Your out in the wild and looking to make a long distance shot. You know that the weather is going to play a big role in the bullets trajectory but your not sure how to compensate. You want to bring you first shot accuracy up to the next level by computing a trajectory based on the conditions of the day. What you need is a personal weather station at your finger tips.
The Kestrel weather station is a standard in North America for personal weather tracking. These little beauties come in several different models to give you more and more information. The first unit I used was the most basic 1000 model, which gives wind stats only. I could immediately see good reason for owning one of these devices.
I wanted to learn how to read the wind, but without instruction from a professional, its very difficult to learn. So I picked up the Kestrel to give me the straight scoop on wind. I started my training by feeling the wind and watching what is was doing around me, then I would try to guess what its speed was. The Kestrel would then tell the truth of the situation. After a few short months I was pretty good at guessing the winds speed.
When choosing a model, I decided to go straight to the top so I would never have to upgrade. Thus the 4500NV was the unit I purchased. I paid a little under $400 for mine. Quite steep for a lesson in reading the wind. But It proved to be a valuable tool…at first.
Wind speed and direction is great, but the compass has issues. Because you have batteries, the compass can be thrown off easily from the magnetic field created by the batteries. Kestrel Includes a little strip to help stabilize the batteries and keep them from rotating. But I find myself re calibrating the compass on a regular basis.
The menus are well laid out and easy to access. You have your choice of units for each measurement. And you have 3 custom user screen which will compact you favorite items. This is where the unit really shines because you can track wind speed, and direction, and temperature on the same screen at the same time. Or as pictured : Temp, Humidity, and Dew Point.
The Kestrel was doing its job of providing reliable wind speeds at my location. What I later figured out, reading the wind at YOUR location is pretty much useless for long range shooting. You need to know what the wind is doing down range. If you happen to be in a sheltered area, the information you gather will be soft and your correction will not be enough.
I have used the Kestrel for about 2 years now, and the amount I use it is going down. This could be because I have learned to read the conditions and the Kestrel has done a good job of instructing me. But the more likely reason, is that the information is not as valuable as I first thought.
Weather data is only useful for calculating the correction needed for your first shot. After that you can use your missed shot information to correct and walk yourself in. So if your looking to increase first shot accuracy for hunting or other reasons, by all means this is a great tool to have. But if your like me and mostly shoot paper, the 4500NV gives more information than is required. Sadly, I think weather data is over kill in most situation that I face. Target shooting allows multiple sighters to get on target, so there is no need at all for weather data. I find myself using this device more for tracking altitude during a run, than I use it on the range.
The Kestrel 4500NV is a great device, but all I really needed was the basic wind reading model. I suggest you figure out what stats you NEED for your shooting situation before you drop top dollar on a unit like this.
- Measures more stats than you know what to do with
- Large memory to track all stats for extended periods
- Easy to use interface
- Batteries last a long time
- Can be calibrated
- Compass is easily thrown off, and annoying to re-calibrate
- Downloading Stored data through fancy IR adapter only
- Battery positioning strip could be better
Notes : Kestrel now makes a bigger badder version which includes the Horus ballistic calculator. Combining the two into one compact unit would be a great feature to have, but is it worth the extra money? I don’t know.
- Design : 5/5 – Small and reliable, gathers information quickly
- Quality : 4/5 – The wind meter flip cover is only snapped on, the buttons take a very firm press to work sometimes.
- Durability : 4/5 – No problems yet but I question the flip cap
- Aesthetics : 5/5 – Absolutely love the look and feel
- Value : 3/5 – The price is definitely on the high side for how much I actually use it, but its a calibrated tool.