I recently picked up a Garrett Ace Apex with 3 coils for a very good price locally. This is the second one I have owned. I spent the last few weeks doing some indoor and outdoor tests as well as some park hunting to get reacquainted with it.
I stated on the Garrett forum that I would give the Apex another chance and do some infield testing against the Equinox and Simplex and report back. I had a chance to spend about 5 hours at a relic site over the weekend and do just that.
The site has had mixed usage since the late 1850’s and includes Military artifacts as well as more modern house site items. The site has been hammered over the last 6 decades and so I thought it would be the perfect test. Ground is 4-5 bars on the F75 and is for the most part loaded with iron except farther out where we will usually just find fired .58 cal bullets, shotgun and .22 brass.
I started with the Apex 8.5 x 11 coil out where we usually just find bullets running MF, custom program where everything is accepted over 20 and sensitivity all the way up. My goal was to just see if I could find bullets, no comparisons were done. I quickly found out the sensitivity was too high as I got a lot of false signals and chased a few ghost signals. Once turned down 1 bar the Apex ran smooth. I managed to find 4 .58 cal bullets and a few .22 and shotgun brass. Deepest bullet was 6 inches and was a very jumpy signal. I’ve done a video in the past digging bullets with the Apex in this same area if you want to see it you can find it in the Garrett forum. It’s under 10 things I like and 5 I don’t like about the Apex. Unlike the Equinox in this same area, the Apex has a real hard time identifying deep large targets vs small .22 brass. The signals are jumpy in both regards and hard to determine depth.
Next I moved to an area close by that has produced quite a few buttons and dropped bullets in the past. The area is very trashy in places with glass shards and square nails. I used the Equinox 800 with the 11” coil running Park 1, 50 tones, iron bias F2 0, recovery 4, Multi and sensitivity 22. The Equinox 600 can be setup exactly the same way. I proceeded to mark 8 targets that came in at as low as 1 up to the highest being 15 on the Equinox. All of these targets were located in the trashy areas. The Simplex 11” coil Park 2 was able to see all but 2 targets, one being a small pewter button about 3 inches deep the other being a fired percussion cap also about 3 inches deep. The Apex 8.5 x 11 coil unfortunately was only able to see 2 targets. The first being a large pewter button maybe and 1 inch deep the other being a fired percussion cap on the surface. A small Navy cuff button laying on the surface (that only read 1 on the Equinox) was surprising invisible to the Apex. Granted there were a lot of iron signals around it.
Last area, the house site. This time I started with the Simplex 11” coil running park 2. Now I know what some of you are going to say. Why use the larger coils in trashy sites? I wanted to see what the stock coils would do, I consider the 8.5 x 11 the stock coil for the Garrett machines. Yes I may have gotten better results with the Apex using a smaller coil. Anyway, I located and marked 4 targets with the Simplex. The Equinox was able to see all 4 but did struggle with one, all explain in a minute. The Apex was able to see 3 out of the 4, but was totally blind to the one the Equinox struggled with. Target 1 was a modern penny about 1 inch deep and was not a problem for any of the detectors. Target 2 was a small piece of decorative brass about 2 inches deep which all the detectors saw. But the Apex numbers were all over the place where as the Equinox was a solid 14 and the Simplex a solid 44. Target 3 turned out to be a 1929 S wheat penny at 5 inches deep. The Simplex read 66-68 and could get the signal as I rotated all the way around it. The Equinox struggled, first direction I tried got nothing but iron grunts. But as I rotated around it, I started to get a choppy signal that would bounce up to about 17. The Apex got nothing but iron grunts no matter what I tried. Signal 4 turned out to be a 1946 dime at about 3 inches and was a good solid signal on all the detectors. I also located 2 old clay marbles while I was walking around the house site.
In a relic hunting scenario, the Equinox and Simplex have a clear advantage over the Apex. The Apex likes round objects and does the best on them and has a fairly accurate ID. Odd shapes are not it’s strong point for sure. But for someone who only wants to dig coins, it could be great. I will also say that of the 3 the Apex was most comfortable to swing and I think I like the wireless headphones the best on the Apex.
In the future I plan to take the same 3 machines to a ghost town and the beach to see how they stack up against each other. I will say that the more I use the Simplex the more I see just how great a value this machine is. For the money you can’t beat it.
By Jeff McClendon
First. The title of this topic has been changed to APEX vs Equinox. That was not my title and I don’t agree with it. I did not start this topic as one versus the other. These two detectors are not equal in technology or price. I just wanted to show what they can do on the same test. If you want to make it a versus comparison that is your choice.
I performed these Monte's (outstanding member of this forum) nail board tests using the Garrett ACE APEX with the stock Viper coil and the Equinox 800 using its 6" coil so at least coil widths are similar. I do not have any other APEX coils to test presently. If the Mercury dime is heard during both left and right swings that equals 2 points. If it is only heard in one swing direction that equals 1 point. If it is not heard, that equals 0 points. A perfect score is 16 points.
I did not make these videos in order to make one detector look bad and another look good, etc. I think they both performed at about their respective price points. By the way, my Deus in Pitch mode with the 9" HF coil consistently scores 15 on this test with a USA Indian Head penny, Mercury dime and Half dime. The APEX and Equinox scores in these videos are also consistent with my off camera testing on those coins.
I made them to show first of all that relic hunting/coin shooting in iron trash should not be done in any of the APEX preset modes other than Zero. However, in my soil conditions, using Zero adds too much ground noise to the audio even with a good ground balance. I use a Custom mode very similar to Monte's suggestions with discrimination set from +20 to +99. This allows silver and copper coins to be detected audibly. At least with the circa late 1800s square nails I am using, the iron plus Mercury dime VDIs sometimes end up in the low to mid 30s. Garrett's preset Relic mode starts at +35 and Jewelry starts at +40. Using either mode may unintentionally silence non-ferrous targets in thick iron trash. Also, the Viper coil has to be exquisitely swung at just the right coil height during this video in order to get the best results. That coil height is different for each of the four swing directions. I struggled to get it right while holding my camera.........but the results are consistent with off camera testing for my/Monte's Custom mode and the default Jewelry mode. There is a bit of EMI and the APEX does have a bit of iron falsing on some of the nail heads. This APEX has the latest 1.28.1 software update installed.
I also made them to dispel opinions or rumors that the Equinox 600 and 800 are not very good in iron trash. Personally, they do well for me........as well as a Deus, of course not. Better than any simultaneous multi frequency detector on the market today........if set up optimally, yes. I used Park 2 with a similar amount of the iron range accepted compared to the APEX Custom mode and Field 2 with the entire iron range rejected similar to the APEX Jewelry mode. The Equinox down averaged the Mercury dime also due to all of the iron targets. However, those VDIs stayed well within the mid conductor non-ferrous area. The Equinox also had some iron falsing on some of the nail heads.
Thanks for watching. Turn up your volume. Sorry about my very poor video skills. Both videos are around 5 minutes each in length..
As I have up to now mainly been using the Ripper coil , I decided this time to test the stock Viper coil.
I went to a path in a wood near a small town. As usual , such paths are infested by irons of all sizes and this one was not an exception ... The soil is moderatly mineralized there.
I immediately noticed a very similar behaviour between the Viper and the Ripper, short and reactive signals on targets with an excellent iron filtering.
Just the Viper has a more important coverage than the Ripper , however the Viper is a little heavier and it is more difficult to center the targets with it , a poinpointer is often required ,hopefully I had my ML Profind 35 with me ...
As usual the Apex was very easy to use despite the difficult conditions , even with this bigger Viper coil. The Apex is almost silent on the ferrous and only beeps on good targets , this is quite impressive ...
At the beginning I found quite a lot of targets but only trash . However at the end of the outing I heard a signal on the left side of the path , not very clear so I switched to Iron Audio that gave me a mix of iron and good stuff . So I decided to dig and was quite surprised to see a nice silver coin , a 1937 2 Mark probably lost by a WW2 German soldier... Never found such a coin ... Thanks Mr Garrett ... 🙂
Now I have 15 hours with the Ripper + 2 hours with the Viper and I confirm that the Apex is a very good machine , excellent on small and bigger targets . It just requires a few hours( around 10 hours ) to get used to its audio and settings . Once done it is very fun to use , not the deepest one with the Viper but frighteningly efficient in the field especially in the iron trash .. 🙂
My settings : RELICS factory mode , MF freq , SENS 7 , GB 83
At home after a little cleaning :
And the trash ...
Here is the settings I use on the Apex in high trash areas. I keep iron audio set to 1-2 and note the first notch is accepted. This helps quite a bit on bottle caps.
Targets in the nickel range and gold range if you come across square tabs their numbers are usually bit jumpier. Don't be affaid to drop the sensitivity down more if needed.
For areas with lots of rusty sheet metal pieces, old tinned cans it is best to use zero mode as disc modes will trim out good targets. This is the same on the AT series machines.
Shipped my Orx back and settled on the Apex with viper coil and ws-3 headphones. Did the update and did a quickie depth test at 2 clicks down from max due to a bunch of emi where I test. Overall depth is similar to the Orx and the Tejon with a 8x9 concentric.
Hit a park for about an hour to give it a try and the audio reminds me of something halfway between the AT Pro and the Ace series. Very abrubt clear signals. Going to take me a while to get used to it as I am so used to vco tone hunting. Machine would false a bit from the ground (phase in the low 90's) so 2 clicks down fixed that. Hunted mostly in zero mode with iron audio on and only picked up 2 bottle caps, rest of the iron I could hear clearly which is a huge difference from the Orx.
ID's were very stable on targets, maybe a shift of 1-2 but would focus well when short sweeps over the target was used. Junk like aluminum would have jumpier numbers.
Now if Garret makes a nice carbon lower and mid shaft the machine will feel much lighter. Has that beefy s shaft they use on the other machines.
Last thing, MS-3's are nice but wouldn't mind if they came out with a light pair of wireless headphones. MS-3's will be on the hot side this summer.
Didn't bother posting my handful of clad, think you guys seen enough of that already 🙂