The Burris Fastfire 3 is a well-known red dot for performance and value.
Though it's a cheaper alternative to more expensive pistol red dot sights, does it have what it takes to compete with them?
Target Tamers purchased the Burris FastFire 3 to answer this question by testing its build, accuracy, and illumination quality.
What We Like: Build quality
What We Don't Like: Battery compartment
Best Uses: Recreational Use, Hunting, Target Shooting, Home Defense/SHTF, Short-Range, Pistol & Rifle Use
- Magnification: 1x
- Coatings: FMC
- Reticle: 8 MOA dot
- Adjustments: 1 MOA
- Battery Life: 1x CR1632
- Dimensions: 1.9” (L) / 1.5 oz
- Mount: Docter/Noblex footprint / Rail mount included
Our Verdict: For the money, the Burris FastFire 3 is the best pistol red dot sight for anyone looking for a cheaper alternative than a Leupold, Sig, Trijicon, etc. Though not outfitted with the same features, it's no-nonsense approach is suitable for many applications.
Who is the Burris FastFire 3 Best Suited to?
The biggest concern is the large 8 MOA dot size – it’s not for everyone. However, if rapid dot-on-target acquisition is what you need for close quarters with illumination that quickly adapts to the current conditions, the Burris FastFire 3 is an ideal red dot.
Given its small window, I would say that more experienced pistol shooters will have an easier time using it especially in rapid fire engagements. But a recreational or beginner shooter could learn to improve their skills with the FF3.
The included rail mount in the box makes it a versatile optic ready for mounting to any firearm with a pic rail. However, I think it’s ideal for the pistol for its size and simplicity – if you can get the right plate for it.
How Does the Burris FastFire 3 Perform?
Overall, the Burris FastFire 3 is an efficient, mini red dot sight ideal for the pistol but can be equipped to rifles for short-range applications. The dynamic illumination is bright enough for daylight use and is dim for lowlight conditions. The dot is large but excellent for intended purposes.
Given its 8 MOA dot size, it’ll definitely hit fist-size targets at pistol ranges for my average abilities. But it’s fair to say that I get obsessed, so I started hitting steel to feel better. The pings were all I needed to hear on 6” plates to know it will work and will work well for 25 yards plus some.
The cover/sunshade for the FF3 is a nice and convenient accessory. It provides an unobstructed view of the red dot. The end with the slot is for the front of the sight to clear the sensor. It’s clear enough to use and see the dot. There’s an open slot on the other side to allow access to the button.
However, the cover is large enough that it’s likely not going to clear a holster. It’s easy to slip on and off while the red dot is mounted to a firearm, but I wouldn’t recommend putting it on like I did right out of the box. Without something to grip onto, the cover is hard to take off.
The FF3 is small and so the 21x15 mm window frame is also small. Unless you have a strong index or you’re practiced at indexing, you may have a little trouble “finding” the dot and end up hunting for it.
The button on the left side of the body is small too. It’s a good thing since I haven’t yet accidentally hit it. But I’ve found you really need to nail it with a fingernail versus the pad of the finger. It’s worse with gloves on.
Though my very first impressions were that the Burris FF3 was just okay, I’ve grown to really like its simplicity, huge dot, build quality, and the auto brightness. Let me elaborate…
Features & Benefits of the Burris FastFire 3
The Burris FastFire 3 is small. It’s approximately 1.8” (L) x 1.25” (H) x 1” (W) according to me and my measuring tape. I was surprised to see how tiny and cute it was in the box. On a pistol, there’s no overhang off the slide like with some frames from alternative pistol sights.
Burris claims the FF3 is waterproof. The battery compartment cap has an O-ring seal and the shield to the LED housing looks tight and sealed off. It actually looks like a tiny pane of glass. Given my experience with the battery cap, I didn’t submerge it, but I did drown it with water. It has held up excellently - regardless of my battery cap issues.
I also racked the slide multiple times rapidly against the bench. I did it hard too. I went back to shooting and still hit the same groups I was getting. Nothing has rattled loose, the glass didn’t shatter, and the frame held firm.
Overall, though the FF3 is small in appearance, it’s mighty in build. I don’t doubt that the Burris FastFire 3 will hold up to general recoil abuse, inclement weather, and during the inevitable bumps of hunts or everyday carry.
8 MOA Dot
The 8 MOA dot is big. Yes – it covers up just over 0.5” at 7 yards, 2” at 25 yards, and 8” at 100 yards (approx.). It’s the way it’s supposed to be. So, if you don’t like the subtension due to the size of the dot, go with the 3 MOA FF3 especially if you’re going for distance or putting it on a rifle.
As it’s designed to be, the 8 MOA dot is for rapid dot-on-target acquisition and not for precision and tight groups at long ranges. I like that the dot is very visible and I imagine it will be great for older eyes. It’s a refreshing change from the 2 MOA dots that I’m used to and is very effective for short-range defensive applications.
With a pic rail mount in the box, you could even throw it on a shotgun for home defense or turkey hunting. I threw it on a .22 with the rail mount. It was low profile enough that I needed to change my cheekweld, so a riser might be in order if you’re intending it for an AR-15.
Overall, the dot size would work for applications where short ranges are covered for immediate dot visibility and target take-down. I would recommend it for some types of hunting, maybe home defense/carry, and definitely for target shooting and recreational applications like plinking.
Side note: though the dot is slightly flared due to my farsightedness, I didn’t need to correct for it with prescription glasses. If you have astigmatism, I’ve heard that it’s one of the better ones for it. You could go either way because the huge dot makes it easier for older eyes to see, but you may need to keep your glasses or contact lenses in to eliminate visible distortion related to your vision.
Illumination & Auto Off
The default setting of the Burris FF3 is sensor-controlled illumination: auto brightness. The illumination intensity changes as it samples the current ambient conditions. In short, it works. It takes about a second (to my eye) to see it change upon activation though a camera reveals it’s continuously sampling light.
In daylight conditions, I’d say it’s very good – even daylight bright. It was highly visible and in large part due to its 8 MOA size. It’s easy to see against targets and the terrain. Though red is hard to see against orange/red colored targets, its size was a help to make it pop on paper targets.
Overall, between the auto brightness (in dim conditions) and the manual dim illumination looking relatively the same, I’m impressed with it. I’m more of a manual brightness kind of person to begin with, but the auto brightness performance was stellar to justify leaving it activated to do its thing.
The downside is that the FF3 has only three manual settings. Push the tiny button and it turns on and defaults to auto. Subsequent presses activate high, medium, and low settings and then manual off.
If left on, it automatically powers down after 8 hours. This is a battery conservation feature that is actually a benefit if you forget to turn it off. You can always power it down manually and return your pistol, rifle, or shotgun to the safe.
However, for a carry pistol, self-defense shot gun, or the like, you’ll need to manually press the button to activate the dot and visually confirm that it’s on before you can rely on it. This can cost you time in certain applications where you cannot afford it.
This is a limitation for those who don’t usually practice those extra steps in professional applications and home defense.
Accuracy & Turrets
On average, most pistol sights will have 1 MOA adjustments, and this is true of the Burris FastFire 3. They’re flush to the body and exposed. There is a tiny flathead screwdriver included in the box that serves as the adjustment tool.
Now, do they click with tactile crispness? No – they’re soft. There are no clicks and obviously, they’re not audible. I’m pretty sure this is standard for the FF3 and that it’s not just mine. This is where the scale (line references) on the turrets come in handy.
Since I’m not getting physical or audible feedback, I needed the scale to make the adjustments. It’s tiresome, but this is how I knew my FF3 wasn’t defective – it tracked true. The lack of clicks would normally bother me, but given that it’s accurate, it’s acceptable.
Not hitting the exact bull’s-eye with the Sig P320 was more me than it was the FF3 – wrist grip (breaking and heeling) and flinching issues.
Overall, the Burris FastFire 3 doesn’t have crisp, audible clicks, but it tracks accurately enough to sight-in. Unintentional adjustments are highly improbable.
I used a Sig Sauer P320 X-Carry pistol for the Burris FF3 field test. The Sig has a unique Romeo 1 cut with a straight dovetail and wide mounting holes. This is completely different to the Sig slides that are fitted for the Romeo 1 Pro or the same footprint as a Leupold DPP (Shield RMS/SMS).
It was a bit of a mess trying to figure out the right adapter plate. I initially started out with Burris’ P226 plate as I had read that a lot of people found it compatible with P320 slides. It was my best guess which turned out to be an epic fail. Warning to others – it does not fit if your slide has the Romeo 1 cut.
I was tipped off to speak with the guys at EGW (Evolution Gun Works) – thanks Sig Sauer. We chose the right plate - one that’s fitted for the Vortex Venom. The only problem is that it was now a matter of having the right length screws.
After some measurements, we decided the longer 6-48 mounting screws of the Venom would mount the FF3. I’m glad we did this since the shorter 6-48 screws that come with the FastFire do not work for the Sig P320 X-Carry. I torqued the red dot to 12 in-lbs and finally got to testing.
Overall, I really like that the FastFire 3 comes with a pic rail in the box, and in my opinion, it offers value to choosing the FF3 over expensive alternatives that don’t. Obviously with this mount, it was far easier to get it on the rail and get to hitting steel.
The FastFire 3 takes a CR1632 battery. Though there is no issue with the battery type, it’s the battery compartment I have issue with. Given the small dimensions, it’s tedious to try to keep the battery compartment cap down to make sure the cap engages the threads to seal and tighten.
I used the included tool to tighten the cap. I thought I had it screwed in until I let off a round and it popped off during pistol recoil. Even with 22 mph winds, I managed to find both the cap and the battery, and I had no physical injuries save for a searing burn on my cheeks as it hit my forehead on its way out.
I tightened it up even more securely this time and have had no issues since. I even went so far as to water test it after this mishap! However, the slot to tighten/loosen the cap is going to be eaten alive over years of ownership. Let’s hope the battery really will last as long as it says it does, so that I don’t have to mess with it save for a couple times a year.
Speaking of battery life, it’s estimated to run for about 5,000 hours. This is on the weak end compared to alternatives that can run from 20,000 to 50,000 hours. However, Burris says the auto-off will help it last up to 5 years. We’ll see?
The Burris FastFire 3 does not have auto on. After the auto-off has deactivated the dot for battery conservation after eight hours, the button must be manually depressed to activate the dot.
In general, the Burris FastFire 3 pistol red dot sight is durable, lightweight, waterproof, and recoil-proof. It can be mounted to heavy caliber firearms as it can be to rimfire firearms. It’s excellent for the pistol but can easily be mounted to a rail on a rifle or shotgun with the included mount.
Below: Racking the slide with the Burris FF3 (left) and water-testing (right)
The Burris FastFire 3 is waterproof. Features that protect the electronics from leaks and damage include an aluminum frame, coated glass, sealed-in LED, and an O-ring sealed battery cap. The FF3 comes with a protective cover that can be employed during use of the red dot.
Below: Water-testing the Burris FF3 (left) and working while wet (right)
In total, achieving a co-witness with the Burris FastFire 3 will depend on various factors. With standard height irons on a pistol, it’s unlikely they will co-witness. Tall suppressor height irons may be needed. On an AR-15, a riser mount will be needed to co-witness.
On my Sig P320 with the plate installed, it’s about 0.56-0.63” in height, the rear sight must be removed to mount the red dot, and the stock front sight is too short. A co-witness cannot be achieved.
Below: No co-witness with Burris FF3
The Burris FastFire 3 is covered by Burris’ Forever Warranty. It’s a No Questions Asked, no receipt needed, fully transferable, unlimited, unconditional warranty. There is no repair or replacement charge, and Burris will pay for the return shipment of the red dot.
At the end of the day, the micro-sized pistol red dot earned my approval. It’s not perfect but for value, it’s an excellent, all-round sight that can serve for multiple applications.
Though it's the best pistol red dot sight for its price point (especially when you can snag it for under $200), I wouldn’t say it can go head-to-toe with more expensive options. It's not meant to simply because it cannot compete with multiple manual illumination settings, auto-on, or the ultra-long battery runtime.
Even with that said, not everyone wants all the extra features. What I like best is that the FastFire 3 has proven tough, accurate, and the auto-brightness was extremely efficient that it sold me over. For the money, it’s one of the very best red dots around.