How to Choose the Right Sextant

Your Guide to buying the best Sextants


A sextant is a navigational tool used for measuring angles, usually to determine a ship's position. It is an essential part of a navigator's toolkit, and buying the right sextant is essential for accurate navigation. This buying guide provides information on the different types of sextant available, the features to look for when buying a sextant, and other considerations to bear in mind when making a purchase. With the knowledge provided in this guide, you will be able to find the perfect sextant for your maritime needs.

Key features

  1. Type of Sextant: Shoppers should consider the type of sextant they need. There are various types of sextants, such as a standard sextant, a navigational sextant, and a bubble sextant.
  2. Brand: Shoppers should also consider the brand of the sextant. There are a variety of brands available, so shoppers should look for a brand that is reputable and known for its quality.
  3. Quality: It is important for shoppers to consider the quality of the sextant they are looking to purchase. A sextant must be able to accurately measure angles and distances in order to be effective.
  4. Durability: Shoppers should also consider the durability of the sextant. The sextant should be able to withstand the wear and tear of daily use without losing its accuracy.
  5. Price: Lastly, shoppers should consider the price of the sextant. Sextants can range in price, so shoppers should look for the best value for their money.

See the most popular Sextants on Amazon

Important considerations


  • Accuracy - Sextants are highly accurate navigational instruments, used to measure the angle between a celestial object and the horizon.
  • Reliability - Sextants are reliable and durable tools that can be used in extreme weather conditions and for long periods of time.
  • Portability - Sextants are small and lightweight, making them easy to transport and store.
  • Cost-Efficient - Sextants are relatively inexpensive compared to other navigational instruments, making them a cost-effective choice for sailors.


  • Cost: Sextants are not cheap, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars up to around a thousand or more.
  • Maintenance: Sextants require frequent maintenance to ensure accuracy and reliability, including cleaning and readjustment.
  • Accuracy: Sextants are generally not as accurate as other types of navigation instruments.
  • Skill Requirement: Operating a sextant can be difficult and requires a certain level of skill and expertise.
  • Availability: Sextants are not widely available in many stores and may require ordering online.

Best alternatives

  1. GPS devices - Global Positioning System (GPS) devices are electronic devices that can be used to determine the exact location of any object or person.
  2. Astrolabes - An astrolabe is an ancient astronomical instrument used to measure the distances and angles between objects in the sky.
  3. Radar systems - Radar systems consist of specialized radio receivers and transmitters that can detect the presence of objects in the environment.
  4. Compasses - Compasses are magnetic devices that can be used to determine the direction of travel.
  5. Rangefinders - Rangefinders are devices that measure the distance between two objects using lasers or radar.

Related tools, supplies, and accessories

  • Filters - colored filters used to reduce glare for improved accuracy.
  • Mirror - typically made from a highly polished metal, used for light reflection.
  • Telescope - a refracting telescope, used to magnify the object to be measured.
  • Compass - a device used to measure direction.
  • Alidade - a device used to measure the angular height of a celestial object.
  • Calipers - used for making precise measurements.
  • Sight Vide - used to spirit level the sextant's frame.

Common questions

  1. What is a Sextant?A sextant is an instrument used in navigation by measuring the angular distance between two visible objects, such as the sun and the horizon. It is commonly used to determine the latitude and longitude of a ship or aircraft.
  2. What features should be considered when buying a Sextant?When buying a sextant, it is important to consider the size, accuracy, and material of the sextant. It is also important to consider the quality of the optics and the features of the sextant, such as the range of angles it can measure and whether or not it has a digital readout.
  3. What are the different types of Sextants?There are several different types of sextants, including pocket sextants, marine sextants, aviation sextants, and astronomical sextants. Each type of sextant is designed for a specific purpose and has different features and capabilities.
  4. What is the best Sextant for my needs?The best sextant for your needs depends on the type of navigation you are doing and the environment you will be using the sextant in. It is important to consider the size, accuracy, and material of the sextant, as well as the quality of the optics and the features of the sextant.
  5. What is the cost of a Sextant?The cost of a sextant depends on the type, size, accuracy, and features of the sextant. Generally, a good quality sextant will cost anywhere from $100 to $1000.


One interesting story about sextants is that they have been used in some of the most famous voyages in history. For example, James Cook famously used a sextant on his 1768 voyage to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus. In the 1840s, HMS Beagle used a sextant to chart the coasts of South America and the Pacific Ocean. Sextants have been used for centuries by seafarers and navigators, making it one of the oldest navigational instruments still in use today. Source

Disclaimer: This buying guide was not created by humans, and it is possible that some of it's content is inaccurate or incomplete. We do not guarantee or take any liability for the accuracy of this buying guide. Additionally, the images on this page were generated by AI and may not accurately represent the product that is being discussed. We have tried to convey useful information, but it is our subjective opinion and should not be taken as complete or factual.