The Davis Instruments hand bearing compass is a very good quality and reasonably priced hand bearing compass that is distinguished by it's pistol grip style. It comes in two different variations, the #211 (standard) and the #215 (illuminated). The pistol grip style hand bearing compass (in contrast to the 'hockey puck' style) is used by holding the grip of the compass at arms length and aligning the front and rear sights on an object, then reading off the bearing.
The Davis hand bearing compass is a quality and reliable navigation tool for your boat that will help you to take a quick bearing or position set. The Davis compass also lets you quickly take a bearing to see angular gain or loss during a race, check distance offshore or from a navigational object or to check drift vectors and plot lines of position.
Check out instructions on how to use the Davis hand bearing compass. Both Davis hand bearing compasses feature stable, liquid dampened compass card which is graduated in 5 degree increments (and there are bold gradations every 15 degrees for easy reading). This means that you will really only be able to take bearings accurate to within a few degrees. Other hand bearing compasses (such as the Iris 50 or Weems and Plath hand bearing compass) will provide readings accurate to the degree but they will also cost you several times more than the Davis hand bearing compass. In many cases, your hand bearing compass is used to provide back up bearings where accuracy to the degree isn't essential so you may not find this a problem. However, reading the Davis compass at arms length may be a challenge if you are in windy and wavy conditions and the boat is rocking beneath you.
The hand bearing compass its self is made from light weight and durable plastic and it comes with an lanyard. The illuminated Davis 215 hand bearing compass includes a solid state LED illumination system which lights the compass dome and sight vane with soft light. The compass includes batteries with a water tight housing and the LED light will last for the fife time of the compass, apparently 10 years or 100,000 hours of uninterrupted use! It's easy to turn the light on and off with the push of your index finger. For the nominal additional cost ($10-$15), we suggest getting the 215 illuminated hand bearing compass just in case you need it at night. Also, the Davis 211 and 215 hand bearing compasses are intended for use in the northern hemisphere only. However, there are alternate versions (211s & 215s) that can be used south of the equator. The only possible downside that we could see with the Davis hand bearing compasses are that they have a bulkier form factor than the hockey puck style hand bearing compasses.
While, the Davis compass is easy to wear around your neck, it's not small enough to practically keep in a pocket which may or may not be important for you. The only other concern we had was the possibility of the vanes snapping off if the compass was dropped. However, Davis Instruments is a very reputable manufacturer and has the ability to over haul their equipment so you would likely be okay in such an event. Aside, from these possible issues, MarineProductReviews.com likes and recommends the Davis hand bearing compasses as a good quality and affordable navigation tool.