Kestrel 5700 Sportsman: Review
We were set up on a Wyoming plateau as the sun broke the eastern horizon. Below us, a herd of antelope slowly grazed toward a distant fence line. As the lone pronghorn fell in line behind them, I ranged it and entered the distance into the Kestrel Sportsman.
I dialed the corrections needed for the 830-yard shot and settled in behind the rifle. “Do you have eyes on him, Jess?”, I asked as the buck turned broadside. “I’m ready back here.” The recoil from the 300 Win Mag pushed straight back, allowing me to watch the 210-grain Berger bullet hit its mark. I called a good hit as I followed the antelope in the scope, watching it crash 40 yards away.
I don’t take shots like that without plenty of confidence in the outcome. That confidence comes from a lot of practice, experience in reading conditions, and dependable gear. Kestrel weather meters have long been a part of my shooting kit.
As part of Kestrel’s new 5000-series line of weather meters, the 5700 Sportsman comes with several improvements over the 4000-series Sportsman it replaces. The first one that stands out for me is the display.
It’s slightly bigger, uses a high-contrast background, and is much easier to read than the previous version. The text and characters are bolder and stand out well against the bronze-like background in all lighting conditions, even direct sunlight. I never find myself looking for shade to read conditions or corrections.
The screen itself is made of ballistic lens material, making it tough and scratch-resistant. Over the course of this review, the Sportsman was exposed to plenty of rough field conditions. Despite that, the meter still looks like it just came out of the box. It helps that the screen is slightly recessed in the case of the meter, keeping it from scuffing as it’s pulled in and out of the TYR pouch I store it in. Made specifically for Kestrel weather meters, the TYR pouch (TYR-CM002B) kept the meter close and well-protected.
For low-light use, the 5700 Sportsman has two backlight options—red or white. The color can be easily changed in the meter’s display settings.
The 5700 Sportsman measures approximately 5”x 2”x 1”. It weighs 4.3 ounces, and is powered by a single AA battery.
Kestrel recommends and provides a single Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA battery for the meter. The battery life is amazing. It’s been three months since I installed the original battery. In that time, I’ve calculated hundreds of firing solutions, measured wind speed for more hours than I can remember, and torture-tested the meter in single-digit temperatures. I enjoyed similar results from a Kestrel 5700 Elite during a review early last year.
The battery is easily accessed by unlocking a latch on the bottom of the meter. The battery door uses an o-ring to seal out the elements.
Remaining battery life is displayed on the start-up screen. I’ve noticed some fluctuations with the percentage value shown, depending on conditions. At times, especially during prolonged periods of extreme cold, battery life will show as 20%-40% when firing up the meter. However, it displays 80%-100% a few hours later when warmed up. In System settings, battery type can be chosen to help predict remaining charge, with a default setting of lithium. The 5700 Elite exhibited the same tendencies. I carry extra batteries for every electronic device I hunt with, but I’m not worried about an emergency change with either Kestrel.
The Sportsman is fully shockproof and waterproof. A good field review tests these things!
In addition to using the meter heavily during one of the wettest hunting seasons I can remember, I also submerged it in a foot of 40° water for an hour. I left it wet overnight in a soaked pack, then brought it into a warm wall tent in the morning. To test electronic circuitry, I beat on the case repeatedly. Kestrel meters are tough—the Sportsman upholds that tradition.
The Kestrel 5700 Sportsman is an ideal ballistic tool for the long-range hunter. It measures wind and environmental conditions, plus provides a firing solution through an integrated ballistic solver.
To accurately make a long-range shot, we must know the environmental conditions working against the bullet. Gravity is a constant, but air density causes drag on the bullet and varies with factors collectively known as conditions. Those conditions are air pressure (usually referred to as station pressure), air temperature, and humidity.
We also need to know what the wind is doing and how it will affect the shot. The Kestrel uses an impeller to detect wind speed, and can be configured to show wind direction in relation to a target.
The Sportsman operates in two modes—Weather and Ballistics. On the Weather side of the meter, it will measure and display the conditions we account for to make a shot, plus just about every other environmental and atmospheric value. For more details on what it will measure, click HERE.
To help simplify things, you can turn off each individual value on the weather side of the meter, so only the conditions you’re interested in are displayed. You can also set up three User Screens. A User Screen enables three different values to be displayed at the same time. Throughout this review, I mostly used the Wind Speed screen while on the weather side of the meter.
On the Ballistics side of the Sportsman, environmental conditions that affect the bullet’s trajectory are displayed and automatically fed into the solver.
Unlike conventional ballistic solvers, the Kestrel Sportsman automatically provides air density inputs from the weather side of the meter to its integrated solver. In the Environment screen, air temperature, station pressure, relative humidity, and density altitude are constantly updated and displayed. Those conditions can also be frozen in place by turning off the update function. This feature is necessary for maintaining an accurate ambient air temperature value.
The Sportsman uses the Applied Ballistics (AB) ballistic engine to calculate bullet trajectories and corrections.
Applied Ballistics is widely considered to be one of the most accurate ballistic solving programs available. As loaded on the Kestrel 5700 Sportsman, the AB solver can:
- Compute a single firing solution to 4000 yards.
- Use a G1 or G7 Ballistic Coefficient (BC).
- Store three gun/ammo profiles.
- Solve a moving target lead.
- Use live wind capture or manual wind inputs, including two wind brackets for a single target.
- Validate trajectories with muzzle velocity or BC adjustments.
- Use MOA or MILs for corrections and Yards or Meters for range inputs.
- Provide basic downrange ballistic information such as velocity, energy, and transonic range.
Unlike the 4000-series Sportsman, the 5700 Sportsman factors Coriolis, Spin Drift, and Aerodynamic Jump (AD) into the firing solution.
This extends the effective range well into the transonic zone of the bullet’s trajectory. It also makes the 5700 Sportsman suitable for everything but shooting to the most extreme distances. Its lack of Drop Scale Factor (DSF) capabilities limits its precision in the subsonic zone. If you’re interested in that kind of shooting, you might be better served by the Kestrel 5700 Elite. Now is a good time to mention that Kestrel will upgrade a 5700 Sportsman to an Elite for the cost difference between the two. It’s a software update to your existing meter, and adds all of the capabilities of the more advanced solver.
Just to give you an idea of what the Sportsman can do, let’s take a quick look at the trajectory of my 300 Win Mag. Under present conditions (27.33/74°), the 210 grain Berger VLD @ 2950 fps MV doesn’t enter the transonic zone for 1415 yards. It goes subsonic at 1687 yards. I’ve shot this rifle quite a bit within that bracket and beyond without DSF.
The Sportsman provided for this review is a LiNK model. Kestrel’s LiNK uses Low-Energy (LE) Bluetooth technology to wirelessly communicate with other devices.
LiNK will communicate with Android and iOS devices, as well as Bushnell’s CONX rangefinder. The use of LE Bluetooth means stable connections, less battery drain, and increased range. During our testing of the Elite and Sportsman, we found the connectivity range to almost always exceed the advertised 100 feet. It flat out works. I’ve used LiNK with an iPhone 6, iPhone 7, and iPad with no problems.
There are two free Apps available from Kestrel: Kestrel LiNK and Kestrel LiNK Ballistics. The first App allows you to observe every value the Sportsman reads on the weather side. It also includes web links to every download and manual for using your Kestrel. Firmware updates can be done wirelessly with this App, too.
The Kestrel LiNK Ballistics App enables remote use of the Sportsman to fire on a target. When mounted in Kestrel’s Rotating Vane Mount, the meter can be set up with a target and wind capture, allowing real-time wind corrections. For a field demonstration of this capability, see this VIDEO.
I think the most useful feature of LiNK is gun profile management. I can build and modify profiles on my iPhone, then export them wirelessly to the Kestrel. You can also import them from the Kestrel if you modify values during trajectory validation, or to protect profiles during firmware updates of the meter. I think it’s a lot easier to enter data on a phone screen than with the Kestrel’s keypad. You can also build and load profiles from a PC via Kestrel’s USB Data Transfer Cable, but I use my phone almost every time.
Cell service isn’t needed for LiNK to work, so everything can be done in the field. That kind of convenience and flexibility is hard to beat!
Despite its advanced capabilities, the Sportsman is easy to operate as a ballistic solver.
I get plenty of questions from folks about what’s needed to pull off a long range shot at an animal. I’m sure it all seems complicated to a new shooter. If you look at the trend in long range shooting right now, it’s no wonder. Despite what you see or read on the forums and social media, you don’t need a trailer full of expensive gear to shoot within the supersonic range of a trajectory, where the vast majority of long range hunting takes place. The Sportsman and an accurate rangefinder will handle any shot most of us will ever face while hunting.
Once the meter is set up and you’re familiar with its operation, solving for a correction is simple. Here’s my sequence for a typical long range hunting shot with the Sportsman:
- Power up the meter while looking at the wind and ranging the target. Update environmental conditions on the meter, then turn update function off.
- Input distance, angle, and wind values.
- Point meter at target and perform a capture. This step isn’t just for Coriolis; I also do it in case I need a heading to help recover an animal.
- Dial corrections and shoot!
A lot of preparation goes into being proficient at shooting long range, especially when the targets are game animals. I’m only addressing one component of the basic tools needed to do it efficiently.
Here’s a video playlist showing my field review and instructional videos on the Kestrel 5700 Sportsman Weather Meter w/ Applied Ballistics. Click on the YouTube symbol for the full list:
I hope you found this review informative. The Kestrel 5700 Sportsman is an accurate and easy-to-use weather meter/ballistic solver that would make a great addition to your long-range gear. It offers a lot of value and performance in a compact package. If you’d like to learn more about the technical side of the Sportsman, or if you’d like to purchase one for yourself, be sure to visit Kestrel’s website. Be sure to stay tuned for upcoming articles and videos.