Red dot sights are plentiful, and the plethora of choices makes them confusing. Some are cheap products best suited to .22-caliber rimfire firearms. Others are service grade and often expensive. While quality is never a bad investment, most of us are interested in a durable sight, with good features, at an affordable price. Enter the AR-F3.
Inexpensive red dots are useful as trainers, but the better types are useful for personal defense and hunting. All of us have budgets—some larger than others—and many of us have been burned by a cheap product. Buy cheap, buy twice is true. The Burris Fast Fire III is an affordable, useful red dot sight from a respected name. No single optic is a go anywhere, do anything choice for every rifle, but the AR-F3 is useful and versatile.
I find the red dot especially well suited to personal defense; others will find it a good beginning at 3-Gun matches. The sight is a good choice for predators and varmints at moderate range in the Ranch Rifle niche. The AR-F3 features magnification of 1.07X, which offers an excellent field of view. With magnification, the use of both eyes at once—an important advantage in personal defense shooting—is nullified.
The lack of magnification is an advantage in this type of shooting. The strength of the sight comes from the elimination of the tunnel vision that occurs with a tube-type sight using both eyes. The intent with a red dot sight is to allow an open field of view while the red dot is superimposed on the target.
The red dot covers 4 MOA at 100 yards. The AR-F3 mounts easily on a standard Picatinny rail. The sight window is 21x15mm. The adjustment range allows good sighting in to 100 yards or slightly more. Both elevation and adjustment are generous, with the range of degree 190 inches at 100 yards.
In practical terms, the sight adds nothing to the weight of the gun at only .9-ounce. The sight is easily mounted and sighted in. Construction is simple and effective. There is a top cap for the battery. The elevation knob is at top, and both elevation and windage are adjustable with a coin. There is a power button that turns the sight on. Some practice is demanded to properly adjustment the dot’s brightness.
The first setting is the automatic setting. A sensor at the front of the lens senses light from the target and adjusts the red dot so it’s not overpowered by light from the target area. Press the power button again, and you have the highest power setting. The next setting is a medium brightness, followed by the dimmest setting, and the next press of the button turns off the power.
You may quickly change the setting. I think most of us will choose our ideal middle-of-the-road setting and leave it at that. I find the automatic setting works as designed, but I prefer to leave the red dot set for the medium setting. A colleague, a fine shot, leaves his red dot on maximum at all times. To each his own; the AR-F3 allows a good range of adjustment.
When setting the zero, remember that the dials move the red dot. When setting elevation for up, the red dot actually moves upward. Also, a rather coarse zero at a moderate range of 25 yards or so may not be accurate at 100 yards, so be certain to confirm zero and keep the rifle sighted for the most likely engagement range.
On the Range
With the red dot sighted on my personal Smith & Wesson Military & Police Sport rifle, I decided to give the sight a good workout. I began with a good supply of High Precision Downrange (HPR) 55-grain FMJ loads. I also used several JSP loads from the same maker. This is an excellent resource for practice and rifle matches. I would not hesitate to use the loads from this company for any type of critical use. Accuracy is excellent to at least 100 yards.
I spent some time at the bench in zeroing the rifle for 200 yards by doing so at 25 yards—a proven technique. With an AR-15 rifle with a 16 inch-barrel zeroed for a 200-yard target, the rifle remains versatile for all-around use. On the other hand, when zeroed for 15 yards, it is ridiculously high at 50 to 100 yards and far less useful. Fourteen inches high at 100 yards is difficult to account for.
As an example, if the rifle is sighted for 200 yards, the bullet will strike about 3 inches low at 10 yards. If you have to pull off a hostage rescue shot, aim for the brow of the head, not the center of the eyes. At 50 yards, you are about .3-inch low, about 1.1 inches high at 100 yards, and dead on again at 200 yards with the high-velocity .223 cartridge. This is the rule with standard 55-grain FMJ and 55-grain JSP loads. In the end, the 200-yard zero is ideal for most uses, but you must confirm your zero at the range.
The Burris AR-F3 is most useful in fast-moving shooting at ranges of 10 to 50 yards. This is definitely the long end of any likely engagement. I found the sight gets on target quickly. Over the course of several weeks, the rifle was carried behind the seat of the truck and handled with respect but not babied with no adverse signs of wear or loos of zero. Likewise, it was fired with well over 400 rounds, primarily HPR 55-grain FMJ. The combination is a credible one. The Burris red dot sight seems capable of holding the zero and hitting the target when combined with a credible shooter, and it offers good economy for the performance.
How does the Burris AR-F3 rank among your top red dots? Share you opinions and experiences in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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