Compasses you carry and why

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by joshkelekovich, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. joshkelekovich

    joshkelekovich Tracker

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    I had a recent scenario where I was lost in the woods for a while. Since then, I have been looking at compasses to buy. Good, quality compasses. I thought what better way to pick a compass than to take advice from my fellow peers. Thanks guys.
     
  2. grizz

    grizz Scout

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    suunto mc2 is what i am using , like it very much so far ..
     
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  3. injun51

    injun51 Guide

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    Older silvas, cammenga, marbal, suunto, some no names but my favorite is an antique Chicago engineers lensatic compass I got for dirt at a seaside flea market. If this thing could talk I bet its been through some schizen.

    Just stay away from liquid filled compasses. Not sure how it happens but they all seem to lose the liquids over time and you wind up with a cheap ineffective compass.

    Learn how to navigate with compass and map and you will NEVER repeat being lost.

    Good luck.
     
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  4. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    Old Silva Ranger but don't bother with the new ones. Suunto is pretty good
     
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  5. Machine27

    Machine27 Ridicuously Good Looking Bushclass I

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    I like using a shooters compass. What I learned land nav with(not that I remember much). So when I do use a compass it's my older cammenga 3H.

    ETA: I've forgot alot. I believe it's called a shooters compass, maybe shooting compass? It's the kind you aim anyway, lol.
     
  6. Chris367

    Chris367 Guide

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    Use a cammenga 3H mostly because I am familiar with it from using it in the military and I don't care for liquid filled compasses.
     
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  7. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    Brunton pocket transit for serious map work, Cammenga in main pack, Brunton or Silva orienteering style in most of the day bags, a Marbles pin on with hunting gear, and an old 1930 vintage K&E pocket compass as normal pocket carry . I like compasses. :)

    Seem to collect them almost as bad as knives and binoculars.
     
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  8. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman Banned Member Banned

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    Suunto mc2 is my "serious" compass. Most of the time when roaming the woods I have a cheap whistle/magnifying glass (plastic lens!)/compass gizmo purchased at WalMart or a cheap orange match safe/whistle with a compass on top. In most instances to find camp or my way home I just need the general direction rather than precise bearings. I also carry a GPS when in unfamiliar territory.
     
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  9. Two Bears

    Two Bears Banned Member Banned

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    I carry a newer Silva Ranger, contrary to other posters there's nothing wrong with it. It's a backup I carry a Garmin 60 csx with topo may as my primary and extra batteries. I've learned on these forums people give bad reviews on products just because it's made somewhere they don't like. At least some of the time the review is not based on fact.

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk 4
     
  10. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    Good for you, but my comments are based on use and witnessing others who have purchased. Nothing to do with country of origin. I have seen several develop bubbles quickly along with other QC issues. Most everyone I know in the SAR community who tried new Rangers returned them or pitched them. There is always an exception to the rule. But why take a chance when there are so many choices?? So my comments are based on facts.
     
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  11. sdjsdj

    sdjsdj Guide Bushclass I

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    2 words. NO BUBBLE. Suunto M3-DL approx $35 on Amazon.
    Had it about a year now in all kinds of weather. Left in the car in subfreezing temps as wells as 100DegF.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2013
  12. bharen

    bharen Guide

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    I normally carry two - a USGI Cammenga lensatic and a Suunto M9 wrist compass. I can highly recommend both.

    Other good choices I'll use for specific purposes:

    Brunton pocket transit (not an instrument for the faint of heart 'cuz the cost will have you fainting dead away!)

    Suunto KB-14. Hands down the most accurate and precise compass I've ever used. Accurate to 1/2 of a degree.

    Suunto MC-2 Global. Perhaps the best mirror compass available today. A very good general purporse compass.
     
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  13. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    When my Ranger dies that's the one I am getting.
     
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  14. sdjsdj

    sdjsdj Guide Bushclass I

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    +1 On the Suunto M-3DL.
     
  15. rolandsilvajr

    rolandsilvajr Banned Member Banned

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    2 mc-2g and 2 m-3G suunto. Love them. Got rid of my silva and camenga compasses.
     
  16. ajhummel

    ajhummel Tracker

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    Really gotta buy a new one, I had one back in Boy Scouts, but if you handed me one today not sure I'd be able to properly use it. Compass use would make an excellent addition to the BushClass dont ya think? Maybe as an elective?
     
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  17. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    The reason for the negative view of the newer Silva's is very simply, lousy quality control. No one denies you CAN get a good one, but the odds are less than fifty fifty. It is simply not worth the hassle when there are other brands that are 98% or better on reliability. The fact that you got a good one is "anecdotal evidence", the fact that a LOT of other people have not gotten good ones becomes a statistical trend. :) Congratulations on getting a decent one.
     
  18. doulos

    doulos Supporter Supporter

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    1970's Silva Ranger, still works like new! :50:

    Suunto's are pretty good. You don't need a really expensive compass or fancy attachments. A good sighting compass will serve you well!

    Check out the Suunto MC-2 D/L Mirror Sighting Compass.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2013
  19. Iacornfed

    Iacornfed Tracker

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    Unlike many people I don't claim to be an expert on compasses. I own one, it is a Silva Polaris made in Finland. I have used for years with no problems. I learned on lenstatic compasses back in the late seventies in the Army. Haven't been lost yet, but then again I don't put myself in situations where I really have to rely on a compass for my survival. Good luck in your quest.
     
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  20. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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  21. bushwolf

    bushwolf Guide

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    I prefer my Cammenga Model 27.

    Have a few of the baseplate type too, but they are far less durable.
     
  22. bigcountry1315

    bigcountry1315 Scout

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    I have a compass fetish.....lol I have the Suunto M 3dl,MC2 and M9 I also always have my Cammenga that we used in the Corps. I also carry an older Silva Ranger made in Finland and a lot of older Silva compasses. I got a lot of them because I taught land nav to our SWAT team for years and would bring a few to loan out.Believe it or not a lot of the guy's would show up with cheap lensatic look alike and other $5 compasses.Hard to believe guy's that made $25 an hour would not invest in better gear. I have gear and a book shelf full of books that I purchased so that I was a better trainer and could answer team members questions. I probably have 2 grand worth of stuff I bought just for training my SWAT team.
     
  23. BurnedOutGeek

    BurnedOutGeek Supporter Supporter

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    I have a couple. First one I don't remember the maker of and my primary is a cammenga 3h.

    uploadfromtaptalk1376681887240.jpg

    Mainly because it's what I'm used to ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2013
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  24. BurnedOutGeek

    BurnedOutGeek Supporter Supporter

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    Just noticed in the picture how the plastic one reacts close to the cammenga. LOL
     
  25. Schwert

    Schwert Guide

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    I really like the Suunto Global matchbox for most of the time when I am not doing serious compass/map work. For that I prefer a Ranger type.

    [​IMG]

    This old Silva or a more recent Suunto Ranger are my choices.

    [​IMG]

    I too would avoid at all costs a recent Silva purchased in the US or the awful Brunton Eclipse.
     
  26. Fat Old Man

    Fat Old Man Perpetual Student Supporter

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    I second the motion! Not having any Scouting or military experience, I could use a good, simple orienteering course.

    Are you catching this, IA Woodsman?
     
  27. XMP

    XMP Mountain Man Supporter

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    I have a few older Silva compasses that work fine, but my more recent ones are Suunto. I like both the M3DL and the MC2DL, depending upon where I'll be and how serious of a trek I'm on. I keep a compass in every pack I have, so I'm never without one.

    I also usually carry some small backup compass. I like the K&M Matchcases and those include a little compass as well.
     
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  28. captbrian

    captbrian Bush League Urbanite

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    I had a Suunto A10 for about 10-12 years before it developed a bubble. Shockingly, I took it back to REI as I had read they stand behind many products that are 'defective' regardless of warranty length...and they exchanged it no problem, and I bought a second one. It is the only 'real' compass I ever had (even tho it is a super dirt cheap option in their offerings, I think it is a good brand). Have a couple of the various cheap small compasses on whistles, etc as last resorts and backups.

    +1 on the elective Bushclass for nav
     
  29. RABCarver

    RABCarver Tracker

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    Suunto A-10

    Nothing fancy, just reliable & accurate.
     
  30. PMSteve

    PMSteve Old Timey Outdoorsman Supporter

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    Old Silva Ranger... late 1960s. Still perfect!
     
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  31. Naturalist

    Naturalist Guide

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    I have 2 compasses that I use.

    One is a Silva explorer that I picked up from the Scout store. Great for simple orienteering and says it is accurate to within ±2°. I purchased this one first since it was most affordable at about US$18.00

    The other is a military lensatic compass, complete with continuously glowing tritium vials. This is my number 1 "go to" compass for its accuracy and robustness. Cost of these is about $90.00 including ALICE compass/first-aid pouch and, IMHO, very much worth every penny. Tritium is good for 25 years and mine is much weaker now, purchased in 2000 but still effective.
     
  32. Roamer

    Roamer Supporter Supporter

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    I bought a new Silva Ranger last year. I forget what the country of origin was, but it was not Finland or US. After not using it for a couple months, I pulled it out the other day, and was dismayed to find a giant bubble in the dial. Can't recommend it. :26:
     
  33. XMP

    XMP Mountain Man Supporter

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    Unfortunately, the Silvas sold in the US are now made in Indonesia.
     
  34. rdec

    rdec Guide

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    I almost always have a Suunto M9 wrist sighting compass on my wrist. A good, reliable compass with rotating bezel that makes it easy to recheck a bearing.

    My best compass is a K&R Dakar lensatic that combines the features of a lensatic with a baseplate compass in a smaller, lighter package than most lensatics. I carry this in a Maxpedition Barnacle along with a German made opisometer I've had for years and a set of MarTools cards.

    My oldest compass is a US Army 1917 I was given as a Boy Scout 60 years ago. I also have Swedish-made Silva Huntsman and Guide compasses I use from time to time.
     
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  35. OldMan

    OldMan Artist, Trapper, Hunter, all around woods bum

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    My personal favorite is the Brunton Eclipse. It's adjustable for declination (which is great because on one hand you can change it when you change areas and on the other hand you don't have to remember to add/subtract X degrees to correct North). It also has a good orienteering mode: set your course and at a glance just keep the north indicator in the circle. It also has a built in ruler and protractor, as well as a good magnifier for both reading and fire starting. I've used mine on 4 continents and have had no complaints.

    Second favorite is the military issue. Mainly because it's what I first learned with. It's also durable and if it's closed it doesn't break as easy if you step on it by accident like the Wally World Silva plastic compass types will.
     
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  36. Bacpacker

    Bacpacker Tracker

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    I have several I have collected over the years. Most are older Silva's including my first, a Boy Scout Explorer my parents got me when I was 12. Still a great compass.
     
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  37. jlcop

    jlcop Tracker

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    I have had good luck with Silva and Suntos. However if you do not have any or very much experience I suggest finding an orienteering group near you and take a class and or go to a few meets to get some practical experience and then you know what will work for you.
    John
     
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  38. OhCanada

    OhCanada Scout

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    That is because Silva is just a name and one that was bought by another company, the same with Sharade knives and Cold Steel blades not being made by American Camillus. Suunto is the Silva now that are made in Finland.
     
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  39. gdpolk

    gdpolk Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    In familiar woods, I'll usually just carry my watch that has a fairly basic electronic compass. Here I need at most rough headings. I find it easy to use if it gets dark outside when hunting or if I just wander off stalking a bit farther than expected. It shouldn't be trusted for mountaineering but can get you back to a road and your truck in areas your familiar with when you run off a bit farther than expected.
    http://www.timex.com/watches/intelligent-quartz-compass-t2n724za

    In unfamiliar woods when on a trail or not too far (within a few miles) from a trail and with a map, I use a Sylvia baseplate because it's plenty accurate enough, small, light weight, and unobtrusive.
    http://store.silvacompass.com/products/345166/Explorer_203

    For mountaineering, I've been borrowing friends' compasses because I haven't settled on one yet and I don't go mountaineering very often anyway.
     
  40. marshall0351

    marshall0351 Tracker Bushclass I

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    I have owned silva's years ago but the only one I use now is a cammenga. This is what I was trained to use in the military and its the only one I feel comfortable using anymore, I don't even think about it I just bring it along. Like a favorite pair of boots, or anything else.

    The first compass I gave my sons each were silva's
     
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  41. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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  42. Chazzle

    Chazzle Idiot Savant Supporter

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    I use the Cammenga 3H Compass. The tritium is almost depleted but this thing is built like a tank. It's a little heavy around the neck, but I trust this thing not getting broken, as I'm tough on gear.

    Chazzle
     
  43. backlasher

    backlasher Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I've got two compasses. One is a cheap Coleman that's good to tell north from south. The other is a Silva but I don't remember the model. When I pulled it out recently, I noticed a big bubble in it. It still seems to function okay so I'll still use it but I need to start looking for a replacement. I don't think I'll be buying another Silva.
     
  44. bharen

    bharen Guide

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    I bought one of the Dakar's a few years ago and was very pleasantly surprised at how good it is. It's actually a very useful design.
     
  45. iscariot

    iscariot Scout

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    i use different silvas,like some have said they can fail on you so i use gps in my cellphone and a really old magellan as backup depending on how unfamiliar i am with the area.
    Im hoping to run into an older 1950s silva air compass since it cant freeze in -30.
    If i wasnt so freakign poor i would invest in a modern gps with coloured maps,its not like "the old woodsmen" wouldnt use the best navigation tools they could if it was available.
     
  46. bharen

    bharen Guide

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    Contrary to what the compass manufacturers say a bubble, particularly a big bubble WILL impact compass performance. Part of it has to do with surface tension around the bubble and it's impact on the free movement of the needle. If bubbles were no big deal then the US Navy wouldn't have devoted entire chapters in their navigation manuals on the topic of removing bubbles from their permanently mounted binnacle compasses.

    I've had great luck with currently manufactured Suunto compasses - I've yet to have one develop a bubble. K&R claims that their current design with their somewhat 'squishy' needle capsule means they will be bubble-less for life.
     
  47. escapefoot

    escapefoot Tracker

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    Brunton pocket transit, best compass I have ever owned
     
  48. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    My testing found that on a level surface, a bubble of any size had little or no effect, so to some extent they are correct. Now, before everyone jumps on this, that's on a perfectly level, stable surface with the needle allowed to settle. All bets are off if that condition changes, in other words anything other than optimal conditions. Realistically, for the usage most compasses see, such as taking a safety bearing or a bearing on a landmark, a bubble isn't going to make much difference. It is likely that travelling across the terrain would bring more error into play than the accuracy of the compass. I usually have a Silva Polaris on or about my person. I found them to be quite reliable, and I have several scattered throughout my gear and in assorted jacket pockets. If I'm using a compass in conjunction with a map or going into real back country, I carry a Suunto M-3 (visible on the left strap of my ruck in my avatar pic). I have a Brunton pocket transit, and it's a beautiful piece of gear, but just more than I generally need.
     
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  49. Yknpdlr

    Yknpdlr Scout

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    My first serious compass was a 1970's era Silva Ranger. It taught me how to navigate in ever deeper off trail backcountry and gave me unending lessons in navigation. Since most of the time I travelled solo, it became my trusted friend as we communicated with each other. Then a couple of years ago it developed a small bubble. The bubble would come and go and didn't seem to much affect accuracy, but it was annoying.

    So then I bought the latest Silva Ranger. It is awful. Sure it works, but the dial spins roughly and overall it feels cheap compared to my old friend. Next I went to the Suuto equivalent. Better than the Silva, but still not the same. So I dumped the mirror style and tried a flat baseplate model.

    For many years I have been teaching backcountry navigation at the BSA National Camping School, as an instructor for the 8-day wildernesss trek leader guide training course. I also am a SAR team crew boss, and teach three levels of all day navigation courses to other team members. My favorite compass is the Suunto M-3DL because it is a quality build, operates smoothly, and has a relatively long flat straight baseplate making it easier to use when plotting a course on a map and for field use. I have five copies of this model, as well as several near-equivalent compasses that I use for courses I teach.

    Truth be told, as you advance in navigation abilities, a precision compass is much less necessary than the ability to read and interpret the terrain in detail, and convert what you see to what you expect to see on the map. Terrain observation navigation skill will not only get you where you need to go, it also keeps you alert with your mind active and your eyes looking in all directions visualizing your exact location. To me, this is the reason I am out there in the first place.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2013
    Gunr, Daydreaming and TexasPrimitive like this.
  50. KD8REV

    KD8REV Tracker

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    I own the Harbin pocket transit (a quality knock-off of a Brunton pocket transit), and although it is not suitable for use "in the bush" it is my "standard" by which I measure any other compass that I may own or use. It is very well made and the magnets are VERY powerful (make sure NOTHING ferromagnetic is even close to it when you're taking a bearing). This transit compass/level is "Proudly Made in China" (as in they make no effort to hide where it's made) and IMO is as well made as a similar American or European transit (albeit at a much lower price point). In my experiance when you buy a Chinese tool that has very large Chinese lettering on the package and/or the cover of the manual it is as good of a tool as can be made anywhere... It's when they shoehorn the "Made in China" into the corner that you have to be leery...
    That being said there are plenty of bargains to be had. Just because a tool is made ANYWHERE doesn't automatically mean that it's of good or poor quality. Always test any tool that you may ever have to trust your life or livelihood to; BEFORE you have to! On the topic of this thread I have one cheap map compass that aligns perfectly to the Harbin; I have another cheap lensatic of the same make that doesn't really align... At all. So as I said TEST YOUR TOOLS BEFORE YOU NEED THEM!!!
     

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