Garrett ACE 400 vs AT Pro: Which One is Right for You?

Are you brand new to metal detecting? Or maybe you’ve been at it for a while and are looking for an upgrade? You’re in luck, because Garrett makes two very dependable machines, each made for a different type of detectorist. The ACE 400 vs AT Pro.

So which metal detector is right for YOU? If you are a beginner, your best bet is the Garrett ACE 400 – because it’s a model which sits firmly between entry and mid-level in terms of cost and added features. It makes a thoughtful gift for someone just starting out as a treasure hunter.

But if you need a more robust and versatile machine – we recommend the Garrett AT Pro. (But be prepared to shell out more cash for it.)

Garrett ACE 400 vs. AT Pro: The Comparison Chart

Preview
Product
Garrett ACE 400
Garrett AT Pro
Price Range
$$
$$$
Audio Modulation
No
Yes
Ground Balance
None
Fully adjustable (Both automatic and manual)
Frequency
10 kHz
15 kHz
Waterproof
No (just the coil)
Fully waterproof up to 10′
Pros
  • Best of the ACE models
  • Beginner friendly
  • Budget friendly
  • Higher frequency
  • Waterproof up to 10′
  • Ground balance (automatic and manual)
Cons
  • No ground balance feature
  • Throws false positives
  • No audio modulation
  • Heftier price tag
  • More features ≠ better detection
  • Not good for gold nuggets
Best for…
Beginners, Gifting
↓ Read Our Review ↓
Experienced Hunters
↓ Read Our Review ↓
Preview
Product
Garrett ACE 400
Price Range
$$
Audio Modulation
No
Ground Balance
None
Frequency
10 kHz
Waterproof
No (just the coil)
Pros
  • Best of the ACE models
  • Beginner friendly
  • Budget friendly
Cons
  • No ground balance feature
  • Throws false positives
  • No audio modulation
Best for…
Gifting, Beginners
↓ Read Our Review ↓
Preview
Product
Garrett AT Pro
Price Range
$$$
Audio Modulation
Yes
Ground Balance
Yes (automatic and manual)
Frequency
15 kHz
Waterproof
Yes (up to 10′ deep)
Pros
  • Higher frequency
  • Waterproof up to 10′
  • Ground balance (automatic and manual)
Cons
  • Heftier price tag
  • More features ≠ better detection
  • Not good for gold nuggets
Best for…
Experienced Hunters
↓ Read Our Review ↓

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The Similarities

Let’s be clear – these two machine are not in the same class. Meaning the AT Pro is a step-up from the ACE 400. But the two models have a few features in common…

Garrett Waterproof Search Coil
Garrett 8.5″ x 11″ DD Proformance Waterproof Search Coil
  • Coil Size: Both models come with an 8.5″ x 11″ DD Proformance standard search coil, submersible in up to 10 feet of water.
  • Weight: Both models are around 3 pounds – which should make it easy to swing all day without any fatigue in your arms, shoulders, or back.
  • Target ID: Crystal clear and simple to use. All buttons are labelled, with no need to memorize tiresome button sequences to activate the diverse features. Both models offer a visual display that provides loads of useful info – including the expanded Target ID Legend complete with coin denominations.
  • Pinpointer Mode: Although we highly recommend getting a dedicated waterproof pinpointer for this purpose, both of these machines do offer a built-in pinpointer mode.
  • Batteries: Both models take 4 AA batteries, which are included with your purchase. Battery life is indicated on your digital display, so you’ll never get caught suddenly without power.
  • VLF: Both of these machines are classified Very Low Frequency – a frequency used for non-specific hunting: coins, artifacts, and other similar sized targets. Depending on a variety of factors, you can expect them to detect up to a foot underground.

The Basics: ACE 400 & AT Pro

The ACE 400 is the top of the line model in Garrett’s hugely popular ACE series. It replaces the now discontinued ACE 350 and has a few more tricks up its sleeve than its predecessor. It’s a VLF type metal detector with an operating frequency of 10 kHz – higher than the 8 kHz on the 300 model – making it more sensitive to smaller targets and items with low to medium conductivity. This is an ideal frequency for blending depth and sensitivity whilst relic hunting or coinshooting. (But not ideal for finding gold.)

Garrett ACE 400

Garrett has stuck by their indelible construction yellow color – which draws either admiration and disgust, depending on who you ask. If you don’t like the way it looks, might we suggest some tasteful camouflage tape?

But it comes with a few drawbacks: It tends to throw false positives, for a start. Brushing over a twig or piece of bark can set it off quite easily. Your swing will need to be a little slower on this model, as it doesn’t bounce back as quick. Neither of these minor issues should be a deal-breaker, as you’ll still find plenty of tiny targets easily.

The AT Pro, by comparison, might be Garrett’s most famous metal detector. It was designed to be an all-purpose, versatile detecting machine suitable for a variety of environments. AT stands for ‘All Terrain’. (You lose some of that versatility with the ACE 400, especially around water and mineralized soils. More about that later.)

Garrett AT Pro

Also a VLF machine, but with a slightly higher frequency than the ACE 400, coming in at 15 kHz. This allows the machine a quicker recovery time, a swifter and more carefree swing, and improved efficiency in the field. We do not recommend using the AT Pro to find placer gold. (Jewelry is fine.)

The AT Pro is black, making it feel a little more professional than other models.

And feel free to go detecting virtually wherever you want! The whole device is designed to be waterproof up to 10 feet deep. The AT Pro’s waterproofing combined with its ground balance feature makes it ideal for beach combing. With the ACE 400, only the coil is waterproof – which can make it problematic detecting under adverse weather conditions.

If you’ve used a Garrett machine before, you will feel right at home at the controls, as not much has changed. One small nitpick – and this goes for the ACE 400 as well – the printed legend at the top of the ink display control panel is not backlit, making it hard to read in the dark. This shouldn’t prove too much of a hardship, because as you get to know the machine, you’ll be relying on tones and number display anyway.

AT Pro Control Box Display

Price Comparison

The attraction to the ACE 400 is definitely the price – Garrett’s suggested retail is $400 USD – it’s a solid entry to mid level device with a rather even learning curve – with added features to make it feel more advanced.

The MSRP for a brand new AT Pro is $600 – a bit of a jump from the ACE 400. This model is aimed at those detectorists seeking an upgrade from their entry-level metal detector. Still, that price is at the bottom end for most mid-level detectors with the same features, so we think it’s a good value.

And quick disclaimer – these are suggested prices from the manufacturer. Your retailer may choose to mark up from there, or you might find a good deal on a lightly used machine. As always, your mileage may vary.

Added Features

A major drawback of the ACE 400 is that you’re stuck with the factory pre-set ground balance. Whereas with the AT Pro, you can set it yourself manually or simply hold down the GND BAL button and the machine will automatically calibrate according to the ambient ground conditions.

Most folks who pick up an ACE 400 are relatively new to the sport, so having one less thing to worry about could be construed as a benefit rather than a disadvantage.

Another feature found on the AT Pro that is not available on the ACE 400 is audio modulation. If you’re unfamiliar, this is a feature where the target response audio is affected by the distance of the target to the coil. So the deeper the target, the softer the sound.

We’ve gotten feedback from hobbyists who hate this feature. (Typically those hobbyists who are hard of hearing. “Eh, Sonny?!?!??”) But for most of us, it’s another handy aural clue to help us determine what’s under there and whether we should dig or not.

Both of these detectors have 12 notches used for discrimination. An added benefit of the AT Pro is that you can notch out your current target with a touch of the ELIMINATE button.

You want to be careful about using too much discrimination. Targets out in the field vary widely in size and composition, making it easy to accidentally reject items you may have wanted to dig. Regardless, it’s a handy feature designed to save you time on your knees.

Which Metal Detector Should YOU Get?

So which metal detector is right for YOU? If you’re just getting started on your journey as a detectorist, we suggest buying the ACE 400. It’s a great way to ease yourself into the hobby and to even out the learning curve.

While the AT Pro represents a heftier investment, it is clearly the superior detecting machine. If you have been detecting for a while – we suggest you save your wheat pennies and splurge. Seasoned hunters will appreciate its advanced features and higher frequency.

Be careful though… A higher retail price does not mean more detection depth. It DOES usually mean a more bells and whistles which allow for a more accurate read on any given target – which sometimes gives you a reason not to dig – thus saving you time and energy in the field.

The best detector is the one you own – the one with thousands of hours logged on it. The metal detector is only as good as the detectorist operating it. We have seen hobbyists with very expensive equipment being out-hunted by guys using inferior models. Happens all the time.

The more bonding time you can get in with your machine, the more you’ll pick up its idiosyncrasies – those little audio and visual cues not mentioned in any owner’s manual. When you can guess what’s hiding underneath your coil using your just your ears and eyes, that’s more valuable that any bell and/or whistle on the market. Learn to master your machine.

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