How to Build a Snipe Sucker Sluice for Gold Panning

Written by francis walsh
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How to Build a Snipe Sucker Sluice for Gold Panning
Sniping for gold under rocks involves running the ore through a snipe sucker sluice. (River Rocks image by Marta Reimpell from

As the old-timer prospectors say, "The bigger the boulder, the bigger the nugget." This is why many prospectors snipe for gold under big rocks in rivers and streams. While using a snipe sucker is a great way to get gold ore, many snipers want to know how to build a snipe sucker sluice for gold panning as well. Combining these prospecting methods is easy, and it takes just a few modifications to make the sluice separate the gold before panning.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • PVC piping
  • End cap
  • Plunger
  • O-ring
  • Drill
  • Silicon gel
  • Sluice
  • Hose
  • Hose clamps
  • Pump
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Build a snipe from 1-inch PVC pipe. A snipe is usually about 4-feet long and has a small opening at one end where the material is sucked up and a plunger on the other. Place an end cap on the snipe tubing and drill a hole big enough to insert another length of PVC that is smaller in diameter than the outside of the snipe tube.

  2. 2

    Cut a piece of PVC to fasten to the end of the inside tubing to act as a plunger. Wrap the plunger with an O-ring to seal the plunger to the inside walls of the snipe.

  3. 3

    Drill a hole in the side of the snipe and attach a hose and fitting to run out the side of the snipe and back to the sluice box. Make the fitting water proof with silicon gasket gel.

  4. 4

    Clamp the loose end of the hose from the snipe tool to the top of a sluice box. Place a gold pan at the bottom of the sluice and run water through the sluice box.

  5. 5

    Point the end of the snipe under large rocks and pump the plunger of the snipe to suck up gold ore from under rocks. Pump with the end underwater until the gold ore comes out the other end of the hose and into the sluice.

  6. 6

    Separate the gold that was sniped using the panning method. The sluice will have separated much of the debris from the gold. Once the sluice is cleaned, the gold and heavy black sand can be separated quickly.

Tips and warnings

  • Place the sluice box down stream and in a lower elevation whenever possible.
  • Do not try to snipe and plunge heavy dirt up hills and into a sluice box that is not at least level with where the snipe is sucking from.
  • Sniping for gold can be considered a form of dredging and is not allowed in many gold mining areas. Check with the local Bureau of Land Management before sniping for gold with a snipe sucker sluice on public or private property. Penalties, fines and imprisonment are the potential punishments if pertinent laws are violated.

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