PROS / Its light weight and easy controls make it the ultimate pickup-and-go detector.
CONS / Without manual ground balancing, you'll have to turn the machine's sensitivity down in some areas, sacrificing depth as you go.
VERDICT / Metal-detecting beginners will adore the Garrett Ace 250. It's affordable, easy to use and can do everything you'd want it to.
Accurate, comfortable, easy to use, and packing all the must-have features that newcomers crave and veterans demand, the Garrett Ace 250 is one of the best metal detectors for beginners that you can find. It's also, rightfully, the most popular. Though its elliptical coil isn't quite as precise as a DD-style coil, it sports a more focused search field than detectors with round coils and gives you great bang for your buck. Its display screen is easier to read and interact with than a lot of the competition, and even its support is noteworthy. The Garrett website has an entire section devoted to training videos, which will help you graduate from novice detectorist to veteran hunter in no time. It’s no surprise that such a stellar metal detector garners our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.
Design & Performance
The 9-inch elliptical search coil that comes standard with the Ace 250 might look small, but that's only because it's thin. Its ovoid search cone is longer than what standard 8-inch coils can produce, while its thin profile makes it easier to hop from a bad target to a good one. You can buy a DD-style coil or simply upgrade to the next detector in the Garrett Ace series if you like, but most beginners should be perfectly content with what the 250's standard coil can deliver. When we tried to fake it out with trash metals, it spotted and honed in on the lone testing coin every time.
Its display screen is well designed and easy to read. A graphic target ID lines the top of the screen with thick, clear hash marks that are perfect for quick glances. A depth indicator on the right side is numbered and provides permanent – and surprisingly accurate – feedback about how deep a target is, up to 8 inches down. It even boasts an always-on battery indicator instead of the low battery warning most detectors use.
Every metal detector manufacturer tries to set its product apart with a unique feature or setting. For Garrett, that selling point is the bell tone. Along with the three basic audio beeps that sound when you move the Ace 250 over targets, a fourth tone will play when the detector spots something it thinks is a coin. Garrett calls it the bell tone because it has a distinct ring and fade-out time. It might not be particularly useful if you're relic hunting or are doing a blanket scan of a piece of land, but coinshooters will appreciate hearing that extra confirmation. We ran tests with the Ace 250, hiding coins amid a field of trash metals and asked our testers to use the bell tone to find them, and they brought back every coin. This feature performed flawlessly.
For the most part, the Garrett Ace 250 has all of the features you look for in a treasure-hunting metal detector: eight levels of sensitivity, five different discrimination patterns and fully custom notching that gives you complete control over how the detector reacts to different metals. Ground balancing remains a lone and notable absence; the Ace 250 doesn't have any sort of automatic or manual ground balance, so if you're searching an area with high mineralization, you'll have to resort to turning down the device's sensitivity to avoid ghost targets. As this reduces your detecting depth, it's not an optimal solution, but it's all the detector has.
Compared to other detectors, the Ace 250 is small. Its adjustable shaft can extend more than enough to comfortably fit a tall adult, but its thin search coil and compact control box give it a tight, capable feel. At only 2.7 pounds, it's among the lightest metal detectors we reviewed, and it sports the most comfortable grip and armrest. All of this adds up to a detector we wanted to spend the day with, and thanks to its 30-hour battery life, we didn't have any trouble doing so.
Help & Support
Garrett won't win many accolades for its comparatively short two-year limited warranty, but the company does its best to make up for it with plenty of user support, including great customer service, detailed FAQs and intricate online instructional videos. Its devices also tend to be particularly rugged, able to stand up to years of detection without a hiccup. From what we've seen of the Ace 250, it matches that description to a tee.
Garrett's entire line of Ace metal detectors is tailor-made for both newcomers to the hobby and veterans who want performance without dipping too far into their wallets. For an excellent balance of capability and features that other, similarly priced detectors could only hope to match, the Garrett Ace 250 is a great buy.