One of the more unique looking metal detectors designed for prospecting for gold is the MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker. Made by Falcon Prospecting Equipment of Mesa, Arizona. This detector has a small probe, about 1 inch in diameter, instead of the more typical 10-inch elliptical search coil. Instead of the typical S handle design for the detector shaft, the Falcon comes with three short pieces of PCV pipe which are the extension handles for the probe. The unique design makes carrying the MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker extremely easy and convenient.
Simple in design yet truly effective, the MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker has only two knobs, one, the Sensitivity (which also turns the instrument on), and the other labeled Auto Ground Balance. The Auto Ground Balance control sets the coarse sensitivity setting while the Sensitivity control can be considered a fine tune sensitivity control.
One other adjustment of the MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker is made on the probe itself. Located near the end of the probe is a copper ring which can be slid up or down the probe shaft. Associated with the copper band are two colored bands, one red, the other black. Adjusting the copper ring between the two colored bands changes the sensitivity of the instrument.
The MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker is a motion detector, whereby detection of any metal is done by slowly moving the coil past the metallic object. Stopping over a metal target will cause the detector to cease detection.
The unit I received contained all the obvious options including the extension handles, carrying case, earphones, and the two necessary 9V batteries installed, which made initial checkout quick and easy. Also included was a small card which had samples of 4 possible items a person will encounter while gold hunting.
The items included a small piece of gold (estimated to be less than a grain in size), a small black sand sample, a small piece of hematite, and a piece of mica. Three of the items on the card will give responses, one will not. The sample that does not respond is the mica, a typical material commonly mistaken for gold.
Since I had used other models of the Gold Probe before, initial setup was easy. All I had to do was turn the detector on, adjust the sensitivity control for mid-position, adjust the coarse control until the detector began to sound off with an audio signal with no metal nearby, and readjust the sensitivity control for no audio response.
With this setting, I tested the targets on the card for responses. The small 1-grain nugget was a snap to detect and responded with a sharp signal as the probe passed directly over the small piece of gold. In fact, detection range approached 2 inches with careful adjustment of the sensitivity control. At this extreme sensitivity setting, the detector did have a tendency to lock on with a constant audio signal once a target was sensed. Reducing the sensitivity slightly eliminated the problem without reducing total depth of detection appreciably.
Carefully passing over the other targets caused responses from both the black sand and the hematite. These two samples of negative hotrocks are common problems encountered while nugget hunting.
The responses from the hot-rock samples were different than that from the gold in the fact that they would occur after the target was passed. Carefully moving the search head back and forth over either of the two negative targets (the black sand or the hematite) would cause a response on both sides of the target. There was no signal directly over the sample itself.
As I played with the detector, I found that further reduction of the sensitivity control still allowed me to detect the small nugget but caused the detector to ignore the hotrocks. This could be a real plus in checking an obviously visible target. However, this reduction in sensitivity could cause the detector to ignore extremely small gold pieces such as minute flakes.
Since the copper ring was also mentioned as a means of adjusting the sensitivity, I tried different settings between the specified color bands. What I found was very little obvious change in the sensitivity. However, if the copper ring was adjusted out of its recommended range, the detector would respond improperly, something noted in the owner's manual.
Rather than fool with the copper ring much, I elected to set it near the back edge of the red line which is supposed to be the enhanced sensitivity setting. It was at this setting I did seem to get the best response from the gold while minimizing responses from the rock samples.
One final test at home included checking the smallest nugget I have, about 1/2 grain in size. The MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker detected the target with ease. I attribute the success to the small coil size and well-designed electronic circuitry. The small coil size did have one disadvantage, limiting the depth capabilities of the MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker to just a few inches.
In The Field:
Field testing was limited to a single trip to one of my favorite gold hunting areas in Colorado. There I searched what I considered highly potential locations around large boulders, cracks, crevices, etc., with no luck. I did manage to find two small pieces of lead wedged in a small crack in a rock along the edge of a small stream. Needless to say, the lead did cause the old heart to skip a beat initially. This was quickly followed by several unprintable words once the pieces of lead were finally exposed, especially since it took quite an effort to retrieve them.
I completed the field test by bringing home a 5 gallon bucket of gravel retrieved from a drywash prospectors once worked many years ago. Unfortunately, this again yielded no gold but did contain a bunch of ideal samples of magnetite. Carefully scanning the test gravel I was able (after a little practicing), to easily recognize the signals as hotrocks. To simulate the possible gold conditions, I dropped a couple of pellets of 7-1/2 birdshot in the test gravel and carefully scanned the gravel again. I was able to pick the lead shot out with little effort.
During this testing I found the MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker worked best when the probe was moved with a nice slow movement over the search area while taking time to maintain a constant probe height over the gravel. Using slow smooth strokes did minimize or eliminated false signals from the offending rocks.
I can't count the number of times I wish I had the MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker available to search for a small target (hopefully a nugget) I had initially detected with a regular gold detecting instrument. Trying to pinpoint a small target and retrieve it can and has been difficult at best when searching with a typical size coil on a regular nugget hunting detector. The MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker would have made recovery quick and easy.
I don't recommend the MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker for general nugget hunting where large areas have to be covered or great depths are required, but it is ideal for searching in tight places, under rocks, and specifically for pinpointing a target found by other means.
Also, the MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker is an ideal instrument to test unknown materials such as the commonly found mica and pyrites, which can glitter, like gold but will give no response.
Simply stated, I feel the MD-10 S/P Gold Tracker can be a vital asset to the serious nugget hunter or gold panner who wants a sensitive instrument capable of detecting extremely small pieces of gold.
For more information about the MD-10 S/P or the C/N Gold Tracker models, one can contact: Falcon Prospecting Equipment, 6529 E. Fairbrook St., Mesa, AZ 85205, (602) 854-0324.