Kestrel... essential or just nice to have?

garandman

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Wondering about your opinions of a Kestrel weather meter...



Are they a must have for shooting long range? Or can the job be done without them.

Also trying to figure out how they give you the wind at any point other than your immediate location. Because the wind you really need to read is everywhere from you to the target.

At my favorite shooting location even at a 100 yd… wind is typically 6 o'clock at the bench but anywhere from 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock at the target
 

Mike_Pancake

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Back in the day they used DOPE books instead of ballistic solvers. It can be done but its very time consuming. The kestrel has made everything easier.
 

Huskydriver

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I don't use my kestral for my wind calls usually unless I feel like where I'm shooting the wind at the Target is pretty consistent to what I'm feeling at the muzzle.

Where the AB kestral shines is shooting ukd targets where you may not have a complete dope chart especially when the kestral is paired to a lrf. I range the target the lrf hands off the dof elevation and range to the kestral, the kestral takes the weather and my rifle info and spits back the firing solution.

Necessary no. Guys have been hitting targets past 1k for a long time before the kestral. Highly convenient sure.
 
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Clocked92

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I've shot a bunch of matches so far using only Density Altitude ballistic charts printed off JBM. I've trued them up over the last little while but it's taken a lot of work. I also have to grab a density altitude from someone running a Kestrel over the course of the match to confirm which column on my charts I need to use.

Can it be done without, yes! Is a kestrel going to be my next purchase to simplify things? You bet.
 
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TIMMYTOY

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I've shot two matches with different calibers without a kestrel what a pain. weather makes a huge difference.
if you shoot just one gun/caliber you could get away with it but would need a lot of data.
I just ordered a Kestrel from Applied Ballistics(they were one of the sponsors of our match)- they are so nice to deal with and they know their stuff!
 

Alpine 338

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I also have to grab a density altitude from someone running a Kestrel over the course of the match to confirm which column on my charts I need to use.
You know it's easy to figure out your DA without a Kestrel, by just using a DA chart (Tempature vs. Altitude). Aviator's have been using such a chart for decades.
 
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Alpine 338

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A Kestrel is a must have if you're shooting ELR, but under 1K-yards, I print out a dope chart from JBM, and it works just fine. I actually use both methods, as batteries die, electronics fail, and there are times I need data quickly, and don't have time to extract the data from my Kestrel.
 

Clocked92

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You know it's easy to figure out your DA without a Kestrel, by just using a DA chart (Tempature vs. Altitude). Aviator's have been using such a chart for decades.
I know, but I'm kind of lazy and it's just easier to ask one of the 5 shooters on my squad looking at their kestrel haha.
A Kestrel is a must have if you're shooting ELR, but under 1K-yards, I print out a dope chart from JBM, and it works just fine. I actually use both methods, as batteries die, electronics fail, and there are times I need data quickly, and don't have time to extract the data from my Kestrel.
I feel this is what I'm going to end up doing as well. Keep a paper dope chart in my bag just in case something happens with the Kestrel.
 
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Hollywood 6mm

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For shooting matches and LR hunting, I'd say they're absolutely preferred (but not required) due to size, weight, durability, and battery life smoking anything phone based. For recreational shooters, they're nice to have but not a requirement.
 

308pirate

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Between my experience doping wind from observables and after running some scenarios on jbm I decided a kestrel or any electronic solver is just not needed in the field.

That's based on the fact that I live in a part of the country with no drastic terrain elevation changes.

YMMV
 
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garandman

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So.... what does Kestrel tell ya that a baliistic calc (Strelok) doesnt ? Guessing temp, humidity, baro pressure... I need to learn how all that comes together.
 
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Diver160651

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Between my experience doping wind from observables and after running some scenarios on jbm I decided a kestrel or any electronic solver is just not needed in the field.

That's based on the fact that I live in a part of the country with no drastic terrain elevation changes.

YMMV
Adding to that.

You do not need DA cards coming out your butt either. With the same logic as above, you generally can find out the actual elevation or station pressure well before you get in your car or plane for your destination, be it a range or match. Same for expected temps, with that you can pre print a single easy to read card and have very good success even at matches. But if I was hunting the mountains and had no idea where I might really end up after I left the house, the Kestrel is really important.

In the same relative location (other than a hurricane), you'll find that station pressure never really changes day to day much less through the year to effect shots at most PRS ranges. Temp also had a wider window than people think, especial 600 yards and in.

So another vote for not needing a Kestrel.. But they are very good learning tool and can provide near click accurate results without the planning.

Below is an example of a "rifle mounted dope card" I use one like this year round at my local club matches with great results..
This has a huge 40° temp swing and you can see just how little the dope changes <600
Screen Shot 2019-07-17 at 8.46.12 AM.png
 
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LawnMM

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"Wondering about your opinions of a Kestrel weather meter."

Theyre excellent.

"Are they a must have for shooting long range? Or can the job be done without them."

Depends on the shooting.

"Also trying to figure out how they give you the wind at any point other than your immediate location. Because the wind you really need to read is everywhere from you to the target."

Kinda a silly statement, obviously it gives you wind at your location, which is the only wind you can actually measure and quantify accurately. Everything downrange is a guess.

"At my favorite shooting location even at a 100 yd… wind is typically 6 o'clock at the bench but anywhere from 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock at the target."

No, it isn't. It's spilling back off a berm and LOOKS like it's going the other way. Wind is a characteristic of a weather system, they move in predominant directions, and their angles can change as the system moves through.

Never in ten years of precision rifle and about 8 of competition have I seen two wind zones with opposing directions. Frank (Lowlight) has seen it occasionally in the mountains of Colorado where terrain can have a significant effect on the weather moving through.

I've seen it appear to be doing what you describe, even have video of it, but wind doesn't blow against itself. It's terrain making it look like something it isn't, picture water slamming into rocks on the beach. The tide isn't going the other way, it's just splashing back after hitting something that doesn't move.

To answer your original question, you need a Kestrel because you can't tell the difference between a 20mph wind and a 30mph wind based on feel. You may know it's picking up but how much? That's why you need a Kestrel.

If you're carrying one to measure wind speed, may as well have it calculate your ballistics too.
 

Alpine 338

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Similar to what @Diver160651 posted, I ran a Dope chart on my 5.56 Precision AR this weekend for a Team Match. It has a spread of 40-deg, in 10-deg increments. Chart went out to 700-yards, and there was only a 0.1-mil difference throughout the temp range.
 
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Sutherlandsd

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I have a few kestrels recently just got two of the Hornady ones. Personally I love them and couldn't really function well without one since using it for awhile... My son exact opposite it drives him nuts... His Hornady kestrel will probably find it's way to the exchange.

If you get one may as well get one with whatever calculator your using. Makes things very convenient no need to drag phone out everything is in one durable package.
 
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Dthomas3523

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So.... what does Kestrel tell ya that a baliistic calc (Strelok) doesnt ? Guessing temp, humidity, baro pressure... I need to learn how all that comes together.
It’s not so much that it does things StrelokPro can’t, but the convenience. Except wind. Unless you get a weatherflow.

The reason I have a kestrel:

No touch screen. When you’re either sweating your ass off, or it’s raining, your phone touch screen becomes fairly difficult to use

No need for a ton of paper or laminated charts. I have data for 5 different rifles or barrels with factory and custom loads. So I don’t need to worry with charts. Just let the kestrel do its thing. That being said, if I were going on the hunt of a lifetime or when I go to a match that costs $275, I will either take a paper card or at lest screenshot the range card as backup. On a hunt, I’d definitely take a back up card. But for normal recreational match shooting, I don’t worry with cards.

Faster truing. For example, the other day I received some Berger factory 6cm ammo. I zero’d. Then got on a 10x10 plate at 922yds (furthest I had), told the kestrel what that took in mils, and done. I verified with 3 shots at 3xx and 5xx random yds. It was perfect and I was done.

Access to AB custom and g7 library if you get the elite. This is not everyone’s cup of tea, especially the custom curves. But I’ve had good luck with them. When truing a new barrel or bullet, I’ll make a g7 and a custom curve profile. Thus far, they have both had the same dope at 1k and under once velocity is trued (AB’s preferred supersonic method is velocity truing). And if you need to tweak BC, you have the g7 availability.

And it fits in your pocket, pouch, or Jude’s holster.

Can StrelokPro do most of this? Yes. But you’ll need a weatherflow meter and have to keep connecting that and using your phone. Kestrel is faster and easier IMO.
 

308pirate

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Similar to what @Diver160651 posted, I ran a Dope chart on my 5.56 Precision AR this weekend for a Team Match. It has a spread of 40-deg, in 10-deg increments. Chart went out to 700-yards, and there was only a 0.1-mil difference throughout the temp range.
That's why I have three dope cards: hot, cool, cold. They are based on the same baro pressure and 90, 60, and 30F temps.

Accurate range assessment is much more important for me which is why I always have a good LRF. After a combined 35 years of sailing, flying, and mid to long range shooting I can call windspeed pretty well.
 

FUNCTIONAL

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I use Shooter app and a 2500NV kestrel for $125. I've wanted a kestrel just to have it all in one package but hard to justify when my Shooter/2500NV has been spot on out to 1200yrds.
 
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Alpine 338

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I use Shooter app and a 2500NV kestrel for $125. I've wanted a kestrel just to have it all in one package but hard to justify when my Shooter/2500NV has been spot on out to 1200yrds.

I have a 5700 Elite, and still use my 2500 NV for recording wind. Much easier to do than going through the menus on the 5700.
 
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FUNCTIONAL

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I have a 5700 Elite, and still use my 2500 NV for recording wind. Much easier to do than going through the menus on the 5700.
Good to know. I've never used a full blown kestrel but worried itd be "fun" navigating through all the screens. I'm sure with use its fine but the 2500NV just gives you everything you need and nothing you dont (except Alt haha).
 
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erwos

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All of what dthomas3523 said. I was fighting it out with a buddy just the other day about this topic - he loves his dope cards - and he just couldn't accept that maybe real life wasn't gonna work out the way he planned it out on the cards. I do think Strelok Pro + WeatherFlow is a reasonable option if you don't have the cash to throw down on a 5700, but a 5700 Elite + compatible AB External LRF is a tough combo to beat in terms of speed, data quality, and reliability. The new electronic DOPE card that they're coming out with also looks like it could be really handy in certain circumstances.
 
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Diver160651

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I think some of you are getting into the weeds and compositing AB equipped Kestrel and dope cards.

The better comparison is solvers vrs AB equipped.

I can get all the environmental needs via my Casio or Garmin watches.

We can pair most solvers with a Kestrel or weatherflow

If you have lots of Rifles/loads it’s really hard to beat BallisticARC for features at the app level. You download the stage cards (COF) for the entire match, share them with your buddies or export dope cards.
 

Dthomas3523

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I think some of you are getting into the weeds and compositing AB equipped Kestrel and dope cards.

The better comparison is solvers vrs AB equipped.

I can get all the environmental needs via my Casio or Garmin watches.

We can pair most solvers with a Kestrel or weatherflow

If you have lots of Rifles/loads it’s really hard to beat BallisticARC for features at the app level. You download the stage cards (COF) for the entire match, share them with your buddies or export dope cards.
Only downside (besides using your phone) to the ballisticarc cof feature I’ve seen is if the ranges aren’t correct.

And I am in the habit of verifying all ranges with terrapin anyway. So, I’m already in the process of ranging, so it’s not quicker for me personally.

Centerfire it’s not a big deal as a few yds isn’t going to make you miss unless it’s a tiny target. But with .22, if it’s past 125yds it so, a few yards is a big deal. Been seeing a lot of guys using the cof feature, trusting the given ranges, miss, and then realizing the given range wasn’t correct.

If you shoot at the same ranges and you trust the MD to usually have spot on ranges, different story obviously.
 

lts1ow

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So far just running AB on my phone has been solid with calling right data. But, my local ranges are bowling alleys and the wind is never finicky.

As pointed out about, the huge advantage a kestrel gives you.. is ruggedness in rain/heat/bright sun etc. Much easier to use instead of a smart phone etc. That is the main reason I will be grabbing a 5700 this winter for next season.
 

DellaDog

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I posted this in the Hornady Kestrel thread recently ...

Just got back from day 1 with the Hornady Kestrel. Till now, I’ve only used StrelokPro paired with weatherflow.

Very easy to set up both a 6.5 CM and 223.
My bullets of choice were both available in the library. 140 Hybrids and 75 ELDM.

Winds at my back were recorded at 12-15.

6.5 CM first round hits (2MOA targets) at 800, 900 & 1000.
1100, 1200 &1300 took a bit of wind experimenting but Elevation was spot on.

223, first round hit at 800. Wind correction adjustments for 900 and 1000.
After figuring out the wind, 1000 1 MOA hits were spot on for elevation.

Having never touched a Kestrel before this morning, I’m extremely pleased.
I’ll never futz with a phone and meter again.
 

VP47PPC

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So.... what does Kestrel tell ya that a baliistic calc (Strelok) doesnt ? Guessing temp, humidity, baro pressure... I need to learn how all that comes together.
Added a Density Altitude app to my phone. For matches just go to DA app and plug in values to Strelok.
 

VP47PPC

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If your at 10,000 feet and above hunting in the middle of no where and your phone died two days ago you will be ecstatic to have a kestrel.
When I hunt I plug the altitude and assumed hunting temp into Strelock and make a chart out to 500yds (as far as I want to shoot hunting) and then if phone dies no problem.
 

KYpatriot

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A kestrel makes you a better wind caller. I always make my wind call and then measure with the kestrel. You can bracket the gusts by watching the kestrel...make a mental note of the speed at the let offs and the max speed at the pickups. It calibrates your eyes and ears for the wind that day. To me they are essential for that alone if first round hits are important to you. Winds are usually what defeat us...so anything to help with that is critical.

Tonight Iwas shooting 180hybrids out of a 7mag at 3000fps. Its a great performer...high BC bullets are great in the wind. But even for that bullet one solitary mph of crosswind pushes it about 5 inches at 1000yds. On a one MOA target, thats your whole margin for error right there even for a high performance bullet. A 308win with 175smks is about double that!

If you are serious about upping your first round hit percentage, buy a kestrel. Put it in your pocket. At random times and places observe the wind conditions, make a call (“ok this wind is averaging 7mph, with a low of 4 and max of 11”) and then pull out the kestrel and see how you did.
 

frost1235

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From my personal experience,

If you are shooting where you don't get cell service to update your DA, it's worth it to get one.

I got by with Ballistics AE since 2013, and didn't get a kestrel until this year when I finally found a 1100 yard range I could use whenever, with little to no cell service with Verizon.

In terms of wind, I'd just check the weather service before I left for a rough estimate. I'd then just practice calling wind, and adjusting my second shot.

I would not recommend Ballistic AE after finding out the creator is antigun at this time.
 
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ScottDWallace

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Totally not necessary.... until you own one. If you compete in PRS, you’re leaving points on the table. Same with a factory rem trigger, or shooting 308. You can do it, but realize that you are handicapping yourself.
 

jdodd

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I have a brand new Ketrel 5700 for the GAP deal I need to sit down and figure out. I setup Sterlock Pro and paired it to the Kestrel for atmospheric. However I feel the kestrel with be a better all in one unit for my needs it just takes some getting used to/learning the menus etc.
 

OLD308

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I’ve got a stack of data books I’ve made up over the decades of shooting. Bought a Kestrel and haven’t touched them since. 01 Kestrel covers every rifle I have and is a weather station to boot. Don’t need it 75% of the time as my training distances are memorized. But boy is it great for competitions. Cool shooter shots at distance hit percentage went way up with the Kestrel.
 

FN-Whitney

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I have done it both ways and I still carry DOPE cards with me but my go to is my Kestrel, second my phone app and third is my cards. I don't think you can buy enough gear to make yourself a good shooter but the Kestrel does make things a lot easier.
 

Subwrx300

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Wondering about your opinions of a Kestrel weather meter...



Are they a must have for shooting long range? Or can the job be done without them.

Also trying to figure out how they give you the wind at any point other than your immediate location. Because the wind you really need to read is everywhere from you to the target.

At my favorite shooting location even at a 100 yd… wind is typically 6 o'clock at the bench but anywhere from 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock at the target
To add to the points others have made, a huge benefit of a Kestrel based system (specifically one with a ballistic solver) is time savings and money savings.

As you experiment in long range with different bullets, calibers and barrels, the time required to true each system is SIGNIFICANTLY lower. Rather than firing 50-75 rounds at yard increments, you can develop near perfect data after only 15-20 shots: 5 shot zero confirm, 5 shots to some target around 500-800 to true speed and then 5 shots at longest range available to true BC. Save time...

The ammo saved when using a Kestrel will pay for itself within a year or two. Depending on how much and what calibers you shoot.

It's a must have in my book.
 

Steel head

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Wondering about your opinions of a Kestrel weather meter...



Are they a must have for shooting long range? Or can the job be done without them.
My 1000+ spots vary in elevation from 1200 to 6500 feet and in combination with varying weather conditions having an accurate DA is kinda important if you want to be in the ballpark with your first shot.

If you have a lot of dope cards for each location you could certainly do without but I’m always on the hunt for new locations and having the kestrel is quite helpful in locations.
 
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Milo 2.5

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I've spent a lot of time and even more money trying to improve my shooting skills. I wont go as far as saying the Kestrel has actually made me better, but the ease of doing business makes it one of my wisest purchases. Is it a must, well no. Plus batteries can die, but if you are stupid enough not to carry spare batteries for everything that needs one, well, you know.
No more needing a printer, no more jotting down dopes, true your input up and go to town.
I'll pay for easy today.
 

47guy

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I've spent a lot of time and even more money trying to improve my shooting skills. I wont go as far as saying the Kestrel has actually made me better, but the ease of doing business makes it one of my wisest purchases. Is it a must, well no. Plus batteries can die, but if you are stupid enough not to carry spare batteries for everything that needs one, well, you know.
No more needing a printer, no more jotting down dopes, true your input up and go to town.
I'll pay for easy today.
THIS^^^!!

i fought buying a kestrel until this year...id buy another and not even think twice about it!!!