Do I need a kestrel for hunting long range?

willfrye027

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I am considering jumping into a kestrel with ballistic solver. I already have a Leica 2800.com that it could connect to. My goal is to extend my effective hunting range to 700 yards by next fall. I shoot fairly regularly out to this distance but it’s always the same location and not much variation in temp, wind, etc. I’m wondering if a kestrel would make a significant difference in my ability to make first round hits at distances of 600-800 yards as I begin to stretch out my capabilities. I believe in the end more trigger time will be the key… but I’m not afraid to buy the right tools for the job either. Would love to hear some thoughts on using a kestrel while hunting, more for the ballistic solver capabilities than the wind meter necessarily.

 

FURMAN

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I am considering jumping into a kestrel with ballistic solver. I already have a Leica 2800.com that it could connect to. My goal is to extend my effective hunting range to 700 yards by next fall. I shoot fairly regularly out to this distance but it’s always the same location and not much variation in temp, wind, etc. I’m wondering if a kestrel would make a significant difference in my ability to make first round hits at distances of 600-800 yards as I begin to stretch out my capabilities. I believe in the end more trigger time will be the key… but I’m not afraid to buy the right tools for the job either. Would love to hear some thoughts on using a kestrel while hunting, more for the ballistic solver capabilities than the wind meter necessarily.
Kestrels are a tool I think all long range shooters should have but not completely necessary. They can not tell you what the wind is doing at all locations between you and the target. Only practice can get you even close to reading wind at that level.
 

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Not necessary, but are great to have, especially once you start to shoot ELR you will want a Kestrel.
You can go big and get the Trijicon device that will read the wind out to 500 yards. But it's about $5K, super fun, played with one pre covid with Trijicon .
But Kestrels are good to have , I still use one even though my rangefinder has almost all the range data as a Kestrel now, soon they will be almost obsolete

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DerekS

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I've got one which was a recent purchase. I'm glad I got it. It is very nice to have environmental data at the actual point of shooting. I think this makes tuning ballistic solvers easier and more accurate. I wish I'd got one sooner, and I don't see myself ever getting rid of it. If nothing else it can be a back up piece to verify the next wiz bang thang against.
 

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I picked up a Kestrel a few months ago as well. I am glad I have it. I like that I do not need to turn on my phone to access my ballistic calculator, especially early am or pm when the light would be to bright. It is a better ballistic calculator than the one I had in my phone, up to one MOA difference at 1k depending on the environmental factors of the day. It has helped me to feel what 3-5-10 mph wind feels like, and looks like with the local terain (I needed/need a lot of help in this area). The ability to know environmental factors are taken into account pressure wise so I am as good as I can get.



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OSOK - Crash

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I picked up a Kestrel a few months ago as well. I am glad I have it. I like that I do not need to turn on my phone to access my ballistic calculator, especially early am or pm when the light would be to bright. It is a better ballistic calculator than the one I had in my phone, up to one MOA difference at 1k depending on the environmental factors of the day. It has helped me to feel what 3-5-10 mph wind feels like, and looks like with the local terain (I needed/need a lot of help in this area). The ability to know environmental factors are taken into account pressure wise so I am as good as I can get.



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Which one did you get?
 

parshal

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I use a Kestrel in competitions. For hunting I just use a pre-printed ballistics chart. The Kestrel only gives you a starting point for your first shot when it comes to wind holds. Often times it's way off from the real hold that you discover when you take your first shot.

In the NRL Hunter series, I've found the drop charts to be plenty accurate out to 1000 yards and beyond. Most every top shooter is using one.
 

OSU Fisher

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Not needed, handy sure…. I prefer my sig kilo 2400 abs - want the new 8k, not sure why…. I have 2 of the kilo’s and work great. Anyways, back to the kestrel, I have one. Never use it. I do carry a small wind meter in my bino pack but also rarely need it. Just work on reading wind. I shoot a lot which helps a ton but feel I’m a descent wind reader due to my old competitive golf career. When your trying to perfect your skills carry around the wind meter and test yourself all the time. The ballistics is the handy and helpful part and like I said I would look heavy at the new sig 8k instead. So easy and fast and only need one unit. Sell your Leica… and pick one up? Can be had for 1200 right now. $ well spent if you can swing it
 

willfrye027

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Not needed, handy sure…. I prefer my sig kilo 2400 abs - want the new 8k, not sure why…. I have 2 of the kilo’s and work great. Anyways, back to the kestrel, I have one. Never use it. I do carry a small wind meter in my bino pack but also rarely need it. Just work on reading wind. I shoot a lot which helps a ton but feel I’m a descent wind reader due to my old competitive golf career. When your trying to perfect your skills carry around the wind meter and test yourself all the time. The ballistics is the handy and helpful part and like I said I would look heavy at the new sig 8k instead. So easy and fast and only need one unit. Sell your Leica… and pick one up? Can be had for 1200 right now. $ well spent if you can swing it
Would be hard for me to sell the Leica…the beam divergence is so small and the reticle is precisely aligned. Have not experienced the same with sigs and had issues with it picking up the wrong object especially with archery. Maybe the 8k is different.


The main reason I was considering a kestrel would be to give a more precise elevation hold factoring in more advanced environmental input. Just not sure at what distance that becomes truly helpful or necessary. For instance I missed high on a 730 yard shot that what a surprise to me and figure there’s something going on environmentally that I did not account for (also a fairly steep elevation so maybe it was a TBR calculation issue)
 

parshal

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Perfect timing for this video explaining just what you're asking. It's discussing ES but he shows the difference in elevation hold for different velocity. I'd argue that environmentals won't change your elevation as much as velocity.
 

willfrye027

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Perfect timing for this video explaining just what you're asking. It's discussing ES but he shows the difference in elevation hold for different velocity. I'd argue that environmentals won't change your elevation as much as velocity.
That’s a great video. It’s almost a guarantee that my shooting technique is a major culprit. It was a fairly steep uphill angle which admitted I have not practiced much at distance.

Going along with the topic of that video; why did I miss….

730 yards uphill angle maybe 15 degrees.. ranged with my Leica using the on board calculator. Thus far it has been spot on adjusting for temp, elevation, etc and my load is proven.

I missed high by .3-.4 mils. If it had been .1 mil lower it would have spined the buck..missed about 3 inches over his back. I think part of it was a soft rear rest…but I have been wondering if getting the linear distance and calculating the TBR on a kestrel, having some more precise environmentals, etc would have helped. I also did not account for the thermal In the wind dope which may have been part of it.

Basically I am comfortable with the idea of doping the wind horizontally (obviously tons of room for improvement) but I am wondering what am I “missing” in making elevation adjustments??

In all likelihood I missed because of poor fundamentals and not accounting for the thermal…but I still wonder if my dope inputs were wrong.

Thanks for all the input, I am learning a ton from you all
 

NorCal_In_AZ

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Like other said, sure it can help but its not needed. I prefer not to use one while hunting anyways. If you have the time to use it ok, but if you don't now what? I love my Sig Kilo 1400. My range is also 700 yards, and thats as far as the calculator works on the 1400. I pair the range finder with my phone one time when I start my hunt. Then just let the range finder work off that data for the hunt. At 700 yards and in, it would take a huge swing in weather to throw you out of a kill zone.
 

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For hunting I’d get the new gunwerks br4. It takes into account the environmental on the spot during ranging off the target and you do the wind hold adjustment based on what you see. It’s fast and efficient in the field under hunting pressure. I use the kestrel elite for competitions where I have more time between stages and it thus allows me to with the device better with the added time and controls. Using the kestrel in the hunting environment is difficult to be fast so you end up making a dope sheet before you take off in the morning and it then stays in your pocket. The br4 beam divergence is incredibly good. So depends on what you are going to use it for. Kestrel are great but there are better tools now for hunting applications if that’s what your after.
 

willfrye027

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For hunting I’d get the new gunwerks br4. It takes into account the environmental on the spot during ranging off the target and you do the wind hold adjustment based on what you see. It’s fast and efficient in the field under hunting pressure. I use the kestrel elite for competitions where I have more time between stages and it thus allows me to with the device better with the added time and controls. Using the kestrel in the hunting environment is difficult to be fast so you end up making a dope sheet before you take off in the morning and it then stays in your pocket. The br4 beam divergence is incredibly good. So depends on what you are going to use it for. Kestrel are great but there are better tools now for hunting applications if that’s what your after.
That is good to know. I really like how quickly I get a range and dope with my Leica.com. I think this year I will make an effort to practice at multiple locations and winds/elevations/temperatures and find out if the Leica ballistics are falling short or not. Then consider the br4 vs adding a kestrel. The Leica does account for the environmentals But the ballistic program is lacking and is often .1 mils off from my ballistic AE dope which is spot on for me when I plug in the environmentals. It does not give me a wind dope but in average wind and moderate distances I have a good handle on where my bullet will end up. the speed of the Leica.com by itself makes for a good hunting tool…I just need to do more shooting in various locations to vet it more.
 

Hawk

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That is good to know. I really like how quickly I get a range and dope with my Leica.com. I think this year I will make an effort to practice at multiple locations and winds/elevations/temperatures and find out if the Leica ballistics are falling short or not. Then consider the br4 vs adding a kestrel. The Leica does account for the environmentals But the ballistic program is lacking and is often .1 mils off from my ballistic AE dope which is spot on for me when I plug in the environmentals. It does not give me a wind dope but in average wind and moderate distances I have a good handle on where my bullet will end up. the speed of the Leica.com by itself makes for a good hunting tool…I just need to do more shooting in various locations to vet it more.
Unless I’m totally wrong your Leica 2800.com doesn’t have live environmental inputs unless you have it bluetooth sync’d to a kestrel or some other device. Simply bluetoothing it to your phones ballistic app that has the local weather for the area isn’t accurate. The Kestrel will give you live environmental inputs at the point you pull it out and use it. But you have to pull it out every time in addition to your rangefinder to take a current environmental reading. The BR4 rangefinder has the environmental input taking instrument right on the rangefinder so when you pull it out to range a target it is taking in all the environmental data (except wind) live at the point of use and giving you an accurate dial up in the reticle as you use it and/or link to your phone. So for hunting application the BR4 is the fastest way to get an accurate hold or dial up with real time at point of shoot information. Check out the videos on Gunwerks to learn more.
 

JTB

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I don’t use one for hunting but have a lot of experience judging wind hold. The bottom line is that I don’t take long range shots in heavy wind. It is usually gusting and varied and simply a guess at that point. I just judge by the wind feel, when around 10 mph and under, and can normally make a good judgement call. My 10 y/o granddaughter just shot her first coues at 660 yards with one shot using a 6.5 CM 156 EOL and there was a 5-10 wind. Her Dad told her to to aim just in front of chest on a broadside and she hit it right through the heart. In a high wind situation the odds of a bad hit are pretty high regardless of the tools available. As mentioned in an early post the 2400 ABS is a great tool once you have tested data specific to your rifle/round. The drawback being 7 power, off hand, ranging vs the binos ability to range a target, likely steadied from on a tripod.
 

willfrye027

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Unless I’m totally wrong your Leica 2800.com doesn’t have live environmental inputs unless you have it bluetooth sync’d to a kestrel or some other device. Simply bluetoothing it to your phones ballistic app that has the local weather for the area isn’t accurate. The Kestrel will give you live environmental inputs at the point you pull it out and use it. But you have to pull it out every time in addition to your rangefinder to take a current environmental reading. The BR4 rangefinder has the environmental input taking instrument right on the rangefinder so when you pull it out to range a target it is taking in all the environmental data (except wind) live at the point of use and giving you an accurate dial up in the reticle as you use it and/or link to your phone. So for hunting application the BR4 is the fastest way to get an accurate hold or dial up with real time at point of shoot information. Check out the videos on Gunwerks to learn more.
The .com does have on board environmentals. No need to be connected to anything to use them. The Leica ballistic calculator is pretty weak however. Only g1 inputs and does not account for all the variables like applied ballistics. That being said it’s pretty close within .1mil for my hunting ranges. Probably better than I can shoot to be honest.

Bottom line is that I just need to spend more time this winter shooting other places than my home range and become more proficient. That’s what I’ve decided. Planning to burn out my fairly new 25creed barrel before next hunting season..I’m still looking hard at pairing the kestrel with my Leica, but the more I learn about them the more I think it will be slow when hunting compared to what I’m already using
 

Desert Dan

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I’ll jump in here. I got one last year, mostly for practice, but brought it out hunting with me and used it a ton setting up shots at various distances where the deer were exiting cover. I’ll continue to bring it along in hunts even though I think I get my best use out of it while practicing.
 

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I use mine more, and more, as in always now! Lol! It goes everywhere with me in my bino case. I have been using it, and RF binos for a few years and have had no issues. I carry a backup RF as well. (vortex razor hd4000) As said above, the only thing the kestrel can`t give me is down range wind. So far, I have used it out to a mile for shooting solutions. I guess if you have a good RF/Ballistic Solver, then No. You probably don`t need one. But I won`t leave the house without one. my .02
 

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If you don’t need a ballistic solver in your kestrel and just want it for atmospheric conditions the kestrel 3500 will do what ya need at a much better price
 

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I have a Kestrel 5700 Elite/Bluetooth/AB. I find it to be VERY useful for PRS competition, particularly when target distances are known, but conditions can change throughout the day. The target/chart features are great. It does work well when connected to another RF with Bluetooth. For hunting, I much prefer a ballistic RF/calculator(Sig2400, GWBR2, GWBR4) which IMO, is easier, faster and more practical for longer range hunting. The ballistic outputs are near identical with all of them when compared to the my 5700, given the same inputs. I do use a more basic Kestrel for wind determinations.
 

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I, too, use the Kestrel for competitions. I use the target card to enter all the distances so all my data is on one screen. I've found my Zeiss bino RF and Vortex bino RF both agree with the Kestrel (within a .1) for anything under 100. Heck, most of the NRL Hunter folks are using a data wrist card and that includes all the top shooters. It's faster and accurate 'enough' for hunting.
 

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For hunting, I much prefer a ballistic RF/calculator(Sig2400, GWBR2, GWBR4) which IMO, is easier, faster and more practical for longer range hunting. The ballistic outputs are near identical with all of them when compared to the my 5700, given the same inputs. I do use a more basic Kestrel for wind determinations.


You still have to input the environmentals into the app or rangefinder. At least I do with my SIG2200 BDX. In the past I have used my weather app on my phone. But that info is not as accurate for my exact location. It’s worked fine for me in the past. But I want to be more specific as I stretch it out longer.

This is the reason I am considering getting a Kestrel before next season.
 

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You still have to input the environmentals into the app or rangefinder.
Not the new RF's with a ballistic solver. They sample the station pressure , temp, humidity, direction of fire, shot angle etc. and it is all used to create the shooting solution (dial up and windage) it gives you in the display. The only reason I would carry a kestrel when using my Revic BR4 is for wind speed entry.
 

parshal

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The Zeiss and Vortex bino RF have built-in sensors.

It would be a good exercise to spend some time here and run your ballistics at different density altitudes at the distances you plan on hunting. You'll then know how the atmospherics will affect your trajectory and if it's really worth the effort. It will be worth the effort for longer shots.
 

OSOK - Crash

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If you don’t need a ballistic solver in your kestrel and just want it for atmospheric conditions the kestrel 3500 will do what ya need at a much better price

Would the 2500 be a better option and save $50? Do you find yourself using all the extra info the 3500 gives? What else would you need other than wind speed, temp, bar press?
 

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Not the new RF's with a ballistic solver. They sample the station pressure , temp, humidity, direction of fire, shot angle etc. and it is all used to create the shooting solution (dial up and windage) it gives you in the display. The only reason I would carry a kestrel when using my Revic BR4 is for wind speed entry.

Ahh I got you. My 2200 doesn’t do all that. Lol.

How do the new RF’s do on station temperature?Concerned with the sensor on the inside of the unit.
 

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I have used the extra features a few times like max wind speed recorded when I wasn’t watching etc but the 2500 would work well for just getting atmospheric conditions
 

parshal

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How do the new RF’s do on station temperature? Concerned with the sensor on the inside of the unit.
They work well. The sensor takes a bit to change if move it from a warm truck to cold outside. I think you'll find, though, that temperatures has less of an effect on your trajectory than the station pressure. At least at most hunting distances.
 

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I just did a ballistics chart on JBM using the 156 EOL at 2950. With a station pressure of 23.92 (average around me at 6000 feet) I ran with a temperature of 15 degrees and 80 degrees. The elevation hold is the same out to 500 yards. From 600 to 900 the difference is .1 mils. At 1000, the difference is .2 and it looks to nearly double from that point out.

I ran it again at 30 degrees. One with a 23.92 pressure and another at 29. They are .1 different from 300-600 yards where they are .2 and greater at >600.

Your dope is very similar for these situations out to 600. You'll unlikely be able to see the difference on a target. This is why dope charts work so well for hunting.

I would not buy a Kestrel specifically to use when hunting. For competition I would. I would buy one just because you want it, too. Do you NEED it? Not really.
 

OSOK - Crash

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I just did a ballistics chart on JBM using the 156 EOL at 2950. With a station pressure of 23.92 (average around me at 6000 feet) I ran with a temperature of 15 degrees and 80 degrees. The elevation hold is the same out to 500 yards. From 600 to 900 the difference is .1 mils. At 1000, the difference is .2 and it looks to nearly double from that point out.

I ran it again at 30 degrees. One with a 23.92 pressure and another at 29. They are .1 different from 300-600 yards where they are .2 and greater at >600.

Your dope is very similar for these situations out to 600. You'll unlikely be able to see the difference on a target. This is why dope charts work so well for hunting.

I would not buy a Kestrel specifically to use when hunting. For competition I would. I would buy one just because you want it, too. Do you NEED it? Not really.

Thanks! This is all good stuff.

I guess the only part I would really need the kestrel for is wind speed? I have not shot enough to know how to judge and read wind well at all. So maybe after more experience it wouldn’t be needs for that either.
 

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I'd get one to help you guess wind speed. Guess the speed and then look at the Kestrel to confirm. That'll help a ton. What I have found is that the wind corrections the Kestrel gives for farther targets is NEVER what I end up having to hold. Many times I abandon the Kestrel wind call and guess based on my experience at the distance with my gun. This is in competition.

When hunting I usually hold where I want to hit. I had measured 18 -24 mph wind when I shot my elk this year at 350. A 20 mph 90 degree wind has a hold of .7 (8.9 inches) at 350. My bullet did not move that much. Without a siting shot you're just guessing at what the wind will do to your bullet. Unless you're on flat ground any hill or obstruction is going to change that wind between you and the target.

My suggestion is to go shoot on windy days and get an idea of what really happens to your bullet. The Kestrel wind calls are a suggested starting point but, oftentimes, they aren't correct You have to read the conditions between you and the target.
 

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Trouble is some times I’m hunting at 2000’ then next week will be 4000’ or maybe 6000’. That’s why I need the kestrel for hunting
 

parshal

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That's why I provided the data I ran on JBM above. Station pressure of 23.92 is roughly 6000 feet and 29 is close to see level. A 2000 foot elevation change isn't going to change your impact as much as you think it is.
 
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Jasent

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It’s enough difference for me when often my harvests are 600-900 yards. With range uncertainty(did I get a range on that buck or the bush above him or the tree in front) and wind, up drafts ,etc I’ll take the confidence of having exact conditions as possible. Again this is for the conditions and areas I hunt and my personal opinion.
I just feel I owe it to the animals to be as accurate as I can be at the ranges I hunt.
 
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Would the 2500 be a better option and save $50? Do you find yourself using all the extra info the 3500 gives? What else would you need other than wind speed, temp, bar press?
The 2500 is my go too. Used it for over 10 years and have worn out the impeller twice. The difference between the 3500 and 2500 is the 3500 does humidity, 2500 does not. Put your humidity on 50% and leave it. But for wind only is what I use the 2500 for these days unless I am using my app like for the ELR rig
 

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