Minelab has long been revered as a premium brand with the best metal detectors in the market. The X-TERRA 305 is a high-end detector wrapped up with an entry-level price tag. Clearly, it’s one of the best detectors in the entry-level market as it has multiple features you would never see on its competitors.
If you stick with land-based hunting for coins and treasure, the 305 will serve you well. It’s a detector from an authoritative brand that probably offers too much for its price point. Got you curious? Let’s check it out.
At a Glance…
✔️ Best Feature: VFLEX
❌ Worst Feature: No Auto Ground Balance
👌 Ideal For: Shallow Water, Coins, Jewelry, Relic, Beginners, Intermediates, Experts, Older Kids
- Target ID & 12 Segment Discrimination
- Manual Ground Balance
- Adjustable Threshold
- Noise Cancel
Our Verdict: The Minelab X-TERRA 305 has many high-end features that are lacking on inferior detectors at the same price point. The ability to use multiple coils to access a different operating frequency is state of the art tech at its best. For under $300, the 305 is offered at a steal.
Who is the Minelab X-TERRA 305 Best Suited to?
The X-TERRA 305 is a metal detector that will serve beginners, intermediates, and experts well. Intermediates and experts will be more than satisfied with its many adjustable features including manual ground balance. Beginners who want to start with quality without hurting their wallets will appreciate the features on the 305, but they’ll have to learn how to ground balance correctly as there is no auto balance or auto tracking to do the heavy lifting.
The 305 is very lightweight at 2.9 lbs, and there is also a short shaft that is available as a separate buy to decrease the length of the detector to suit children with parental guidance to interpret the response data.
How Does the Minelab X-TERRA 305 Perform?
The Minelab X-TERRA is a VLF detector that operates on a single frequency, but with VFLEX technology, you can actually use a different frequency when you change out the coil. This provides improved target detection to increase your chances of success for the desired objects.
The LCD display provides a minimalist scheme with no words and only icons. By learning what each icon and bar segment represents, you’ll learn to interpret data quickly. Combine this with distinctive audio tones, you’ll soon be hearing, listening, and making informed decisions before you dig, like a pro. There are even more features to go over, so let’s get into them below.
Features & Benefits
VFLEX Technology provides improved single frequency detection. Some may be confused in thinking it’s a multi-frequency or selectable frequency detector, but it’s not. VFLEX uses both analog and digital signal processing circuitry. What little analog circuitry that remains within the system has been calibrated to match the processing power of the digital domain. This is to enhance sensitivity, repeatability, and stability in adverse mineralization, extreme temperature changes, and when EMI is present.
The VFLEX coil itself has an in-coil booster and is optimized with the electronic properties necessary to allow the control box to set the correct operating parameters for the best performance. This means that you can change out the searchcoil and operate a different frequency – still one frequency at a time. The standard frequency on this detector is 7.5 kHz, but it’s also coil-compatible to achieve an operating 18.75 kHz frequency.
Target ID & 12 Segment Discrimination
The 305 has Target ID that is a numeric identifier of the detected object. The Target ID range on the 305 is -4 to 44. In this scale, ferrous targets are represented by negative IDs and non-ferrous targets are represented by positive IDs. The Target ID will remain in the center-left of the display until another target is detected. However, if a rejected target is detected, the Target ID will essentially ‘reset’ and change to two dashes.
A 12-segment discrimination scale is found at the bottom of the display and works with the Target ID feature. The segments increase in 4-step increments. For example, one bar starting from the far left represents -4. Two bars step up to 4, and three steps up to 8 – these are Target IDs that go all the way up to 44.
When rejecting specific Target IDs, the segment bars will be “filled in” with black. Accepted Target IDs will not show up on the discrimination scale. When a target is detected, the Target ID will appear in numeric form on the display and a flashing segment bar on the discrimination scale will also appear. The scale will also reflect the rejected Target IDs when using a preset Discrimination pattern. There are two patterns plus All Metal which uses no discrimination.
Manual Ground Balance
Manual ground balance is a must-have feature for intermediates and experts. Beginners will find this tricky to use from the get-to, but in time, they will learn how to use this setting to their advantage when moving across rapidly changing mineralized soils or when the detector gets too noisy for whatever reason.
Ground balance cannot be accessed through the main settings and instead is accessed through the shortcut button. Ground balance allows for reduction, if not elimination, of false signals that come from ground minerals. This allows you to hear better or only positive signals on detected good targets. The preset ground balance setting is 6, but it can be adjusted between a range of 0 to 20. If the 305 is still having trouble ground balancing to highly-mineralized soils, you may have to reduce sensitivity.
Are you looking to clear the ground of every possible good target? Adjustable threshold may be the feature you need. The threshold sets the bar for varying signal strengths. Signals with a strength above the threshold will sound, and weaker signals below the threshold will not. Being able to adjust the threshold allows you to hear even the weakest signals that could indicate a very small, shallow object or a very deep object.
It can also provide more depth detection. However, you’ll still have to deal with the “hum” or “buzz” until it’s at a level that’s acceptable to hear and keep detecting. When the searchcoil passes over a ferrous object, audio will null, and it will take some time for the detector to recover back to operating speed. This elapsed time is referred to as recovery time. You must slow down your sweep or change direction so that you don’t move too quickly and pass up good items that may be obscured by a ferrous target or is missed during the recovery time.
No Auto Ground Balance
The 305 is designed for beginners and will comfortably serve the intermediate hobbyist. Having manual ground balance is an excellent feature to have as most entry-level detectors will only provide factory-set or automatic ground balance.
Auto is nice because ground balance can be extremely difficult for beginners to master and it eliminates most of the ground challenges while searching in various terrains. However, auto isn’t always enough to fine-tune for noisy and rapidly changing mineral conditions, and thus, manual is an excellent feature to have. Beginners will be forced to expand their knowledge bank and skills with the detector, so the 305 will make a better hobbyist out of them yet.
Can the X-TERRA 305 Work in Saltwater?
As a single-frequency VLF, it will not conquer the challenges of detecting in wet sand and saltwater conditions. Even if you ground balance to saltwater, you may find that it does not provide significant improvements and you may be forced to adjust sensitivity and discrimination.
It’s also not fully waterproof, so you don’t want to get the control box wet. If you are submerging the searchcoil, it’s only waterproof up to 20”. It’s recommended that you purchase a cover-up for the control box to provide protection during inclement weather.
What is Noise Cancel?
When you hear erratic audio that is caused by EMI or nearby detectors operating at the same frequency, you can use the Noise Cancel feature to, well, cancel out the noise without having to perform ground balance or lower sensitivity. The 305 has three channels that you can use to reduce the effects of interference. Channels are represented with -1, 0, and +1. The channel with the quietest operation is the best channel to use in that area.
Does the Minelab 305 tell you how Deep a Target is?
There is a depth indicator on the right side of the display marked with downward pointing arrows. The more arrows that are shown indicates a deeper buried object. One arrow equals 0-2”. Two equals 2-4”. Three equals 4-6”. Four equals 6-8”. Five equals 8-10”. The depth indicator is calibrated for coins, so it may be less accurate for ferrous and junk objects.
The Minelab X-TERRA 305 may be their entry-level detector, but it’s by no means an entry-level detector by definition. Its many features prove this point, and to have it all for such a low price makes it even better. It may not be an underwater detector, but it sure as heck beats out the land-based competition.
With two frequencies and six compatible searchcoils to customize your detecting, the 305 is a high-precision instrument.