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Garrett AT Pro vs. Garrett AT Max

Contents

The Garrett AT (All-Terrain) series of metal detectors features the Garrett AT Pro, the Garrett AT Gold, and the Garrett AT Max. The most common concern among potential buyers is figuring out the differences between the Garrett AT Pro vs. Max metal detectors.

When detectorists are trying to figure out whether or not they should buy the AT Pro or the AT Max, there is a wide variety of factors they should consider. The most prominent being the price, features included, performance, and the metal detecting environment that you will be hunting in.

Enjoy this guide that will review each detector in-depth, and then help you decide which one is better for you.

Comparison Table:

 NameFrequencyPriceBatteryErgonomics
Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector with Waterproof 8.5" x 11" DD Search CoilGarrett AT Pro15 kHz$500-$6004 AA batteries/ 20-40 hoursAdjustable Armrest/ Adjustable Arm Strap/ Textured Rubber Grip
Garrett AT Max Metal Detector with Z-LynkGarrett AT Max13.6 kHz$700-$8004 AA batteries/ 15-20 hoursAdjustable Armrest/ Adjustable Arm Strap/ Textured Rubber Grip

Garrett AT Pro

The Garrett AT Pro is widely regarded by many in the metal detecting industry to be one of the best intermediate-level metal detectors on the market today. The AT Pro is a stand-out due to its budget-friendly price that doesn’t sacrifice performance!

Continue reading for an overview of the various features found within the AT Pro.

Operating Frequency

The Garrett AT Pro metal detector is outfitted with an operating frequency of 15 kHz. This is an excellent choice on behalf of Garrett, as we believe this frequency is perfect for an all-purpose metal detector!

Search Modes

The AT Pro brings you seven different search modes you have at your disposal. They are Zero Discrimination (All Metal Mode), Coins, Custom, Zero Discrim. with Tone Roll Audio, Coins with Tone Roll Audio, Custom with Tone Roll Audio, and Pinpoint Mode.

Tone Roll Audio is a Garrett exclusive that gives you varying tones as you sweep over a metal object, whereas other audio modes will only give you one constant tone. This can help you figure out whether or not the signal is consistent with a good target.

Exclusive Features

A detectorist using a Garrett AT Max detector and Pro-Pointer AT with Z-Lynk on the beach

A detectorist using a Garrett AT Max detector and Pro-Pointer AT with Z-Lynk on the beach.

The Garrett AT Pro detector features 40 iron discrimination levels, giving detectorists the ultimate in determining what metals they want to exclude.

Similarly, the AT Pro also has the Iron Audio feature, which allows discriminated iron to make low-pitched grunts so that you can avoid junk targets!

Ground balance features are paramount when you are treasure hunting in highly mineralized soils.

The AT Pro does not disappoint here, as it provides both ‘Fast Track’ automatic ground balance, as well as a manual option.

Finally, the AT Pro features the capability to be submerged underwater up to 10 feet deep! The freshwater and saltwater capabilities of this waterproof detector are one reason why we especially love this detector!

Search Coils

The Garrett AT Pro comes stock with a waterproof 8.5″ x 11″ DD Proformance search coil, which is a great search coil for most metal detecting situations. There is a huge selection of additional search coils that cover a wide variety of metal detecting needs should you want more options.

Armrest/Ergonomics

The AT Pro features a standard, adjustable armrest that allows you to set the machine up for the proper dimensions you want.

The adjustable arm strap helps take some of the load off of your muscles and distributes it more evenly in your arm. In addition, we love the textured rubber grip on the handle, as it provides great comfort and doesn’t absorb water.

Battery Life

The battery pack on the Garrett AT Pro requires 4 AA batteries to operate. Surprisingly enough, the batteries last anywhere from 20 to 40 hours, depending on the battery quality. This is great battery life for a metal detector with so many features!

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Strong performance on small objects
  • Great battery life
  • Submersible up to 10 feet

Cons:

  • Lacks wireless headphone technology
  • One operating frequency

Garrett AT Max

The Garrett AT Max is essentially the newer version of the AT Pro, with updated capabilities, but at a slightly heftier price. While many of the features are the same as the AT Pro, there are many that are starkly different.

Operating Frequency

The operating frequency on the Garrett AT Max is 13.6 kHz. This slightly lower frequency is excellent for squeezing a little bit more detection depth out of the machine. We believe the 13.6 kHz operating frequency is great for an all-purpose metal detector as well.

Search Modes

The AT Max comes with four preset search modes.

These are All Metal, Coins, Custom, Zero Discrimination, and Pinpointer. The All Metal mode on the AT Max is actually True All Metal mode, which means that every type of metal is detected while providing detectorists with the maximum detection depth and sensitivity possible.

It is also worth mentioning that all of these search modes utilize Tone Roll Audio, which allows you to hear the changing metal signals of your target instead of giving one solid tone.

Exclusive Features

The Garrett AT Max metal detector comes with 44 levels of iron discrimination, which provides detectorists with precise control on what metal types they want to find.

Since the detector features True All Metal mode, you can always hunt for whatever type of metal you are looking for with top-tier performance.

A detectorist using a Garrett metal detector.

A detectorist using a Garrett metal detector.

Ground balance is a big deal for many detectorists, especially when prospecting in heavily mineralized soil or salty environments.

The AT Max has both automatic ground balancing, as well as manual ground balancing for differing ground conditions.

Garrett outfitted the Max with an Automated Ground Balance Window that simultaneously spreads ground balancing to several different settings for several different ground conditions.

This is especially handy for those of us who wish to let the machine do the work!

Optimized to be used in both freshwater and saltwater environments, the Garrett AT Max is waterproof to 10 feet!

Search Coils

The AT Max comes with an 8.5″ x 11″ DD Proformance search coil that is waterproof and able to withstand the harshest weather conditions. Should you wish to get larger or smaller search coils, there are many additional search coils available!

Armrest/Ergonomics

The Garrett AT Max is stocked with the standard, adjustable length shaft that feels very sturdy.

Take advantage of the padded arm cup and adjustable strap, as these help your arms experience less fatigue. The rubber grip on the handle is very nice as well, as it provides excellent purchase and doesn’t absorb water.

Battery Life

The AT Max runs on 4 AA batteries. These batteries last roughly 15 hours to 20 hours before dying, which is a very good runtime. While the battery life is shorter than the AT Pro, we believe it is still very commendable, considering the AT Max is using more power for its myriad of new features.

Pros:

  • Wireless headphone technology
  • Backlit screen for dark environments
  • Strong iron discrimination functions
  • Submersible up to 10 feet

Cons:

  • Price
  • One operating frequency

Which Is the Better Metal Detector?

While it would be nice to say that one Garrett AT metal detector is better than the other, this is not possible for one reason. Every prospective buyer has different wants, scenarios, and budgets, and these factors all come together to determine the best metal detector for each person.

We will compare the Garrett AT Max vs. AT Pro in-depth so you can figure out which one suits your needs the best!

Price

For most of us metal detectorists, our budgets play a huge role in determining which metal detector we buy.

In general, you can expect to pick up an AT Pro for anywhere in the range of $500 to $600. The AT Max will run you a little more, generally in the range of $700 to $800.

These prices include the wired MS-2 Headphones for the AT Pro, and the MS-3 Z-Lynk Wireless Headphones for the AT Max.

Many detectorists have decided that the price increase is worth the jump up to the AT Max, but many others have decided the AT Pro suits all of their needs just fine as well. This is where it is important to figure out which factors are most important to you!

It is worth mentioning that both metal detectors come with Garrett’s 2 Year Limited Warranty, providing you with peace of mind that your detector will work flawlessly.

Winner: Garrett AT Pro

Detection Depth

While the AT Max and AT Pro will both have roughly the same detection depth, there should be a slight advantage for the AT Max on depth. This is due to the AT Max’s operating frequency of 13.6 kHz, which is lower than the 15 kHz frequency on the AT Pro.

A detectorist using the Garrett AT Pro detector in a field.

A detectorist using the Garrett AT Pro detector in a field.

Lower frequencies generally mean that you gain more detection depth, but you give up some sensitivity.

Essentially, this means that you might have less potent target separation capabilities.

Since there is only a difference of 1.4 kHz, these differences will be minuscule, though they are something to be aware of.

Winner: Garrett AT Max

Screen Display

The LCD screen found on all members of the AT Series family is fairly similar (digital target ID, depth indicators, search modes, etc.), though there is one difference.

The most significant difference is that the Garrett AT Max has a backlight that will allow you to detect in low-light conditions and still see the screen! For some detectorists, this is one of their most important factors, making the AT Max their choice.

Winner: Garrett AT Max

Headphone Capabilities

As mentioned earlier, the Garrett AT Max comes with Garrett’s groundbreaking Z-Lynk Wireless Technology, which provides detectorists with the option of using wireless headphones to streamline their treasure hunting experience!

If you, like some of us here at Kellyco, are someone who seems to be wrapped up in their wired headphones a lot, wireless headphones might be one of the best investments you can make. If this wireless capability is a big deal to you, the AT Max is your best bet.

Winner: Garrett AT Max

Audio Quality & Features

Setting aside headphone capabilities, looking at the audio features of the AT Pro and AT Max is an interesting area to look into. The Max offers volume control, while the Pro does not. If you can’t hear the signal, just turn it up with the Max.

The AT Max also has an adjustable threshold, but the AT Pro does not. The threshold adjustment controls the humming in the background noise that helps you hear faint signals better.

Another interesting feature is that the Max does not utilize solid signal tones, but instead uses only Pro Mode Audio (Proportional Audio).

Proportional audio gives off different tones as you sweep over a metal target, never giving a standard on-off tone. This allows you to “feel” the object in the ground, being able to tell where it starts and begins, as well as if the metal composition varies throughout it.

Many detectorists love this feature, though we must warn you, it might take you a small amount of practice to master it.

Winner: Garrett AT Max

Types of Metal

Some metal detectorists in the community hunt for particular items a majority of the time. This is why there are purpose-built gold metal detectors, underwater detectors, as well as coin and jewelry detectors!

Other hobbyists want to use all-purpose metal detectors to find a wide variety of metal targets including gold nuggets, iron relics, and silver coins. The AT Max and the AT Pro shine in the all-purpose metal detector world, as they are designed to be as versatile as possible!

The AT Pro has 40 levels of iron discrimination, while the AT Max has 44 levels. There is not a huge amount of difference here, but those extra four levels add more precision to advanced detectorists who really have their game plan down.

Winner: Garrett AT Max

Ease of Use

The AT Series from Garrett might not be as simple to use as the Garrett ACE series, but it is still very intuitive.

The AT Max and AT Pro both have many of the same features and buttons on their control boxes. Simply power the device on, pick a search mode, and you are ready to start hunting. Both the AT Max and the AT Pro are similarly easy to use, as both are virtually identical.

Particularly in the way of aesthetics, weight, and ergonomics, the Max and Pro are eerily similar.

Weighing in at three pounds, the Garrett AT Max and AT Pro are easy to carry all day long. We believe that virtually every detectorist can swing both the AT Max and AT Pro with ease for a long time.

Winner: Draw

The selection of Garrett products at our Knoxville showroom.

The selection of Garrett products at our Knoxville showroom.

Detecting Environment

Where you are hunting can severely impact how effective your metal detector is.

If you are metal detecting in areas with high ground mineralization, you want to be sure that your metal detector has the proper ground balance features to negate these unsavory ground conditions.

Both the AT Max and the AT Pro feature similar, excellent ground balance features that allow either automatic or manual control.

One thing to be aware of is that the AT Max MS-3 Z-Lynk Wireless Headphones cannot be taken underwater, so a wired pair of waterproof headphones would have to be purchased for the AT Max as well.

The AT Pro MS-2 Headphones are not made to go underwater as well, so a separate waterproof pair would need to be purchased also.

Winner: Draw

Stand Out Features

AT Max Wireless Headphones

  • The AT Max comes stock with Z-Lynk Wireless Technology.
  • This allows for the use of Z-Lynk wireless headphones that have shorter signal delays than Bluetooth!
  • This model of Garrett AT Max comes standard with Garrett MS-3 Wireless Headphones.
  • We love not being wrapped up in headphone cords!

Conclusion

The Garrett AT Max and the Garrett AT Pro are both mid-level metal detectors dripping with value. These detectors can be taken underwater, exposed to all kinds of weather, and can endure much abuse without losing any performance.

Both AT detectors have excellent ground balance capability, Pro Audio mode, a variety of search modes, and strong performance. Deciding whether you want the AT Max vs AT Pro will be a debate for the ages, as detectorists love them both.

To wrap things up, purchase the Garrett AT Pro if:

  • You are looking to spend less money
  • You want to experience Garrett’s AT series
  • You want slightly more sensitivity

Purchase the Garrett AT Max if:

  • You want wireless headphone capabilities
  • You want a backlit LCD display
  • You want more iron discrimination capabilities
  • You want slightly more detection depth
About The Author
John Matuszak
John, a zealous treasure hunter, knew his life was over the moment he watched The Goonies for the first time and realized he had the same name as the actor who played Sloth.