Another compass? Yes, absolutely! The Brunton TruArc 20, pictured above, rounds out our previous choices of the Cammenga USGI Tritium Lensatic and SUUNTO MC-2 as the group of compasses the NPT can rely on for ‘dead nuts’ navigation. DTG’s was purchased from Great Lake Survival, here.
Still have to use it in the field, but initial impressions out of the package are pretty impressive! I’m really looking forward to putting this thing through its paces on a land nav course of my own specs, which will be interesting, to say the least! (The review will continue as Part II – Field Trial)
First, the company guarantee on the package: “Buy it. Try it. Bust it. Return it. No Questions Asked.” It don’t get no better than that.
Second, it’s made in the USA. I really, really, try, as much as possible, to give US companies and workers first shot when it comes to getting good field equipment. More times than not, I’m not disappointed – it’s really nice to see ‘American Pride’ in the various products we review and use.
Third, there’s some real innovations on this compass that you wouldn’t expect from a compass in this price range. MSRP is $59.99, which isn’t bad (it’s below Cammenga’s USGI Tritium and on par with the SUUNTO MC-2 (another fine mirror compass).
Here’s a few of the innovations:
- Tool-Free Declination Adjustment – Yes, it’s true. Basically, you’re pinching the center pivot and turning the outer rotating dial just a ‘smidge’ to move the Declination Adjustment Indicator to your desired setting. The Declination hash marks are for 2 degrees, so if you have an odd number like I do, you have to finesse it a bit. But you can get there. It’s good that it’s tight, because it won’t loosen up on you in the field. It’s a very deliberate adjustment! Beats the USGI Lensatic hands down, and provides a bit more ‘peace of mind’ than the SUUNTO does, because if you lose your Declination Tool on the SUUNTO, you’re up the creek for moving to areas with different declination measurements.
- Instant Back Azimuth Reading – The Azimuth Ring (constructed with 1 degree graduations – making it VERY accurate) has the added feature of back azimuths printed directly under the Bearing Index Line (this is green and located in the Bearing Magnification Window). Very nice, when one is performing “Modified Resection” because determining the back azimuth is instantaneous. It does have a weakness (or possibly not) in that to read the back azimuth, you must have the compass in a position to use the sighting slot and mirror. Makes sense if you are aiming at a particular target. It’s magnified nicely, too. It’d be a bit better if the holder could read the back azimuth from the Center Hold. A small nit, to be sure.
- Global Needle – No special compass or price increase to get your compass to work anywhere on the planet you’re at.
- Two (that’s right..) Inclinometers – Slope measurement made easy! Quick slope measurements can be done by viewing the side of the compass where the Protective Mirror Cover right side swivel is located. Aligning the compass base with the slope while keeping the cover horizontal will provide the incline degree measurement. There’s also the standard Clinometer inside the Liquid Filled Vial.
- Protective Base & Mirror Covers – For standard operation, the middle cover in the photo above is down and locked. This is what you’ll see:
With the middle cover closed, the compass is still fully functional for ‘shooting’ both azimuths and back azimuths. Declination adjustments or scale use is limited to when you remove the base cover, however. The mirror must be opened in order to use the compass in this mode, but it can also be opened completely to use for general azimuth reading in the ‘center hold’ position or for general checks on direction. Azimuths are changed by using the black rotating wheel; the azimuth is read in the window (that’s also a magnifier) just above the black azimuth index line shown. The black bottom cover is made of pliable rubber, and fits over the compass base to not only protect it, but hold two map tool sheets that have most of the map scales and grid plotting tools you’d need to plot up to 8 digit grid coordinates.
So, for now, out of the package, there you have it! The Brunton TruArc 20 promises to be a winner in the field; time will tell.