Navigation Equipment and Methods - Types Of Compasses





Compasses are the primary navigation tools to use when moving in an outdoor world where there is no other way to find directions. Soldiers should be thoroughly familiar with the compass and its uses. Part One of this manual discussed the techniques of map reading. To complement these techniques, a mastery of field movement techniques is essential. This chapter describes the lensatic compass and its uses, and some of the field expedient methods used to find directions when compasses are not available.

The lensatic compass is the most common and simplest instrument for measuring direction. It is discussed in detail in paragraph 9­2. The artillery M­2 compass is a special­purpose instrument designed for accuracy; it will be discussed in Appendix G. The wrist/pocket compass is a small magnetic compass that can be attached to a wristwatch band. It contains a north­seeking arrow and a dial in degrees. A protractor can be used to determine azimuths when a compass is not available. However, it should be noted that when using the protractor on a map, only grid azimuths are obtained.


The lensatic compass consists of three major parts: the cover, the base, and the lens.

a. Cover. The compass cover protects the floating dial. It contains the sighting wire (front sight) and two luminous sighting slots or dots used for night navigation.

b. Base. The body of the compass contains the following movable parts:

(1) The floating dial is mounted on a pivot so it can rotate freely when the compass is held level. Printed on the dial in luminous figures are an arrow and the letters E and W. The arrow always points to magnetic north and the letters fall at east (E) 90° and west (W) 270° on the dial. There are two scales; the outer scale denotes mils and the inner scale (normally in red) denotes degrees.
(2) Encasing the floating dial is a glass containing a fixed black index line.

(3) The bezel ring is a ratchet device that clicks when turned. It contains 120 clicks when rotated fully; each click is equal to 3°. A short luminous line that is used in conjunction with the north­seeking arrow during navigation is contained in the glass face of the bezel ring.

(4) The thumb loop is attached to the base of the compass.

c. Lens. The lens is used to read the dial, and it contains the rear­sight slot used in conjunction with the front for sighting on objects. The rear sight also serves as a lock and clamps the dial when closed for its protection. The rear sight must he opened more than 45° to allow the dial to float freely.
NOTE: When opened, the straightedge on the left side of the compass has a coordinate scale; the scale is 1:50,000 in newer compasses.

Warning: Some older compasses will have 1:25,000 scale. This scale can be used with a 1:50,000 - scale map, but the values read must be halved. Check the scale.