In this review we’ll look at the Garrett AT Gold metal detector.
We’ve compared value for money, features, ease of use and gold detecting ability
to give you our top recommendations.
In Depth Garrett AT Gold Review
Garrett AT Gold Metal Detector Review
Fancy your chances in the gold market? With prices running as high as they have recently there’s a potentially high return for your detecting.
All metal detectors will pick up gold because gold is metal – but a specific gold detector runs on a different frequency, and it can handle gold territory terrains.
Gold nuggets, despite their name, don’t often resemble a nugget. If you’re looking at your dinner-sized chicken pieces you’re going to be disappointed.
‘Wild’ gold is notoriously tiny and it makes targeting the micro-nuggets difficult unless you have a powerful machine with good depth penetration.
And to make it worse, gold is most often found in highly mineralized ground.
But don’t be put off.
Manufacturers know we want gold and they’ve produced machines capable of handling the difficulties.
Garrett’s AT Gold is among the best. It was released in 2011 and is still made today. I don’t think you can get a better recommendation than a long production run.
The Garrett AT Pro is my tried and tested the machine for all grounds bar the beach, but when it comes to gold nugget prospecting, I switch to my Garrett AT Gold.
Here are some of its many benefits.
Features and Benefits of the Garrett AT Gold
The AT Gold runs hotter than the other AT range at 18kHz which is better for gold prospecting and allows you to pick up those gram-sized pieces of natural gold. It’s adjustable, so you can fine-tune it to your preference.
The frequency means it’ll go haywire on salt water or on wet salt sand but to be fair, you aren’t going to find free-range gold nuggets on the beach. Freshwater creeks and rivers, however, that’s another story.
The AT Gold has three pro audio search modes. One is the true all-metal mode, the other two are discrimination modes so you can easily filter out trashy items like iron nails and bottle caps.
The true all-metal mode offers the deepest detection depth and sensitivity on the smallest nuggets. In my opinion, it’s the best one to use once it’s paired up with the iron audio.
Iron audio is adjustable, so set it to your preference and it’ll filter out what’s iron based on 40 points of iron resolution.
This enables you to spot the difference between a gold target and an iron one without digging.
Because iron and gold both ping on a higher frequency, iron is the bane of gold detectorists. Good iron discrimination capability is essential.
Like the Garrett AT Max and Pro, the AT Gold is fully waterproof, including the control box, up to ten feet underwater. Make it freshwater though, The AT Gold doesn’t like salty conditions.
Waterproofing on a gold hunting machine is important not least because wild and free gold nuggets are often found in creeks and rivers.
If your control box isn’t waterproof, just one slip and that’s your pricey detector ruined. I’d recommend waterproof headphones for detecting around water too.
With audio tone ID levels and proportional audio functions the AT Gold is a pleasure to use.
You can keep looking at the ground, this is particularly important around water, and just listen to what the audio has to say.
The iron audio function in all modes is a lifesaver. You can hunt in the highly mineralized ground that’s full of background iron and ignore those iron tones if you wish.
You won’t be tricked into digging up ferrous-based targets when you want the gold.
The Garrett AT Gold has both automatic and manual ground balancing. The automatic function adapts to the highly mineralized ground quickly and keeps up as you move around. It’s an important setting on a gold-detecting machine.
Manual ground balancing allows you to set the detector just so. I don’t use it often, because the machine does just fine without me.
There’s a ground balancing window to show what’s going on, so if you find yourself in a more settled area that highly mineralized, you can adjust the settings to get the most out of the AT Gold’s sensitivity and depth functions.
Where Is Best To Use The Garrett AT Gold?
AT stands for All Terrain, but If you’re looking for gold nuggets, there’s no point searching your backyard.
You need to go to the conditions that have spawned gold. Do your research, because no detector, however pricey, will find gold where it hasn’t formed. Creeks, river beds, and the old ‘gold rush’ areas are all good bets.
If you looking for gold jewelry then parks, bleachers, playgrounds, and dry beach sand are good places.
The AT Gold won’t do well in salty conditions. Even Garrett admits to that.
What Will The Garrett AT Gold Find?
The AT Gold will find all types of metal including coins, jewelry, silver, relics, and trash but it excels in finding gold nuggets. It’s the reason Garrett offers the machine.
How The Garrett AT Gold Compares to Other Garrett Detectors
The AT Gold is essentially the AT Pro with enhanced gold nugget seeking capabilities. The AT Max is a souped-up version of the AT Pro.
It runs on a higher frequency to pick up smaller nuggets and has great iron mastering capabilities.
The AT Gold also has a few extras over the Pro. It has a true all-metal mode with iron audio, threshold adjustment, and a ground-balancing window. There are fewer settings, but if you are looking for gold nuggets the missing ones won’t matter to you.
The AT Gold comes with a small 5″ x 8″ DD PROformance coil (PROformance is a Garrett name trademark).
This smaller coil allows the machine to put all of its power into finding tiny pieces of gold at a greater depth. The Pro and Max come with 8.5 x 11-inch coils.
The Garrett range of search coils will fit the machine if you’re ready to look for something other than gold. The available coils are:
- 4-inch DD that helps you get into small spaces
- 5×8 inch DD for small spaces but with more target separation
- 5x 9 inch concentric for relatively trash-free areas
- 9×12 inch concentric to cover more open ground in a shorter space of time
Other Important Bits
It’s easy to get bogged down in specifics of coils and iron discrimination if you’re looking for the best metal detector for gold, but don’t forget these basic bits of information.
- Weight and length
The AT Gold is adjustable from 43 to 56 inches and it weighs a tiny 2.08 lbs.
It takes 4 AA batteries which will give you several long sessions – up to around 24 hours depending on how many buttons you press. There’s a handy indicator to say when you’re low on power.
All Garrett machines are backed with a two-year warranty. It’s a sign of great build and reliability.
What Are The Cons of Garrett AT Gold?
When it comes to looking at the cons for the AT Gold, I feel it’s unfair to judge it on general capabilities.
I’m not going to talk about how it can go crazy when you’re searching parks and footways for anything, because it’s built for free-range gold nugget hunting.
If you want a general metal detector that’ll pick up lost gold rings, I’d recommend the AT Pro.
So, cons of the AT Gold – it can’t be used in saltwater, but then, gold isn’t really found there.
It doesn’t have notch discrimination so getting the tones spot-on can be trial and error, and it isn’t backlit either, which I find frustrating.
Garrett has rectified this small but annoying problem with the AT Max, but it persists in the Pro and Gold models.
This means you can’t really search in falling light, and in bright sunshine, it’s hard to see the display and you have to rely on audio.
To sum up, the Garrett AT Gold is one of the best machines around for gold nugget hunting.
It’s been a best-seller since 2011 and the controls are easy to master. If you’re looking in the right places, this machine will unearth the smallest gold nugget for you.