The Kestrel 5700 Elite Weather Meter With Applied Ballistics gives accurate measurement of environmental conditions required when making an accurate shot, writes Bob Morrison.
First and foremost I must stress that I am not a regular shooter – an industrial injury in my teens badly damaged one eye and I have natural astigmatism in my ‘good’ eye – so I am by no means an expert in military sniping, target shooting or hunting with rifles. However a late friend who used to write about firearms under the nom de plume ‘Greg Roberts’, a champion military shooter, regular international pistol competitor, and deer stalker, used Kestrel Weather Meters for many years before his untimely death so I will start this article by republishing a few paragraphs he penned on the topic for the now defunct COMBAT & SURVIVAL Magazine:-
“Law enforcement and military snipers, hunters and long range target shooters know that understanding the strength and direction of the wind, and being able to use this information, will help them shoot more accurately. If you are a target shooter firing on a known distance range, or a hunter or sniper using a laser rangefinder to accurately determine the distance to the target, you can then accurately work out the elevation required to ensure a hit.
“Shooting out to distances, and especially at the longer distances, you can still get an occasional miss. You may have correctly determined the distance to the target, so your elevation is correct, but the bullet impacts to the left or right of the target due to the direction and strength of the wind. You can determine if a crosswind is present by looking at the environmental conditions. You can feel the wind on your hand and face and in the movement of dust, grass, foliage and branches on trees. Determining how strong it is and just how much of a difference it is making is the difficult part.
“The Kestrel 4500 comes packed with a lot features built into it to determine or calculate environmental conditions. These include altitude, average wind speed, barometric pressure, compass, crosswind, current wind speed, dew point, relative humidity temperature, headwind / tailwind, temperature, wet bulb temperature, wind chill, wind direction and wind gust. The direction of the wind and wind speed will be the important features to assist with long range rifle accuracy.
“Game animals can react to changes in the weather. Being able to read the rise and fall of the barometric pressure and the changes that this will bring in associated weather patterns and being able to view this information on your hunting trips can help you to put together a data base of information during every hunting season.
“With a built-in digital compass the Kestrel is able to account for the wind’s direction and speed, along with the target’s bearing. The screen allows the user to monitor several targets. Each target is customised for location, distance, direction, declination and winds. Individual functions can be displayed in different formats: current, minimum, maximum, average and chart.”
As Hampshire-based Richard Paul Russell Ltd., who both sell and support American-made Kestrel Weather Meters on this side of the Atlantic, are advertising on J-F and also offering our readers a 7.5% discount (use code JFORCE1 at checkout) on the Ballistics Meter range, I felt it was only right that I borrow a Kestrel demonstrator model to at least check its ease of use and basic functionality.
I have seen military sharpshooters and snipers using Kestrels on a number of NATO exercises over the years – they are standard issue with many sniper rifle kits these days – as well as watched Special Operations shooters using them on the sniper range at KASOTC in Jordan, but of course watching is not the same as using. While I might not have been able to use the Kestrel with Applied Ballistics to take down targets on my last assignment, at least I could use it to measure the weather out on the ground in Romania at Capu Midia Air Defence Range and on the banks of the Danube where climatic conditions during SABER GUARDIAN 2019 were at times outside the norms.
The latest Kestrel 5700 Elite Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics is designed to “take the guesswork out of long-range shooting” by integrating a weather meter with a ballistics solver while providing the same accuracy, reliability, and usability as the original Kestrel 4500 with Applied Ballistics model that my old friend ‘Greg’ swore by. Although the basics are the same, the 5700 has a larger, higher resolution and contrast display with improved font readability, as well as a built-in dual colour back light and extra-strong polycarbonate screen. It will also function with a single conventional AA battery, and indeed I used an ordinary GP ReCyko+ rechargeable to ensure there were no potential Airport Security issues when I carried it aboard in my camera bag. This latest generation Kestrel also offers offers optional LiNK iOS and Android wireless connectivity and app support.
If the buyer chooses the Kestrel Elite with LiNK option they get the free Kestrel LiNK Ballistics app, which allows them to build and manage gun/bullet profiles and download them to their Kestrel Elite before setting out; the extensive Litz library of custom bullet drag models is said to give the user the most precise trans-sonic and sub-sonic range solutions available anywhere. The LiNK Ballistics app even lets the user set up multiple targets for single-screen viewing and LiNK-enabled units can also be wirelessly paired with LiNK compatible laser range-finders, including the Bushnell Elite 1 Mile CONX, to seamlessly integrate target data into the ballistic solution for unparalleled speed and accuracy.
Ballistics solver capabilities aside, the Kestrel Elite is a comprehensive weather meter for measurement and logging of the primary environmental conditions of: wind speed and direction; temperature; humidity; heat index; pressure; and altitude. When paired with a Vane Mount and stood on a mini-tripod, the Kestrel Elite can become a compact and easily-deployable weather station so it is not just an essential sniper aid. On the data side, your log can be transferred to a mobile device wirelessly with the LiNK wireless communication option and Kestrel LiNK app, or to a PC with either the separately available wireless USB Kestrel LiNK Dongle or waterproof USB Data Transfer Cable.
I was only able to use a fraction of the Kestrel’s functions during SABER GUARDIAN, but I was still impressed. Full instructions come with the unit, and can also be downloaded as a PDF from the specific Product Page on the r-p-r.co.uk website, but the buttons are so intuitive that if necessary one can get the basic system calibrated and up and running in minutes without reading the manual.
For more on the Kestrel Ballistics rage go to r-p-r.co.uk/kestrel/ballistics.php and remember that code if you decide to buy one.
[images © Bob Morrison, Carl Schulze and Greg Roberts † ]