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Sniping with the Bazooka Gold Trap Gold Sluice

Posted on 13 December 2013 by Cork Graham


Gold sniper's kit, in the original definition of the 1930s

Gold sniper’s kit, in the original definition of the 1930s

As you’ll often find, gold and treasure seem to attract all types of people looking to make a quick buck. What you’ll find is that for those who don’t put in a lot of work, and keep an open mind, the buck is neither quick, nor easy, and the only ones making a quick buck are those trying to swindle you out of yours. I’m thankful that I was only out a month’s time, and number of lessons on how NOT to run a gold mining operation when I went out on a supposedly bonafide mining operation.

The lesson started with how much money was invested into this operation that our foreman had used a slick to tongue to get others to put in: $200,000 put into an operation that included an 8-inch custom dredge that was supposedly $180,000 to start;  an operation that should have been just one or two people to start and backpack dredge.

Moving fast and light is what I’ve learned works, and especially for prospecting, small, one-or-two-person mining operations. In my search for knowledge about this new interesting that appears to be taking many by storm, as evidenced by such successful TV shows as BERING SEA GOLD, LOST TREASURE HUNTERS, GOLD FEVER,  and GOLD RUSH, I came across the Bazooka Gold Trap. It follows one of my favorite principles: KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

For my prospecting kit, I’ve incorporated something along the lines of what those who used to participate in what was called “sniping” during the 1930s. As I don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harry to find out where I’ve been prospecting, and potentially come in and begin mining a good area that I’ve found, I like to go in covertly, looking like I’m more just out for a hike, fishing or hunting trip than gold prospecting. The way to do this is to have all your gear hidden in a backpack.

The Titan Hydration Pack and Velocity X3 jump pack by BLACKHAWK!  serve wonderfully to quickly be compartmentalized, or used as a rucksack or of duffel, that I can dump everything in and go. In the pack, I carry a 14-inch gold pan. I prefer the Garrett green gold pans, and can highly recommend their ready-to-go Gold Pan Kit. Many use a black gold pan, but I like to be able to not only see the gold, but also discern between the pan and the black sand.

There is a lot of gold and in this business, it’s all about moving material quickly in a hot area, and that includes not wasting time panning out fines from black sand: I pour the concentrates into a five-gallon bucket for later going through in a Gold Cube concentrator when I’m actually mining.

Also into the pack goes a suction bottle to get the fines. To move material, I bring a folding shovel.

In the pack, I also carry an Apex miner’s pick and a geologist’s hammer and pick. A quick strike at minerals in a mass of quartz will tell you if it’s pyrite or gold you’re looking at: pyrite shatters and crumbles, gold is soft and dents. Also the pick end of the geologist hammer/pick will also enable further testing of hardrock. I prefer to use the Apex on softer material and minor earth moving.



The chamber exit for the material leaving the Bazooka Gold Trap


I carry the pan, but what I like to do is use the pan as a measuring tool (six pans is a proper sample: if you don’t get a good collection of gold in six, move on), and the Bazooka Gold Trap as the actual field sample processor: my favorite for this type of light and covert of prospecting, which was the original definition of “sniping” from the 1930s, when it was illegal to own and possess gold in the United States, as decreed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, are the Bazooka Gold Trap Mini and Super Mini Sluices.

What I like most about the Bazooka Gold Trap lines of gold sluices is that they remove a number of steps and considerations that more traditionally designed gold sluices require. One is that you no longer have to classify. Just like on major multi-million dollar gold mining operations that run through a bunch of material, “grizzlies” take care of the initial classification of material. Because of the action provided by the grizzlies, you don’t have to carry a separate classifier with you.

These grizzlies come in two options in the Bazooka Gold Trap: 3/32-inch (Regular Grizzlies) and 1/8-inch (Big Grizzlies). In the Mini and Super Mini Bazooka Gold Trap, the offering is regular grizzlies. In the Prospector line of Bazooka Gold Traps you have the option of the regular or big grizzlies. The spacing between the grizzlies is 5/16-inch and 3/8-inch respectively. .The only option for the Miner line of Bazooka Gold Traps is the big grizzlies. When you get to using the Miner, you’re processing a lot of material: these are at their prime having two persons shoveling material onto the staging area.

Like the long claws of a grizzly bear preventing salmon from running up a river, the “grizzlies” in mining prevent a certain size and above of material from entering. You simply shovel material onto the staging area of the Bazooka Gold Trap. The water’s current washes the smaller material past the grizzlies, in this solid wires, and into the chamber where it’s processed by water flow coming in from two perforated pipes fed be flow coming into it by water entering the next level under the material staging area.

The staging area itself is where a lot of large nuggets get caught, because of the friction of the tiny corrugations on the face of the top level staging area on which you shovel your material. If they’re not just sitting on the staging area after you’ve poured the material onto the staging area, they get caught in the grizzlies as you move the larger gravel along by racking your shovel.  Smaller nuggets go through grizzlies and are waiting for you to collect them during clean up.


Unlike most other sluices you also don’t have to deal with a riffle system, miner’s moss or any other time of materials and steps that cut into your day, like frequently having to clear black sand with a magnet to keep from losing your fine gold.

Your fines and small nuggets are all waiting for you to pan out or run through a Gold Cube, or some other type of concentrator. While sampling the Mini and Super Mini, all you have to do is fill your 14-inch gold pan with water and dunk the Bazooka Gold Trap chamber. Give it a tilt and shake and all the concentrates, and that’s all you’ll have, will be waiting for you to pan out.  Just using the Mini, I’d say that you’re processing about four hours of pans to every hour of sluicing, by simply filling a 14-inch pan with material and dumping it on the staging area of the Bazooka Gold Trap Mini-Sluice: it’s small, but does a pretty impressive job of processing material.

For remote areas it and the Super Mini can’t be beat for packing in or getting dropped into an area by plane of helicopter. Matter of fact it’ll be going with me on a couple prospecting operations I’ve got planned for this coming summer that will include a chopper drops in Alaska.

Get your own Bazooka Gold Trap setup going, visit

Here’s a link to our latest interview with Todd Osborn, owner and developer of the Bazooka Gold Trap.

Be sure to check back for an upcoming episode of Cork’s Outdoors TV where Todd does a walkthrough of the Prospector in California’s Central Sierra Gold Country!

Cork Graham is the publisher of GCT Magazine and Cork’s Outdoors, and author of the international best-selling Vietnam prison/treasure hunt memoir The Bamboo Chest. For his latest books, writings, and appearances, follow him at, Facebook and Twitter.

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Gold Cube for the 21st Century!

Posted on 13 December 2013 by Cork Graham



More added opportunities to spend time with your dog and children in the outdoors–and possibly have the trip paid for with gold!


Talk to enough gold prospectors and you get a whole lot of ideas of how best to find gold and much more, get it. Along with those ideas of where to find gold has been a slew of tools, machines and doohickeys. Some are good, some not so good, and some have been downright impressive!

What really got my attention is when Mike Pung, co-owner and developer of the Gold Cube asked, “Why are we in 2013 and we’re still relying on 19th Century technology to get our gold?!” Considering his wealth of knowledge, it’s no surprise Pung retired from the USAF in 1994 with years as an instructor in heat and air, hydraulics, electronic generation, and engine mechanics on gas diesel and jet engines.

When he told me how much more different the Gold Cube is from what’s out there, mainly sluices and pans for placer mining, and then how much gold is lost in that process, I was hooked! Most technology on separating gold from material and quickly getting down to concentrates is based on the natural riffle system of a river. If you’re a steelhead angler like me, you know exactly what this looks like. After all this, is how Mother Nature naturally washes and catches gold that has been washed into waterways for centuries from lode or bench deposit high up the hill or mountainside.

When you look at a gold cube it doesn’t seem that compelling, especially when you see all these other gadgets out there that dance this way and that, promising so much. That often is part of their problem, especially if you’re new to this and a one-person operation. For its dimensions, the Gold Cube does quite a bit because of co-developer Mike Pung and Steve “Red” Wilcox’s profound understanding of gravity and hydrodynamics: small enough to be easily transported and big enough and efficiently designed to do more than a long run concentrator.

What I found intriguing about Gold Cube design is that it incorporates something that big nugget divers search for and that’s that a pool below a waterfall, with large boulders, can trap a lot of gold, especially big nuggets, even preventing that big gold from being washed out during heavy storms. These are incorporated as a trough that stretches across the end of each run of a plate, either the initial slick plate, or every vortex matting. And what big boulders do by keeping big nuggets from being washed way, the Gold Cube does with a gate that extends down from the stage above. If nuggets and large gold flake get past the first trough, the normally get caught at the beginning of the next, which unlike the

Basically what happens when you start pouring your classified material (8-mesh) , or black sand concentrates, onto the first stage’s landing area, is it gets washed evenly down into the first trough, using the effect of gravity to drive the gold straight down into bottom of the trough. As it was put to me by an old successful miners: gold sinks. It stays there, unless it’s light enough to rise with the much lighter material, or because of deformation, flutters up and down the next stage, which is covered by a special material that caused the water to move in a riffle mechanics that makes the water’s surface look like a patchwork of diamond patterns. What it does is within those “surface diamonds” is create a low pressure area.

If you’ve ever flown a plane into a low-pressure zone, you know exactly what happens to the gold then. It drops like a heavy piece of rock. And since it’s pretty much the heaviest particle, it stays and the lighter materials continue on their way.

The full Gold Cube package includes four separator trays, connective joints and plugs, a water pump that runs on a 12-volt battery, a collapsible stand and all the necessary tubing to get the water running properly. It has to be level to run properly, so the water runs properly across each separator tray.

The Gold Cube running with the Gold Banker on top.

The Gold Cube running with the Gold Banker on top.

In its most regulated form, one where water is brought along, a water tray system can be set up under the Gold Cube so that it can be a completely self-contained concentrator. The recommended container is a concrete mixing tub. Lowe’s at present seems to be selling the thickest walled, most durable. With the pump sucking water out of the tub, the water’s clarity can be extended by putting a elongate planter, or Tupperware, tub right under the outflow to catch all the processed material.

If you’re right next to a stream, or water source, you can treat the pump like a station suction dredge nozzle and stick it in a submerged bucket to keep material from being sucked in and clogging your tubing and ports.

All said and done, my initial experience with the Gold Cube was very impressive. It’s not the amount of gold that caught my eye when cleaned out the Gold Cube after four 5 gallons buckets of material. It was the finite size the fines that the Gold Cube was able to separate out: we’re not just talking pinhead size we’re talking pin-point size fine gold. Nuggets are nice, but gold is valued by weight and purity—fines and flakes beat nuggets. —if there’s gold in your material, the Gold Cube holds it!

We're talking tiny fines!

Catching even the tiniest fines!

Sampling With the Gold Cube

As a whole package the Gold Cube might seem cumbersome to be carrying from site to site in search of a place to begin placer mining. Taking only the first two trays, tubing, plus a small 12-volt motorcycle battery, and you’re easily mobile.

What about if you’d like to prospect and sample in a wilderness area that prohibits even the use of a machine? Fret not. Using water pressure created by river, stream or creek, you can rig a funnel to drive water down a hose and into the Gold Cube. If you’re reliant on prospecting in area that just has standing water, you rig a stand, or tie a line to the branch of a tree to hang a bucket with a hole drilled the bottom to take connective plug to run water through the Gold Cube per bucketful of water. The Gold Cube is just as adaptable, or evenmore so than a traditional sluice.

The innovative qualities of the Gold Cube are so impressive that those who had pooh-poohed it at first have become some of its greatest proponents. The American Miner’s Rights Association even endorses the Gold Cube.

Gold Banker


The Gold Banker doing its job running shovelfuls of unclassified material

Now, there is an add on, and from my experience using it, it really takes you from just doing classified material and concentrates, to high-production mode by allowing you to setup on a likely pay streak that you’ve found through sampling and then just start shoveling.

The Gold Banker add-on basically turns the Gold Cube into a high-banker/beach box, which will classify the material you shovel and even catch small nuggets in two nugget trenches placed in the tray that holds the classifier, a spray array fluidizes the material down through the classifier, onto the nugget tray, and then onto the slick plate.

According to one source, on average it takes 100 buckets of material to produce one pennyweight of gold in most areas of the Central Sierras. That’s a lot of material. The Gold Cube can take it, and most importantly, you won’t be losing gold downstream for all that work!

You can get your own Gold Cube and Gold Banker at the following website:

Stay tuned for new episodes Cork’s Outdoors TV in the field with the Gold Cube and Gold Banker. Here’s an interview with Mike Pung on Cork’s Outdoors Radio: Mike Pung and the Gold Cube.

Cork Graham is the publisher of GCT Magazine and Cork’s Outdoors, and author of the international best-selling Vietnam prison/treasure hunt memoir The Bamboo Chest. For his latest books, writings, and appearances, follow him at, Facebook and Twitter.

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Cork’s Outdoors Radio: Interview of Bazooka Gold Trap gold sluice developer Todd Osborn

Posted on 13 December 2013 by Cork Graham



In this episode of Cork’s Outdoors Radio, Cork Graham interviews Bazooka Gold Trap developer, Todd Osborn, about his innovative gold sluice:

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