My friend Ed had previously spent over a thousand dollars on another brand of metal detectors, but when he bought the Garrett ACE 350 he soon found that it outperformed them, in features and ease of use as well as the performance of the Double-D search coil. The ACE 350 is the latest addition to the popular ACE series of inexpensive hobby detectors from Texas-based Garrett Metal Detectors, one of the leading manufacturers of metal detectors world-wide.Other buyers also rave about its features, its ease of use and its versatility for use in many different types of environment. Particularly noteworthy is it improved performance on highly mineralized grounds, like saltwater wet sand, where it performs better than most other all-round detectors thanks to its large elliptical search coil, and comparable to many metal detectors that will cost you a lot more…
ACE™ 350 Metal Detector
Included in package:
- (4) AA batteries (already mounted)
- (1) Control housing, mounted on an S-shaped stem
- (1) Upper stem
- (1) Lower stem
- (1) Wing nut
- (2) Mounting washers
- (1) Threaded bolt
- (1) 8.5″x11″ DD searchcoil
- Owner’s manual
- Warrenty card
- – No tools are required to assemble the metal detector. If you want to readjust the arm rest, you will need a Phillips screwdriver, however.
Size, Weight and Dimensions
The total weight including batteries is 2.8 lbs (1.27 kg), and the total length is adjustable from 42″ to 51″ (106 cm – 129 cm). Users describe it as light-weight and well-balanced, which is important propertied for a metal detector, because you will most likely end up spending considerable time sweeping the ground while hunting for treasure, and if your detector is not a good match for you, your expeditions are likely to result in physical strain, backaches and undue tiredness. This will in turn impair your ability to maintain the correct sweeping motion and speed. It is important that the search coil is maintained as close to the ground as possible in order to obtain the optimal detection depth. It is also important to maintain the correct angle, so the coil moves parallel to the ground, and not perform pendulum swings. Rapidly changing the distance between the ground and the detector will lead to false signals due to the ground mineralization. Finally it is important that the speed at which you move and the overlap between the sweeping motions are correct in relation to the type and size of your detecting coil. Failing this you will effectively reduce the ground you cover by a considerable margin, thus missing many potential targets (which is one reason that fields that have already been searched by other detectionists still turn up new finds.
The ACE 350 comes with a large elliptical 8.5″ x 11″ search coil, labelled DD PROformance by Garrett. The advantage of the DD, or Double-D, search coil is that your detector will be less affected by the natural ground mineralization (and saltwater), when compared to a traditional concentric, round coils. This is because a concentric coil emits a cone-formed electromagnetic field, while the DD coil emits a long narrow detection field, which in effect means that the detector is scanning much less ground at a time, and thus has to deal with a lot less ground mineralization. This in turn leads to a significant improvement in performance, both in relation to scanning coverage and the ability of the detector to separate different types of targets.
Optimal search coil size depend on the type of terrain you are searching, as well as the type of targets you are searching for and the amount of trash metals. Smaller coils are better at locating good targets in areas with many trash targets, that would perhaps be masked out with a larger coil. A small coil is also advantageous in terrain with a lot of obstacles, such as vegetation, rocks, uneven ground and fences. The disadvantages of a small coil, on the other hand, are a significantly reduced detection depth, and a smaller coverage area. The bigger the search coil, the deeper the electromagnetic field will reach, and the larger an area will be covered by each sweep, thus letting you scan a greater area in a set time. The cost of this, however, comes in the form of being harder to use close to obstacles and where the ground is uneven or covered by vegetation, as well as reduced sensitivity to smaller objects. Increasing size also means increasing weight, and as discussed above this is important when you are going to carry it around for hours at a time.
The coil has an open design that gives a very good visibility of the ground underneath, which helps you locate more precisely the spot that triggered a signal. It also has Garrett’s exclusive blunt tail and tip, that helps extend the scan area, as well as makes it easier to search close to obstacles. The design is waterproof and submersible, with near neutral buoyancy, meaning that you can use the coil to scan under water (but please remember that the control box is not waterproof, and should therefore be protected from moisture).
The search coil is a single frequency, VLF (Very Low Frequency), operating at 8.25 kiloHertz (kHz). Different frequencies have different advantages and disadvantages in relation to the types and sizes of targets, such that higher frequencies will be better at detecting smaller targets, but will have its performance ruined in areas with a lot of trash targets.
The coil is interchangeable with other coils in the ACE series. It is worth noting that the cable can only be disconnected at the control housing end. It might seem like the cable end on the coil itself can also be easily disconnected, but if you try, you will twist and probably ruin the cable, so do be careful.
Different types of soil contain different types of minerals, and these minerals affect your metal detector. In order to avoid these ground minerals from masking out the targets you are searching for, the detector has to be ground balanced. Some detectors are preset from the factory to a certain ground level, while on other models the ground balance can be manually set by the user. Finally there are models like the ACE 350 that have microprocessor-controlled automatic ground balancing. This means that the ground balancing occurs every time the metal detector is turned on.
The control box features Garrett’s Graphic Target ID display, which features six (6) one touch pushbuttons, and seven (7) status displays. The Mode indicator shows which of the five (5) pre-set search modes has been selected, by hightlighting the corresponding word (Zero, Jewelry, Relics, Coins, Custom) on the LCD display. The Sensitivity indicator shows the currently set sensitivity level (from one to eight). The Battery condition shows the current battery strength, from fully charged (four bars) to replace now (one bar). The Target Depth indicator displays the estimated depth of the target in 2-inch increments. The ID Cursor (Upper Scale) indicates the probable identity of of a detected target, and consists of 12 graphic segments/pixels. The Lower scale/notch discrimination indicates the selected discrimination pattern.
12 target ID cursor segments
The display features a target ID indicator that consists of 12 ID segments, also called pixels in the manual. For each segment, there is an indicator that shows if that particular segment has been notched out or not, and above is an indicator that lights up when there is a target signal. This signal indicator will light up even on the segments that have been notched out (either through using the search modes, or by the user through the Accept/reject-button), and will thus not give an audio feedback.
The ACE 350 comes five pre-set search modes, which means that you can select the discrimination pattern that best matches what you expect to find. The search modes indicates that the discrimination pattern has been optimized for locating the type of target you have selected, but it doesn’t mean the detector will search only for jewelry, it will still located coins, relics and other items.
- Jewelry mode — this discrimination pattern is designed to find jewelry, and to ignore most nails and smaller iron piecces.
- Custom mode — as the name says this discrimination pattern can be programmed by the user. The mode is preset to be identical to the Coins mode.
- Coins mode — this discrimination pattern is optimized for finding coins of all types, while eliminating iron and foil trash items
- Relics mode — this discrimination patterns eliminates small iron pieces, while it will still detect good targets such as lead, brass and bronze.
- Zero mode – This mode detects every type of metal. This is used when the desired target is unknown, or if the signal is inconsistent, which could indicate a good target close to a trash target.
- Finally there is a special pin-pointing mode.
Enhanced Iron resolution
The ACE 350 has what Garrett calls Enhanced Iron Resolution. What they mean by this is that more of the 12 Target ID cursor segments (also known as “pixels”) are assigned to iron, compared to the ACE 250 for instance, by sacrifying some of the Target IDs for other metals. The ACE 350 thus has four of the 12 Target ID’s assigned to different iron signals, allowing the you to have more control of the iron discrimination levels, which helps you separate good targets from nearby junk iron.
The ACE 350 comes with eight (8) Sensitivity levels. You can easily change the sensitivity with a (+) and (-) Sensitivity pushbutton on the control box, and a display will show the currently selected level. A higher sensitivity level lets you search for smaller or deeper targets, while a lower sensitivity setting helps you get better results in areas with much metallic trash (undesirable targets), highly mineralized soils, on salt water beaches — or even when there is interference from other nearby metal detectors.
Headphone output and volume control
The ACE 350 comes with a 1/4″ headphone jack, located on the bottom rear side of the control housing. If you don’t connect a headphone, the audio signals will go through an internal speaker. There is no volume control knob, so you can regulate the audio volume. It is therefore recommended to use a headphone (with volume control), both in order to avoid annoying other nearby people, to keep the audio signals you receive private, and to save battery. Last but not least, a headphone will allow make it easier for you to distinguish between the different audio signals, and to pick up on weaker signals, that you would perhaps otherwise not notice.
Garrett’s own ClearSound Easy Stow headphones with inline volume control are included with the ACE 350. Some users find this model to be sub-standard, however, and recommends buying a better set. Things to look out for include having a separate volume control on each ear, as well as moisture resistent mylar speakers (as you will be wearing them outside, and moisture will rapidly deteriorate paper cone speakers).
The detector uses four (4) type AA batteries, and when you receive it, it comes with the batteries already in place and ready to use. The manufacturer recommends using good quality alkaline batteries, and as always replace with all new batteries to get optimum performance. It is also possible to use Ni-MH rechargeable batteries, but you should expect a shorter lifespan per charge. According to the specifications, you should expect 20 to 40 hours of detecting, depending on the type and quality of t he batteries.
The batteries are located under a cover on the top of the control housing, and you simply slide the cover off to replace the batteries. The display has Battery Level Indicator, consisting of four segments, and the users manual recommends that you change batteries when there is only one segment left. According to the manufacturer, the unit should be fully functional until the batteries need to be replaced, although some users have reported a better performance on fully charged batteries. It is also recommend removing the batteries, if you are going to store it for more than 30 days.
The device comes with a 2 year warranty, with limited parts and labor. To rule out that the detector has not simply been rendered inoperable by your own manual adjustments, you can reset the device back to factory settings by pressing and holding the power pushbutton for 10 seconds. It is also recommended changing to a new set of batteries, as many detector “failures” apparently are caused by weak batteries.
- Adjustable arm rest
- Adjustable shaft
- Depth indication
- One-Touch operation; 3-piece travel/storage, disassembles to 24″; adjustable arm cuff; quarter-inch (1/4″) size headphone jack.
Users are very pleased with their Ace 350’s, as can be seen from the rave reviews which can be found all over the Internet, and from the 4.7 stars rating it has on Amazon.com.
Here are some of the comments to date:
- “This metal detector is light weight, easy to use, and works great!”
- “I have had my Ace 350 now for over a year and it works as good today as it did the day I bought it”
- “This metal detector is at the “sweet spot” in this category. It is more powerful, accurate, and informative than the special-of-the week units at stores; at the same time it is far less expensive than many middle of the road detectors.”
- “In the sub-$500 range, this is a best buy.”
- “I’ve spent over $1000 on new Whites brand detectors in the past and this little 350 out performs them. The number of features you get and the ease of use it has is great, and the search coil is amazing, makes pinpointing really easy. i dont use the wand i dont think its necessary. being a garret i would assume its going to last a long time.”
- “I would definitely recommend this metal detector to anyone just starting out in the hobby as well as seasoned veterans. I believe you would need to spend several hundred dollars more to do much better.”
It is easy to assemble and ready to use in a matter of minutes. And just as easy to disassemble for storage and travelling. Users also make a note of its ease of control and customization, with one-touch operation, and a clear, well layout display, as well as the excellent pre-set settings. Performs better than its comparable competitors in search areas that are usually difficult for this type of metal detectors, such as wet sand and salt water. Great all-round detector, with great performance and many features.
Most users are extremely happy with this model, and very few problems have been reported. The lack of a volume control knob is one thing that is being noticed, but this is also the case with most other inexpensive detectors.
Another user complains of it being less effective in wet sand, but this is really to be expected with this type of search coil. If your main hunting areas are wet sand and salt water, a VLF coil will never be the optimal choice, and in this case you should consider a model based on the Pulse Induction (PI) technology, that is not affected by by the highly mineralized material in this environment. And as already mentioned many other users are indeed commenting that this model performs above average in these situations, compared to other VLF models in the same price range.
The recommended retail price is $349,95, but the unit is widely available at prices around $300 or less, and at Amazon it includes free shipping (at the time of writing).
Accessories to consider
- Using quality alkaline batteries is important for optimum detector performance, and the Panasonic Evolta AA batteries are generally considered very good value for money: 8 Pack of Panasonic Evolta AA Alkaline Batteries WORLDS BEST ALKALINE BATTERY
- Although a set of headphones are included with this metal detector, there are other and better models available: Metal Detector Headphones by Garrett
- A coil cover protects the search coil from wear and tear, and is highly recommended: Garrett Metal Detectors ACE Coil Cover, 9″ x 12″