Garrett Electronics Ace 350

By Lost Treasure
From page 11 of the January, 2011 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2011 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


The Ace 350 offers ready access to all of its controls and the LCD screen is easy-to-read, with a wealth of target ID and setting information.

Garrett Electronics Ace 350

Garrett Electronics has rightfully earned a place in the history books when it comes to the metal detection industry…and not only for the innovative and often groundbreaking products they have produced for more than 45 years.

Charles Garret, his wife, Eleanor, and now his children, have given far more than simply a line of metal detectors to hobbyists worldwide, as they expanded the business to include a full range of books and videos that have allowed Charles to share his wealth of knowledge with countless treasure hunters, built security equipment used around the world at events such as the Olympics, political conventions, and sporting events, and even mine and ordnance detection equipment used by multi-national military forces.

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 and back them with “unparalleled customer satisfaction.”

In late 2004, Garrett introduced two new models that took the industry by storm by offering features and performance at a price tag $100's less than anything else on the market. I have used both the Ace 150 and 250 models since their introduction and have remained impressed at the performance they offer.  When I was informed the new Ace 350 model was en route, I was looking forward to seeing how it performed in the field.

 

Features

The Ace 350 is the newest addition to the Garrett line and, at first glance, seems quite similar to its brothers, the Ace 150 and Ace 250. The models that Garrett has introduced in recent years have all shown that the end user was kept center stage during the design process as their weight, balance, and ergonomics of the controls all make for an enjoyable day in the field.

As with the other Ace models, the legendary “Garrett-Green” is now an eye-catching yellow with green and red graphics. The Ace 350 uses an S-shaped rod design with the control housing mounted above the thickly padded handgrip. All of the touchpad controls are easily accessible with one’s thumb, providing for one-handed operation in all modes of operation.

The Ace 350 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 – truly simplicity at its best! The Ace 350 features an LCD screen, which provides users with valuable information on both the various settings as well as detected targets including:

Target ID: A dual scale, each with 12 segments. The upper one indicates the probable ID of the detected target while the lower one indicates what segments are being accepted or rejected based on the specific search mode selected.

Target Depth: Displays the approximate target depth in 2” increments (2”, 4”, 6” or 8”+). 

Pinpoint: When the pinpoint mode is selected, the display changes and the upper target ID bar moves from left to right as the center of the coil approaches the center of the target to aid in zeroing in on the object

Battery Condition: An icon showing the current battery strength from four bars (fully charged / new) to 1 bar (need to replace)

Search Mode: Indicates which of the five possible search modes is selected

Sensitivity: Depicts the current sensitivity level – eight possible levels are available.

The Ace 350 has five independent discriminate search modes, which include Jewelry, Custom, Relics, Coins, and Zero (All Metal). 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 tailored to for your specific needs by accepting / rejecting the particular types of targets you might be searching for or want to eliminate.

It should be noted that discrimination points in any of the search modes can be changed with the press of a button; however, only the changes made in the Custom mode will be retained when the power is turned off. As with the other Ace detectors, 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 have to increase the discrimination to eliminate additional targets, which results in a loss of detection depth, the notch discrimination system on the Ace models allows you to reject any target or combination of targets with no impact on detection depth. The Ace 350 also provides tone target ID where targets are classified into three different “bins,” with each producing a unique audio response. After a little time in the field, one can quickly determine what targets are worth investigating based on their audio response and then glance at the LCD screen to get a more precise identification.

Two changes found on the Ace 350 when comparing it to the Ace 150 and 250 are a slightly higher operating frequency (8.25 kHz vs. 6.5 kHz) and what the Garrett engineers call Enhanced Iron Resolution. The slight increase in frequency makes the Ace 350 a tad more sensitive to smaller targets and gives it a slight edge on detecting low-conductive targets, such as brass and gold. The change was small enough that coils designed for the Ace 150 and 250 can be used on the 350 with no adverse impact on overall performance.

The other change - Enhanced Iron Resolution – has expanded the lower range of the discrimination range while compressing the upper range. The Ace 250 and 350 both have 12 target ID notches; however, the 350 has moved two of the notches from the coin range to the iron range. This allows hunters that find themselves in areas with high concentrations of iron trash combined with iron relics to select the level of iron rejection desired, which was not possible on the Ace 250.

What is sacrificed is the ability to identify specific coins types, such as dimes, pennies quarters, and silver dollars, which is available on the Ace 250. The Ace 350 still provides some degree of separation and identification, just not to the same level as the Ace 250. If you are a coin hunter, knowing you have a coin and if it is either a penny or clad / silver may be enough and the Ace 350 offers that capability.

Another feature introduced on the Ace 350 is a new search coil.  Unlike the Ace 150 and 250, which come with a concentric search coil, the 350 comes with the newly designed 8.5”x11” Double-D coil. Unique in its appearance, both ends of the elliptical coil have been “blunted,” which allows it to search right up to walls, trees and rocks…another sign that Garrett’s engineers found out what users ran into in the field and designed solutions to these challenges.

While the coil is larger than the coil found on the Ace 150 and 250, it is not much heavier and is well balanced for hours of searching. Pinpointing is a bit different, especially if you have never used a Double-D coil; however, with a little practice on known targets you can zero in on targets with a high degree of accuracy.

The Ace 250 is powered by four AA batteries that will provide 20 to 40 hours of use. Rechargeable batteries can be used with no loss of performance; however, with the life obtained from four 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.

 

Field Test

A quick and simple test of a new detector such as the Ace 350 is a pass through one of the many parks in the area. While there may not be any old or valuable coins, there are enough targets that one can get the feel of a detector in short order. The first one I visited had several play areas containing bark chips beneath the play equipment. Opting for the RELICS search mode (to see where good and bad targets registered), I set the Sensitivity at the mid-point and started hunting. It wasn’t long before signals started turning up and the accuracy of the target ID (both via the LCD screen and the audio response) was dead-on. On several nickel targets and pull-tabs, I toggled over to the COINS search mode and found that the coins remained accepted while the tabs were rejected…a confidence builder and a testament to the Ace 350’s accuracy. A few hours on a warm, sunny fall afternoon netted a pocket full of coins, several Matchbox cars and a few pieces of costume jewelry from depths that ranged from just under the surface down to 8” or 9” at the base of the bark chip layer.

Heading out the following weekend, I opted to search a few older homes I had received permission to hunt earlier in the year, but, due to the lack of rain, I had been reluctant to hunt them for fear of leaving brown spots in the lawns. A few nice rains recently had alleviated these concerns so I stopped by the first one and, after a short chat with the owner, got the green light to hunt the property.

Starting in the front yard, I again started with RELICS to ensure goodies other than coins were not overlooked and began working a grid pattern. There seemed to be a good deal of ferrous trash in the area (the house was almost 100-years-old), so I switched to JEWELRY, which eliminated another notch on the ferrous scale (I could also have simply eliminated the extra notch using the touchpad and associated rocker switch). This got rid of much of the chatter the trash had been causing and good signals remained clear when they were detected – even those on the lower end of the scale.

Seven wheat cents, one Indian Head (which I gave to the property owner’s son that had followed me around) and three Mercury dimes turned up along with a number of clad coins (also “donated” to the son) and a small silver pin. Thanking the owner, I headed over to another house from the late 1800’s I had hoped to search.

Getting permission, I was off with similar settings as at the first house, with the exception of increasing the Sensitivity to one segment from Max. The mild ground and less trash allow me to run at this level without chatter and, over the course of a few hours, I picked up another smattering of Wheat cents, a dateless Buffalo nickel, a well-worn, but readable 1908 V-nickel, four silver dimes and a nice small brass political button from a local race in the 1920’s.

 Some of coins had been 7”+ deep and all had produced consistent signals at the settings selected. The practice run at the playground paid off in pinpointing the targets and, combined with the Garrett ProPointer I have found always at my side, was able to greatly minimize the size of the plugs needed to recover them. 

Living where I do affords me the opportunity to try various detectors out under a wide range of conditions and in searching for a myriad of targets. The Civil War grounds of Atlanta are less than two hours west and I wanted to see how the Ace 350 faired in the hot ground found at many of the sites in the area. 

With 100’s of active relic hunters in the greater-Atlanta area, finding a virgin site anymore is about as likely as winning the lottery two weeks in a row, but there are still relics to be found.

Heading for a site I have hunted on-and-off for more than a decade, I opted for the Zero search mode, bumped the sensitivity up to MAX and started off into the woods. It was readily apparent that the Sensitivity was a bit too hot based on the chatter, but dropping it two notches took care of it in short order.

The site I was hunting had been the location of a Union camp occupied while Atlanta was under siege so there were plenty of nails and boot tacks. I rejected the lowest two segments and could see how the Enhanced Iron Resolution could benefit relic hunters. The smaller ferrous targets were eliminated; however, larger iron objects, including gun parts, shell fragments and other camp artifacts, would still be accepted (even though they may give a broken signal). This capability would save time by not having to investigate signals from small iron objects while not missing artifacts that are desired.  Good signals were few and far between but they were there.

A few hours spent searching the hillsides and ravine at this site turned up four Minie balls, five small buck-n-balls (about the size of a .22 bullet), some camp lead and a piece of unidentifiable brass. This site has been hunted by virtually every detector out there and by some of the better relic hunters in the area, so I walked back to the truck feeling pretty impressed with how the Ace 350 with the new Double-D coil and new features had performed.

 

Summary

The new Ace 350 is a detector that will continue to carry the legendary Ace moniker in terms of value and performance. What Charles Garrett and his staff have clearly recognized, especially in today’s economic climate, is that there are many people that would love to give treasure hunting a try either as a solitary hobby or a family pastime, yet don’t have $1,000’s of discretionary income to put into buying equipment.

The Ace series provides buyers with solid performance, ease of operation and a rock-solid build that will provide years of dependable service at a price that won’t break the family budget. As many Ace users have found, the performance they produce often makes one do a double take!

Several seasoned hunters I know purchased Ace 250’s and, most recently, Ace 350’s as backup units to their $1,000+ detectors and, after a few hours in the field, have found the Ace has become their primary detector for many areas. 

A number of the targets I recovered with the Ace 350 and in the past with my Ace 250 have come from depths that one does not normally equate with a detector in that price range.

Two comments regarding the Ace 350 worth passing on are 1) the target depth indication would at times indicate a depth that was shallower than the actual target was found, and 2) when searching highly mineralized ground at higher sensitivity levels, some chattering was observed. As far as the first comment goes, recognizing this occurs is 90% of the solution - if the Ace 350 tells you there is a target beneath the coil, you can be sure it is, so keep digging and see what you’ve found. For the other comment, don’t be afraid to reduce the sensitivity as needed to eliminate any falsing.

The Ace 350 lists for $349.95 and includes a pair of Garrett’s ClearSound EasyStow headphones and the customary 2-year factory warranty. Available accessories include three optional concentric search coils (6.5”x9” and 9”x12” elliptical coils and a 4.5” round) designed to fit a wide range of treasure hunting applications and personal hunting preferences, carrying cases, coil covers and a pinpointer probe.

For more information on the new Ace 350, or to request a copy of Garrett's Product Catalog & Company History Profile, contact the factory at (972) 494-6151, write them at 1881 West State Street, Garland, TX 75042, or visit their website at http://www.garrett.com. Be sure to mention you read about the new Ace 350 in Lost Treasure Magazine!

Garrett Electronics Ace 350
Garrett Electronics Ace 350
Garrett Electronics Ace 350