First Focal Plane or Second Focal Plane Scope

In this current age, hunters have no lack of choices when it comes to hunting gears. Over the decades, automated rifles have replaced old fashioned ones. You can’t call yourself an expert hunter if you don’t know the importance of scopes. They are one of the most essential gears for enhancing your gun’s range.

Those who have some basic knowledge of long-range rifles would know that there are two main types of scopes.

The first focal plane and second focal plane scopes; they have different features that can benefit long-range shooting. Today, we’re going to discuss about these and how it sets them apart from each other.

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First Focal Plane

First focal plane scopes are relatively a newer addition to hunting rifles. They are specifically designed for long-range shooting and allow you to land accurate shots without making any adjustments.

When you look through one of these scopes, you’ll notice that the reticle is placed right in front of the magnification lens.

Due to this, the size of the reticle varies depending on how much you’re zooming in. As a result, the distance between the hash marks on the reticle doesn’t change no matter the magnification range. It allows you to shoot swiftly and accurately regardless of the environmental conditions.

Advantages of the First Focal Plane

First focal plane scopes are mostly used by professionals as it barely requires any manual adjustments apart from the magnification. This means that the scope automatically adjusts the reticle, and keeps doing so based on how much you zoom in or out.

In the second focal plane scopes, the size of the reticle remains the same, which affects the precision of each shot.

This becomes a major issue when you’re using bullet drop compensation (BDC) reticles. When the scope is magnified, and the reticle remains the same, the bullet won’t reach exactly where you would expect.

This calls for some manual calculations, which needs more effort on your part. Even if you do calculate it the result might not be completely accurate. It’s much more convenient to have an FFP scope that does all that for you.

Drawbacks of the First Focal Plane

FFP rifle scopes are so incredibly efficient that their drawbacks often get overshadowed. However, as the reticle changes due to magnification, it tends to look awfully thin when you’re zoomed in to the maximum. Scoping a closer target can also be troublesome as the reticle appears much thicker.

This might disturb your vision when you’re trying to look at your target. FFP scopes are also more expensive than SFP scopes, so that can also be an inconvenience.

Second Focal Plane Scopes

Almost anyone who has used a long-range rifle used second focal plane scopes at least once. It’s mainly because SFP scopes are suitable for 95% of hunting situations. If you’re still learning how to shoot, SFP scopes are always recommended.

Unlike FFP scopes, the second focal plane scopes have the reticle placed behind the lens. The reticle’s size remains the same regardless of the magnification. This is particularly helpful when you don’t want to lose sight of your target.

Advantages of the Second Focal Plane

To be honest, an SFP rifle scope is ideal for beginners who are just learning the tricks of the trade. This scope will teach you about all the slight adjustments you need to make to land that perfect shot.

Once you’ve mastered shooting accurately with an SFP scope, you’d be an expert hunter in every sense of that word.

This is because the reticle size doesn’t change automatically. It enables you to maintain a clear vision on your target and hit that sweet spot. They’re also more affordable and precise at medium to long-range.

Drawbacks of the Second Focal Plane

The best thing about an SFP scope can also be a disadvantage. As the size of the reticle stays fixed, the spacing for the holdover is only fully accurate at a certain level of magnification. If your target is further or nearer, you might need to take out your calculator to make sure you hit the target.

As the lens’ zooms in the spacing vary for each power setting, the spacing of the hash points remains the same on an SFP scope; so you need to do the math yourself.

Which Should You Use?

This basically depends on the type of environment you want to shoot in, and whether or not you’re shooting competitively. The FFP scope is impeccable at long range, and much easier to use. The shots you take are bound to hit the target, and you can do that without wasting a second.

However, the reticle can seem almost non-existent at short distances and hinder your accuracy. This is where SFP scopes will come in handy. The reticle size remains constant giving you complete visual clarity. So, if you’re more comfortable taking shots at short distances, you might prefer SFP.

It will also serve you well at long-range if you don’t mind doing some calculations more often. It’s only a small compromise considering how much money that will save you.

Final Verdict

Considering it’s your first time buying a long-range scope, that’s all you need to know to make the right choice. Just weigh in their pros and cons, and try to determine which suits your purposes. However, why not try out both of them to see which one you’re more comfortable with!

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