Reader Larry asks:

With so many supposedly sophisticated people cheated by “fake gold bars” (gold on the surface tungsten underneath) and similar things, how do you protect yourself?

I personally use a Fisch gold detector for gold coins and I know that they work, even though they are expensive. Still, $300 is cheap when you consider what you stand to lose by buying even one fake coin. When it comes to bars, you can always measure the volume and weight, and use those values to calculate the density.

However, there are other methods. There are all sorts of fake coin detectors. They all work by measuring weight and volume. I recommend being careful. That is the main reason why I only buy PMs from reputable dealers. If you are in a SHTF scenario, make sure that you have a way of determining whether or not the PM coin someone is trying to hand you is a fake.

Categories: Training


Michael · June 27, 2023 at 7:54 am

When I was serving in Bosnia PM’s (and to a lesser degree any non-local cash esp American Dollars) were prime trading goods. HOWEVER, both fake PM’s were an ongoing hazard and the REAL VALUE of PM’s was they could be sold outside the warzone for “Real Money” to buy things to TRADE for PM’s.

A gold wedding ring might (supply and demand) buy you a bottle of hopefully real antibiotics.

Sadly, honor in a war zone is not that common. A hungry mother might sell herself for a small sack of food to feed her kids. Ugly truth happened a LOT in post WW2 Germany, when thugs and soldiers ruled the streets.

Will sadly happen again, as human nature and hunger hasn’t changed much since Cain killed Able.

But again, having PM’s might also with the Risk vs Reward matrix get you slaughtered, and home stripped of anything tradeable.

Until Gold and Silver are used as Money in Day to Day use, they are stores of value, with the hope somebody will value them at a higher value than that old peanut butter jar full of dried beans.

I do see the stored value of PM’s, but they assume some sort of rule of law and exchange of value without a firefight.

Spare cash to stay out of awes shit situations. Paying taxes is important to keep yourself from being homeless. Does your state accept PM’s for tax payments?

For SHTF situations rule of threes stuff first, then creating options for you and your family.

My Grandparents left Weimer Germany bribing the German Transport Police with their wedding rings to get to NYC. Small gold coins were the only transportable wealth. A small gold coin bought Granddad once a German Banker a JOB as a Dockworker to put a shared boarding house roof over the family’s heads and to earn American Dollars to improve their situation.

So, PM’s have value but where would you flee to now?

Exile1981 · June 27, 2023 at 8:09 am

19.3 g/cm3 for gold vs 19.25 g/cm3 for tungsten. In smaller volumes the weight will be close enough that average scales can not tell the difference.
You can use an ultrasonic thickness meter with b scan ability, that will show you if there is an interface layer between two metals. Your look at 3k for a basic one though so unless you have one for other reasons not the cheapest option.

    Divemedic · June 27, 2023 at 10:53 am

    That’s what the ringer I mentioned above is for.

neomunitor · June 27, 2023 at 8:15 am

PM dealers are going to have XRF (x-ray fluorescence) analyzers, but they cost 35k. Worth it for a dealer, though. Can’t be fooled. Can tell exact purity and alloy of metals. Can handle odd shapes. If you are buying from someone unknown might be worth it to have a dealer with an XRF certify the goods for a fee.

SP RN · June 27, 2023 at 8:57 am

DM, your blog is a ‘must read, daily’, yet nobody agrees on everything:
I read not too long ago that a large buyer (?China) got scammed by a large seller
(?Australia) when the gold transacted was 99% pure (?exact purity, 99.25%, 99.4%) not %100, and that the shorted quantity was worth millions of dollars. If a major state player can get taken, I’m not joining; my store of value will remain lead/ brass, in quantity.

TRX · June 27, 2023 at 2:24 pm

[summary of variants of a conversation I’ve had far too many times]

“Fiat money is fake. I’m using my funds to buy gold.”

“Sounds reasonable. You have planned your security measures carefully, right?”

“It’s in a vault in Ukraine!”

“Um. How can you be sure that gold even exists? And if it does, how would you get it into your hands if SHTF?”

“Of course it’s real. They sent me a certificate!”

“A contract valid under Ukrainian law?”

“Don’t be silly. They just emailed me a PDF!”

Past that, I usually just shake my head and change the subject.

Fido · June 27, 2023 at 7:32 pm

There is also this method of detecting fakes:

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