FIELD TEST

Metal Detector Field Test & Review - Garrett ACE 300
By Andy Sabisch
From Page 56
July, 2016 issue of Lost Treasure


Garrett Electronics has grown from a home-based business founded by Charles & Eleanor Garrett in 1964 to a company respected around the world in circles that include hobbyists, security professionals and military countermine personnel. One of my first real metal detectors purchased in the late 1960’s (one that actually could find metal buried more than just under the surface) was made by Garrett and it still hangs on my wall today even after having used more than 100 different models over the years.

More than a decade ago, Garrett introduced a pair of detectors that attracted a great deal of attention. They were bright yellow rather than the customary “Garrett-Green” color their other detectors sported and they were smaller than virtually any other detector on the market which made people wonder if they were actually serious detectors or simply entry-level “toys”. Well it did not take long for the reputation of the Ace 150 and Ace 250 to spread and their performance is what did it. Treasure hunters found that Garrett had packed features into the Ace series that relegated many higher-end machines to a backup role and the rest is as they say history!.

Fast forward to 2016 with Garrett’s introduction of the two newest detectors in their product line - the Ace 300 and the Ace 400. The focus of this report is the Ace 300 and is a detector that I was looking forward to testing since I have kept my Ace 250 over the years due to its dependability and the performance it provided. Hoping to see more of the same with the Ace 300, I was anxious to put the newest Ace through its paces in the field.


FEATURES

At first glance, the Ace 300 looks virtually identical to the Ace 250 except for the name embossed on the top and face of the control housing. While the shell is shared between the two models, the true differences are “under the hood” so to speak.

Like the Ace 250, the Ace 300 is controlled though the use of three touch pads (Power, Pinpoint & Accept/Reject) and three rocker switches (Mode, Sensitivity & Discrimination) located on the face of the control housing. The functions that these 6 control provide are self-explanatory; however, a new feature found on the Ace 300 is the Frequency Adjustment which is accessed by holding the ACCEPT / REJECT touchpad and then pressing the DISCRIM rocker switch. This will allow you to cycle through 4 slightly different operating frequencies which can eliminate or at least minimize interference from nearby electrical power lines or even other detectors.

The Ace 300 has five discriminate search mode options one can select from (All Metal, Jewelry, Relics, Coins and Custom). The level of discrimination associated with each mode has been preset at the factory using input from experienced treasure hunters. While the level of discrimination can be adjusted to suit the conditions at a particular site, any changes will be restored to the factory preset level when the unit is turned off. The exception is the Custom mode which allows you to create a program that suits your needs and in this mode, any adjustments will be retained even when you pack up and head home at the end of the day. In all of the search modes, the fact that you select what targets are accepted or rejected using a notch system rather than a conventional discrimination system means that you can accept / reject all targets or just one with no loss of detection depth. The non-motion pinpoint circuit ensures you are able to precisely locate a target to speed up recovery and minimize any damage to the ground during the recovery process.

In addition to the visual target identification provided by the Ace 300 through the LCD screen, it also provides three different audio tones to help determine if a target is worth recovering. Iron objects will produce a low tone, targets including lead, gold, nickels and aluminum will produce a mid tone and targets such as copper, silver along with most US coins will produce an unmistakable tone that Garrett has coined as a “Belltone” or “Sound of Money” response.

Additional changes of note found on the Ace 300 include the following:

Operating Frequency: The Ace 300 now operates at 8 kHz rather than the Ace 250’s 6.5 kHz which while just slightly higher, provides improved response to mid-range targets including gold, lead and brass.

Pulse-Width Modulation Audio: A technical term for what Garrett’s engineers have built into the Ace 300’s circuitry that produces a sharper response to targets making them easier to distinguish in the field.

Searchcoil: The Ace 300 comes with a larger concentric coil – 7” x 10” – providing more coverage with each sweep and increased detection depth.

Enhanced Iron Resolution: Knowing countless “keepers” are still waiting to be recovered from areas littered with iron trash, the Ace 300 has improved separation capabilities in these types of sites to help you find what others have missed.

Camlocks: The shaft assembly now sports a pair of camlocks which lock the shaft in position and make the entire unit feel more stable than its predecessor – another feature typically not seen on detectors in the sub-$300 market.

The Ace 300 is powered by four (4) AA batteries which will provide between 20 to 40 hours of use. Rechargeable batteries can be used with no loss of performance; however, with the life obtained from 4 inexpensive AA batteries, you may not see the need to go that route unless you already have some or can pick up an inexpensive set with a charger.

FIELD TEST

AAs with any detector I am testing, the first place I took the Ace 300 to after assembling it was my test area to see how it responded to various targets at depths ranging from just under the surface to several inches deep. Based on the response to the targets in the test area, it was quickly apparent that the Ace 300 had raised the Ace 250’s performance bar which was already impressive especially considering the price point. The new audio circuit was evident when checking the deeper targets and the improved ability to separate good targets from iron was also apparent on co-located targets I have buried.

My next stop was a neighbor’s yard a few doors down who had given me permission to search the yard of his 1950’s-era home. Starting out in the ZERO-DISC search mode so that I could see how the Ace 300 responded to whatever metal might be present; I left the Sensitivity at the preset level and headed off across the lawn. As expected, signals were plentiful with the majority being iron from a recent roof and siding replacement job. Toggling into the JEWELRY mode, I was able to eliminate the iron targets and focus on the non-ferrous targets I was hoping to find. Along the curb, a solid “Belltone” signal rang out and based on the target ID and indicated depth (6+”), I was hoping for an older coin and I was not disappointed. Cutting a deep plug and folding it back, the unmistakable edge of a silver coin was visible on the side of the hole. Pulling it free, I placed a 1941 Mercury dime into my plastic box sandwiched within a ball of cotton. Covering about half the yard over the next hour, I was able to pick up a number of coins including 4 Wheat cents, a small sterling silver charm, two house keys and another silver dime along with several items yet to be identified. I bumped up the sensitivity and even with it set at “7-out-of-8”, the Ace 300 ran rock-solid with virtually no falsing or chatter. The new 2-digit target ID displayed on the screen when a target was detected really helped identify potentially good targets and as well as likely trash targets which clearly means more “keepers” in one’s pouch at the end of the day. I’ve become used to having that additional information available on other, more-expensive detectors and seeing it on the Ace 300 was a real positive showing that the engineers listened to what treasure hunters wanted on their detectors regardless of the price.

I took the Ace 300 along when I went to visit my son Paul who was living in Durham, NC hoping to get a chance to let him use it since he had helped test the Ace 250 a decade earlier when I did the test report on that model. Luckily there was break in the rain that was soaking the area long enough for us to take it for a spin through the front lawn of an elementary school that dated back to the 1930’s. Being on a main road in town I knew it had been hunted many times before but I was hopeful that there might be a few keepers left to find. Paul has been hunting since he was old enough to walk so after a quick overview of the Ace 300, he was off in search of buried treasure. A few clad coins turned up in short order but as he slowly worked along the edge of the sidewalk, he picked up a signal that caught his attention. Calling me over, he said there was rebar in the concrete but that at the spot he had marked, something that registered high on the screen was clearly present. Removing a plug and checking the hole with the ProPointer, the target he had detected was still in the bottom of the hole and after removing another inch or two of soil, we saw the edge of a coin. Pulling it free and brushing the dirt off, it turned out to be a 1935 Wheat cent. While not a rare date, it showed that the Ace 300 had been able to detect the coin at almost 7 inches down next to iron rebar which is something that few detectors can do and explained why the coin was still there after decades of the site having been searched. Paul recovered a 1941 nickel not more than 10 feet away which had also been right next to the concrete / rebar sidewalk and the smile of satisfaction he had after making these two recoveries not only demonstrated the Ace 300’s capabilities but brought back a flood of great memories of the times me, Paul and my daughter Leigh had spent hunting for treasures around the world.

Returning home I was able to take the Ace 300 out to a few more sites before this report was due in to the magazine. Fortunately there are a number of sites nearby that offer a range of ground conditions (dark coil, red clay, sand, etc.), targets (coins or relics) and challenges (high tension wires, underground utilities, trash, etc.) so I was able to put the Ace 300 through its paces without having to travel 100+ miles to do so. When searching in the COINS mode, I found very little trash at several of the sites I visited using the factory preset discrimination points and checking the target ID readings to confirm what the upper segment was telling me. Even as coins dropped below the 5”-level, the target ID’s were consistent and quite accurate. Using the RELICS mode at two old home sites allowed me to pick up a few low-to-mid range targets from amongst a carpet of nails and pieces of the old tin roofs left from the old structures. I did have the opportunity to test out the Ace 300’s Frequency Shift function at one location where an electrical substation and several overhead high-voltage lines surrounded the site. While there was noticeable interference at the preset frequency, switching to one of the other 3 tamed the unit down and allowed me to hunt with sensitivity above the mid-point with little or no chatter.

SUMMARY

Garrett Electronics set the bar for features and performance in mid-range detectors when they introduced the Ace 150 and Ace 250 more than a decade ago. Offering both newcomers and seasoned hunters alike a quality detector that found treasure others had passed over with more expensive equipment, the Ace 250 and later its bigger brother the Ace 350 become primary detectors for many detectorists worldwide. The new Ace 300 builds on that reputation and moves the bar even higher with the features that now come standard with the latest addition to the Garrett line. Simple to use and easy on the family budget while providing performance in the field that won’t disappoint even the most serious of hunters, the Ace 300 deserves some serious attention if you are looking for a new detector.

The Ace 300 lists for $299.95 and comes with a set of Garrett headphones, an environmental cover to protect the control housing and a coil cover as well as the rock-solid 2-year factory warranty. There are five optional search coils available for the Ace 300 featuring both concentric and Double-D designs in addition to the stock 7”x10” PROformance coil to cover a wide range of possible treasure hunting applications.

For more information on the new Ace 300, check out some of the videos in the Garrett library or to request a copy of Garrett's Product Catalog, contact the factory at (972) 494-6151 or visit their informative website at http://www.garrett.com. Be sure to mention you read about the new Ace 300 in Lost Treasure Magazine.

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