Garrett AT Gold review – a metal detector that has become classics of gold hunting devices. Its main features are ability to work using high frequency (18 kHz) and water resistance.
The device is a twin-brother of AT-Pro metal detector, but with different operation frequency. Garrett has designed AT Gold specifically for gold nuggets and jewelry hunting both on the ground and underwater.
Area of the device application
Quite often professional metal detectors are designed as multi-purpose devices. However, Garrett has chosen another approach and created two different devices each for its own task (Garrett AT Max and Garrett AT Pro).
The device appeared to be of high quality, reliable, without any unnecessary settings and other complicated stuff.
The main thing is that both metal detectors have different modes of operation. Garrett AT Pro mode of operation is meant for small coins and relics hunting, while Garrett AT Gold is good for very small targets, gold nuggets and golden jewelry prospecting.
Visually these devices are exactly alike. They have the same size of the control unit, shaft, armrest, the same color, etc. Both models were manufactured in the USA and both of them can be submerged. The only difference that catches the eye is the coil size.
Unlike AT-Pro, Garrett AT Gold has a smaller coil — DD 5×8″ (14×20) and higher operating frequency – 18 kHz. Due to these differences the device is very sensitive to small targets: pieces of gold, jewelry, silver and copper coins. Except gold, this metal detector excellently senses silver coins.
If you take a closer look, you will see differences in the shafts design. Garrett decided to reinforce it with terminal washers in addition to spring buttons, which is a standard approach for other manufactures.
You can read about this in details in the corresponding section.
Both devices have similar armrests, but AT Gold has a small hook on it, which you can use to anchor the headphones wire and prevent it from swaying and get hooked on your bag, clothes, buttons and other clothing details.
However, when working with AT Gold the user will quite quickly notice higher target response speed and increased device sensitivity to small and golden targets.
Creation of the device for underwater search caused excluding the feature of the device lighting from its design.
Firstly, it would consume too much energy and, secondly, in case of small defects of the insulating substance it would lead to short-circuit fault.
|Model||Garrett AT Gold|
|Weight||3.03 lbs (1.4 kgs)|
|Length (Adjustable)||43″ to 56″ (1.09m – 1.4m)|
|Batteries||4 AA (included)|
|Standard Searchcoil||5″ x 8″ ( 14x20cm) DD PROformance|
|Operating Frequencies (kHz)||18|
|Water resistance||Waterproof detector|
|Submersion Depth||up to 10 feet|
|Iron Discrimination Segments||44|
|Ground Balance||Manual, Auto|
|VDI (0 to 99 scale)||Yes|
Initially the manufacturer markets AT Gold as a gold prospecting metal detector. You can see it from many advertising clips and the name of the device speaks for itself.
At that, together with professional gold nuggets prospecting the device should demonstrate good performance during golden jewelry beach hunting.
As for small gold nuggets prospecting – not every detectorist needs such a functionality. Such an occupation can be of current interest somewhere in Australia or Alaska and it should be legal as well.
In addition, there are some single-purpose metal detectors with 50 kHz operating frequency and higher. Due to this, they really can detect the tiniest gold nuggets.
As for 18 kHz operating frequency used by AT Gold, it looks more like a compromise that allows the device be a multi-purpose one and at the same time have some additional advantages when searching for small metal targets with low conductivity (gold).
It is really clearly seen during the beach hunting. A standard set of findings (for a metal detector with 7 kHz operating frequency) may include a golden ring, but detecting a chain, a cross pendant or an earring made of gold is almost impossible in this case.
Since the detection depth for such targets will differ only by several inches not more.
Gold in shape of small natural nuggets or jewelry is quite a complicated target for detectorists.
Of course, large gold nuggets or large rings can be detected even by means of some ordinary metal detector, but in most cases there are complicated targets in the ground such as tiny gold nuggets, gold chains and small earrings.
These targets are hard to detect without a single-purpose device designed exactly for such purposes!
The hunting process in this case is also complicated by highly mineralized soils, where natural gold nuggets and jewelry lost on the beach are usually found.
Garrett AT Gold is very easy-to-use. It can be quickly assembled and dismantled, at that the shaft components are connected more reliably than those of AT Pro model – there is almost no backlash in the junctions. Due to the proper location of the control unit, it is very convenient to use the device with one hand.
The device has S-shaped shaft consisting of three sections. Small sized control unit of the device is tightly attached to the shaft as well as an armrest and a handle, which you will use to hold the device.
All three sections of the shaft are made from different materials. The bottom section is made from plastic, it is reliable and light weighted. It can carry not only a standard small sized and light coil, but also a bigger one.
Middle and upper shaft are made from metal (light weighted aluminum alloy). Their surface is covered with a specialized powder paint, which is resistant to mechanical wear and it is really hard to scratch it, since the device is considered to be used at really severe search conditions.
The middle section of the shaft has many length-adjustment holes, due to which you can quickly adjust the shaft length according to your height and bodily constitution.
All three shaft sections are connected with each other by means of a spring-loaded lock and a camlocks (two joints).
Such a construction almost completely excludes any looseness and it allows telescopic adjustment of the device length.
All the above mentioned seems to be quite common things, but for Garrett such a design of the shaft sections joining can be considered a novelty. Earlier Garrett actively used spring and clamps in its metal detectors design.
This way of the shaft sections joining is easy to assemble and disassemble, but quite often it causes (right away or some time later) to looseness of all the constituents.
In AT Gold the middle section of the shaft has a camlock fixation (but the buttons are still present, so they duplicate the fixation). The camlocks enables strong fixation and prevents any looseness.
But! Collet fixation of the shaft sections has drawbacks as well. Camlocks are made from plastic and if you push them too hard, they will definitely crack. Another thing is that they get clogged with sand on the beach, which doesn’t make further assembling/disassembling of the device convenient and easy.
As always, the coil wire is winded around the shaft; headphones jack is on the bottom of the control unit back panel.
The armrest of Garrett AT Gold metal detector is extremely comfortable and the same design was adopted from the previous device models for the new ones.
Internal surface of the armrest safely fixates the user’s forearm, also you can use a special strap with a touch and close fastener, which comes in the standard device set.
The armrest has a stand in its bottom side, due to which the metal detector can be put on the ground and it won’t get dirty while you are digging the target.
You can also shift the armrest along the shaft and make your treasure hunting process even more comfortable, by adjusting the device configuration according to your specific needs and tasks.
The device handle is made from polyurethane foam and it is adapted for long time search process. It has ergonomic shape and diameter.
We’ve decided to devote a section for Garrett AT Gold coil. This is an elliptical coil sized 5×8 inches, which is 14×20 cm; the coil type is DoubleD (DD). The coil operating frequency is 18 kHz, VLF is used.
The coil size isn’t that large, but you shouldn’t forget that the device was designed to search for the smallest targets and they have to be localized rather quickly.
The coil is rather sensitive to small jewelry (earrings, chains, rings) made of precious metals. Also it has excellent target separation rates for closely located targets and as well as for non-ferrous target signals. In addition, the coil is quite resistant to soil mineralization.
The coil is good for beach hunting as well as for coins and relics.
Here we should definitely mention the pinpoint function. The device has this function and it performs quite well.
The manufacturer offers quite wide range of coils for AT Gold, since the coils are multi-purpose ones and they will do for several metal detectors at the same time. Besides, many off-brand manufacturers also offer a wide range of coils that will do for this device.
The coil case is covered with a special wearproof, impact, friction and temperature gradient resistant plastic. The coil bottom is filled with a compositive potting material, which is also resistant to various loads.
The manufacturer states that Garrett AT Gold coil is the first one that doesn’t require any additional protection at all, though if you want you can get a plastic protective case for it.
What did I do wrong when using the coil? I trusted that it didn’t require any additional protection. Because it definitely did.
After about ten walks along the beach, the coil was a rather sore sight, especially its bottom side. It was all covered with deep scratches, it looked as if applied abrasive paper to it at some places. Beach sand and pebbles scratched the coil quite hard.
The above mentioned didn’t have any impact on the coil productivity and wholeness, but it was quite annoying to see it in such a condition. So, I had to get the additional protective case for it.
The coil is connected to the device control unit with a flexible elastic dual braid cable, which is resistant to mechanical stress. The coil jack plug and socket connector have rubber cover, which prevent water ingress there.
AT Gold package set includes headphones. Keep in mind, that these are to be used on a dry land. Headphones that can work under water are a supplementary item and they can be bought additionally (there is a special product line of such devices for Garrett AT).
Though the headphones can’t be used for underwater search, they have a sealed jack plug, so you can submerge Garrett AT Gold, but at that your head has to be above the water.
The metal detector was equipped with this kind of headphones, since most of beach hunters work standing chest-deep in the water.
Since it is in shallow waters, where swimmers usually lose their jewelry and this is where the tide brings the latter.
Batteries are installed and replaced by means of a replacement module – a cassette where four AA batteries are put.
The batteries section is waterproof as the whole control unit.
The device uses four 1.5V batteries of AA type. You can also use AA 1.2V accumulator batteries for this purpose.
- Includes Garrett AT Gold and Land Headphones
- Garrett Camo Detector Bag
- Garrett Camo Treasure Pouch
The fact that Garrett AT Gold case is a waterproof one is a very strong benefit, which allows hunting both on the ground and under water (up to 10 feet deep).
Metal detector Garrett AT Gold waterproofness ensures not just underwater hunting, but also hunting at some extreme conditions.
The device is completely ok with rain, fog, dirt, dust – therefore you can go treasure hunting at any conditions and weather and have no worries if your metal detector can stand the loads!
You have to understand, that this device won’t do for treasure hunting at great depth. For this reason, the metal detector was initially called as a ‘conditionally underwater device’.
Which should be read as: you can submerge it, but the depth is limited.
The control unit is considered to be a waterproof one. However, taking this statement seriously may play a low-down trick on you.
Once, I decided to have some rest, got out of the water and put the metal detector on the beach sand. And when I started detecting again, I looked at the device screen and I was stunned.
The screen was steamy. I thought there was some water ingress. Then I understood, that I took the device from cold water and then left it in the sunlight.
So, as a result I got condensate water on the screen. I was lucky enough to escape with slight shock. Don’t make my mistake. Before getting into the water or after going out of the water, keep the metal detector far from sunlight, it’s better to leave it somewhere in the shadow.
The front panel is an LCD and it has 11 control buttons.
The depth indicator is calibrated in both inches and centimeters, which is very convenient. The indicator has 5 values: from 5 to 25 with scale spacing equal to 5 cm. Also, you can see the battery charge indicator on the display.
As for the LCD and visual information, Garrett has decided to apply a new approach here. This is about the target identification process – now the metal detector has a famous VD. VDI values are big as usual (from 0 to 99) and they are displayed in the middle of the screen (in a little square).
However, the old familiar scale of target conductivity is still there.
The LCD is of rather high quality and all the information needed for successful detecting process is displayed there. There is only one drawback – the visibility is minimal when sunlight gets on the screen.
In general, some time later it was quite enough for me to use just tone signals from the target.
The buttons are perfectly located, you can switch or adjust the device settings with just one hand. It won’t take you long to memorize all the control buttons needed to adjust this or that parameter.
- This package includes a Garrett AT Gold Waterproof Metal Detector with 5x8 DD Search Coil, Mastersound Headphones, Garrett...
- Highly Recommended - Prospecting, Coin, Jewelry, Cache Hunting, Relic Hunting, Organized Hunts and Shallow Fresh Water...
- Target ID Cursor Segments 20 | Iron Discrimination Segments 44 | Search Modes 3 | Sensitivity/Depth Adjustments 8
MODE is used to turn the metal detector on/off. Short press of the button allows switching between three modes of operation: ALL METAL and two discrimination modes DISC1 and DISC2.
Classically, long press of the button allows resetting to default settings (the manufacturer’s settings of operation modes, average values of ground balance and threshold).
SENSITIVITY is used to adjust the device sensitivity level; number of segments is from 1 to 8. The higher is the sensitivity value, the higher is target depth, but the number of phantom signals increases as well.
PINPOINT this is the mode for precise target location, it is used for precise identification of the target in the ground. If the button is pushed, in the right section of the screen the target depth is displayed.
IRON DISC – this is to adjust ferrous metals discrimination levels. It allows disabling signals from iron rubbish as a noise neighboring with the target. The setting is adjustable in the range from 0 (turned off completely) to 40.
Professional adjustment of Garrett AT Gold settings that will work of the edge of ferrous metals threshold requires some practice.
THRESHOLD allows adjusting of the threshold tone. This Garrett AT Gold setting enables changing the threshold noise level and maintains the device detection depth.
IRON AUDIO this is the function that allows to detect ferrous targets not to dig phantom signals. This function is especially handy when using professional mode. The device reacts to ferrous targets with a tone signal and creates additional signals of various tones.
If you don’t want to go deaf after receiving numerous signals when working on complex soils filled with iron rubbish, it’d be better to turn the function off. You can turn on Iron Audio, if the target doesn’t send a clear signal.
FREQ – a slight change of the operating frequency to escape from electric interference caused by high-voltage power lines or another metal detector working in the neighborhood.
The metal detector has four frequency shifts (next to the main 18 kHz frequency). For example, in case of two Garrett AT Gold devices working simultaneously and rather close to each other, the interference is inevitable, but if you shift the operating frequency, both devices will be able to work without any inconveniences.
GROUND BALANCE this function allows increasing the detection depth and sufficiently decreases the number of phantom signals. AT Gold has automatic (standard) and manual (pro) ground balance adjustment.
The automatic mode selects the level itself. Using manual mode the user can select the ground balance level of himself.
- Sold on Amazon
- Roy Lagal (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
Modes of operation
Garrett AT Gold has three modes of operation. The pre-set mode of coin search allows starting coin hunting right away.
At any moment you can adjust the discrimination setting to the current search conditions.
The second mode of operation is aimed to create an individual discrimination pattern, since this is a user’s mode.
When you are at the beach, you can adjust the discriminations settings so, that Garrett AT Gold will ignore various rubbish – foil, bottle caps, aluminum can pull tabs, but, at that, the device will stay sensitive to any targets made from gold or silver.
The third mode of the device operation is ‘All metal’ with a threshold tone will be very helpful in the areas, where valuable targets are hard to find and they may be hidden in the thick ground layer.
For example, this mode is efficient when tiny gold nuggets prospecting.
- The device is perfect for shallow waters, beach hunting
- Partially the device will do for underwater treasure hunting
- Can be used for on complex soils (mineralized, saliferous rocks) and in mountains
- Good for gold nuggets prospecting
- Quick response
- No sound adjustment on the control unit
- In direct sunlight you can barely see what is displayed on the LCD
- The shaft gets clogged with the sand
Garrett AT Gold vs AT Max vs AT Pro
The metal detector proved to be a good one. It is light weighted, convenient to use with a user-friendly interface. All functions are well thought-out.
Last update on 2020-04-05 at 13:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API