How to Use a Brunton Compass

The Brunton compass is a small handheld compass also referred to as a "pocket compass." It utilizes a mirror with a sighting line in the center through which a distant target is aligned. The mirror allows for viewing the bearing through the mirror. There is also a set button at the center of the needle, which when pressed, holds the needle in a fixed position for viewing.

How to Use a Brunton Compass

Hold the compass level, or place it on a flat surface. It is vital that the compass is held as nearly level as possible. Use the bubble to center and level the compass.

Assume a comfortable position for looking through the sight. Adjust the mirror so that it reflects the compass needle and markings.

Open the small rear sight. Align the compass so that the distant object, front sight and small rear sight are all in alignment. The compass must remain level during use.

View the bearing on the compass, after sighting the distant object, by viewing through the mirror or by viewing the bearing directly.

Double-check the level of the compass, take a second sighting and compare the results to ensure a proper reading.


  • Using a compass in an improper manner can lead to false readings that may result in inaccurate navigation.


  • Practice with the Brunton compass prior to using it in the field. Make sure to completely understand how it works. Refer to the owner's manual for additional information.

About the Author

Tara Dooley has written for various websites since 2008. She has worked as an accountant, after-school director and retail manager in various locations. Dooley holds a Bachelor of Science in business management and finance.