Kestrel 5700 Elite vs. Kestrel 4500 AB

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Kestrel 5700 Elite Ballistics 

Every few years or so, Porsche tends to release a new model of their flagship car, the 911.  Since the mid 60’s the overall shape of the vehicle has remained mostly the same, yet changed so much into the present models.  When you see one out on the streets, no matter what era in which the car was produced, its look is unmistakable; it’s a 911!

The same can be said about the newest iteration of the Kestrel 5700 line of atmospheric meters.  Although the Kestrel as a line hasn’t been around for 5 decades, the slightly changed visuals of the 5700  have changed little from the 4500 model, but just enough to set it apart while still remaining wholly recognizable.

External Changes

The body of the new 5700 is slightly taller and wider than the 4500, but the thickness remains more or less the same.  There’s still a wind vane located at the top of the unit, and a protected bulb sensor next to it.  The button layout is the same, but there is an added button on the face.  The capture button was added to the upper center of the layout with a red line indicator on it.  The button that was once the capture button on the 4500 line is now a settings button with a cog logo on it. This button takes the “back” function that was assigned to the power button on the 4500 line. 

The battery storage for the new 5700 model has also changed.  For the 4500 line the battery compartment and trap door were on the bottom of the unit.  The 4500 used two AAA batteries that required a “keeper tab” to keep the batteries from turning on their axis as to not interfere with the internal compass sensor.  The 5700 line has an O-ring sealed, locking door on the rear of the unit.  It requires only one AA battery and the “keeper tab” is no longer required.  Nielsen-Kellerman, the producers of the Kestrel meter, suggest only using Lithium batteries in the unit to reduce possible corrosion in the battery compartment.

As far as the exterior of the 5700 unit is concerned, there aren’t many more differences in design or appearance except for what may be considered the biggest difference between the two; the display screen.    The screen is slightly larger in both height and width than the 4500, which is great.  But what seems to be the greatest improvement to the screen itself is the contrast of the text to the background.  The numbers and letters seem to “pop out” from the lighter screen background much more than on the previous model.  This also seems to make the screen easier to see and use in bright sunlight.  The user no longer needs protection or shade to see the screen in mid-day conditions, which is a huge improvement.  The resolution is also greater than the old model, which makes the text seem less pixelated and much more crisp and easier to read than previous iterations.  There is still a backlight button on the 5700 model, but the user also has the option of a white backlight color in addition to the reddish color of the previous model.


The most significant upgrades one will find in the Kestrel 5700 Elite may not be immediately apparent at first glance.  The newer user interface is designed to make the unit quicker and easier to use (and even quicker with “Easy Mode”, covered later).  Also, the 5700 Elite Ballistics is Bluetooth capable, using a low-energy radio which Nielsen-Kellerman calls “LiNK” that cuts down on battery usage.  The unit is able to communicate with IOS and Android devices alike, via the Kestrel Ballistics LiNK application in the Apple app store as well as through Google for Android-based devices.  The 5700 Elite can also communicate with some other devices such as laser range finders and others.  For instance, if you have a compatible rangefinder that senses direction of fire, the Kestrel meter can provide a firing solution for the target you ranged, minus the wind portion of the solution, since the range finder does not calculate wind.

Kestrel LiNK Ballistics Application

The Kestrel Ballistics LiNK app must be downloaded to interface with the Kestrel meter, at least with the Iphone version.  This is the setup I used to test the devices.  The Kestrel WILL NOT connect to the Iphone through the normal Bluetooth Settings on the phone.  The pairing is rather easy to accomplish in the app.  Simply open the Kestrel application on the phone and select “Device Selection” from the home menu.  If your Kestrel does not appear on the list, make sure your Kestrel is powered on and hit the settings button.  Next, make sure that Bluetooth is enabled in the menu.  You may need to press the select button on the Bluetooth line to see in the privacy PIN is enabled.  The PIN is a personal preference, it’s not necessary to the function of the pair of devices. 

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The Kestrel LiNK application allows plenty of interfaces with the Kestrel meter.  The user can create, alter, and upload different rifle profiles and projectiles on their mobile device and send them directly to the meter.  This is much easier and quicker in the long run than manually entering all the ballistic profiles on the meter itself. 

In the Kestrel app, click the fourth tab from the left along the bottom of the screen.  There, profiles can be added, deleted, modified, and sent to the Kestrel meter once the Bluetooth connection has been made.  There is a handy Bluetooth logo in the lower right corner of the screen that will be red if there is no connection, and will be blue if the connection is made.  By touching the “Select” in the upper right corner of the Profiles screen, the user can select profiles to be deleted, or sent to the Kestrel meter.  Once the dots are selected to the left of the desired profiles, touch the trashcan in the upper right corner of the screen to delete them, or touch “send profiles” to export the profiles to the Kestrel meter.  If you have profiles that exist only in the Kestrel meter, you may also touch “get profiles” to have the current profiles on the Kestrel meter back over to the mobile device app. 

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The user may also touch the third tab from the left along the bottom of the application screen to access the “Multi-Target” function.  Here, up to eight separate target ranges may be entered, and the holds computed for each range for a given bullet profile.  The method is fairly self-explanatory.  Simply enter your custom ranges into the provided fields and touch “compute holds” at the bottom of the screen. 

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The application also provides a single target HUD, which is the first tab from the left along the bottom of the screen.  This works in much the same way as the main ballistics screen of the Kestrel meter itself.  Simply input the parameters you require and the HUD will display the firing solution for that single-range target and the solution is displayed on the exact same screen. 

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Finally, the Kestrel Ballistics app on the mobile device can upgrade the firmware on your Kestrel meter if it is not up to date.  This is probably the easiest function of the application.  Once your Kestrel meter with an outdated firmware is connected to the application, it will notify you with a dialogue box.  When this happens, simply press the “Continue” button and leave the application open and the Kestrel powered on.  The Kestrel meter will display a downloading meter to let you know where it is in the process of the transfer. 

Kestrel Elite Ballistics V1.18

The newest firmware version for the Kestrel Elite Ballistics meter (V1.18 as of this writing) includes an Easy Mode which allows a novice shooter or new Kestrel user to setup their firing solution more quickly as opposed to overseeing all the bells and whistles the unit has to offer.  While in the ballistics mode, press the button with the emblem of the gear, or “settings” button.  This takes you to the settings menu.  The very first option on the list is “mode”.  The user may switch between three modes by simply pressing the left or the right arrow keys to cycle through the options; Ballistics, Weather, and Easy. 

One of the overall differences you will notice about the 5700 Elite Ballistics meter over the 4500 version is the speed of the software.  The unit boots up quicker, loads firing solutions, and scrolls through the range card and other menus more quickly than the 4500 does on its best day. 

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Ballistics Mode

The Ballistics mode is the full blown power user version of the software. The user will be able to adjust nearly all of the ballistics parameters on the unit, such at target ranges, compass degrees for direction of fire and wind, as well as wind speed capturing and range card options.  This is the preferred mode of use for experienced Kestrel users.  It will yield the most accurate firing solutions possible using the Kestrel. 

With the new software update, there is a new feature called “Multi Target”.  It’s the option directly under “Range Card” in the ballistics menu.  Once selected, it displays up to eight targets at user-specified ranges.  If the user presses the select button again, the user can input target ranges, wind inputs, and designate each target by letter, or number if so preferred. 

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All the menus are organized nicely and are pretty intuitive.  If you’ve already used a Kestrel unit you shouldn’t have any trouble adjusting yourself to the slight change in the menus.  If you’re new to the concept, it should still be self-explanatory. 

Some of the locations of options and certain screens have been moved to other locations in comparison to the older 4500 models.  On the older models, one had to push the power button to change between weather and ballistics mode, to change profile selection, or change Bluetooth settings.  On the 5700 model, the rifle profile and gun selections are available right on the ballistics mode menu- the menu with the current firing solution displayed at the top of the screen.  The Bluetooth and Weather Mode are available in the settings menu when pressing the Settings button on the face of the unit rather than pressing the power button.  A nice trick is to double tap the Bulb illumination button twice quickly to switch between Weather and Ballistics mode.  The same trick works on the 4500. 

Also, on the 4500 model, the power button doubled as a “back” function in the menus.  That function is now assigned to the “settings” button on the 5700 model.  If you’re used to using the 4500, just be glad that the 5700 will not power down when you tap the power button accidently; it must be held down!

Weather Mode

The Weather mode simply reduces the unit to only showing the various measured weather parameters in their respective full screen displays.  You may cycle through the separate atmospheric measuring screens by pressing the up and down arrow keys on the front of the unit.   

Easy Mode

Easy mode is great for shooters who may be new to the kestrel or even to Kestrel ballistics meters.  It may also be useful to shooters who may be isolated from groups of shooters or clubs to learn from or likeminded people to speak with.  Easy Mode is selected in the settings menu in the same way as the other modes just discussed.  Once “Easy” is highlighted, simply press the center select button on the unit.  The screen that is now displayed is the Easy mode.  In this mode, there is no Range Card option, only a single Target Range option.

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The Target Range is set by pressing the right or left buttons on the unit, just like all the other options are cycled.  The overall solution is always displayed on the top of the screen in your chosen elevation and windage units. 

Target setup is simply where the user tells the unit to gather atmospheric data and the direction of fire of the target.  Pressing the select button will initiate the capture mode until the select button is pressed again.  The unit suggests the user complete this procedure every 30 minutes, or when the direction of fire changes.   

Even in Easy Mode, it is possible to “true” your muzzle velocity in the next option in the easy mode menu called Cal MV Guide.  In this section, if you press the center select button, you are able to capture the current environmental conditions.  After the conditions are captured, the unit provides a target range in which the user must place a target and fire in the captured conditions.  Once this is complete, the user may input what the actual elevation of the bullet.  The unit can use this information to extrapolate what the actual muzzle velocity of your bullet is, rather than an estimate or questionable chronograph reading. 

The next option is Compass Calibration, which as the name implies, allows the user to calibrate the unit.  To calibrate, select the Compass Calibration option with the center select button, then press the select button again to start calibration mode.  To calibrate, stand the unit upright on a non-metallic surface and rotate it on its own axis three times at a rate of about 10 seconds per turn.  Metallic objects in the immediate area may alter the unit’s compass readings.  The unit will display how many turns have been successfully completed.  Sometimes this calibration may take several tries, but should be successful after a couple of tries. 

The final option in Easy mode is the Latitude adjustment.  This information is easy to find online.  NASA provides an online tool where one can enter their location and it will give you the closest possible latitude.  The tool can be found here: Longitude Tool .

Hopefully this has been enough information to get new Kestrel users enough information to get started using their Kestrel 5700 Elite, or at the very least, helped them decide which model of Kestrel meter is right for them.