Garrett Electronics Scorpion Gold Stinger

By Andy Sabisch
From page 8 of the January, 1991 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 1991 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved

Garrett Electronics has long been associated with searching for treasure in many forms and the expression "electronic prospecting" was actually coined by Charles Garrett and Ray Lagal nearly 25 years ago. Since that time the Groundhog and A3B Goldhunter models have compiled an impressive record for locating gold and other precious metals under adverse conditions.

The latest addition to the Garrett line of metal detectors is called the Scorpion Gold Stinger and has been designed to not only be used for electronic prospecting, but other facets of treasure hunting as well. When Jim Dobrie, Garrett's Marketing Director, informed me they were shipping me one of these new units to field test, I anxiously awaited its arrival.


The Gold Stinger is a manual ground-balance detector that features two types of discrimination circuits along with the all-metal mode used primarily for prospecting. It is mounted on a modified S-shape rod and, at 3 pounds 6 ounces, is both extremely lightweight and well balanced. The armrest, which also functions as a built-in detector stand, has been completely redesigned and is made of padded plastic to further reduce the overall weight of the detector.

The control housing is easily removed from the rod for either hip-mounting or shallowwater searching by pressing the two sets of spring clips located under the housing, and the mounting bracket then doubles as a belt loop. The searchcoil comes with eight feet of cable which eliminates the need for an extension cable when hip-mounting the control housing.

The searchcoil that comes with the Scorpion is a 5-inch by 10-inch elliptical wide-scan loop that features double-D coil construction. This configuration results in a searchcoil that doesn't have any "dead" areas and allows a greater area to be covered with each sweep.

Another new feature is the use of a dual co-axial cable to connect the searchcoil to the control housing. This is used to reduce signal noise often found on standard cable and provides for greater sensitivity and detection depth with less background noise. This new cable is used on all of the optional searchcoils available for the Gold Stinger. The Scorpion operates at a frequency of 15 kHz, similar to that of the older Groundhog and A3B, which has proven to be extremely sensitive to smaller pieces of gold.

The controls on the Gold Stinger are four knobs: Depth, Discrimination, Audio Threshold, and Ground Balance; two toggle switches: Operating and Tuning Mode select; and a Tuning push button. There are preset arrows on the Discrimination, Depth, and Ground Balance controls which aid in the initial setup of the detector.

The Discrimination circuitry in the Scorpion features a true zero discrimination setting which allows the user to accurately test ore samples to determine if they contain any metal or if they are only highly mineralized "hot rocks." At higher settings, targets such as nails, tin foil, bottle caps, pull tabs, and even screw caps are rejected which enables the Gold Stinger to be used for general treasure hunting, even in high trash areas.

The three-position toggle switch is used to select the operating mode of the Scorpion. As mentioned previously, there are three modes; an All-Metal mode and two discriminate modes, one being a TR discriminate mode which is primarily used for ore testing and other prospecting applications, and the other is an automatic ground -cancelling motion discriminate mode that is used for all other situations such as coin hunting, relic hunting, or prospecting where discrimination would be needed.

The ground-balance circuit features a 16-turn dual knob control which allows for extremely precise settings to compensate for ground mineralization. The inner knob provides coarse tuning and has 25 individual stops. The outer knob provides for the fine tuning and is used to accurately adjust the Gold Stinger for searching in even the worst mineralization.

The Audio control is a 10-turn knob that allows the user to set the audio threshold to the most comfortable level to avoid missing even the smallest target. The toggle switch above the Audio control selects the tuning mode desired. In the Auto mode, the Gold Stinger will maintain the audio level set while searching. If the Manual mode is selected, the audio level will be affected by changing ground condition; however, as described later, there are times when this mode is preferred.

A headphone jack is located on the rear of the control housing and accepts any standard 1/4-inch plug. Due to the location of the jack, it is best if the headphones used have a 90-degree plug rather than the standard straight plug; however, either will work.

The Gold Stinger is powered by 3 nine-volt batteries which are located inside the control housing. The original set that came with the detector provided me with nearly 30 hours of use, and quality alkaline batteries should provide approximately 5 to 10 hours more. While rechargeable batteries can be used with no loss of performance, they are not offered as an option by the factory and with the long battery life provided by even standard carbon batteries, the cost of purchasing ni-cads may not be justified.


After assembling the Gold Stinger and reading through the pocket-sized instruction manual, I proceeded to test the response of the unit to various targets.

Since the Scorpion is marketed as a Garrett's electronic-prospecting detector, I started by checking its response to some natural gold I have. Surprisingly, a vial containing a few grains of flour gold produced a definite response at two to three inches from the coil. A vial containing some small nuggets gave an even stronger response, and also produced a response in the motion discriminate mode as well. I tried other targets including coins, jewelry, and small military artifacts and the depth at which they could be detected was first-rate.

I took the Gold Stinger outside to see how easy it was to ground balance the unit in the highly mineralized red clay found in northern Georgia. Setting the outer Ground Balance control to the initial setting arrow and the mode select toggle switch to All-Metal, I turned the Scorpion on by turning the Depth control clockwise. This control also functions as the battery test control, and the battery strength is indicated by the number of tones heard when turning the unit on.

New batteries will provide five tones, and when only one tone is heard, the batteries should be replaced. Precisely ground-balancing the detector turned out to be quite simple. The loop is raised off the ground, the audio threshold is adjusted to a comfortable level, and the coil slowly lowered to the ground.

If the threshold decreases, you need to increase the amount of ground compensation for the mineralization present, and the opposite is true if the threshold increases. If only a slight change is heard, the outer fine-tuning knob can be used to make the final adjustments.

Raise the loop, press and hold the retune push button, make the required change to the ground-balance control, release the button, and lower the loop to the ground. Repeat this process until there is no change in the audio threshold as the loop is raised and lowered. The more precisely this setting is made, the more sensitive and stable the Gold Stinger will be in the field.

After ground-balancing the Scorpion, I proceeded to see how it responded to the items in my test garden. In both the AH-Metal and Motion Discriminate modes, it gave a solid response to the targets including coins at depths of up to six inches and Civil War artifacts at depths of up to eight inches.

The TR discriminate mode was unable to detect targets deeper than five inches, and this is primarily due to the fact that this mode has no ground compensation. If you were using the Scorpion in an area with very little mineralization such as some areas in the Northeast and Florida beaches, this mode would probably provide depth without requiring any motion.


Since I live near Dahlonega, the site of the first major gold rush in the United States, I planned on trying the Scorpion out in some nearby streams, hoping to find some gold missed by previous prospectors. The stream that I selected had been mined since the 1860s and has produced several hundred ounces of both fine gold and small nuggets. Arriving at the site, I heard the drone of a dredge operating upstream, and I realized that, with the amount of prospecting still going on, I would probably not find the "mother lode" during my search.

I set the Depth control to maximum, selected the All-Metal operating mode, placed the tuning toggle switch to automatic, and adjusted the audio threshold to a comfortable level. I carefully ground-balanced the detector, and began to search the shallow sections of the stream. Shortly after I started, I received a definite signal in a section of partially exposed bedrock.

Pinpointing the target, I laid the Scorpion on the bank and began to remove the dirt from the crevice, placing it in a plastic gold pan. After removing nearly five inches of overburden, I located a fired .22 caliber bullet wedged in the bottom of the crack. I continued to search the stream bed for nearly three hours and recovered a number of small metal objects including bullets, buckshot pellets, shell casings, and even a pull tab or two.

While no gold nuggets were located, the Gold Stinger showed that it could locate small targets deeply buried in mineralized ground.

My wife, Rosanne, and I return to this stream planning to use the Scorpion to locate potential areas to bring our dredge in at a later date. Rather than using the detector to locate metal targets, I intended to use it to locate pockets of black sand which often contain gold.

With the 16-turn ground-balance control and the manual audio threshold tuning mode, the Gold Stinger was ideally suited for this application. I used my gold pan to sample a gravel bar located in the stream and determined that, while there was a little black sand present, it would be a good spot to "calibrate" the detector for my search.

Setting the Depth control to Preset, the operating mode toggle switch to All-Metal, and the tuning toggle switch to manual, I preceded to ground-balance the Scorpion. When searching for black sand deposits, I found it preferable to run the audio level slightly higher than normal in order to hear any change.

Slowly scanning likely looking spots, the audio threshold suddenly decreased noticeably, indicating the presence of an increased amount of ground mineralization which is usually caused by a concentration of black sand. Filling the gold pan with a sample from the area and panning it down showed that not only was there a fair amount of black sand present, but a number of small gold flakes as well.

I tried panning some of the material nearby, but s aw that the gold w as only in the small area pinpointed by the Gold Stinger. Over the next hour, we were able to locate several spots that deserved additional work with either a sluice or dredge based on the gold that was recovered.

On the way back to the car, I tried scanning the bank in an area where an old stream bed intersected the present stream. In one area the threshold disappeared completely, indicating a highly mineralized deposit. Carefully panning a shovel-full down, I found more gold in the pan than I had ever found by panning in this creek.

While there were no nuggets, there was enough color to justify bringing a dredge in and thoroughly working the area. The Scorpion had pinpointed several potentially profitable areas in much less time than it would have taken by sampling with a pan.

Satisfied with the Gold Stinger's performance in electronic prospecting, I decided to see how it performed in other applications. The first site I took it to was an area near Marietta that had been the scene of several skirmishes during the Civil War in the battle for Atlanta. Most of the sites in the Atlanta area have been heavily hunted over the years, and this one was no exception. This fact combined with 95-degree temperatures, bone-dry ground, and high tension wires nearby kept me from expecting a large number of finds.

Due to the amount of nails, barbed wire, and other small pieces of ferrous trash in the ground, I selected the motion discriminate mode of operation and set the discriminate control to four. I adjusted the audio threshold to a slight tone, placed the tuning toggle switch in automatic and turned the Depth control - maximum. After a few sweeps, I reduced the Depth control slightly to eliminate the chattering caused by the mineralization and high tension wires and v from then on, the Scorpion operated very smoothly.

The first few targets produced pull tabs and screw caps apparently discarded by hikers in the area. Near the remains of a Confederate trench, I received a solid signal. Carefully digging through the hardened clay, I recovered a .58 caliber minnie ball at nearly 8 inches.

Less than 10 feet away, I received a stronger signal, and proceeded to dig for the target. At 7 inches, I rechecked the hole and determined that the signal was still deeper. At over 12 inches, I recovered an old horseshoe that probably dated back to the Civil War.

After three hours at this site, the heat and humidity caused me to call. it a day; however, despite the adverse conditions and relic hunters who had preceded me, I was able to recover 11 minnie balls of various calibers, the horseshoe, a few unidentifiable objects, and - most importantly - no small iron trash.

The next site I took the Gold Stinger to was a nearby elementary school that had been built in the late 1920s. As with most schools today, it has a great deal of attention by other treasure hunters and the number of finds one makes on an average day has dropped to nearly zero.

The large field in the back has produced well in the past; however, I was certain that the amount of trash that was present had masked many good targets during previous searches. I was hoping that the slow-motion discrimination circuit of the Gold Stinger combined with the new elliptical searchcoil would enable me to locate a few of these targets.

I set the operating mode toggle switch to Motion Discriminate; the discriminate control to five which would reject tin foil, bottle caps, and small pieces of iron; selected the Automatic tuning mode, and set the Depth control to Preset.

As I swept the grassy area, the Gold Stinger did produce some chopped signals that did not repeat, and when I checked them in the All-metal mode, determined that they were large trash targets that the detector was attempting to reject.

Near the ballpark fence, I received a soft, repeatable signal. Pinpointing the target, I cut a three-sided plug and rechecked the hole. Brushing some dirt away from the bottom of the hole, I recovered a 1945 wheat cent at nearly five inches.

The next few signals were quite loud and produced screw caps just under the surface. Near some older wooden benches on the hill, I received a clear signal; however, it would not repeat in the opposite direction. Checking the signal in the AR-Metal mode, it appeared to be two targets near each other, so I decided to recover both of them to see what they were.

At three inches, I found a large lump of tinfoil. Removing the foil and checking the hole produced a clear signal in both directions. At 5 1/2 inches I found a 1944P silver war nickel. The Gold Stinger had detected the coin below a large trash target.

I made several trips to this school and, after 10 hours of searching, recovered a handful of older coins including wheat cents dating back to 1911, the war nickel, and a few silver dimes, many of which were located extremely close to trash targets.

Over the next few weeks, I tried the Gold Stinger out at several other sites and, in each case I was able to recover targets at respectable depths in highly mineralized ground.


While the name "Gold Stinger" implies that this latest addition to the Garrett line has been designed strictly for prospecting, my experience in the field showed that it performed extremely well in other applications as well. The 16-turn ground-balance control combined with the full-range discriminate circuit and double-D elliptical searchcoil allows the Scorpion to be used quite effectively for coin hunting, relic hunting, and beach hunting.

A full range of optional searchcoils is available including a 3-inch by 7-inch elliptical, as well as a 4- l/ 2 inch, 8-1/2 inch, and 12-1/2 inch circular Crossfire coil which allows* the Gold Stinger to fulfill nearly all of your treasure-hunting needs.

If you are looking for a sensitive detector that can be used under even the most adverse ground conditions, you need to stop into your nearest Garrett dealer and look at the latest addition to their line before you buy.

For the name of your nearest dealer and a copy of the new buyers guide, write the factory at Garrett Electronics, 2814 National Drive, Garland, TX 75041 or call them at (214)278-6151 and mention that you read about the new Scorpion Gold Stinger in Lost Treasure.