If the one ring to rule them all was paired with a watch, the Garmin Tactix Delta would be it. Tough, stylish and as clever as they come, it's arguably the manufacturer's best instalment outside of the MARQ Luxury collection. We reviewed the Sapphire edition, which despite lacking solar capabilities and the ballistics calculator, does everything you need your smartwatch to do – and more.
And yes, we've considered the elephant in the room: the fact it's a purpose-built military watch. But that doesn't mean it should be discounted as an everyday wearable for the rest of us mere mortals. The best way to imagine what the Tactix Delta is like is to think of it as a beefed-up outdoor watch or an extremely rugged running watch. There is no point in comparing it to fitness trackers – although the Tactix Delta does track health metrics (but more on that later).
Packed full of features including turn-by-turn navigation, smart notifications, music storage, ski maps, golf courses and all the fitness stats you could desire, there's very little this watch doesn't do.
And when you add on the host of very cool tactical features including night vision capability, stealth mode, sky diving metrics and a kill switch, this watch will have you feeling like a pro athlete one day, secret agent the next. Read on to see our comprehensive review of Garmin Tactix Delta Sapphire Edition.
Garmin Tactix Delta review: price and availability
Price is the one sticking point for the Delta. For the Sapphire edition, it'll set you back AU$1,499/£799.99/$899.99, pushing it high up on the premium price scale.
That also makes it AU$100/£50/$100 more expensive than the Fenix 6X Sapphire.
But that doesn't mean you can't get a great deal on the Delta with other retailers. Check the widgets in this article for the best price.
Garmin Tactix Delta review: Features
The Tactix Delta bears virtually all of the features as the Garmin Fenix 6X Sapphire, with the addition of the special tactical apps.
When it comes to tracking your fitness you can make the most of a huge range of sports apps and animated workouts, wrist-based heart rate, VO2 max measuring, training status performance metrics, as well as body battery, sleep, calorie and step tracking. Not to mention the Garmin Coach feature which stores your training program on your wrist.
As is standard in most of Garmin's premium watches, you'll get everything you need to monitor your training progress no matter your sport or fitness level.
The Delta also comes with Garmin Pay, music storage including Spotify, smart notifications and safety tracking. The latter will detect if an incident occurs and immediately send a notification to your emergency contacts.
The Delta excels as an adventure watch, as well. It boasts turn-by-turn navigation, topographical and ski maps, and a climbing tracker, all accessed using multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) to track more challenging environments than GPS alone. Add on weather, sunset, alternate time zones, an altimeter and a compass, and you're set for any adventure. There's even golf course mapping for your days off.
And now for the Delta's specialty – the tactical features.
We know they might not be a necessity for everyone, and some of you may never use them at all. But a few could come in handy depending on your lifestyle, while others are just plain cool to have on your wrist. And if you are in the military, or even law enforcement, this watch could become an essential piece of your gear.
The night vision capability means you can switch the view on the watch, allowing it to be read by night vision googles. Probably one for the military, but it could also come in handy for those very serious paintballers out there.
Jumpster mode allows you to measure the altitude of a sky dive and navigate to a point of interest once you're in the air. This makes it perfect for anyone with an interest in airborne action sports, or even those who fancy trying sky diving and are interested in the nitty gritty stats.
The dual-position format lets you sync your location with others by seeing both the universal transverse mercator (UTM) and military grid reference system (MGRS) on the same screen. That comes in handy for anyone doing large-scale adventuring or mountaineering, as does the projected waypoint feature.
And while the Kill Switch, which wipes the watch in 10 seconds, may not be necessary outside of a warzone, Stealth Mode could actually be a life saver. If you did ever find yourself unfortunate enough to be in a position where you needed to hide from an intruder in your home, the feature quickly turns off wireless connectivity, so you won't have unwanted notifications sounding out at the worst possible time.
Garmin Tactix Delta review: Build and design
The Delta's design is again quite similar to the Fenix 6X Sapphire, with a few key differences. Most notably, the Delta comes with 24-hour time engraved around the bezel. A nice touch when combined with the universal time indicator available on a number of the faces, giving you two time zones at once.
While both boast a sapphire crystal lens, diamond-like carbon coated steel bezel and fiber-reinforced polymer case, the Delta has a more chiseled, black-on-black appearance, while the Fenix 6X offers as slightly rounder, dark grey bezel. Small details to some, but it gives the Delta that hard edge.
For such a durable watch, it weighs only 97g, which while heavier than most smart watches, isn't too heavy that it's uncomfortable after wearing all day or night.
The Delta is also compatible with Garmin's QuickFit watch bands, meaning you can change up the strap as you please.
Garmin Tactix Delta review: User interface and battery
You won't get a touch screen with this watch, but in this journalist's opinion, that's no big loss. Five buttons control everything and can be customised to accommodate a range of shortcuts and menus.
There's very little lag when toggling between screens during activities, and buttons respond easily with a simple click.
The best thing about the interface is it's entirely customisable. You can pick and chose the features and order in which you'd like them to appear in the main menu, activity and apps section or quick widgets list.
It's hard to find fault with the colour display, as Garmin really is leading the market when it comes to usability.
You'll get seriously impressive battery in this watch too. In smartwatch mode, you'll get up to 21 days battery from a single charge – only three days less than the solar version. You'll get as much as 120 hours in GPS mode using the max battery feature. And if you're really stuck for charge, the battery saver mode gives you up to 80 days of juice as a time piece only.
Garmin Tactix Delta review: Activity tracking and precision
In true Garmin style, the metrics on the Delta are as accurate as can be for a smartwatch.
We haven't found anything untoward in the Delta's measurements. Heart rate, sleep, steps and calorie tracking all appear very accurate and consistent, while bonus features like weather and sunset measurements are always well aligned with the best predictions online.
The GPS is very rarely affected while doing an activity, with only a slight difficulty receiving an initial signal while under a solid roof. And all data gathered during activities remains consistent to give you a precise picture of your training progress.
Garmin Tactix Delta review: Specifications
- Measurements: 51 x 51 x 14.9 mm
- Display size: 35.56 mm
- Weight: 97g
- Bezel material: Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) coated steel
- Lens material: Domed Sapphire Crystal
- Case material: Fibre-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover
- Satellite systems: GPS, GLONASS and Galileo
- Strap material: Silicone
- Battery: Smartwatch - up to 21 days | GPS - up to 60 hours | GPS and Music - up to 15 hours | Max Battery GPS Mode - 120 hours | Expedition GPS Activity - 46 days | Battery Saver Watch Mode - 80 days
- Water rating: 10 ATM | 100m
Garmin Tactix Delta review: Verdict
This journalist is sold on the Tactix Delta. There's little more you could ask for in a watch; whether it's style, durability or functionality, the Delta has it all.
While it's certainly not cheap, you get great value for money, it's sure to last you a long time and it's cool as hell.
That said, if you really aren't fussed by the 24-hour clock on the Delta's bezel, the sleek black design or the bonus tactical features, the Fenix 6X Sapphire is virtually the same watch for slightly less.
But when it comes to those looking for a genuine tactical timepiece, the Delta can't be beaten. Whether you're in the military, law enforcement or something a little more secret, this watch needs to be part of your everyday kit.
Garmin Tactix Delta review: Also consider
As we've mentioned throughout this review, the Garmin Fenix 6X Sapphire is almost the same watch as the Delta aside from its appearance – and price, of course.
The Fenix 6X Sapphire's RRP is set at AU$1,399/£749.99/$799.99, so maybe a better option if you need to save. And for Aussie buyers, the Fenix 6X is currently discounted to just AU$999 when you buy direct from Garmin. You may even like to give the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar option a go if you're willing to fork out slightly more and want the extra battery life.
And don't forget the Garmin Forerunner 945 if fitness is your focus. It's easily our favourite running wearable, with an insane number of useful features and an excellent battery life.
If Garmin isn't quite your thing, the Polar Grit X is a hardy alternative. It's durable, comes with a host of features and is built with mountaineering in mind. And it's significantly cheaper than the Garmin timepieces we've discussed here.