First Focal Plane vs Second Focal Plane Reticles

I get asked, “Should I go with a first focal plane scope or a second?” Well the first question you need to ask yourself is, what will you be using the rifle scope for; hunting, target shooting, long range shooting, etc.? Once that question is answered, next would be to understand the fundamentals and functionality of the actual reticle. This will help you make an informative decision.

Scopes equipped with the first focal plane or FFP reticles are becoming more and more popular and many manufacturers are providing more scopes with this option. The FFP reticles scopes are a great choice for tactical and long range shooters as they provide constant Mil/MOA values throughout the entire power range of the scope, allowing for more flexibility in different shooting situations.

First focal plane scopes have the reticle installed towards the front of the erector tube or forward of the magnification lenses. When the magnification is increased, the reticle increases in size along with the image you are looking at. Below in figure 1, it shows a 1 MOA target at 100 yards viewed at 10x magnification. Now when you look at figure 2, it shows the same 1 MOA target viewed at 20x magnification. You can notice that the actual size of target in the reticle has not change but both the reticle and target has doubled in size when looking through the scope.

Below is a list of some of the more popular First Focal Plane Scopes:

Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50, FFP, EBR1 MRAD, Matte Rifle Scope - PST624F1M Vortex Viper PST 6-24×50, EBR1 Rifle Scope: The Vortex Viper PST Riflescope boast features that even the demanding shooter is impressed with. With features such as the XD Lens Elements and XR Fully Multicoated lenses, the optical quality provides a bright, crystal clear image from edge to edge.
Burris XTR II 5-25x50, FFP, G2B Mil Dot, Matte Rifle Scope - 201050 Burris XTR II 5-25×50, Illuminated Mil-BTR Rifle Scope: The Burris XTR II riflescopes feature a five-times zoom system, 25% thicker tube construction, dimensionally-matched precision adjustment knobs, and Zero Click Stop technology. Superb, high-performance optics offering Hi-Lume lens coatings.
Bushnell Elite Tactical ERS 6-24x50 FFP, Illuminated Mil Dot, Matte Rifle Scope - ET6245F Bushnell Elite ERS 6-24×50, Illuminated Mil-BTR Rifle Scope: Bushnell putting the most powerful optics in the world into the hands of those sworn to defend it with the Bushnell Elite ERS Tactical Riflescopes. Designed alongside military and law enforcement experts, the optical superiority and unfailing reliability of this family has been further honed with a host of application-specific features.

Below is a list of some of the more popular Second Focal Plane Scopes:

Clearidge Ultra XP5 4.5-22.5x50, Mil Dot, Matte Rifle Scope - 3910 Clearidge Ultra XP5 4.5-22.5×50 Mil Dot Rifle Scope: The Clearidge Ultra XP5 riflescopes offer an innovated 5x power range, making them one of the most versatile scopes, allowing for close quarter target acquisition to long range tactical shooting. The Ultra XP5 scopes perform to the highest standards with a rugged 30mm main tube, resettable Target style knobs, a side focus and optical excellence that you will only find in a high dollar optics.
Sightron SIII 10-50x60 LR, Illuminated MOA-2, Matte Rifle Scope - 25146 Sightron SIII 10-50×60 LR, Mil Dot Rifle Scope: The Sightron SIII riflescopes are some of the highest quality high power riflescopes found on the market. With the ZACT-7 seven layer multi-coating with precision ground glass, these lenses provide superior light transmission and resolution for the ultimate in performance.
Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 8.5-25x50, M1, TMR, Matte Rifle Scope - 60070 Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 8.5x25x50 TMR Rifle Scope: The Leupold Mark 4 ER/T Tactical riflescopes are seemingly the absolute most trustworthy, most elevated performing riflescopes you’ll discover anyplace. Their precision is demonstrated in the field. Their tough as nails and are completely waterproof.

5 Responses to “First Focal Plane vs Second Focal Plane Reticles”

  1. john

    Question: I have been told of another problem…with one of the focal positions, as you change magnification of the target, it puts the reticle out of focus….I have a scope that does exactly that….but cannot tell if it is first or second focal plane…can anyone explain for me?

    • Bob

      If your reticle is getting bigger with magnification it a first focal plane
      If it is getting fuzzy I would question the manufacturer the glass is probably unclear

  2. Clint

    What about the disappearing reticle issue
    I’ve witnessed it myself in a ffp
    Also not sure I like the growing reticle

    I shoot a vortex viper hst vmr 6×24 ×50 sfp
    Pretty satisfied , were getting 1 moa hits at 1830 yd

  3. Matthew

    There is a mistake in the brief article. It’s stated “Below is a list of some of the more popular First Focal Plane Scopes,” twice meaning all the scopes mentioned are FFP.

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