First Focal Plane vs Second Focal Plane (FFP vs SFP)

First vs Second Focal Plane

First vs Second Focal Plane (FFP vs SFP)

If the reticle is placed near the erector lens then it’s called the first focal plane and the reticle placed near the ocular lens is called the second focal plane.It’s all about the reticle’s placement in the scope.

First Focal Plane vs Second Focal Plane (FFP vs SFP)

First Focal Plane vs Second Focal Plane (FFP vs SFP)

So, What’s the Difference Between FFP Scopes and SFP Scopes?

The main difference between an FFP and an SFP scope is the appearance of the reticle size during magnification. In FFP, the reticle size gets bigger or smaller with the magnification changing.

On the other hand, In the SFP scopes , the reticle size remains the same no matter which magnification power it is at.

In the FFP scope, the reticle is placed near the erector lens and in the SFP scope, the reticle is placed near the ocular lens.

Another big difference is on their budget. FFP scopes are pricier than the SFP ones. So, if you’re a hobbyist or a hunter, it will be wise to go with SFP scopes. And if you’re a professional shooter, then you should go with the FFP ones.

SFP is great for using long range shooting. For getting 100% accuracy with Second Focal Plane, you have to set it at its highest magnification power. Therefore, it is always suitable for hunting.

On the other hand, FFP is used by professional shooters and snipers for better accuracy.

FFP vs SFP: Quick Comparison

The differences between the first focal plane and second focal plane riflescopes

  1. An FFP Scopes Mil dots change with magnification- it means  FFP scopes will always give the same holdover references. An FFP scope is better under ideal lighting conditions.
  2. The second focal plane (SPF) rifle scopes which are by far the most common design and with which most hunters and shooters will be the most familiar with the second focal plane design makes the image grow and shrink with magnification while the reticle stays the same size.
  3. As the distance or the magnification increases, an SFP sight works better. An SFP reticle will be simpler to find in lower light at the least magnification, while at the most reduced magnification a minuscule FFP reticle will be considerably harder to see.
First vs Second Focal Plane
First vs Second Focal Plane    * Image Source:americanhunter.org

In this article, I will take you through every difference between these two focal planes and its pros-cons.

Second Focal Plane Scopes or SFP:

The Second Focal Plane has the reticles behind the erector lens instead of front. Magnification level doesn’t affect the reticle in this sort of focal plane. If you magnify the scope even lowest to highest, the reticle will appear the same. You can increase or decrease the size of zooming but the reticle won’t ever change.

Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

When you are aiming at a target you have to use its maximum power in order to be able to get accurate range estimation. For example, your SFP magnification power is 5x-20x, then you have to set it to 20x to get the accuracy of your aiming.

For that reason, pro hunters love to use Second Focal Planes. No matter how much magnification levels need to change, the reticles will appear the same. It is a big advantage while hunting in the woods.

Pros of SFP:

You’ll have a massive sight picture for shooting, this is where the Second Focal Plane shines. You can see the whole fieldview clearly. This is why the Second Focal Plane is useful for beginners. As there isn’t any change in reticle so beginners can easily aim their target. Beside that, for long range shooting, pro hunters always love to use the SFP scopes.

Cons of SFP:

The only problem with the SFP is you have to maximize the magnification level to get the perfect accuracy. Sometimes you might miss the target with lower magnification level. Therefore, it is always better to use the SFP in long range shooting.

First Focal Plane Scopes or FFP:

On a First Focal Plane scope when you increase your magnification your reticle appears to increase size or grow bigger as you increase the zooming level. It can make the targeted object appear larger or smaller based on the power it is given to.

Take a look at

Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescopes

Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescopes

Based on application, First Focal Plane is good for sharp shooting. When you are doing range estimations you can change your magnification power as you like. When you change the magnification power the reticle also changes its size.

Simply put, in FFP, Your target and reticle both get bigger. Therefore, you can easily aim at your target.

Snipers use FFP for this specialty of these scopes.

Pros of FFP

Regardless of what magnification you’re at that reticle is always going to be accurate on your target. So, First Focal Plane is really best for the higher-end magnifications. When you are zooming in or out with FFP, not only does your target size appear bigger or smaller your reticle size gets bigger and smaller in the same way.

The benefit of this setting is the trajectory compensation marks are always accurate.

Cons of FFP

The only cons of FFP scopes is that it comes with a higher price. Therefore, it is not recommended for hobbyist and occasional shooters. Rather they can go for SFP ones for vacational shooting.

Can I use an FFP scope for coyote hunting?

Coyotes are one of the most popular types of hunting. For Coyote hunting, hunters have to be really fast with their aiming and FFP is quite good for fast targeting with accuracy. As on FFP setting hunters can aim on their target with really sharp magnification because the aiming point doesn’t mess up with zooming in or out.

It is easier to aim with 100% accuracy with FFP scope. So FFP scope can be used for coyote hunting.

Which rifle scope type is better for hunting, SFP or FFP- first focal plane vs second focal plane for hunting

As a beginner, SFP scope is always the right choice for hunting.  For long-range shooting, hunters usually go for FFP scopes. The reticle size of SFP doesn’t change with the magnification level, so you won’t get distracted from your target.

Why are FFP scopes more expensive than SFP models and does it worth the money?

First Focal Plane scopes are more expensive than the Second Focal Plane Scopes. Because the First Focal plane is made with better modification.

The reticle of the FFP stays near the erector lens so that if you magnify the scope the reticle becomes larger.

It is convenient for professional shooters. So that it is more expensive than the SFP scopes. And, yes, it is of course worth the money if you’re a pro shooter.

If you’re an occasional hunter, then you should not go for these oricier scopes.

How can I tell if a scope is FFP or SFP?

To naked eyes, FFP and SFP scopes both look almost the same. To understand if it’s FFP or SFP, you have to magnify the scope. If the reticle size changes during or after magnification then it’s FFP, and if it doesn’t change then it’s a SFP scope. Moreover, you can easily search the model online to know whether the scope is SFP or FFP.

FAQ

Is FFP or SFP better?

This is something totally dependent on the shooters. Both scopes are good on their own usage. FFP scopes are better for long range shooting and SFP scopes are good for professional shooters and snipers.

Do Snipers use first or second focal plane?

Snipers use the First Focal Plane for better accuracy. Because when they magnify the scope the target and reticle becomes larger at the same time. The bigger reticle appearance help the snipers to hit the chamber more perfectly.

Why are first focal plane scopes more expensive?

For First Focal Plane the reticle changes with the object magnifying power. so that the reticle and the object get larger. That’s why First Focal Planes are more expensive.

Is second focal plane bad?

Not at all. In fact, Second Focal Plane scopes are a really good option for beginners and long-range hunters. The SFP is also popular for its low range price. If you’re on a budget, then you should prefer the SFP scopes.

Which focal plane is best for long range shooting?

For long range shooting, definitely Second Focal Plane scope is the best option. SFP scopes can shoot at a very long distance with 100% accuracy.

What is the advantage of the first focal plane in scopes?

In First Focal Plane scopes the key advantage is in reticle. The reticle get bigger upon magnification. So that the fieldview and aiming point get bigger and clear.

What does second focal plane mean on a scope?

On a rifle, the Second Focal Plane is placed near the ocular lens. So when you magnify using the SFP, the sight picture size gets bigger but the reticle remains the same.

Does changing scope magnification affect accuracy?

Changing scope magnification in SFP scopes has little effect on accuracy. You need to magnify it at a maximum magnification level in order to get 100% accuracy. On the other hand, the magnification of an FFP scope has no effect on accuracy.

How to use a second focal plane scope

Final Thoughts

First Focal Plane and Second Focal Plane both have advantages and disadvantages according to their usage. Which one is better for shooting or hunting, it totally depends on the user’s preference and skills.

For some users SFP is good and for some users FFP is great. But both of the scopes have importance in their own places.

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