a soldier looking through one of the first focal plane scopes

First Focal Plane Scopes: How to Choose the Right FFP Scope

Rifle scopes are an incredible technology that enhance the technology of your rifle. Without them, you would not be able to shoot accurately at your target, especially when that target is at a long-distance.

Yet, when first purchasing a rifle scope, the amount of information to consider can be overwhelming, and this is only compounded by arcane much of the language is. For a beginner shooter, this could be disconcerting.

Buying the​​​​ Perfect First Focal Plane Scope for Your Shooting Needs


In this article, we discuss 5 steps you should take when choosing a specific kind of rifle scope, namely a first focal plane scope.

We will gear these steps towards people just beginning their research about what rifle scope to purchase, and discuss the various aspects of what the scopes have to offer.

Do You Need a First or Second Focal Plane Scope?


The first step in purchasing a first focal plane scope is to determine if you actually need one. This entails educating yourself on the differences between a first focal plane scope and a second focal plane scope.

The reticles on first focal plane scopes change in size as the image’s magnification changes. This is ideal for long-range shooters or tactical shooters as it makes the gun more dynamic.

The reticles on second focal plan scopes, on the other hand, do not change as the image’s magnification changes. They are ideal for short-range shooting. At longer distances, the reticles on second focal plane scopes can obscure the target because the reticle is so large compared with the tiny target.

Therefore, an important first step is to consider if you will be doing long-range shooting or short-range shooting.

Past Scope Usage – Do You Know What You’re Doing?


a marine looking through one of the first focal plane scopes while shooting the gun

Shooting a gun involves a particular set of skills that build over time. Like any other sport, if you condition yourself to perform under a certain set of conditions, then you will underperform when those conditions are absent.

Some people have used second focal plane scopes their entire life and are used to a constant reticle at different magnifications. Thus, when using first focal plane scopes, they are thrown off when magnifying the image, as this affects their precision and accuracy.

Alternatively, even though first focal plane scopes have only risen in popularity recently, some shooters are more accustomed to a changing reticle as magnification changes. Thus, they perform best when the reticle changes, and if the reticle is stable, they are thrown off.

First Focal Plane Scopes - Weight and Size


If you have decided that the first focal plane scope is right for you, then the next factor to consider is what type of gun you will be using it on. Many customers have noted that first focal plane scopes are significantly heavier then second focal plane scopes. This can make the gun extremely heavy, which could affect your accuracy if you are moving around while shooting.

Thus, make sure you properly research the weight and size of the first focal plane scope you are considering. Sometimes it might be light, but relatively large, which could limit your line of sight or the portability of your gun.

Finding Your Plane Scopes Budget


a rifle installed with bipod and ffp scope

Depending on your budget, certain first focal plane scopes will give clearer images than others. This is because of the quality of glass used and is similar to how a camera will perform better if the lens glass is of a higher-quality.

For example, this Leica Magnus scope costs almost $3000 but features some of the highest quality glass on the market. In addition, it features illuminated reticles when the gun is horizontal, but the illumination is turned off when the gun is turned vertical. This allows the scope to save battery, so it can be utilized for longer.

Intended Usage


Thus, another consideration is how long you will be using the gun. Some hunters might be away from a charging station for several days at a time. In this situation, it would be crucial to save battery life so that the scope could be used for longer. Yet, some shooters might only be hunting for a brief period of time, so they might not benefit from a feature that focuses on batter conservation. In that case, buying a cheaper, simpler first focal plane scope might be more worthwhile.

Regardless, you need to reflect on how much money you are willing to spend on a first focal plane scope. These kinds of scope can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to well over $3000.

Our Final Thoughts on First Focal Plane Scopes


a hunter using a rifle with ffp scope

We think that the market for first focal plane scopes can appear overwhelming at first. This is because each scope offers a number of different features, ranging from weatherproof covering to illuminated reticles.

The main step in choosing these types of scopes is to first consider if you actually need one, which depends on your past usage as well as your intended usage in the future. If you have determined that a first focal plane scope is right for you, then you should determine your budget, the features you desire, as well as if you are even able to handle the size and weight of these kinds of scopes.

Many shooters end up investing in an expensive first focal plane scope only to find that they rarely use most of its features. Thus, make sure you honestly reflect on why you are purchasing a scope before you dish out several thousand dollars on a top of the line scope.

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