Learn how to use the lensatic compass used by the US Military. PRECISION COMPASS. * LENSATIC *. PROVEN • RUGGED ACCURATE. CAMMENGA. FAX ( ANILINE AVE. HOLLAND, MICHIGAN I get lots of questions via email from people wanting to know how to use a lensatic compass, and I think I’ve covered that pretty well in a series of two posts.

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The lensatic compass leensatic used by the U. It has its advantages and disadvantages over the orienteering compass. One advantage is it’s probably more accurate when it comes to “shooting azimuths,” meaning the act of determining the specific compass direction to a spot on the earth. Learn Land Navigation Now. Enroll in my personalized step-by-step video-based online course. We’ll start from the beginning, and go through everything you need to know to find your way over the terrain.

With solid land-navigation skills, you’ll be lnesatic confident and “at home” in the wilderness. One disadvantage is, unlike the orienteering compass, it’s lenswtic easy to make it double as a protractor, meaning you’ll have to carry a protractor with you. Use the illustration above to familiarize yourself with the components of a lensatic compass. Some of the components’ terms are used in the explanations below. An “azimuth” is pretty much the same as a “bearing.

How to Hold a Lensatic Compass.

Lensatic Compass Guide

It’s important to hold your compass stable, squarely in front of you, and level. Open the cover completely and pull back the rear sight. With the thumb loop comlass the way down under the compass, put the thumb of one hand all the way inside lensqtic loop, and place the index finger of that same hand along one side of the compass.

Make an “L” shape with the index finger and thumb of your other hand. Put that hand up to the compass, steadying the compass by placing your index finger along the compass’s copmass, and wrapping your thumb between the bezel ring and the rear sight. Now, hold the compass level and squarely in front of you. Imagine that you want to hold it as if it were firmly mounted in that position.

You don’t want to hold it crooked, cockeyed, or off level. Hold it square and straight in front of you like you mean business. Two-hand Hold of the Lensatic Compass.

co,pass How to Find a Map Direction. To find directions from your map, you’re going to need a protractor, a special instrument used for measuring angles.


Looking at the mxnual below, let’s say you’re at the north end of Sheeler Lake, where the penciled X is. You want to go cross country directly to Devil’s Wash Basin, a deep and beautiful lake you’ve heard a lot about. Using your protractor or other straight edge, you draw a line from your current position in the direction of where you want to go.

Then, you place your protractor on the map with its center point at your current position, making sure the north-south lines on the protractor line up with the north-south lines on the egnineer. You then see where the line you drew intersects with the protractor’s numbers, in this case degrees.

In your case, however, your declination is degrees West, meaning you’ll have to add degrees before you set your compass. Be sure you understand magnetic declination. If you don’t, visit the page just hyperlinked. Hold your compass in the two-hand hold, steady and level in front of you. Making sure you don’t move to change directions, turn the glass compass housing until the short luminous line is directly lined up with the luminous magnetic arrow.

The bezel clicks as it moves–three degrees for every click. You can use this feature to set your compass in the dark. Your compass is now set. Whenever the luminous magnetic arrow lines up with the luminous short line, you’re following your intended azimuth. Well, that is, unless you’re doing something silly like holding the compass backwards. But not to you, I trust. In the daytime, you’ll normally find something in the distance on your azimuth and walk to it, so you don’t have to keep staring at the compass.

At night, however, or in manhal periods of limited visibility fog, blizzard, etc keeping these two luminous bits lined up will be your only remedy.

The fact that they glow in the dark especially, if they’re the tritium kind which will glow for years without having to be exposed to light means you can use your compass without a light for night navigation. In addition to degrees manuql measure directions in a circle, the military also uses 6, mils. The degrees are in red, and are the ring’s inner measurements.

The mils are in black, and are the outer measurements on the ring. I guess the military needs the extra accuracy now and then say, for example, to precisely place artillery fire.


Close is good enough in horsehoes, but I’m hoping exact is the standard for artillery fire. For this task, the lensatic compass really shines. Let’s say you see a water tower off in the distance. You want to find your position using the technique of partial resection, so you need to know that tower’s bearing with a high degree of accuracy.

Turn the compass cover more or less perpendicular to the base. Hold the compass with your thumb fully in the thumb ring, and your index finger wrapped around and gripping the circular part of the underneath of the compass’s base.

Steady the compass by allowing the hand holding the compass to rest in the cupped palm of your other hand. As long as you can hold the compass level and steady, the exact grip doesn’t matter. Holding the compass up to your face, angle the rear sight so that you can read the compass dial clearly through the lens while peering through the sighting slot and lining your distant target the water tower, in this case up with the sighting wire.

Now, read the degree marking under the fixed black index line.

How to Read an Engineer Compass | Sciencing

You now have your target’s bearing. Determining a Bearing, or “Shooting an Azimuth”. To use your lensatic compass to find the direction of your intended azimuth which you probably got from your map, using your protractor:. Hold the compass steady and level, and up to your face. Turn your entire body as lensayic unit until your predetermined azimuth falls under the fixed black index line.

L ook through the sighting slot and find some target a tree, boulder, whatever that lines up with your sighting wire. Proceed to that target.

Lensatic Compass

Keep doing this until you get to where you want to go. Return from Lensatic Compass to Home. Want a free ebook on Land Navigation? My page, fully illustrated book is yours for the asking.

Get your own customized topographical maps, built according to your specifications. Point of Interest An “azimuth” is pretty much the same as a “bearing. Point of Interest In addition to degrees to measure directions in a janual, the military also uses 6, mils.