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    Re: Soviet Sextants!
    From: Joel Jacobs
    Date: 2004 Jul 30, 07:17 -0400
    Hello Mike,
    I am pasting a representative copy of one of my Russian ebay sextant listings which discusses the advantages of the Russian SNO-T sextant in particular, and in general. If the seller is "ALEXEY" and I think it is, I have dealt with him a couple of times, and he is totally trustworthy.
    We, ebay ID, mymaryb2, ship sextants overseas on a regular basis, by U.S. Air Parcel Post and it would cost about $80.00 to $90.00 to Russia. A big component in this is the cost of proper packaging and insurance.
    SOME WORDS OF WARNING: On the few occasions I have purchased sextants from others on ebay, including two from U.S. sellers, and everyone of them was a serious problem in misrepresentation or was received broken due to inadequate packaging. Only one of the sellers took the sextant back.
    Joel Jacobs
    Visit our web site at:
    Copyright 2004, 2003 by mymaryb2 and Joel H. Jacobs, All rights reserved

    I have been a proponent of Russian sextants since I was first introduced to them, and at this point have sold quite a few to satisfied customers. They are well made and have a good sturdy feel about them, and those navigators who have used them at sea have found them to be reliable and accurate. The other noteworthy thing about Russian sextants, and those made by Tamaya, are the excellence of their mirrors. They are of outstanding quality. This sextant weighs only 2 1/2 pounds which is much lighter than most and will be appreciated by those that take multiple sights in series which is the recommended procedure. (The results are then averaged.) The sextant's color is a very military looking shade of grey-green which is common with the Russian Navy.

    Since these sextants are way under rated in the West, they represent a bargain for those seeking a relatively inexpensive instrument with the same qualities of the more favored brands such as Tamaya and the Plaths. They also represent an outstanding alternative to plastic, and those funky British ones, both with especially small mirrors that sell for ridiculously high prices on ebay .  

    Most of the Russian sextants being offered on ebay come with scopes that present the image upside down and are 7 Power. This design is commonly used for astronomical observations by astronomers where it makes no difference when viewing the heavens. This one was no exception, and the case is fitted only for this one scope.
    Astronomical scopes also have a much narrower field of view which further limits their usefulness. You may wish to read my section devoted to scope power which is below.
    To use a sextant with this type of scope requires that the user bring the horizon up to the celestial body rather than bringing the celestial body down to the horizon. Even though this is quite common with astronomical telescopes, the Russians are the only one's using what is an astronomical design for contemporary sextants today. I suspect that this is a carryover from a 100 years ago when Lunar Distances were sometimes measured. I have tried it and found it to be unacceptable for these reasons, and do not recommend it to any one trying to take sights from small craft, learn CELNAV, or for that matter even experienced navigators.
    The only Russian sextants we sell are those whose scopes  present the object in a manner familiar to navigators, not astronomers. So we have added a brand new 3.5 x 40 scope which we normally sell as an optional accessory. It fits perfectly, and has been purchased by many Russian sextant owners for this very purpose.
    Presented here is a SNO-M type sextant Serial No. 9001 without a date. The number that appears on a plate on the box does not match, but the case is of the proper type.  
    For those of you who have the misfortune of owning or buying a sextant that you find you can't use, we offer a 3.5 x 40 scope that fits perfectly, and we guarantee it or your money back. If you want one let me know, and we'll offer it on ebay in a short tem auction with a fixed BIN price of $120.00 plus S & H.
    CONDITION: This sextant is in basically excellent condition considering its age. Some paint has worn off on the arc outside the scale's readings, and is cosmetic only. The index mirror has a thin line of corrosion along its inside edge which is well out of the field of view. The horizon mirror's reflective surface is as new There are no broken parts, and everything turns or moves freely. Missing are a brush and screw driver which can be purchased anywhere. The numbers on both sextant and case do not match. The case needs some attention, and should be sanded and re-varnished. There is a Russian name on its top. It has an unusual, positive mechanical hold down clamp, There is no inspection certificate booklet.The booklet is rarely found with their sextants. I do not find that to be important in contemporary sextants because the error is so small as to be ignored in practical use. Typical of all Russian sextants, the certificate on the inside lid of the case is only an inventory of what's supposed to be in the case. As I said, Russian Inspection certificates are in little booklets. I have never seen one that was filled in. No illumination, again typical of this type. A copy of a SNO-M booklet is included.
    My RATING on this sextant is  FOUR AND ONE HALF STARS. Considering its age, I have no reason to grade it down except that otherwise someone might object.
    ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Russian sextants  are smaller than normal. They are a very handy size for a small boat navigator. Its case is correspondingly smaller. This should be an advantage to most people. The scope is said to be made by Carl Zeiss, a noted lens manufacturer. There is no provision for a second scope. The 7 power scope fits in the only chock. SNO-M sextants are made for the Russian Navy, and are typically seen in cases painted grey. This has been refinished and is varnished. You can see the prices that Russian merchants are selling them for on ebay where shipping to the States becomes a big expense at about $70.00 to this must be added the $40 wire transfer fee which will be charged by your bank, and their sometimes is a long delay in receiving them. This sextant is shipped from S.E. Florida. The SNO-M frame is very similar to the contemporary that of pre WW II C. Plath sextants and the Astra which is made in China. 
    My opinion is based on many years of seagoing experience as a celestial navigator, and include serving as the editor of the chapter on sextants of the 1977 Edition of "Bowditch", The American Practical Navigator, NAVPUB 9; a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Navigation Symposium Board, 1975-1978; the author of a book on marine sextants, Cornell Maritime Press,1975, and the founding president of Nautech Maritime Corporation which partnered with Tamaya of Japan in the introduction of the MS 733 Spica, the MS 833, Jupiter, MS 933 Venus sextants and the famous NC-2 navigation computer, in the U.S. market. I  am also a retired Master Mariner, and hold a U.S. Navy "D" Qualification as a Senior Skipper - Oceans. You can learn more about sextants by visiting and reading about them in the sextants listed in our ebay store. Go:
    If you read the following essay on sextant telescopes on someone else's auction, you should know it is entirely my work product, and was taken from one of my previous listings without my permission.
    A READER ASKS A QUESTION about scope power. Here's my response.
    4 x 40 is considered a STAR Scope because it transmits more light through the optics than higher powered scopes. Its wider field of vision is an advantage in low light conditions.
    7 x 35 and 7 x 50 are considered SUN scopes because the higher power adds greater definition to the horizon and the sun's limbs. It really makes for a precise LAN sight. On bright nights, they work well with the moon. and can capture early rising planets at twi-light.
    As power increases, the ability to keep a steady image decreases. Anything over 7 x 50, unless stabilized, has too narrow a field of vision, and the image moves too much to be of much use from small craft.
    When given in the specs,  Relative Brightness, Relative Light Efficiency (adds 50% for coated lens to RB), and Twilight factor are helpful in comparing the amount of light that reaches the eye between various scopes.

    For terrestrial objects, all you need is a sighting tube, magnification is unnecessary because you need to be fairly close in to shore to make out the objects and
    identify them.
    MORE INFORMATION - from the internet from an unidentified author:

    "Here is what I know.

    "I had the opportunity to use both of these types of Russian(I should say Soviet)sextants.One was owned by a Polish ABS I served with and he consistently got outstanding LOPs using his.He won an $1800.00 pool on one transit when his final position was less than 0.2nm from the ships GPS pos. when the evolution was stopped by the master. Both of these sextants types were manufactured I believe in Riga,Latvia and someplace in East Germany between 1947 to 1988.

    They were built for the Soviet Navy to rigorous standards.They are clones taken from the Freiberger Prazisionmechanik Co.The optics in the scopes were Zeiss optics.And as all Freiberger sextants are of the Drum type.Very good quality machining, optics, very dependable and easy to use.The Index mirror is standard size about 52 mm and I think also the silvering is on the front face of the mirror.You will need to use cal. cylinders,dice or dominoes to check perpendicularity of the Index mirror if that is the case.

    The sextants I used were built in the ' 70's or early ' 80's.I can't say if there were instrument cal. sheets for these on the lids of the boxes because I can't remember. All Freiberger sextants(man.after 1975)come with a cert certifying they are free of Instrument Error for practical purposes as do most sextants manufactured today.These Russian sextants are clones of German Equipment.Cassens + Plath and Carl Plath sextants have a max. error spec of 9" of arc over the arc's entire radius.Freiberger is right in there also so your Russian sextant should be the same.

    I would be more concerned about Collimation Error and Index Error than Inst. Error.I wouldn't waste time and money trying to have the arc calibrated.I had my MS-733 calibrated years ago at a good chunk of change to find the whole error was 11" of arc.If you want it collimated there are many places that will do that service for you."

    Copied from a great site with lots of info on CELNAV. Unsigned by its author. Here's the link.



    Measuring Range:-5 to 140 degrees
    Telescopes: 4.0 x 40mm: Coated optics
    Frame: Lightweight die cast aluminum alloy with corrosion resistant light grey green finish. 
    Micrometer Scale: reads to 1.0 min. Estimates to 1/5 min
    Index Mirror: 56 x 42 mm.
    Horizon Mirror: 57mm diameter.
    4 for index mirror
    3 for horizon mirror

    Length of index arm: 8 3/4"
    Weight:   2 1/2 lbs, 7 1/2 lbs in case
    Carrying case: Varnished light wood (Spruce?) with placard - no key                          10 3/4 x 10 3/4 x 6 1/4 inches

    INCLUDED ARE:       
    • 1 SNO- M Marine Sextant frame
    • 1 3.5 x 40 NEW Scope, non OEM
    • 1 7 power scope OEM 
    • 1 Mirror adjustment wrench
    • 1 Varnished sextant case 
    • 2 90 degree angle device
    • 2 ocular lens shades
    Please remember this is an auction. We warrant and guarantee the accuracy of our statements, and will willingly correct any of our own mistakes.
    International bidders welcome, but contact us first.  We have customers in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, England, France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and the Eastern Caribbean.  The list is growing weekly.
    Preferred payment by PayPal. Their credit card service OK. Money Orders OK. Personal checks on U.S. banks only. Merchandise will be held until cleared.
    FULL RETURN PRIVILEGES:  This instrument is eligible for our warranty of satisfaction on arrival. The winning bidder can return it within three days of receipt if he is not completely satisfied. The only conditions are that an email authorization be obtained, and that the instrument is returned in its original condition and packaging, and be insured for its full value. Unfortunately, shipping charges are not included in this offer and are non-refundable.
    SHIPPING & PACKING: Due to the nature of this item, special protective packaging is used for shipment.  The cost of shipping, packing, handling, and insurance to your destination, will be calculated after the auction and is an additional charge. You may email us before bidding to get these costs. We price shipping honestly, but we do expect to be reimbursed for the nominal cost of packaging materials and handling. The sextant we ship generally run between $22 - $27.50 depending on the amount of insurance.
    Copyright 2004, 2003 by mymaryb2 and Joel H. Jacobs, All rights reserved
    For those seeking more information about the modern marine sextant, I suggest they get a copy of a book written  in 1975, now out-of-print. The Myths & the Truth about Selecting a Marine Sextant. Cambridge MD: Cornell Maritime Press, 1975. 44pp, 10 illustrations. Topics include scope power, mirrors, shade glasses, theoretical brightness, accuracy, workmanship, accuracy, comparison of specifications. Softcover. (16435) It is available at the University Library, all locations, of The California State University for free.
    A copy of this book sold on ebay last year for $31.00, and that's not bad since it is offered on the internet for over $125.00. A reprint can be ordered from Amazon.com in hard or softcover. Prices start at $38.00.

    ----- Original Message -----
    Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2004 8:43 PM
    Subject: Soviet Sextants!

    Hi folks,
    Can anyone attest to the quality of these Soviet Sextants and legitimacy of seller? Looks like some good deals( or maybe not!) for folks who are in market for metal sextants. Maybe the saying " If it's too good to be true it probably is" may ring true! Your comments are appreciated and thanks much!
    Mike Burkes
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