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Actually it is a bit early as I need more time to use both the ATX and SDC together the next two months in order to give a more comprehensive and definitive reply. Still, I did compare both in the limited time I had using the 8" mono coil on both. This would be an optional coil on the ATX and stock coil on the SDC.

The bottom line is the ATX at max sensitivity 13 struggles to keep up with the SDC on it's standard sensitivity setting of 2. The SDC has a clear edge. But it is kind of like comparing the White's GMT to the Fisher Gold Bug 2 on small gold. I am giving a nod based on grains of gold and fractions of inches.

On the flip side the ATX costs less and has optional coils. The SDC has a hard-wired 8" mono coil. Will the SDC with 8" mono hit a big nugget as deep as an ATX sporting a 15" x 20" mono? I am not taking that bet. Those optional coils however drive the price of the ATX up and if big gold is my goal I am grabbing my GPX.


If both the ATX and SDC had identical responses on gold I would grab the SDC. It is lighter by over a pound and just plain feels better on my arm. The coil on the SDC is impervious to falsing when knocked about or rubbed on the ground while at max sensitivity I have to keep the ATX coil as close to the ground as possible without actually touching it. The ATX requires extreme coil control whereas with the SDC you do not have to even think about it. Just put the coil where you want. It is far more natural and effortless.

After 40 years in retail detector sales I have a bit of a sixth sense for what sells. The SDC has the undeniable benefit of the Minelab name. The company was literally built on gold detectors. Many prospectors will look at an SDC who will not even consider the Garrett, especially in Australia where the price is much closer and Minelab has the home team advantage. Even in the US most serious prospectors use a Minelab.

It is telling that when you visit the ATX Forum on Findmall that nearly all the gold finds being posted are by beach hunters. The silence from Australia is deafening. I seem to be one of the few people willing to give the machine a fair go prospecting. In defense of the ATX however this is because most anyone who have been at this for many years now is already sporting a Minelab SD, GP, or GPX. Almost nobody doing so is going to put them aside for an ATX. More than most I like competition and so am willing to give machines like the ATX a try and a kind word.

But reality is what it is and the ATX like the Infinium seems to be settling more into a role as a water hunting machine. The choice of housing is killing it for prospecting as I do believe in a light weight package with standard knock resistant coils for under two grand it would have been a home run. Units keep going up for sale as being too heavy. The absolute easiest way to compete with the GPX is on ergonomics and despite all odds Garrett managed a fail there.

I predict despite the price the SDC will see more uptake in the prospecting community. And in general it has a certain cool factor due to the way it folds up that will appeal. It is only 1.2 pounds lighter than the ATX but because it is so compact by comparison when folded up it gives the impression of even more differential when you grab and heft the two units. The SDC is kind of the iPhone to the ATX android.

It is all a sideshow. What is the best metal detecting system a hard core dedicated prospector can invest in? A SD/GP/GPX Minelab. What is the second best? A used SD/GP/GPX Minelab. The ATX and SDC are kind of slugging it out for third place.

Well, that reply got more long-winded than I intended. Despite similarities the ATX and SDC are pretty different units with different capabilities at different price points. Both will drift into niches with the ATX leaning beach and the SDC gold prospecting. Both will sell and both will have forum based fan clubs. Just my opinion but I rarely end up wrong when making a call on marketing issues as regards detectors. I made a living doing it for nearly 40 years.

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For me personally the Minelab GPX 5000 is my bread and butter detector. I count on it to pay the bills. I will continue to use the ATX. I will have both it and the SDC this summer in Alaska. I have to be honest - when I want to put the GPX aside in favor of a secondary PI unit to look for smaller gold or wiggle around in the brush I already want to grab the SDC. It just requires less effort than the ATX to get results. But I can find gold with the ATX also and will continue to do so just to show it can be done. And with my Fisher Gold Bugs also for that matter.

Finally, both companies have done us a favor and offered us an option of getting housings developed and built for the military. I think this is really fun and interesting. I get a bit tired of a box on a stick with a coil on the end so nice to see some original thinking at work here. But that also leaves on the table the easy idea of producing either unit in a straight up traditional lightweight non-submersible design at lower prices in the future. I have hammered Garrett on this and Minelab deserves no less. The military housings add weight and cost and both detectors would be very welcome in traditional packages weighing under 4 pounds and at lower prices.

There is a bigger picture. If a few Africans can be enticed into finding gold with the SDC whether it sells elsewhere could be inconsequential. It folds up into a package a guy on a bicycle can carry in a rucksack. It is virtually indestructible. It uses commonly available batteries that do not need charging (try that in Africa). It is a no-brainer to operate. Turn on and go. It is impervious to most ground mineralization, making it even easier to operate. Turn on, detector make noise, dig nugget. It is that easy. And the bias to small gold will produce easy results where other detectors fail. Most importantly - this thing will be hard to counterfeit. Minelab once again stands to make a bundle in Africa if the SDC catches on there.

More information on Garrett ATX

More information on Minelab SDC 2300

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Hi Steve, I enjoyed using the ATX, it's the first time a PI has come out that actually competed with a Minelab in my neck of the woods, it's a shame there was so much touch sensitivity and it was soooo heavy, otherwise it would be a fun detector to use.

Our main concern here in OZ is mineralization, there are very few places that aren't mineralized so a detector has to work well in those areas especially after having Fine Gold timings on the GPX, in quieter ground the ATX and SDC have similar sensitivity (in air depth), but when you add in the bad touch sensitivity and the weight difference the price is really the only drawback for the SDC.


The gold I found with the ATX


This speci was surprisingly deep


Speci missed by the ATX and found with the SDC (note the longer grass)


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Hi JP,

A whole lot of heads probably just spun from that post. I know better but some people think you never use anything but a Minelab and would never, ever, ever post finds with anything else. You just proved them wrong.

I try to be as fair as I can but at the end of the day when I am not playing around trying stuff I have to just grab what I think is going to work best for me. I know you do the same.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest Paul (Ca)

Thanks Steve for sharing your insight with both the ATX and SDC 2300,  I know you'll limited to sharing more having spent little time with both using the 8" coil.

You had mentioned the SDC is lighter by over a pound and just plain feels better on my arm, The part were you mentioned (just feels better on my arm) is what I am experiencing now with the ATX having the arm-rest slide further back.

Having long arms, The ATX just didn't feel right always felt the arm-rest with strap should be mounted further back at least flush with the back of control box.  Having an extra arm-rest from the (Recon) modified the Recon arm-rest to slide further back actually 1.25" inches back so now the rear portion of the arm-rest is flush with the rear housing.  What this did was balance the detector for me due to having long arms, The strap is secured further back on my arm doesn't feel off balanced now at the rear.  So now I use this modified Recon arm-rest with the ATX, makes a big difference the ATX just feels so much better and swings well.

See a need for someone to make an aftermarket ATX arm-rest that slides further back, See a need for it as it does improve the balance of my ATX. They would sell a bundle and make an additional part that fastens to the rear housing something that snaps over the headset connector portion and is secured with a small portion of the rear housing.

Anyway,  Don't think I'll be sharing this on any of the other forums, Unless I can word it so it doesn't discredit the ATX. Already Garrett has allot of issues with the ATX shafts and such wouldn't want to stir up the pot any more.

Wish I could post a pic,  Can email pictures but can't upload to Tinypic anymore. Having computer issues uploading being one of them.

Paul (Ca)

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As far a electromagnetic interference rejection at the spot in the above video then the ATX wins out on that compared to the very erratic threshold on the SDC2300.

You would hope before doing the test the tester pressed the Noise Cancel first to eliminate external interference.   

Here are the three major benefits of the breakthrough capability of the SDC2300.

Higher immunity to electromagnetic interference and thus quieter operation
Less noisy in the mineralised ground prevalent in most goldfield areas
Much more sensitive to detecting sub-gram nuggets
It appears to me in the video when using the dial to lower or raise the Sensitivity setting it not only lowers or raises the target response it also at the same time lowers or raises the electromagnetic interference.
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The SDC runs extremely quiet in regards to mineralization, due to this the higher sensitivity settings sound to the ear like they have more instability (variation in threshold), however this is not quite the case as the instability is also partly due to the almost compete lack of ground signal response. I find the variation in the threshold takes about an hour to accustom your ear to on the higher sensitivity settings of the SDC, however it is still quite workable because it is consistent therefore easy to ignore. In the lower sensitivity settings the SDC still has excellent performance and is of course much quieter due to the lower Gain.


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SDC 2300 high treshold hum can kill your head.... in few hours... on this video machine is much noiser than ATX... but I belive that is only treshold level adjustmen I think, isn't it?

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