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View Full Version : Need advice on my choices for a first detector

07-04-2011, 01:32 PM
Good day, everyone!

Firstly, let me say that this site, forums, and forum contributors are really great. I've been snooping around the various other forums and the wealth of information found here, and the nice folks who post, is really helpful to a beginner like me.

I am a newcomer to the detecting world, and I'd like to get a macine that can prospect and coin/relic hunt and I've got it narrowed down to two candidates: the X-terra 705 and the AT Pro. Both seem to be great, modern machines but have a couple of key differences. Notably, the lack of threshold on the AT Pro seems like a negative if I want to prospect, however I like the waterproofing and its $100 less expensive. My major interest is prospecting, so, from what I've seen mentioned, the X-Terra might be a little better at it. I'll also mention that the X-Terra is at the very top of my budget.


I'll definitely be ordering from AK Mining and Diving since I live "just down the road" in Valdez!

Steve Herschbach
07-04-2011, 02:24 PM
I have both and saw both find gold at Ganes Creek a couple weeks ago. I tend to lean X-Terra 705 for prospecting and got my AT Pro more as a freshwater jewelry detector. Though as I head of dredging looks like the AT Pro will be along to use checking bottom and edges of dredge hole.

07-05-2011, 08:42 AM
I think you should add the fisher f75 in there. But if not, the 705 would my choice every time. Great machine for sure!

little man
07-05-2011, 04:04 PM
the MXT PRO is a good one to good luck and good hunting

07-05-2011, 05:55 PM
Great advice from everyone, many thanks. You're right, the F75 and MXT-Pro look like powerful tools, but I have to draw a line somewhere in my budget and I really can't go anywhere beyond $700 (as I read in another post in this forum, "when she says 'do what you want', I'm still trying to figure out what that means"...)

The other unit that I'll add to my short-list is the Tesoro Lobo Supertraq - definitely a different machine than the first two I mentioned, but I keep gravitating toward it. I guess I'm willing to give up some of the most modern features for a machine I can take anywhere: it looks as if the 18.75khz coil that comes with the X-Terra 705 Gold Pack isn't waterproof and "must not be submersed in water", and I'd like threshold which the AT Pro does not have. Just my personal preference from the perspective of a rank beginner, and I could be dead-wrong about what I read on the Minelab site. However, I'm ready to put in as much time as possible to learn whatever I end up with... heck, I've already been through the manuals of each model a few times.

I'll make my decision this week and I'll be sure to share where I ended up if you're interested. (Ordered from AK Mining of course!)

little man
07-06-2011, 04:05 PM
good luck with it get the one you like that what matter and have fun

Jim Hemmingway
07-06-2011, 09:30 PM
Hi jpiii,

If you wish to be able to coin and relic hunt, that eliminates the GMT and GB2. That leaves a number of machines that have that capability together with good nugget hunting ability. Take a look at Steve's recommendations at the top of this thread.

Consider the features you think you'd like to have in the unit you decide on. Be practical about it and take your time. Review each unit's features and make a short list of them for comparison. Think about weight, because for some of us...it does make a difference over a long day especially on hillslopes. If a units coil is not waterproof, perhaps that may not be suitable for what you intend to pursue. If that means searching in and around water...then maybe you should eliminate that unit from your list.

The Tesoro LST has been around a long time because it is a proven unit. MXT / Pro is another very popular and proven workhorse for many years. Take a good look at the Fisher Gold Bug Pro. I have not used it, but the reports look good. Lightweight, good battery usage, good sensitivity to small gold, an able relic / coin hunter, waterproof coil, both an all-metal mode and discrimination mode. Good price.

Once your list is complete, call a dealer and make an appointment if at all possible... to ensure he has the models you want to see demonstrated, and that he/she will be there for you. Sometimes a model looks very good regarding operating features and spec sheet, but you just don't like how it feels on your arm. Best to find out before purchasing. Good luck with your decision... :)


07-07-2011, 11:25 PM
Thanks for the info, Jim. I've decided to get the AT Pro since its got (almost) everything I need. I read in a post here that there is no perfect detector, so I've cobbled together some of my thinking around my choice... but first, I borrowed a friends old Compass X-90 and spent a while scanning that lawn area around the sides of the house. The time I spent with this unit yielded some big lessons that helped clarify some of my thinking. Granted, the ol' X-90 isn't exactly a modern detector, but I came up with my first find(s): about a billion nails and drywall screws buried six or eight inches deep in rocky wet dirt (say "billions" like Carl Sagan for a better idea of how many nail hits I got...). It is interesting how deep I dug, nine or ten inches in a couple of cases, to retrieve some of the nail hits. Suffice to say, I now fully realize the value of a quality discrimination system, or at least multiple tones!

Keeping the myriad of details to a minimum, here are my general thoughts about my finalists. Please keep in mind that these are my choices and reasoning, and I'm not at all inferring that anyone else's system is inferior:

Garrett AT Pro: Priced less than the top of my budget of $700, totally waterproof and submersible to ten feet, accessory coils are nearly 40% less expensive than other candidates, LCD display (contrary to what I said about the Lobo, after time with the X-90, I decided I wanted to see the extra info...), relatively light weight, easy on batteries, no threshold but the proportional audio will be enough for me at this point.

Fisher Gold Bug Pro: full LCD panel, threshold, very light weight, waterproof coi, easy on batteries, but I just couldn't get past the small five-inch coil that comes with it. A larger accessory coil is $170, and with the higher base unit price above the AT Pro that means another $220 for the all-around unit that I want.

Minelab X-Terra 705: Overall a great unit - light weight, easy on batteries, threshold, full LCD interface, light weight, many modes and flexibility, but its at the top of my price limit and the included 18.75khz coil was only water resistant. For as much as I have researched and read, it seemed unusual that the coil on such a high performance unit would be non-submersible. Accessory coils are very expensive and, including the higher price of the unit, a submersible coil for a truly go-anywhere unit like the AT Pro means an additional $279.

So, after finally shaking off my analysis paralysis, I'm going with the AT Pro. A small but important feature of the AT Pro is that it has some simple modes and little coin icons on the display that prompted my wife to show some interest in participating. Bonus!


Jim Hemmingway
07-08-2011, 11:08 AM
Hi John...I don't see how anyone can criticize your decision...after all you have completed a systematic search for the available units that fit within your budget...and made a selection. May I suggest again that you have the unit demonstrated by a dealer prior to purchasing...if at all possible.

Not to play the devil's advocate but you may wish to have a quick look at the Technetics G2. My understanding based on forum posts is that this unit is very similar or identical in performance to the Gold Bug Pro. It differs slightly insofar as the meter is mounted on a separate handle, and it comes with a stock 11" DD coil. Here's a link to the Technetics website...I expect you would get it from a dealer for less than the manufacturers suggested price.


Good luck with your new detector John, and have lots of fun with it... :)


Reno Chris
07-08-2011, 12:21 PM
Well, I'll offer my comments. I think for searching parks and schools for coins and jewelry (and similar applications) the AT Pro will be just fine and work very well -that what its designed for. However, I think that for prospecting, its a poor choice because its just not designed for that. I looked through the manual - the only time prospecting is mentioned is at the end where its noted that Garrett publishes books on prospecting. That's a bad sign. People who do coin and jewelry work like a quiet detector - the no audible threshold is testimony of this. They don't want to hear hot rocks, little bits of foil and soil mineralization. The targets they do want to hear, like coins and jewelry are large. So the easiest way to make a detector quiet is to reduce its gain and make sure it wont be bothered by those faint targets. But that also makes those detectors (and this includes nearly all coin and jewelry type detectors) unsuitable for prospecting. You see by comparison to most gold nuggets, coins and jewelry are 10 to 100 times larger and maybe more than the nuggets you will want to hear. To hear those nuggets, you need a detector that has a lot of gain - one that by necessity will be powerful enough to hear those hot rocks, little bits of foil and soil mineralization I mentioned before. That's why most coin and jewelry detectors (including the AT Pro) are simply unsuitable for nugget detecting - they've been limited in what they can hear to meet the demands of the folks who buy them. I'd expect the AT Pro, with the standard large coil would have a problem hearing nuggets much smaller than 8 grains (about half a gram). Since Probably 90 percent of the nuggets found with a detector at places like Crow Creek are smaller than 8 grains, do you want to to handicap yourself in such a way as to own a detector that will ignore 90 % of the gold nuggets which are normally detected? I wouldn't.

Many new detector operators choose their detector With price as a major point - and are often disappointed in what they find it will do. I always suggest buy the best detector you can afford - even if you need to spend a year saving up. If you see yourself using your detector 98% of the time searching for coins and jewelry at parks, schools, houses, etc. Then the AT Pro will be fine. On the other hand, if you really are intending to be serious about nugget detecting, you will want to go with a detector that is DESIGNED to find nuggets and actually has the capability to do so. The ML 705, MXT and GB Pro are all good choices - even if they are a little more expensive than you intended.

07-08-2011, 06:26 PM
The Minelab Xterra-70 Is fantastic for shallow nugget hunting.
The Whites XLT E-series ,again excellant for nugget Hunting.
And the Tesero LST (LOBO)Is very,very efficant in the water ,and out !!!

These detectors are either updated ,or discontinued. ,but still you;ll be saving a bundell
so before you upgrade to the newer version...get to know these first.
,and if you do decide to go new,,(later on) Make sure you shop at a large dealership,so you can compare. Good Luck Chris. Tor

07-08-2011, 09:22 PM
Just my 2 cents, The machines like the MXTs and the 705 will deliver the goods, and as Steve's list states, the MXTs have found 100s of OZs
of Gold in Alaska and Chris has most of them OZs.
These folks who have replied do all the tests so we don't have to, So there is some solid info here and my Finds rate has gone through the roof
since buying mine,
So thanks Jim, Steve and Chris.


07-08-2011, 10:01 PM
Well gents, I've reassessed my decision based on everyone's advice and feedback.

I called AK Mining and Diving this afternoon and talked for a while with Bob. He was exceedingly helpful, and took my order for a Minelab 705. It should be here Wednesday!

My decision was finally made as a choice of better prospecting performance over all-weather/water ability. After all, I did say that prospecting was my major interest, didn't I?

You can bet I'll have it in tow when my lovely bride and I go to Hawaii in October...

Happy hunting,

Reno Chris
07-09-2011, 12:53 PM
I think you will be real happy with your choice.

07-09-2011, 06:40 PM
I have heard real good things about the 705. And I have heard them from people who swing GPX's the majority of the time. But when they put the GPX down, they grab the 705. It's next on my hit list for those areas where you just have to have some discrimination to get past all the junk.

Good luck and have a blast with your new machine.


little man
07-10-2011, 08:41 AM
good luck with the toy have fun let how it dose

07-12-2011, 11:58 AM
Thanks very much little-man. I talked to AK Mining and Diving this morning and it should be here by Friday. I've started to wade through the manual already, so I'll be somewhat familiar with it by the time it gets here. I'll start searching at parks and campgrounds before I head up to look for any gold. I'm finding lots of helpful info at the Minelab web site, including a great 96 page e-book specifically for the X-Terra series but focused on the 705. It's a lot to digest, but I imagine it will start to come together when I start to use the unit. Who knows, I might even spring for a trip to Moore or Gaines next year... I already floated the idea to my "Domestic Operations Manager" and got surprisingly positive "feedback"!

07-16-2011, 11:03 AM
Hi jpiii, The X-Terra 705 Gold is a great machine, but just like any other detector it takes a few days of solid use to really understand what it is trying to tell you. Here are some settings & use suggestions to get you started for prospecting. (I helped a couple folks at week 2 of Ganes Creek this year with their new 705s and they did quite well and even better in the 3rd week) Initial settings: try Sensitivity on 30, 2-tones, Threshold at 10 or 12, Target Volume at 30. Set the discrimination program in Coin & Jewelry mode to program #4, and perhaps even customize it with one less notch of iron discrimination,... Any more discrimination than this and you risk missing small gold nuggets IMO. This setting will knock out most of the iron trash (except for some heavily rusted large chunks that give mixed 'good' signals for some reason). One very successful detectorist at Ganes Creek hunts for nuggets in Coin & Jewelry mode all of the time, but in that 'quiet' configuration you have no threshold and only hear 'good' targets. I prefer hunting in the Prospecting mode because it gives a little better depth and you can train your ear to listen for subtle variations in the threshold that could signal a potential target needing more investigation. The problem with the Prospecting mode on this machine is that you don't get the 'VDI' information numbers to help with the decision on whether to dig or to walk. So, when you hear a possible target in Prospecting mode, you then need to push the left button to go back to Coin & Jewelry mode to see the discrimination number,... Set up the way I have suggested, the Rule is to dig all positive numbers 0 and above, and walk on the negative numbers. You will dig some junk, but you shouldn't miss any nuggets. This need to toggle back and forth between modes to get the 'VDI' number and the relatively slow processor speed of the 705 (which requires a bit slower sweep and some practice interpreting target location) are the only two 'negatives' of the X-Terra 705 IMO,.. well, and also that for such a lightweight detector, I found it somewhat uncomfortable to swing all day long without using a bungie support. If you can live with those issues (by the way, all solved by the Fisher F-75 SE, but at nearly twice the price) I'm sure the 705 will prove to be a good performer for you, especially with the 10.5" (18.75 Mhz) coil. Also, realize that my advice is based on experience limited to the relatively mild soils of Ganes Creek, and other settings and use strategy may be needed in highly mineralized ground situations. Hope this helps & have fun!

07-17-2011, 11:23 AM
TheSeeker, weldone Mate there's lots of good info here, Good post
the only thing you missed out was how much we're gonna find, HH