First focal plane scopes are quickly becoming a popular choice for hunters and competitive shooters. Find out why you need to make the switch to one of these, best first focal plane scopes.
A hot debate in the firearm community, many are discussing the value of first versus second focal plane riflescopes. While most hunters are probably familiar with a second focal plane (SFP) design, first focal plane (FFP) scopes are quickly becoming a popular choice as hunters expand the limits on long-distance shooting. Rather than pitting the different style of scope against one another, it should be more of a discussion around how you plan to use your scope. Both FFPs and SFPs have their place – the key is knowing which is best for you.
Before we get into the best first focal plane scopes to pair with your rifle, let’s take time to understand how FFPs work and the scenarios best suited for their design. We’ll then explore what you should look for in an FFP as you shop. It’s all about finding the optical tool that’s going to bring you closer to sharpshooter precision.
How Do FFP Scopes Work?
In the tube of your scope, there are two focal points where a reticle can be housed. An FFP design means the reticle is placed in front of the scope’s tube, which is closest to the objective lens. In contrast, an SFP has its reticle placed towards the rear of the scope, closer to the eyepiece. The reticle placement, whether FFP or SFP, matters because it impacts how the reticle appears.
Since the reticle on an FFP is towards the front of the magnification system, the reticle size changes proportionately to the magnification. A significant advantage is that the target marks on your reticle will hold steady as you track a buck, even if it moves closer or further away. Since the target marks are always proportionate regardless of your zoom, you can be confident in your holdover adjustments for wind and elevation. An FFP design works exceptionally well for quick, long-distance shooting where you will need to correct for bullet drop and other factors for optimal precision.
In an SFP design, the reticle pattern does not increase or decrease with magnification. This design means that the crosshairs on your reticle will be correct, usually at just the highest magnification setting. Shooters that stick to shorter-distances at high-magnification may prefer an SFP design because they tend to be cheaper and serve their purpose just fine.
For those interested in FFP rifle scopes, it will help your long-distance shooting at a variety of magnifications. However, there are still disadvantages to consider. Since the reticle pattern grows and shrinks with magnifications, you can expect thinner lines at low magnification and thicker, bolder lines at the highest settings. Some hunters find the thin lines challenging to see, especially in low-light conditions or with poor eyesight. Conversely, the thick lines at high magnification can obscure your target and limit your field of view. Unfortunately, these might just be the trade-offs to achieve more accurate holdovers, which will improve your target acquisition.
What To Look For In An FFP Scope?
If an FFP is right up your alley, you’re already looking at a steeper price tag. As you shop, look closely at the specifications and features to make sure you’re not overpaying for unnecessary accessories or embellishments.
The main dimensions on your FFP will be the magnification range, objective lens size, and tube size. These numbers will give a starting point for the quality of the scope and if it will meet your needs. For example, a hunter after whitetails might not find a 36x magnification useful, while someone running sniping drills will want more than 4x power. The higher you go in magnification, you’ll want to make sure of a decent object lens size. In general, a larger objective lens diameter will give your scope greater light-gathering capacity and provide a brighter image. The same can be said for tube size, which houses the magnification system. However, a scope also needs high-quality glass elements for these components to create a vivid image. The highest magnification, biggest objective lens, and widest tube won’t make a difference on a cheap scope with inferior quality glass.
The reticle pattern also varies from scope to scope. This comes down to personal preference and the pattern you feel the most comfortable with using. A handy advancement in FFPs is the illuminated reticle so that you can easily sight your target, whether it’s dusk or dawn. You’ll also want to know whether your reticle is spaced using MOA or Mil measurements so that you can run the proper calculations as you make adjustments.
The last number you’ll want to look for on your rifle scope is the MOA/Mil adjustments that are possible. Different manufacturers use different measurements, but both refer to the angular measurements as it relates to the point of impact on a target. Most scopes have elevated knobs that allow you to adjust based on the elevation and windage so that you can land the perfect shot no matter the conditions. Typically, windage and elevation knobs can be adjusted in increments of ⅛”, ¼,” ½” or 1″ MOA. A smaller MOA will give you finer control over the adjustments you make, but will also take forever for any major modifications. The most common adjustment knob allows for a ¼” click.
Now that you know the basics let’s take a look at the best first focal plane scopes for a variety of budgets.
Monstrum Alpha Series 6-24×50 First Focal Plane Rifle Scope
The first FFP on our list is the incredibly budget-friendly Monstrum Alpha Series 6-24×50 FFP Riflescope. This scope is Monstrum’s stripped-down model to the bare essentials so that customers can enjoy the reliability and accuracy of their brand at an affordable price. What’s great about this scope is the Custom Type-H reticle pattern. The Type-H pattern provides a clear, unobstructed view of your target and helps with quick range estimation and precise holdover corrections.
The Monstrum Alpha Series FFP is perfect for long-range shooting, and with this scope, you’ll be able to knock out targets 1,000 yards from your position. It’s easy to focus and create a parallax-free view with the adjustable objective lens. You have absolute control with this scope and can adjust the elevation and windage knobs a max of 80 MOA, with ¼” clicks. Don’t let the price tag fool you – this is a high-end product.
Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescope
If you live in the Southwest, you know better than to catch the ire of a diamondback snake. Known for their speed and agility, Vortex Optics captures this rattler’s essence in their Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescope. This scope lets you strike your targets hard and fast, just like the name would suggest. At first glance, this sleek, compact FFP scope might not look like much, but it is operating with all cylinders firing. Inside this 30mm tube is a Vertex Optics’ exclusive, premium-glide erector system. The erector system is what enables you to zoom, and this system guarantees swift, smooth changes between magnification power.
Of course, the erector system needs an optical system to match for incredible views. Vortex Optics uses extra-low dispersion glass lenses that are fully multi-coated for bright images, even at their high magnification zoom. Vortex Optics has two versions of the Diamondback with either MOA or MRAD measurements to suit your preference. Both reticles have hash-marked target sight, which will make for easy range estimation, holdovers, and adjustments. You’ll also find their super-fine center cross-hairs enable the highest performance possible.
Athlon Optics ABTR, APMR Mil Reticle, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane Riflescope
Pay close attention here, because there are two Athlon Optics FFP scopes on our list, each at a different price point. The Argos BTR, APMR First Focal Plane Riflescope is the pricier of the two, but for good cause. It is all about the reticle, and this Athlon Optics ABTR features the AMPR Mil Reticle. The precision of this reticle is truly a masterpiece combining scientific engineering and high-tech manufacturing. Athlon Optics breaks down what makes this reticle unique, stating that the APMR features 18 mil span cross lines with 0.5 mil hash marks and 0.2 mil hash marks from 7-mil to 9-mil in three directions. Not only is this reticle designed with an incredible level of detail, but there’s also a soft touch illumination button for use in low-light conditions.
The windage and elevation knobs allow a max of 18 Mil adjustments and have an ultra-fine .01 Mil click. You can also control for parallax with the side adjustment knob. The ABTR is exceptionally durable, made from air-craft grade aluminum so that it is 100% waterproof and shockproof. This scope is an investment, but the returns will be a better and faster shot.
Athlon Optics, ABTR, ATMR MOA Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane
Amazon is conjuring some sort of black magic. Currently, you can pick up this Athlon Optics ABTR Riflescope for only $269. This price is a considerable discount from the ABTR AMPR, with the main difference being the reticle pattern and adjustment measurements. The ABTR is designed using MOA increments. According to Athlon Optics, the reticle pattern has a 2 MOA center cross with illuminated vertical cross lines extending from 40 MOAs to 90 MOA. The illuminated center and 2 MOA hash marks are excellent for sighting in low-light conditions.
You will also have remarkable control of any adjustments that you need to make on your scope. Total adjustment for both windage and elevation is 60 MOA with a ¼” click value. You’ll get the same full coating and can depend on this scope to be 100% water and shockproof. This price is unbeatable for this level of precision, optics, and durability.
Monstrum G2 4-16×50 First Focal Plane Riflescope
The Monstrum G2 FFP Riflescope might be last on our list, but it is certainly not least. This scope also features an illuminating reticle in red or green, with varying brightness levels – all with the touch of a button. This is a great option for hunting or drills so that you never miss a shot in low-light conditions. The mil-dot reticle is also easy to read so that your ranging is fast and efficient.
This scope also had the best eye relief of those featured, with a comfortable 4-4.5 inches. You’ll be even happier with a parallax-free view due to the adjustable objective lens so that you can adjust as needed. Our two listed Monstrum scopes are also the lightest on the list, weighing in at only 18 ounces. While this scope costs about $179 on Amazon, the illuminating reticle makes it worth the extra bucks.
A first focal plane design will typically run the price up on a rifle scope, but the benefits make this system invaluable to those wishing to perfect their long-distance shooting. A reticle that zooms with your lens is the best method for sighting and adjusting so that every move is precise and tactical. The FFP scopes from this list assure the highest quality and best craftsmanship to take your performance to the next level. When it’s you against a buck or a high-intensity drill, there’s no room for guessing or error. Instead, invest in an FFP so that you can confidently know exactly where your bullet will strike.