by Merrill Kazanjian
Garrett Metal Detectors has an announcement on their website about a new product.. I for one am excited to see a picture of a man holding a metal detector with the caption "Going For Gold" atop of it. Rumor has it that there was a gold metal detector that Whites Electronics was developing before being bought out by Garrett in October of 2020.
If you scroll to the updates page on Garrett's website, it becomes more clear that it is indeed a metal detector for gold prospecting. And this is progress! Could the sleeping giant be waking up?
As a treasure hunting enthusiast, I am thrilled to see Garrett bring a new detector to market; even if it is not one that I can use! I am located in New York City and even though people have claimed to vacuum gold off of the streets of New York City, gold detectors are not really a fit in the New York detectorist's repertoire.
But, this is a huge step in the right direction for Garrett! For too long have they leaned on reselling their Ace series detectors which came to market in 2004! The newer, faster, deeper Nokta Makro Simplex arguably runs circles around the Ace series.
The AT-PRO was ground breaking in 2010 due to its versatility (fully submersible....but irrelevant in the salt) and ease of use. It went deep for the time and had modes for different types of conditions. The AT-Gold followed in 2011 and that was a puzzling machine in that the only major differences was a 18 kHz frequency compared to the 15 kHz of the AT-Pro, an adjustable threshold. a true all metal, and two discrimination settings. Detractors of this detector complained about more sensitivity to ground noise (higher frequencies pick up smaller targets) and no depth or separation advantages over the AT-Pro, which was 100-150 dollars cheaper.
The AT-Max came out in 2017 and operated at a lower frequency 13.6 kHz in the goldilocks zone of single frequency metal detectors. The goldilocks analogy, a frequency that enables the user to operate their detector at a single frequency that can "get everything"; I.E. find big targets (ideally low frequency), small targets (ideally high frequency) conductive targets (ideally low frequency) and targets with lower conductivities (ideally high frequencies). In 2017 everyone was crazy about the little extra depth that a single frequency detector, operating at a lower frequency could give you. But make no mistake, the technology was very much the more sophisticated little sibling of the AT Pro. This time it was backlit, with Z-Link, wireless headphones, but in operation, very little difference to the AT-Pro.
The XP Deus 1 was of this same generation of metal detectors, but it gave the user the ability to change frequencies and configure other settings to the ground. The Nokta Makro Anfibio Multi is essentially a souped up XP Deus minus the hot coil. Give the user the ability to change the frequency, the gain, the disc, etc.
In late 2017, while Garrett was recreating the AT-Pro...again....with the AT Max (while still pushing the archaic Ace series), Minelab was changing the game. Simultaneous multi frequency was born. Word spread fast. If you saw a detectorist at a local park or beach, chances are they were swinging the Minelab Equinox. Simultaneous multi frequency detectors have the capacity to operate at multiple frequencies simultaneously. This gives the user a wider margin for error while operating their metal detector. The 2010's saw different levels of metal detectorists; ones who struggled to understand how their machines operated and those who completely understood their tools. The Equinox was so popular because it closed that gap! Even a new detectorist (who had proper swing mechanics) could find stuff that was a pro pull years ago.
After the release of the Equinox, Garrett followed with the Ace Apex, Nokta Makro created the Legend and XP created the Deus 2. Minelab also created three Vanquish models as light versions of the Equinox.
There was a time when Garrett was the biggest player in the metal detecting industry, but it has focused too much on rebranding old detectors and not spending money on research and development. The Ace Apex was arguably a miss in dirt (great on the beach). The most blatant rebranding is the new campaign with the gentlemen from Duck Dynasty. Really? A Jase Robertson line of detectors? But one of those detectors is the goldilocks AT Max, an iteration of the AT-Pro. The Jase Robertson Apex I am ok with.
Garrett is not a publicly traded company so there is no public data on the sales of their detectors; but it has been a while since I have seen anyone swing a Garrett in popular detector sites like Prospect Park. If you look at what people swing in YouTube videos, other than sponsored stars, there is a declining number of Garrett users.
It is indeed big news that Garrett is putting out a new metal detector. The Garrett Security division has seemed to get the focus from the treasure hunting division. Charles Garrett was a legendary treasure hunter and his life work was creating Garrett Metal Detectors. It is my hope that Garrett modernize their offerings and recommit to being the great company that they once were and continue to be capable of being today.
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