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Great things come in small packages! When a box showed up from Minelab recently the first thing that struck me was how small the box was. Like a kid at Christmas I tore the box open and lifted out my new toy – a Minelab SDC 2300 detector. There is not a box full of parts to assemble, just this little detector all folded up, and nothing quite prepares a person for just how small the SDC 2300 is the first time you see it.
It is also lighter than I thought it would be. Minelab has been listing it at 5.3 lbs without batteries but I did not believe that, so I ran down and tossed it on my postal scales. They came up with only 5 lb 1 oz or 2.294 kg without batteries. The pre-production unit I was sent came without batteries, so I inserted four NiMH C-cells of my own and weighed the detector again – only 5 lb 11.6 oz or 2.598 kg with batteries included. Let’s just call it 5.7 lbs with batteries, not exactly light but again, lighter than I expected.
I had watched the video (Click here to view) online and found folding the unit out for use to be very simple. The only thing to really pay attention to is that the handle needs to be firmly pushed forward to lock the shaft in place. When time comes to collapse the unit, a firm palm against front of the handle is the proper method to release the handle.
I was very pleased to find that although I am 5’ 11”, the SDC 2300 had more length than I needed. I advise those who like to run a coil way out front that when running slightly heavier detectors balance is very important, so keep the shaft as short as possible. At full extension the SDC is slightly nose heavy; pulling the lower shaft in about 4” will have the detector hang more naturally on your arm leading to less fatigue.
Finally, the narrow profile of the control housing and the small size of the handle mounted control panel are pleasantly surprising in actual use. The weight of the SDC is close to your side and with the shaft set properly the detector feels lighter than the weight would imply. My first impression of the overall ergonomics of the SDC 2300 was quite positive.
Unfortunately I had only a couple days to evaluate the unit before sending it back to Minelab leaving me with little time to get in much actual field use. I chose therefore to take it to the worst mineralized ground I knew of nearby, a place Chris Ralph (another Treasure Talk blogger) had recently shown me in the high Sierras of California. He had commented how his GP Extreme had struggled in the location so I figured it was a good place to test the SDC. Bench testing with a 1 grain (480 grains per ounce) nugget already told me the SDC 2300 was the hottest Pulse Induction detector on small gold I have used. That being the case, how would it handle bad ground?
My rechargeable batteries were still going strong at over 6 hours when I hung it up and headed home. Chris and others have pounded this location so I my hopes for finding gold were not all that high. I was pleased to find the SDC 2300 on the recommended setting of Normal Mode sensitivity “2” ran smooth as can be on this hot ground. Going to higher sensitivity levels just seemed to increase ground noise such that I did not feel it advantageous at this location, and when testing settings on the little bits of steel I found higher sensitivity did not really help. I recommend people resist the temptation to run the sensitivity up unless doing so retains a smooth threshold. A smooth threshold is very important to picking out those tiny targets and too much sensitivity resulting in ground noise defeats the purpose.
The SDC ran rock solid although the threshold is more reminiscent of the older GP detectors than the GPX series in that it has a slight wavering sound at some threshold settings.
The main thing I was happy to experience is that the coil is 100% impervious to being knocked around and with the included scuff cover can be allowed to ride along on the ground. The coil riding on the ground does not affect the threshold one bit, which is very important when chasing the tiniest nuggets (flakes) where even a fraction of an inch can make the difference.
I love running new detectors and so was just enjoying myself when a bonus came along in the form of a little ragged gold/quartz specimen. I’m not going to claim nothing else would have found it but this little 0.67 gram piece is the sort of gold the SDC was made for and it banged out loud and clear at a few inches.
Here’s the location where the nugget was found in the shadows of a tree.
The bottom line is Minelab seems to have made the SDC 2300 just for me. I admit I have a personal issue in that my mindset for certain detectors runs a certain way. When I run my GPX 5000 my coils, settings, and mindset are invariably aimed at finding larger nuggets. Jonathan Porter saw this when I visited him in Australia and preferred leaving an 18” mono coil on the GPX. I really, despite good intentions, have been unable to change gears mentally and use my GPX 5000 for looking for small gold. If I want to do that I normally will grab something like a Eureka Gold set up in 60 kHz mode.
The problem with a hot VLF is it also lights up hot rocks and bad ground. Now I can have my cake and eat it too! I will leave my GPX 5000 set up for large gold and continue to use it for that, and when I want to switch modes for hunting smaller prey I will grab the SDC 2300. It also solves an issue where I have seen many people trying to make GPX detectors into something like an SDC by adding external speakers and strap on batteries. This results in a heavy “franken-detector” but gets the job done. The SDC is far better suited for worming around in heavy brush where battery cables and headphone cords constantly hang up.
Finally, when I get my hands on my very own SDC 2300 I envision it folded up in a rucksack with a light sleeping bag and rations for some serious backpacking into areas that have never seen a detector before. Places only a person in good condition on foot can reach – the kind of places where undiscovered patches still lurk.
Good job Minelab, and thanks for the opportunity in running the SDC 2300 so early in the process. I can’t wait to get one of my own!
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