To preface this article and provide some context, let me start off by telling you a little about myself. I’ve been a gold prospector since the 1980’s and have been using detectors to find gold since the 1990’s. This experience certainly played a large role in having a successful year with the Minelab SDC 2300. If you’re new to prospecting and considering starting with any detector, you will have two learning curves. Every detector takes some learning as does finding gold.
My primary gold detectors have been a Minelab GP Extreme (the original GPX), GP 3500, White’s GMT, Tesoro Lobo and a Fisher Gold Bug 2. For the last few years I’ve only had the GP Extreme and the Gold Bug 2. The 3500, GMT and Lobo were all sold. Before purchasing the SDC I had considered a Minelab GPZ 7000 however, knowing that I would be in Alaska during the summer of 2016 the SDC just made the most sense. No one wants to drop a new (or any) detector in the water and ruin it. Plus, knowing I would be doing a lot of traveling in 2016 (Alaska, Arizona, California and Nevada) having both headphones and a backup built in speaker was certainly a plus. For the record, I do want to say that I had access to my friend Laszlo’s Gold Bug 2 in Alaska as well. I was also fortunate enough to see my friend Dennis use his SDC for months, and was able to use his unit, prior to my purchase. He is a very successful detectorist so seeing what he could do with the SDC was a good first hand look at the unit’s capabilities.
Having been a Minelab user for many years I am very familiar with their best in class quality. The SDC not surprisingly exceeded my expectations in this area. I’ve never had a detector lesson with any detector and, the SDC was no different. I simply read the manual, listened to some some tips from my friend, read advice from online communities and took the most crucial step, put boots to ground while swinging the coil. The folding aspect of the SDC was new to me and I’ve come to really like it. It’s made very well and can take a beating. The unit can also beat on you if you don’t close the handle correctly. I watched my friend draw blood trying to smack it closed. Luckily, that’s never happened to me and frankly, it’s kind of a weird feeling at first, smacking your detector to close it.
The SDC is very easy to setup, at it’s basic level. The SDC seems to appeal to many people just due to the fact that it’s not overly complicated. The official Minelab SDC 2300 instructions can be found on the Minelab website. As a note here, the SDC uses a nonstandard headphone jack so if you want to use your favorite pair of headphones or earbuds with the unit, you’ll need to purchase a separate adapter.
Going to an area where I had found nuggets before allowed me to have my first SDC gold find in less than 30 minutes. Now, in all fairness, this was not an area I had visited for a while and it received substantial flooding since my last trip which exposed some fresh bedrock. I firmly believe that any detector would have found that nugget in the right hands. That first day I also discovered that the SDC does an impressive job handling hot rocks and hot ground as well.
The photo at here shows the two largest and smallest gold finds I’ve found with the Minelab SDC 2300. Two nice specimens, 2.75 ounces, 1.89 ounces and two sub 1/10th of a gram pieces. Oddly, all four were found in one spot in Nevada. I’ve found hundreds of nuggets with the SDC overall. I was hoping to break my record 8 ouncer with it (found with a GP Extreme) however, with only a few days left in 2016 that might not happen. Maybe in 2017. The SDC gives remarkable performance on specimen gold. The depth of the SDC has really surprised me. I’ve dug large nuggets up to 20 inches deep with it and found some very small pieces (as shown above) as well.
In my experience you need to perform a noise cancel at the start of your hunt for best performance. This will allow you to find the quietest channel for operation. And touching on that don’t forget that running any detector at it’s most sensitive is not the way to find gold, rather, it’s finding that balance between sensitivity and noise that leads to success. In my experience, the smoother the detector operates, the more gold you will find. Don’t forget to expose the coil to noise by getting it off the ground during a noise cancel.Following the note above again, don’t just turn the sensitivity to 5. Find the smoothest setting to run it. I’ve performed numerous tests on deep and small targets and found that 90% of the time I can hear the target in any Sensitivity setting with the SDC.
Overall, it’s been a fun year with the Minelab SDC 2300 (although I also used the GP Extreme and Gold Bug 2 often) and would not hesitate to recommend it for the novice or veteran prospector. It’s reasonably priced for it’s capabilities and is just a lot of fun to use.