Gear, Parts and Accessories

Burris Fast Fire III Red Dot Sight — Get on Target with the Latest from Burris

Burris AR-F3 Red Dot Sight

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.

Burris AR-F3 Red Dot Sight
This is a lightweight but effective red dot well worth your attention.

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.

Burris AR-F3 Red Dot Sight side profile on AR-15
The author found the AR-F3 to be good kit. It is mounted on an AR-15 along with a Blue Force sling.

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.

Man with orange shirt shooting AR-15 in field
The AR-F3 is a fast and sure red dot for quick use.

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.

Bob Campbell shooting AR-15 off hard rifle case
The author is kicking up dust on the berm and making hits well past 50 yards on demand.

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.


The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (13)

  1. Spacegunner, Thanks a million I understand this area like never before now. That 100 yd indoor range sounds fantastic. Hope it goes through. Thanks again!
    H Bomb

  2. One last thought- I swear it’s the last! Could I reverse engineer your calculations. In other words, since you said zero at 75 yds (with the given parameters) would have a POI 1.4″ low at 25 yds, if I’m at this indoor range which only goes back to 25 yds, I could adjust the scope to hit 1.4″ low when POA is at bullseye and this would be like zeroing at 75 yds. Yes, no?

    1. H Bomb –

      You got it! Shooting at any of the distances given (or others) with the calculated/known PoI will place place the PoI dead-on at the sight-in distance. In our example, 75 yards.

      During the winter, I shoot mostly indoors at 25 yards, so I have to think this through, and get asked a lot, often. What I need is a 100-yard indoor range, which is coming soon to northern Colorado!

  3. Spacegunner, that was great! I’ve actually never heard it explained that way but (after studying and picking it apart for an hour or so) it makes perfect sense! Really appreciate the time and was Very helpful. Thanks!

  4. Spacegunner, That was great! Yes I fully understand the whole thing now and everything you said makes perfect sense.
    Going up a notch, I was a bit confused on your and some of Jake’s comments on what distant to zero at. Basic question, without going into all those factors you mentioned, if I’m shooting (at various times) between 25 and 100 yards, what distance would make the most sense to zero at?

    1. H Bomb –

      I will try to keep this as simple as possible. I will use an AR-15 with a sight height of 2.5″ above bore, a 55-grain BTHP bullet with a muzzle velocity of 3,000 fps. Your actual factors will probably vary, but this is a good “typical” example.

      The bullet exits the muzzle 2.5″ below the line of sight, and has to climb in order for its point of IMPACT to reach the point of AIM. After its apex, it will cross the point of AIM once again, as it descends.

      Since your question has a 100-yard max, the following data extends that to represent points of IMPACT at ranges from 25 to 200 to show what varying zero distances give. Here goes –

      Based on a ballistic calculator that I use, the following zeros produce points of impact [below] & above the point of AIM:

      Zero = 25 yards (also zeroed at 374 yards); 50 yards = 2.2 (above); 100 yards = 5.9″ (above) – POOR
      Zero = 50 yards (also zeroed at 211 yards); 25 yards = [1.1″] (below); 75 yards = 0.9; 100 yards = 1.4″ – Fair
      Zero = 75 yards (also zeroed at 145 yards); 25 yards = [1.4″]; 50 yards = [0.6″]; 100 & 125 yards = 0.3″; 150 yards = [0.1″]; 175 yards = [0.7″]; 200 yards = [1.8″] – BEST
      Zero = 100 yards; 25 yards = [1.5″]; 50 yards = [0.7″]; 75 yards = [0.2″]; 125 yards = 0.1″; 150 yards = [0.5″]; 175 yards = [1.2″]; 200 yards = [2.4″] – GOOD

      If the majority of my shooting was around 100 yards, I would zero at 75, and still hit targets 2″ tall by holding the dot centered (no elevation compensation) from 40 to 180 yards. I would remember to hold 1″ high on targets <50 yards, and hit the same 2"-tall target.

      The 75-yard zero gives the "flattest" trajectory, or 2-inch "dead-center aim" out to 180 yards, compared to the other zeros I listed above.

      Again, this is an example. Your actual points of IMPACT depend on your set-up, ammo, distances, target size(s), and a myriad of other (lesser) factors.

      I hope this helps.

  5. I have one for my 9mm Ar and I love the lightweight of the optic.Glass is very clear and has a wide field of view. I also am content with the auto mode,but an auto on/off feature would’ve been great!Also the on/brightness button is hard to manipulate.

  6. Jake –

    50/200 depends on the height of the point of AIM above the bore, the sight radius and the trajectory of the bullet being shot. On most of my rifles, regardless of the factors I listed, I use 40/200 for my magnified scopes, and a 100 yard zero puts me 0.5″ low at 50 & 150 yards, and 2.2″ low at 200. This is based on a 55 grain bullet out of a .223 at 3,200 fps MV, and a sight-height of 2″.

    If I purposefully shoot beyond 200, I use my MoA (click) table, or use my scoped rifle(s).

    The point of AIM to point of IMPACT will vary depending on the weapon/sight/ammo set-ups, and personal preferences.

  7. H Bomb – Glad I could help! Be aware, though, that the OPPOSITE of what I explained (for front sights & optics) is true for the rear sight for open or iron sights: to move the point of IMPACT UP, the rear sight must be moved UP; to move DOWN, DOWN; LEFT, LEFT; RIGHT, RIGHT. Most adjustable open/iron sights have fixed front sights & adjustable rear sights. The most notable exception is the AR-15/M-16 which allows elevation adjustments on both front & rear.

    The easiest way to adjust a sight is to follow the arrows that indicate the direction the point of IMPACT will move.

  8. Spacegunner – 200 yds is the far zero for 50 yds, that’s why (a more accurate zero). 100 yds is a very good zero, but 50 gives the flattest trajectory from about 0 to 250 yards and is my also my zero of choice.

  9. Thank you spacegunner for correcting that point on sight adjustment. I’m a relative beginner and still working my way through the finer points. I’ve tried to read extensively on sight adjustment and amazingly could find almost nothing that gave a clear concise explanation. Through my vague fumbling and personal experience I thought I had finally figured out the basics. Then I read this article and was totally thrown for a loop. Must call Bad on Mr. Dolbee for giving the exact wrong and opposite information. Glad to read this and see that I did have it right. An easy way to remember is simply adjust to where you want the bullet to hit. I.e. if you’re shooting too low, adjust it up, if you’re shooting to the left, adjust it right, etc.

  10. Great article. I have had one for about two years, too. I mounted it on the side of my FNAR and it has withstood probably close to 150 rounds of 7.62X51 ammo. I has also bounced around in my pickup, either in the gun rack or in its case. We have our share of badly maintained Forest Service roads in Oregon and all of my gear gets a work out in my truck. No problem with the zero so far. I am completely satisfied so far.

  11. I have owned two FastFire III sights for over two years. One is mounted on my lightweight M4 with Burris’ AR mount shown in the article’s pictures. The other is mounted on my High Standard Victor .22 LR pistol.

    Everything about the FF-3 works well. It is light, sturdy, clear, holds zero very well, and overall just an excellent sight.

    The protective “hood” that comes with the FF-3 is great for protecting the sight. I find that a “tubular” sight on a rifle is easier to obtain the initial sight picture than the sight alone. The hood is 3″ long, is see-through with very clear plastic lenses, and can double as a sunshade for bright, sunny-day shooting.

    For the price, the Burris FF-3 is a great value.

    One “need” feature that is missing is an auto-OFF sensor that will turn the sight off when the sight is motionless for a period of time.

    Another “want” feature would be an auto-ON sensor that would turn the sight on when the weapon is moved suddenly. This feature would be in addition to the manual ON/OFF switch. I see that SIG Sauer has a similar sight with the auto-ON sensor for use on defensive-carry handguns. These features, of course, would make the sight more expensive, but still a great value.

    I have two objections to what is written in this article:

    1) The DOT moves DOWN when making adjustments to move the point of IMPACT UP. When the dot (point of AIM) is moved down, the muzzle of the weapon has to move up to compensate, when the compensated point of aim remains at the same point on the target. This is also true for the crosshairs on a conventional scope, or the adjustable A2 FRONT sight of an AR-15/M-16/M4.

    2) The author talks about the most effective range for using a dot sight: “10-50 yards”, so why zero at 200 yards? I zero mine at 100, and use standard bullet-drop compensation at shorter & longer ranges, which is usually less than +/-2 inches at ranges from 50-200 yards. The B-DC also depends on how high the dot is above the bore. The more distance, the more compensation is required at the shorter (<150, or so yards) ranges.

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