In this review we’ll look at the Garrett AT MAX metal detector.
We’ve compared value for money, features, ease of use and detecting ability
to give you our top recommendations.
In Depth Garrett AT MAX Review
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Garrett AT MAX Metal Detector Review
The Garrett AT Max is Garrett’s all-purpose top-of-the-range machine.
Released in 2017 it’s the newest boy on the block and offers deeper detection than the Gold and the Pro.
My experience with detectors has found that Garrett always hit the mark, and review after online review includes photogrpahs of finds located with an AT Max on previously detected ground.
Now, I’m a fan of the Garrett AT Pro, but I admit the Max looked exciting. I wasn’t willing to part with my cash until I’d had a go with one but, lucky for me, someone else bought it and let me test out this expensive machine.
Overall, I found that the Max is excellent and it does detect deeper than the Pro due to its upgraded electronics and transmission power.
The price tag means this machine is aimed at serious detectorists intent on uncovering coins, jewelry, and relics at greater depth.
If you’re starting out, I wouldn’t recommend this machine as its features are high end and complicated for newbies.
And speaking of features – let’s take a look and see if the Garrett AT Max suits you.
Features and Benefits of the AT Max
The AT Max hums away on 13.6 kHz which is middle of the road and slightly lower than the Pro. It’s suited to all metals although coins, relics, and jewelry are the most likely targets.
This machine will pick up gold in the right conditions, but if you’re a gold hunter I’d recommend Garrett’s AT Gold which operates on a higher frequency and deals with the terrain free-range gold is usually found in.
The Max has adjustable frequency which you’d expect on a high-end machine. Adjustable frequency enables you to cut out interference and tune it to suit the targets you’re aiming for.
The all-important search modes can make a big difference to your hunting.
The Max offers four pro audio modes. You have a true all-metal mode for depth and sensitivity, one for coins, one for zero discrimination, and a custom mode.
You’d expect a custom mode on a machine of this price so I’m pleased to see it there.
If you’re a newbie the lack of pre-set modes can be daunting, again this is a machine for the experienced detectorist, it would be disheartening for anyone starting out.
For best metal detectors for beginners see here.
The target separation mode is excellent. It’s capable of picking up a piece of jewelry that’s sat right next to a coke can.
When you’re searching on ground that has a lot of targets, such as the bleachers and playgrounds, target separation can make the difference between a great find and few cents.
Good iron discrimination is another high end essential, and it’s on the AT Max in spades.
Choose up to 44 iron points to skip out on nails and Pepsi tabs without missing any potential relics. Pop on the target depth indicator to see how far you need to dig down.
All the AT Max bodywork is waterproof up to 10 feet.
I always say waterproofing is absolutely essential. Too many times I’ve seen a detectorist place their machine down into the wet grass, or get caught in a rain shower, and that’s their machine dead.
Some detectors have waterproof coils, which is a step better, but a waterproof control box is the best option. Accidents happen, if you slip in a creek then you’re up it without a paddle.
All the Garrett AT machines are waterproof to 10 feet – but don’t submerge the headphones, they are NOT waterproof!
Although Garrett says the AT Max can be used in saltwater, I wouldn’t recommend it.
It’ll do the machine no harm, but you’ll get lots of chatter and squealing which can ruin your day out. If you’re into saltwater hunting choose a machine suited to beach conditions such as the Tesoro sand shark.
The AT Max uses wireless technology and the machine is sold with Garrett MS-3 Z-Lynk wireless headphones. Unless you want an audience, headphones are important.
These wireless headphones are good. There’s barely any delay, it’s way faster than Bluetooth and the best bit?
Wires are tedious, always in the way and when you kneel to dig you’ve got to take the headphones off. I’ve stuck with them in the past because wires give good reliable signals, but the AT Max’s wireless capabilities are second to none. I’m a fan.
The AT Max also has iron audio. All metal iron audio is a thing of beauty. Search for all metals, but distinguish what is iron with a simple tone. Choose to ignore it if you want, it probably going to be a nail or bottle cap, but you never know.
All metal iron audio gives you the choice. Dig or not to dig.
The AT range has automatic and manual ground balancing. Its handy to have both as you can make the most of your time.
On changeable ground, popping it into automatic gives you the chance to roam around without too much fussing. Highly mineralized ground is conquered with auto ground balancing.
Still, if you like to do it your way the manual ground balancing can be adjusted in quarter points.
The Max also has a ground balance window which is one up on the Pro.
Where Is Best To Use The Garrett AT MAX
AT stands for All Terrain which gives you a good idea about its capabilities.
The AT Max will effectively search in all soils, sands, freshwater, and trashy areas, but it won’t perform well in salt water or on wet sand – no single frequency machine does.
If you’re covering the same ground, the Max is going to get deeper than the Pro or Gold, and it’s most sensitive.
What Will The Garrett AT Max Find?
It’ll find all types of metal at greater depth than most others in the Garrett range.
With its iron audio capabilities, I’d say this is a must-have for relic hunters, but the Max also uncovers jewelry, coins, and trash.
It will pick up gold but in typical gold area conditions it won’t perform as well as the AT Gold which has a higher frequency.
How The Garrett AT Max Compares to Other Garrett Detectors
The extras it has are a true all metal mode, iron audio in all metal mode, volume adjustment, threshold adjustment, a ground balancing window, wireless headphones and it’s backlit.
I have a real love of backlit displays and my Pro doesn’t have one. It’s a little touch that makes all the difference to a detectorist.
The Max is not a specific gold hunting machine, although it will pick up gold. Garrett makes the AT Gold for the reasons I’ve mentioned above.
To find gold in natural conditions, nuggets rather than jewelry, you need a higher frequency and mega iron audios.
The Max comes as standard with 8.5 x 11-inch DD PROformance coil (PROformance is a Garrett name trademark) which is what the Pro is equipped with.
It’s a good starting point, but you can purchase a range of coils for specific areas.
- 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
If you already have some of these AT Garrett coils, you’ll be pleased to hear they’re compatible with the AT Max.
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 detectors, but don’t forget these basic bits of information.
- Weight and length
The AT Max is adjustable from 43 to 56 inches and it weighs a tiny 3.03lbs which is the same as the Pro.
It takes 4 AA batteries which should cover you for 24 hours. Although I think the backlighting tends to drain the batteries a touch faster. There’s an 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 Max?
I’m going to struggle here because the Max has outdone itself.
I always complained about the Pro’s lack of backlight, but’s that’s fixed so we’re just into its typical single frequency performance in saltwater.
Garrett says the Max can be used on the beach and in saltwater, which it can, but the performance won’t be great. You’ll have too much chatter and a headache at home time.
Newcomers to the AT range will struggle to learn the controls in one sitting, which could be off-putting, but if you already have the AT Pro or Gold you should pick it up quickly. The display is larger and brighter but the buttons do the same job.
Overall, the Garrett AT Max is a top-of-the-range buy for experienced detectorists looking to upgrade and get deeper.
It’s a new kid on the block, but the credentials are solid and it’ll last years with basic care.
The AT Max is an investment piece for sure, but worth it if you truly love metal detecting.