“Legends never die,” may have been talking about the Minelab SD 2100. Although
this detector dropped out of the limelight a few years ago with the release of
the SD 2200D and the GP Extreme, its’ remarkable nugget finding abilities were
not forgotten. Fortunately for nugget hunting enthusiasts everywhere, Minelab
Electronics has decided to bring this classic detector back into the mainstream.
Aside from its’ curved shaft, reduced battery size and new name, the SD 2100e
still retains all the great features found on its’ predecessor, but sells for
about $600 less than the original price.
The SD 2100e is
packed in a single box containing the detector and the following parts: 11”
double D coil, armrest, upper and lower shafts, headphones, battery and cable
assembly, mains battery charger, vehicle battery charger, instruction manual,
and warranty card. Assembly takes no more than a few minutes.
The SD 2100e does
not have an external speaker; all sound is heard through the headphones, which
plug into the jack located in the top of the battery pack. Nor is it equipped
with a discriminator; so all metallic targets will need to be investigated. The
SD 2100e is fueled by a 6V rechargeable 4.5A/hr gel cell battery, which should
provide enough power for 6-8 hours of use when fully charged. The gel cell
battery does not need to be fully discharged before recharging and it will not
develop a memory.
The Tune control is a 10-turn Variable Frequency Control located on the back of
the control box that allows the operator to minimize the effects of
electromagnetic interference from power lines, radio transmitters and other
metal detectors. The Tune feature is designed to reduce background noises and
has no effect on depth penetration or sensitivity, therefore there is no
“optimum” setting in areas that are interference free. It is important to
mention that only constant sources of interference such as power lines and other
detectors can be tuned out. It is waste of time trying to tune out every plane
The pitch of the background threshold and target response sound can be adjusted
to suit an individual’s own hearing by using the Tone control. This control is
also located on the rear panel and is protected by a plastic plug. The best
method for adjusting the Tone is to place a small metallic object on the ground,
remove the plastic cover and insert the supplied screwdriver. Turn the screw
while sweeping the coil over the target until a desirable pitch is found. Be
sure to replace the plug when you’re done to prevent dirt from entering the
The Search Switch and the Balance 1 and 2 knobs found above and below it are the
most important controls on the SD 2100e, as they are used to set the ground
balance. Ground balancing the SD 2100e is a simple 3-step process, which
consists of flipping the Search switch into the “up” position and adjusting the
Balance 1 knob while pumping the search coil over the ground. The knob is turned
until there is very little, or no variation in background sound as the coil is
raised and lowered. The Search switch is then flipped into the “down” position
and the same process is carried out with the Balance 2 knob. Once this has been
accomplished for both knobs the Search switch is placed into the center position
and the detector is balanced.
Here are two bits of advice on ground balancing:
1) in extremely
mineralized or “noisy” soil, it will be advantageous to detect in the Balance 1
reduces sensitivity towards small targets, but will eliminate a vast majority of
the ground noise making it possible to hunt in even the worst conditions,
2) some hot rocks
can be tuned out by ground balancing directly above them, however this may in
turn cause the surrounding soil to become hot. You will find that hunting in
this manner is far less effective than simply balancing to the soil and dealing
with the hot rocks as they come.
I decided to test the SD 2100e on my favorite stomping grounds - the Bradshaw
Mountains of central Arizona. Rising to an elevation of over 7,000 feet, the
Bradshaw’s cover an area of nearly 600 square miles and are one of Arizona’s
most famous goldfields. Although many of the known nugget patches in the region
had been picked over, I still had a “secret” spot up my sleeve that I was dying
to hunt with the SD 2100e.
After an hour of “kidney-shaking” driving on the rough, washed out dirt road I
was relieved that both my truck and I had finally reached the “secret” gully in
one piece. The 15 foot wide waterway, which cuts its way through the eastern
flank of the mountains, had definitely produced its fair share of placer gold.
While most of the pieces found had been small, it had provided my father and I
with no less than 3-ounces of raw nuggets. Apparently the narrow gully with its
many bends and jagged, crack-filled schist bedrock had created the perfect
natural nugget trap. The only drawback was the abundant hot rocks and pockets of
noisy black sands.
I decided to begin my search in one of the more productive stretches of the
gully. This spot had given up many nuggets, but it was shallow and had been
detected heavily in the past. After 30 minutes of searching I came up with only
two bits of wire; both of which appeared to have been washed down by the recent
cloudbursts. This stretch had obviously been cleaned out.
Still hopeful of coming home with a few nuggets in my pocket I pushed further
down the gully to where the overburden thickened. This stretch had received less
attention in the past because of its lack of exposed bedrock and annoying hot
rocks. As I rounded a bend I spotted a half-dead Cottonwood tree standing near
the edge of the bank. The gnarled roots and thick trunk had allowed for the
formation of a rock bar about 6 feet in length. Any gold that had made it around
the bend could have been easily slowed by the tree and deposited in the rock
bar. On the downstream side of the bar I immediately picked up a sharp signal.
Pinpointing the target was not a problem but getting it out of the hole proved
to be more of a challenge. Finally the 7” deep, elusive target was out of the
hole and into my hand. Low and behold my treasure had turned out to be nothing
more than a tattered piece of lead.
Although a bit disheartened I wasn’t about to give up on the rock bar just yet.
As I passed the coil along side the tree’s base the constant hum of the
threshold was broken, almost as if I had crossed over a hot rock. I got down and
cleaned the area of anything that could possibly give off a response and
rechecked with the detector. Sure enough the target was still there. I dug
deeper along side the roots until I hit a thin layer of reddish clay atop the
bedrock. Another quick pass of the coil confirmed that it was still hidden
somewhere within the jointed bedrock. Not wanting to damage a potential nugget,
I abandoned my pick and switched over to a flathead screwdriver. As I picked out
one of the larger cracks a glint of yellow caught my eye. My SD 2100e had
finally found its’ first gold! The 4-gram nugget was smooth and rounded; it had
obviously received a good beating on its’ journey down the gully.
I finished working the rock bar without any more luck. The discovery had
rejuvenated my spirits and aroused my curiosity about what might be lurking in
the deeper gravels even further downstream. Although the presence of gold in
this portion of the gully was certain, the large boulders and thick overgrowth
made working this area a time consuming affair. More trash had accumulated here,
most of which was buried between 6-9 inches. Other potential targets turned out
not to be targets at all, but rather dreaded hot rocks buried just beneath the
surface. However, I am proud to say that the sore back and bloodied knuckles I
received from digging all those deep holes was not in vain. Just as the sun
began dipping over the backside of the mountains I uncovered yet another
precious gold nugget. Much like the first, it had only been a whisper from the
surface. Although not as large, it was chunky for its size, tipping the scales
at just over 2-grams.
The field test had been a success. I managed to walk away with about 7 grams of
gold in my pocket, but more importantly the SD 2100e proved to be every bit as
good as the original SD 2100. With it I was able to punch down through the black
sand and hot rock rich gravels and locate nuggets that other machines might have
missed. The supplied 11” double D coil handled itself nicely in the field and
while its configuration definitely gives an edge in “bad” ground, there is no
doubt in my mind that the gully would produce more gold if I were to rework it
using a monoloop coil. This would mean putting up with considerably more ground
noise but would offer the chance of finding smaller and deeper gold.
My overall opinion of the unit is positive. Like all of the “big” Minelabs, the
SD 2100e excels at finding larger nuggets at depth, however target tests
conducted in the field demonstrated that this machine is fully capable of
sensing gold weighing less than a gram. Its lack of complicated gadgets, and
simple 3-step manual ground balance, make the SD 2100e by far, one of the
easiest gold detectors to learn and operate.
With a 2-year parts and labor warranty, and suggested retail price of only
$1950.00, the SD 2100e provides exceptional performance and depth at an
affordable price. This is a no nonsense detector made for chasing gold in nasty,
mineralized ground and I feel confident recommending this machine to anyone with
a passion for nugget hunting.