~ Testing the Minelab GP Extreme ~
By Rob Allison 2001

It was sometime during the end of November or beginning of December of 2000 when I heard about Minelab introducing a new gold detector.  There were a lot of rumors coming off the Australian gold forums about positive and negative aspects of this unit.  Some Australian nugget hunters were saying it was the best thing around, while others were saying it was no better, than its counterpart, the Minelab SD series.  How was I to know who was telling the truth?  Was the dealer saying it was the best, while the detectorist was saying something different?  Finally, towards the first week of December, the word was out.  The units were going to be available to the public around the second or third week of December.

I must say, it was hard to give away something like the SD2100, which was a great unit for me.  I was finding something just about every trip.  I was hoping that selling this unit and upgrading, the success would continue.  For some time, I was able to hold onto the SD2100 while I had the GP Extreme.  I received the GP about the third week of December and knew several places to try before anyone else got there with the same unit.  The night before I went to an old patch, which had been killed by SD's and Coiltek coils, I read and reread the instructional manual.  I had the battery and all of my accessories ready to go for the next morning.  There was one spot, in particular, that I knew  would be a good test for this "deep seeking" unit.  Rumors were, this unit was penetrating 55% deeper on smaller nuggets and 18% deeper on bigger nuggets, over the SD2200d.  Well, seeing is believing, and I had to see it to believe it!  This one patch was about 40 yards long and about 20 yards wide.  It was a small, but concentrated patch, that had some fair size nuggets pulled out of it.  Some, were up to a 1/2 ounce in size.

The next morning, I woke early and headed out to this spot, located on the southern flank of the Weaver Mountain Range.  It takes about two hours to get to this area.  During the drive, I couldn't help but wonder if this was a bad investment.  I arrived at the spot and noticed there had been no previous activity.  I was hoping that I wouldn't get to the spot and realize someone had beaten me out, by a day or so, with the same machine.  I installed the Coiltek 14 inch mono search coil, on the GP, and walked the ten minutes to the patch.  I figured, if I could just find a single nugget, then I would be convinced that the unit was, in fact, going deeper, as previously stated.  I looked around the area and noticed there were no previous detector digs or scrapes....Great!!

I turned the unit on, ground balanced to the patch, and flicked the switch to the "fixed" ground balance setting.  I adjusted all the other switches to the recommended settings.  I started on one end of the patch and worked every slowly with the search coil literally touching the ground.  I overlapped every swing to the extent of two sweeps forward to create a single true pass.  I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing much, if any.  After swinging for several minutes, I walked up to an old detector hole, where I had recovered a nugget several months prior.  I figured, this is where the nuggets would be hiding, if there were any deeper.  After I crossed over the old detector hole, I traveled only a few steps and heard a faint, little signal.  I knew it was something when the unit was in "fixed" and passing over it several times the tone stayed the same.  I bent down and removed about two inches of gravel from the target area.  I passed the search coil back over the spot and noticed the target signal increased.  I knew it had to be nugget!  I had never dug a trash target from this area, before.  I bent back down and removed about four to six more inches of gravel from the area.  I passed over it again and the signal was getting very loud.  I couldn't believe I had been to this spot several times with the SD2100 and same Coiltek coil without hearing these signals.  I decided to dig a few more inches and then I hit something solid.  I looked down and saw granite bedrock and the bottom of the hole.  I thought, for sure, I must have already removed the nugget.  I passed the detector over the pile of gravel that was lying next to the hole, but received no signal.  I placed the search coil near the hole and the signal overloaded.  The detector screamed when I got near the bottom of the hole.  I shut the unit off and swept the bottom of the hole with my bare hand.  I didn't want to destroy the nugget by digging with a pick.  After the hole was cleaned out, I noticed a faint glimpse of dirty gold lying in a crack of the granite bedrock.  I looked around and found a little tree branch and used it to pluck the nugget out.  It was a real beauty!  Guessing, at that time, it was about a half ouncer. 

Now, I was somewhat convinced that the GP Extreme was able to detect deeper gold.  This patch was gridded before the GP got a shot at it.  I took a few minutes to enjoy the moment and then started to work very slowly.  I must have passed the search coil, back and forth, a dozen times before I heard another faint signal.  I chuckled, to myself, knowing this was probably another nugget.  The signal was a little louder than the previous one, but it had the smooth nugget sound.  I dug down about eight inches total and recovered another nugget weighing about two pennyweights.  The excitement grew because I knew this was one, out of at least a dozen, or so, old patches that I had to get to.  I placed the second nugget in my container and continued on. 

To make a long story short, I found five more nuggets, that day, in that same little patch.  I found another nugget, which, I thought, was a little bigger than the first.  A few of the nuggets were under a pennyweight in size, but overall, finding seven nuggets in an old, worked patch is pretty damn good, if you ask me.  I got home and cleaned the nuggets.  In all, I had just less than two ounces of nice nuggets.  I was, with a doubt, convinced the Minelab GP Extreme was, not only, finding smaller nuggets deeper, but larger ones, as well.

I am thoroughly convinced that this unit was going to be deadly in a few other areas I knew of.  I can honestly say, this machine is no major breakthrough, but just an extra inch can make a big difference.  I hit several of those patches, I mentioned above, and found at least one missed nugget in every patch.  I wouldn't go as far to say, I was shooting 2-3 inches deeper, but more along the lines of 1-1.5 inches deeper over the SD2100, with the same sized search coils.  Overall I'm very satisfied I made the move from the SD series to the GP Extreme!  I ended up paying for the Minelab GP Extreme within a few weeks. 

Webmaster Notes:  To date, I have found the biggest gold nuggets and quartz/gold specimens with the GP Extreme.  I have been using the newest Minelab GP3000 for about 1 years now with great success also. 

Rob Allison 2001

If you interested in learning more about the Minelab SD or GP Series Metal Detectors or other Minelab Products, Email the Webmaster or visit the Rob's Detector Sales Page.

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