Target Tamers purchased these pistol red dot sights and I’ve had the satisfaction of being able to field test them both.
As a result, I get to provide a full Burris Fastfire 3 vs Vortex Venom comparison review.
They’re extremely similar in build and performance, so I dig deep to thoroughly compare the illumination, build quality, battery cap compartment, and more.
Let’s get this show on the road!
Quick Comparison Overview & Table
Overall, it’s neck and neck between the Vortex Venom and the Burris Fastfire 3 red dot sights. The models up for review have large dots, auto and manual brightness, top-loading battery compartments, and are micro-sized. However, the differences lay in the details.
The viewing windows have different dimensions, battery consumption varies greatly between them, and one of the included accessories is more practical than the other. I’ll take you through the essence of my comparisons based on my hands-on experience with both these sights
By the way, if you’re interested in learning more about either of products, you can read my full hands-on reviews here:
|Features||Burris FastFire 3||Vortex Venom|
|Price Range||Under $250||Under $250|
|Type||Reflex red dot sight||Reflex red dot sight|
|Reticle||8 MOA dot||6 MOA dot|
|Adjustment Value||1 MOA||1 MOA|
|Illumination Settings||Auto & Manual modes||Auto & Manual modes|
|Illumination Control Location||1x button, side location||2x buttons, side location|
|Battery Life||5000 hours||150-3000 hours|
|Battery Compartment||Top loading||Top loading|
|Dimensions||1.8 x 1.25 x 1”||1 x 1 x 1.9”|
|Weight||1.5 oz||1.1 oz|
|Special Features||Auto Brightness, Auto Off, See-through sunshade included||Auto Brightness, Auto Off, Rubber cover included|
Feature Comparisons of the Burris Fastfire 3 VS Vortex Venom
On average, pistol red dot sights have a higher starting price than entry-level enclosed red dot sights. Micro pistol sights start at around $150 but consistently cost around $450-$500 for high-end alternatives like the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro and the Trijicon RMR.
The Burris Fastfire 3 falls in the same price range as the Vortex Venom with street prices around $250. However, the Burris FF3 does come in a little bit cheaper.
If the goal is strictly about cost alone, the Burris Fastfire red dot sight just barely comes in as a less expensive option.
Winner: Burris Fastfire 3
The optics through both the Burris Fastfire 3 and the Vortex Venom red dot sights are very similar. They’re both clear, have FMC coatings, and it’s obvious they both have a dichroic coating that’s good for reticle reflectivity and battery efficiency.
However, that coating also makes the sight picture look a little blue and a tad darker with some color loss. Clearly, they’re not your low-light champion sights, but most of this is not noticed when you’re actually shooting with them.
In this, they could be a tie but I’m going to take things a step further. Let’s look at the actual size of the viewing window.
The Venom has a 1.11” width and I’d say a 0.5” height. This makes for a nice wide FOV, but I feel like that short 0.5” height inhibits easy dot acquisition if you’re in an awkward position or not perfectly behind it.
On the other hand, Burris says the viewing window is 21 x 15 mm. Er… in inches that would be approximately 0.8 x 0.6”. I’d say Burris’ measurements are fairly accurate.
Side by side, you can see that the Venom is wider and the FF3 is slightly taller. The large size of both dots absolutely makes for rapid dot acquisition, so it really comes down to your draw and indexing habits.
Personally, I find the taller window of the Burris Fastfire 3 easier to do this with. The single, thick line on the back of the rear sight is fast and easy to see. I don’t necessarily struggle with the horizontal plane when drawing, it’s the vertical plane I need practice with. (Check out our Shooting Fundamentals subsection here. I could use a refresh too!)
Though this is a subjective preference, I get to call the shots today!
Winner: Burris Fastfire 3
Reticle (Dot Size)
In general, pistol red dot sights are intended for CQB distances – close range whether they have a small 2.5 MOA dot or a large 8 MOA dot. The objective is simple and it’s the same between all red dot sights – put the dot on the target to acquire the sight picture and shoot.
The Vortex Venom has a 6 MOA dot, and the Burris Fastfire 3 has an 8 MOA dot. Yes, there are other models in the same line that have different size dots, but these are the red dot sights that I’ve had my hands on.
Honestly, though the Burris Fastfire 3 has a larger dot and as a result is supposed to be faster and easier to see, I can’t really tell the difference between the two. They’re both big, highly visible, and fast to use.
Even if we’re bringing subtension into this conversation, yes, the Vortex Venom has the advantage with smaller numbers and could possibly be more accurate at distance. However, on a pistol, there’s a lot more to accuracy than just the red dot size.
Since this really is a personal preference I’ll leave to you to decide.
It’s standard for pistol sights to have 1 MOA adjustments whether they’re $150 sights or $500 ones. Following the norm, the Vortex Venom and the Burris Fastfire 3 both have 1 MOA adjustments. I felt like they tracked accurately, but it takes some concentration to make those adjustments.
The adjustments are exposed and flush to the body of the red dot sights. They’re in their expected positions, and both have scale adjustment markings to reference POI directions.
Neither the Venom nor the Fastfire 3 have tactile turrets. You could say that this is common for pistol sights but I’ve also field tested the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, and those adjustments are awesome even though it costs twice the price.
With the Venom and Burris sights, you must visually pay attention to the adjustments you’re making since there’s no audible or ‘click’ feedback. In my opinion, the tracking is good (accurate) but they kind of suck to adjust. They deserve to tie.
Probably more important than the dot size is the illumination quality. If you can’t see the primary aiming system in the conditions that requires use, it’s worthless. Fortunately, the Burris Fastfire 3 and the Vortex Venom don’t have any issues when it comes to dot illumination visibility.
I consider both the Burris and the Vortex sights to be daylight bright. I don’t have any complaints about flaring or starbursting in daylight conditions.
In low light and dark conditions, I feel I can adequately compare them both. Though the Burris Fastfire 3 only has three manual brightness settings, I do think its lowest setting is dimmer than the Vortex Venom.
It really could be unfair as I tested the Venom in completely blacked out conditions, so that dot is flared a little bit.
The Vortex Venom red dot has 10 manual brightness settings. For myself, this is a great advantage because I prefer to control this setting manually for the conditions.
Both have an Auto Brightness mode as there are sensors that are continuously sampling light in the very front of the sights. The Burris will automatically power down after 8 hours if it's in the Auto Brightness mode. The Venom will do the same after 14 hours.
When it comes to Auto Brightness mode, I feel like the Burris Fastfire is more dynamic. It flares less than the Venom but is equally bright in daylight. I think it provides the right illumination better than the Venom does.
Even though I could say the Burris FastFire 3 can get dimmer than the Vortex Venom and the Auto Brightness is more efficient, I like that the Venom has more manual brightness settings. I’d think if your primary application requires you to consistently be in low-light or dark conditions, you may want to consider a different optic altogether.
Winner: Vortex Venom
Generally, many buyers don’t give much thought to the buttons, and in fairness, it might not be an issue to consider. Seeing as the Vortex Venom and the Burris Fastfire 3 do not have motion sensors, I would recommend giving the buttons a bit more thought.
The Burris Fastfire 3 has a single button. You will need to deal with it to manually power it on and to manually power it off if you’re in manual brightness mode. Having manual brightness and a single button that essentially does it all would normally irritate me. However, with only 3 manual brightness settings, it’s really not bad. Surprisingly, I actually like the auto brightness in the Burris red dot sight.
The Vortex Venom has two buttons. This is an immediate thumbs up for me especially since it has 10 manual brightness settings. I dislike toggling through many settings with just one button to find the brightness I like. Like the Fastfire 3, it always requires manual on. You will also have to manually turn it off when you’re in manual brightness mode.
Both sights have buttons that are small in size and hard to press. It’s more of a “use a thumbnail” kind of button. This isn’t unusual for pistol sights as the button needs to last a long time. Also, considering that these are likely to be mounted to a handgun and holstered, the fact that they’re hard to press is actually a benefit to prevent unintentional changes at all costs.
Winner: Vortex Venom
Based off the specs, the Burris Fastfire 3 has a longer battery life at 5000 hours. The Vortex Venom is said to run anywhere between 150-3000 hours. As is common sense, the rated battery life depends on the brightness setting used.
I haven’t had to change out the battery in the Burris Fastfire 3 yet, and it’s been over six months now. When I bought the Vortex Venom, the battery was dead out of the box. Sigh. It was replaced, but the actual battery life remains untested by me. I’ll update when it dies and how I feel about its battery efficiency.
The Vortex Venom and the Burris Fastfire 3 red dot sights both take a CR1632 battery. They’re equal in that regard.
Because the Fastfire 3 is still running strong and I have been able to observe its battery life over the course of time and ownership, it wins.
Winner: Burris Fastfire 3
Battery Cap Compartment
Overall, the battery cap compartment is one of the major complaints about the Vortex Venom red dot sight. Reports say that it’s almost impossible to get it threaded back in, and it looks like it’s not secured properly. The Burris Fastfire 3 has the exact same complaints.
Based on my hands-on experience, I can tell you right away that I actually prefer the battery cap on the Vortex Venom red dot sight.
There’s a trick to getting it in. Reverse thread the cap while simultaneously applying slight downward pressure. This sets the cap in the threads. When a click is heard and felt, thread the cap in the clockwise direction to secure it. Knowing this vital tidbit makes all the difference in the world!
In fact, it’s made all the difference for me. I won’t wear out the battery cap as quickly as I will the Burris Fastfire 3. One time, I thought I had the cap secured correctly on the Burris sight, but when I shot a round, it flew off and hit me in the face. It should be obvious which sight I favor in this regard.
Winner: Vortex Venom
Both the Vortex Venom and Burris Fastfire 3 red dot sights are micro-sized. They’re intended to be mounted to a handgun slide but can also be mounted to a rifle via the included Picatinny rail mounts.
These pistol sights are tiny! I think they’re cute sized and they are small even for a handgun sight. In my opinion, they’re pretty much the same size, about 1 x 1 x 1.75”.
On paper, the Vortex is 1 x 1.9 x 1” and weighs 1.1 oz. I pulled out my tape measure and got a 1.75" length - just saying. The Burris Fastfire 3 is 1.8 x 1.25 x 1” and weighs 1.5 oz.
The more compact red dot sight? The Vortex Venom. Though it’s low profile, the rear body of the HUD (Heads Up Display) design is 0.41” in height. It’s still too tall to co-witness with iron sights if you do that kind of thing. The Burris is too tall too.
Winner: Vortex Venom
The build quality of a pistol red dot sight will determine its suitability for various applications. The tougher it is, the more likely it will hold up to daily use, hunting conditions, on a truck gun or duty weapon. There’s more to a sight’s durability than just being waterproof.
The Burris Fastfire 3 has it in the bag. I feel very confident in the build integrity of the Fastfire sight. I’ve drenched it in water and racked the slide hard and fast with it against a wood bench. Today, you wouldn’t know I ever did such a thing.
Put plainly, I don’t feel that confident with the Vortex Venom. The thin frame plus the thin glass, I think a crack would be inevitable if I were to put it through the same rigorous field testing as I did the Burris Fastfire 3.
I have used the Venom in the rain and sat it in a puddle, and of course, it’s held up without issue. I just don’t think it would be your last red dot sight if you were to mount it to a competition rig, duty weapon, or truck gun. I’d recommend an upgrade. If it’s any consolation, Vortex has the VIP warranty!
Winner: Burris Fastfire 3
Mounting a handgun sight will be a different experience for everyone. It depends on your setup like the cut of your slide, finding the right adapter plate, the right length screws, etc. Here’s the ease and troubles I went through with mounting the Burris Fastfire 3 and the Vortex Venom.
I had the Burris Fastfire 3 long before I ever acquired the Vortex Venom. I knew I wanted to put the Burris on the Sig Sauer P320 X-Carry – no compromises and eventually no regrets. Thanks to the unique Sig Sauer Romeo 1 cut on the X-Carry slide, I had a hard time finding the right adapter plate, and no, I didn’t have any plates included in the case when the Sig was purchased.
I had heard that the Burris P226 plate would work for the P320. It didn’t. Money down the drain with that one. Eventually I ended up online at EGW (Evolution Gun Works).
They had an adapter plate that would fit the Vortex Venom with the Sig Sauer Romeo 1 cut with the right socket pattern. Knowing that the Burris FastFire 3 and the Vortex Venom have the exact same Docter/Noblex footprint, I knew it would work.
The next issue? Figuring out the right length mounting screws. EGW didn’t have ones long enough ‘coined’ for the Burris Fastfire 3, but they did have long 6-48 screws for the Venom. To mount the Burris Fastfire 3, I essentially bought the mounting system for the Vortex Venom. Once I had these necessities, the Fastfire 3 went onto the P320 X-Carry with ease.
As you can deduct, it was a perfect fit for the Vortex Venom. Since this is going to be a subjective experience for everyone, someone out there will appreciate my experience. Since it was hard for me initially to figure out fitting the Burris to the Sig pistol and having to go the Venom plate route anyways, I’m giving this to the Vortex sight.
Winner: Vortex Venom
Rifle Mounting Compatibility
Overall, the Vortex Venom and the Burris Fastfire 3 can be mounted to rifles with a Picatinny rail. They both come with a small Pic mount in the box. This one feature makes both sights versatile and adequate for many applications whether on a handgun, rifle, or even a shotgun.
The included mounts are low-profile, so they’re great red dot sights for the Ruger 10/22. To get a higher and more natural cheekweld, a riser mount will be needed. I put them on a 0.83” riser on an AR-15.
Coincidentally, this put the front A2 sight of my Bushmaster Patrolman in the lower third of the sight picture with the Vortex Venom.
No problems arose with either of them when mounting them to the included Pic rail mounts or the riser.
Special features of a micro pistol red dot sight could be anything and everything. I pick and choose any feature that makes one sight stand out from another. In this case, the Burris Fastfire 3 and the Vortex Venom are neck and neck when it comes to this consideration.
In actual performance, they are very similar. They both have Auto and Manual brightness modes though the Vortex Venom has 10 manual brightness settings versus the three of the Burris Fastfire.
They both automatically power down after several hours if in Auto mode. The Burris Fastfire 3 shuts off after eight hours versus the 14 of the Vortex Venom.
I personally like the 2-button operation of the Vortex Venom, but the Burris Fastfire 3 battery lasts longer. Neither have a motion sensor.
It’s time to further slim these already narrow margins. Let’s look at the accessories.
The accessory of note that tips the scales is the red dot sight cover. The Vortex Venom has a thick rubber cover. It’s good for storage but I will never use it otherwise. Whether I tug on the front or the rear ‘flaps’ of the cover, I do foresee wear and rips. I can’t use the Venom with the cover on.
The cover included with the Burris Fastfire 3 is plastic but it’s see-through. I think this is the major difference when comparing this particular aspect. I won’t ever put the cover on the Fastfire 3 without it being mounted to a firearm again. Basically, it gets stuck on there and is hard to shimmy off.
Though there are some downsides to using the cover while it’s on the Fastfire 3, it can be used! It provides protection, it’s a sunshade, it fits snug, and if you don’t have time or don’t want to remove it, you can still use the sight while it’s attached.
Winner: Burris Fastfire 3
Who is the Burris Fastfire 3 Best Suited To?
The Burris Fastfire 3 with the 8 MOA dot is best suited to those who are looking for speed. The large dot and taller window makes for rapid dot and target acquisition. It’s excellent on a handgun, is reasonably fast to index with, and the Auto Brightness mode is impressive.
Even though I personally prefer manual brightness, I leave it to the Fastfire 3 to govern the illumination – that’s how much I like it.
The battery cap is a sore point for me, and since I only anticipate changing out the battery maybe a couple times a year, I can live with the frustration of securing it correctly.
The Burris Fastfire 3 will certainly meet the needs of CQB shooters for range shooting and some hunting. Its build quality is very good and is why I’d recommend choosing it over the Vortex Venom if it’s going on a duty, truck, or competition firearm.
Who is the Vortex Venom Best Suited To?
The Vortex Venom is best suited to those who are looking for simplicity and ease of use in every aspect. The 6 MOA dot is incredibly fast to acquire and put on a target. The wider viewing window is especially nice, and with a strong index, complaints about dot acquisition will be minimal.
It has Auto Brightness, which works, but I like that Vortex gave it 10 manual brightness settings for shooters like me that like to call the shots on illumination.
The battery cap is literally a non-issue if you do it correctly. Doing it right will extend the longevity of the cap too – no stripping!
I think it would be excellent for those who are looking for a sight for casual purposes like range shooting, maybe some hunting, and I do think it would be good for home defense as an affordable red dot sight.
If the budget is forgiving, I’d recommend an upgrade if you’re an avid competition shooter or if you’re using it for daily carry or on a duty weapon. Yes, it would work for these applications especially if you’re on a budget, but I think those uses call for better build integrity.
The Vortex Venom and the Burris Fastfire have the same Docter/Noblex footprint and they share the same socket (bolt) pattern. They are interchangeable and can be used on the same compatible mounts.
I started with the Burris Fastfire 3 and mounted it to a Vortex Venom plate with longer Vortex Venom screws to get it on a Sig Sauer P320 X-Carry. When I got the Venom, I used the exact same mounting plate and screws to put the Venom on the X-Carry.
Underside of the Burris Fastfire 3 (left) & Vortex Venom (right) - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers
The Vortex Venom and the Burris Fastfire 3 both have Auto Brightness and Manual Brightness modes. Though the Venom has 10 manual brightness settings and the Fastfire 3 has 3 manual settings, it’s difficult to tell a difference in manual mode. In Auto Mode, I'd say the Fastfire 3 performs better.
In general, acquiring a co-witness with pistol iron sights will be difficult without suppressor height sights. Co-witnessing with standard BUIS sights on a rifle will be easier with the right height riser mount.
A2 front sight in the lower third with the Vortex Venom on rifle - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers
It will be personal preference based on your astigmatism and visual experience. Both reflex sights depend on reflections to provide an aiming dot. With a refractive error condition (hyperopia), the Vortex Venom was excellent for me. I had a little bit of flaring with the Burris Fastfire 3.
The Burris Fastfire 3 and Vortex Venom come with an included tool to make elevation and windage adjustments. They do not have tool-less (finger-click) adjustments. The adjustments are also non-tactile meaning they do not click and are not audible.
Making adjustment with tool to Vortex Venom - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers
Vortex Venom VS Burris Fastfire 3: Which is Best?
Overall, the Vortex Venom and the Burris Fastfire 3 red dot sights are extremely similar in cost, quality, and performance. They’re equally bright, fast, clear, and easy to use. Either would be adequate on a pistol for range shooting, hunting, and some defense or daily carry if you’re on a budget.
Though there are things I prefer about the Vortex Venom, like the many manual brightness settings and the ease of re-installing the battery cap, I favor the Burris Fastfire 3. It’s slightly cheaper, I feel like it has better build quality, and the included cover serves practical purposes.
Even though there’s things about it I have obviously moaned about in this Burris Fastfire 3 VS Vortex Venom comparison review, I’m making it known that it’s my top choice between the two. Which is your favorite?