Web Analytics Made Easy - StatCounter
≡ Menu

Can Metal Detectors Really Detect Gold Nuggets?

Simple Answer: Absolutely!

In skilled hands metal detectors detect metal. Gold nuggets are metal, therefore, yes, metal detectors can detect gold nuggets—however, the design and quality of the detector, size and depth of the gold, prevailing ground conditions, as well as the skill of the detectorist, are all critical factors that can significantly affect one’s level of success.

Every year, thousands of hobbyists and professionals all over the world target and recover gold nuggets with their detectors. However, realize that much of the gold found in the field is tiny, under a gram in weight, and some detectors are more suited by design for targeting small gold than others. If you hope to maximize your gold recovery in the field, you must be armed with the best detector for your purpose and for the conditions under which you hunt.

How Do I Know That?

Well, I know because I spent a lot of time in the bush of the western United States, including Alaska, living off the gold I located with my detectors—my livelihood depended on my skill level, as well as my selection of detectors.

*Although I didn’t usually find enough gold to live like a king for more than a day—living the way I did, free and independent, I always felt like a king.

Before turning to metal detecting, I had sniped for gold for years in the waters of creeks and rivers. In 1985, I found my first gold with a metal detector; it was a high-quality machine, not engineered especially for gold but for coin hunting. My first score was a quartz specimen piece weighing over 13 ounces that yielded approximately six ounces of crystalline gold after bathing for a few days in an acid bath. There was no metal detecting skill involved; I was new to the game and just plain lucky that day. My story, “$8,500 Nugget Found,” was featured in the 1985 winter edition of Treasure Found magazine. That specimen (after its acid bath) is shown at the top of this page.

I plead guilty to brutalizing the preparation of my specimen. I didn’t know what I was doing when I dunked it in acid to dissolve a portion of the gold’s encapsulating quartz, and my ignorance resulted in a hard hit to the specimen’s value. I just chalked it up to the cost of learning.

I hate to think of how many little pieces of gold I passed over before sweeping the coil of my coin finding bleeper over that badass specimen. Eventually, I wised up and purchased a top-of-the-line machine designed especially for gold nugget hunting, which in addition to targeting the clunkers, then allowed me to zero in on the much more common little ‘kernels’ of gold—often weighing less than a gram—that I had been missing the whole time. And oh, how quickly those little buggers can add up!


What Detector Do I Recommend?

That’s difficult without knowing your intended use or your budget. I’ve had success with all of the premium detectors that I’ve ever used; in my opinion, you can’t go far wrong with any of them. When I first started detecting, I hunted for years with VLF (very low frequency) “gold” detectors; later on, I bought a PI (pulse induction) model. I’ve found gold with both. Ground conditions, and the size and depth of targets determined which machine I chose for each location. Both technologies work, at least to a degree under almost all conditions; however, depending on those conditions, one will usually have a discernible advantage over the other.

My Advice:

Do your research and choose your detector, then, whether it’s gold, coins, relics, jewelry, or buried treasure you’re after, get out there, learn the ropes, and make it happen.

Below are some links to help get you started.

Best Rated Metal Detectors

Top Selling Metal Detectors

Choosing The Best Metal Detector—2021

Treasure Finds

Best metal detecting finds in North America

If I can help with a question, please use my Contact Form, and, before you go, check my List of Recent Posts.

Thanks & good luck!


Me and best buddy, Yubalee. The photo was taken in 2006 while filling in as a ranch hand in Nevada’s Rees River valley.

*If, while following the links on this page, you make a purchase, I may receive an affiliate commission, which will help me to maintain this website, but will not affect the price you pay.

JQK