Garrett GTAx 550Price: $500
Based on 9 reviews
It has auto ground balance, good ID and depth, and is extremely easy to use, but powerful and sophisticated enough to keep once you become skllied and experienced.
It is a great all-around detector, with a primary focus of coin-shooting, which it does well.
If you are serious about one aspect of detecting, such as relics, or gold prospecting, you would probably want to invest in a dedicated single purpose, and much more expensive detector, but for most of us, in regular usage, the GTAx 550 is perfect.
Littlehugger from Baltimore
The pinpoint function works great and so does the depth reading. I really like this machine. The battery compartment can unclip from the machine and clip onto your belt making a light machine even lighter. I can't wait for warmer weather to get out and hunt some more. Hope this helps take care!
Phil from Blanch, North Carolina
Garrett GTAx 550
I found the depth gauge to be really useful for working out how large targets were as well as how deep. If, for example, you lifted the coil a foot off the ground and the depth on the gauge doubled you knew you had a very large (not coin-sized) object about a foot down.
The Garrett's Achilles heal is it's target ID/discrimination. To be fair, this has been the case with all the VDI style machines I've used. I ended up only digging signals that gave a clear bell-tone because anything less wasn't reliable.
I don't remember digging much iron though and it did pull deep coins. I think this is a slightly maligned machine, perhaps its weight gives it a toy-like quality but it really isn't.
Polly from Shropshire, England
Goods and bads with gtax550
1. Detecting the same parks that I had no problems before with my White's, it gives off a lot of erratic crackles. Turning down the sensitivity helps some, but still annoying.
2. The discrimination is not very consistent. Will still sound off in areas that were supposedly canceled out.
3. The bell tone audio ID is more of an annoyance that a help. If you scan a good target, it will give the bell tone in both directions of the sweep, but on bad targets, many times it will give a bell tone in one direction, then not in the other. So I find myself continually rechecking targets because of the bell tone, not to mention having to check the ID screen, which defeats the purpose of the audio ID to begin with. My old White's had the same feature, which wasn't that much better, but at least I could program that feature out. That's not an option with this detector.
Garrett's good point:
1. Very solid and well built. Very light and well balanced. The removable battery compartment makes it even lighter.
2. The recovery rate of the Garrett is second to none. Which can be great in trashy areas.
3. Good depth strength. Gives solid signals even on deeper targets.
4. I love the simplicity of this detector. A simple key stroke on this machine can be multiple key strokes on my White's.
I still do have a lot of faith in Garrett products,(I absolutely love their Pro Pointer) and I am sure that this detector will be just a matter of learning its language. But that was something I didn't have to do with my old Garrett. To me it goes back to the old saying, "If you've got a great product, why try fixing it?" And, as far as I'm concerned, out of the box, that 25 year old detector was better than this one.
Rick Nickolaus from Seattle, WA USA
Better than not having a metal detector.
Fanmegaman from Pismo beach, CA USA
Not too impressed
The Garrett has higher quality materials and more bells and wistles but is very unstable around here. I don't know why because the QD II does just fine even with it's preset GB. The Garrett should do better with it's auto GB.
I can't get any depth out of the Garrett because of the instability.
I'm trying to sell my Garrett on Ebay and my slightly used Tesoro Cibola should arrive here tomorrow.
I hope it doesn't let me down like the Garrett did.
Tabdog from Bryant, Arkansas
Agreed, a good unit for the money
Here are some minor criticisms of the Garrett machines I have used:
1. Jumpy target ID (though I have learned to "read between the lines" and interpret some of those strange readings. To be fair, most if not all machines will perform erratically over certain targets, like large iron).
2. Less accurate discrimination than other brands I've tried (when set to reject something, the machine still beeps and ID's targets in that range sometimes). Is my sensitivity set too high? Maybe. But I still say the Bounty Hunter, Fisher, Tesoro, and Troy detectors I have used had much cleaner discrimination.
3. Fairly poor salt water beach performance, even when sensitivity is reduced. I could never get my old GTA-500 to work at all on the beach, despite the manufacturer's claims. I have gotten the GTAx-550 to work, but I felt its performance wasn't great. I've seen other folks with cheaper Garrett detectors do okay on the beach, though. I think my lack of success there is due partially my own lack of beachcombing expertise, but not entirely so.
4. The owners' manuals I have read were long on hype and short on useful information. They provided some useful info, but they also tooted their own horn too much and gushed about the product.
Those are my only real criticisms. Everything else is good.
I have noticed that nail and bottlecap rejection on the Garrets I have used (GTA-350, GTA-500, GTAx-550, GTI-2500) is pretty good, at least in my soil conditions, and better than some other brands I've used. I've used Fishers that seemed to love nails- I guess every machine must have that one trash item it really loves. The Garretts seem to like foil- it often reads in the nickel range.
Overall I have more experience with the GTA-500 and its modern counterpart, the GTAx-550, than with any other model or brand of detector. Sure, they have their quirks, but the fact that I've used them for more than a decade should tell you something- they're good machines.
Rob Shinnick from Golden Isles of Georgia
Verty good unit for the money
John Stark from Wichita, Ks
Great Starter Machine
John F from Texas