First VS Second Focal Plane – Which To Use?

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  • Post category:Long Range Scopes
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In this guide, we discuss first vs second focal plane differences in rifle scopes.

Once you understand how they work, you will be able to choose a long range scope with more educated decisions instead of just guessing. 

Focal Plane Low Power Variable Scopes Difference

First Focal Plane


First Focal Plane (Also labeled as FFP or F1) is desirable for long range shooting.

The reticle inside the scope is in front of the magnification, which means all the reticle markings hold true on any magnification setting. 

Accurate Ranging Capability - The reticle subtension accuracy remain the same regardless of magnification

SCR mil reticle 2

Accurate Target Sizing - Ranging scale holds true when the scope is magnified 

Great For Long Range Competition Shooting -  The FFP reticle has become very popular with long-range shooters, and as we are adopting their techniques, this reticle is gaining favor with competition shooters and hunters wishing to shoot at long range.

Second Focal Plane

vortex dead hold bdc reticle

Second Focal Plane (Also labeled as SFP) has the magnification lens in front of the reticle, which means the reticle subtensions is ONLY holds true at the HIGHEST magnification setting.

Much Cheaper - Most scopes feature second focal plane reticle, and they're much cheaper than first focal plane scopes for close-range hunting and defensive shooting

Not Capable For Long Range - Since the reticle subtension doesn't scale relative to the magnification level. It's much harder to use it accurately for shots past 500 - 1000+ yards

Related Content: Best Reticles For Hunting Purposes

Scope Considerations

nightforce scope precision tracking

How do you choose the right rifle scope? First focal plane rifle scopes are good when shooting long distance where quick follow-up shots using hold-over are more likely.

They are bad when you find yourself in closer ranges in dark timer considering it's very easy to lose the smaller and thinner reticle lines against dark backgrounds.

Second focal plane rifle scopes are useful for visibility throughout all magnification ranges and when paired with a ballistics turret allow you to center punch regardless of the magnification.


I thoroughly test every firearm product before recommending it for civilian use. This involves personally purchasing or borrowing each product and rigorously using and testing them for content creation.