The Importance Of The Tritium Compass

This is a guest post by Frank B and entry in our non-fiction writing contest – where you could win $100 cash. (This contest ends on June 5 2011 so get busy)

It was my goal to reach Ranch Road and be back home well before dark. I had the help of two able sons and our faithful dog Max. We would be on foot, on ground close to home and traveling the estimated 3 miles without packs. We did however carry flagging ribbon, canteens and my lensatic marching compass. Our mission was simple. We were to follow a single compass heading (east) from the northeastern corner of our 40 acres and flag trees from two sides so that a tractor operator could come through at a later time and knock them down. It was a cool and clear autumn day. We started just after lunch.

We moved quickly, making good headway along the easement line for the marking trees and enjoying the afternoon. Sooner than I expected, the afternoon sky hard turned darker. Looking up and to the west across the high desert we could clearly see a storm front rolling in fast. I had not seen one like this before.

The front line of the storm stretched across the entire horizon and was very low. The kind of ominous dark storm that most people never see first hand but only in movies. Before we knew it, the afternoon sun was entirely blotted out of the sky by the front and total darkness took over. It was clear that we should be headed on back home to the ranch.

I took a quick inventory of the boys, Max, and our limited gear and realized that I had lost my sense of direction in the total darkness. The wind started to pick up and within a few seconds a freezing rain started to fall. Shortly thereafter the lightning and thunder arrived. My first thought was, as you might expect; look at my compass and head west! Well, that is exactly what I started to do but, having not been willing to spend the extra money on a tritium compass, knowing that I would never even remotely be in a situation that would require such a feature, I found that my economically justified, non-tritium, glow-in-the-dark-for-three-seconds-if-held-under-light-for-three-minutes version was completely useless in total darkness.

You would then think any reasonable survivalist/rancher would then use his flashlight to look at the compass. As it happened, this reasonable survivalist/rancher did not bring a flashlight. Why would I bring a flashlight on a daytime project walking through the high desert? After short consideration as to whether or not to ask the boys if they had a flashlight I decided not to ask. Why would they have a flashlight? In fact they have had many flashlights. Too many to even count. I have bought more flashlights than any one private individual in the entire country. For as many flashlights as I have bought my boys you’d think they’d have flashlights spilling out of their pants. This was followed with a search for matches. I had none. Again I asked myself why would I be carrying matches? I had quit smoking several months earlier. Too bad.

I even tried to make out the compass face and get a heading as the lightning flashes illuminated the sky but I could not focus quickly enough in the short space of time the lightning flashed.

With the wind picking up and the freezing rain now getting harder I wished I had a cigarette and turned to the boys and told them I couldn’t read the compass to know which way was home. They both had their own ideas about which direction to head out on but then Jeff suggested that I try to read the compass using his matches.

We all three got down on our knees and huddled together trying to block the wind. Opening the book of matches I felt the sticks and determined that we had three. About 20 too few to keep lit in the wind and rain.

I gave the compass to the boys to let them try to read it by the lightning. They failed as well.

There we were. Lost within three miles of home, in the dark cold freezing rain with only the light of thunderbolts to lead us through the brush.

We did make it home that night. Once we made it to some high ground, I was able to make out the silhouette of a familiar mountain in the flash of the lightning and get a bearing on the closest road. My wife and youngest son had wondered why we were still out on an evening as bad as this and drove our truck around to where they thought we’d be. Our paths crossed about half way home but not before the boys, Max, and I, toured the more of the surrounding 300 acres than we wanted to in the dark.

In my defense, I have read compasses for many years in boats offshore, hiking in the back country and flying small planes. I have never been lost in the brush before or since. (Even at this occasion, I really wasn’t technically lost.)

I can see a day coming soon when many might seek the safety that traveling at night will offer. Travel that might not only be at night, but off the open road and perhaps in the woods where the night can be even darker.

A good tritium compass will be an absolute necessity for this journey. A small flashlight with a IR or red lens will also prove to be a benefit when you need to find something in your gear while in the darkness.

Using a flashlight at night to view a non-tritium compass should be considered as a last resort. The metal in the flashlight may interfere with the compass and your night vision can be compromised by the light itself and remember that it is easy for others to see your light source from great distances at night, so protect what you do within your pack or from other concealment.

Please take my word for it; the tritium compass is a must have item over all other compasses.

I now carry several items as everyday carry items (EDC) that I had previously just left in my BOB (Bug Out Bag). A flashlight (4sevens Quark MiNi), an Aurora Fire Starter and a tritium compass (Cammenga) are with me everywhere I go.

Do you carry a compass or EDC kit? Let us know what you carry in the comments below…8-)

Comments

  1. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    Its uncanny on how Murphy finds all of us at just the right time. Good post – I keep a 9V PAL light in my kit at all times, the locator beacon often enough light to get my task done. The trick with flashlights – checking them to see they have juice, I’ve been bitten several times there over the years.

  2. lilmorse says:

    Great example of a prepper not being prepared! I hate it when that happens. We got stuck, of all places, at the beach last weekend. I found out that I really need a beach bug out bag,with water, snacks, bathing suits, umbrellas and towels. Went to a beach wedding that ran 3 hours late. We were burned and dehydrated and miserable, all in dressy clothes, in the burning heat! Live and learn, won’t happen again!

  3. I am putting together a bug out bag for my oldest child who is headed off to college in the Fall. A compass is on the list of things to get.

    I wonder how these would fare if electronics broke down due to EMP or solar flares?

    I will certainly check these out very carefully. Thanks for the advice!

    • Frank B says:

      I did read that the solar flares are actually increasing the decay rate of some radioactive particles. I don’t know if tritium was one of them though. An EMP shouldn’t have any affect on tritium.

  4. riverrider says:

    i have army type tritium compasses. i do not own,nor ever will own a gps. too many people depend on the gadgets to get them where they are going. at least 2 brands take you in the wrong direction when you input my address.( i kinda like that:) but it underscores their inaccuracy. additionally, batteries run out at the worst possible time. the military can encrypt the signals with a flip of the switch, effectively shutting down civilian accesss. ask rangers in death valley about gps. several times a year rescue/recovery efforts result from visitors using gps to get around. great story and thanks for reminding us to carry and use the lowly compass.

  5. Great tip there.

    I had my 5 heavily wooded acres surveyed a few months ago and around noon one of the surveyors wanted to head back to his car to get his lunch. After about 30 minutes he called us on his cell phone to let us know that he was lost. I could not believe that a surveyor (that I had hired) did not carry a compass in the woods.

    I found him without much trouble but it was a lesson to my young sons that even grown ups can get lost.

  6. I laugh everytime a compass is mentioned and knowing I can’t use one. My nephew gave my son one that is really nice. It has a very distinct red line that is ?true north? I bugged the heck out of him taking a compass and turning around and around trying to find north. So I guess this was his answer to helping me use a compass.
    I told him that California wasn’t shaped right to have a true north and the freeways don’t run true. He sure had a hard time with me.
    But anyway the compass he gave my son is plastic (heavy) and I imagine the workings in it would not be bothered to much by a metal flashlight. But then again what do I know.
    And I will dispel a long held story that moss only grows on the north side of trees. I’v seen trees with moss all over them. So don’t count on that.
    Now I do know the sun comes up in the East and sets in the West. But I will stop dead in my tracks when it gets dark, can’t read those star maps.
    So I guess what I am saying is I need to keep my fanny in the house where I only have to worry about going left or right.

  7. TexasScout says:

    So many survival lessons here, I don’t know if I could count them all.

    But, let me add just one thing; trintium will only last about t to ten years, so be prepared (grin) to replace it after that. Ten bux a year for your safety, not a bad deal.

  8. IR is only good if you can view that spectrum… most do not have night vision devices that can see the IR range, so visible light becomes the only usable illumination at night.

    In the military, “map checks” during hours of darkness were conducted under a military poncho, often 2 of them, layered. We would provide perimeter security and someone would keep watch over the people checking the map with NVGs to observe for light leaks from the cover – man-made light has a very distinct signature in the woods, and as the author mentioned, be seen from a long distance.
    Noise and light discipline are tantamount to security during night time operations.

  9. Bad Karma says:

    very good article, once again it got me to thinking. now i must replace all my standard backpacking compasses.

  10. I kept expecting to read… ” and then our trusty dog Max barked and took off. We followed him, and he led us home.” 🙂

    • Frank B says:

      Max was having a great time just wandering around with us. I thought about sternly telling him to “GO HOME” and then following him, but he would have just hid behind a tree until he thought I wasn’t looking and come right back. He was a good dog. He wanted to be with us.

  11. Florence Nightingale says:

    Very helpful article,I must get a t.compass.If yellowstone blows ,there is a possibility the sun and moon will go dark for an undetermined time and we will have to live in darkness.I am beginning to carry water in car plus a quilt,think we need an everyday bag in there as well.What do we include???I put a handcrank radio under seat as I got caught in a golfball size hailstorm once and had to take cover in an underground parking garage for 2.5 hours.The radio told me when I could get out and go home.I have found drinking water right away when crisis hits causes the brain to be hydrated to be able to think straight.Thanks Frank for your post and most helpful tips..

    • Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

      FN, for what to carry in your car bag, please refer to some of MD’s earlier posts. This subject has been covered previously in detail. It varies slightly, depending on your environment and your personal needs. Basically, a small shovel (a folding shovel is OK), some tools (pliers, wrenches or socket set, screwdrivers or good quality multitool), blankets or sleeping bag, water, granola bars or some other ready-to-eat foods, battery powered or crank radio, flares or glow sticks, flashlight, knife, cash, trash bag, first aid kit, change of clothes, and work gloves. All this and whatever else you need will go into a backpack or a duffel bag or a plastic tote box. Do it ASAP, you never know when it might save your life.

    • SrvivlSally says:

      Florence Nightingale,
      If that thing blows, you are going to need quite a few nose/mouth masks and a good set or two of eye goggles. That type of saturation would be really thick and having to breathe it for very long would compromise your life and your pet’s if you have one. If you can’t afford those, a thick pair of panty hose or a few layers with a cloth in-between a layer might suffice to keep your lungs free of dust. Thickly woven cloths can also be used to cover your nose and mouth. When St. Helen’s of Washington State went off, we were advised to use panty hose to cover our vehicle’s air intakes or we would be dead in the water. Per person, per day, you should be carrying at least a couple of gallons of water. Some candies, sugar or sugar-free, your choice. A metal pot, two cups, two spoons. You should be in the habit of taking a survival lunch out the door with you. Instant rice, children’s vitamin c-enhanced drink mix, and foods that you have placed into a small bag that you bring in when you get home and you take with you when you walk out the door. Search the internet and look for a recipe called Bannock, which is a bread, because it is easy to put together and use. You can throw it together, put it in a heat-sealed bag and use that to get you by during difficult times. Because it requires a little butter or margarine you can always keep the oil seperate from the dry ingredients until you are ready to mix and use it. The main idea behind survival is: water, shelter, fire and food…YOUR basic necessities. Without water, your internal organs will shut down. Without shelter, you risk hypo/hyperthermia, too cold for too long and too hot for too long and they are linked with death if they are not handled quickly and properly. Without fire, you cannot stay warm, dry your clothes, cook your food, bathe your body. Without food, you will not only stop having normal bowel movements but you will surely suffer slow malnutrition, excruciating hunger pains, mental and eventual physical lethargy or your mind become cloudy/hazy and possible hallucinations. To survive, you will need all four but “when” each will be required is anyone’s guess. Think about your body’s needs: protein for strength, sugar for energy, fat for warmth and sodium and water for other of your body’s uses. Preparing for survival is not hard to do when you know what your BASIC needs are and how you are going to BASICALLY take care of them. If you still aren’t sure what foods to pack, you could always get some Mayday bars because they contain corn syrup and they are known to keep well. They are known as 3600 calorie bars and have been designed to sustain one individual for three days or provide 1200 calories a day. They weigh a little bit but their size might be the winning factor after you have finished putting your survival gear together.

  12. I have a USGI tritium compass that I have had for about 15 years. It is by far the best compass I have ever owned. I always had one when I was in the Army. We were issued one and it stayed with me at all times. This post also goes to show that even when you are a prepper that if you leave unprepared it will bite you on the butt.

    • gartersnk says:

      15 years, and does the tritium still glow? A previous post mentioned a 10 year half life, which is what I also understood to be the useful life of tritium in gun sights. I have a glock about the same age and the sights still glow brightly

  13. Great article. Most of us learn the most when we perform at or near our worst. I will be checking my compasses and flashlights again.

  14. Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

    I was wondering if the flagged trees couldn’t be followed back to your starting point? Or was it too dark to see them?

    Anyway, I always carry my EDC on my keychain and it has bailed me out of minor problems more times than I can count. It contains strike anywhere matches, 2 mini flashlights (one with a red bulb), Swiss Army Knife and a single-blade folder, daily dosage of meds, small tube with cash, and a small compass. In fact, I wrote an article several months ago for this blog about EDC. Never leave home without it. It absolutely could save your life and even if it’s as simple as mine is, it can really make a difference between getting back to your house, or your car, or out of your office building if TSHTF.

  15. STL Grandma says:

    I’m with Lint Picker on this.. I always carry my EDC on my keychain – can opener, flashlight, compass, lighter.. ok.. so the lighter *could* run out of gas… but I’m not a smoker. I do carry a second, much more comprehensive EDC in my purse.. mascarading as a “make-up bag”. Thanks so much for the confirmation that we should all stay prepared at all times.

  16. colorado gal says:

    my husband is always harping on me about all the “crap” i keep in my purse. I laugh cuz i know it isn’t all crap… i carry a lighter, a small LED flashlight, a suisse army knife, chap stick, a small mirror(more for signaling than fixing make-up), my cell phone, a handful of snacks, a small tube of lotion, my keys (which have a small compass/whistle/red light combo), a pen & small note pad & of course the miscellaneous cards & a fishing liscense. It’s not even a large purse LOL.

  17. gartersnk says:

    Anyone know how to determine the manufacture date on the Cammenga compass? There is a price spread of about $20 on ebay for so called new units but only one ebay store claims may 2011 manufacture – savings $20 but getting a 2 year or older compass doesn’t make sense

    • Get the new one and save yourself some headaches. The only reason to rid yourself of a compass (that works) is because it quit working. And as delicate an instrument as they are, they’re amazingly sturdy, especially the military models.
      One non-mil kind I’d recommend is the Michaels brand- I’ve carried the same nearly forty years with no problems.
      Shy III

  18. SrvivlSally says:

    You wrote one truly good story. Ain’t it crazy how you can see one minute and then be thrown into the world of the blind, suddenly. I always have a fire starter of some sort in a pocket. I’d get some good fat glow sticks and spread the weight evenly between everyone. A few put together will make a big one and that would lead me through the darkness. Testing lights on a dark and starless night will tell me how many I will need if I am ever stuck again. The number needed to have a decent glowing light and the length of time that one will burn will give me an idea of how many that I would need to pack to cover a certain amount of territory. A canister or a storm resistant lamp, when it’s not hot and dry out, with a small container of extra fuel would also work well. A shiny curved reflector might send enough of the light away that my eyes won’t be affected and also display enough ground for me to cover rapidly. The principle of reflecting light and making it brighter has always had it’s uses now and then. If you’re old enough, you might have seen those miner’s lamps or heard of them. I think that Lehman’s sells the CARBIDE LAMPS and I think that they also have the fuel that they require, for sale, as well.

    • I used those carbide lamps for years for spelunking in my younger days. You can carry both water and carbide in a few small plastic baby bottles. These generally carry enough for 12 or more hours of light; however a cave has no wind, trying to blow out the flame, so on a stormy night outside, they can be problematic.

    • Frank B says:

      I have had a few carbide lamps over the years. They are really cool old school. One thing about most preppers I have met is we are always into the cool stuff. Buy it, try it, decide if it goes with your pack or not. You never know when you may need the heat acetylene can give! For those not familiar with carbide lamps; Carbide, a mineral compound, when mixed with water gives off acetylene gas. The lamp burns this gas. Acetylene burns super bright and hot.

  19. Geez! Just when I think I have all bases covered one of you guys comes up with something else. A quality compass is something I don’t have
    and will be putting it on my list.
    A note off subject, but as I was looking at the Tritium Compass, I noticed another interesting website called The Overboard Store.
    They sell all kinds of waterproog gear.
    Anyway thanks for the info. I know I love my Luminox watch that glows in the dark so I can see why a compass that does would be wanted.

  20. blindshooter says:

    My GI tritium compass has aged out. Still works but only in the light. This post has reminded me to look for a new one when I recover from my last gun buying spree.

  21. Carrying your EDC (mine is a tactical/cargo vest) everywhere you go needs to be a habit. I haven’t broken out space blankets in a year, although the flashlights, fire starters and rubber gloves get more use then one would sometimes expect. I teach a Hunter Education course, and in the personal safety section we stress a small but complete survival kit. Many times folks will be hunting in an area they know well, perhaps even on their own land, and a simple accident like a severely strained ankle can change your whole day. There is a true story of a man deer hunting from a tree stand within sight of his house that fell out of the stand, severely hurt himself and died of “exposure” (aka hypothermia). Stories like these get people’s attention but many times it takes an incident like the one Frank described here to drive home the fact that your assumptions can be wrong and possibly even deadly.

  22. Flathead Hunter says:

    “I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks. ” Daniel Boone . lol

    • The big difference in attitude here is that Daniel Boone had skills and an EDC kit that would put all of us to shame.

    • I’ve never been lost, either- but I do occasionally move the house and forget where I put it. :-\

    • oldguy52 says:

      Ha ha, yeah somebody said: You’re not lost if you don’t mind being where you are.

      • I remember as a kid getting lost in the chiricahuas because we thought it was a fun thing to get off the trail . BAD IDEA ! that is where the Apaches vanished and the army got lost trying to find them . We did go in circles because it literally did all look alike to us . After about an hour , we saw smoke from a campfire and went towards it , turned out to be the camp we left from . We stayed on the trails from that point on .

  23. One of those 1/8″ diameter 2″ long mini glow sticks people put in there mouths at raves would of saved your arse in a pinch. Easy to add to a PSK as well. Flashlights don’t always work either it’s always good to have more than one way to do something. How long was the tritium compass sitting on the shelf before you bought it. I’ld hate to be trying to use it inthe dark the day the tritium suddenly stopped working.

    • Tritium doesn’t suddenly stopped working. With a half life just over 12 years the tritium will be emitting only half of the beta particles at the half life point as when they were new. They actually emit fewer and fewer every day before the 12 years, so they slowly get dimmer every day at an unperceivable rate. Additionally, the part that emits the light is a phosphor that glows in the presence of radiation, and it also becomes less efficient over time. The sights or compass should be replaced when they no longer work for your application. In pitch black darkness you have a better chance of seeing them when they get older.

  24. Mike S. says:

    I believe the take-away lesson from Frank’s experience is to always carry a small flashlight. A tritium compass would be nice, but a flashlight has every-day utility. I carry two flashlights all the time. I have a small Photon LED flashlight on my keychain and a SureFire “Backup” LED flashlight in my pocket (when I’m wearing a suit, I’ll carry a smaller Fenix LED flashlight instead of the SureFire). Living in an urban environment, getting lost is less of an issue, but I frequently need a source of light.

  25. Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

    Hmmm, haven’t heard from Frank B. To be quite honest, I prefer the entries that provide feedback to our comments. It’s great to get some follow-up. Did the trees ever get bulldozed? How do you carry your EDC, Frank B? Have you added anything to it since reading the comments? Hello – anybody out there? Frank B, where are you?

    • Frank B says:

      Hello,
      Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. We live off-grid and don’t get online as much as we’d like to (too much work on the farm).

      As it happened, we figured out that northern Arizona doesn’t have enough water for all the Californians that are relocating there (let alone the Arizonans already there) and we moved to Virginia where the water falls from the sky almost everyday. What a difference it has made in our garden. The new folks on our ranch didn’t cut the road we were laying out after all (all that effort lost).
      As for my EDC, I keep a BOB in each of our trucks. Right now I don’t really see them as Bug-Out-Bags as much as survival-tool-bags; however, I do keep an extensive bag in the truck we use going cross-country. This would be a true BOB as opposed to an INCH bag, (I’m Never Coming Home) as our son has.

      • Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

        Frank B, thanks for the followup. Yes, water is a very big political hot potato here in the West. While the enrionwackos are destroying our dams (and therefore the reservoirs that provide water to the towns & cities), our population keeps growing. I think your move to water-rich Viriginia was a wise one.

        Good luck to you and yours, Frank. Thanks for the article.

      • Thats why Arizonans have bumper stickers that say ” Welcome to Arizona , now GO HOME ! and take somebody with you when you GO ! ” especially people from ” the Peoples Republic of California ” with their half baked liberal ideas . We need a fence built to keep them out as well . People in Oregon hate Californians as bad as we do for many the same reasons . Stay home liberals .

  26. I use a fanny pack with a weapon compartment as my EDC. I go, It goes! It is fairly large and can be worn on your shoulder or waist. It is evolving and currently holds: Ranger Swiss Army Knife, compass, space blanket, bic lighter, snare wire, fishing kit, LED headset light, dryer lint, whistle, sewing kit, first aid kit, 15′ para cord, mirror, wire saw, fire steel, poncho, water purification, 2 energy bars, and a Gerber multi tool. In my truck I carry 2 gallons water, 10 energy bars, tools, compressor, tire patch kit, tydown straps, machetti, nylon tarp, a small day pack, gloves, hat, coat, a moving blanket, big flashlight, extra batteries, a Savage 64, and ammo. I’m about to add dust masks and rubber gloves… It’s a lot of stuff, but ya know what? I say bring it! I fear less, the unknown!

  27. Good story which really does drive the point of preparedness. Back in 1985 I walked into heavy woods with one of my boys to scope the property for buying. I left the car with nothing at all. Wouldn’t you know about a quarter mile into the woods, I bent down to tie my son’s shoe and when I stood up, I didn’t remember if I had simply bent down or turned around and bent down. Confusion! We kept walking but I had altered my direction and was no longer able to back-track. I had nothing but at the time I was a nursing mother with a baby back at the car with the real estate dude and my husband. I didn’t have a choice and HAD to get back. One thing I did have was my ability to whistle very loudly (the tomboy stuff really pays off!). They heard my whistle and gave me a shout out for direction. (Must have been ‘a sign’….we bought the property. lol ) My stupidity for innocently going into heavy woods completely unprepared could have been much worse. Lesson learned!

    I never leave home without a purse and it’s loaded! I have the need to enter secure buildings and I’d sound the alarms so I have to unpack first. I don’t know about other women but I have things organized into zippered bags that can easily be pulled out. My “key chain” is a carabiner with a bunch of individual rings. When necessary, this only takes a few seconds.

  28. Frank B says:

    Thanks to all for taking the time to read my submission. I know everyone’s days are too short and there is a lot to read out there.

    The lesson I learned, and wanted to convey, was learned years ago but could have happened yesterday just the same. The point being I have never forgotten how quick I got into trouble. Since that time I can plainly state that I have not been lost again. I keep a Cammenga tritium compass in my BOB and one in each of our trucks. This along with an assortment of cree flashlights, Honey Stingers (quick energy candy used by marathon runners), nuun tablets (mix with water for electrolytes), a variety of survival knives, and GI 2 QT canteens make up what I keep at hand all the time. Having been a prepper for many years I have tried and tested a bunch of equipment and have several BOB/packs put together. As I acquire new stuff I try to rotate out of some built BOBs and give them to friends and family who may not have the time or funds to put one together for themselves. This also makes the wife happy by clearing out some of the stuff I have all over the house.

    Again, Thank you all for your time and your feedback.
    Frank

  29. Thats the whole idea on ” everyday carry ” items . I have a cell phone case with a leatherman wave , mag rod and steel fire starter , AND a small LED flashlight in it . Its with me day or night . I also have kicked myself in the ass for not having some things on me … but those are on my person at all times . My problem with the tritium compass is that they are way over priced . I cant justify it for my needs . Yes I do pay top dollar for things that I could go cheaper on , but like everybody else , its what we think we will get the most use out of long term . My Eberlestock blue widow with spine scabbard and spike duffle is probably way overpriced also , but so far its serving better than needed and is so customizable , It can be refit for any situation I can think of . Good article and dont worry about it , that kind of thing has happened to most of us ( perhaps not as dramatic ) . Its kind of like seeing a cat loose its balance ……. the first thing the cat does is look around to make sure nobody saw it ! LOL

    • T.R.,
      Actually our cats don’t care who saw them fall. The look they give you here is, “I meant to do that!!” LOL

    • Frank B says:

      I’m just glad no one saw.

      Also, I too didn’t justify the tritium compass until after this happened. They cost more and I didn’t imagine conditions that I couldn’t just look at my non-tritium compass.

  30. Does anyone know how to determine the date of manufacture of a standard issue type U.S. military lensatic compass? What does the third pair of numbers stamped inside the case mean?

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