Garrett Ace 400 review

Garrett has one of the best reputations out there when it comes to metal detector quality. There’s a good reason for that –- they are known for producing metal detectors that have great features for an affordable price.

The Garrett Ace 400 is no exception. It is worth the money you’ll spend on this unit if you are a beginner, and it will continue to be useful as you become more comfortable with detecting too.

And below, please take a moment to compare the Garrett Ace 400 to some of the best metal detectors on the market by using our interactive table:

Garrett AT Max$$$Waterproof to 10 feet
Fisher F22 Fisher F22$$9″ Triangulated Concentric Coil
Garrett Ace 400 Garrett Ace 400$$$8.5 x 11" DD coil
Minelab Vanquish 540$Search Modes: Coin, Relic, Jewelry, Custom, All Metal

Ace 400’s Best Features

This machine costs under $350 and it has some great features for that price. It offers electronic pinpointing to give you a better idea of where your target is. It has five search modes and a total of eight sensitivity or depth adjustments. The depth indicator goes to 8 inches on the screen, but you can find targets a bit deeper than that.

It has digital target identification, which gives you an indication of what type of metal your target likely is. Digital target identification is handy, but you shouldn’t solely rely on it because it isn’t always foolproof. My rule is this – when in doubt, dig it out.

The Ace 400 also has an 11-inch Double-D coil, which is good-sized for a detector of this price.

Before we continue with our review, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling metal detectors currently available on Amazon:

1) Garrett AT MAX
2) Bounty Hunter TK4 Tracker IV
3) Bounty Hunter Gold Digger

Limitations of the Ace 400

When you factor in the price, the Ace 400 is a good metal detector, but it definitely does have some limitations that would make more experienced detectorists choose a higher-end detector.

First, this unit isn’t a good choice for beach hunting unless you plan to stick to the dry sand. If you’re searching in saltwater or wet sand, you’ll get a lot of false positive signals that will hinder your search and leave you feeling frustrated.

While it can find gold, if the main reason your detecting is solely to search for gold, I would go with another machine that finds it better. This will find gold coins or rings, but not smaller gold nuggets and certainly not gold flakes.

If you do decide to try it on a beach hunt, just remember that although the coil is waterproof on this unit, the control box is not. That means you can only use it in very shallow water.

This unit operates at 10 kHz, a lower frequency than many mid-level or high-end units. For relic and coin hunting, I prefer a detector closer to a frequency of 15 kHz. 

It comes with a pre-set ground balance that works well in normal soil conditions, but if you hunt in highly mineralized soil, you should opt for a more powerful machine that allows you to tinker with the settings.

Ace 400 vs Garrett AT Pro

These are both great detectors in their own ways, but there are some big differences between the two. 

Garrett AT Pro

The first thing you’ll notice is that they have very different price tags. While the Ace 400 can be purchased for under $350, the AT Pro will set you back around $600.

Another huge difference between the Ace 400 and the AT Pro is how they handle water. The AT Pro is waterproof up to 10 feet, which is an amazing feature for its price. The AT Pro is a great choice for intermediate and advanced detectorists who live for beach hunts.

But there are other differences as well. For instance, the AT Pro allows you to adjust ground balancing yourself in case you run into highly mineralized soil. That makes it a good all terrain metal detector.  The AT Pro operates at a 15 kHz frequency, compared to the Ace 400’s 10 kHz frequency.

They each weigh about the same. The Ace 400 is a lightweight at 2.9 pounds. At that weight, most detectorists can happily hunt all day without feeling arm or back fatigue. The AT Pro weighs just over 3 pounds, which isn’t a significant difference.

The AT Pro is clearly the superior metal detector. If I were to win a contest and I was going to receive a free metal detector, the AT Pro would be one of my first choices out of all the detectors on the market from every manufacturer. But I wouldn’t turn down a free Ace 400 either. It’s still a quality unit – the only difference is that it is aimed more toward beginners than the AT Pro is.

If you’re not new to metal detecting and you already have a lower-end metal detector that cost in the $100-$250 range and you’re looking to upgrade, I would strongly recommend that you keep saving your pennies, along with any other change you find while metal detecting, until you can afford to purchase the AT Pro.

But if you don’t own a machine and you’re entirely new to the hobby, the Ace 400 is a great machine to begin with. Once you’ve outgrown it, you can still hang onto it as a back-up machine or a spare in case you have a friend who wants to join you on a hunt.

Ace 400 vs Garrett Ace 350

If you buy the Ace 350 instead of the Ace 400, you’ll be saving about $50, but you’ll be losing some power. The operating frequency of the Ace 400 is 10 kHz, compared to an operating frequency of 8.25 kHz for the Ace 350.

The Ace 350 has a 12-segment target identification mode, compared to the more modern numeric target identification system the Ace 400 uses.

Other than that, there’s not a lot of significant differences between these machines. Even if you are new to detecting, I would recommend that you spend the extra $50 to get the Ace 400. It’s a small amount of money to pay for a better performing machine.

Ace 400 vs Fisher F44

These two detectors are an even match when it comes to price – they’ll both cost you around $350.

The Fisher F44 is a reliable detector that has pinpointing and discrimination modes. It features 10 sensitivity levels, and can find targets up to 10 inches underground. Plus, it has a weatherproof design that will let you go on hunts while it’s raining.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Fisher F44 is the large display screen it has – if you forget your glasses at home when you’re metal detecting with this unit, it shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll likely be able to see the large, oversized numbers anyway.

The Ace 400 comes with a higher operating frequency – it offers 10 kHz, compared to the F44, which operates at a little under 8 kHz.

Here’s a real plus for the Fisher F44 as far as I am concerned – its gives a quality performance for being such a lightweight detector. It only weighs 2.3 pounds. That’s insanely light for a metal detector, and it is more than a half of a pound lighter than the Ace 400. You can almost forget you are carrying anything at all because it is so light.

That extra half a pound isn’t a life-changer, but let me tell you, depending upon how challenging your hunt is, your arms will thank you for using as light of a detector as you can get away with. When you go on foot into the woods where you’ll be carrying your detector for a lengthy hike or if you are hunting on hilly terrain where there is a lot of climbing involved, a light detector can make all the difference.

The nice thing about the F44 is that the lightweight material holds up well – it seems just as durable as other detectors that weigh more.

Here is another perk to the F44 that may seem like a small thing, but it can save you money over the long haul. It only uses 2 AA batteries, compared to the 4 AA batteries the Ace 400 uses. Batteries can be a real drain on your finances when you do a lot of metal detecting. I like that you’re able to use half the batteries with the F44.

Another good feature the F44 has that the Ace 400 doesn’t is the backlight on the display screen. Since the F44 has a backlight, that means you can go on night hunts and still comfortably see what the screen is trying to tell you without stopping to shine a flashlight or headlight at it.

The fact that the F44 is weatherproof doesn’t mean much to me. That’s a vague term that doesn’t provide me much reassurance. How much rain can a weatherproof machine stand? I’d hate to be caught in a torrential downpour and think my machine can hold up to all the rain only to have it conk out on me.

Even if a company boasts that its machine is weatherproof, I wouldn’t be hunting in the rain without putting a thick layer of secured plastic over the control box. If they say a machine is waterproof, however, that makes me feel a whole lot better about the situation.

The machines are pretty evenly matched in my eyes and they’re both good choices for a complete beginner. But if you have any experience detecting and you think it’s a hobby you’re going to stick with, I’d recommend that you save up another $100 or so and upgrade to a more mid-level unit.

If you just want a low-end machine that’s easy to understand and operate and you’re mostly interested in having a machine you can take out occasionally on the weekends for some light detecting, you’d be fine with either of these. Although the large display screen and the backlight are nice touches, if I were buying one of these two, I would pick the Ace 400. As a coin enthusiast and a general relic hunter, the Ace 400 appeals to me more because of its higher operating frequency.

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