Kestrel 5700 Elite w/ LiNK: Review
The Kestrel 5700 Elite with LiNK represents the next evolution of technology designed to help the long range shooter hit their target.
Capitalizing on Bluetooth Smart (Low Energy) technology, the Kestrel 5700 Elite with LiNK offers enhanced integration with a wide range of mobile devices. This includes both Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, as well as laser rangefinders like Bushnell’s new CONX. The 5700 Elite also uses the powerful Applied Ballistics solver program. With Kestrel’s LiNK and LiNK Ballistics Apps, paired to the Kestrel 5700 Elite, the long range shooter has the ability to view live data and control targeting information on their phone or tablet.
The Kestrel 5700 Elite improves upon and replaces the popular Kestrel 4500AB.
I liked the 4500AB, so I was eager to see how the 5700 Elite stacked up against it during this review. At first glance, the differences seem subtle. It’s a little wider but still fits in my TYR case. The impeller cover has a recessed edge for easier manipulation. The display screen is slightly bigger, scratch-resistant, and has a bronze tint to the background. It’s still a full-featured weather meter with all the bells and whistles, as well as an advanced ballistic calculator. It wasn’t until I powered up the unit that I noticed what an improvement it was.
Right away, I noticed how much easier it is to see the display.
The font used for the display characters is wider and bolder. Combined with the high-contrast background, those characters are easier to read in all conditions, even direct sunlight. Another improvement is the display backlighting. Instead of having to choose between a red or white backlight at the time of purchase, the Kestrel 5700 Elite can be set for either in the display settings.
Kestrel has updated the battery door and compartment. The 5700 Elite uses a single AA battery that’s accessed through a latching back plate, rather than the 4500’s hinged floor plate and two AAA batteries. Kestrel recommends using Energizer’s Ultimate Lithium battery and ships the unit with one installed.
Battery life is impressive. During this review, I tried to kill the battery with normal use as well as abuse.
I left the unit outside for a full week in sub-freezing weather to simulate late-fall hunting conditions, and used it daily to check conditions and run ballistic solutions. I also left the unit powered up and paired to my iPhone 6 for several hours on separate days. That, along with constant, intermittent field use for two months didn’t drain the battery. I finally replaced it after a firmware update last week.
The display has an auto-shutdown feature that can be set for 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes. For uninterrupted use, the auto-shutdown can also be turned off.
The full Applied Ballistics solver engine is standard issue for the Kestrel 5700 Elite.
This is the feature that sets the 5700 Elite apart from a flooded market of solvers, weather meters, and all-in-one rangefinder units. The convenience of having a single tool, that automatically measures conditions and provides a corresponding trajectory correction, can’t be overstated. Whether you want to shoot a single stationary target and manually input the wind direction and speed, or plot up to five separate moving targets with live wind updates, this little powerhouse will do it.
Other than a few small navigation changes and keypad functions, the Kestrel 5700 Elite has the same features in the solver as the Kestrel 4500AB.
Here’s an outline of its capabilities:
- The Kestrel 5700 Elite uses G1, G7, or custom drag curves.
- Can be used in Single Target Mode or Multi-Target Mode (up to five targets), complete with direction of fire, wind, and mover correction for each active target. Targets can be toggled on and off as needed.
- Can be set to use meters or yards, MILS or MOA, as well as the corresponding correction values in the scope.
- Stores up to 16 gun profiles. These profiles can be built and managed on the Kestrel 5700 Elite or imported from the Kestrel LiNK Ballistics App. Profiles can also be exported from the meter to the App.
- Has the ability to validate trajectories by adjusting muzzle velocity for normal distances, or by using a Drop Scale Factor (DSF) beyond the transonic flight of the bullet.
- With Zero Offset and Zero Height, the user can adjust where the bullet impacts during zeroing. This allows the use of multiple loads or a suppressor, while maintaining one gun profile. Once these values are changed in the Gun Profile screen, the solver automatically accounts for them during the correction. I use this feature a lot with my 260 Remington to compensate for a suppressor and to run two different loads.
- Uses Live Wind Capture once the direction of fire is determined. Simply point the impeller into the wind after pressing the capture button. The Kestrel 5700 Elite will let you know the average and max wind speed, the direction in relation to the target, and the amount of correction needed. These values will constantly update until you end the capture, allowing live wind updates right up to the trigger press. You can also use the meter to measure the wind manually and input the values.
- Electronic compass for setting Direction of Fire (DOF). This is used for Coriolis corrections and wind captures. It’s also handy for animal recovery after the shot. The compass has to be calibrated after battery replacement or meter updates. The calibration can be a pain, but once that’s done, the compass proved to be very accurate.
- With the Range Card feature, you can scroll through a listing of target distances in 25 yard increments and corresponding corrections very quickly. The corrections include elevation, windage, and moving target lead. You can also view remaining velocity and energy, as well as time of flight in this screen. I used this feature quite a bit with the 4500AB while shooting tactical matches last year.
I’m sure I left something out, but that’s a pretty good representation of the solver features.
The beauty of it is, the Applied Ballistics solver in the Kestrel 5700 Elite can be used however you like. It will supply you with the data needed to hit a target at 2000 yards with a variable wind, or provide you with a quick, simple solution to set up a long range hunting ambush on an Idaho hillside. It works equally well for both.
With enhanced Bluetooth connectivity, the Kestrel 5700 Elite w/ LiNK can be used in some pretty cool ways. Kestrel is using Bluetooth Smart, also known as Bluetooth Low-Energy connect to a variety of devices.
- Bluetooth Smart is supposed to be more efficient, stable, and have great battery life. I would have to agree. We routinely paired the Kestrel 5700 Elite w/ LiNK to my iPhone 6 at distances much further than the advertised 100 feet. I verified one connection to 106 yards before losing it, then picked it back up at 78 yards. That was in the open with no interference, but several tests through walls, cars, and between house floors showed me that specification might be conservative. I also tested it for interference by connecting to other devices with my phone while paired to the 5700. It didn’t affect anything except battery life on my phone. It’s been my experience that once the connection is made, it’s there until you disconnect it. I did have an unintended pairing at a rifle match, where my phone picked up somebody else’s 5700. It didn’t override mine, but I noticed it in my Devices list and could connect to it with my phone.
- With Kestrel’s LiNK App, you can view live environmental data from the 5700 on your mobile device and wirelessly update firmware. With the LiNK Ballistics App, you can build and store 16 gun profiles on your phone. You can also import or export those profiles between the devices. The full Litz library of bullet specifications are right there in the App, making profiles easy to configure.
- Exposing the Elite to full wind conditions while the shooter is in a protected position can present opportunities. With the optional wind vane mount, the shooter can get live wind updates without having to break position or expose himself.
For field demonstrations and detailed info on how to use the Kestrel Elite, check out this video playlist. To purchase a Kestrel 5700 Elite w/ LiNK, check out Accuracy 1st Development Group. For more details on the Kestrel Elite, check out the Nielsen-Kellerman website.