Garrett Ace 150 Field Test By Norfolk Wolf

I once used to sell Mazda cars and on one occasion a prospective customer came into the showroom and asked me what they were like. I replied that even if they were rubbish or had faults, did he really think I was going to tell him? My job was to convince him that what he was purchasing was the best his money could buy and if the situation arose, try to steer him into the car with the most profit for me. That’s sales the world over, whether it be a car, a washing machine or a detector. Most detectorists who have been around for a while are by now aware of this fact and that the machine they read about and subsequently buy has the good points extolled, but no mention is made of it’s limitations or drawbacks. As a completely independent, over the coming months I will be field testing different models and describing not only how they work under differing conditions but also the drawbacks, and if possible how to overcome these. The new models Ace 150 and 250 that Garrett have brought out for 2005, supersedes the previous Ace 100 and 300. It hasn’t just been a quick makeover with a different badge slapped on the side, but a completely new detector from the coil upwards. The standard green livery of Garrett has been replaced by a new bright hamburger cheese yellow for the control box and the armrest cup, this contrasts with the black stem and the all new 6.5″ x 9″ Rhino elliptical coil and which runs at 7.2KHz It loses none of the excellent build quality that Garrett is renowned for and was very quickly assembled. As opposed to the original switch on and go format, the Ace 150 control box now boasts 3 touch buttons that controls the Power, Sensitivity and Discriminating modes. An LCD screen with graphic target I.D. cursor on a 5- segmented horizontal scale, giving a probable target readout. Also three different discriminating modes of operation, All-Metal, Jewellery and coins, the sensitivity is adjusted incrementally in four stages. A coin depth gauge (2”, 4” or 6+inches) is situated to the right-hand side of the control box and there is also a low battery indicator. The headphone jack is placed conveniently under the control housing, so allowing no moisture ingress to the control-box. Replacing the 4xAA batteries is a simple matter of sliding the front cover off the control box. An adjustment to the arm-cup is simply a case of undoing one screw, and the whole lot weighs in at a mere 2.7lbs. The handy pocket size manual is easily understood with plenty of illustrations to get you on your way and able to refer back to it in the field.

First impressions
The people that I showed it to gave a condescending smile, this reminded me of way back, when the Silver Sabre first came on the scene and because of it’s size it too was regarded as a mere toy, — until people actually used it.

In use
I thought that I would take it easy and give it a run out on one of my lesser-mineralised sites, bearing in mind that most of it had already been covered with more upmarket machines. Deciding to use only the all-metal and jewellery modes; as in the coin mode pull-tabs are notched out and this I feel is intended more for beaches and parks. Working over the stubble using full sensitivity the Ace 150 was behaving itself with no false signalling and even beneath power lines, by dropping the Sens. down a notch it remained stable. Running at 7.2KHz it surprised me with the ease it was able to find the inner cores of cartridges. Okay they aren’t bright hammered coins, but to have this ability over 6inch high stubble and finding the small objects in the ground a further couple of inches is not to be sneezed at by any detectors standards. With buttons and pieces of lead and suchlike coming to light, my confidence in the machine grew, (No longer a condescending smile!)

On a Roman site
It wasn’t so much the heavier mineralisation but more the large amount of ferrous material, that decided me to work in all –metal. The lower 7.2 KHz meant that the response speed would be slower and I would need to hear all signals to adjust my sweep speed accordingly. Nails would register with a low tone with small bronzes and silver (think big!) with higher tones. Straightaway the Sens.needed dropping a notch and then once more in the more contaminated areas, because of the concentration of ferrous giving out unreliable readings and sounding off. The coinage and artefacts as expected in these conditions weren’t coming up at any great depths, but the Ace 150 definitely had the ability to pull stuff, small bronzes and other finds under these conditions. Moving away from the area it was then possible to switch to Jewellery mode and up the Sens. another notch and still remain perfectly stable. Running at full sens. was out of the question, just as it would have been using other machines.

Taking it on the dry sand isn’t really a test, as all detectors will perform well in these conditions, but I wanted to see how well the Coin Mode worked and just what coinage would be lost. Well, the Ace will ignore all types of pull-tabs, ring-pulls and bottle caps, plus iron and foil, whilst retaining all pre-decimal coinage and also £2 and £1 coins, 5p’s and the older 1 and 2p’s. Sensitivity could be left on full. Going further down the beach to the damp sand I switched back to jewellery mode, the Sens. needed dropping because of some false signalling. Trying it over water that was laying about was a complete no, no. Although not absolutely 100% stable over the damp sand, I was still able to pull some coinage and at reasonably good depths. All the false signals were of the high bell-tone type, so it was just a question of ignoring these and digging everything else.

In the jewellery mode small ferrous (Nails etc,) will be discriminated out with no sound, but still showing iron on the readout. The larger pieces of iron are easy to distinguish, although sounding out, these will give a broader low signal and will not give a steady reading.

Once again in the Jewellery mode, coke is lost whilst still retaining the ability to pull “ hammered” cut quarters let alone halves..

Hot rocks
No problems whatsoever, I wasn’t troubled once, the ground tracking is decidedly on the positive side to overcome these.

Response speed
As to be expected with the lower KHz detectors, the ability to recover from an unwanted target to respond to a good one will be slower than that of a detector running at the higher KHz ratings. By working slower in the “naily” areas, this will help somewhat in overcoming the problem.

Obviously the Ace 150 is not marketed for those detectorists who already have, or want to own, a high octane machine; this will be more for the first time buyer who requires a sophisticated machine that won’t damage either the pocket or the brain cells. It’s ultra light and effective under most of the conditions where the new owner will want to use it, whether it be the beach or on a Roman site; it has the capabilities to produce, right down to a cut quarter, all at reasonably good depths. The ability to find these and ignore coke and hot-rocks is a much-needed bonus for a detector of any price. After a while and seeing for myself what it achieved, at no time during the testing did I hanker after one of my own machines. Simple to use and versatile, with a price tag of under £170 and a 2year warranty, plus a host of dedicated extras and the name of Garrett, you will get an awful lot of “bangs for your bucks.” I’ve now got used to the colour as well!

Norfolk Wolf

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