ff111 1911-2
The FF III works great with a variety of handguns such as this 1911 which is set up with a Marvel Conversion Kit for Bullseye. The on/off button just below the lens, has three settings plus an auto adjust option.

by Robert F. Kay

The first time I saw the diminutive FastFire was in its earliest incarnation. It sat atop a 1911 wadcutter owned by the best shooter in the state. I was intrigued. He talked ecstatically about it.

I had always used the classic tubular red dot scopes from Ultradot, so this was something new. The Bullseye models (from Ultradot) are great products but are on the hefty side.  The idea of a lightweight reflex-style optic intrigued me.

A few years passed and when the opportunity arose to review the third and latest version of the FastFire, I jumped at the chance.

The FastFire III unit that I reviewed was in 3 MOA. (It also comes in an 8 MOA flavor but I prefer the finer dot).

Accompanying the optic were two mounts–the AR-F3 which is (as the nomenclature suggests) set up for an AR 15 and, the “low-rise” (model #410335) which is designed typically for a handgun but I suspect would also work on an AK, where you want to keep the optic low slung.  Both units will fit any Weaver or Picatinny-style base. 

The AR-F3 mount, specially engineered for the FF III, works splendidly with an AR 15In short, Burris has engineered mounts for a variety of firearms ranging from Glocks or Smith M&Ps all the way to Winchester M94s.  Perhaps that’s one of the most attractive assets of this optic—you can use it on just about any rifle or handgun in your personal armory.

First impressions: Quality of manufacturing and finish of the FF III were excellent. No creaks, groans or rattles. It’s very compact and well engineered.

The FastFire series has gone through three incarnations and at this point I suspect any bugs have been ironed out. The earlier versions had the battery on the underside of the device which was a pain in the okole to deal with because you had to remove it from the gun to change it out. No more. Now it’s on top of the optic so it’s quite accessible.

The first gun I tried it on was an AR.

Mounting the optic on the AR mount was easy. All I had to do was attach it with a couple screws. Once the optic is in place, it’s just a matter of placing the mnount on the rail and cinching tightening a nut.

Once on, sighting it in was SOP. The elevation and lateral adjustments for the FF III are made with the help of a thin bladed screw driver on the little dial (at left) and calibrated in 1 MOA increments. Functionality is fine, but my preference would be that the adjustment screw accept a larger blade and turn with a more “authoritative” click.

The mount held zero quite well—even after repeated taking it off and on.

It also was easily set up to co-witness with the iron (or in my case, p0lymer) sights.

The brightness/on and off switch is a tiny button on the left hand side of the device. It has four levels of brightness that you cycle through and an “auto” selection that adjusts automatically to the level of ambient light.

close up
The elevation and windage calibrations for the FF II are made with a thin bladed screwdriver provided in the kit. The windage adjustment screw is visible at left.

The sequence is:

1. ON – AUTO
2. ON – FULL
4. ON – LOW
5. OFF

Target acquisition was excellent and and the quality of the red dot was just fine. I showed it to some colleagues who shoot Bullseye and even they concurred. (Bullseye shooters, btw, are quite fussy).

Using the FF III with a handgun was also a pleasurable experience.

All you do is remove the otpic and replace the high rise, AR-F3 mount with their “low rise” one.

The four different settings for the red dot work pretty well for Bullseye purposes.  They not only change the intensity of the red dot but also the size. It works equally well at 25 and 50 yards. I even tacked on a (smaller circumference) 25 yard Bullseye target at 50 yards. The dot was fine enough to give me the opportunity to get some shots in the x-ring.

Conclusion: There are many things to like about this platform. You can use it on just about any firearm—it works fine and, it’s really, really light. Try (0.9 oz) vs. the “standard” 4.8 oz tube type Ultradot scope I replaced it with.

What didn’t I like?

The FF III co-witnesses perfectly with the iron sites. I love this platform on the AR. It’s very solid and lightweight.

The elevation and lateral adjustment screws necessitate being turned with a tiny, thin bladed screw driver (provided by Burris). I would have preferred a screw that would accept a larger blade.

Why? It simply would have been easier on my older eyes to find the slot. I also would like liked a more definitive “click” turning the screw.

The upshot—I wouldn’t want to be fussing with this on a regular basis—say in a match.

The good news is that once you’ve got this baby set up, you can pretty much put it to bed and forget about it.

Thus for an AK, an AR or even a handgun that you don’t have to fiddle with in a competition, the FF III is a really good solution. I could certainly see using it on a home defense gun such as a 9 mm or for an item you’re bringing to the range.

I don’t know how durable it is in the long term—especially if you had it mounted to an item with a lot of recoil. In fairness, I’d have to try for a long period of time to see.  I certainly had no problems with it during my T&E.

Burris says the battery life is up to 10,000 hours and if you forget to switch it off, there’s an auto turn-off function.

What’s also nice is that Burris includes several tools with the package. This entails a star-driver and a micro screwdriver for adjusting windage and elevation. They are of high quality. They also include a shoot-through style hood/lens protector. It looks nerdy but does the job. I didn’t use it, but it was there if you want it.

Finally, the price, is a clincher. I’ve seen the FF III as low as $225 on Amazon with the (low) Picatinny Mount or. for $299 with the AR-F3 mount. It’s a solid deal. Sure you could spend $600 on an Aimpoint, but unless you’re a professional “operator” or you don’t mind spending the money for the marque, what is the point?

Based on my testing, I would unequivocally recommend this optic.

Would I buy one?  I plan on doing so.

Photos courtesy of On Target staff .

Questions?  Comments?  Contact us at ontargethawaii@gmail.com

Rob Kay writes about firearms for Hawaii Reporter and is the author of How to Buy an AK-47.
Read more of Rob’s articles on OnTargetHawaii.com