When Charles Garrett & his wife founded Garrett Electronics in the early 1960's they probably never envisioned their company would become what it has today an industry leader in both hobby and security metal detection equipment. Despite the impressive growth and success Garrett Electronics has had since its inception, the company has never lost track of their original goal which was to develop the best possible equipment for all of their customers.
In late-2004, Garrett Electronics introduced two new models which shook the entire industry by offering features and performance at a price tag $100's less than the competition. I had the opportunity to test the Ace 150 a few months back and this field test report covers the Ace 250 which is the bigger brother of the Ace 150 offering even more features with just a slightly higher price tag.
The Ace 250 is one of Garrett's two new entry-level (based on price NOT performance) detectors. The Ace 150 & 250 replaced the previous Treasure Ace series of detectors; however, all similarities with their predecessors end with the ACE name.
The first thing that stands out when unpacking the Ace 250 is its totally redesigned control housing. The housing was designed for ergonomics; i.e., it allows for extended use without fatigue, and the color has been changed from the characteristic Garrett Green to a new bright yellow which is a real eye-catcher.
The Ace 250 is controlled though the use of three touch pads (Power, Pinpoint & Elimination) and three rocker switches (Mode, Sensitivity & Discrimination) located on the face of the control housing. The Ace 250 features an LCD screen which provides users with a wealth of information on both the various settings as well as detected targets including:
Target ID: One of 12 segments identifies what has been detected Target Depth: Displays the approximate target depth; i.e., 2, 4, 6 or 8+ Battery Condition: An icon appears alerting you when the batteries need to be replaced Sensitivity: Indicates the level using bars ranging from (1 min) to 8 (max) Search Mode: Indicates which of the 5 possible search modes is selected
The Ace 250 has five independent discriminate search modes: All Metal, Jewelry, Relics, Coins and Custom. The discrimination points; i.e., what items are accepted or rejected, have been preset at the factory based on extensive field tests and input from treasure hunters around the world for all but the Custom mode which can be customized to accept / reject the specific type of targets you might be looking for. The discrimination points can be easily changed in any of the 5 search modes; however, only the changes made in the Custom mode will be retained when the power is turned off. An important feature on the Ace 250 is that the discrimination levels are set as individual notches; i.e., you can accept or reject any or all of the 12 specific notches shown on the LCD screen. Unlike detectors where you increase a discrimination control to eliminate targets that register higher on the target ID scale which results in a loss of detection depth at higher settings, the Ace 250's use of notch discrimination allows you to reject any targets you care to with no loss of detection depth.
The Ace 250 is powered by four (4) AA batteries which will provide between 40 and 50 hours of use as a matter of fact, I have more than 30 hours on my test unit and the battery strength indication still shows 2 out of 4 bars! As I said in the Ace 150 report, rechargeable batteries can be used with no loss of performance; however, with the life obtained from 4 inexpensive AA batteries, you may not want to bother with them.
After some bench testing and a few passes through my test garden, I headed over to a large grassy section of a local college campus to put the Ace 250 through its paces. I started out in ALL METAL to see how different targets responded as part of my testing and set the Sensitivity near maximum based on past experience with other low-cost detectors (wanting to squeeze all of the performance I could out of the detector). It only took a few sweeps to tell I had set the Sensitivity too high based on the false signals I received so I reduced it to the mid-point and the 250 ran silent. I was worried that the lower setting would significantly reduce the overall detection depth; however, after receiving several solid signals that turned out to be coins up to 6 deep, I realized that even reduced sensitivity settings would produce above-average depth with the Ace 250. I spent close to 20 hours here over a 3-week period and found a surprising number of coins considering I was no where near the only one to hunt this area on a regular basis. My better finds included 2 Indian Head cents, three silver coins, a thin 10KT ring and a number of wheat cents. Many of these were found at impressive depths and I was surprised at the performance afforded by the Ace 250.
One Saturday afternoon, fellow club member Rick Baker offered to help me with some testing so I picked him up and we drove over to a field that had been used by local bands for practice during summer band camps. Selecting the JEWELRY mode & bumping the Sensitivity up to 6, he started near the parking area. Signals were fairly easy to come by and Rick spent a good portion of the hour or two at the site recovering targets. Several were from the 4 to 6 range and his finds included a wheat cent and a small silver medal in addition to a handful of clad coins. He said that he found the Ace 250 extremely easy to use and was quite impressed with its target ID accuracy, depth indication and dead on pinpointing.
I took both Ace units with me when I went back to visit the family in Pennsylvania and had the kids give both models a try at a local elementary school. My daughter Leigh's experiences were described in the Ace 150 report and my son Paul's will be covered here. The schoolyard had just recently thawed from the winter weather that grips the NE for months on end so we knew anything we found would have been there for some time. Paul has been an avid hunter since he was old enough to drag a detector around so he needed no instruction on using the Ace 250. He selected the COINS mode and started off near the edge of the playground. Receiving several false signals, he bumped the Sensitivity down to 4 and continued hunting virtually silent. The advantage of having ol' Dad along, especially when conducting a field test, is that I offered to do the digging which meant Paul simply had to tap the ground with the coil as my queue to start digging. Despite only having a limited amount of time, Paul was able to detect close to $2 in change with several of the coins again buried in the 6 range. He said that pinpointing had been quite easy and that the detector was extremely light and well balanced. Knowing I am a bit of a soft-touch when it comes to detectors, he told me he wanted one to add to his arsenal of detectors . . . . . . and I knew I'd be calling to order one as soon as the winter weather passed.
The new Ace 250 is a detector that has stunned many treasure hunters around the world with the performance and features it offers at a bargain-basement price even those with years of experience using detectors costing far more than what the Ace 250 sells for . As described in this field test, I recovered a number of coins that were at depths I would equate to those obtained from a $700+ detector on a consistent basis. The best way to sum up the Ace 250 is a fun, simple detector that provides surprising detection depth without any complicated adjustments! Many people I've spoken to said they initially bought the Ace 250 as a backup detector or gift for a youngster only to find that they wound up using it more and more themselves. The performance it provides for less than $250 will make you do a double take!
The only comment regarding the Ace 250 that is not overwhelmingly positive is that the non-motion pinpoint mode does not provide as strong a signal as the normal discriminate search modes do meaning that one very deep targets, it may me a bit tougher to get a signal in the non-motion mode. However, if the detector indicates that there is a target present, wiggle the coil slightly to zero in on the signals and continue digging . . . you will not be disappointed!
The Ace 250 lists for $249.95 and comes with a 2-year factory warranty. Optional search coils will be available in the future for the new Ace series to fit a wide range of treasure hunting applications in addition to the new stock 6.5"x9" PROformance coil.
For more information on the new Ace 250 or to request a copy of Garrett's Product Catalog & Company History Profile, contact the factory at (972) 494-6151 or 1881 West State Street, Garland, TX 75042 or http://www.garrett.com. Be sure to mention you read about the new Ace 250 in Lost Treasure Magazine.