Click here to buy Garrett Ace 250 metal detector
Before you lot start saying “oh no, not another Garrett” (not that there is anything wrong with them), I would like to explain that I am having a few difficulties in obtaining other detectors to test. The manufacturers and distributors have been approached, but some are a little slow in putting their best foot forward. You would think that with all the free advertising received from a test report that they would be falling over themselves to stick their product in my hand. It can’t be through my lack of experience, as I was detecting before some of these companies were actually in existence. The only stipulation I make is that I will need the detector for at least a month, (6 days a week x 4 weeks, this works out roughly to how long the average detectorists will use his machine for 5 or 6 months. Also with field tests of this length, it not only shows up the odd “wrinkle” but also gives me time to see if there is a way around the problem. If a detector doesn’t work so well on mineralised ground or is heavy to detect with, or not so capable in dealing with iron: why should you have to pay all that money, only to be become aware of the fact after the transaction? Hands up all the people that this has happened to? The two H’s need to be transposed, honesty for hype.
Right, now on to the field test…
The Garrett Ace 250 metal detector has the same dimensions and outward appearance as it’s stable-mate the Garrett Ace 150. The bright yellow and black livery is seen about more and more and is now being recognised as “one of those new Garrett’s”. The differences between the two marques lies in the control box, it has a number of extra features and also a greater range over the existing ones of the 150.
The conntrols- Garrett ACE 250
The box sits in a fixed position in front of the handgrip; there is no provision for hip mounting as the unit is so light that there would be no advantages gained. The six touch buttons sit below the LCD screen, with the target i.d. legend above this. The L C D screen itself portrays both an upper and lower horizontal graph. The upper graph shows the illuminated target i.d. cursor, this has twelve segments for more precise discrimination, and i.d. (also used for pinpointing). The lower scale indicates the amount of discrimination employed and also notch elimination. The left hand side of the screen indicates which mode of detection is currently being used, whilst the right hand side shows the target depth in four increments to eight inches plus. Beside this there is also a constant battery condition indicator.
Switching the detector on and off is accomplished by depressing the power button, holding it in for 10 seconds will return the settings to the factory preset for each mode. There are five different modes or programmes, All Metal, Jewellery, Custom, Relics and Coins. To change from one mode to the other is done by the mode (+) or (-) touch pad, which is on rocker, so it saves time by being able to scroll up or down the menu for the desired level of discrimination. The Sensitivity has eight (illuminated) settings for more precise control and target detection; this too is on a rocker as is the discrimination.
Metal detecting – Discrimination
This is used in conjunction with the Elimination button. Using the + or – button to move the cursor left or right, then use the Elim. button to notch out certain targets. When going over this rejected target, no sound will then be heard. The Pinpoint button when held in over a target will show the signal strength on the upper graph; the greatest number of graph segments that is displayed, indicates that the centre of the coil is over the target. The headphone jack is placed under the right-hand side of the control box, okay if you are left-handed, if not the headphone cable can cross over the box at the end of the right-hand side of the coil sweep.The coil is the very light Rhino 6.5″ x 9″ elliptical spider and the detector’s unit runs at 7.2 KHz, (same for the Ace 150)The control unit is powered by 4 x 1 1/2 volt batteries, these are replaced by sliding off the slide-in front cover to the control box. Finally the manual, very simply it tells you what you need to know in an easy to read style, I particularly like the ability to put it in the back-pocket for easy referral when on the field.
Metal detecting- In house testing
I normally like to spend a couple of hours or so in the house trying out different objects over the coil to familiarise myself with the detector, noting not just the strong points but also any weaknesses. In air testing is just a base-line to work from, but it gives an indication of what the metal detector is capable of and at a later date will tell you how well it copes (or suffers) from the effects of mineralisation. I did find that with the lower frequency the bell tone worked only on the larger or thicker coins. Denarii and Dupondii got the bell tone working as did an Elizabethan shilling and Georgian coppers; but the thinner sectioned hammered pennies and cut halves gave out just the normal tone, although iron in the All Metal mode gave out a low tone. It was possible to knock out coke using the Elim. button and still retain the ability to register cut halves, these needed to be near the centre of the coil to achieve any depth, in actual fact in air depths overall were quite impressive. Obviously response speed left a bit to be desired, but even this wasn’t that shabby compared to some of the detectors that has passed through my hands. Large iron did “come through” but didn’t hold steady on the readout and also gave differing sounds, plus I felt that using the pinpoint on this type of signal would give yet another indication that it was big iron.
Out in the field detecting
My format now is to use a moderately mineralised field to become accustomed to the detector quicker, rather than jump in at the deep end by going straight on to a “nails and all” Roman site. Just as well, as the first 50yards or so into the field told me that the sensitivity needed backing off a couple of notches. I was working it in the Relic mode (only iron is disc’ed out) but the “signals were a coming and the meter was a jumping”, most of the signals were close to the surface small to medium nails. The machine hardly had time to recover when it would hit another one, after making the adjustments it started to behave itself. The readouts on the graph were pretty accurate and held steady, pinpointing the target was a breeze, and this also verified the fact that the odd target was iron by the size of the signal. The depth indicator was pretty accurate on coin-sized objects; obviously anything larger or smaller than this gave a discrepancy. As regards to depths, there was a definite cutback compared to the testing in the house, but then isn’t this always the case? Finds were coming up and decent ones too, as long as the detector was swept at the speed at which conditions allowed; trying to go too fast would result in false readings. I did manage to find a “short cross” cut half and also tiny pieces of lead scrap, so it does have the ability to pull out the small stuff; at no time was I ever bothered by hot rocks.
Roman site detecting
Knowing how the Ace 150 handled the last roman site, I decided to employ the same tactics in the worst areas by working in All Metal, as this would give me a faster response speed. The sensitivity needed to be dropped another couple of notches for the 250 to behave itself, it did too, rewarding me with a couple of tiny Roman bronzes in the first quarter of an hour. It was just a question of taking my time and working the area slowly, adjusting the sensitivity accordingly, grabbing a bit and then backing off where needed. No matter what detector is used, finds from this area weren’t going to come from any great depths but the Ace 250 was managing to winkle out the odd piece here and there. In the worst spots iron did “show through” from time to time but was identified by an erratic read-out on the meter. Moving away from the heavy concentration of ferrous and mineralisation it was then possible to increase the sensitivity and change to the Relic mode again. If coke does become a problem it’s just a question of notching out another two segments on the Disc graph, this still enables cut hammered to be found.
Beach metal detecting with Garrett ACE 250
At the top of the beach on dry sand, sensitivity could be left on either high or one segment below. I used the Jewellery mode and notched out the ring pulls; as in Relic mode large pieces of foil was causing a problem at times. With these settings though the Ace 250 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 and the older 1 and 2p. If pull-tabs aren’t that prolific (show me a beach where they aren’t and I’ll be there); don’t bother with the notch to allow you to find all denominations. Damp sand does need a bit of care, by using a higher disc setting and lowering the Sensitivity, finds can be made although as with the 150, a certain amount of false signalling can still occur. As before, these are recognisable by always being the bell tone, generally at the end of the sweeps. Stay well away from pools of water unless you intend to wash the coil!
Having already field-tested the Ace 150 and given it the thumbs up, it is now just a question of comparison. They are both cracking good entry level detectors, it’s whether you opt for the standard ford escort or the ghia version; both will do the same job, but the ghia has more refinements for ease of use. I did find that although the 250 has extra increments on the sensitivity, care needs to be taken when using them, as in a lot of cases this did cause instability; this could be due to the nature of soil in this part of the country, elsewhere could be a different story. I have been looking on one or two American forums and at the moment they are raving about how good the Aces are at coin-shooting on parkland and their accompanying photos certainly bears this out. I suppose this is a bit remiss of me not to include something along these lines when testing, after all not everyone has the luxury to be able to detect each time on farmland. The Ace 250 certainly produced the goods on the sites that I did take it to and anyone just coming into detecting or even for a detectorist’s son or daughter, “the pair of aces” are extremely light and manageable. Although budget priced, the amount of sophistication on these detectors needs to be seen to be appreciated. I firmly believe that Garrett has produced a creditable winner (I wonder what other aces he has up his sleeve)?