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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