gold detector

[Step-By-Step Guide] to Detect GOLD With Your Metal Detector

gold metal detector

Finding gold is probably the most rewarding thing that could even happen to us as enthusiastic hobbyists! In fact, this will certainly put significant cash into your pocket as just one gram is worth dozens of dollars!

So, Can Metal Detectors Detect Gold? Metal Detectors can detect Gold because of its decent electrical conductivity! However, if your gold target is too small or is located in a highly mineralized soil, then regular machines won’t help you. Instead, you will need a device that can operate on high frequencies with decent discrimination capabilities.

If you are knowledgeable and lucky enough, this could even change your financial life! Just imagine coming across a 50 oz. gold nugget or a gold ring with some gem on it … That would be fantastic!

It is interesting to understand the right features that your machine should have to be able to pick it up. Otherwise, you, literally, won’t have a chance … Especially if you were dealing with difficult ground conditions.

In addition, you should definitely be aware of the locations where you will likely find this non-ferrous metal. So, you won’t be wasting your time …

… Finally, if you are looking for a Trustworthy Gold Machine, then the one I recommend is this Garrett Model (Check it Right Here on Amazon)

Can ANY metal detector find gold?

A very good question which is different from the one I’ve answered above! The answer to that simply depends on what Gold item you are looking for …

… In fact, if you are looking for a golden jewelry you won’t need a specific or dedicated machine for this metal. Any decent one would do the job just fine!

The reason behind that is; Rings, earrings, necklaces and other gold made jewelry are alloyed with other metals that not only have significantly high electrical conductivity, but also make them bigger in term of size! Thus, most machines even with low frequencies would be able to pick them up.

For example, if you pick a ring and read the indicator in it, you might find 10K! This means that only 40% of the ring is gold, the rest is other metals …

… The highest indicators you may end up finding are generally close to 20K that mean more that 74% of the yellow metal! But it is pretty rare.

The second case is when you are dealing with Gold nuggets!

In fact, if the nugget has a considerable size, then, yes, you won’t need any specific machine to detect it …

… However, the bad news are that in most cases:

  • nuggets are very small.
  • They are found in highly mineralized soil!

So, here you will need a detector that can operate on high frequency (to deal with small targets) and that can discriminate junk and unwanted metals (to deal with particles in mineralized soil).

With high frequency, I mean a machine that can operate on 15 kHz or even higher to reach 40 kHz!

Finally, you can also learn about the detailed differences between regular and gold detectors.

What Metal Detectors are best for gold?

I am not going to recommend a Minelab GPZ 7000 because this is a monster that cost a ton of money with a pretty big learning curve!

I am going here to recommend 2 machines that I personally prefer and are good for the price:

  • Minelab Equinox 800 (Check it Here on Amazon): I’ve talked about it on numerous occasions before in this Site. It is my favorite detector by far! I love the fact that it can operate on several frequencies at the same time …
  • Garrett AT Gold (Check it Here on Amazon): I also recommend this one … and most experienced hobbyists recommend it. I will give you some more details about it below …

So, what you should know about the Garrett AT Gold?

Garrett AT Gold

Indeed, it has good discrimination capabilities allowing it to easily discriminate creepy Iron! In fact, if you are looking for this precious metal with no discrimination, then the false signals coming from Iron will make you dig the ground like crazy for absolutely nothing!

If you’ve got a yard in which you’ve already used a previous machine before, then you should definitely use this one on it! You might be surprised by finding things you didn’t think they are located there …

… This is simply because of its accuracy and the depth it could reach (up to 10 inches depending on the coil you are using).

A larger coil will help you gain more depth, but the one it has per default is just fine in my opinion.

In addition, this depends on the vendor, but generally it comes with a Garrett Pinpointer that will allow you, in case of need, to locate nuggets more accurately!

Finally, it has some more extras and features like:

  • A helpful manual and DVD Guide giving you all the details you need to know about the machine.
  • It has a non-motion mode to locate targets.
  • It can operate on high frequencies up to 18 kHz.
  • Pretty lightweight, around 3 pounds.
  • I believe it also come with headphones plus other stuff …

A Good Beginner Detector for Gold …

Fisher bug Pro

Just to make things clear for you, these kinds of machines are generally not made for beginners! In other words, if you’ve never used a detecting engine before, you should start with an all-terrain one before you move on to a dedicated one for Gold!

However, as I still find that people are still seeking for such a device, I’ve tried to look for the easiest one to use for a starter …

… The one I am talking about here is Fisher Golf Bug Pro (Check it Here on Amazon)! Below some reasons why I’ve chosen it:

  • It’s weight is fairly low, 2.5 pounds! Generally beginners won’t feel comfortable holding something heavy for hours and for something they are yet to be passionate about!
  • The operating frequency is high, about 19kHz! Thus, it is already tuned to find small sized nuggets …
  • It can find stuff deeper than other entry machines like the Tracker 4 Bounty Hunter for example.
  • The manual Instructions are easy to follow and are pretty straightforward.
  • I believe the package include good headphones! They will help you to recognize the voices of the items you found much better than without them.
  • It has solid discrimination regarding junk metals and iron! This aspects causes a lot of confusion for beginners as junk metals and iron, generally, give false signals …
  • The pinpoint mode it has doesn’t only allow you to locate more accurately the location of your target. Also it gives you an approximate depth underneath the ground! Thus, you won’t waste time over-digging.
  • This machine is marketed as a gold finder, yet it has great coin shooting capabilities that I was personally surprised with. Just by setting all-metal mode with an average discrimination (between 65 to 75) you will get a ton of coins easily.

Other things you should know about the Fisher Golf Bug Pro?

After You’ve got why I recommend this for beginners, I list below for you other features that you should also know about:

  • If you’ve already used a machine before this one like an AT Pro, try to test this one by burying metallic things under several depth and see what tones comes out! By doing so, you will get used to the new sounds in less than an hour!
  • The default coil it comes with is very very sensitive! This is normal as if you are looking for small nuggets you will need this sensitivity for sure … However, this coil doesn’t allow you to do deeper than 5 or 6 inches. Thus, if you are looking for things much deeper, you will simply need to use a bigger coil …
  • Don’t worry about the mineralized soil! You won’t feel that, almost, at all …
  • Auto and manual ground balance are both supported! Better start with the auto one until you figure out the proper ground balance settings your country/state or town soil, then just use the manual ground balance as it will give you, once you figure it out, much better results!

A Good Kid Metal Detector to find Gold …

I’ve found some people who are searching for recommendations regarding machines for kids that can still find Gold! So, I’ve chosen to look for the best one that would be adapted for our little boys and girls …

… It was very hard for me to find anyone better than the Minelab X-Terra 305 (Check it Here on Amazon)! I am thinking so for couple of reasons:

  • It operates on a single frequency, so your kid won’t be confused by that aspect …
  • If you want your kids to look for stuff like coins then you can set it with a low or medium frequency coil. Otherwise, if you want him or her to find gold or platinum nuggets, all you need to do is to change with a coil that can operate up to 18 kHz!
  • It has a good size, which will fit easily to your child’s hand. Better yet, it is very light.
  • By adjusting the ground balance manually (which is an easy thing to do), your kid won’t be confused by false signals.
  • The present LCD Screen the necessary/helpful data that he will get used to pretty quickly to, for example, identify the target using the Target ID.

For me, these features I’ve listed above will significantly increase you kid chances to end up with this precious metal!

To learn more about metal detecting for kids, I highly invite you to check this article!

Best underwater Detector for Gold nuggets

Detecting underwater is the most underrated aspect of this Hobby! Many people, including me at the beginning, don’t realize the huge opportunities that come with that …

… In fact, most treasures including gold nuggets are found mostly under the water rather than land! Thus, I felt it is a great idea to include this Fisher CZ21-8 (Check it Here on Amazon) which is a great tool to shoot for nuggets …

… In fact, it operates properly not only in regular fresh water, but also in Saltwater where most detectors fail! In addition, it can go underwater up to 250 feet, thus, you can even dive with it pretty deep.

It you love (or would love) collecting fishing sinkers, be sure that you will collect dozens of them very quickly! Of course, you can also use it on land on mineralized soil and take advantage of the pinpoint mode to locate targets with an easier manner.

The default coil options allow you to go as low as 5 kHz (for coin shooting for e.g.) and as high as 15 kHz if you want to look for faint targets! You can also use both frequencies simultaneously to search for all metals.

Learn more about underwater metal detectors here!

Best Brands producing machines for Gold

Generally, most manufacturer brands produce gold prospecting machines! But the ones that produce the most performing ones are (in my opinion):

  • Minelab
  • Fisher
  • Garrett

By the way, you can check the Best Metal Detector Brands in the market today for more ideas …

Other than that, if you take Minelab for example even its all-purpose detectors can help you find yellow metal! For example the Equinox 800 can operate at many frequencies …

… It starts from 5 kHz and could even reach 20 up to 40 kHz! Such High frequencies will allow you to come across the faintest targets out there including very small nuggets.

Minelab also produces machines that are dedicated for gold nuggets! For instance the GPZ 7000 (Check it Here on Amazon) which is a monster and one of the most expensive machines ever … I don’t want to throw any numbers so I won’t scare you lol!

On the other hand, Garrett Electronics is more known for general purpose or all terrain machines! AT Pro being the most notorious example …

… Yet, it still has some models that will allow you to come across the yellow metal; I am talking here about the Garrett AT Gold that I’ve talked about earlier in this guide!

Fisher is also a solid company that brings some solid prospecting machines to the market! The Fisher Gold Pro is probably their best product to date … It is particularly known for its ability to operate properly in mineralized soil.

What are the Countries where you can easily find Gold hot spots?

First of all, this little map gives you a general idea on where you will have better chances of finding Gold nuggets:

Gold hot Spots

For example, in Africa, chances don’t seem to be that promising unless you head to south-Africa!

Other than that, the most promising countries without a doubt are:

  • USA
  • Australia
  • Russia
  • Canada
  • China

As a detectorist, I will remove from this short list Russia and China! Why did I do so? Simply because their laws are pretty much against us unless you’ve got some kind of (hard to get) permit that will allow you to use your machine their …

However USA, Australia and Canada laws favorite the practice of this hobby as far as you are not violating their guidelines. That’s why you can easily hope to come across some nuggets that will put some serious cash into your pocket!

For example in the US, Nevada and South Carolina are the most notorious states with gold producing mines!

Other than these counties there are few others that are also promising, such as:

  • Peru
  • Indonesia
  • Mexico
  • And Ghana

To be honest, I am still making some researches to figure out the laws regarding our hobby in these countries! I will publish that in the next few Blog Posts …

… Also, check these amazing countries where you can use your metal detector!

Targeting Gold is more lucrative than what you may think!


This is something not many people talk about!

… In fact, as I’ve said before gold is in most cases found in soil rich in minerals! And in such ground conditions it is pretty common to find gemstones, yes you hear me right gemstones!

And when I talk about gems, I mean:

  • Diamond: It is a concentrated form of carbon that you can commonly come across in places like former volcanic eruptions or in volcanic pipes or black sand or just highly mineralized soil in general. Its value depends on the carbon particles you can see inside, the bigger they are the lower the diamond’s value is … In fact, 1 carat’s worth is between 2k up to 8k dollars which is significant money period!
  • Periot: It is a beautiful green gem. It is also called Olivine … its worth can be up to 1K a carat for the most quality ones.
  • Sapphire: This one has a breathtaking sea blue color that I personally appreciate … It could be found in other colors but the blue is the most common one! For its worth, I don’t have an accurate number, yet in 2014 a 392 carat sapphire gem was sold for a record number or 17 million dollars! Which is huge … you can do the math!
  • Garnet: it has another color that I like, dark red … This gem is considered as a much better indicator for diamond than gold! In other words, if you come across this gem, chances are, you are pretty close to some diamond! The price range starts from 500 dollars a carat and it could reach 1K up to 2K for the most quality ones.

Hopefully, you realize these huge opportunities … I’ve put together this Diamond Detection Guide for more info …

Understand the Ground Conditions surrounding Gold!

I’ve talked about this before, but I still want to give a little bit more details about the Ground Conditions so you have a better understanding … I don’t want you to leave this Guide until you covers everything about the topic!

While gold prospecting you are not looking for jewelry or alloys, instead you are looking for pure gold! And in 99% of the cases, you will only find that in extreme ground conditions …

… And by that I simply mean heavily mineralized soil!

In fact, if you use an entry level machine or even a multi-purpose one, chances are, you will get a ton of false signals. Thus, you won’t end finding anything …

In addition, there are 3 types of mineralized soil:

  • Ferrous ground: rich in very little magnetic particles of iron. To identify that all you need to do is to run a strong magnet and you will be surprised by these iron pieces being attracted to the magnet.
  • Conductive salt: simply salt with abilities to conduct electricity. And as you already know, any element that has electrical conductivity will be detected by your machine’s coil. Thus, the false signals!
  • Heavy mineralized soil: it simply consists of these both previous types of soil combined! This is the worst case scenario for your machine.

For more info abou this Topic, I invite to check this Post on the Ground Conditions that Detectorists have to Deal with! I breakdown many types of soils and how to deal with each one of them …

What are the Right Metal Detector Settings for gold!

Now, one of the common questions is regarding what metal detector settings you need to find gold!

For that there are no standard settings that you should implement and just start swinging … In fact, it generally needs you being a little bit aware of the sounds you are hearing and doing the necessary adjustments whenever it makes sense!

However, there are some basic settings that you should start with. I will give the example of the Garrett AT Pro, simply because it is one of the most used ones:

  1. There are 3 modes, All Metal, Disc1 and Disc2 … In this case just hit the mode button until you hit the Disc1 as your main mode. It is similar to the all metal mode, yet some ground responses will be filtered.
  2. Set the Irion discrimination to around 35, and you go from there! If you sense that there is more junk than you’ve expected than you may increase the value to up to 44. However, if you didn’t sense any real iron junk out there, than you can go all the way down to 30 or even less!
  3. Increase the sensitivity all the way up and you may want to decrease it a little bit if case of need.

For me the most difficult part is adjusting the sensitivity! You can check this short video below, so you understand a little bit more how you should generally adjust it:

You can also learn about how metal detectors generally operate!

Additional Tools you will need to find Gold

Your detecting machine is not the only tool you will need! Obviously it is the main one, yet some additional tools will make the task easier for you …

1. Weight Scale

Weight Scale for Gold

Obviously you will need a weight scale (Check this One on Amazon) with a good sensitivity to allow you to know the exact weight of your golden finds!

By doing so, you will get to estimate the value of your finds, so hopefully you will be able to sell it with a good price …

… Don’t rely on your jeweler scale, you never know whether they are honest or not!

2. Pinpointer for Gold

Garrett AT Pro Pinpointer

I guess you already know what pinpointers do (Check This One Here on Amazon)! In fact, it is simply a non-motion detector that will allow you to locate exactly your find …

… When it comes to small targets, it is very easy to become confused and start digging anywhere and everywhere! Thus, the importance of a pinpointer that will minimize your time, effort and optimize your efficiency.

Make sure that the pin pointer includes proportional audio or vibration target indicator with a 360 degrees scan capabilities. So, you will also have a better idea on the depth of your target …

… Otherwise, you might dig a bigger hole while all you need is to dig a much smaller hole!

Check more pinpointer models here!

3. Headphones

Gray Ghost Amphibian headphones

I don’t understand why some hobbyists express some resistance towards wearing headphones! If you are one of them, please have a quick check at these reasons to wear detecting headphones

… Hopefully, you will change your mind!

Other than that, when it comes to nuggets or to the small targets in general, it is very important to be able to hear the faintest sounds! Otherwise, you may easily miss on a lot of valuable targets …

… Actually, headphones provide a much better sound quality than just hearing from your machine directly. Better yet, it helps you isolate the outside noises properly.

These detecting headphones are legit with a decent value for the money …

4. Additional batteries …

metal detector battery

Finally, if you think that looking for nuggets won’t take you lots of time, then you are probably mistaken. Actually, it will take you lot of hours unless you have that deep experience that will allow you to recover targets pretty quickly!

Thus, your battery won’t be able to take all that time, you definitely need additional ones!

Better yet, using headphones will help you optimize the usage of the battery … They’ll last longer.

Check my favorite rechargeable batteries!

5. Additional Coils

detector coil

Coils play a huge role in defining some factors that will help you to detect different targets:

  • Small coils allow you to operate on higher frequencies yet on shorter depths. It also allows you to come across smaller finds.
  • Bigger coils generate lower frequencies, yet it emits bigger waves that penetrate deep underneath, thus you can find deeper targets.
  • Concentric coils generally offer a maximum depth for larger and medium targets in less mineralized soil.
  • DD coils have the ability to offer a maximum depth for larger and medium targets in highly mineralized soil.

As you can see, it all depends on what you are actually looking for and in which circumstances! Once you realize that you will be able to define what coil will work best for you to come across gold!

Identify your Gold find …

gold ring

If you are dealing with golden jewelry, the task is much easier; all you have to do is to look at the indicator on it:

  • 10K means 40% of gold
  • 14K means 58%
  • 18K means 75%
  • 24K means pure 100% gold

You can find in some occasions 20K and 22K but they are pretty rare …

… Another tip is to check the gem on it, if any, if it is real gemstone, then 99.9% it is a golden jewelry.

However, to identify nuggets there is a little trick that I would love to share with you! The video below explains it all …

Learn more about identifying your finds in this detailed post!

Tips on Cleaning your Gold finds properly!

For that the trick is pretty simple! Don’t use any harsh chemicals whatsoever … Just brush it with toothpaste using a soft bristled toothbrush …

… This method is also helpful to clean platinum and silver!

After that, just rub it with your fingers, then use a soft cloth to polish it real quick!

Taraaa … you’re done!

For more ideas, check these tips!


I am a little bit tired of typing, but also I am very HAPPY that I’ve put together this complete Guide! Just because, I know that you will get some great value out of it …

… Believe me! I’ve spent several weeks writing this Post and most people will charge you for it! Here it is just for free for you …

… Just take advantage of the information, hopefully your beloved metal detector will come across some gold in the near future!

Finally, I’ve recently written about 50 best places to metal detect and unearth valuable finds! I highly recommend you check these out, I am sure you will learn about some places that you’ve neever thought about!

About the Author

Carissa Harmer

Carissa is the huge metal detecting enthusiast that loves collecting coins. She is also highly interested in other treasure hunting activities like magnet fishing and gold prospecting/panning.