Best Garrett Metal Detectors

Updated February 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

16 Models Considered
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
142 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best Garrett metal detectors

Last Updated February 2019

Whether you’re a seasoned detectorist or just starting out as a treasure seeker, there’s a Garrett metal detector that’s right for you. Consistently rated as a top manufacturer and the biggest name in the business, Garrett offers specialized products for pros along with some distinguished entry-level models.

Garrett has been around since 1964, when inventor and entrepreneur Charles Garrett decided that the metal detectors then available were all unsatisfactory. He began building his own in Garland, Texas, where they are still made today. The company also manufactures walk-through detectors for security screening and military minesweepers, so they know their onions.

This guide details some of the features to look for when shopping for a Garrett metal detector. While all of its models are good quality, we at BestReviews have picked out those that we think are best for most uses.

“Black dirt” is detectorist-speak for soil that’s rich in organic matter. It signals a great place to search because it’s common in very old sites, especially in the eastern United States.

Key considerations

Before choosing a metal detector, consider the type of detecting you do. That’s likely to be influenced by where you live. If you’re in the West, you might have the most luck prospecting for gold. If you’re in New England, you may be able to dig up a few Revolutionary War artifacts. And if you live by the beach, you could find an assortment of lost valuables and coins.  

There are three main sources of quarry for detectorists: lost coins or other valuables, relics, and good, old-fashioned gold or other precious mineral nuggets, and all of these categories have different needs, so here's how to make sure you choose your equipment accordingly.

Coin shooting: This is the most popular use for metal detectors, with many people looking for lost cash on beaches or in popular picnic areas where you can find a rich hoard of coins, along with watches, rings, and other lost property. You won’t need a hugely complicated device for this, but one that’s waterproof and suitable for use around salt water is advisable.

Relic hunting: To indulge your inner Indiana Jones, searching old battlegrounds for buttons and military gear is fascinating and could be lucrative. For this type of work, you need a metal detector with good depth penetration.

Prospecting: If you have dreams of your own gold rush, a detector that’s adept at finding nuggets is key. Look for models with good discrimination that can screen out interference from common metals.

Take it anywhere

Consistently voted one of the best, the all-rounder AT Pro (which stands for All-Terrain) is fully submersible to ten feet, so you can get pretty adventurous with your searches. Choose from standard mode to begin, then move up to pro modes for more information. A fine-tuned target ID and iron discrimination feature helps you separate trash from trove. Garrett also offers a bundle that includes pinpointer, headphones, coil cover, digger, pouch, hat, and carrying bag.

Garrett metal detector features

Once you’ve figured out your main goal, you can hone in on the features that are most valuable to you. The things to consider include the following:

Technology

This is how your metal detector works. Garrett models use very low frequency (VLF) and pulse induction (PI).

VLF emits a low-frequency magnetic field into the ground and picks up the reflections from metal. This can be tuned so that only certain metals are detected. This is a common technology in metal detectors.

PI devices are more advanced and expensive. These use a single coil that sends out a pulse to locate objects far beneath the ground’s surface, which is especially useful in highly mineralized soil such as on a beach. These detectors aren’t as good as discriminating as VLF detectors, though. Professional treasure seekers often use this kind of technology, and some of these detectors are fully submersible for underwater treasure hunting.

Sensitivity

Metal detectors have a sensitivity meter, registered in kilohertz (kHz). Some can be adjusted depending on what you’re looking for and the conditions of the ground, such as its mineral content. Detectors with high operating frequencies can be used to find items in the topsoil, while setting the meter to lower registers will penetrate deeper to find items buried farther down. The range varies according to the model, with Garrett detectors ranging from 6.5 kHz fixed to 18 kHz adjustable.

Discrimination

This variable setting is how your detector is able to distinguish between trash and treasure, and between different metals, so that you’re able to filter out the types of objects you don’t want to locate, such as bottle caps and aluminum foil. It can do this because different metals give off unique magnetic responses. The level of discrimination varies between models, with some detectors being adjustable.

Calibration

Also called ground balance, this is how the metal detector filters out interference from the mineral content in the earth. You need to adjust it each time you use your detector on a new type of soil or to allow for nearby power lines or other interference. If you only have low calibration on a detector, the readings will likely be less reliable. There are three types of calibration:

  • Preset has a fixed range.

  • Automatic adjusts automatically.

  • Manual is set by you (some can switch between auto and manual).

Coil

The coil is the disk at the end of the metal detector that you sweep above the ground. It gives off electromagnetic waves to detect metal. The shape and size of the coil determine the range (the coverage above the ground) and the depth that it can reach. There are different sizes of coil, from 4.5 to 9 inches, and a variety of shapes, each of which has its own strengths. With most models, you can purchase additional Garrett coils and switch them out as necessary.

  • Concentric is the standard coil shape. It can penetrate well to a depth of about a foot, but its range is more limited.

  • Elliptical coils can also penetrate to about a foot but have a better range.

  • Double D coils have the best range but don’t penetrate as deeply.

  • Spider coils have the same range as concentric coils but are sturdier. These are ideal for use in brush or undergrowth.

Pinpoint mode

This aligns the response point to the center of the coil so you can determine the exact location of the item. You manually activate this mode. Once you’ve found a location with wide sweeps, you can switch on the pinpoint mode and hone in using the readings on the LCD screen.

Depth indicator

This will show you on an LCD screen how far down the item is, from one inch to a foot.

EXPERT TIP

You need headphones to hear the signals that the metal detector emits. These are usually included, but not always. Check them for good audio quality and all-day comfort.


Staff  | BestReviews

Garrett metal detector prices

Prices range from $200 to $1,100 for standalone detectors. There are also some bundles that come with accessories like headphones, pinpointers, and more that are a great value. These range from $250 to $2,500.

Worldwide best seller

This metal detector is suitable for beginners and pros alike. It comes with a bunch of features, like a great pinpointing tool, yet is very easy to use as well as being lightweight (2.7 pounds.) The coil alone is waterproof, and it’s best used for coins, competition hunts, and freshwater wading.

Tips

  • Don’t get a complicated metal detector if you’re a beginner. This can lead to frustration even if you understand the principle. Start with an easy-to-use model that does a lot for you and move up as you get the hang of it.

  • Learn the jargon. There are online sites full of detectorist jargon, like “canslaw” for aluminum cans shredded by a lawnmower, or “chatter” for the noise made by a badly tuned metal detector, or “heartstopper” for an object that looks impressive at first that turns out to be worthless.

  • Join a club. While metal detecting is a good solo activity, joining a group of like-minded enthusiasts can be especially rewarding. It offers a place where you can share your finds and local intel, join group outings, and get firsthand advice on detectors and accessories. Check for one near you at metaldetector.com.
DID YOU KNOW?

A “coinball” is what detectorists call a clod of earth that has a coin inside.

DID YOU KNOW?

A small, handheld pinpointer detector is what you use to search your excavated hole and precisely locate the find.

Other products we considered

The AT Max Diggers Special bundle is what you need when you get serious. This all-terrain model can take you ten feet underwater in fresh and salt water, and it has a host of upgraded features like built-in Z-Lynk wireless technology – so no cords – and a near-zero delay from the detector to the headphones. Comes with plenty of useful accessories, too. The ACE 300 Metal Detector has all the features of the ACE 250, plus a digital target ID (on a scale of 0 to 99), higher iron discrimination, and double the sensitivity. The coil is larger, and the headphones are included in the price. This detector is suitable for experienced users, but while beginners find it has a bit of a learning curve, they also find it to be a very intuitive machine to learn on.

To excavate your find, you’ll need a handheld digger and a pouch to put it in.

FAQ

Q. Does Garrett make any detectors suitable for children?
A.
Yes. The entry-level models are intuitive enough for kids to learn to detect with. It’s also better than buying a cheap toy detector that won’t offer much in the way of finds. If the kids don’t find anything, they’re likely to lose interest.

Q. Are there comprehensive manuals with the detectors?
A.
Yes, and as a bonus, the Garrett website (Garrett.com) features some great video tutorials for their models.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alice
    Alice
    Web Producer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Courtney
    Courtney
    Writer
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer

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