PROS / Great features like multi-tone targeting and multi-frequency coils set this detector apart.
CONS / Without graphic target ID, beginners may have difficulty deciphering what the readings and tones mean.
VERDICT / Apart from the lack of a graphic target ID, the X-Terra 305 is a superb machine.
Minelab has packed a lot of features and power into its X-Terra 305, a beginner all-purpose metal detector with a clean look and easy controls. It lacks a graphic target ID, so if you're a newcomer to detecting, be prepared to learn those numeric identifiers so you can pick between metals. The X-Terra 305 has great accuracy and offers some unique takes on audible targeting, making it worth the learning curve.
In a great step away from its competitors, the X-Terra 305 sports an inverted design. Most other detectors have a control box mounted below the frame's S-curve, but the 305's control box is mounted atop its grip, which extends independently from the main shaft. The design shifts the detector's weight distribution: Instead of putting much of the pressure on your wrist and using the arm cup for stabilization, the 305 leaves your hand to control and lets your forearm do the work. At only 2.9 pounds, it's a light detector, and with the alternative design, it's a joy to take out on long hunts.
The machine's feature list is equally impressive. Aside from the missing graphic target ID, all the functionalities you'd want in a top-tier detector are here, from a pinpoint mode and custom notching to a manual ground balance that lets you easily filter out background noise and mineralization, regardless of where you live. Its depth indicator isn't numeric – and, as such, isn't particularly helpful – but its 10-inch concentric search coil can easily penetrate 8 to 10 inches deep. You might not always know how far down you have to dig to find a target, but at least you'll know it's there.
The Minelab X-Terra 305 has two features you won't find anywhere else: multi-tone audio targeting and coil-dependent operating frequencies. Multi-tone targeting plays different combinations of the detector's three tones for different targets, like an audible version of graphic target ID. You'll still need to learn the patterns, but once you master them, you'll rarely have to glance down at the display screen.
Coil-dependent operating frequency is a feature unique to Minelab's modified VLF scanning circuitry, called VFLEX. It causes the detector to operate at a given frequency based on the coil that's attached, rather than based on the electronics within the control box. A default coil might scan at 7.5kHz – good for all-purpose detecting – but you could replace it with an 18.75kHz coil and turn the X-Terra 305 into a gold detector. Of course, this would require you to buy additional coils, which can get quite expensive.
There are better metal detectors out there, but the X-Terra 305 marries surprising comfort with some fun extras that set it far apart from the pack. If you just joined a metal detecting club and want a machine that's easy to use, but can still impress veterans with its unique take on the hobby, this is one to buy.