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View Full Version : Garrett AT Pro versus AT Gold

Steve Herschbach
12-27-2011, 05:46 PM

Garrett has released two very similar detectors, the AT Gold and AT Pro. The units are very similar but there are a couple very important points to consider when deciding between them.

The AT Pro is a 15 kHz detector that features full notch discrimination. The lower frequency plus the notch discrimination means that it can be used in salt water. It also allows for custom discrimination, such as tuning out coins to concentrate on likely jewelry targets. The AT Pro lacks a true threshold based all metal mode and so is less suitable for nugget detecting, although it can and will find gold nuggets.

The AT Gold runs at a hotter 18 kHz and has a true threshold based all metal mode. This makes it a better nugget detector than the AT Gold. However, it is too hot to run on wet salt sand or in salt water. It also has only a couple preset discrimination patterns and so lacks the custom discrimination ability the the AT Pro has.

For many people the less expensive AT Pro is possibly the better unit. If you do not know what a true threshold based all metal mode is nor do you care, then get the AT Pro. If having that extra edge when prospecting is very important, then go for the AT Gold but do understand there are a couple trades you are making for that ability.

I have both units currently and am trying to decide which is best for me. For me the unit would primarily be a jewelry detector with in water use a priority. So the full notch discrimination and salt water capability is likely to win the day for me personally, as I have plenty of gold nugget detectors.

12-27-2011, 10:46 PM
Thanks for the comparison Steve. I was eyeballing the new AT Gold, but the main thing I didn't like about it was the minimal discrimination. I am looking more for a versatile coin detector for the old cabin sites up here in the hills. Just need a grab n go unit. Needs to be light and break down to a small package so I can take with when I'm on foot carrying the 5000. I have the GMT and the 5000 for prospecting but neither one is worth a nickel in a trash pile :-) Like you, I would lean more towards the Pro.


01-04-2012, 12:51 PM

Steve Herschbach
08-24-2012, 07:33 AM
Kenny, the discrimination on the AT Gold and AT Pro is nearly the same. Just that on the AT Pro you can create and save custom notch programs.

I have been putting the AT Pro and AT Gold head to head for some time now. And while I do like the custom notch feature on the AT Pro it is not worth giving up the true threshold based all metal mode on the AT Gold. As usual, the all metal mode is startlingly more powerful than the disc modes, even when the disc mode is set wide open to accept everything. And since the AT Gold meter runs in disc while the audio is in all metal you do get best of both worlds in that you are far more likely to find the targets in all metal. Then you can eyeball the meter to identify the target or switch to disc mode. You have to worry more about finding targets first and identifying them second. If you miss them completely, identity never is an issue, and in all metal you are less likely to miss targets. So I am keeping the AT Gold and putting the AT Pro up for sale.

I ran the 6x9 concentric coil and 5x8 DD coil head to head on both units, and the DD coil is far quieter. The units ground balanced around 93 with the concentric coil and around 78 with the DD coil, showing the DD coil to be far less impacted by the mineralization. On the AT Gold at max gain the concentric coil actually produced continuous high pitched tones as ferrous ground readings wrapped around into high non-ferrous. No such issue with the DD coil. The concentric 4.5 sniper runs well on both units. No depth but hot on small stuff and super at pinpointing.

When testing the units I was not so much looking for stuff as just comparing the units on targets and ground response, and was pleasantly surprised to find a gold nugget pendant with the AT Gold. Add that to nine gold nuggets found with it recently and the unit is well on the way to paying for itself!

08-25-2012, 07:36 PM
Hello Steve,

Thank you for the in depth report on your experience with both units. It's pretty cool for you to share your findings with us. So if I'm understanding your analysis correctly...The AT Gold can be set up to blank out nails or other common trash items one finds at these old cabin sites, you just can't save the program? I would really like to search some of these places but I will admit that the constant squalling of trash keeps me from putting much effort into it. If the AT Gold would allow me to block out a good portion of the chatter it sure would make it a much more enjoyable prospect.

With that said...in your opinion, would the AT Gold be the best bang for the buck when it comes to searching these old cabin and town sites? Or would a different detector be a better option? Bear in mind that I already have the GMT and the 5000 for nugget searching. Although I would be willing to sell the GMT if I could find something that would come close performance wise but had a little better versatility. I think the GMT is a very good detector for finding gold, but I can't handle attempting to search these site with it. The constant squall eventually wins and I give up.

Thanks again for posting up your findings.


Steve Herschbach
08-26-2012, 07:18 AM
Hi Kenny,

The AT Pro and AT Gold both have three search modes. The first is a discrimination mode preset to accept all items with an audio beep in different tones and a visual target id. Pretty much everything goes beep, but you can adjust the level at which iron/steel is rejected completely, and this is saved when the detector shuts off. The mode is preset and only the iron rejection level may be modified.

The second mode is a preset discrimination mode with light foil and pull tabs set to audibly ignored. A so-called coin pattern that eliminates common trash but beep on common coins. Again, only the iron rejection level may be set and saved. The rest of the pattern is preset and cannot be adjusted.

The AT Pro has a third discrimination mode, a fully adjustable notch mode. Notch refers to the ability to set certain non-ferrous items to be accepted or rejected in ranges or "bins". The non-ferrous discrimination range is split up into sections or "notches". For example, all foil items may fall into a range of 0-20 on a scale of 0-99 and so would be said to fall in the 0-20 section/range/notch/bin. That 0-99 range can be split up into several notches and this varies by model. On the AT units you get 12 non-ferrous notches. I have detectors that split this into 100 notches, so the AT series has a low resolution notch system.

An independent adjustable notch system lets you decide what sections get accepted and what get rejected. For instance, you could decide you are looking for something that reads like a nickel and set only the nickel range to beep, all other ranges get ignored. All nickels and items that read like nickels would go beep, and that is it. Or, you can set all non-ferrous items EXCEPT the nickel range to go beep, and ignore the nickel range. The AT Pro in the third search mode allows you to create a custom notch program and save it.

Again, both units treat ferrous items the same. You can adjust how the ferrous targets respond and save the setting. It is only in how non-ferrous targets are treated that the units differ.

The third search mode on the AT Gold is a pure unfiltered all metal mode. All items are detected, with significantly more depth. A type of ferrous audio does kick in much like the iron "grunt" system on the GMT. Since you have a GMT you would find all metal on the AT Gold familiar, but less sensitive to small targets.

So on the AT Pro the third mode is an adjustable notch discrimination mode, on the AT Gold it is an unfiltered all metal mode.

For old cabins and town sites a zillion detectors would work. Generally all you need is something that can adjustably set how ferrous targets get handled as you usually want to dig all non-ferrous at old sites. Most people doing this want a detector with good target separation, and the ability to set ferrous as either a tone break or outright ignoring certain ferrous items. The AT Pro and AT Gold both can do this about the same. However, the smaller coil that comes with the AT Gold is better suited for the task, on on many forums is being recognized as a superior small DD coil for its target separation. I have found that to be the case myself. It is the coil that will pretty much stay on my AT Gold with brief times where I may use the 4.5" sniper coil.

Old cabins will challenge you as many ferrous items will break through and read non-ferrous if ferrous stuff is set to fully reject. You get better ferrous identification hearing all targets but with ferrous giving its own, usually low, tone. Many ferrous targets give a mix of ferrous and non-ferrous responses, and so if you set the machine to only report non-ferrous responses, you will hear just that on some ferrous items, tricking you into digging them. If you set to give a tone on all items but different tones on ferrous and non-ferrous, these tricky ferrous items will give you mixed tones allowing you to correctly identify them. But it means listening to lots and lots of audio tones. So you either listen to lots of audio or go for full ferrous rejection, but then get fooled more often into digging junk. Basically a trade-off that depends on the site and the trash encountered. Given that the AT Gold allows you to do a pretty fine adjustment of the ferrous range both by setting a range to either ignore or report as a low audio tone, plus the AT Gold coil being excellent at target separation, I would say it is an above average detector for hunting old cabin and townsites. Most detectors the first thing you have to do is buy a smaller coil for the task. The closest alternative would be the Gold Bug Pro with the 5" coil.

Just to make things difficult I will point out higher frequency detectors tend to be "noisier" in ferrous trash and so lower frequency units can make for a quieter option and low frequencies generally identify ferrous items a bit better than high frequencies. Still, the trend these days is towards higher frequency units so go figure.

08-26-2012, 01:28 PM
Great info Steve, Thanks for taking the time to do the test comparisons and for sharing all of these details about the two units! Walter

08-26-2012, 07:44 PM
Man, a guy couldn't ask for a better explanation than that Steve. Thanks again for the information. I don't think an AT Gold is in the cards for me this year. I haven't even had the time to blow the dust off the 5000 this summer. I really like the fact that it is water proof and has more discrimination features than the GMT. I know it's not as sensitive as the GMT, but if I want something that sensitive I can put on the little coiltek 6" mono on the 5000. I'm really considering giving up the GMT in favor of something a little more versatile. Probably won't be this year just because I don't see much time to play with it in the near future.

Thanks again for all of your help.


08-28-2012, 07:32 PM
My wife swings the AT Gold with the 4.5" sniper coil. We purchased the coil in direct response to the negative press I've read about the stock DD coil, allbeit mostly in internet forms. It's good to hear that you prefer the stock DD coil as I've been unimpressed with the performance of the sniper coil. However, maybe it is my wife's operation of the AT Gold?

Steve Herschbach
08-29-2012, 05:53 AM
Forums have their uses - hopefully this one does - but if you can do what I do. Just go try it. And you can.

Go find a beach or volleyball court. Put on the stock coil. Find ten targets but do not dig them. Mark them, and listen to each target very carefully. Really work each one. Then switch coils, and try all the marked targets again. Watch the target id. What kind of signal strength do you get and how well does it pinpoint?

Start with the 8" coil then check with the sniper. Be sure and try all targets in all metal mode and in a discriminate mode. Be fair to the sniper coil and try some very small targets also, even if you have to use a test target. But I prefer found targets.

I hope you give it a go as you will find it very informative. Neither coil is "better" than the other. Both have specific characteristics that can be used to advantage and having both, as in your case, is a smart thing. But by testing both you will have a better idea when and where to employ each coil.

Like I say, forums are great, but nothing beats getting your own answers and determining your own preferences. For what you do in your own ground. I read the forums with great interest to get ideas of what to try. But I always make my own determinations and invest quite a bit of money and time doing so. A cheap investment in making sure when I make the larger investment in a few weeks detecting someplace that I am well set up with equipment I know well.

08-29-2012, 08:52 PM
Great idea Steve. Still much to learn in this space as it was our first season with them ( I have a GB2). We did spend lots of hours with them but once the weather got nicer we started prospecting with the highbanker. We'll break them out again this fall and I'll absolutely test the different coils as you outlined above.