Kit includes virtually every useful accessory available. Pin-pointer makes hole examinations much easier. Finds objects other detectors often miss.
Camo carrying bag is exceptionally large (50"), not comfortable or discreet. Included headphones are bulky and uncomfortable, not smaller in-ear pieces with an adapter.
Includes pinpointing technology. Works well underwater. Online instructional videos are helpful for beginners.
Poor volume control. Overly sensitive to junk rocks with mineral content. Many false readings, does not discriminate well.
Used by many professional treasure hunters. Exceptionally long battery life. "Pro" mode changes pitch between junk and valuable metals.
Does not perform well in brackish water. Not designed for beginners.
Very easy to assemble straight out of the box. Can pinpoint a valuable target surrounded by junk. Designed with beginners and casual hobbyists in mind.
Headphones may or may not be included in original package. Almost too sensitive at times, picks up many junk signals.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This will show you on an LCD screen how far down the item is, from one inch to a foot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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