Garrett Metal Detectors entered into its second half century of producing industry-leading metal detection equipment in 2015. Opening the doors of their new business in 1964, Charles Garrett and his wife Eleanor started to produce a line of metal detectors that quickly became synonymous with performance and quality. As the competition fell short of the standard that the Garrett line had set, the field began to thin out and Charles's team pressed forward with new and innovative products not only geared towards the hobbyist but eventually the security and military users as well. In 2008, the company introduced the Pro-Pointer which made treasure hunters worldwide take notice. Pinpointers had been around for years but they were clunky, difficult to operate and not very dependable in the field. As a result, most experienced detectorists opted to ignore the offerings on the market feeling that their pinpointing abilities did not require the use of an electronic aid to find a target. That all changed when the Pro-Pointer was released. Rugged, sensitive and easy to use, even the most experienced hunters found the Pro-Pointer to be an invaluable accessory for virtually all types of treasure hunting. Over time, other manufacturers started to produce pinpointers that looked similar to the Pro-Pointer but the Garrett remained the #1 seller worldwide when it came to handheld pinpointers. Not willing to rest on their laurels, Garrett released the next generation of pinpointers called the Pro-Pointer AT in 2015. The AT moniker stands for All-Terrain and with this comes a pinpointer that provides the functionality and dependability of the Pro-Pointer in a waterproof shell along with several other unique features that will be covered in this Field Test report. Having used the Pro-Pointer since it was first introduced, I was interested to see how the newest addition to the Garrett line compared to what I refer to as "ol' Faithful" thanks to the benefits it has provided and its overall reliability.
The first thing that strikes one as they unpack the Pro-Pointer AT is its color - a bright orange -which is intended to ensure it can be seen even when used in murky water. Other than the color and the addition of an embossed ruler on one side, it appears virtually identical to the standard Pro-Pointer. However, after reading some of the literature provided by Garrett with the unit, I could see that the differences were internal and looking at the features list, were noteworthy as well.
To start with, the new Pro-Pointer AT now offers three Sensitivity levels which can be adjusted through a few taps of the large button on the side of the housing. Having the ability to decrease the unit's sensitivity eliminates falsing based on ground mineralization or reduces detection depth if you want maximum target separation. Being able to increase the sensitivity ensures you can detect a target well before you inadvertently hit it with your digging tool. Having seen some extremely valuable finds damaged during their recovery over the years (but of course it never happened to me), having as much warning as to a targets location is invaluable and the Pro-Pointer AT gives you that information.
Another feature that reflects Garrett's willingness to listen to feedback from end-users is the ability to choose from two scan modes - Audio + Vibrate or Vibrate Only. There were times with the Pro-pointer where you really did not want be the Pied Piper and attract attention with the audio response it produced as you approached a target and many of us ensured we either had our thumb or a piece of tape pressed over the internal speaker before turning it on in a crowded location. The Pro-Pointer AT allows you to turn off the audio in such sites as well as when you are underwater opting to rely on vibration to find the detected target. Again, selecting the scan mode is accomplished through the use of the main button by holding it down to enter the adjustment mode and then choosing the desired scan mode and sensitivity level.
The Fast Retune function was provided to help reduce or eliminate the falsing that highly mineralized soil or salt water can produce as well as aid in pinpointing larger targets that tend to overload pinpointers as the tip gets close to the object. As described in the Field Test portion below, if you turn the Pro-Pointer AT on and bring the tip towards the ground, pressing & quickly releasing the main button will retune the pinpointer to the conditions it sees and ignore the adverse effects the conditions can cause. The same process can be used to zero-in on larger targets by performing the retune process as you approach the target and repeating as needed to shrink the signal to a small area which will be the point of the greatest mass.
The two final features of note on the Pro-Pointer AT include the Lost Pinpointer Alarm and the Auto-Off Function. While the orange color makes misplacing the Pro-Pointer AT difficult if not impossible on a well manicured lawn, an overgrown site or heavy woods are another story altogether. You would be amazed at how many pinpointers have been lost over the years in just these conditions! Well Garrett wanted to make sure that people did not lose their Pro-Pointer AT's so they added a Lost Pinpointer Alarm which will cause it to start chirping after being on for 5 minutes and the button not being pressed. This allows someone that might have dropped it to find it by the sounds even in heavy underbrush. The Auto-Off Function will turn the unit off after 1 hour of chirping to save the battery. It should be noted that the initial run of Pro-Pointer AT's had a 5-minute window before the Auto-Off function powered it down but based on further review, this was extended to one hour allowing plenty of time to find a lost pinpointer. The combination of the two functions gives you time to find a lost pinpointer yet will not keep chirping for hours in the trunk of your car if you put it away without turning it off. Steve Moore, Garrett's Director or Marketing & Communications, summed up the Lost Pinpointer Alarm function when he said, "I'd rather buy a new battery than a pinpointer"
Rounding out the package is a durable nylon holster that fits most belts including military style web belts commonly used by detectorists. While I had never considered that it had been used for a specific reason, the metal snap on the holster that holds the strap in-place alerts you if you place the Pro-Pointer AT back in the holster without turning it off.
Unlike a field test done using a metal detector where I try to hit sites that have either been heavily searched or where targets are deep to see just what the detector is capable of, my test of the Pro-Pointer AT was intended to see how it handled various ground conditions and how useful it was in recovering targets without damage.
Unfortunately with Daylight Savings time still being a week or two off and the weather in Tennessee being far from predictable this Winter, I had limited time in the evening during the week to do any detecting and test the Pro-Pointer AT. Several of the sites I visited were areas where targets tended to be deep and were often entwined in a mass of rocks and tree roots. The Pro-Pointer AT felt like as they say, "an old friend" in that other than the color, it felt like the Pro-Pointer I had come to depend on. I bumped the Sensitivity up to the highest level and based on the distance at which I was able to detect targets, could see that it was hitting them about 1/2 inch deeper than the original Pro-Pointer. With the limited light I had to hunt in, the built-in LED light was quite useful in finding targets in the loose dirt or embedded in the edge of the holes.
My wife Charlene and I took a weekend trip to Charleston to see my daughter and do a little detecting at some of the sites in the area. The first site we hit was a small neighborhood park in an older yet less-desirable neighborhood of the city. Knowing that the area had seen activity as far back as the late 1700's, we knew there was the potential to make some great finds. Finding signals was not the problem as there were multiple targets under the coil on each sweep. Unfortunately, even with a smaller coil, pinpointing and separating targets was a challenge. This is where the Pro-Pointer AT came into its own. After removing a plug, a quick scan of the hole located individual targets both in the plug as well as still in the sides and bottom of the hole. In several cases we recovered 4 or 5 targets from a 6-inch diameter hole ranging from recently discarded screw caps and pulltabs to Civil War vintage coins and relics. The Pro-Pointer AT saved us time and in the case of an 1862 Seated Dime recovered from alongside a solid pile of buried oyster shells and a pair of wine bottle caps, helped prevent damaging the better finds made at the site.
The next site we visited was Folly Beach which is a popular stretch of beach on the Atlantic Ocean. We timed the tide right and it was almost all the way out when we arrived. Hunting the now-exposed wet sand region, signals were few and far between so in order to test the Pro-Pointer AT, I started recover marginal signals. Opening a hole with my long-handled scoop, I checked the hole and saw the target now was in the pile of wet sand. Switching the Pro-Pointer AT on and approaching the pile, I found that it started reacting to black sand / saltwater as soon as the tip touched the sand. Tapping the main button, the Fast Retune circuit quickly eliminated the falsing and allowed me to easily find the target - a zinc penny that was corroded literally in half. I used the Pro-Pointer AT to locate a few targets that were still in the hole which had refilled with salt water. As I had done with the wet sand pile, by immersing the unit in the water and using the Fast Retune feature, the salt was ignored and the target located. As a note, I found the lowest sensitivity level provided the more stable operation when submerging the Pro-Pointer AT in the salt water. Considering the temperatures - both air and water - were less than inviting in February, I was not up to wading out to see how the Pro-Pointer AT worked in deeper water but I did find a 2-foot deep tidal pool that let me see how it handled full submergence. Tossing a coin into the pool I found that the vibrate function worked like a champ allowing me to easily locate the coin that had sunk into the loose sandy bottom. Letting go of the probe, I saw that it floated with the battery end up which ensures if you are using it in the water that you won't lose it if it slips from your hand. I made a mental note to attach a tether when I took it shallow water hunting after the weather warmed up.
The original Pro-Pointer set the standard for what a handheld pinpointer should be in terms of design and performance and as a result, it became the "must have" accessory for a majority of treasure hunters worldwide. The Pro-Pointer AT takes that now-legendary performance to the next level with increased & variable sensitivity, a retune function, lost pinpointer alarm, auto shutoff function and most notably, waterproof construction submersible to 10 feet. After using it at a wide range of sites, I found that the Pro-Pointer AT makes itself even more of a "must have" accessory than its predecessor. It's the accessory that the more you use it, the more you wonder how you got along without one and on more than one occasion I found myself turning around and heading back to the house to get mine after leaving it on the workbench. It is an ideal companion for beach and relic hunters that go from the dry land into water and want to be able to quickly recover targets they have found with their detectors. With the increasing number of waterproof detectors that are available today, the Pro-Pointer AT makes the ideal companion as it can be used alongside them without worrying about the possible impact water might have on it.
The Pro-Pointer AT lists for $149.95 and comes with a 2-year limited parts and labor factory warranty. For more information on the new Pro-Pointer AT or to request a copy of Garrett’s Product Catalog contact the factory at (972) 494-6151 or 1881 West State Street, Garland, TX 75042 or check out their website with on-line videos, a data sheet and the manual for the Pro-Pointer AT at www.garrett.com. Be sure to mention you read about the new Pro-Pointer AT in Lost Treasure Magazine.