I recently bought my first compass, a SUUNTO Spiegel- und Peilkompass MC-2/360/D CM/IN NH, black. I observed that the red orienting arrow and meridian lines are not parallel. They are forming an angle about ~20 degrees. Doing a quick search I see pictures where these lines are parallel. Is my compass faulty and should I send it back?

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    You do realise that the needle housing rotates, so the meridian lines can be set at any angle to direction of travel line? That's the whole point of a base-plate compass. Suunto's quality is excellent - I think it's far more likely that you have some kind of fundamental misunderstanding about how a compass is used. Please clarify if I'm misunderstanding and I'll try to help. May 12, 2016 at 11:01

1 Answer 1


I picture would greatly help. However, I suspect you are looking at the lines on the part you manually rotate relative to the fixed base part. Good compasses have something you can rotate to set the offset for the local magnetic declination.

For example, here in north-central Massachusetts, magnetic north is about 14½° left of true geodedic north. Before heading out around here, you'd set the dial 14½° left from fully aligned. The rotating part has a outline of the compass needle on it. To point the compass to true north, you align the needle with the outline.

This magnetic declination setting is usually stiff enough to not rotate too easily. It's meant to be a "fixed" setting during a hike. You're not going to move far enough on a day hike, or even a few nights backpack, so that the magnetic declination changes appreciably.

  • You are right, it is related to the setting of magnetic declination. Thank you!
    – robert
    May 12, 2016 at 17:53

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