Accurate wind and weather readings have become absolutely critical in precision rifle shooting and long range hunting, especially at the distances many shots are now taken at, and how important first shot hits are. You quickly learn that a long range shooting wind meter is an important part of that process to enable those first shot hits in any conditions.
When it come to precision shooting specific weather meters, there is no other name a well-known as Kestrel, and no other products as specifically designed for the purpose. In fact, the latest models from Kestrel not only have ballistics software incorporated into them, some even have pre-loaded ballistic profiles for certain rifles and ammunition already.
Ballistics weather meters provide precise aim points or adjustments that account for bullet drop and wind drift to get your point of impact on target on the first shot. By combining accurate onsite atmospherics with proven ballistics solvers, it helps to deliver crucial first round hits for long range shooting and hunting in any conditions.
The question then, is not which brand weather meter do you buy to fit your needs, but rather, which Kestrel weather meter fits your needs. We have compile a chart comparing the various ballistic and shooting specific weather meters by Kestrel, to help you choose the wireless wind speed meter for shooting that suits you best. We have not included the older model Kestrel 4500 with Applied Ballistics as it was discontinued by Kestrel in 2015 and replaced with the Kestrel 5700.
|Kestrel 5700 Ballistics Weather Meter with Hornady 4DOF||Kestrel 5700 Elite Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics||Kestrel 5700 Ballistics Weather Meter with Link||Kestrel Ruger 5700 Ballistics Weather Meter with Link||Kestrel 2700 Ballistics Weather Meter|
|LiNK Enabled | G1/G7 Drag Models in Mil, TMOA, SMOA, in, cm, Clicks||X||X||X||X||X|
|Corrects for Wind, Temp, & Altitude Changes | Easy Mode||X||X||X||X||X|
|MV Calibration Guide||X||X||X||X|
|Gun Profile Storage | Targets||3 Guns | 1 Target||30 Guns | 10 Targets||3 Guns | 1 Target||3 Guns | 1 Target||1 Guns | 1 Target|
|Aerodynamic Cross Wind Jump | Coriolis | Spin Drift | Muzzle Velocity – Temperature Correction||X||X||X||X|
|Moving Target Lead Calculator | Target Range Estimator | Target Speed Estimator||X||X||X||X|
|Ruger Rifles & Match Grade Ammo Library||X|
|Hornady 4DOF Custom Bullet File | Axial Form Factor Calibration Guide | Zero Angle||X|
|Range Card | Target Card | Applied Ballistics Custom Curves | Subsonic Range Truing | Zero Offset||X|
|Max Range||3828 Yards||5500 Yards||4000 Yards||4000 Yards||875 Yards|
Featuring the Hornady 4DOF (Four Degrees Of Freedom) Ballistic Calculator built in, which provides trajectory solutions based on projectile Drag Coefficient (not ballistic coefficient) along with modeling of the exact physical projectile, its mass and aerodynamic properties.
As the most expensive of the bunch, this model features the Applied Ballistics software integrated, and it can even show a range card which if you do not have a e-Dope display like the Garmin Foretrex 701 Ballistics Edition or the Kestrel HUD, is a very useful addition. It also tops the bunch offering 30 gun and 10 target profiles. This makes it our top choice for the best weather meter for shooting and precision rifle shooting.
Featuring Kestrel’s own ballistics solver and working with their ballistics app, this model offers all of what is really important in a ballistics solver enabled weather meter, at the best price in the top 5700 meter range.
Pre-loaded with Ruger rifles & match grade bullet library, and storage of up to 3 gun profiles, this is the perfect ballistic weather meter and solver solution for Ruger fans.
The Kestrel link app also offer the ability to build rifle profiles with any type of rifle and ammunition so even if you do not have a Ruger rifle, it will still give you the ballistic functionality you need.
For a maximum out of the box range of 875 yds, this lower priced model still offers most competitive precision rifle shooters and hunters the range and capabilities needed for accurate ballistic calculations based on accurate atmospheric conditions. It offers 1 rifle and 1 target profile storage.
An awesome little piece of kit has become essential in our range bag. It looks good and provides awesome protection to these little weather meters, as lets face although they are small, they are quite expensive and very valuable for use.
We have not noted which of the models work with the Bushnell ConX and Kestrel Sportsman as that is a discontinued model, and the new models working with the kestrel meters are reviewed here. We hope you enjoyed this list and it helped you find the right shooting weather meter for you.
Reading Wind for Shooting
Wind speed and direction’s role in the sport of long distance shooting are known to all but handling them is the trick which we miss.
Although there is no specific technology which will nail the target on every hit at long distances with a strong gust of wind, there are methods and tools that will help. These are “tried-and-tested” skill-based ways, which are more skill-based than physics. Apart from them, there is always experience which comes in handy. So the better you hone them, the better you hit.
In this post, we are going to define wind reading, know the importance of making a good wind call and how to do that.
Flight of a bullet in wind
Before directly going for wind reading, it is important to understand how a bullet travels in air. A strong wind does not ‘push’ a bullet away from the target; the bullet gets ‘pulled’ into it. In no-wind conditions, there is air flowing above the bullet only. When there is lateral wind, the bullet tries to maintain its straight line in the wind and not the target. The bullet’s base creates drag in the wind and this pulls the bullet. Combined with the extremely high speed of the bullet, the wind’s direction changes the bullet’s path.
Reading the wind
A crucial part of making a wind call is to know where you are reading the wind. There is a greater scope for the wind to change the path of a bullet towards the end of its projectile, near to the target. This is because, a bullet’s velocity and acceleration will reduce with distance it travels. So, if we split the bullet’s path into two, it spends more time in the second. Thus, the wind will more likely affect the bullet in the later half of its trajectory.
There is nothing absolute about choosing the distance to read the wind. But reading the wind at the later stages of the bullet’s probable path just allows to be a bit more accurate. The most ideal range to read the wind is anywhere between 50-80 percent of the path. So, if the target is at 600 yards, reading the wind anywhere between 300-480 yards is suitable.
Wind direction, more specifically called “wind value” is the next important aspect. We will consider numbers on a clock as the positions. So if you are at 6 ‘o clock and the target is at 12’o clock, any wind from those ends is counts zero value. Any wind from 3 ‘o clock and 9 ‘o clock is full value. Maximum error allowed is of 30 minutes. Wind from any other position is half value. Some people, go for even more divisions like a one-fourth, but this bare minimum does the job. The only problem with this method is that it factors in distance too. It becomes difficult to understand wind value at far-off distances.
A good survey of the surroundings will go a long way in helping you determine wind direction. The topography can give a lot of information. For example, if your range has a large lake or any water body, the air will be cooler and denser. In those cases, the wind maybe unstable but slightly slower too.
Next in importance is wind speed. The greater the speed, the greater will be the drag on the bullet and the deviation. The distance factor comes in to play here too. The wind speed should be judged between the 50-80 percent mark of the bullet’s path. The best way to split your distance is to place flags. In case you do not have them, there are some methods.
- Observe the surroundings around you. The foliage and its movement can give a good idea about direction and the wind speed. A thinner and taller foliage will of greater help.
- 0-5 miles per hour : Very light breeze. Blades of grass sway and rustle.
- 5-10 mph: Light breeze. Grass swaying vigorously, branches swaying.
- 12-15 mph: Moderately strong breeze. Small trees sway.
- 15+ mph: Mild to strong winds.
- 50+ mph: Really strong winds, almost a storm.
- Using the wind formula. One of the most effective methods to calculate the amount of deviation you need to hit your target, across long distances. So, the formula goes like: ((Range in yards/100) x wind speed (in mph))/ Constant for the specific ammo in that range. This is applicable for a full-value wind. In case, of a half value wind, divide the whole by 2. The constant is ammo-specific and its an arduous job to calculate for every type. To make your task slightly easier, get one of the readily available wind constant charts for your specific ammo. This formula has been in use for a long time, by the US Marine Forces.
Taking an example, with a 1903-A3 Springfield at a distance of 500 yards and a 15 mph full value wind. Thus the MOA will be:
((500/100) x 15)/14 = 5.35 MOA. For those with a mil turret, divide this by 3.5. That will be around 1.5 mil.
As the range goes up, the MOA increases too. So the ammo constant drops.
Wind reading by a mirage
Mirage is one of the best old-school methods for wind reading. Despite the prevalence of laser rangefinders and accurate, modern rifles, mirage serves as a good indicator for assuming effects of wind.
What is a mirage? It is an optical phenomenon which occurs due to refraction of light rays. As a result, we see objects at a long distance, getting distorted.
Mirage is a big friend while shooting. In a scenario with no wind, you can see mirage rising straight up. This is a boiling mirage. Mirage determines wind direction and speed too. It will be bending towards right, if the wind is from the right and vice-versa. The stronger the wind, the more angled will be the mirage. So a mirage bent to the right at 30 degrees, indicates a wind speed of about 3-5 mph in the same direction. At around 75 degrees, the mirage is almost flat and wind is around 8-9 mph. At 90, it is around 10 mph.
Beyond 12 mph, mirages are useless as they “wash out”. That’s not the end of the road as the estimation can still be done. Turning your rifle or spotting scope at an angle of 45 degrees, and try to estimate the wind speed there. If you get it, multiply it by 1.4. For a turn of 60 degrees, multiply it by 2.
Mirages can be seen by the rifle scope, but it is better to use a spotting scope as the blur is less. The other time, when mirage cannot be used as an indicator is when the air has very less humidity. In such cases, it is important to focus properly. Improper focusing can even lead to showing an opposite mirage drift. Ensure you check for parallax before every shot. Use the parallax knob, if present. A spotting scope, although will do a better job.
If not these then what?
The device we have not talked about as of now, is the anemometer or wind meter like those Kestrel weather compared above. It can help you in knowing the wind speed but it is not effective as the mirage or natural indicators. This is because, anemometer works just near the shooting position. It cannot detect wind characteristics near the target. Experienced shooter have a natural “feel” for the wind. Along with seeing the effects in the surroundings, their aware senses give them a good idea of the speed. In case you are a new shooter, use the wind meter, natural indicators and mirage to understand the wind. Shoot using them and note down the corresponding results. This will help you gain experience and grow a feel to understand the surroundings’ behavior.
Kestrel Applied Ballistics vs 4DOF
We often get asked which is better to get for long range and precision rifle shooting between the Kestrel Applied Ballistics vs 4DOF ballistics solvers in the Kestrel 5700 meters. The answer would depend on what you are used to in your other equipment, or which bullets you shoot. If you have other equipment that makes use of the Applied Ballistics software or has the applied ballistics custom curve profiles for the bullets built in, then the Kestrel with Applied Ballistics is the one you should go for. If you prefer Hornady bullets, or have used the 4Dof Hornady app before, the Kestrel Hornady 4DOF edition is the one you should go for. If you do not have any of them and are starting a fresh, both will work well for you, however if you plan on getting more equipment with incorporated ballistics in future, then the model with the Applied Ballistics is the one you should choose.
Applied Ballistics Truing
Truing your Kestrel through the use of the Applied Ballistics truing function on your Kestrel 5700 Elite with Applied Ballistics, or even just truing your Kestrel even with the 4Dof, is not only recommended, but crucial when shooting at distances greater than 600 yards. Not only does this help true your BC, but also the Muzzle velocity, and will mean the difference between a hit or a mist with long range precision rifle shooting.