Choosing a compass

Posted: December 17, 2014 by gamegetterII in Uncategorized

I have an old Silva compass,made before they were made in China,along with a newer Silva starter made in Indonesia that I carry in my hunting pack when I’m hunting in Ohio-it works fine for that,as anywhere we hunt is not all that large of a tract of land.
Out west I use a Suunto A-30.
These get me where I need to go for hunting purposes.
Never learned to us lensatic,as never had a reason to-the starter compasses are fine for what I’m doing.
I am going to take a land nav class to learn the lensatic type in the near future.
Looking at the Suunto site-I’ll probably go with one of the MC 2 360’s.


I’ve been asked by several readers which compass I use and why I chose it. My primary compass is the Suunto MC-2, my alternate compass is a Suunto A-10 and the compass in my survival kit is a little Brunton Globe. While in the Army we were trained to use the standard military lensatic compass but, during the deployments during GWOT, some SF teams were issued a version of the Suunto MC-2 with special tritium illuminated parts that most of us found to be superior to the lensatic.

Like weapons, not all compasses are of the same caliber and no one compass excels for all uses. Some are toys, some are junk and some are overkill, so depending on the terrain you are operating in and what you are doing at the time, they can get you lost and embarrassed or worse, lost and dead. If I had to bet…

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  1. It’s a tool plain and simple and as such as long as it works for you it don’t matter what make or style it is. Having said that though tools only turn out their best in experienced hands.

    When night walking and geocaching I use a simple Silva compass.
    That, pace beads, notepad, and a map.
    My Silva is nearly 15 years old, scratched to hell and the dial is a bit of a mess but you use what you have don’t you?

    At best all I can keep to when night walking through dense wooded terrain is 2 (one div) to 6 (3 divs) degrees of accuracy anyway.

    Over a mile (my average trek) I should be 50 – 160 meters off track except I seldom am.
    By constantly checking forward and back, side to side, and even up using Polaris where I can I soon pick up on errors and adjust accordingly. Practice makes you good not some fancy trade name.


    • gamegetterII says:

      As I posted,I use a Silva starter for most of my navigation in the area I live.
      When out in the western U.S. where there’s tracts of millions of acres of wilderness-I use a better compass,it’s not so much the brand name,as it is what the compass is designed to do.
      I wouldn’t use the Silva starter out west,as it does not have the base designed for use with the topo maps of the Bob Marshall wilderness area,the Lolo national forest,etc.
      Here in the U.S. we also have to deal with declination,which varies depending on where you are in the country.
      There’s a difference between a Silva starter-and this…

      Not all that great a difference,but the Suunto has a larger base,which helps when plotting courses over long distances on topo maps. It’s really the Suunto equivilant of the Silva starter.


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