Relic Hunting with the Garrett Axiom, Interview Rusty Curry
Even though the Garrett Axiom was engineered as a gold nugget metal detector, detectorists have successfully used it as a relic and coin hunting machine. The Axiom detector does well in mineralized soil, sand, and clay, where many standard detectors would struggle.
Two advanced recognized detectorists who have good things to say about the Axiom as a relic detector are Steve Herschbach, owner of Detector Prospector Forum, and YouTuber Aquachigger. I read Steve H.’s forum and his thoughts on the Axiom impressed me. Watching Aquachigger’s reaction to metal detecting a pounded civil war battlefield with the Axiom and finding old bullets that were deep and missed by him and other detectorists made me want to learn more about the Garrett Axiom as a relic detector.
The Axiom is a pulse induction (PI) metal detector that has Garrett’s “Ultra Pulse” and “Terra-Scan” Technology, making it work in the most difficult mineralized soils and salt beds. In addition, the Axiom is a well-balanced, lightweight detector designed with ergonomics in mind to swing with bigger coils (16″x14″, 13″x 11″, 11″x7″, DD, and Mono coils) for hours. Garrett’s representatives stated it is lighter to swing than the AT Max.
Rusty Curry, Garrett’s Application Advisor, has been metal detecting for over 26 years. He has spent several hours using the Garrett Axiom to gold nugget and relic hunt. Rusty is letting me interview him to learn more about the relic hunting capabilities of the Garrett Axiom. Below are my relic hunting Axiom questions and his answers.
How hard will the learning curve be for those who have upgraded from midrange detectors, such as the AT Pro, AT Max, or ACE Apex to the Axiom?
Garrett is known for ease of use and simplicity in their detector design. Using the Garrett Axiom will be just as simple and intuitive as any Garrett metal detector has ever been. Persons that have handled the prior Garrett detectors will immediately recognize the touchpad and user friendly and efficient controls that Garrett has employed on the Axiom. Each unit comes with an easy-to-understand Quick Start Guide that effectively covers all the basics and will have the operator turning on the detector and searching immediately. Keep in mind that the Axiom, like all Pulse Induction metal detectors, is an All Metal mode detector and therefore produces continuous audio signals. An experienced operator will soon learn to distinguish random background noise from repeatable target signals.
How deep are detectorists finding relics and coins with the Garrett Axiom?
The Axiom is a very sensitive and deep machine. In my personal experiences thus far with the Axiom, I have recovered many targets from the surface to 10”+ depths regularly in extreme soil conditions in the US, both east and west coast locations. The majority of my finds have been relics to date. However, other field testers are reporting many deep finds. Notable items of interest are civil war bullets being recovered at 15-17” depths, in very mineralized soil conditions.
For relic hunting, would the DD coil be better over the Mono coil? Why or why not? It sounds like the DD Coil would be better because you can use it with Iron Check, but are there any times the Mono Coil would be better for relic hunting?
My preference has been using the DD coil in my relic hunting trips, as I do appreciate the option of utilizing the Iron Check feature on the DD coil while relic hunting. Numerous locations I have tested are prolific with ferrous targets and this unique feature allows me to pass up digging those larger stronger signals that identify with the classic ‘’ iron buzz ‘’ and offers more time to dig desired targets. Time in the field is of the essence after all. Also, the DD coil is great in the heavily mineralized areas I searched, as well as dealing with EMI very easily. I also find it easier to pinpoint with the DD design. Yes, it is just fine to use the Mono coil for relic hunting, too. Garrett recommends using the Mono coils when searching for larger and or deeper relics when the Iron Check feature is not needed.
When relic hunting, is the “Fine Mode” the correct mode to use?
Yes, the Fine Mode is the Default Mode on the Axiom and can be utilized for most of your relic hunting needs. In this mode, the Axiom provides the maximum possible detection on small low conductivity targets while also providing the best detection for most medium and large targets as well. Fine mode can be more susceptible to ground minerals, hot rocks or saltwater. Fine is typically the preferred mode for most relic and prospecting conditions. The user can also switch to Normal or Large mode if ground conditions require it, or if you want to intentionally reduce detection of small, low conductivity trash like bits of foil, etc..
The Garrett Axiom comes with two different audio modes. Which audio mode do you prefer for relic metal detecting, the “PWM Audio” or VCO Audio?
Using the Garrett Axiom, I have regularly switched back and forth between both audio modes. Being more accustomed with the PWM audio, I was anxious to try the VCO audio in the trials. While gold prospecting, I learned that I prefer the VCO mode listening for the “woo woo” sound of gold, but in relic hunting, I prefer the PWM audio. It is nice to have the option.
What interesting relics and coins have you personally found with the Garrett Axiom?
To date, I have had less time than I would like to operate the Axiom. However, I have found a handful of assorted coins, nothing older than wheats at this time. As far as relics go, I have found an assortment of civil war bullets, from large caliber rifle to pistol bullets, an assortment of round balls, a few buttons, and several exploded shell fragments.
When relic hunting with the Garrett Axiom, how often do you need to ground balance?
Based on the highly mineralized soils I’ve tested in, the Axiom was generally stable before I even performed a ground balance. However, it is recommended to ground balance the Axiom in each new environment in order to ensure maximum stability and depth. That said, I have found it necessary to re-ground balance only minimally, even in some really hot soils. The Axiom also has an adjustable Ground Track if needed, but again, this is rarely needed as the Axiom runs smooth even in the most mineralized conditions.
YouTuber, Aquachigger, while testing the Garrett Axiom, relic hunting, pointed out that his GoPro interfered with the Garrett Axiom, making it chattery. What other common items do users have to be prepared for that could interfere?
As with any sensitive PI metal detector, the usual EMI nemesis are the greatest factors to deal with first. The most common will be overhead power lines, buried power lines, electric fences, invisible fences, dog shock collars, AC compressors, fluorescent lights, electric gates etc.they are on the list of things the end user needs to be aware of first. Knowing this, the routine Frequency Scan will normally remove these from posing any issues. Extra electronics being carried on your person or anything that operates on a frequency in the search area(s) should be turned on just prior to and while performing the Frequency Scan, to effectively remove them from becoming an issue. These items can be powered off after the scan is complete. These items include but are not limited to, other metal detectors, pin pointers, cell phones, GoPro cameras, GPS devices, two-way radios, etc. Doing so will greatly eliminate interference once they are powered on later. I have always carried my Apple cell phone in my pants pocket and have not encountered any issues with it. The Axiom is so sensitive that another thing I want to include are not just electrical interferences but metal interferences as well. For example, if you carry a shovel, I found it necessary to carry it over my shoulder and not dragged behind me. The Axiom is powerful enough to detect it, even with it behind you. Be aware of the position of metal objects on your belt, such as pin pointers and digging tools. I found it best to move them as far from my swing arm as possible and eliminate any ghost signals. And of course, you must not have any metal in your shoes.
Do you have any other advice for those considering purchasing the Garrett Axiom or those who have purchased it for relic hunting and are learning the settings?
In short, the Garrett Axiom with Ultra Pulse technology detector is as simple to assemble and operate as any detector on the market today. Backed with Garrett’s two-year warranty and great customer service, there is no reason not to add one or two units to your prospecting and relic hunting line up. Join those that are running back to their hunted out areas to experience this powerful technology and discover more treasure.
I want to thank Rusty Curry for letting us learn about the relic capabilities of the Garrett Axiom. I have not personally tested one, but with Steve Moore’s interview and Rusty’s interview, I look forward to trying it in the near future.
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.