The Garrett Axiom detector, designed for gold nugget hunting, is also used by relic hunters as a relic detector. I am interviewing Steve Moore, Director of Marketing at Garrett, to learn about the Axiom. As most know, Steve is an avid detectorist and, in his spare time, has authored over 20 books on World War II and Texas History. He has spent many hours metal detecting with the Axiom, from gold nugget hunting to relic hunting. He has traveled, using the Axiom detector, around the world in various soil conditions. From using it where very tiny gold nuggets are found in Tibooburra, Australia, to hunting for relics in the difficult mineralized United States Virginia soil.
I have heard great things about the Garrett Axiom detector from detectorists around the globe who own an Axiom or have tried using one, saying that they are impressed. During development, Garrett listened to testers’ feedback and took their time to engineer a quality, rugged, light, ergonomic, well-designed machine. For detectors in the gold nugget prospecting class, it is lightweight, collapsible, easy to transport, and engineered to find tiny gold nuggets, but it also can be used as a relic or coin detector. To some, it might be expensive; however, the Axiom is a comparable price to other detectors with similar technology designed for gold nugget hunting.
Below are my questions and Steve’s answers.
Rumors on metal detecting forums say that Minelab sold their older Pulse Induction (PI) patents to Whites, and when Garrett acquired Whites, they used Minelab patents to make the Axiom. Can you elaborate on this? Is it true?
This is certainly not true, but it is a bit humorous. We’re not aware, nor would we believe, that Minelab ever sold any Pulse Induction patents to Whites. And even though Garrett now owns the rights to Whites patents and technologies, none of that was used in the development of the Axiom. The Axiom is the next evolutionary step in two decades-worth of Garrett’s own proprietary development of advanced, multi-pulse/multi-channel, PI technologies; not Minelab’s, not Whites, nor anyone else’s.
For those in the forums who are pointing out that the patents used for the Garrett Axiom are “older” patents, which means it is “older technology,” what can you say to them?
If the person posting this is implying that Garrett picked up or licensed “old” technology from another manufacturer, that would be incorrect. Garrett had been developing its own, unique PI platforms for more than twenty years. The advanced developments in Axiom far exceed the current technology in competitors, so we certainly didn’t pick up old Whites technology for the Axiom. And we certainly have nothing to do with Minelab technology in our product development. We are not working from old, expired patents by any means.
Can you explain the difference between a dual-channel PI machine and a single-channel PI machine and explain to our readers which one the Garrett Axiom is? Your manual states it is “Ultra Pulse™ Technology” what does that exactly mean?
So, we have a couple different things being described in the question above. The Axiom’s Ultra Pulse Technology is absolutely a step up for performance. How so?
Ultra Pulse = Faster and more advanced timings, more advanced coil, circuitry and system designs, and more advanced digital signal processing and analysis… all of which results in advanced performance and capabilities, including…
- substantially increased sensitivity to fine gold, with field testers finding nuggets as small as .03 grams.
- advanced ground balance capabilities exceeding anything else on the market, including its unique ability to ground balance out hot ground and hot rocks simultaneously using Garrett’s exclusive Ground Balance Window™ or Notch feature, available only in Garrett products.
- along with a comprehensive ground balance adjustment range from highly ferrous ironstone all the way to saltwater, allowing the Axiom to operate where other high-end detectors can’t,
- as well as best-in-class EMI cancellation, again allowing the Axiom to operate near powerlines and other noisy areas where others can’t.
- along with several selectable timing modes, each engineered for a specific purpose, plus additional advanced capabilities.
Regarding single-channel vs multi-channel detection technologies… the Axiom is definitely an advanced multi-pulse/multi-channel system. Single-pulse/single-channel units, of which there are a few on the market, have a fundamental shortcoming and limitation in their detection capabilities. Specifically, single-pulse/single-channel units have significant loss of detection for targets within a certain conductivity range based on the detector’s current ground balance setting.
This is essentially a “gap” or a “notch,” similar to notching out a target on a VLF detector that is not desired. This “notch” or “gap” in the target detection profile occurs because, for any given ground, there is a corresponding narrow range of target conductivities that have the same eddy-current decay rate as the ground; in other words, the ground and target’s decay rates match. Therefore, when a single-channel detector ground balances out–or cancels out– the ground, it also cancels out these corresponding targets. This is easily demonstrated on these single-pulse/single-channel detectors where, for any arbitrary ground and ground balance setting, I can easily find a target that will match that ground setting and the target will fall into this “gap” and not be detected. Just think of all the targets people have missed over the years because of this little-known fact.
In contrast, the Axiom’s advanced multi-pulse/multi-channel system resolves this issue by essentially analyzing targets and grounds from multiple different perspectives to ensure there is never a “gap” in the target detection profile, regardless of the ground or ground balance settings.
The Garrett Axiom has Iron Check, which we all know is a good feature for those who hunt relics and old coins, especially in trashy areas. Should gold nugget users use it, or is this for the detectorists using Axiom for relic detecting specifically?
Iron Check is a helpful tool, but it is conservative by design. It only works with our DD coils (if you try it with a Mono coil, you’ll hear a warning alarm). Iron Check does work on larger iron and stronger signals. This means it will have value for relic hunters to avoid certain iron targets, especially shallow, large ironer.
Very small iron and weak iron targets (including extremely deep targets) may not identify as iron. This is to help ensure that gold prospectors do not skip over a potential gold nugget target in highly mineralized ground. Examples of iron targets that will produce the iron tone buzz or “grunt” are a 3-inch nail to a depth of about five inches, and a ¾-inch boot nail to a depth of about 2 inches.
Iron Check is intended to help you avoid digging some iron with a pulse detector. But I would always advise, “when in doubt, dig it out.” Better safe than sorry. It doesn’t take long to dig one more plug! Non-ferrous or weak targets will produce normal tones, or may even go silent. The less grunting or buzzing I hear from Iron Check, the more I want to dig that target.
The Iron Check only works with Garrett DD coils, not the Mono coil. Can you explain to our readers the tech and why?
I’m not a scientist here, but I can just tell you what I basically know. The way mono configuration searchcoils are designed, they can’t provide the information that is required to properly analyze a target for iron content. The way a DD coil operates makes it far more effective in giving Iron Check results. On the Axiom, if you push the Iron Check button while you are running a Mono coil, you will simply get a warning beep that indicates that this function is not valid. DD coils generally tolerate higher sensitivity, so when is it right to use the Mono coil? What conditions is it best for? In prospecting, DD coils are usually brought into play to help overcome the most severely mineralized soil. They offer a uniform, tip-to-tail “hotspot” down the centerline of the coil, due to their overlapping Transmit and Receive coils. Prospectors prefer to use Mono format searchcoils, which are generally “hotter” overall in terms of greater Sensitivity. The Mono coils are more prevalent in searching for sub-gram size gold nuggets. Due to their design characteristics, Mono coils tend to be easy to use to pinpoint off the edges of the coil. With Garrett’s Axiom, this traditional thinking is muddied by the introduction of Axiom’s DD-FC searchcoil format. Each Axiom DD coil has the traditional ground-canceling effect from tip to tail, but also include a unique, centralized hotspot. This interior zone acts almost like a small sniper coil, providing greater punch than a Mono coil within this region. So, it’s like having the best of both worlds. With the Axiom, it become a matter of preference and a matter of where you hunt. A Mono coil is always going to be sharp overall, and it will allow you to pinpoint off the sides. This means you can sneak the coil up against rocks and tailing piles a little easier to get tiny nuggets.
Currently, there are six different coils from Garrett for the Axiom (11” x 7” Mono coil, 11” x 7” DD coil, 13” x 11” Mono coil, 13” x 11” DD coil, 16” x 14” Mono coil, 16” x 14” DD coil). Do you know if any third-party coil vendors will be releasing coils for the Axiom?
I’m not aware of any that are in the works, but time will tell.
What are the smallest gold nuggets it can find, and how deep?
I can speak for what I’ve seen. The smallest was 0.03 grams, a super-tiny nugget that was less than one grain size. This and others only slightly bigger, 0.06 gram for example, were picked up at shallow depths (less than 2 inches in very mineralized ground). We dug other nuggets at four to six inches, but they were slightly larger. Our field testers so far have been very impressed with the depth and performance of Axiom on the smallest of gold.
The Axiom isn’t fully waterproof; it is waterproof up to the control box. This is okay for wading in water but not submerging the control box. In addition, it states it is fully rain resistant. The technology seems like it would be a good PI beach machine, especially for saltwater beaches with heavy black sand. Often saltwater beaches with large amounts of black sand also have waves, and one good wave is known to ruin detectors without waterproof control boxes. In Garrett’s roadmap, are there any plans to release a new PI waterproof machine or even a case to make the control box waterproof?
I have used the Axiom in the rain, and have not had a problem. You are correct about taking chances in saltwater with that “one good wave.” I agree that a submersible version PI detector like this would certainly cover some wish lists for the saltwater hunters. Axiom was primarily designed for gold prospecting, and secondarily for relic/coin hunting in mineralized soil regions. I’m not aware of a current plan to make a waterproof cover for it, but I’ll share the interest in a fully submersible Axiom-type PI detector with our design engineers.
What are the differences between the M2 & M3 headphones?
These are the same style of headphone, with comfortable ear cuffs that fully cover the ear to block wind and external noise. The MS-2 variants (AT version and regular) simply plug straight into the detector with a cord connecting the headphone to your detector. The Garrett Z-Lynk MS-3 headphones are wireless, meaning they have a built-in receiver to pick up the target signals and audio transmitted by the Axiom. MS-3 headphones allow you the freedom to dig targets without being attached to your detector.
I have read that the GARRETT Wireless Signal Receiver WR-1 Z-Lynk, is an excellent purchase for Garrett Axiom owners. Are there any other accessories that you think Garrett Axiom owners should consider?
The WR-1 wireless receiver is simply an accessory that allows you to use you favorite pair of wired headphones. This could be one of the popular detecting headphones that are out there, or even a pair of earbuds that you plug into the WR-1 unit. When I used a WR-1 Z-Lynk box, I tuck it into my shirt pocket or attach it to my dig pouch.
Is there anything else that you would like to tell those considering purchasing a Garrett Axiom metal detector? Is there anything I didn’t touch on above that you wished I had addressed?
I would just say to people getting into it that Axiom is a professional prospector’s machine. That means that its Sensitivity default level is 4. That sounds like half-throttle, but I found that I could dig most targets I found without a problem at 4. You want your machine to run as smooth as possible. But some veteran users want to push the limits, to find deeper targets or ones that have been missed before. Even in hot soil, I’ve had no problems pushing the Axiom to Sensitivity level 8.
An analogy for this is the sports car someone buys that can go 180 mph. Most of us will never go there, but I guess it’s good to know it’s there. With Axiom, you have the ability to push the detection deeper. If you find it to “chattery” or unstable in a particular region, simply drop the Sensitivity back a couple clicks. It’s not for everyone, but it’s there!
Aside from being a hot machine, I like that Axiom includes an emergency battery power pack. Just bring it along, with some spare batteries. If you don’t have the chance to recharge your Axiom in the field, just push in the power back and run off “AA” batteries.
I want to thank Steve Moore from Garett for answering my questions and giving us a better insight into the Axiom metal detector.
Joanna Jana Laznicka, a Czech-Canadian residing in Southern California, is passionate about all things associated with metal detecting. She mainly detects on the West Coast, from Southern California to Northern British Columbia. As the founder of Focus Speed, her goal is to bring quality content to metal detectorists.