The two top selling all-purpose metal detectors in the world are the Minelab X-Terra 705 and the Garrett AT Pro. The AT Pro is probably the most widely marketed metal detector ever. Advertising aside, what makes a great all-purpose detector:
- Flexibility - Use in varied conditions, ability to change frequency, ability to change coil size and configuration.
- Target ID - Especially important for coin and relic hunting. Allows hunter to determine target size, conductivity, depth, and in the end ability to distinguish trash from treasure.
- Target Depth - Relative to the competition how deep can a machine locate specific targets.
- Durability - From design to construction materials how will the detector hold up and what kind of support will the company provide.
- Value - Simply cost versus benefits.
If you've made it this far your dilemma is..."which is the best all-purpose metal detector for me?" The last two words are the most important in this comparison. Where will you be detecting and what will you be looking for...that's the baseline.
The Minelab 705 takes the Flexibility category, due to it's V-flex technology; which means when you change coils the machine recognizes it and adjusts the search frequency. Generally, lower frequencies offer better sensitivity to copper and silver and better overall detection depth and trash rejection; while Higher frequencies are more sensitive to small metals and natural gold with a reduction in discrimination of nonferrous (not-of-iron) metals. The ability to swap the coils and truly change a single machine between a prospecting detector, a general park hunter, or a sharp shooting coin detector is still revolutionary. If you could dunk the Xterra 705 in the water, I would give a 10 of 10 for all-purpose flexibility.
The Garrett AT Pro holds its own in Flexibility with interchangeable coils and the ability to submerse the entire machine up to 10 feet. Fresh water detecting opens up a lot of productive areas. No matter what either manufacturer says neither of these detectors work well in salt water or on wet ocean beaches. Good saltwater beach detectors are simply a different beast all together.
Target ID on both machines is provided with variable audio tones and a numeric target ID. The Minelab has nearly twice the ID segments (28) which means it's slightly better in terms of specifically identifying a targets relative conductivity. Both machines provide you methods of determining if you are detecting "trash" or treasure, for example Iron Audio on the AT Pro.
Both detectors were air tested for Target Depth with the stock coils and maximum sensitivity using a silver dime and a 14 k gold ring. The Minelab Xterra hit the dime at 6.5" and the ring at 9.5". The Garrett AT Pro hit the dime at 5.5" and the ring at 8". Both are very respectable relative to other machines and depths you are likely to find these items. Of course both let you change the coil size to improve these numbers for specific types of targets.
I gave the AT Pro a bit higher of a score for Durability it's waterproof. Both detectors have good warranties and are backed by the two biggest and oldest detector manufacturers in the world. Both have very good manuals, informative videos, and good customer support. Garrett is touted by many as having the best customer service in the business.
So which all-purpose detector is the best Value...back to question number one! For general detecting at parks or old homes, both are very good. If you want to add detecting at the local lake or stream, then you should choose the Garrett AT Pro. If you want to add true nugget shooting for placer gold, then you should choose the Minelab X-Terra 705.
Personally, I have an Xterra 705. I live in the desert and love detecting for natural gold. I also spend a lot of my detecting hours at sports fields, old mining camps, pioneer camps, and abandoned homesteads. Do I wish I could detecting in the local fishing stream or lakes...of course. My answer to that was to buy a second detector that works in both salt and fresh water and can go to depths of 200 feet...because hey, if you're going in the water why limit yourself, right!
If you're buying a new detector check out Amazon or KellyCo online or go into a local metal detecting shop and get some personalized service.
Minelab X-terra 705 Air tests
Minelab X-terra 70 gold prospecting - older version of the Xterra but great demo
X-terra 705 relic hunting
Garrett AT Pro relic hunting in a river - Beau has a great set of videos on his channel
AT Pro coin hunting in Australia
Garrett AT Pro coin and relic hunting
PLEASE SHARE your experiences and reviews of these two detectors. If you went through this dilemma how did you decide?