Metal detecting has turned into my new hobby. It started when an RV park friend took me with him and let me use his metal detector. I've since bought a Garrett Ace 350 and Pro Pointer AT.
When I wrote about metal detecting earlier, I wasn’t ready to get my own equipment. Then, we left Port Isabel, Texas, and the convenience of using my friend Everett’s extra machine. I soon decided I needed to have my own detector.
Everett and I had talked about this before I left. He gave me some of his ideas. He shared recommendations on what he thought might work well for me.
Since I had used a metal detector made by Garrett Electronics Inc, I strongly looked at their products. I also looked at machines made by Fisher, White’s, Tesoro, and MineLab. Those I looked at seriously were all in the same price range.
I kept coming back to the Ace 350 from Garrett. The controls were similar to the Garrett AT Pro on which I had learned about metal detecting. The company has a good reputation for quality and innovation. Garrett detectors are made in Garland, Texas; I like that they are made in the U.S.A.
Twenty or so years ago, I had met a man who knew Charles Garrett. He made Charles sound like a real nice guy, someone who really cared about the sport and his customers. Charles has since passed, but the company still bears his name and his reputation.
I ordered an Ace 350 from probably the largest on-line metal detector retailer. It came with a free accessory package, described in the sales copy as valued at almost the price of the metal detector. I also wanted to get a Pro Pointer AT, pin pointer, but it was out of stock.
When the Ace 350 arrived, I found the accessory package to be far from the stated value. The headphones that originally came with the metal detector were missing from the package. I tried to contact the company several times, but received no response.
I took the Ace 350 out to the beach south of Galveston. I found a quarter within the first 15 feet I searched. It was buried about five inches deep. Since then, I have found many more coins and other metal objects. I haven’t found any gold coins or big diamond rings. But, I am very happy with the performance of the Ace 350.
I still wanted a pin pointer. A pin pointer is a hand held detector. It's used to find the metal object in the pile of just-dug of sand or dirt. I was detecting along a beach, which had a layer of broken shells. The shell pieces were about the size of coins, making an encrusted coin almost impossible to find among the shells. The pin pointer would identify which of those little pieces was the coin.
I went online and found another company, MetalDetectors.com. They had the Pro Pointer AT in stock. I ordered it. I also ordered a coil cover to protect the search coil on my detector and a set of headphones. Two hours later, Coleen called me into the RV; I had a call from MetalDetectors.com. They were confirming my order. A day-and-a-half later, I had my package, shipped from Rockland, Massachusetts, to Galveston, Texas. Everything was there in the box and everything was in good shape.
Many metal detectors are more expensive that the one I bought. I chose the Ace 350 because it is a quality, lower to mid price, entry level machine. I seem to find just as many coins when out treasure hunting with it as with the more expensive machine I learned on.
Of the two brands of hand held detectors I had used before, the Pro Pointer AT was far superior. The Pro Pointer AT is also waterproof, for working on the beach and in shallow water. Those are the reasons I chose it.
You can go metal detecting about anywhere there has been human activity. You can also go out searching for gold nuggets out in the tulies, where no one has been. Old farmsteads and old town sites are good spots. Children always seem to have coins, and are always losing them, making schoolyards, parks, and playgrounds good spots.
Areas where there has recently been a fair, circus, or a festival produce coins very close to the surface. Many times you just need to find a target with your machine, and then pick it out of the grass where it is hiding. Public beaches produce an amazing number of coins, rings, and other jewelry. With some research, you can search out hidden caches of money, or treasure from shipwrecks -- I haven't done this, yet!
There is a basic code of ethics that good metal detecting enthusiasts follow. Most machine manufacturers include it the owner's manual, as well as online. It is basically common courtesy toward the area you are working, and the people you encounter. Get permission. Fill the holes you dig. Obey the laws concerning lost treasures. Help out law enforcement, if needed. Respect historical sites. Attempt to return items found that obviously belong to someone. Properly dispose of rubbish and bad targets you have dug.
Metal detecting works well with RVing. The equipment takes up little room in the RV. When you move to a new location, you have new places to search.
About that good reputation of Garrett Electronics Inc.... Since I never did get a response regarding the missing headphones from the company I ordered the metal detector from, I emailed Garrett about them. The next day, I received an email back from Garrett. Along with an apology, the note said they had shipped the headphones to me. I think Charles Garrett would be proud the company still provides that level of customer service.
Editor's note: My husband, Bob Nilles, wrote this article. He seldom turns down the opportunity to learn about new tools and machinery. That's especially true if the learning is hands-on, and if there's a chance he could find a treasure in the process. I wasn't surprised when he came home from his metal detecting excursions and started researching new metal detectors and related metal detecting gear. Nor was I surprised when he decided he needed to buy some. I'm glad he has this new hobby to enjoy while we are RVing. Now, I am waiting for him to find those gold nuggets and diamond rings that he mentioned.