The Garrett Ace 250 was my very first metal detector. When I first got into the sport I knew next to nothing about metal detecting. I quickly gathered up over 100 hours of use on it, getting used to how it worked and how to read it properly, I began to see why it’s the #1 rated best metal detector for beginners.
I got into metal detecting about a week before going on a trip with my family to Hawaii. I saw the YouTube videos of guys scuba diving and finding rings, coins and all sorts of cool relics. I watched as they combed beached with their sand scoops and extracted countless items of junk and treasure. I was hooked and I hadn’t even begun detecting yet. Luckily my wife and I had budgeted our vacation money as well as fun/blow money and so I bought the Ace 250 with my fun money.
I got my Ace 250 literally the day before we left to go to Hawaii, so I didn’t have any practice with it at all which was a real rookie mistake. I didn’t know how to read the screen, discriminate properly, or know what items gave certain tones. At least once a day I found time to go out to the beach to metal detect, or as my wife called it, “comb the beaches.” I’d get up extra early or stay out a little later than the family. When I’d be going out the hotel door she’d say “Going combing?” She was happy to get some extra sleep while I was happy to learn how to metal detect.
At first, I thought there was tons of lost treasure right where the waves were washing up on shore. I thought this because every single time I swung my Ace 250 over the wet sand I got crazy amounts of tones! I was so excited. How could it be so easy? “The reviews I saw never showed it being this easy” were my thoughts.
I dug the sand and washed my scoop in the water for faster recovery and was excited to see all the treasures I found in my scoop. My first scoop sadly had nothing, but I knew my second scoop would because I had gotten so many beeps when swinging over the wet sand. Well, the second didn’t either. And neither did the 10th scoop, or the 20th scoop. I finally decided to forget scanning right along the water line on the wet part of the beach and stick to the dry sand.
At the time I had never heard of “ground balancing” or “mineralization” from saltwater. The Ace 250 cannot detect in saltwater, period. However, it does very well on the dry beaches. On my trip with my family, I ended up finding my first ring up at Waimea Bay Beach. Parking is ridiculous there and the surf was so big there was no way to enjoy the water along the beach, but I found a ring! I also found an earring, part of a watch and about $8.00 in US modern coins. So, my metal detecting in Hawaii did not end up making me rich or pay for the trip.
What I did learn though was an immense amount of info about the Ace 250. Using it in dry sand, no closer than 3ft from the water’s edge worked great. Since returning to Idaho I have taken it out countless times and have countless hours using it. It is very good and detecting targets and reading out exactly what it is. It takes some time to get used to the Target ID bar to learn what the item in the ground is. But doing the “hard time” of just getting out there and digging everything has taught me how great a metal detector it is for beginners.
I started out by searching playgrounds at schools around my house. I had seen videos of people who didn’t live close to oceans going to schools and having strangely great success. Watching lots of other YouTube videos I saw gold rings, silver rings, old coins, and so commonly being found at school grounds by other detectorists.
My first day going out to the local elementary school I packed up my mini shovel, Ace 250, and all my other tools I needed. I got out there, turned it on and went to work. Crazily enough, my third target ended up being half of a bracelet that was real gold! Of all places and elementary school, how was a real gold bracelet there? Anyway, I didn’t care, I HAD GOLD! I went back several times and checked the playground areas. I found other bling jewelry, a ton of junk and about $7.00 in clad coins. So again, I wasn’t rich but the experience was remarkable. I did find enough money to buy lemonade from some kids a few times on my trek back home.
When it comes to the Garrett Ace 250 you just need to know what it can and can’t do. It isn’t going to find gold nuggets, handle the heavily mineralized ground well, do anything in the saltwater or go underwater. Outside of that, it can pretty much do everything else. That is what makes it the top-rated best metal detector for beginners. To learn tones, discrimination, pinpointing, depth gauging and all those things, it really is a great teacher.
One mistake I made when I bought my Ace 250 is that I didn’t purchase a coil protector, headphones or environmental cover for the control box. I ended up buying online and shipping those things overnight to me in Hawaii because I learned I definitely needed them. That was a costly mistake. It is far more affordable to simply get the Ace 250 kit and get it all together rather than buy each piece individually. Then on top of that overnight them to Hawaii.
I thought that the coil would come with some sort of cover on it already simply because of the nature of metal detecting is quite rough on coils. I didn’t think I’d need the headphones but the external speaker on the Garrett Ace 250 is extremely loud. The last thing I wanted was to annoy a bunch of people at the beach and get scowled at the whole time. Or worse have the beach police called and have to stop due to noise complaints or something. That all being said, the headphones are also extremely loud and had to have them on the lowest setting to not get a headache. Most of the time I put the headphones on the loudest setting then just have them around my neck so it’s not loud to other people but also not blowing out my eardrums. Having headphones also seems to make the battery last longer in my opinion.
Sand, water, and dirt often got on the screen on the Ace 250, so it definitely helped to have a cover for the control box to keep it clean and easy to read. I didn’t think I’d need it at first because I wasn’t going to get it dirty. I really didn’t know what I didn’t know. It becomes a pain to read the screen when there’s dirt all over it and the sun is shining down on it. It’s definitely worth it to get a Garrett Ace 250 complete kit.
It only weighs 2.7lbs which is plenty light in the metal detecting world. It packs down pretty nice to a short 40inch setup and can extend all the way out to 53inches which is plenty long. The 6.5in x 9in concentric coil is sufficient for any beginner. I do have plans on getting a DD 5”x8” coil for it though and will do a review on that too once I’ve played with it. I have dug targets that were easily 12inches deep. A lot of work for a quarter. I don’t recommend getting a larger coil for the 250 especially while beginning because you’ll pick up targets that are way too dip to dig and still be fun. The name of the game is quick recovery. That’s how you get the really good stuff. I generally focus on 6 inches or less in depth. For this, my sensitivity is not at maximum power. I generally go down 2 or 3 clicks on the sensitivity and that’s just about right for quick target recovery.
It doesn’t have a wireless headphone option but there are ¼” headphone Bluetooth adapters that work pretty well with any Bluetooth headset. This is a cheap alternative to getting the special Bluetooth adapters, but you need to keep in mind that there can be a lag between the Bluetooth adapter to your standard Bluetooth headphones.
The VLF or very low frequency works great with the Ace 250’s concentric coil as well as upgraded DD coils. As mentioned before, just don’t go into saltwater, crazy mineralized ground, underwater or out finding gold nuggets with it and it works beautifully. I have met a surprising amount of people who started on the Ace 250, bought something much more expensive to replace it, then went back to the 250 because they had better results with it. It does an awesome job of keeping it all very simple.
It has 5 settings on it which are All-Metal/No Discrimination, Jewelry (the mode I most often use), Coin, Relic, and Custom. I generally use the jewelry mode the most because it automatically discriminates the lower iron signals which help prevent getting a lot of junk targets.
The pin pointer button works very well on the 250. As always, I have to make an “X” or a “+” sign to get the best location for the target. When I don’t get the target exactly it’s more user error than equipment error. It is important to make sure to be off to the side of the target before turning on the pin pointer. Also, make sure there are no other targets where the coil is when depressing the pinpoint button.
The Garrett Ace 250 has ground balancing in a way. For example, when pinpointing, I have to start off to the side of the target because if I start right on top of it the coil thinks that whatever is directly underneath the coil is neutral. This means if I turn on the pin pointer on top of the target then the control box will think that the target under my coil is a neutral object and won’t sound off on it. I always make sure to put my coil to the side of the target and make sure that I’m not on top of another target either.
It does a phenomenal job of gauging target depth. I’d say 95% or more of the time it is exactly the depth it says it is on the screen. There are two main exceptions. The first is if the target is less than 2” in depth then when pinpointing the tone and ID bar will jump from nothing to max extremely quick. That tells me that the target is either on the surface of the ground or just below it. Those are my favorite. The second is if the target is extremely large, I’ll have to dig deeper than it says on the screen to retrieve it.
I was at a playground once and had a target reading up at about 6 inches of depth but I could tell it was huge. When I was running the pin pointer on the Ace 250 the loud tone was going for about 12 inches in every direction I pin pointed. I could tell it much larger than a coin obviously. I ended up having to dig about 10 inches in depth and found a large school pencil box down in the sand.
It took me about 15 hours of practice before I could simply dig the correct depth as shown on the Ace 250 screen and then get straight to the target. Working in dirt, especially wet dirt makes this easier. If the screen reads out 4inches and I’ve pinpointed correctly, I can generally dig down, make my plug and find the target directly on the bottom of the dirt plug.
It uses a 6.5khz fixed frequency which keeps this very simple for finding treasure. It’s not going to find anything 20inches deep into the ground, nor do I want it to. The 6.5khz frequency is just right for beginners. It allows me to find small coin-sized objects and bigger with great ease up to 8 inches. I have detected things much deeper as previously mentioned but anything down to 8 inches is easy to pick up as long as it’s a dime size or larger. The lower frequency is good for objects that size. To find tiny gold flecks you’d need a very high frequency metal detector with something like 20kHz to 40kHz in range. That’s why the Ace 250 is not meant for gold finding.
It has 3 audio tones which makes it very simple to hear for good targets. “Good” targets meaning noniron targets will ring in the mid and high tones. Aluminum will often sound like coins and gold so that’s why I always say, “Dig every repeatable tone.” I almost always discriminate iron objects out so I rarely hear the low tones.
It comes with a full 2-year warranty and uses 4 AA batteries which last about 75 to 100 hours depending on headphone use, external speaker use and pinpoint use. It is extremely well priced at about $210 for just the Ace 250 all the way up to $255 for the Garrett Ace 250 complete kit. I highly recommend the complete kit because it will save money in the long run if buying extra accessories. I personally think those are necessary accessories to the 250, so save for a few more days of your lunch money and get the complete kit.
The coil cover keeps the coil lasting much longer and in good working condition. There’s nothing worse than being out in the field and have something break or not work properly. Keep the coil protected.
The environmental cover is a great addition. It keeps the screen clean so I can see it even when the sun is shining down right on the screen. It also keeps sand and dirt out from behind the buttons. I have had that issue before when I didn’t have an environmental cover and the buttons don’t respond as easily which gets annoying.
The headphones just make life easier when detecting around other people. They don’t get annoyed and I still get to enjoy the sport. They help save batteries a bit and I can also ignore people easier which sometimes is nice. It’s pretty common to have people come up and ask all sorts of questions which keeps me from hunting.
I do wish that the Ace 250 did come with Target ID numbers rather than just the Target ID bar. This would make it a little easier to figure out what item I’m looking at digging up before I dig it. This is something that is found in all the other Ace series detectors. It is definitely not a deal breaker though. With any unit, it takes practice to know what is under the ground before digging.
People always ask “what is the best metal detector.” The correct response is always, “for what?” Best for coins, best for beaches, best for gold nuggets, best for kids, etc… For beginners though, you can’t go wrong with an Ace 250. It will get you to the intermediate level of metal detecting faster than almost any other model out there. There are some great Minelab and Whites units that are great for beginners too but that is for another time.