Garrett AT Max Tips with Shawn “SGT Whitey” Sherrill 

Garrett AT Max Settings

If you use a Garret AT Max, have followed metal detecting, and keep tabs on Garrett metal detectors, you have probably heard of Shawn “SGT Whitey” Sherrill. He is one of the recognizable names on social media, attending metal detecting events and is a guest on various metal detecting related podcasts. 

The Garrett AT Max is a very popular metal detector. Jase Robertson’s new show and the new Jase Robertson signature edition AT Max will bring in a new wave of detectorists who will buy AT Max’s and wanting to master it. To help those detectorists who want to get better using the AT Max, I have interviewed Shawn on best practices, customizing the AT Max for various grounds and conditions, his favorite setting, troubleshooting, and more.

Shawn “SGT Whitey” Sherrill, has been metal detecting for over 20 years and has used the Garrett AT Max for 2 years. He detects mostly around Raleigh, North Carolina, and is versed in detecting woods, fields, parks, beaches, and shallow water. Some of his more interesting finds include: a Civil War Box plate, a Pre-Civil War NC Militia button (1 of less than 8 known to exist), a large 14k golden cross, a 1913 class ring, a Rev War bar shot, and lots of ring recoveries. A Sergeant of the United States Marine Corps, in which he proudly served for 8.5 years. 

Photos of some of Shawn “SGT Whitey” Sherrill metal detecting finds.

Below are my At Max questions, some of our readers’ questions, and his answers.

Garrett AT Max General Best Practices

Do you like to auto or manual ground balance? Also, how often do you ground balance when you are detecting a location or new ground? I use both and I will ground balance often, especially if I think I’ve changed into a different soil type.

Some detectorists do a full factory reset every time they move to a new location and ground to get neutral ground balance. Their reasoning is that ground balance is a filter and can rob them if applied aggressively. What are your thoughts on this? I only do a reset when I am switching coils. I don’t usually do it at every new site.

The AT Max is known for depth. What is the best setting for maximum depth? Yes, it is for sure. I usually run my SENS at about 7-8. 9-10 if I am in a wide open field with not a lot of trash. Using the big Reaper coil, too.

What does it mean if you are getting high-toned signals, no VDI number, and when you pinpoint the items, you can’t? But if you swing over it, you get the high tone again? The only thing I can think of that might do that is big deep iron. Like an axe head or plow point.

Are there any aftermarket coils or accessories you recommend for the AT Max? No, not really. I use the Viper, Reaper, 5×8, and standard Garret coil.

Garrett AT Max, Metal Detecting for Relics and Old Coin 

In very trashy areas, relic hunting, or old coin detecting with the AT Max, what are the best settings? I pretty much run the same settings for everything. I run in zero mode, sens about 7-10 depending on the trash and area I want to cover. I use the Viper coil mostly, but use the 5×8 too.

If you are searching specifically for Civil War bullets, what are the best settings for the AT Max? Again, I use the same settings for all. If I am digging a Civil War site. I am digging everything VDI 40 and up that repeats or hints that something is there.

What do you feel is the best setting to find silver coins that are deep on their sides? I use zero mode and dig everything at least VDI 50 and above if not 40-50 too. The only way I wouldn’t dig that range is if I was at a park with lots of trash.

Garret AT Max, Metal Detecting Beaches

For dry sand detecting with the AT Max, looking for jewelry, what are the best custom settings? Zero mode for me, digging VDI 40 and above. Gold rings up in such a broad range. Dig it all! If it repeats, dig it! 

What are the best settings when using the AT Max at the beach where there is wet black sand that is also referred to as hot mineralized soil or mineralized sand? I haven’t used the AT MAX at the beach yet. As for the wet black sand area. I would probably stay away from it. The mineralization in that wet sand is very high.

I hope Shawn “SGT Whitey” Sherrill’s answers give Garrett AT Max users some more insight into using the detector and achieve getting deeper, better finds. I would like to thank Shawn for the detailed answers he gave. It is time to put some of his AT Max detecting tips into action and discover some impressive finds.

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  1. I have been hunting with the MAX since day one of its release. I wanted to comment on hunting in damp/wet sand at the beach. With the MAX I have found that manual ground balance WAY down is best in wet sand, along with around half power (3-4 bars). Bring a coin and a ring down with you and put them 4 inches down and see how you did with the settings. Adjust as needed. The MAX isn’t great in wet sand, but it can do the job decently. I found a fat gold ring and lots of clad and fishing weights using this method. Happy hunting!

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