Looking to strike gold during your next treasure hunt?
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 metal detectors for gold that money can buy. Check out our comparison chart and buying guide to gain more insight into what these products have to offer.
Top 5 Gold Metal Detectors 2021
1. Garrett AT Gold
2. Fisher Gold Bug Pro
3. Minelab Gold Monster 1000
4. Fisher Gold Bug
5. Fisher Gold Bug 2
- Top 5 Gold Metal Detectors 2021
- 1. Garrett AT Gold Metal Detector – Best All-Around Product
- 2. Fisher Gold Bug Pro Metal Detector – Best for Ground Mineralization
- 3. Minelab Gold Monster 1000 – Best for Beginners
- 4. Fisher Gold Bug Metal Detector – Best Affordable Product
- 5. Fisher Gold Bug 2 Metal Detector – Best High-Powered Product
- How do Gold Metal Detectors Work?
- Why Can’t All Detectors Find Gold?
- How to Choose the Best Metal Detector for Gold
Below is a list of the best metal detectors for gold available on the market today.
1. Garrett AT Gold Metal Detector – Best All-Around Product
This gold metal detector 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.
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. You can check our detailed review of the Garrett AT Gold here.
2. Fisher Gold Bug Pro Metal Detector – Best for Ground Mineralization
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 metal-detecting adventures a bit easier.
The V-Break tone discrimination system, for example, makes ignoring unwanted metals a breeze.
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.
3. Minelab Gold Monster 1000 – Best for Beginners
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 through mineralized soil. It’s not perfect, but the metal detector does look past conductive salt and metals.
With all that said, the metal detector is great for beginners. It’s virtually fool-proof. The system automatically reduces noise and adjusts sensitivity. Read our detailed Minelab Gold Monster 1000 review here.
4. Fisher Gold Bug Metal Detector – Best Affordable Product
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 hobbyists 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 you need 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.
5. Fisher Gold Bug 2 Metal Detector – Best High-Powered Product
The product features a large 6.5-inch 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 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.
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 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 metals to get seen.
How to Choose the Best Metal Detector for Gold
Now that we have covered the basics 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. 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.
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.
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.
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 searching deep below the earth. Not only that, but these types of detectors do a pretty good job of ignoring mineralization. Thus, you can search through highly mineralized soil and still find gold.
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. However, these machines tend to be a bit expensive and complicated to use.
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 and grain.
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.
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 too well. High metal content can cause a VLF detector to go off every few seconds. If you want to find the 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.
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.
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 to use the device than searching for gold.
Any of our recommended picks can serve you well on your hunt for gold. However, if we had to pick one, the Garrett AT Gold metal detector is hard to beat. 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 metal 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!