This guide explains the differences between the first and second focal planes in rifle scopes. Once you learn this, you can pick a long-range scope confidently with more facts.
The First Focal Plane (often called FFP or F1) is great for long-distance shooting. In these scopes, the reticle is placed before the magnification. This means the reticle's markings stay accurate at every magnification level.
Accurate Ranging Capability - The reticle's markings stays consistent no matter the magnification level.
Accurate Target Sizing - Ranging scale holds true when the scope's magnification is increased
Great For Long Range Competition Shooting - Long-range shooters love the FFP reticle. Now, competition shooters and hunters aiming for distant targets are also starting to prefer it.
Second Focal Plane Rifle Scope
The Second Focal Plane (often called SFP) places the magnification lens before the reticle. This means the reticle's measurements are accurate only at the maximum magnification level.
Much Cheaper - Many scopes have a second focal plane reticle. They're more affordable than first focal plane scopes, making them good for close-range hunting and defensive shooting.
Not Capable For Long Range - Because the reticle's measurements don't adjust with the magnification, it's challenging to use it precisely for shots beyond 500 to 1000+ yards.
Related Content: Best Reticles For Hunting Purposes
Rifle Scope Considerations
How do you pick the best rifle scope? First focal plane scopes are great for long-distance shooting, especially when you need fast follow-up shots using hold-over. However, they're not ideal for closer shots in low light since the thin reticle lines can get lost against dark backgrounds.
Second focal plane scopes offer clear visibility at all zoom levels. When combined with a ballistics turret, they let you hit the target accurately no matter the magnification.