Well, as usual I'll take a contrarian stance. I own the Dalbello Cross with the B tongue, which makes it a Pro sans stiffer footbed. And I tried on a Firearrow F3 and F1, so cannot speak to on-slope, but can speak to fit and flex at store temp.
1) They have radically different lasts, so I'm surprised that the Nordies fit you right out of the box but you also like the fit of the Pros. For me, the Firearrows were amazing in the front - great toe box and nice treatment of the 6th toe - but a disaster in back. There was an odd pocket of extra volume between just forward of my ankle bones to a few cm above the heel, then the heel bottom itself was fairly snug. OTOH, my Cross's are cramped in front, with no clear recognition of what a human forefoot is shaped like, while the ankle is evenly snug. This year's incidentally are a touch larger in front, still nothing to write home about. Lesson: We all got wildly different feet and pressure points.
2) The Krypton B tongue supposedly flexes at 120, I'd give it a 110-115. With another 5 points from a Intuition wrap, that's a sweet spot IMO. The F3 felt more like a 100 or so, and the F1 felt like an honest 120, no more. Slightly stiffer than the B tongue, but mainly, a very different flex pattern. Lesson: I think there's massive grade inflation in estimating flex. (Will eschew quip about correlations to private plumbing length. Or ski length.) If you start with race plugs as being fairly accurate benchmarks of flex and work backwards, there's no way all these rec boots are 130 and north. Unless you want to say, yep, recs have caught up to plugs, or at least to where plugs used to be, and that's a desirable thing, since we all used to advocate plugs for variable snow, bumps, and pow. Hmmm.
3) Did not find the F1 dramatically stiffer or softer laterally than the Cross/Pro, but that's in the shop and it's tough to guesstimate on-slope outcomes. The F1 felt a bit quicker. so that might translate as stiffer laterally. The F3 felt slower and less rigid laterally. I find the Cross to be as quick side to side as a good overlap like my Falcon 10's or some Technicas I've owned. Maybe a bit less than a higher end Lange. Again, have to ask how vital extreme lateral reactivity is in the terrain cabrios are optimized for. Lesson: Maybe god intended us to own two pairs of boots, one for rec racing groomers and one for hopping along in the trees.
4) The Firearrow design is a overlap pretending to be a three piece. By that I mean that the feel of the F1/F3 as you flex forward is very two-piece-ish, with that initial stiffness, then easier, then serious stiffening and some minor shell deformation if you really push it. Whereas the Cross/Pro has a typical linear flex that can feel like you're falling forward if you expect things to feel like a two-piece. Lesson: IMO the selling points of a three piece are not that they're radically quicker side to side, or god's gift to tip pressuring, but that a) the heel lockdown due to buckle location works, b) the boot tongue absorbs shocks rather than transmit them to your ankle and leg, c) a cabrio seems to enjoy a more neutral stance like you'd deploy on many modern skis in soft snow more than an overlap, and d) yes, they go on and off easier. Which if you've wrestled with a few brands I can think of, can be non-trivial.
Anyway, I also recall that SJ wasn't exactly ah, on fire about the Firearrows a coupla months ago when we last discussed them. SJ, has your opinion picked up, or do your ratings just reflect a foundational dislike of cabrio designs, so that you'd pick a Scott over a Dalbello?
Edited by beyond - 12/28/11 at 1:45pm