Cammenga Tritium Lensatic Compass 3H


1 comment

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Price Paid: $79.99

Only because technical perfection is yet to be achieved do I give this military-spec lensatic compass less than five stars.

As another reviewer has mentioned, its case is as sturdy as can be imagined for a hand-held compass, being machined of aluminum to house the compass workings. Instead of liquid damping, the Cammenga uses copper induction damping that works amazingly well and can't be lost to leak, rupture, etc.--as happened to my old Silva Ranger that I bought this to replace.

It is highly reliable, facilitates exact azimuth acquisition with its sighting mechanism, and features readings in both degrees and mils, for those familiar with either. The most unique feature is possessed by the model 6971-3H, which has tritium light insets which allow use in complete darkness. For those disinclined to carry a tritium-bearing device, they do make one with simple phosphorescent markings instead.

Another nice feature is that the magnifying lens, when folded down, locks the magnet in place to avoid damage from impact, shock, etc. The compass also comes with a nylon carry case, a lanyard, and belt clip for the case, as well as a brief instruction manual written in very direct military style.

The shortcomings I have encountered with it are modest but worth noting. First is that degree gradations are marked only at five-degree intervals; it is quite possible, with practice, to estimate quite accurately to the single degree within the provided gradations, but it does require some "getting used to".

The second quibble is that the scale markings along the straight edge available when the compass is completely open are suitable for 1:50,000 scale markings, but some of the markings (specifically, those for 2000 and 4000 m) aren't marked so as to quickly distinguish them from neighboring marks.

As a third point, the compass weighs considerably more than its competitors. For the gram-counters out there, this is NOT their compass of choice. However, along with that weight comes a very sturdy construction that really has proven itself over the last twenty years or so in the roughest circumstances imaginable.

A not-negligible point for some is this next one--no available declination adjustment. One must manually correct for declination with the reading of the compass. While not difficult for an experienced user, someone who is used to setting declination and forgetting it thereafter will have to be reminded occasionally to make the proper adjustment in sighting.

And, finally, it has no mirror. Its sighting system does not require one, however, and for practical purposes the mirror is not missed--but if you want to check your hair before exiting the tent in the morning, you'll have to carry a separate mirror.


Whie it's true that the metal housing of Cammenga's version of the U.S. M-1950 lensatic is very strong, the needle or pivot upon which the compass dial rests is long and vulnerable to any hard impact. What happens is that when the compass is dropped on something hard, like rock or concrete, the pivot tends to bend, throwing off accuracy, which is only + or - 2.25 degrees to begin with. It may still look good, but it no longer points to magnetic north.

4 years ago
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