Garrett’s pinpointers are some of the most popular, rugged, and reliable units on the market. But they offer three different models in their Pro Pointer series – which is suitable for you and your detecting style?
Garrett released its first iteration of the Pro Pointer back in 2008, later followed by the Pro Pointer II. The main drawback of these pinpointers for many detectorists was that they were water-resistant rather than waterproof, a problem solved by introducing the Pro Pointer AT in 2015. This model was further updated in 2017 when a version of the Pro Pointer compatible with Z-Lynk technology (Garrett’s wireless audio system) was released in conjunction with the AT Max.
Sensitivity in pinpointers is a critical issue and can be a bit of a tightrope walk. While a reasonably sensitive machine, the Pro Pointer II does not boast the adjustable sensitivity of the Pro Pointer AT. The more recent model can be set to one of three sensitivity settings and can also operate in different audio modes: sound only, sound and vibration, or vibration only (not available on the Pro Pointer II). Not all detectorists may need sensitivity adjustment, but it can come in handy. I have found it helpful to have my pinpointer on the highest sensitivity setting when chasing deep targets that might still be a few inches below the bottom of my initial hole. Just remember the higher your sensitivity the less battery life you’ll get.
One handy feature of all three of these machines is retuning. This is like an automatic ground balancing feature in a full-size metal detector but simplified for use with a pinpointer. Retuning has two primary benefits. Firstly, retuning will adjust your pinpointer to work correctly in unfavorable ground conditions, namely mineralized soil or saltwater. Secondly, suppose you have a large target that you’re struggling to pinpoint due to its size overwhelming your machine. In that case, retuning will temporarily reduce the pinpointer’s sensitivity and allow you to pinpoint it more effectively. But how do you retune, you ask? With the Pro Pointer II, you hold the unit’s tip towards the ground or target and turn it off and back on. With the Pro Pointer AT models, you press the button once, and it will retune for you.
One of the selling points of Garrett’s metal detectors for hobbyists has consistently been their user-friendly design, and their pinpointers are no different. Both the Pro Pointer II and the Pro Pointer AT models have only a single-button operation that turns the unit on and off, adjusts settings, and retunes your pinpointer on the go. The operation of the Pro Pointer II is somewhat more straightforward than the Pro Pointer AT simply because the latter has more features, such as adjustable sensitivity. Thus the single button has more to do. But both units are intuitive and easy to use. Even a cursory look at the instruction manual will have one operating their pinpointer like an old hand.
The Pro Pointer II is water-resistant rather than waterproof. However, many users dealt with this by waterproofing the power button on their Pro Pointers before releasing the “Garrett Carrot.” The release of this newer model made these types of modifications unnecessary, as the Pro Pointer AT is waterproof to a depth of 10 feet, making it suitable for just about any water detecting short of scuba diving.
Considering all the additional features offered by the Pro Pointer AT, the price is not significantly higher than the Pro Pointer II. Most retailers offer the newer model for only about $20 more, a pretty good value for money when considering the features and updates. That being said, detectorists who are solely hunting on land with no intention of hunting beaches or streams might safely opt to save a few bucks by choosing the earlier model. The Pro Pointer AT with Z-Lynk capability is the most expensive of the lot, running about $35 more than the Pro Pointer II and $15 more than the standard Pro Pointer II.
Which is best for you?
So which of these pinpointers is right for you? For the detectorist planning on doing water hunting in rivers, creeks, saltwater, the Pro Pointer AT is a must-have. It’s also great if you just want to detect in the rain. As mentioned previously, if you hunt land exclusively and want to save a little, you would probably be alright with the Pro Pointer II, but keep in mind that getting caught in a torrential downpour or dropping your pinpointer into a deep puddle could spell disaster. Those already using a Z-Lynk compatible machine and headphones may find spending a few extra bucks to link all your detecting devices a no-brainer wirelessly.
Garrett’s pinpointers, especially the Pro Pointer AT, have essentially become the standard for hobbyist metal detecting with good reason. They’re easy to learn and use, are full of features, and are available at a reasonable price point. Which offers the best bang for your buck? I hope this overview helped you understand the differences between these models.
You may also be interested in our complete guide to the best pinpointers.