Garrett AT Max Metal Detector Review

The Garrett AT Max is the most advanced model within the All-Terrain series. 

It’s fully waterproof, built to hit the toughest grounds, and it has maxed-out features that professional hunters will make a beeline for. 

While beginners may find this instrument intimidating to use, serious coin, relic, and jewelry hunters will already have the skills and knowledge to use this metal detector to the max. 

For the price and technology, this is premium VLF circuitry at its best. 

At a Glance…

✔️ Best Feature: Maximum Depth Detection

Worst Feature: Requires Learning Process

👌 Ideal For: All Terrains, Water, Submersion, Gold, Coins, Relics, Jewelry, Competitions, Experts

  • Maximum depth detection
  • Waterproof & submersible
  • Wireless Technology
  • Multiple Detection Modes
  • Back-lit Display

Our Verdict: The AT Max allows you to go a little deeper, fine-tune your settings, and home in your advanced hunting skills.  Its many high-tech features and submersible, waterproof design puts it at the top as an excellent metal detector for serial hunters. 

Who is the Garrett AT Max Best Suited to?

The AT Max metal detector is a high-tech tool that many will find difficult to set up.  If you own or have had experience with using the AT Pro, you may be at an advantage in learning how to maximize the AT Max.  The pushbutton controls are essentially the same, but the advanced features will require a little more hands-on work to customize settings and interpret signal data. 

The multiple detection and discrimination modes will be used best in the hands of experienced metal detection users as this model forgoes Standard mode that many beginners find easier to learn with. 

How Does the Garrett AT Max Perform?

As a single-frequency VLF operating at 13.6 kHz, it has both benefits and disadvantages.  The lower frequency has longer wavelengths that penetrates deeper ground easily and is excellent for finding high conductivity objects. 

While it’s not a specific gold digger detector, it is sensitive enough to pick up gold nuggets, and with use of all its featured modes, you can adjust settings to detect those low conductivity objects like iron.  This model has four minor frequency adjustments that you can make to minimize electrical interference and somewhat improve your detection success at further depth. 

Features & Benefits

Maximum Depth Detection

The AT Max has the lowest kHz frequency of the AT series operating at 13.6 kHz with four adjustable settings.  This allows you to penetrate deeper into the ground to seek out high conductivity targets to approximately 12-18”. 

Of course, there are multiple factors to consider such as the terrain, size and chemical properties of the target, and what modes and settings you’re currently using.  The true All Metal Mode is the detection mode you want to use to increase detection and sensitivity.  There are no discrimination thresholds in this mode, so all metals will be detected. 

Waterproof & Submersible

This is a staple feature of the AT (All-Terrain) series.  They’re designed to be the ultimate tool that gets you hunting in every type of terrain regardless of weather conditions.  If you want to find sunken treasure at surface exploration, the AT Max can be submerged underwater to a maximum depth of 10 feet. 

The control box is also waterproof and submersible but the included MS-3 Z-Lynk headphones are not.  If the control box is to be submerged underwater, you must switch out to waterproof headphones that are sold separately. 

Wireless Technology

The AT Max has Garrett’s built-in Z-Lynk wireless system that allows you to pair any type of wireless headphones to the metal detector.  The included MS-3 headphones are provided to get you hunting right away.  But, is it any better than Bluetooth?  It’s six times faster than Bluetooth and up to 4x faster than competing wireless systems. 

It has almost instant response due to its near zero delay, so you’ll be able to detect and pinpoint faster than ever with the advantages of using headphones. 

Multiple Detection Modes

There are four Detection modes that includes All Metal, Custom, Coins, and Zero modes.  It lacks a binary system that provides Standard mode.  Discrimination modes include Custom, Coins, and Zero to reduce the targeting of trash items. 

The discrimination modes allow you to make use of the Tone ID feature that provides more data about a metal target via tone pitch.  However, it reduces sensitivity to small and deep targets that the All Metal mode would be able to detect.  You also have Iron Discrimination and Iron Audio features. 

Back-lit Display

Unlike the AT Pro, this model has a backlight.  Its benefits are obvious from hunting in the dark and improving visibility during low-light and bright conditions.  However, the LCD screen backlight is not adjustable.  It’s an on/off function with the press of a button. 

Limitations

Requires Learning Process

With its fancy detection and discrimination modes, auto and manual ground balancing feature, and sensitivity and frequency settings, it can be overwhelming to learn how to set it up and become accustomed to its operation. 

If you’re new to the AT series, you may end up fiddling around with the control box longer than you can get out there to use it.  You must read the manuals, check out online videos and tutorials to make the most of the learning process and to maximize your success rate. 

Not Specifically Designed for Saltwater Use

Single frequency metal detectors struggle with saltwater conditions, and so it can be misleading to say you can use this at the beach without disclosing the disadvantages.  While VLF detectors are not made for saltwater, the AT Max can be properly ground balanced in saltwater somewhere between the 0-20 range. 

Whatever setting you’re currently on, you’ll have to manually reduce ground balance to negatively bias by several points.  Don’t go too negative and allow somewhat of an acceptable amount of noise as it should still be adequate to positively hear a signal on a desired metal object.  To further reduce noise signals, especially in black sand beaches, you will have to reduce sensitivity.

Popular Questions

What Coils are Available for the AT Max?

The searchcoil included with the AT Max is an 8.5” x 11” DD PROformance submersible coil.  It’s a great size for all-round hunters searching for multiple types of objects.  However, it’s compatible with all available AT searchcoils that includes a 4.5” Super Sniper coil, a 6.5” x 9” concentric coil, and even a large 9” x 12” concentric coil. 

Is there a Volume Control on the Garrett Metal Detector?

The volume is adjustable on the control box and on the headphones.  Volume adjustments only affect the loudness of target sounds but not the sensitivity of the target signal.  You can adjust the volume on the control box for use without headphones.  However, you may disturb others around you when hunting in a public location.  Use the headphones and turn it up to max setting and then readjust the volume settings on the control box to acquire a better comfort level. 

When was the Garrett AT Max Released? 

The AT Max is the newest addition to the AT series and was released to the market in late 2017.  Many potential buyers wonder if they’re purchasing the most updated version of the model, and you can usually check with the seller if they carry current year productions. 

How to Reduce Noise & Chatter on the AT Max?

If there are complaints about the AT Max, it’s likely due to noise and erratic behavior.  There are few things you can try from ensuring the connection to the control box is tight, the searchcoil is correctly installed, and the coil wire around the shaft is adequately tight and not loose.   You can also replace the searchcoil with a new one, replace the batteries, and hit the factory reset button. 

As far as settings on the detector go, ensure Iron Audio is off, change frequency, ground balance, and discrimination settings.  You may even have to go as far as reducing sensitivity if erratic behavior is caused by excessive metallic trash, nearby metal detectors, electrical interference, and highly mineralized soils. 

The AT Max comes with a 2-year warranty, so be diligent in registering your detector with the brand for warranty claims or replacements.  There are also many advanced tip videos online specifically for the AT Max. 

Conclusion

If you’re willing to put the effort into learning how the Garrett AT Max performs at its best, you’ll have great success with it.  Many buyers often say once they’ve purchased it, they go over their old hunting grounds, and lo and behold, they have new discoveries they missed that the Garret detector picked up with ease. 

However, if you want max submersion, you must buy waterproof headphones separately and you’ll have to be diligent in tweaking the settings to find small gold nuggets or maximizing its use for beach hunting.  As is, the Garrett AT Max is worth it. 

Further Reading:

About Simon Owen

I’m Simon and I love finding things. From a young age I always had the knack to find coins, notes, wallets and more. All of that was without the use of technology. I look forward to sharing with you some amazing tech that will make your treasure hunt a lot easier.