Silva Sighting Compass

Combination baseplate and sighting compass

This is the compass that I use. It looks like a plain old base plate compass, but...

The key feature that makes this a great compass to take sightings with is its direct sighting system. Look through the lens on the side of the bezel, line up the black line with the object you are sighting on, and read off the bearing. Getting a bearing with one degree accuracy is easy.

Unlike most sighting compasses, this one works great as a base plate compass too. So it’s easy to plot a bearing on the map.

Lack of Declination Adjustment

Alas, there is one potential down side: You can’t adjust this compass for declination. So, all your bearings will be referenced to magnetic north. I always take my bearings relative to magnetic north and do not adjust my compass declination, so this is not a problem for me. I set my GPS to display magnetic bearings and convert to true or grid north only when plotting on a map.

For more information on the choice of north references and converting between north references see our North Reference Tutorial.


This compass has always been manufactured by Silva of Sweden. For many years Brunton was the exclusive distributor of Silva's products in the United States. This compass was marked with Brunton name and logo. In 2009, Fiskars sold Brunton Inc. to a Swedish company, Fenix Outdoor AB.After divestiture, Brunton closed out its Nexus and Elite compass lines and discontinued the Brunton 54LU compass, all of which were relabeled Silva of Sweden products. These actions left Silva of Sweden without a North American distributor for its Swedish-made compasses. As a result, Silva of Sweden compasses and GPS products are no longer distributed in North America.

MapTools imports the European version of this compass, labeled with the Silva name, and called the Expedition 54. Unlike many internet resellers, we actually have these compasses in stock, most of the time. Alas importing them made them more expensive than when Brunton was distributing them.

For a good write up on the history of Silva and Brunton, and why we now have to import this compass, here is a good Wikipedia article.

Silva is no longer manufacturing these compasses in Sweden. They are now made in their factory in China. I worry about quality slipping, but so far have not seen any problems. I'll keep checking every batch we receive just to make sure.

Compass Balancing

Lines of magnetic force vary from vertical at the magnetic poles, to horizontal near the equator. Consequently, one end of a magnetic needle has a tendency to dip down in areas that lie between the poles and the equator. Silva reduced this tendency by placing the center of gravity below the pivot point of the needle. Also, the needle of each compass is counterbalanced for the middle of the magnetic zone where it may be used. A compass needle may show a slight tendency to dip in an area between two zones.

Magnetic Inclination Zones

The version of this compass that we sell is balanced for use in the Northern Hemisphere. We are not able to supply versions for other regions. If you need one for a different region, here is what is available with part numbers. I would suggest trying to find a reseller located in the region you plan to use the compass in.

UPC CodeMagnetic Inclination Zone
7318860081774Northern Zone (MN)
7318860081798Equitorial Zone (ME)
7318860081811Southern Zone (MS)

The compass is also available in a 6400 mils version, the Expedition 54 6400-6400/360. The 6400 mils version can also be had with a tritium light source, the Expedition 54B 6400-6400/360. We can not supply any of the 6400 mils versions.

Item description Price Quantity
Silva Sighting Compass
Combination baseplate and sighting compass
Part Id: BR54LU, Made in China, UPC: 731886008177
-- Out of Stock --