Fisher and Garrett are both industry leaders in the manufacture of metal detectors. Both companies have been producing detectors for decades and are constantly researching innovative technologies. Both companies make models that cater to beginning detectorists.
In this article, we will discuss one model from each manufacturer: Fisher’s F44 and Garrett’s Ace 400. Both metal detectors are approximately the same cost and designed for the same type of metal detectorist.
We will talk about the features and settings on each metal detector and why they are important. We will ultimately try to figure out who wins in the battle of Fisher F44 vs Garrett Ace 400.
|Garrett AT Max||$$$||Waterproof to 10 feet|
|Fisher F22||$$||9″ Triangulated Concentric Coil|
|Garrett Ace 400||$$$||8.5 x 11" DD coil|
|Minelab Vanquish 540||$||Search Modes: Coin, Relic, Jewelry, Custom, All Metal|
Fisher is the oldest manufacturer of metal detectors. They were founded in the 1930s by Gerhard Fisher. He was the first person to receive a metal detector patent. Fisher was a German immigrant who studied electronics. He was a research engineer during the 1920s and received his first patent on the world’s first aircraft radio direction finder. Even Albert Einstein was familiar with Fisher’s work, stating it would lead to global use of radio direction finders.
Fisher’s first metal detector was the metallascope, also known as the M-Scope. It was not much like today’s detectors, though. It was made of 2 wooden boxes with vacuum tubes, copper coils, and other electronic components. Fisher’s patent on the M-Scope eventually expired, and other manufacturers scooped the technology up for their own metal detectors. Fisher retired in 1967 and the company was purchased by First Texas Holdings in 2006. First Texas continues the legacy of creating innovative technology under the Fisher brand name.
Garrett was founded in 1964 by Charles and Eleanor Garrett. Charles Garrett sought to create a better metal detector than those on the market in the 1960s. The company became well-known for their “Zero Drift” technology, which eliminated oscillator drift using independently operated search coils. This was the first brand of metal detector to address the problem of oscillator drift. This technology soon became the standard for all metal detectors.
Garrett is one of the leading manufacturers of metal detectors in the world. They are known for quality products, great customer service, and technological advancements. They consistently make metal detectors for all skill levels, as well as metal detectors for security, countermine, school security, and government use.
Meet the Fisher F44
The Fisher F44 is one of the best models in the entry level metal detector F-Series. It is intended for use on dry land and not intended to be used in saltwater or surf conditions. The F44 is weatherproof, but not fully waterproof. It should never be fully submerged in water and care should be taken when exploring near freshwater areas.
This model features a large LCD screen with backlight, numerical target ID, 9-segment visual target ID, depth indicator, and FeTone adjustable iron audio. It has adjustable volume, sensitivity, and notch. The F44 features Ground Grab computerized ground balancing and manual ground balancing.
The Fisher F44 comes with 5 operating modes: coin, artifact, relic, jewelry, custom, and all metal. Here is a breakdown of the operating modes:
- Coin – Filters out iron signals, pull tabs, and other trashy targets.
- Artifact – Allows iron signals through.
- Jewelry – Notches out iron signals.
- Custom – This mode lets you notch in or out metals so you can customize your search.
- All-Metal – This mode searches all metal types with nothing notched out.
It has 20 adjustable sensitivity levels, 20 adjustable volume levels, 4-tone audio ID, and non-volatile memory to save your favorite settings. This model comes with an 11” concentric elliptical waterproof search coil and is lightweight at just 2.3 pounds. This is a single frequency metal detector operating at 7.69 kHz. This is not the ideal range for finding gold but is good for finding other types of metal (to clarify, it will still find large gold pieces, but will struggle to find small or fine gold).
This model will not work well in saltwater areas. It may struggle in areas with high soil mineralization, but the adjustable ground balancing and sensitivity can help eliminate the effects of soil minerals.
This model operates on 2 AA batteries. The F44 can successfully identify targets up to 11”, with targets under 9” being the most successful. The F44 can find a US clad quarter at 9” in sandy soil, flat aluminum cans at 11” in dry sand, and pennies 5” deep in wet freshwater sand. This model also has a pinpoint mode, which helps better narrow down a dig site. The F44 is very user friendly and has a lot of features that will make beginning or intermediate detectors happy. This makes it a strong contender in the battle of Fisher F44 vs Garrett Ace 400.
Meet the Garrett Ace 400
Garrett’s Ace 400 is the top tier in traditional Ace lineup. This is a single frequency metal detector operating at 10 kHz, adjustable. This does not mean it is multiple frequency, but rather, that the frequency can be adjusted slightly up or down to compensate for soil mineralization and electromagnetic interference. This model features iron audio, adjustable notch discrimination, digital target ID, and 8 sensitivity and depth adjustments.
The Ace 400 is designed for all metals but will struggle to find small and fine gold. The 10 kHz frequency is good balance between depth and sensitivity and is perfect for coin shooting and relic hunting. This model has a small LCD screen with numerical target ID and graph at the top showing the most likely metal found. Under the screen is a series of buttons to change the search mode, adjust sensitivity and discrimination, adjust iron audio, adjust frequency, and activate and use pinpoint mode.
Garrett’s Ace 400 features factory pre-set ground balancing which is not adjustable. This can become an issue in areas with high soil mineralization, hot rocks, black sands, and saltwater. The Ace 400 has 5 search modes: zero discrimination, jewelry, relics, coins, and custom. Here is a breakdown of each:
- Zero Disc – Not a true all-metal mode, but it is similar. It detects all metal types with no discrimination.
- Jewelry – filters most iron trash while targeting common jewelry metals.
- Relics– Relics mode eliminates small iron items while detecting lower conductivity targets including brass, bronze, and lead.
- Coins – This mode eliminates foil, pull tabs, and other common trash items.
- Custom – This mode allows you to customize your own notch discrimination pattern. You can accept or reject segments you do or do not wish to detect. These settings will save after the detector is powered off.
The Ace 400 comes with an 8.5” by 11” Double-D PROformance search coil. This coil is waterproof, but the detector is not, so be cautious around water. This model operates o 4 AA batteries and weighs 2.9 pounds. The Ace 400 can easily find targets up to 8” deep in good soil conditions. This model is not intended for use in saltwater areas. Most single frequency detectors struggle in saltwater.
Fisher F44 vs Garrett Ace 400
Now that we have discussed both detectors, lets compare the 2. Both metal detectors have numerical target ID, iron audio, notch discrimination, 5 search modes, and waterproof search coils. Neither detector is designed for use in saltwater or while gold prospecting. The Ace 400 has a slightly higher frequency, 10 kHz to 7.69 kHz, plus it is adjustable. This is hugely helpful in areas with high soil mineralization or electromagnetic interference. However, the Ace 400 does not have adjustable ground balancing. The F44 features both automatic and manual ground balancing. This helps enormously in areas with high soil mineralization.
The F44 has more sensitivity adjustments, 20 compared to just 8 on the Ace 400. The Ace 400 uses 4 AA batteries, while the F44 uses only 2. The F44 has a backlit LCD screen while the Ace 400s screen is not lit. The Ace 400 has 12 discrimination settings, while the F44 only has 9 discrimination segments. The F44 comes with an 11” search coil, the F44 comes with an 8” by 11” search coil. You will get more coverage quicker using the larger F44 search coil, but in terms of performance, there is not much difference between the 2 coils.
There is some difference in terms of size and weight between the F44 and Ace 400. The Ace 400 extends to 53” and weighs 2.9 pounds, while the F44 extends to 40” and weighs 2.3 pounds. A taller person may struggle with the shorter F44. Both metal detectors have pinpoint mode. Fisher’s F44 features non-volatile memory so it will revert to the last setting used before the machine was powered off. This means you do not have to reprogram the detector every time you turn it on. This is hugely helpful when you are searching over the same terrain multiple times.
So, which metal detector is the best? Which metal detector wins in the showdown of Fisher F44 vs Garrett Ace 400? Both detectors are fantastic options for any beginning metal detectorist or intermediate detectorist. Both are roughly the same price, and both have a lot of great options. Both metal detectors are user friendly and easy to operate. It is really a matter of personal choice and the soil conditions where you want to metal detect.
I would say in most aspects the Garrett Ace 400 wins out over the Fisher F44. However, if you live in an area with elevated levels of soil mineralization like I do, the ground balance feature is necessary, even for a new detectorist. My very first metal detector was the Fisher F11, and it did not feature adjustable ground balancing. I was constantly getting phantom signals, spending a lot of time digging, only to find nothing. The detector would then read that the target had shifted in a different direction. The level of soil mineralization I deal with here in Utah also makes some metal detectors overload, which my F11 did constantly. This meant I had to turn it off, reset everything, and start anew. It was only when I upgraded to a detector with adjustable ground balancing, I figured out how important this feature is. Ground balancing is enormously helpful in minimizing the loss of depth and false signals. It is a variable setting on some machines that increases the detection depth in mineralized soil and helps filter out the effects of this mineralization.
I really like the adjustable and higher frequency on the Garrett Ace 400. This allows you find more metals and the frequency shift allows the detector to filter out some interference. If your area has good soil conditions and low soil mineralization, I recommend the Garrett Ace 400. Low frequencies penetrate the ground deeper, but higher frequencies have greater signal strength and better sensitivity. Because I have personally dealt with a metal detector without ground balance settings in areas with high soil mineralization, I would recommend the Fisher F44 if you have these conditions in the areas you plan to hunt.
Regardless of which metal detector you choose, you cannot go wrong with either one of these. Garrett and Fisher are both industry leaders in the production of quality metal detectors and for good reason! Both metal detectors are simple to use, great for beginners, and have plenty of features.
One final note. Always make sure you check your local state and federal government guidelines when it comes to metal detecting. Each state, city, and county can be different, so it is up to you to do your research! Metal detecting on national forest land is typically allowed, but again, varies by location. Always check to make sure you are within the law!
Q: This will be my first metal detector. Which is the easiest to use?
A: Both the Garrett Ace 400 and Fisher F44 are user friendly and catered to beginning detectorists. Both have settings and features that may sound confusing when you are first starting your metal detecting hobby. I recommend becoming familiar with your user manual when you purchase a detector. Try testing the detector at home, or in a controlled environment, using several types of metals. This will help you better understand how the machine reacts to diverse types of metals.
At home, you can simply wave the metals over the search coil and listen and watch as the metal detector alerts. Many people will create a test garden in their yard with markers showing what they have buried so they can test their detector that way. You can also watch videos online to learn from other detectorists.
Q: I want to metal detect on a saltwater beach. Which detector will work better?
A: Neither of these metal detectors is designed specifically for saltwater conditions. Saltwater is inherently conductive and single low frequency metal detectors often struggle with eliminating the excess noise caused by saltwater. The Fisher F44 does feature ground balancing and sensitivity adjustments. If you are determined to hunt the beach, I would start by manually ground balancing the F44 and knocking down the sensitivity.
You will lose depth with lowered sensitivity. Be aware you will still have chatter from the salt coming through so you may miss some targets or be chasing phantom signals. Always ensure you clean your search coil after using it in saltwater as the salt can damage the coil. Both the F44 and Ace 400 will work very well on freshwater areas, so if you have a freshwater lake or river nearby, you can hunt there with either detector. Both detectors have waterproof search coils and stems.
Q: Which metal detector is the best bang for the buck?
A: Both metal detectors cost the same on the manufacturer’s websites. Both are fantastic metal detectors and cater to beginning detectorists. You really cannot go wrong with either machine. I would still recommend the Fisher F44 if you live somewhere with high soil mineralization and need the ground balancing feature. In areas with good soil conditions, the Ace 400 will work fantastically well.
Both metal detectors are easy to use, have excellent features, and cost the same. This means it is truly up to you, as the user, to decide which is best for your needs.
Q: The Garrett Ace 400 has a higher frequency than the Fisher F44. Why is this important?
A: The operating frequency of a metal detector essentially means the number of electromagnetic waves the search coil produces over a set period. These range from 1.5 kHz to 100 kHz for most VLF (Very Low Frequency) metal detectors. Higher frequencies have higher signal strength and are mor sensitive to targets. The more conductive a metal is the lower the frequency should be to detect it. For example, silver, brass, and copper are best found between 3 and 7 kHz, gold is best found above 14 kHz, and nickel is best found between 4 and 8 kHz.
Each metal has its specific range of frequency. If you are looking for all metal types, you will want a detector with a slightly higher frequency range as it can detect more types of metals. Most beginning detectors will operate between 7 and 10 kHz. This is a good frequency range for most metals, excluding gold. That is not to say they will not find gold, but fine or small gold will be difficult to detect in this frequency range.
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