Okay people... I had a chance to get the FastFire out yesterday and again today (briefly both days). I dialed it in at about 50' yesterday and it was shooting really well. I was having some double vision problems with the fiber optic front sight as I had mentioned previously, but it wasn't too bad and once I started shooting, I was able to stay on target fairly easily and maintain a good sight picture.
Yesterday evening, I got the lower front sight from Ruger and put it on. I hit the range this afternoon for 100 rounds or so and it was MUCH better. I didn't get the double vision problems that I was having and this sight blade is significantly lower. When I spoke to Ruger on the phone, the woman was insistent that the front sight I purchased wouldn't be any lower than the fiber optic front sight I was currently using, but when comparing them side-by-side on a table top, there's about 1/8" difference in the two. In fact, the top of the standard sight comes up to just a hair below the bottom of the fiber optic insert on the fiber optic version of the site.
Please note that if I were to go back to iron sights (unlikely), that I would have to switch back to the fiber optic front sight or purchase a different rear sight. The front sight blade I'm using now is just a filler because Ruger does not sell a front sight screw blank and I couldn't find one to fit. It should also be noted, just for reference, that the screw blanks in the receiver (on the drilled and tapped models) are not the same as the front sight screw. I'm not sure why Ruger did this, but it's a pain.
I took the pistol to the outdoor range again today and threw some cans out at about 50 feet and started plinking. I was seated, with my elbows on the table, using a two-hand grip, but the gun was unrested. I was able to shoot the cans out to about 25 yards or so and was hitting them consistently using Federal Blue Box (525 Round Bulk Packs). The sight maintained a constant zero and using it on the auto brightness setting gave me an adequate sight picture. It was slightly overcast today and I had no trouble finding and keeping my sight picture with the dot. However, yesterday's outing was perfectly sunny with a deep blue sky and no humidity and I found the dot just a little bit hard to see, even when setting it at the highest brightness setting manually. I did not try it with the oversized cover on it as I find it unwieldy to use, but I'm sure it would have shaded the dot some and given me a better sight picture. At no time during either outing did I ever feel that the dot wasn't adequate enough to give me a reliable sight picture for target shooting and general range plinking. Shooting the gun rested on my range bag yielded about a 1" group at 50 feet which is more than adequate for me and probably says more about my shooting inabilities
than it does the abilities of the optic or gun (both are far more accurate than I am). I didn't find the 3 MOA dot to be too small or too large and I always found it quickly and easily and was able to rapidly transition from one target to the next without loss of sight picture. On a heavier recoiling firearm, you might have to do a slight amount of hunting for the dot between shots, but I can't say for sure as I haven't used this on any other firearms.
Something I noticed that was fairly annoying, but probably won't creep up too much in most of my shooting was turning the dot off during very bright daylight (yesterday's session is a great example). I was using the optic on auto brightness. If you remember from my previous post, the button to turn the optic on/off and set the brightness manually, is a push button and has to be cycled. The cycle is as follows:
1. ON - AUTO
2. ON - FULL
3. ON - MEDIUM
4. ON - LOW
I was watching through the dot to see when the dot turned off and the lowest setting (button press 4) didn't show up at all and I wasn't sure if I had pushed the button too many times and it was off, or if I had not pushed it enough times and the dot wasn't showing up properly. This is where a hard toggle switch would have come in handy. Or, a fairly simple solution without adding more buttons and switches would be to have the option to hold the power button for a set length of time (3 seconds, for example) and it would power the unit down. Also, after pushing the button to turn it on, there is a 1-2 second delay as the unit powers up and determines the appropriate brightness setting for the shooting conditions. So, if you push the button too many times and aren't paying attention, you could be putting it back into auto brightness mode and then when you pack up the dot, you pack it up turned on. This is something I feel Burris could address in their next FastFire series optic and I would be delighted to see either a hard toggle for on/off with a button for manual brightness, or a long-press that allows you to turn the unit off without cycling. On a scale of 1-10, I'd have to rate this a very solid 9
. I think Burris loses a little bit for the inability to turn the dot off without cycling. They also lose a bit for the oversized cover. I realize that this may seem trivial and not worth docking points for, but I think the option to purchase a smaller cover or providing a smaller cover would take all shooters into consideration, not just the tactical users. They make the mounts for the FF series for several handguns and the FastFire lineup is known in the target shooting arena as a fast, reliable optic so providing those shooters with an option would be a good customer service offering that Burris could implement with little cost to them (especially if it was offered separately). I really don't have any other issues with the unit and I am more than pleased with my purchase. If I were in the market for a tactical build, I would certainly consider something similar to the build seen previously in this thread from Tacky where he has a FastFire on top of his main optic so that he can acquire both near and far targets with ease. I think this optic would be a great addition to any 3-gun setup as well as you could get them for multiple firearms which would keep your sight picture consistent across the board.
I've compiled a pros and cons list below to sum up my thoughts:
• Simple Interface
• Quality Optics
• Quality Components
• Good Value* (See Note Below)
CONS*NOTE: While I find the Burris FastFire III to be a good value for the money based on a simple pros and cons comparison, I find the initial investment to be rather high as compared to other red dot optics, especially considering the high price of the adapters for your particular application (roughly $50 for the base of your choice, minus the Picatinny base which is often included and can be had much cheaper if not). However, it is unlikely that you will find a similar red dot with all of the qualities of the FastFire III in this price range, and certainly not for less money. I felt that it was worth mentioning to potential buyers that there is a steep initial investment into the Burris system, which may be discouraging, but I feel that for the money, it is a good value.
• High Price* (See Note Below)
• Power Switch Cycle
• Oversized Shade (Cumbersome Design)
• Brightness (May Be Inadequate for Some Situations)
In closing, I wholeheartedly recommend the Burris FastFire system as a standalone optic for your target pistol, or as a lightweight alternative to an optic on a lightweight rifle. It is small enough to not command a large amount of real estate on your receiver or slide and seated above your grip frame, it won't change the balance of the firearm, which is a big plus for maintaining consistent sight picture and good shooting ergonomics. I find that it would make an equally useful secondary optic for close-quarters combat and target acquisition when paired with a longer optic. Due to it's incredibly low weight, high build quality and unobtrusive size, it could easily be added to any AR build without changing the balance or weight significantly at all. I think this would be a great accessory on a short-barreled, tactical-style, home defense shotgun allowing the shooter to keep both eyes open, maintaining peripheral vision and it would provide for rapid target acquisition in this scenario as well. All-in-all, the great versatility is just one more feather in the cap of this already great optic.