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Old 03-20-2019, 09:50 PM
chucky69 chucky69 is offline
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I am looking to purchase a new compass. I am on the fence between a military lensatic compass, or a baseplate compass, possibly even a suunto mc2. What do all of you use/recommend? Thanks!
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Old 03-20-2019, 10:19 PM
Corpus Corpus is offline
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Im not an expert but I think the answer to that depends more on your capabilities and or experience so itís not an easy answer. Both of the ones you mention will work fine but if all you use them for are rough direction finding they might be overkill.
If you are familiar/ experienced in orienteering and have maps(and a flat level place to use them) of where youíll be, either will work but Iíd probably go with the baseplate model.
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Old 03-20-2019, 10:32 PM
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I like and own a Suunto. Being able to set the variation is a nice time saver and the mirror doubles as a signal device.

That being said, a military lensatic compass gets the job done, though it requires a bit more work to convert headings.

As a military man myself, I make sure I know how to do it manually. However, if I can save time or reduce variables that could cause mistakes, I'm going to take advantage of it.
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Old 03-21-2019, 05:16 PM
IC_Rafe IC_Rafe is offline
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Unless you are planning to call down precision artillery, i'd stick with a baseplate one or a box one . Using a Silva Ranger S myself (the mirror is handy to check for ticks too), or the Suunto MB-6 Global. Well protected since it slides into its case, and even though i don't need it, i wanted at least one with a global needle and they were on sale. Haven't regretted either purchase.

Something to take note of: try and get one with a cord which "breaks", instead of pulling you along. The Silva compasses, i think, all have a snap so if something catches the cord, you don't go down, the Suunto ones that i've seen don't.
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Old 03-21-2019, 05:23 PM
ajole ajole is offline
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Originally Posted by IC_Rafe View Post
Something to take note of: try and get one with a cord which "breaks", instead of pulling you along. The Silva compasses, i think, all have a snap so if something catches the cord, you don't go down, the Suunto ones that i've seen don't.
Or just get one of the millions of break away neck lanyards sold these days for $1....

I'm a base plate guy, using them with a map is easier than the lensatic, and I like having adjustable declination.

Also, I like Brunton...they seem to always be cheaper, and I have some that are 20 years old, still working fine despite the Scouts using them.
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Old 03-21-2019, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by ajole View Post
Or just get one of the millions of break away neck lanyards sold these days for $1....

I'm a base plate guy, using them with a map is easier than the lensatic, and I like having adjustable declination.

Also, I like Brunton...they seem to always be cheaper, and I have some that are 20 years old, still working fine despite the Scouts using them.
Never said it should be a dealbreaker and can't be replaced. Just easier with some than others . If you want it all clean and neat anyway. The Suunto global one has the lanyard attached to the case, inside of it, so makes it a bit more annoying to replace. Just wanted to add it because many people forget, and i have a friend who fell into freezing water due to a necklace catching and dragging causing him to lose his balance .
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Old 03-21-2019, 06:23 PM
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Depends on what you want to use it for? I like ones with adjustable declination and quadrants. If your path is N22W then the way home is S22E.

As soon as I get home I'm ordering a solar Casio PathFinder. $150 on a. The best part of the watch is the tracking barometer. It also can alarm if the pressure is dropping quickly - like an approaching storm. Very handy in narrow canyons and the dark. My 15 year old battery PathFinder is still working great. The band is showing its age, had to make a new leather keeper strap the other day. I think I'm on my 5th set of batteries, they last 2 to 4 years - depending on how much I use the light and the alarms. Changing them is a PIA, not recommended for the timid.

The compass is good enough to navigate with a map, not so much for running section or township lines.
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Old 03-21-2019, 06:58 PM
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I just went the same process
I would up buying the mid grade Silva. It offered a bigger magnifying glass to read maps and the side with the ruler was longer as well which was a full six inches. There was some YouTube videos going over each type. It works just fine.

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Old 03-22-2019, 01:11 PM
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I still feel that it depends on what you plan to use it for and your proficiency with that method.

If youíre just using it for rough direction finding any decent one will work. If youíre using maps and need to be sure of your location and direction of travel get a decent baseplate model. Suunto, Brunton.

A lifetime ago I bought this model but for the work/play I do now itís way overkill. While it will still work, if I bother to bring it with me now itís more for a rangefinder than a compass.

Sisteco SightMaster/ClinoMaster combo.


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Old 03-22-2019, 02:04 PM
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I grew up around the use of compass as a kid, and my my military days were mostly pre-GPS. So the military lensatic compass has been my gold standard. I purchased the suunto M3 G compass last year to replace my lost lensatic. It works fine but I prefer the lensatic for sighting. Since I am occasionally at high elevation, I should have gone with the suunto MB-6 G. Pricey, but probably worth it if your like me. I donít typically use GPS unless I want to mark a location for later return, and I navigate mostly by terrain, stars and maps. Compasses come in real handy if you are fogged our clouded in and you canít take use of what nature gives you to navigate.
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Old 03-22-2019, 02:59 PM
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Quote:
I am on the fence between a military lensatic compass, or a baseplate compass, possibly even a suunto mc2.
Yes. Both. LOL.

1. A higher end Suunto is loaded with features that make day navigation a pleasure. They are faster and handier than a lensatic. The baseplate functions as its own protractor for taking direct readings off a map sheet. And most good baseplate compasses have an adjustable declination feature. Like driving an automatic transmission. Less for you to do.

The mirror incorporated into most folding case models is useful for a lot of non-navigational practicalities (close inspection of your own body/teeth/wounds, shaving, applying facial camouflage, signalling, etc.). But...

2. Where the Cammenga USGI Tritium Lensatic shines (pun intended) is NIGHT NAVIGATION. Unlike almost all other compass designs, a military Tritium illuminated lensatic is configured for accurate navigation in the dark. Tactile clicks on the bezel ring for setting azimuths in the dark, by feel, plus Tritium illumination. That radioactive illumination allows you to read the compass in the dark and serves as an amazingly effective low-profile short range signalling device. Visible to the naked eye... or passive night vision devices. Something of immense importance when navigating a party of folks through the dark. Useful for replacing daytime hand-arm signals.

They are also damn near unbreakable, shockproof, waterproof, have no liquid oil fill that can leak, will never develop bubbles, and are ergonomically configured for secure one-handed carry (folding thumb grip) while moving with a rifle.

But it's a compass that requires the use of an additional plastic protractor for route planning and taking map readings. And you have to mentally add/subtract declination constants. Like driving a manual transmission.

I own a higher end Suunto MC-2 baseplate (with all the usual bells & whistles) that is also Tritium illuminated. I bought it over in Germany back in 2005. Nearly as useful as a military lensatic in the dark. They didn't offer it for sale in the USA. I don't think it's even available for public sales in Europe any longer. The Tritium effectively died since then (only a weak glow remains). Like a handgun with expired & dim night sights, it's still a great compass, but the night capability is gone.

So... to summarize:

1. For mostly daylight navigation... go with a premium baseplate compass. Suunto, Silva, Brunton, etc. You can always break out a small light to take readings in the dark.

2. For equally frequent daylight & night navigation (especially tactical scenarios in the dark)... go with a Tritium Military Lensatic.

That means a Cammenga version if you live in the USA. Don't bother with the Cammenga non-Tritium versions or anybody else's off-brand knock-offs.

BTW: Cammenga offers a Tritium protractor (baseplate) compass that is thin and flat. No folding case or mirror. No adjustable declination. But still sort of the best of both worlds. Not as good of a baseplate as Suunto's (in terms of convenient features like declination adjustment or mirror), but it has the same Tritium jewel arrangement as the their military lensatics. And pretty affordable at ~$75. Something to consider.

https://cammenga.com/product/compass...-compass-d3-t/
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Old 03-22-2019, 05:46 PM
IC_Rafe IC_Rafe is offline
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Sounds about right on the tritium ones. The glow diminishes greatly after about 10-20 years.
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Old 03-22-2019, 06:22 PM
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Yeah, radioactive Tritium isotope half life is 12.5 years.

Meaning that it glows half as bright upon reaching that point. And half that after another 12.5 years. And so on. Which translates to essentially no longer useful to the naked eye after the first 13-15 years. Depending upon date of original manufacture, time spent sitting on retail shelves, and actual length of ownership after purchase.

Just as with Tritium gun sights, watches, or optics.

I just keep my old "dead" lensatic in reserve. Still a fully functional compass, just doesn't glow enough for use in the dark (without a flashlight). Replaced it with a new one after 14 years.
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Old 03-22-2019, 06:37 PM
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Do we really need a good compass to begin with? I mean they don't really point to true North to begin with and your smart phone or a GPS will be more accurate. Then again, in an end of the world as we know it situation it would be slightly better than a stick in the ground and waiting an hour. That said, the compass on my cheepy multi-tool with magnifying glass, thermometer and whistle would probably get me by.
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Old 03-22-2019, 08:45 PM
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Do we really need a good compass to begin with?
Well, it depends. (I certainly do.)

If you run out of power for a GPS or smart phone... then you probably need a compass.

If you frequent terrain where signal/satellite fix is disrupted by natural or man-made features... you probably need a compass. Lots of those exist (urban canyons, heavy wet forest, natural box canyons, structural roofing, etc.)

If you work in an area or region where a military power deliberately disrupts/degrades GPS signal (or neutralizes the constellations themselves)... then you might as well stick that smart phone in the dirt to wait for that shadow. BTW: Military targeting of GPS is a thing nowadays. At any where from local effect to regional. Not just something saved up for use only in the event of major war.

If a CME or EMP event occurs... you may find that all GPS service is toast.

Lastly, which is more likely to die, be damaged, or malfunction out in the field? A battery powered digital electronic device... or a rugged analog compass? That's a rhetorical question.

At the end of the day, I can determine a positional fix, route, or azimuth using a compass that is as practically accurate as any useful GPS reading. An 8-digit grid is not difficult to establish with a compass. Which is enough to lay-in artillery weapons and plot accurate fires. Or establish an IP for a parachute drop zone. Or plot a cache location. The slightly more refined position given by a GPS is rarely usable in a practical sense.

On the other hand, I really like the ability of a GPS device to give me an accurate elevation fix. Something immensely useful for navigating in bad weather (snow, fog, dust, heavy rain). Especially in forested hills & tall mountains.

GPS is great. I've been using it since just prior to the 1991 1st Gulf War. Back when it was a mostly military-only technology. I own several devices today. But GPS over-reliance can lead to an innate skills deficit... where people don't actually know how to fully navigate or work with maps. People who only know how to navigate with a GPS. As long as the machine works, they're cool. If, for any reason, it doesn't... they're screwed.

I've been wearing a magnetic wrist compass (Silva or Suunto) for 365 days a year since 1977. I only take it off to replace with a brand new one or to replace a worn out wrist band. I'd feel stupidly naked without a worn wrist compass. EDC, just like a pocket knife and a lighter.
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chucky69 View Post
I am looking to purchase a new compass. I am on the fence between a military lensatic compass, or a baseplate compass, possibly even a suunto mc2. What do all of you use/recommend? Thanks!
There's no reason not to own both types.

The lensatic is perfect for navigation, and the baseplate is perfect for marking bearings on maps and laying out courses.
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Old 03-23-2019, 09:30 PM
chucky69 chucky69 is offline
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I ordered the MC2 today.
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Old 03-23-2019, 11:21 PM
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Good choice.
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Old 03-24-2019, 09:46 AM
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Each type has their advantages.

I equipped everyone in our BOL group with all three (3) types.
Plus, had many practice runs, to make sure everybody is proficient with them.









I generally use GPS,(+ carry a compass).
GPS is battery dependent + in some terrain cannot get a steady signal.
Batteries go dead.
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Old 03-26-2019, 01:14 AM
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I have the Cammenga lensatic US and a Suunto A10 field compass, I like them both but only use the A10 mostly because it is light, sleek, less parts to break and real easy to use. The US would be more useful if calling in an airstrike but the A10 will get you out of the woods just fine.
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