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Are you considering buying a metal detector? Do you know how to start searching for a good unit? Both the Garrett and Minelab names are big when it comes to metal detectors, exhibiting some of the best features you’d look for in a scanner. If you’re in the market for one, then these two are good options – regardless of whether you’re new or an old hand at metal detecting. Here’s what you need to know about these two models.
Lets dive into a comprehensive review and put all the myths to the sword and see who emerges victorious!
Table of Contents
A Thorough Comparison
Similar Features of the Minelab CTX 3030 and the Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector
First, let’s look into the features present in both models and the slight differences in how these features are used.
1. Wireless Audio
Both models come with proprietary headphones that perfectly match their respective models. Featuring ergonomic designs, the audio component for both units are meant to be used for long periods of use. One slight difference though – the CTX 3030 features wireless headphones while the Garrett AT Pro comes with a wired setup. In terms of comfort, you can rely on the CTX 3030 because the non-wired build means there’s no fear of creating tangles. This is perfect when scanning through a bushy or rough terrain.
On the flipside however, wired headphones are more reliable because of the instantaneous hum of the metal detector once it is triggered by a target metal.
2. 11 Inch Double D Smart Coil
Oddly enough, both the CTX 3030 and the AT Pro come with coils of the same size. The impact of coils on the overall use of the metal detector is linked with area coverage. A larger coil means you’ll be able to scan through a larger area each time – allowing for a quicker movement through the terrain.
3. Quality Iron Discrimination Features
Iron is a fairly common metal that makes up lots items up to and including bottle caps. This is why most metal detectors come with iron discrimination features which tells the user whether they’re detecting iron or some other type of metal. This is crucial because you don’t want to waste precious effort in digging underground only to find that the item underneath is essentially trash.
Fortunately, both models come with this feature. The AT Pro comes with High-Res Iron Discrimination with a distinct Iron Audio sound that tells you if you found this particular metal underneath. This makes it very useful in low-trash areas to help you concentrate your effort only on valuable finds.
The CTX 3030 on the other hands boasts of the Ultimate FeCo Discrimination feature which is basically the same thing. The beauty of this is that combined with the model’s Target ID features, the CTX 3030 can locate and identify metals underneath the iron. Hence, if there’s jewelry buried under a bottle cap, this will register on the LCD screen so that you’ll know that there’s something worth digging there even with the iron.
4. Sensitivity of the Metal Detector
Sensitivity talks about the ability of the metal detector to detect even the smallest precious metals underneath the ground. Both models come with this feature, but CTX 3030 is marginally better with 30 adjustments, both auto and manual. This means that when scanning, you can easily make the necessary changes to locate even the smallest pieces of desired metal. In contrast, the Garrett AT Pro comes only with 8 sensitivity adjustments.
5. Detection Modes and Pinpointer
The CTX 3030 comes with more detection modes than the AT Pro, numbering at a total of 10 possible customizable modes. Of these five, there are 5 presets which includes Coins, Beach, High Trash, Silver, and Relics. In contrast, the AT Pro comes with just five modes: Custom, Coins Professional, Coins Standard, Zero Standard, Zero Professional and Pinpoint. This obviously puts the CTX 3030 above and beyond what the Garrett AT Pro can do in terms of its ability to detect particular types of metal.
However, the AT Pro has something that CTX 3030 doesn’t – it has a pinpointer. This is a useful function which essentially narrows down the target area, telling users exactly where to dig so that they’d find the object triggering the hum. This is very useful when it comes to small finds and significantly reduces the non-essential digging process.
6. Ground Balancing
Both units come with ground balancing auto and manual features. This matters when the unit is being used on a highly-mineralized surface or a coastal surface.
7. Waterproof Feature
Both products can be used on saltwater and freshwater with a sensitivity even in these conditions of up to 10 feet. When it comes to this therefore, there’s absolutely no difference between the two in terms of physical depth. The distinction happens when we talk about the sensitivity of the CTX 3030 and the Garrett AT Pro which talks about up to what depth they can detect target metals when buried underground.
8. Detection Depth
Detection depth is a feature that tells you how far underground the detector can scan for target metals such as coins, relics, and jewelry. There’s a marked difference between the two here with CTX 3030 managing to go up to 17 inches in depth when it comes to coins. For bigger objects however, it has a higher sensitivity of 40 inches. In comparison, the AT Pro has just a slightly lower detection depth of 15 inches. In the grand scheme of things, there’s not much difference between these two.
9. All Terrain
All units are made for an all-terrain setup. This means that you can bring it anywhere with you on any ground surface. The fact that both units are equipped with automatic and manual ground balancing compounds the effectiveness of the units on an all-terrain setting.
10. Battery Indicator
The last thing you want to happen when scanning through rich terrain is for the battery to go out when you least expect it. Fortunately, both the CTX 3030 and the AT Pro come with convenient battery indicators on the large LCD display, telling you exactly when it’s time to swap it out for fresh batteries. The power source of the two are slightly different however with the CTX 3030 operating on a Li-On power source and the AT Pro working on AA batteries. It’s a good thing that both can be easily found in stores.
Pros & Cons Of Both Models
Minelab CTX 3030
Garrett AT Pro
Differences Between CTX 3030 and the Garrett AT Pro
A huge difference between these two models is the fact that the Minelab CTX 3030 is way more expensive than the Garrett AT Pro. The Garrett is priced around 700USD while the CTX 3030 tops off at $2500, making it three times more expensive than the Garrett.
LCD Color Display
GPS Tracking, PC Mapping with Google Maps
This particular feature is unique is to CTX 3030 and allows the user to automatically track their searched areas and found areas. This is done by giving you data points that can be crosschecked with Google Maps so you’ll find out exactly what points you’ve scanned through and in which those areas that you found valuable metal. While it’s not a necessary feature, it definitely helps users keep track of where they’ve been so there’s no need to go over the same ground. Even better, viewing your activity through a convenient map lets you find patterns of hotspots or notice areas that you’ve missed scanning through.
In terms of frequency, the CTX 3030 offers a more adjustment-friendly setup that can go from 1.5 to 100 kHz, depending on your needs. This lets you scan for specific items of all types as opposed to the Garrett AT Pro which is locked in at 15 kHz. If you’re a serious hobbyist, then a unit with an adjustable and higher frequency would be the better option to help you find more valuable prospects like gold.
The CTX 3030 has the distinction of having a user upgradeable firmware or software. This is a feature that you can’t find in the AT Pro and frankly, in many other models of metal detector. Since this Minelab model is heavily customizable, it can actually be set up to find very specific types of metals – making it perfect for targeted strikes or for professional and industrial use.
To wrap it up, the Minelab CTX 3030 and the Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector are both good choices. The final decision really depends on what you need and, of course, what kind of budget you’re working with. If you’re completely new to metal detecting and just want a hardy unit that will let you get used to this new hobby, you can’t go wrong with the Garrett AT Pro. It offers all the essential features without bogging you down with too many concerns while still staying within the affordable range. If you’re here for the long-haul and want something that will last – go with the Minelab CTX 3030. If money is no object, Minelab is the one you want.