The M-5 has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best handheld compasses for 2023.
The M-5 is a standard baseplate or protractor compass, also known in the U.S. as the 'Contender' or 'Smokekiller' model, and is in use by the U.S. Forest Service. (Outside North America the M-5 is known as the 'NATO' model and is issued to U.K. land forces along with the Silva of Sweden Type 4).
Unlike some other compasses, the M-5 has a long 5" rectangular baseplate that makes it easy to draw course bearings on a map. The compass bezel is fitted with gripping blocks to make it easy to rotate, and the compass dial is printed in easy-to-see raised degree markings. Those degree marks, incidentally, are printed on a large and VERY luminous plastic which makes them easy to read at night or in low light. The clear acrylic baseplate has a magnifier and a large luminous direction of travel arrow, and the rear corners are nicely radiused to facilitate comfortable holding. The M-5 also has adjustable declination using a small screw mechanism similar to Silva compasses, and it operates precisely and easily. Like other Suunto compasses, the M-5 has a quality needle mounted on a jeweled bearing. My example seems very well built with no 'slop' noted. Despite its length it is very lightweight and fits easily into a shirt pocket.
Cons: The M-5, at least my U.S. version, is not printed with UTM romer scales for finding a position on the map.
Price Paid: $32
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Historic Range: $39.95
Reviewers Paid: $32.00