When it comes to gold miners exchange traded funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDX) and the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDXJ) are by far the most popular funds in this genre.

That popularity has been bolstered this year and even more so in recent weeks amid a resurgence in gold futures that has boosted mining ETFs. Over the past month, GDX and GDXJ are up an average of 24%. [Junior Miners ETF Looks for New Highs]

To be sure, those are impressive performances, but in terms of pure performance, this year’s best gold miners ETF is one many investors are not familiar with: The Global X Gold Explorers ETF (NYSEArca: GLDX).

GLDX’s stellar 45.7% year-to-date gain not only makes it the best gold miners ETF, but also one of the best non-leveraged ETFs of any variety. GLDX tracks the Solactive Global Gold Explorers Index giving investors “an alternative method of gaining exposure to gold exploration by investing in a basket of companies within the industry.”

GLDX truly is an alternative to other gold miners ETFs. That is to say the ETF’s rewards are far from risk-free. Such is life where the holdings have an average market value of $316 million, which teeters on the fence between micro- and small-cap. Three of GLDX’s top-10 holdings are found in GDXJ, an ETF with a weighted average market value of $600 million. [Small Miners ETF Soars]

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