I have been using the Garrett AT Pro heavily for a while now. As such, I wanted to give folks my review of this “all terrain” metal detector. Garrett has tried to make an all purpose detector, at a mid range price point – but has it succeeded? Let’s see.
Garrett has tried to bring a lot of stuff together on this machine. And I think they have done an exceptional job on this detector. You will be hard pressed to find a detector this good in this price range (about $600). And with that, let’s dive into it.
The AT Pro sports a nice, solid black coloring with silver accents. I think it looks really cool and sleek. Of course, it sports that double D coil that works really nicely. More on that later. People comment on the size of the readout. I think they think it’s too small. I think it’s fine, but I have really good eyesight. Folks also comment about no backlighting on the screen. I figure if you are hunting in dark, you can hook up an LED. Personally, I don’t think it’s a huge deal and most people won’t need it. So, with that, let’s more in depth on the AT Pro Control Panel Screen.
Control Panel Screen
There are two things to notice when we have a target under our coil. The first is the notch identification. On the screen above, we can see that it shows a quarter. The other thing to notice is the Target ID, or TID. It shows an 85, which actually seems low for a quarter signal. Anyway, these will tell you what you are looking at. After some use, you will wonder how you did without the TID.
The AT Pro sports 6 distinct modes. You can see them on the left side of the control panel. There are Basic: custom, coins, and zero modes. And there are Pro: custom, coins, and zero modes. Most beginners start out in basic mode. It gives very basic target chimes. Most users quickly move to pro mode as it gives a lot more auditory clues. It also has much quicker recovery between targets. Again, once you use the pro mode, you will wonder how you could have fared without it.
In the top left of the control panel we also see the number “30.” This shows the amount of iron discrimination. If you run it up to “40″ it will give you very good iron discrimination. This will effectively silence any reading below 40. You can also use iron audio in conjunction with this.
Iron audio is a sort of fine control on the iron audial cues. For example, if you set the iron discrimination at 30 and then turn on iron audio, you will change how the low tones, mid tones, and high tones work. In this example, the low tones would be from 0 to 30. The mid tones would run from 30 to 75. And the high tones will go from 75 up. If you did not use the iron audio, then the low tones would go from 30-40. I hope you can see the difference. This can be a very nice tool.
The right side of the control panel shows you a calculated depth. Now, this works well when the object is what the AT Pro expects. For instance, if you have a silver dime under the coil at around 6 to 8 inches, it will most likely read in the mid to upper 80s. When you start digging and get close, the TID will get higher. But, if the object is a larger piece of copper, you may get the exact same reading. What you will probably find is that the large piece of copper can be much deeper. So, if you start digging and get to 6 to 8 inches and it still reads the same – probably a large piece of copper. For coins, however, this reading does well in most circumstances.
The lower bar, under the TID, shows the amount of sensitivity. You want to run this as high as you can. Just know, there are times when more is not better!
The large button does what it says. I have found the pinpointing to be pretty good, all things considered. You will run into trouble when hunting in trashy areas.
Notch Discrmination and Elim
These are used together to “notch out” discrimination. Let’s say there are a ton of washers in the area you are hunting. They keep showing up as quarters. You could notch discriminate those and not hear them. Of course, you will lose targets as well.
The ground balance button allows you to automatically adjust ground balance or do it manually. This is crucially important to deal the mineralization at a site.
Most users will find the AT Pro very easy to use. Yes, there is skill to using it, but the level of entry is not high. That is one thing I really love about this machine. I could show an absolute beginner how to use it proficiently in a few hunts.
Weight and Balance
This isn’t the lightest machine, but just over 3 pounds, it’s not bad at all. I can swing this thing all day – and I have done that. Some people complain that it is a little nose heavy, but I don’t feel that. If you start rushing, it will hurt your shoulder after a while. But that goes for any detector.
Now, this is something I don’t like about the AT Pro. The connectors are proprietary. You can stick a standard set of headphones into this machine without an adapter. I don’t understand that choice. The connectors are also a little tough to get in and out.
The new stem comes with cam locks and offer great stability.
It does its job just fine.
Okay, this is the “meat and potatoes” of the review. Does this machine find the goods? Yes, it does. I have found some awesome finds with this detector. Early coppers, all kinds of silver coins (it’s a silver hound!), jewelry, relics, etc.
I was pretty shocked at how easy it is to learn this machine. Some other machines can take a long time to master effectively. I was finding very nice stuff almost immediately. It can find stuff at very nice depths. I recently found a small, silver woman’s ring at around 10 inches. That signal was very faint, but it was good enough to make me dig.
I also love the target separation on this machine. I cannot tell you how many times I have found coins right next to, or below, iron and junk targets. Those signals are typically strange, but the good signals do come through. I cannot wait to get the smaller coil!
One of the major appeals to this detector is the ability to use it in water. I have used it in both salt and fresh water. Does it rival top water detectors and pulse induction detectors on the beach? No, it does not. But it can do the job. You definitely want to hunt in parallel lines to the water line on the beach – so you don’t have to adjust the ground balance a ton. But it does work pretty well. It does just fine in freshwater.
There were stories of the Garrett AT Pro leaking and falsing. These were an issue when the AT was first released. I don’t see these as an issue now. I have never had an issue with this detector and many say the same since they did some modifications. If you are buying a new version of this machine, you will have those modifications – so don’t sweat it! And if something does happen, Garrett does service very well.
I have to say that once I started working in the pro mode zero, I have never looked back. The tones are really nice and the TID can really help you. If you take the time to learn this machine, you will find lots of really amazing stuff. I have taken this machine to locations that have been hunted very heavily and found great finds. One such location was a park that is now a sledding hill. I hunted the top of the hill really slowly and got a deep tone that was barely audible. Out comes a very nice Barber dime. This type of scenario is repeated often for me.
The screen can get scratched and does have glare. A quick answer for that is to cover it with a phone screen protector. That really helps stop the glare and protects the screen. Some users have also reported bubbling on the screen cover. Garrett is typically all over these types of issues. Again, their service is extremely good.
I can’t speak to relic hunting as much. But I do know from reading countless posts that people also like the iron capabilities of the AT Pro.
And the 15 kHz frequency offers great ability to get those smaller jewelry finds. Personally I love this, along with the double D coil. The double D coil see down like a “slice.” This, coupled with the frequency, has gotten me some great finds in small places. I have had trouble with concentric coils in those types of scenarios. Also, I like that tradeoff on depth with the frequency, when coupled with the double D coil. I hope that makes sense.
TID – Target ID Values
It takes a while for folks to get used to the pro mode tones and also the TID values. Once you get the hang of them, they can be of tremendous value. As a very general rule, you will find iron below 40, gold from around 40 to 70, and clad and silver above 70. Large cents will ring up in the upper 80s – around 87/88. Indian head pennies and high copper pennies (pre 1982) will ring up 81/82. Zinc, junk Lincoln pennies (modern) can ring up in the 70s and almost always eaten up by soil/metal interaction on the base metal. Yep, they are junk. Clad dimes ring up 83-85. Nickels will ring up a solid 52/53. Quarter will ring up 87/88. And Halves will ring up in the in the lower 90s.
Silver is a totally different animal. It will usually produce a super sweet, flutish tone. This sweet tone will become unmistakable in your silver hunting. Silver war nickels will ring up like the solid 52/53 but will be higher b/se of the silver content. Usually they ring up in the 60s-70s. It will have a higher, flutish tone. Silver dimes ring up in the mid 80s and sound great. Silver quarters come in around 90. Halves around 94. And dollars around 99.
Now, as it goes with everything in metal detecting. You need to learn discernment on these values. Very deep and/or worn silver dimes, for instance, can ring up in the 70s. So, if you are at an old site, dig those deeper tones. Also, if the target is really deep, you may not get any TID readout. You may just get a tone. Dig those. At least cut a plug and remove some soil. This will allow the AT Pro to lock onto a TID.
Anyway, here are a couple of charts that I found on the foundmall AT Pro AT Gold forum. My apologies if I am grabbing these without acknowledgement to the creator. I don’t remember who made them. If you are the owner, let me know and I attribute them and/or link to you. Thanks! The VDI refers to the TID numbers. VDI is a minelabs detector expression, but they are used interchangeably. Notice how thinner silver items can ring up much much lower on the TID!
Gold is a very difficult thing to find. That’s because it rings up in the same range as a lot of trash items, especially aluminum pulltabs. The only way to find a lot of gold is to dig a lot of trash, period. The signal should be repeatable. And it’s usually good to confirm the signal from different angles.
The AT Pro is really an amazing metal detector that I would whole-heartedly recommend to my closest friends. It’s hard to beat the combination of features with the mid range price point. I can take this detector with me almost anywhere and know that I can go metal detecting. And I know that I will find stuff! It is an absolute silver hound. I have been shocked at the amount of silver I have found with it. If you are on the fence about purchasing this machine, please put those doubts aside. If you do the research and get on good sites, you will be happy with what this detector can find for you. No, it doesn’t offer the greatest depth or the best saltwater detecting, but man, it does incredibly well. Oh, and by the way, Garrett’s support is incredible. They are friendly, attentive, and respond quickly. Compare that to, say, Minelab’s support.
AT Pro Metal Detecting Finds
This is the part of the review where it gets fun. Here are just a few items that I have found using this wonderful detector:
AT Pro Problems
The Garrett AT Pro does have some problems. First, the stock headphones (I can’t speak to the waterproof ones) are not very good. They aren’t too comfortable to wear over long periods. There is also a problem with the cuff. Garrett has had issues with these breaking. Mine just folded over while swinging in a field. They promptly replaced the cuff. I’m pretty sure they are changing the way they manufacture them to avoid this in the future. I have also heard some complaints of the coils either going out or the compound on the bottom coming apart. Garrett has been very responsive to these issues. But, as always, I would love to hear your comments about your experiences. This will help others decide whether or not the AT Pro is a good buy for them.
The Garrett AT Pro is not for everyone. You need to align your detecting goals with the right equipment. If you hunt beaches exclusively, you shouldn’t buy this machine. You should get a detected water machine, like the newer pulse induction ones. Will the AT Pro work on the beach or in the surf? Sure. But it won’t do as well as a dedicated beach machine.
However, the AT Pro is a super all terrain machine. And the price is really hard to beat. And I have found some very tough objects to find. I have found objects that were small and deep. I have fished out objects in iron that others have missed. And I have had fun in the water with it – or detecting in a downpour. The coils work really really well. Pinpointing is easy.
And another great thing about the ATP is that it is pretty easy to learn. You can learn how to use it pretty well in a few weeks – or quicker if you hunt every day. But it is powerful enough that you will still be learning it years from your purchase date. There is always something new to learn. There is always a way to gain an upper hand on a tough location or other detectorists.
A big part of this equation is who you are. Detecting takes perseverance and tenacity. If you don’t have this, no detector will help you. Learn how to research, how to dig targets correctly, how to read a location, etc. If you do, you will get the goods. But be assured, there is no shortcut to proficiency!
Best of luck.
Heck, if you stick with it, maybe you will find something like Beau did:
all terrain, AT, Garrett, metal detector, Pro, review