Garrett AT Gold review

Garrett AT Gold review

Garrett was founded by Charles and Eleanor Garrett in the 1960s. They set out to create a better metal detector than what was available on the market at the time. Garrett was the first manufacturer to eliminate oscillator drift with an independently operated search coil. This improved hunting efficiency and soon after, Garrett’s “Zero Drift” technology became the industry standard for all metal detectors. 

Garrett Metal Detectors is one of the industry’s leading manufacturers. They are known for delivering quality products and quality customer service. Garrett has consistently made metal detectors great for all skill levels and they have specialized models, too. Garrett is continually introducing new products and remains at the top of the metal detecting world.

In this article, I’m going to be reviewing the Garrett AT Gold detector.  And to better help you, please take a moment to view our interactive guide below, where you can directly compare the AT Gold to other notable detectors on the market:

Garrett AT Max$$$Waterproof to 10 feet
Fisher F22 Fisher F22$$9″ Triangulated Concentric Coil
Garrett Ace 400 Garrett Ace 400$$$8.5 x 11" DD coil
Minelab Vanquish 540$Search Modes: Coin, Relic, Jewelry, Custom, All Metal

Meet the AT Gold

Garrett’s AT Gold is a detector specifically designed to find gold. This detector was first introduced in 2011 and is still being produced today. Most gold is found in areas with high soil mineralization, hot rocks, black sands, or saltwater. All these areas can throw a metal detector off due to the amount of soil interference. The AT Gold features automatic or manual ground balancing to deal with these issues commonly found in gold bearing areas. Fast Track automatic ground balancing is helpful in areas where the soil mineralization is constantly changing.

The AT Gold operates at an adjustable 18 kHz, which is the lower end of the frequency spectrum for finding gold. This is certainly a frequency where gold nuggets can be found, but other gold specific metal detectors operate at a higher frequency. The AT Gold has 3 search modes: All Metal, Discriminate, and Customizable Notch. In All Metal Mode, users will have the highest level of sensitivity and depth. In Discrimination Mode, iron targets are filtered out. In Customizable Notch Mode, users can notch in or out specific metal types. 

The AT Gold is lightweight, at just 2.8 pounds. It operates on 8 AA batteries and comes standard with an 8” waterproof Double-D search coil. The AT Gold features 8 depth and sensitivity adjustments, adjustable threshold, 44 discrimination segments, and Pro (proportional) Audio. The AT Gold features a built-in pinpoint mode and is fully waterproof up to 10 feet. Garrett does not recommend using the AT Gold in saltwater areas (saltwater is highly conductive and will throw the detector off making it noisy and it may give false readings). When using in water, it is recommended to use in freshwater only. 

The AT Gold operates on 4 AA batteries and comes with a 2-year warranty from Garrett. 

Garrett AT Gold Specs

  • Frequency – 18 kHz; adjustable
  • Iron Discrimination Segments – 44
  • True All Metal Mode – Yes
  • Volume Adjustment – No
  • Proportional Audio – Yes
  • Notch Discrimination – Preset (Fixed)
  • Search Modes – 3, all Pro Audio
  • Sensitivity/Depth Adjustments – 8
  • Iron Discrimination Mode – Yes
  • Iron Audio – Yes
  • Ground Balance – Automatic and Manual
  • Pinpoint – Yes
  • Waterproof – Yes; up to 10 feet
  • Saltwater Use – Not Recommended
  • Search Coil – 5” x 8” Double-D PROformance™
  • Length – 43” to 56”
  • Weight – 2.8 pounds
  • Batteries – 4 AA batteries
  • Warranty – 2 Years

Garrett AT Gold Depth

The maximum depth the AT Gold can detect is about 12.” This is highly dependent upon the soil composition, target size and target type. Larger search coils typically detect deeper than smaller search coils because they have a larger magnetic field. So, the search coil that comes standard on the AT Gold will search up to 8” deep under good conditions. In areas where the soil composition is highly mineralized or hot rocks are present, this will go down to 4” to 6.” The AT Gold has no problem finding a gram sized nugget at 4” deep.

Garrett AT Gold Coil

The standard search coil that comes with the AT Gold is a 5” by 8” Double-D PROformance™ coil. This smaller search coil allows the detector to find small pieces of gold at greater depth. There are other search coils from Garrett that will fit the AT Gold if users so choose:

  • 4” Double-D search coil for small spaces
  • 5” by 8” Double-D – Standard coil issued with the detector, for small spaces but with more target separation.
  • 5” by 9” Concentric search coil – For trash-free areas
  • 9” by 12” Concentric search coil – covers more open ground in a shorter space of time.

Garrett AT Gold Settings

Garrett’s AT Gold has many options for settings to increase your chances of finding targets. Disc Modes are the 2 Discrimination Modes present on the AT Gold. These are used to eliminate trash targets like foil, pull tabs, and nails. Disc 1 has a similar pattern to All Metal Mode with all discrimination pixels on and Iron Discrimination set to zero. Disc 1 is best for coins, jewelry, relics, and caches. Disc 2 Mode is preset to 34 to exclude most iron targets. Disc 2 is used for U.S. coins, but it not recommended for gold nuggets, jewelry, international coins, or relics with conductivities like trash items. 

In areas where there is high trash, it is recommended to use Disc 1, Iron Audio on, and 28 Iron Discrimination. Clean tones from any direction will point to a good target, like gold. If you are looking for only gold targets, the best option is to use All Metal Mode, Iron Discrimination between 30 and 40, with Iron Audio on. Relics and coins can also be found using Disc 1 with Iron Discrimination between 35 and 37. If you are looking for clad coins, Disc 2 is the best setting, but it is also used for silver targets. Keep in mind when using All Metal Mode, the detector will be noisier, so it is important to listen for clear, clean tones to find the targets. 

Garrett AT Gold VS Garrett AT Max

The AT Max is another detector in Garrett’s AT line. This detector operates at a lower frequency than the AT Gold, at 13.6 kHz, so it will not be the best at finding smaller gold. The AT Max has 44 iron discrimination segments, All Metal Mode, backlit LCD screen, adjustable notch discrimination, and adjustable volume. It also has 4 search modes, Pro audio, adjustable threshold, and 8 adjustable sensitivity and depth levels. Ground balancing is automatic or manual and the AT Max has pinpoint mode.

The AT Max is fully submersible up to 10 feet, like the AT Gold. The AT Max can be used in saltwater areas, which the AT Gold cannot. It has many adjustments and settings that allow it to bypass some of the interference associated with saltwater areas. This detector features Garrett’s Z-Lynk wireless technology so it can be used with Garrett’s MS-3 wireless headphones. This technology is quicker than standard Bluetooth connectivity, so signals are instant. The AT Max is lightweight at 3.03 pounds and uses 4 AA batteries. The AT Max comes standard with an 11” Double-D PROformance™ search coil. 

Garrett offers a 2-year warranty on the AT Max. 

Garrett AT Gold VS Garrett AT Pro

Garrett’s AT Pro is another detector from the AT line. It is also fully submersible up to 10 feet. It has 40 iron discrimination segments, 6 search modes, and adjustable notch discrimination. The AT Pro comes with Garrett’s Pro Audio, like the AT Gold and AT Max. Pro Audio not only helps users hear subtle changes in target response, but also helps to let users better judge the target’s size, shape, and depth. The 6 search modes on the AT Pro are divided into 2 different audio modes: 3 with Pro Audio, 3 with Standard Audio. Standard Audio gives full-strength beeps regardless of the target’s amplitude.

The AT Pro has Iron Audio, like the AT Gold, and uses Fast Track ground balancing to help in highly mineralized soil conditions. The AT Pro features an LCD screen with numerical target ID, but it does not have a backlight. It has 8 sensitivity and depth adjustments, pinpoint mode, and operates at 15 kHz. Again, this detector can find gold, but it is not a high enough frequency to find small gold or fine gold jewelry. The AT Pro comes with an 11” Double-D PROformance™ search coil. It weighs 3.03 pounds and uses 4 AA batteries. 

Garrett offers a 2-year warranty on the AT Pro. 

Garret AT Gold VS Fisher Gold Bug 2

Fisher’s Gold Bug 2 has been in production for 25 years and is still considered one of the top gold metal detectors on the market. It operates at a whopping 71 kHz, much higher than many gold detectors and much, much higher than the AT Gold’s 18 kHz. This high frequency makes the Gold Bug 2 extremely sensitive to small gold. In fact, it has no trouble finding a gold nugget weighting less than 1/10th of a grain. There are 480 grains in one ounce, so the Gold Bug 2 can find a nugget weighing 4800th of an ounce! The Gold Bug 2 works very well in highly mineralized soil, soil with hot rocks, and saltwater areas.

The Gold Bug 2 can easily filter out ferrous trash targets. It comes with 3 different search coil options: a 6.5” elliptical, 10” elliptical, and a 14” elliptical. This detector is lightweight at 2.9 pounds. The control box can be hip mounted which takes a pound of the weight. So, the shaft and coil only weigh 1.9 pounds with the control box hip mounted. The Gold Bug 2 is not fully waterproof, but the search coils are all waterproof. It does have an LCD screen like the Garrett detectors. The Gold Bug 2 operates via a series of knobs. It features 3 search modes: Iron Discrimination, Normal Mode (All-Metal), and Audio Boost. Audio Boost Mode enhances faint signals ensuring users miss less targets. 

Fisher offers a 5-year warranty on the Gold Bug 2. 

Garrett AT Gold VS Minelab CTX 3030

Minelab’s CTX 3030 is one of my very favorite metal detectors. This is a high-end metal detector designed for intermediate, advanced, or professional metal detectorists. This metal detector has many advanced technologies making it top of its class. It comes with FBS 2, which is Minelab’s multiple frequency rectangular wave transmission, operating at frequencies from 1.5 kHz to 100 kHz. This range covers all types of metals and works well in highly mineralized soil conditions.

The CTX 3030 is fully submersible up to 10 feet and recommended for relic hunting, coin shooting, beach hunting, and jewelry hunting. While it is not a specific gold metal detector, the higher frequencies this detector operates at will make it find small and fine gold easily. The CTX 3030 has 10 customizable detection modes and 5 preset modes:

  • Coins
  • Beach
  • Relic
  • Silver
  • High Trash

The CTX 3030 works well in all terrains and on all treasure types. It has a pinpointer, depth indicator, and full color target information screen. It features Smartfind 2™ discrimination which sends digital signal processing and FeCo discrimination. It has 10 tone profiles so users can reject or accept certain targets. Target Trace and Target Separation allow users to identify and differentiate among multiple targets at one time for more accurate detection. 

The CTX 3030 has more advanced features, too! GeoTrails shows the ground already hunted. WayPoints lets users mark points of interest on the map. FindPoints lets users mark treasure locations. GeoHunts records the whole metal detecting trip. Detector settings can be uploaded to a computer with the Xchange 2 app with the option to attach texts and photos to organize treasures and settings. Google Maps locations can be downloaded and saved to the detector. Wi-Stream is used to enable quick wireless responses with no loss of sound quality. 

The CTX 3030 is heavier than a lot of other detectors, at 5.2 pounds. It uses a rechargeable battery pack with fast charging capabilities and comes standard with an 11” Double-D search coil. The LCD screen has a backlight with adjustable brightness. The CTX 3030 has built-in memory which saves user settings when the batteries die or the detector powers off. It also has options for 9 different languages! Minelab offers a 3-year warranty on the CTX 3030.

Garrett AT Gold VS Minelab Equinox 800

Minelab’s Equinox 800 is much different than the AT Gold. This detector uses Minelab’s patented Multi-IQ technology, meaning it is a multiple frequency metal detector. It emits multiple frequencies at one time for more search power. It can also use 5 individual frequencies:

  • 5 kHz – Silver coins
  • 10 kHz – Roman hammered coins
  • 15 kHz – General treasure hunting
  • 20 kHz – General treasure hunting and gold prospecting
  • 40 kHz – Optimized for small gold nuggets and fine gold jewelry

The ability to use single frequencies can help in areas with a lot of ground noise. All types of treasure can be found in multiple frequency mode making this an easy to use detector for all prospectors. The Equinox 800 has 4 detection modes: Park, Beach, Field, and Gold, along with 8 custom search profiles. It has automatic and manual noise cancelling, automatic and manual ground balancing, 25 sensitivity adjustments, and adjustable threshold volume, level, and pitch. 

The Equinox 800 has an LCD screen with numerical Target ID, 50 segment notch discrimination, tone break, tone pitch, tone volume, and 5 depth level indicators. The LCD screen is also backlit. It operates on a rechargeable battery pack giving users an average of 12 hours per charge. The Equinox 800 has upgradeable software. Simply download the updates from Minelab’s website, then connect the control box of the metal detector to the computer. 

This is a lightweight metal detector, at just 2.96 pounds. It comes standard with an 11” Double-D Smart search coil and skid plate. It is fully submersible up to 10 feet and has wireless technology for use with wireless headphones. Minelab offers a 3-year warranty on the Equinox 800.

Garrett AT Gold VS Minelab Excalibur 1000

The Excalibur 1000 is another detector that is in a different class. This detector is specifically made for diving and is waterproof up to 200 feet! The Excalibur 1000 uses Minelab’s BBS technology, or Broad Band Spectrum, which enables the detector to transmit 17 frequencies at one time. The detector can be set up for diving or in standard land mode. Diving mode requires the purchase of an additional short fiberglass tube. It uses a rechargeable battery pack. 

The Excalibur 1000 has no LCD screen and is controlled by a series of knobs. It features adjustable sensitivity, adjustable threshold, and adjustable volume. It also has a pinpoint mode. The Excalibur 1000 weighs 4.1 pounds and comes standard with a 10” search coil. It should be noted that the Excalibur 1000 has been discontinued and may be difficult to find. Some retailers still have this model, but their stock is limited. 


Garrett’s AT Gold is a great metal detector for gold. While there are some detectors whose operating frequency is better at finding gold than the AT Gold, this machine is a great entry level prospecting metal detector. It has a lot of features that allow it to operate in difficult soil conditions but is not recommended for use in saltwater areas. If you are in the market for a beginning prospecting machine, you simply cannot go wrong with the Garrett AT Gold.

The Garrett AT Max and AT Pro are more all-purpose metal detectors. Both use lower operating frequencies than the AT Gold, so they are not going to be the best detectors for finding small gold nuggets or fine gold jewelry. These 2 detectors are best used for general treasure hunting and coin shooting. Both have great features and great discrimination and sensitivity settings.

Fisher’s Gold Bug 2 is one of my favorite metal detectors for gold. It operates at a much higher frequency than the other single frequency metal detectors on this list, so it is exceptionally good at finding even the smallest gold nugget. The Fisher Gold Bug 2 has been produced for many years and continues to dominate the prospecting world. 

Minelab’s CTX 3030 is in a class all its own. This detector operates at multiple frequencies and is more for advanced or professional metal detectorists. It has a beautiful, full color LCD screen and a lot of advanced technologies making it one of the top of the line metal detectors on the market today. It operates from 1.5 kHz to 100 kHz, so this detector will not miss much! While it is not specifically for gold prospecting, the CTX 3030 uses high enough frequencies it will not have any trouble finding gold or detecting in areas with highly mineralized soils.

The Minelab Equinox 800 is another multiple frequency metal detector. Although the frequencies do not reach as high at the CTX 3030, this detector is still great at finding all types of treasure. It can also operate on 5 single frequencies, which is unique among multiple frequency metal detectors. This detector is more aimed at intermediate or advanced metal detectorists. It has several features that make it work well in all types of terrains and on all treasure types.

Lastly, the Excalibur 1000 is a great detector for divers. While it does work on land well, it is designed for diving deep (up to 200 feet!). It uses BBS technology which allows it to operate at several frequencies at one time. The only drawback to this detector is that it is now discontinued and may be difficult to find. 

Each of these detectors has its pros and cons. For gold prospecting, I would recommend the Fisher Gold Bug 2 metal detector over the Garrett AT Gold. The Gold Bug 2 uses a higher frequency and will be better at finding small gold (which is most of the gold found). When looking more for an all-around metal detector, I would recommend Minelab’s CTX 3030 or Minelab Equinox 800. Both are fantastic metal detectors for general treasure hunting and work well in all types of terrains and on all treasure types. 

As always, it is important to pair your detector, regardless of which one it is, with the proper equipment. I always recommend a handheld pinpointer for more accurate target locating. I also recommend good quality digging implements and a finds pouch. These will help you be more successful in your metal detecting hunts.

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