I’ve gotten deep into optics on pistols. But this is mostly optics mounted to pistol slides. Now that I’m coaching an SASP team, I’ve started having to familiarize myself with pistol optics mounted to rails. SASP competitors go this route so they can use the same pistols in both irons and optics divisions. In a perfect world, you’d use different guns, but this could mean literally mean thousands of dollars in guns, and youth sports don’t typically support such high costs.
I have a Ruger MkIV 22/45 Lite and a MkIII 22/45, and I needed an optics solution for them. I had an old Docter-style ADM mount lying around, so I decided I would try out the new Burris Fastfire 4 (FF4). I liked the FF3 – I still run it on a Glock slide from time to time – but found that the window was smaller than I preferred. The FF4 has a bigger window, better battery life, and an intriguing selectable reticle. What did I think? Read on…
Cost: MSRP is $419. Street is closer to $350-$370. I bought mine for $370.
Aesthetics: The FF4 is, I think, a very handsome sight, especially with the weather cover on it. There is a very distinct Holosun flavor to everything, and I’d assume that they are the OEM (the sight is made in China). It has a very similar “back hump” to the FF3, and I could have done without it. The weather cover connects via two screws on the back of the sight.
The problem with the weather cover is that it prevents you from doing elevation adjustments and swapping out the battery, and you cannot remove it without a tiny hex wrench (and then retaining the tiny screws and o-rings). That is essentially a huge deal breaker for me using it any serious context, be it competitive or “tactical”. You can ad-hoc use a different object to open the battery compartment, but that weather cover is never coming off without some hassle. For comparison, the Romeo2 implements this feature using a crossbolt, and you can still swap the battery and adjust elevation with it on. (Then again, the Romeo2 is about double the price of the FF4).
Controls: The FF4 has a large button on each side. The left side button controls brightness (low, medium, high, auto) and turns off the optic if you hold it down. The right side button cycles the reticle. Brightness is retained, which is a nice touch. Controls are a strong point of this reflex sight.
Elevation and windage are click-adjustable (1MOA). I didn’t find zeroing to be overly burdensome using the included tool.
Optics: Glass quality is good. There is a slight tint and optic distortion, I am assuming due to the shape of the glass (which is not perfectly round). It doesn’t stop you from using the sight, but if you look hard enough, you’ll notice.
Speaking of the window, as you can see in the photos, it’s more wide than tall (29mm x 18.75mm by the specs). I personally would prefer “round” like the SRO, or maybe more square like the DPP or the EFLX. For reference, the Fastfire3 window was 21 x 15 mm, so this is still a pretty big improvement, and it compares relatively favorably to most optics on the market.
Illumination: The red colored reticle on high brightness is easy to see even in full daylight.
Reticle: One of the key features of the FF4 is a selectable reticle. These include:
- 3 MOA dot
- 11 MOA dot (which is actually the 3 MOA dot with a thick 11 MOA circle around it, but it may as well be an 11 MOA dot).
- 11 MOA dot with ~50 MOA circle.
- 3 MOA dot with ~50 MOA circle and “wings” spanning the gap between the dot and circle.
The selectable reticles are my favorite feature of this optic. The 3 MOA and 11 MOA dots are quite useful, in particular. The 11 MOA dot with 50 MOA circle is somewhat handy. The reticle with the wings is a terrible idea (obscures too much for no obvious reason) and probably should not have made it off the drawing board… circle only would have been a better choice than that.
Testing Platform: I installed the FF4 to an ADM low QD mount, which I then mounted to my Ruger MkIV 22/45 Lite. This puts the dot fairly high, but if you’re trying to run both irons and optics with the same gun, it’s one of the better ways of doing this.
Testing: I went to the range to give the FF4 a test on Ruger MkIV 22/45. Since this is a rimfire pistol, I didn’t have any serious expectations of reliability testing. My context is Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP), which is what I coach and do most of my practice on.
Simply put… I liked it! Selectable reticles give you interesting per stage choices (Go Fast = large circle-dot; Focus = small dot) and the sight’s general brightness made it very pleasant to use in this context. While I would have preferred a larger vertical component to the window, it didn’t make much of a difference in SASP (which is one shot per target), especially with a rimfire pistol.
Conclusions: The FF4 is a tough reflex sight to really give a recommendation on. The price is pretty high and the window is not quite as tall as the SRO (22.5mm) or RTS2 (22mm), albeit it compares fairly well to the Deltapoint (17.5mm) and the Venom (16mm). You also seem to be paying for a weather cover feature that I would argue is not implemented very well for a red dot that you would need to really rely on for a match or self-defense.
On the other hand, the selectable reticle feature is generally fantastic, the battery life is good, the controls are intuitive and easy to use, and if you like optics wide, the FF4 provides a lot of that. If the price point were closer to $300 or it had a green reticle, I’d probably be less conflicted.
So, let’s put it this way: if you’re stuck with the Docter footprint, this is the reflex sight to buy, especially if money is no particular object. If you’re not, I think you might be better off with an SRO, Romeo3 XL/Max, Deltapoint, etc.