Do you have a plan on upgrading your rifle scope? Or wanted to own a new one? No matter what, you have to cross the phrase FFP vs. SFP while you’re in the selection process. It’s the most crucial part when it comes to optics.
FFP vs. SFP is always a trending debate in the world of rifles. Before owning the scopes it’s good to know the positives and negatives of both the rifles. “Which one is better” is one of the common questions, but before that understand what SFP and FFP mean regarding the scopes.
FFP – First Focal Plane, SFP – Second Focal Plane.
Understanding the difference between these two scopes will help you choose the right one. From my point, both FFP and SFP will help you in hitting the target and making an accurate shot without fail.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the strengths and shortcomings of both the planes, by the way, you can choose the best one for your job. Let’s now dive into the basics of scopes.
Importance of Scopes
A good optic device is a must-to-have tool for a professional target shooter or hunter. Riflescopes can be attached directly to the gun in order to improve the viewing capabilities, this can help you to find the target perfectly even at long distances. You can grab riflescopes in various shapes, sizes, as well as qualities. Each scope will have its own functionalities, know about it and get yours!
What are the different types of riflescopes?
Let’s check out some of the currently available types of riflescopes in the market and their functionalities.
Hash Reticle – Best for Long-distance Shooters- Helps to give precise shots
Bullet Drop Compensating (BDC) Reticles – Best High-end Option – BDC reticles take Bullet Trajectory into consideration.
Illuminated Reticles – Good to see your scope’s crosshairs even in low lights – Budget-friendly- High- end option
What is the first focal plane?
“FFP Scopes are best for long-range shooting” thus it gains popularity in recent times. Also, in the first focal plane, the reticle will be in front of the magnification assembly.
When you look at the target through the FFP scope, the optics magnifies the reticle and image.
So while you adjust the magnification range as 5x, 10x, 15x you can see the difference in the reticle (the reticle expands and shrinks). FFP will zoom in on the target simultaneously with the magnification.
The most impressive feature of FFP optics is that the measurements of the reticle will be accurate at any magnification range. If the target is zoomed to maximum, the reticle will also zoom so the shooter can easily hit the target.
By moving the scope through its magnification range, the reticle grows and shrinks with it.
As a result, the reticle’s subtensions always remain accurate. For instance, simply, something measured at 1 MRAD at 4x is also 1 MRAD at 24X magnification.
This not only allows us to bring our target into a clearer view but gives the ability to view the crosshairs of our reticle better since they will increase and decrease in size simultaneously with the target
“Even if the magnification ranges keep on changing, the reticles offer the same sub-tension. This factor will help a shooter while adjusting the scope for ballistic corrections, trajectory or wind”.
When it comes to reticles that use ballistic drop compensation, a first focal plane scope is a must-have.
FFP scopes with BDC-style reticles are the best combo, it allows on-the-fly ballistic drop compensation regardless of the magnification ranges.
The primary reason for recommending FFP scopes is due to the Consistent suspension across magnification settings and the magnified reticle at high magnification improves visibility of holdover points.
Second Focal Plane
In the first focal plane, the reticle is placed in front of the magnification assembly, so probably you’d have guessed what the second focal plane is? SFP, or second focal plane, the reticle is behind the erector tube assembly.
If you’re looking for a reticle with a finer and more precise design that works at any magnification level, then the second focal plane reticle must be your priority.
Though the price of SFP is affordable it doesn’t compromise in quality, magnification, or durability.
In SFP, the reticle remains the same size throughout its magnification range, as a result, the reticle’s various subtensions won’t be accurate in case of different magnification.
A surprising fact of these scopes is, the accuracy level at a specific magnification range. To find the right and accurate measurements do a little math with an SFP scope and various magnification ratings.
Are there any high visible reticles in this scope? Yes, the high visible reticles make the optic easier to use at lower powered settings.
For instance, with low-powered optics, like 1-4X optics, an SFP reticle is the best option as it is easy to use for close-range shooting. It’s big, easy to see, and fast.
The impressive fact about SFP scopes is the robustness of reticles even when the magnification is at its lowest. I’ll recommend one of the best SFP models, which is the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 riflescope.
While purchasing an SFP scope look at these factors crosshairs, magnification settings, long-range shooting, and grab it. For outdoor enthusiasts, SFP scopes would be the best choice.
No matter whether you adjust the magnification setting, the crosshair size will remain the same.
This quality will make the shooters focus on the target easily as well as precisely.
When you set the magnification range low, the object size between the aim points will be quite larger. On contrary, if the range is high, the object size between the aim points will be smaller.
Most SFP reticles are designed with aim points calibrated at a specific magnification. SFP reticles are somewhat hard to understand as subtension is constantly changing as magnification changes. A subtension is nothing but space on a target that crosshairs cover-up at a specific distance.
Why SFP Scope?
There are various benefits to using SFP scope, let’s see the most prominent uses. The reticle size doesn’t change so it can provide better crosshair visibility even if you’re using at low magnifications. Also, it can improve the visibility of smaller targets too at high magnifications. It is affordable when compared to FFP scopes.
FFP VS SFP: How to Choose?
When the game is between FFP and SFP, FFP scopes may be new for many but currently, it is quickly gaining traction as the premium scope. Before purchasing your scope be clear on where you aim to hunt based on that pick the tool. For hunting out in the woods, FFP scopes will not be the best. For long-range shooting above 500 yards, it will work better. Choosing between an FFP or SFP is a tough choice, there are a lot of factors to consider such as magnification requirements and how the scope will be used most of the time, etc.
For hunting, what focal planes will be the best? Magnification and Terrain are the two important factors to be considered. FFP scopes will work great for high power and open country, mountainous terrains. Meanwhile, SFP scopes are the best for low magnification and timber, brush, or Mid-West deer hunting.
I’ve used the scopes with 3-9x and 4-16x, both configurations are truly great for hunting purposes. SFP scopes will provide better visibility even in low light conditions which FFP cannot provide. With FFP reticles, the crosshairs get too small which will lead to difficulty in focusing the target.
Though FFP scopes perform well for long-range shooting, SFP Scopes tend to be the best in terms of clarity, resolution, and brightness in low powers so it is preferred by the deer hunters and target shooters.
When it comes to long-range shooting or competitive shooting, FFP scopes never fail to perform great. FFP scopes offer multiple elevation and windage holdovers, as a result, you will get accurate shots. The next impressive point is the reticle becomes larger in size when you adjust the magnification so it could be easier to see the crosshairs, hash marks, and/or dots.
Now, which is best? FFP or SFP? Without any doubt, FFP is at the top.
Target shooting varies in different forms right from plinking, rimfire fun, and 100-yard shooting to testing the long-range skills. Apart from long-range, there are various ways to succeed in a hunt. On that note, the SFP reticle is the perfect scope for these scenarios. Most people opt for FFP reticles due to their efficiency in long-range and ability to view the targets larger. Consider FFP or SFP for 22LR rimfires, use both optics and decide which one works well most of the time. The targets you’re shooting and distance must be taken into account to know the best. For most recreational purposes, SFP will work great than FFP.
AR15 is the most popular rifle in the industry due to its efficiency in target shooting hunting, law enforcement, and competitions.
SFP will be the best for many applications if the magnification is less than 12x. When compared to FFP, the SFP scopes are user-friendly on low power. If the limit exceeds 12x to 14x, SFP will perform to the core for offering great results. FFP also doesn’t go down, it performs to the max for long-range shooting, competition, and some hunting.
When you choose a scope for AR, both these planes stand at the top, then which one to pick? It depends on what you’re going to do with it.
For target shooting, combat, or home defense situations, opt a high-powered scope with the reticle either placed in the first focal plane or second focal plane.
SFP reticles are easy to use and it remains constant even if you change the magnification range. No matter what range you fix, SFP will offer precise shots. You can opt for either FFP or SFP scopes for tactical use, but if you set a range from 50 to 100-yard zero, SFP will serve its purpose for close to mid ranges. FFP reticles are beneficial on magnified optics when holding over or for fast corrections.
SFP VS FFP: Which is Best for You?
The right scope is needed for performing best in all applications; it may be hunting, target shooting, long-range, etc. For a cost-effective option, opt SFP scopes. If the budget is not a barrier then consider all the functionalities of both reticles and pick the one. Generally, FFP is best for long-range, high magnification, competition, whereas SFP is best for target shooting, hunting, and CQB performance. Now it’s your time to decide which will suit your job the most. Depending on it choose the right type of scope for you and for the job.
Which rifle scope is better for hunting, SFP or FFP?
Actually, it depends on what type of rifle scope suits you and what type of hunting you do. For shooting the targets at more than 500 yards, FFP is an ideal choice. SFP scopes will perform better at close-range shooting. If you’re still in confusion, then grab SFP scopes because it has adjustable features for elevation and windage turrets. The turrets will allow you to dial-up whenever the scope is needed. Instead of comparing the working conditions of both the scopes, just know how to use them for your hunting or other applications.
Which is more expensive, SFP or FFP?
Obviously, FFP is more expensive than SFP scopes. It’s due to the design of reticles. For long-range shooting, this will be the ultimate choice. But if you’re looking for a scope within your budget, then grab SFP scopes.