Rio History: Choosing the Right Detector

By STEVE HATHCOCK
Special to the PRESS

The following is typical of the questions I have received over the years.

“Hello, I’ve been trying to do some research on this hobby as I used to mess around with a ‘junior metal detector’ when I was young. I was wondering if you’d recommend some good metal detectors for beginners. I was looking for something that is fairly easy to use has a broad range of abilities, and that can detect semi-deep. I plan on using it on dry and wet sand. (I might accidentally get it wet?)

I’ve been staying in Port Isabel for a couple of years over the summer and would love to become more involved in this hobby. Like, what are your personal favorite brands or models? I just need to know what would be ideal. Thank you for your time!”

I will do my best to answer your questions. There are many variables to consider when choosing a machine that is right for you. You would want to consider the weight of the machine and if it fits your arm correctly. Cost is an important factor and most of the major brands will have several different models to choose from in each price range. I’m not a purist so cannot debate the finer aspects of each machine. And my advice to you would be to buy a detector from someone who can answer your questions.

My first detector was a Garrett ACE 150 I bought from Fred, who owned a hobby shop. Fred gave me a good deal on the machine but was not a detectorist himself, hence he had no idea how to solve problems due to the highly mineralized sand encountered here on South Padre Island.

While on a trip north I stopped by Garrett’s headquarters located in Garland, Texas. I explained my problem to several men standing at the counter. While a younger man took my machine into a back room for a tech to look at, the older one produced another ACE 150 and within a few minutes I was out in a side lot learning how to use my machine. The man spent quite some time with me explaining the basics of metal detecting. He not only instructed me in how to use my machine, which is really not designed for beach hunting, but he also gave me a quick course in ethics and laws governing the use of metal detectors in the state of Texas.

Next, he showed me displays of artifacts and treasure found with Garrett detectors. Talk about ginning up my enthusiasm! I was feeling really good when we returned to the show room. The techs had analyzed my machine, made some adjustments and pronounced it ready to go. Having been given the red carpet treatment and fully expecting a bill, I reached for my wallet but was told “no charge.”

The older man had already left the room so I told the younger man that he should tell his bosses how well the other man had represented Garrett. The counter man grinned at that, and then informed me that the “employee” who had spent so much time with me was none other than Charles Garrett himself! I have been loyal to that brand ever since.

I consider Garrett’s Ace 250 to be an excellent machine for the beginner. It is very simple to learn, can be used in the sand or along the surf’s edge and is also a good machine for artifact hunting around old homesteads.

My personal favorite is Garrett’s AT Pro which is very versatile, reasonably priced and performs as well on the shore as it does in the mountains of Utah. Space does not permit me to relate in any detail but I encourage you to visit them online.

See you on the beach!

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