting. You can set the detector all the way up to 18 kHz to help you find the smallest gold pieces. That’s not all.
The Garrett metal detector also has a unique Iron Audio feature. Essentially, it’s a filter that allows you to look past small minerals without affecting your treasure search. There’s also a targeting system. You can easily set this feature to find metals based on conductivity.
All in all, we recommend the Garrett AT Gold metal detector. It’s a flexible piece of equipment that’s more than ready to help you find precious metals. Thanks to its waterproof build and lightweight design, you can take it just about anywhere.
2. Minelab CTX 3030 – Most Popular Option
The Minelab CTX 3030 is one of the most popular metal detectors on the market, and it’s easy to see why. This versatile detector can be used for a variety of purposes, from gold prospecting to relic hunting.
It’s packed with features, including a multi-language menu, automatic ground balance, and a durable waterproof design, that make it perfect for both beginners and experienced treasure hunters alike. Perhaps most importantly, it’s incredibly easy to use.
The CTX 3030 has a large, clear display that shows all the information you need at a glance, and the controls are straightforward and intuitive. Even if you’ve never used a metal detector before, you should have no trouble getting started with the CTX 3030.
In addition to being user-friendly, the CTX 3030 is also very versatile. It’s capable of detecting all types of metals, from iron to gold, and it works well in both highly mineralized soils and salty environments like beaches.
And if you’re looking for a particular type of target, the CTX 3030 has five preset search modes that you can choose from. As an added bonus, its wireless module WM 10 allows you to use the supplied headphones or your own pair of headphones.
The only downside to the CTX 3030 is its price tag, it’s one of the more expensive metal detectors on the market. But if you’re serious about treasure hunting, the Minelab CTX 3030 is definitely worth considering.
Overall, the CTX 3030 is an excellent choice for people in the market for a new gold detector.
3. Fisher Gold Bug Pro – Best for Ground Mineralization
The Gold Bug Pro from Fisher is specifically made to help you find gold. It has an ultra high-frequency setting.
With its high operating frequency of 19 kHz, the metal detector is much higher than the average unit. Thus, it’s well-suited for finding even the tiniest gold nuggets.
As if that weren’t enough, Fisher has also included several performance features to make your gold metal detecting adventures a bit easier.
The V-Break tone discrimination system, for example, makes ignoring unwanted metals a breeze.
Some cheaper metals like iron produce a lower tone. Meanwhile, targets like gold or silver relics and coins create a high-pitched tone. You can use the metal detector in highly mineralized soil, too. The metal detector can determine the ground phase value. This helps you see how mineralized the soil is before you continue
The Fisher Gold Bug Pro does well across the board. While we wish it had adjustable frequency settings, there’s no denying that this metal detector will help you find gold in places that standard options couldn’t.
4. Minelab Gold Monster 1000 – Best for Beginners
Check out this high-tech metal detector from Minelab.
The product is well-built and features a simple design that’s comfortable to use. You can adjust several components to get a snug fit. Based on the frequency setting and sensitivity adjustments, we’re willing to bet that this metal detector is more than capable of finding gold.
The maximum frequency you can use to search for metal is 45 kHz. That’s nearly three times as high as the previous metal detector we recommended. With the high-frequency setting, the metal detector can spot smaller nuggets without missing a beat.
Additionally, the unit does a decent job of searching in mineralized ground conditions. It’s not perfect, but the metal detector does look past conductive salt and metals.
The only negative aspect of this metal detector is that it’s a VLF unit. The manufacturers have implemented features to make up for the weaker power. However, the fact that the metal detector doesn’t use pulse technology can’t be overlooked.
With all that said, the metal detector is great for beginners. It’s virtually fool-proof. The system automatically reduces noise and adjusts sensitivity.
5. Fisher Gold Bug Metal Detector – Best Affordable Product
With its sleek design, this metal detector from Fisher offers a modern twist on an age-old hobby.
The product is surprisingly lightweight. The primary control box is compact, too. Overall, the unit offers a no-frills experience, allowing you to pick up and go.
Thanks to the relatively affordable price tag, the metal detector is also much more accessible to lower-budget detectorists than some pricier alternatives.
When it comes to finding gold, the metal detector does a great job across the board. The operating frequency is 19 kHz, which is much higher than what most gold nuggets need. Plus, there is a modest filter to block out metals you don’t want. Pair that with the numeric targeting system, and you’re sure to find gold at some point.
The metal detector has everything detectorist needs to start finding gold. It might not be the most powerful or feature-rich option on this list. But, the core functionality offers a lot of flexibility compared to others.
6. Minelab GPZ 7000 – Professional Gold Metal Detector
Unlike many other detectors, the Minelab GPZ 7000 is specifically designed for gold prospecting. The GPZ 7000 uses a special type of technology called Zero Voltage Transmission (ZVT), which allows it to operate at a higher frequency than other detectors. This means that it can find smaller pieces of gold that other detectors might miss.
It features a number of unique technologies that make it ideal for finding nuggets of gold, including a 14″ x 13″ Super‑D search coil with skidplate and an Advanced Ground Balance system. The GPZ 7000 has an incredibly sensitive discrimination function that can help you to ignore trash items and focus on finding real treasures.
The GPZ 7000 is also very easy to use, even for beginners. It has an intuitive interface and comes with all the settings pre-programmed. The unit’s large LCD screen makes it easy to keep track of all your settings and adjust them as needed.
However, the biggest downside of the GPZ 7000 is its price tag. It is one of the most expensive detectors on the market. But for those who can afford it, the Minelab GPZ 7000 is definitely worth the investment.
Overall, the Minelab GPZ 7000 is an excellent choice for experts serious about gold prospecting.
7. Fisher Gold Bug 2 – Best High-Powered Metal Detector
Take one look at this metal detector from Fisher, and you’ll know that it means business.
The product features a large 6.5-inch search coil and a massive control box. Despite its size, the box doesn’t seem to add any unnecessary bulk or discomfort. It manages to tip the scales just below 3 pounds.
With that said, we’re not too crazy about the control system. Many modern models of metal detectors are equipped with digital screens and multiple settings. If you’re not familiar with the technical side of metal detecting, you might find the control scheme a bit overwhelming.
Flawed designs aside, this metal detector is a powerhouse when it comes to performance. It’s capable of pumping out 71 kHz. The frequency settings are fully adjustable. You can even use three different mineralization filters. You can also adjust sensitivity levels, volume, and more.
Thanks to its high-frequency output, this metal detector is perfect for finding very small gold nuggets.
Main Features Comparison
|Garrett AT Gold||Minelab CTX 3030||Fisher Gold Bug Pro||Minelab Gold Monster 1000||Fisher Gold Bug||Minelab GPZ 7000||Fisher Gold Bug 2|
|Frequency||18 kHz||VLF: 1-100 kHz||19 kHz||45 kHz||19 kHz||ZVT: 1-100 kHz||71 kHz|
|Coil Size||5″ x 8″ DD||11″ DD||5″ DD||5″ DD||5″ DD||14″ x 13″ DD||6.5″ DD|
|Weight||3.03 lbs (1.4 kg)||5.2 lbs (2.36 kg)||2.5 lbs (1.13 kg)||2.95 lbs (1.34 kg)||2.5 lbs (1.13 kg)||7.32 lbs (3.32 kg)||2.9 lbs (1.32 kg)|
|Battery Life||Up to 20 hours||Up to 11 hours||Up to 25 hours||Up to 8 hours||Up to 25 hours||Up to 40 hours||Up to 25 hours|
|Warranty||2 years||3 years||5 years||2 years||5 years||3 years||5 years|
How do Gold Metal Detectors Work?
Before we get into the specifics, it’s always a good idea to understand more about how these specialty devices work. Metal detectors come in all shapes and sizes. They’re not just for hobbyists. You’ll find them at the entrance of buildings, being used by law enforcement professionals, and more.
Regardless of the design, most metal detectors rely on electromagnetism to work. Hand-held hobby detectors have a small oscillator that creates an alternating magnetic field. Typically, it’s on the scanning end of the unit, making it easy to target specific areas.
When you hover the machine over a piece of metal, that hidden treasure will produce eddy currents. You see, metals like gold are highly conductive. The magnetic field from the detector causes the metal to come to life. Those currents are then picked up by another coil in the detector to alert you of a potential find below the soil.
Why Can’t All Detectors Find Gold?
So, if gold produces an electric current like other metals, why can’t all models of metal detectors find it? Well, there are a couple of different factors that come into play.
The biggest is gold’s conductivity. While it does conduct some electricity, it’s not as efficient as other metals. On a scale of 1 to 100, gold’s conductivity is at 76. That’s a significant decrease compared to the score of silver, which is 100. Most entry-level metal detectors simply aren’t capable of producing a magnetic field that’s powerful enough to cause a reaction from gold.
Another problem is the ground mineralization. Unless you’re lucky enough to find a concentrated piece of jewelry or large nugget, most of the raw gold you’ll come across will be tiny. Plus, the gold grains could be buried deep within the ground or mixed with a lot of other minerals.
Highly mineralized soil is filled with tiny bits of metal. In addition to metal, you might find silver, iron, and more. With the varied mineral content of the soil, a basic metal detector will be competing with a wide range of other trash metals to get seen.
How to Choose the Best Metal Detector for Gold
Now that we have covered the basics in this article, let’s dive a bit deeper into what makes a good metal detector for gold. Metal detectors come in a wide range of price points and available accessories. Thus, the features you can take advantage of vary across the board. To ensure that your new metal detector is capable of identifying gold, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Frequency Range
The frequency a metal detector outputs can affect the types of things it finds. Generally, high frequencies are needed to detect small items, such as gold nuggets.
Ideally, a metal detector for gold will be able to emit at least 14 kHz. The higher, the better. Luckily, there are plenty of great high-frequency options out there. Many units also have adjustable frequency settings so that you can fine-tune your search modes.
2. Mineral Filter
In most cases, gold is found in mineralized soils. If the ground is filled with other heavy metals, there’s a good chance that a gold deposit is nearby.
Unfortunately, mineralized soil and metal detectors don’t mix very well. High metal content can cause a VLF detector to go off every few seconds. If you want to find gold, you’re going to need a high-frequency unit with a mineralization filter.
Filters can cut out low-frequency responses, helping the gold stand out amongst a sea of metals.
3. Discrimination Features
The discrimination feature is especially useful for prospectors who are looking for gold nuggets in areas where there is a lot of iron ore present. By selectively ignoring metals that are not gold, discrimination features can help prospectors save time and effort by eliminating false positives.
The most common type of discrimination is based on metal conductivity. This means that the machine can differentiate between metals based on how well they conduct electricity. Gold, for example, is a very good conductor, while iron is not. As a result, this feature will eliminate iron signals, making it easier to find gold nuggets.
In addition, discrimination features can also help to reduce the amount of junk that a detector finds, making it easier to focus on the task at hand. With so many benefits, it’s easy to see why discrimination features are an essential part of any gold detector. By carefully choosing the right discrimination setting, experienced prospectors can find even the smallest gold nuggets hiding in the ground.
4. Waterproof/ Weatherproof
One of the most important features of a gold metal detector is its waterproof/weatherproof capabilities. This is because gold is often found in remote, rugged locations where the weather can be unpredictable. Metal detectors for gold usually have waterproof coils, which means they can be submerged in water without being damaged. Some models also have weatherproof housing, so they can be used in all kinds of weather.
If your metal detector is not waterproof or weatherproof, it could easily succumb to the elements and stop working properly. As a result, you would miss out on any potential gold finds.
Look for a model with both waterproof and weatherproof features to get the most use out of your detector. When it comes to finding gold, you’ll want every advantage you can get. A waterproof/weatherproof metal detector will help you find more gold, even in the most challenging conditions.
5. Ground Balancing
Metal detectors that are designed for gold prospecting generally have different ground balancing features than those designed for other types of metal detecting. The reason for this is that gold is often found in highly mineralized soil, which can cause false readings on metal detectors that are not properly equipped to deal with it.
Ground balancing is a feature that helps to cancel out the effects of mineralization in the soil, so that the detector can more accurately identify metal objects. There are two main types of ground balancing: automatic and manual.
Automatic ground balancing is the more popular option, as it is easier to use and requires less user input.
However, manual ground balancing provides greater control ability over the detector’s performance, and is therefore preferred by more experienced prospectors.
Whichever type of ground balancing you choose, make sure that your detector is properly equipped to deal with the conditions where you will be prospecting.
Don’t forget to think about the user experience! Gold hunting can be a labor-intensive process. You may spend hours combing over an area before you find your first nugget.
Having a comfortable metal detector can make all the difference. Look out for lightweight builds, comfortable padding, and cozy grips. They’ll reduce fatigue and let you keep going without feeling the effects of your hobby.
In general, a faster sweep will find larger, deeper gold targets, but will tend to miss small shallow gold. A slower sweep will tend to lose sensitivity to the deepest targets, but will find small shallow gold easier.
7. Ease of Use
Last but not least, think about how you plan to use the metal detector. If you’re a complete novice, you might need something that’s going to walk you through the settings. Metal detectors are complex machines. With poorly designed controls, you’ll end up spending more time figuring out how to use the device than searching for gold.
Types of Metal Detectors
The first thing you have to decide is what kind of metal detector you want to invest in. While they all work similarly, the technology used to power these devices can vary.
1. VLF Detectors
Perhaps the most common type out there is a VLF, or very low frequency metal detector. They are also sometimes referred to as beat-frequency oscillator metal detectors. These units are affordable and readily available at most hobby stores.
The two main coils are connected to an oscillator that generates a radio frequency. These machines use a uniform alternating current frequency. As the name would suggest, these detectors are pretty low in terms of frequency. So, it’s not going to do you much good if you’re after gold.
2. PI Detectors
PI detectors, also known as Pulse Induction detectors, utilize at least two coils. Some use even more. What makes a PI metal detector unique is its pulsating operation. Instead of a steady frequency, these detectors produce powerful bursts of current.
Because the pulses are so powerful, these machines are perfect for treasure hunting deep below the earth. Not only great detection depth, but these types of detectors do a pretty good job of ignoring mineralization. Thus, you can search through highly mineralized soil, such as sand, and still find gold.
3. FBS Detectors
If you’re interested in finding as much metal as possible, an FBS detector may be for you. FBS stands for Full Band Spectrum. Rather than emitting one frequency, these detectors can produce a full spectrum at once. It’s like running several metal detectors at the same time, which allows you to search for different kinds of metals. They can be used for gold prospecting. However, these machines tend to be a bit expensive and complicated to use.
1. What is the best metal detector frequency for gold?
The highest frequencies are best for detecting gold in tiny pieces, which is most probable you’ll find anyway. But they will also pick up interference from other metals that are not as valuable. In lower frequencies is easier to ground balance, especially in wet conditions, and you get better response to larger nuggets.
The ideal frequency for detecting gold is between 10 and 20 kHz.
Experienced prospectors usually use a multi-frequency detector that can be adjusted to the conditions. This allows them to switch to a lower frequency when they are looking for larger nuggets and a higher frequency when they are searching for smaller pieces of gold.
Metal detectors that are specifically designed for gold prospecting usually have a range of frequencies that can be selected, making them versatile tools for detecting gold in different conditions.
2. What is a good entry level gold detector?
When it comes to metal detectors for gold, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. First, cheaper models are often not as sensitive as more expensive models, so they may not be able to find smaller pieces of gold. Second, make sure that the machine you choose is durable and can withstand being used in different types of terrain. Finally, consider how easy the machine is to operate – you don’t want something that’s too complicated to use, especially if you’re just starting out.
With all that in mind, here are a few entry-level gold detectors that would be a good choice for a beginner: the Garrett AT Gold, the Fisher Gold Bug Pro, and the Minelab Gold Monster 1000. All of these models are reasonably priced, sensitive enough to find smaller pieces of gold, and designed for use in different types of terrain. So, regardless of which one you choose, you’re sure to have a good experience.
3. How deep can metal detectors detect gold?
The depth at which a metal detector can detect gold depends on a number of factors, including the size of the gold nugget and the type of metal detector being used.
Most metal detectors can detect gold that is buried at depths up to 3 feet. However, deeper detectors are available that can sense gold that is buried at depths up to 10 feet. The depth at which a metal detector can sense gold depends on several factors, including the type of metal detector, the size of the gold nugget, and the conductivity of the soil.
4. Can you find gold with a cheap metal detector?
The answer may surprise you. While it’s true that high-end models offer superior performance, there are many entry-level detectors that are more than capable of finding gold nuggets.
The key is to choose a detector that is specifically designed for prospecting. Look for a model with excellent ground balancing and sensitivity, as these features will be essential for finding small pieces of gold. With a little patience and practice, you can definitely find gold with a budget-friendly metal detector.
5. What is the difference between a regular metal detector and a gold detector?
While both regular metal detectors and gold detectors are designed to find metal objects buried underground, there are some key differences between the two.
Metal detectors for gold are generally more sensitive than regular metal detectors, meaning that they can detect smaller pieces of metal at a greater depth. This is because gold is a relatively rare metal, so manufacturers design gold detectors to be able to find even small pieces of the precious metal. In addition, metal detectors for gold often come with settings that can be adjusted to account for the different types of soil in which gold is typically found.
By contrast, regular metal detectors are not as sensitive and do not typically come with adjustable settings. As a result, they are better suited for finding larger pieces of metal, such as coins or jewelry, on a variety of different types of surface.
Any of our recommended picks can serve you well in your hunt for gold. However, if we had to pick one, the Garrett AT Gold metal detector is the best metal detector for gold. It’s a flexible tool that’s built for the great outdoors. What’s not to like?
Finding gold with a standard metal detector is no easy task. Gold is more sparse than iron or bronze. Plus, it has a low conductivity rating, allowing it to go unnoticed by a weaker system. Luckily, there are some great gold detectors out there that work with the unique properties of the precious metal.
Check out one of the recommended picks and see what you can find!
➜ Interested in the best metal detector overall? Read this guide