Recently I purchased a GPZ 7000. While I’ve been finding gold with detectors for a long time, I am still very much a novice with the GPZ. Prior to the purchase I only had a few hours on a friend’s GPZ, but still managed to find a nugget with it. My expertise is not in the understanding of the technology of metal detectors, how the circuits are designed, etc. My strength is in the the use of the detector in the field. Detectors are a tool, just like a pan, sluice, dredge, dry washer, etc. I love to find gold and part of that enjoyment is the learning experience of new equipment.
As far as realistic expectations and outcomes, my mindset is that when you buy a new detector, it’s not every piece of gold that you find with the new detector that should be credited to the new detector. You might ask “Who’s keeping score?” Well, I do. It’s part of self challenge. That mindset is certainly true if you travel and explore frequently. If I had to estimate, with each Minelab upgrade that I’ve done over the years, and speaking only for myself, each new unit found maybe 30 percent more gold than the other units (did) or would have missed. That’s not hard science, just personal belief based on observation and finds logging. I would say that 60-70 percent of all the nuggets I’ve found over the years could have been found with almost any capable detector in the right hands, using the right method of approach. The right method of approach means a lot, more than many people realize. Approach is another topic in itself. Then there are the 30-40 percent, the larger, deeper nuggets, the smallest pieces and, the unique pieces like tiny wire gold and, spongy specimens. Some of my finds in the 30-40 percent segment have been significant as far as size in concerned.
To prepare for the first hunt with the GPZ I watched videos on Youtube about the GPZ and read many threads on various gold forums. Watching videos and reading was, for me, a prerequisite to the purchase. Preparation time invested helped ensure that through other user’s learnings and knowledge sharing, my experiences with the GPZ will be as productive as possible. Big kudos to all who have taken the time to share. The GPZ has some great features, like the wireless module and the swing arm. The digital screen is easy to use and very intuitive. I've read a comments from people saying that going digital can be confusing. That’s understandable. If you feel that way just think of each click to increase or decrease volume etc, as a slight turn of a knob. For the first hunt with the GPZ my approach was the same one that I’ve used with every new detector over the years. Its an approach that many other detectorists use on a first trip out with a new detector. The first trip was to a small wash that has been heavily worked with detectors and drywashers. This area was chosen because it has been worked so heavily. If the GPZ could impress me, this would be the place. My friends, Laszlo, Dennis, and I have taken a significant amount of gold out of this small wash over the years and a lot trash. Finding a target here is next to impossible, we’ve placered (dug) this wash out top to bottom. We all found nuggets in this wash over an ounce so that was my long shot hope, find another lunker that we missed. Maybe, another big one was lodged the higher, deeper benches we have not yet dug out. For the last year I’ve almost exclusively used my SDC, so much so that I sold my GP Extreme a few months ago. The 8 inch coil on the SDC is amazing in tight areas and the SDC has impressive punch on deeper targets. The SDC was also great last year in Alaska, easy to hike with and to use with the benefit of being waterproof. I was however, missing my good old 14 inch coil on the Extreme so the GPZ felt great right out of the gate with coil size. The SDC still has a home in my detector arsenal.
I began using the GPZ in Auto Track and soon I was finding trash that we had all missed. I had to ask myself “How the heck did we miss this trash?” Just to add some context to that statement we’ve hit this wash with GP Extremes, SDCs, Gold Bugs and a 4500. Maybe even another unit I’ve forgotten about too. I hunted in Auto Track ground balance for about 2.5 hours. Preferring manual ground balance on previous units (that had the manual option) I decided to switch to Manual balancing and adjusted a few other options like ground type, volume level, threshold, etc. The change worked well and I went back over the areas detected with Auto ground balance and began finding more trash that we’d missed on previous hunts with the other units. The trash was very deep for its size, nearly 14 inches on one boot tack and about a foot on one of the staples. My Apex pick has marks on it every inch starting from the bottom of the handle so the depth measurement is fairly accurate. Some of the trash was well within reach of the other units and again, I had to wonder how we all missed these targets multiple times with a handful of detectors. My friend Dennis and I just finished a steak dinner tonight and I think he nailed the why, it' not only the GPZ's technology but also the GPZ coil and how it work compared to a traditional monoloop or DD coil. The ZVT technology was working as advertised. The rest of the first day out with the GPZ day was much of the same and continued learning. Near the end of the day I was finally able to find a little piece of gold with the GPZ on a high bench of the wash, lodged in a crack. The temperature was well over 100 degrees by the time I called it a day. I have no idea how much the little nugget weighs as my scale only weighs down to 1/10th of a gram. So the piece of gold is less than a 10th of a gram. It was about 2 inches deep in the crack. Off to a good start with the GPZ, I have several hunts in with it already an am looking forward to hitting more of the southwest U.S. and Alaska this summer with it. As Bill mentioned to me on Facebook, now I just need a control box cover for the GPZ :-) Time to hit Tandy Leather!