Usefulness of Gold Probes?

(Gold probes are essentially variations of coin probes like this Vibra Probe 580.)

Even though I'm pretty much old school when it comes to all things gold mining, I've always tried my best to remain open to new mining gear, equipment, and ideas. Along these lines, I've been pondering the potential usefulness in the field of gold "probes" for some time now.

Pinpointing Gold

What's a gold probe? Essentially, it's a mini-metal detector specifically designed to detect extremely small gold, both placer and lode. Gold probes are pretty much a variation of the probes commonly used by coin hunters to pinpoint their finds...I'm familiar with the latter and even own one. But I've never used a probe specifically designed for gold prospecting.

Metal Detectors
Gold Concentrates
Gold Pans
Unless memory fails me, back in the early 1980s Garrett Metal Detectors produced a probe-type attachment for their detectors called the "Hot Stick" or the "Gold Stick" (I'm not really sure of the's been too many years). For all I know, Garrett still produces a similar probe device.

Probe Videos

Anyhoo, the entire premise of these probes is detecting and pinpointing coins or gold. One brand name that keeps cropping up in my research is the Falcon Gold Tracker MD20.

I recently posted a video in the right sidebar of "Bedrock Dreams" from California miner Rick Shelby ("HurtHawk"). Toward the end of that video, you'll see a Falcon Gold Tracker in action detecting gold in pieces of ore. I've also viewed a a couple of vids where an Aussie miner ("fossicker") is using the MD20 to detect placer gold in a small stream.

MD20 Reviews

Yesterday I tracked down 8 or 9 user reviews on the MD20 probe and they were all positive. Here's a few reviews for you to ponder:

"Very Sensitive"

"I had a Falcon for several years and used it for sampling areas for placer. I have never heard of anyone using one for nugget shooting. It's very sensitive and will hit on gold smaller than the head of a pin. TRUE! That's why it was so great for sampling, especially in dry areas where there's no water for panning. I would simply dig a sample off of bedrock, screen it into a plastic gold gold pan, and then slowly "stir" the dirt with the probe. If I got no hits, I'd move on to sample elsewhere. If I got a hit, I'd sample uphill and nearby. If I got multiple hits I had pay dirt."

"Great Sniping Detector"

"I bought a Falcon last year...tried it in the goldfields...found nuggets, flakes, and flour gold with it. It is not, as others have stated, a primary gold detector. It is however a great little sniping detector, and a prospecting detector when you want to see if there's even a tiny amount of gold in a small sample."

"Really Impressed"

"I purchased a Falcon MD20 this past week. I am really impressed with this small detector. Auto ground balance and easy to use. It has different settings that can be adjusted for coin, relic, and gold hunting. It also has a sensitivity control. It will detect all metal. However, you can quickly and easily differentiate between gold and black sand/iron. The larger the target the deeper it scans. It detects a small gold ring at about 3 to 4 inches. It detects a minute speck of gold at about a 1/2 inch. So far, I am really impressed with the Falcon's performance. Although I am concerned with the durability of the cable and probe."

Your Viewpoint?

OK, for you suspicious minds out there (thank you Elvis wherever you are...) I have no association or vested interest in Falcon detectors or the Gold Tracker MD20. However, this little unit has definitely piqued my interest and I'm considering buying one to add to my gold mining arsenal.

 (The Falcon Gold Tracker MD20.)

I am particularly interested in hearing your viewpoint on this matter, especially if you own or use (or have used) a MD20. So please feel free to e-mail me or use the comments section at the bottom of this post to respond and give me the low down

In the meantime, keep a low profile out there.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Crevicing Still Remains One of Your Best Gold Recovery Methods (Part 1)"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2013

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. J.R......I believe this would be much more effective at finding gold than the "dowsing rods" in one of your earlier postings. I have used a small one like the one in the picture above for nugget/coin hunting locally. It works well....and really shortens the time necessary to identify the "find". Haven't really used for panning/sluicing....but will pack it up next time and let you know what happens.

    One last certainly keeps the "mess" while actually finding the item, to a minimal size. This is really necessary when finding things in very public the beach, parks etc. With the eye of the public on you....keep it cleaned up....when you finish. Makes all look good.

  2. I tend to agree about probes vs. the dowsing thing. I think a good gold probe would be worth a try...we shall see! Thanks for commenting. J.R.

  3. Hey JR,
    Have had a falcon for about a month now, went through some low yeild cons(1/4" ±)and found two pickers. Now I go throug all my bigger stuff and always seem to find something (specks in or attached to pebbles). Haven't mastered it in the field yet but recently found a dirty piece of gold that looked like aluminum foil. I recommend it to all my prospecting buddies (you included).
    Best Wishes

    1. Thanks for the's the sort of stuff I wanted to know. I appreciate your response very much. J.R.

  4. JR,
    I find many uses for my MD20 from locating studs under sheetrock to finding gold. The following video shows me testing it at a creek and finding a nice piece of gold.
    Rick (HurtHawk)

    1. Thanks for commenting and for the video link Rick. I'll take a gander. Best, J.R.

  5. Hay all
    I also have the MD20 and like the little detector. It is super small, easy to use, and fits in my back pack with ease. Just so you all know it well sound off going toward a target (positive response) like gold, silver, copper, and well sound off going away from a target (negative response) such as iron oxides, black sand. After messing around with my MD20 for a bit I found that it well give me a positive response on quite a few metals such as steel, & aluminum. so check your finds close to make sure you have what you think you have and not just some trash.

    1. I have had my 20 for about 4 or 5 years, .I have found some gold . It will also sound positive going in on metal, as in nails. I am not the first fella to comment on that. I have moved the ring up and down the hand-piece and off the thing and I can still get a positive on gold and on say a paper clip. I have had the controls all over the dialand spent hours rechecking myself and notations. Also checking the power [ voltage] of my batteries. I also am 75 and have been fossiking around the world since I was a kid. Got my first detector , a compas, in the 1960s. Currently swinging a gbpro. so I am not a slouch but I try to use this setting ....the movable ring about 1/16" below the red and with a setting of 12:30 on the gb and 10:00 on the sensitivity would be my best info... and it still reads positive on that bloody paper clip. And , before I run out of wind ... there is a lot to be said about knowing what you are tackling when using devining rods... they will tell you a lot, prior to using anything else.. when walking west in the morning ...

    2. Thanks for commenting and all the good info you've passed along Brian.

  6. Thanks very much for sharing your perspective on the MD20. Best, J.R.

  7. I bought the falcon md20 tracker a few days ago from Joey Wilson over at the prospecting channel. The only issue I am having is using this thing in a RED dirt area. Red dirt as far as i can make out in my area contains an enormous amount of copper ore in it. Unfortunately this is not helping my gold tracking.

    I had orginally wanted to buy a regular ATX pro from garrett because as i understand it it can take out things like copper to help in better findings.

    Joey says i can return the product if i wish but he has not been that forthcoming in answering my questions in the email regarding copper....for me this is a kop out...

    Also, I can find a copper detector (that will more than likely pick up other metals (tell me if i am wrong here please) in my local hardware store and it wont cost me 250 euros....Im not that impressed to be honest..

    Can anyone offer any advise to me on this, it would be much appreciated.
    Cheers David

  8. I love my falcon best pointer out there. Finding some shotgun bb's though on very sensative mode. Lead bb at 1 inch down. Small staples ay 2 inches. Gold in rock formations. Take a shovel of material run it through a screen into a big plastic pan and test for live wires. We work in dry dedert ateas should work in georga red clay same way.

  9. I love my falcon best pointer out there. Finding some shotgun bb's though on very sensative mode. Lead bb at 1 inch down. Small staples ay 2 inches. Gold in rock formations. Take a shovel of material run it through a screen into a big plastic pan and test for live wires. We work in dry dedert ateas should work in georga red clay same way.


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