First Impressions of the Kestrel 2700

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve got a pre-release Kestrel 2700 that I’ve been beta-testing.  I have messed around with it enough that I think I can give some useful opinions now. I am going to assume that the known bugs are getting worked out before release.

I’ll put this out up front: I was skeptical about why anyone would buy the 2700, but after having used the product, I think I see where the value is.

First of all, what’s a Kestrel, and what do you use it for? A Kestrel is a weather meter that can take wind, temperature, atmospheric density, and other such measurements. The 2700 and 5700 Kestrels have onboard ballistics software; this could be some variant of Applied Ballistics or the Hornady 4DOF, but you basically take an environmental read, plug in your range, and get back your “dope” – how to dial your scope for that range. Kestrels with Applied Ballistics are used by ALL of the top PRS shooters, so let’s just say it works.

The 2700 is a $180 Kestrel with ballistics calculator. Previously, you had to pay $400 (for a regular 5700 with an unspecified ballistics calculator) or $700 (for a 5700 with Applied Ballistics calculator). This is NK’s attempt to push Kestrel usage to shooters who could use the general capability, but may not want to shell out $400 for a device.

The 2700’s interface is simple, but, for the most part, effective. All configuration is done using an Android or iOS device. This is a change over the 5700, which could be configured without one. Given the prevalence of smartphones these days, this seems very acceptable to me.

For day-to-day usage, you control the 2700 with a three button interface. When you power it up, it shows you your dope. That is kind of the main screen. You can then get to the range settings by hitting the left or right arrows, or go to the environmental configuration screens by tapping the center button. At first, I thought this was a little crude compared to the 5700, but I found that it also helped you not forget checking the environment stuff – a handy feature for newer Kestrel users.

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Wind capture is trivial – rotate your 2700 until you find the wind, and then double tap the center button. Wait until you get a good read, and then double tap again. Done. Temperature is similarly trivial – swing your Kestrel in a broad circle in front of you for 10 seconds.

The solutions I generated with the 2700 were broadly the same (within .2 mil) as my 5700 (using the same profile), so I think it’s solid as a ballistics solver. Also, I used it to shoot to ~700 yards previously, and it was dead on, so real-world use matches up.

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Finally, the form factor is a nice advantage, too. My 5700 lives in a large nylon case with the wind vane and all of that, but it’s kind of bulky to toss in a range bag. The 2700 is just a palm-sized device I can throw in with whatever. In a nice touch of fortuitous engineering, NK even engineered things so you can’t lose the hard case-shell – it just slides to the neck lanyard cinch and stays there.

Now… the catch. Since it only costs $180, the Kestrel 2700 does have some limitations compared to the 5700, which you can find on the 2700 product page. I can summarize them as:

  1. 875 yard range limit
  2. Simplified ballistics (no spin drift, Coriolis, MV temperature correction).
  3. Only one gun configured at a time.
  4. No AB External support for accessories (LRFs, the upcoming HUD, etc.)

The range limit is not a big deal, albeit I would have drawn the line at a thousand yards.  Only having one gun configuration on board at a time is also sensible (especially considering the control scheme – how would you even switch them?). Lack of AB External support also makes sense given where the product is positioned.

I can live without Coriolis and MV temperature correction, but I am a little more skeptical about spin drift being missing. Spin drift really is something that would come into play past 600 yards, which the Kestrel 2700 can handle to some extent. It’s not the end of the world, but my $12 smart phone app can do it, so I’ve got to question why a $180 ballistics calculator would not. If I were going to advocate hard for a single product change, that would be it.

To sum it up: if you’re a long-range shooter who’s not going to go past 800 yards, the 2700 is a good way to get the Kestrel advantage while spending half the money you would need to on a 5700. If you’re going to a thousand and beyond, or you’re shooting matches, you’ll still want a 5700 or a 5700 Elite. You always have the option of cobbling together a cheaper solution using a WeatherFlow and a smartphone app, but the prospect of battery managing that setup isn’t appealing to me.

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