Rifle Scopes: First Focal Plane vs. Second Focal Plane

Video scope ffp vs sfp

first focal plane Rifle Scopes: First Focal Plane vs. Second Focal Plane

If it’s First it Follows, If it’s Second it Stays

A rifle scope’s reticle is placed in either the first focal plane (FFP) or the second focal plane (SFP). The main difference between the two options is how the reticle behaves when adjusting the scope’s magnification. A FFP rifle scope has a variable size reticle, while a SFP rifle scope will have a static reticle at all magnifications. There are advantages and disadvantages to either option.

First Focal Plane

Example of what you see through a first focal plane riflescope.

First focal plane rifle scopes are commonly preferred by long range target shooters. When adjusting magnification on a FFP rifle scope, the reticle your eye sees will change in size, becoming increasingly larger as magnification increases. What this means is; your units of measure per each hash mark, MOA or Mil, represent the same value regardless of the current magnification setting.

Example: a rifle scope with hash marks representing .25 MOA across the horizontal line will represent .25 MOA at all magnification levels.

First focal plane rifle scopes are starting to gain popularity with hunters who find themselves shooting their intended targets at longer distances. Knowing the hash marks represent the same value in all scenarios is an advantage in terms of speed. Speed, however, comes at a cost; the differing sizing of the reticle may be too large at certain distances coupled with magnification and can make shot placement trickier and inversely it’s also possible for the reticle to be too small. Luckily, in those scenarios, an illuminated reticle may relieve some of that pain.

Second Focal Plane

Second focal plane has been a commonly used reticle position by hunters for years. SFP is how most people expect a rifle scope’s reticle to behave, rightly so, we’ve all generally grew up looking through these scopes. The reticle stays the same size at all magnification levels which makes it easier to see at all ranges but comes at a price.


Considering the reticle isn’t variable in size, that means the hash marks on the reticle are variable in what they represent. Almost all rifle scopes default to the hashes being truly represented a full magnification, although it would be wise to double-check.

Example: Leupold’s Mark 5 HD 3.6-18×44 a second focal plane rifle scope with a magnification range of 3.6-18x, has hash marks representing 1 MOA. This is only true at its full magnification, 18x.

When the rifle scope is not at full magnification, the hash marks represent different values relative to the magnification. For example, in the above Mark 5 HD, full magnification represents 1 MOA. At half of that magnification, 7.2x, the hash marks represent double the default value; 2 MOA.

This poses an added challenge to taking a shot when you factor in having to do a bit of mental math when using hold-over hash marks.

Which one is right for me?

So, how do you choose the right rifle scope? In reality, it all comes down to preference and what style of hunting you’re finding yourself in more often. First focal plane rifle scopes are advantageous when shooting long distance where quick follow-up shots using hold-over are more likely. They are disadvantageous 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.

If you’re having trouble pulling the trigger on a first focal plane or second focal plane rifle scope, our team at the Outdoorsmans is dedicated to finding the perfect match for you. We’ll take the time to consider your budget, hunting style, and the terrain you commonly find yourself, and we’ll marry you with a rifle scope you’ll be proud to own. Email us at info@outdoorsmans.com or call us at 1-800-291-8065 to get started!

See also  10mm Auto vs .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) Ammo Comparison - Ballistics Info & Chart Caliber Ballistics Comparison 07 Dec, 2018 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors The following ammunition cartridge ballistics information and chart can be used to approximately compare 10mm Auto vs .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) ammo rounds. Please note, the following information reflects the estimated average ballistics for each caliber and does not pertain to a particular manufacturer, bullet weight, or jacketing type. As such, the following is for comparative information purposes only and should not be used to make precise predictions of the trajectory, performance, or true ballistics of any particular 10mm Auto or .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) rounds for hunting, target shooting, plinking, or any other usage. The decision for which round is better for a given application should be made with complete information, and this article simply serves as a comparative guide, not the final say. For more detailed ballistics information please refer to the exact round in question or contact the manufacturer for the pertinent information. True 10mm Auto and .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) ballistics information can vary widely from the displayed information, and it is important to understand that the particular characteristics of a given round can make a substantive difference in its true performance. Caliber Type Velocity (fps) Energy (ft-lb) 10mm Auto Handgun 1200 550 .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) Handgun 1050 500 [Click Here to Shop 10mm Auto Ammo] [Click Here to Shop .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) Ammo] VelocityAs illustrated in the chart, 10mm Auto rounds - on average - achieve a velocity of about 1200 feet per second (fps) while .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) rounds travel at a velocity of 1050 fps. To put this into perspective, a Boeing 737 commercial airliner travels at a cruising speed of 600 mph, or 880 fps. That is to say, 10mm Auto bullets travel 1.4 times the speed of a 737 airplane at cruising speed, while .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) bullets travel 1.2 times that same speed.Various calibersEnergyFurthermore, the muzzle energy of a 10mm Auto round averages out to 550 ft-lb, while a .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) round averages out to about 500 ft-lb. One way to think about this is as such: a foot-pound is a unit of energy equal to the amount of energy required to raise a weight of one pound a distance of one foot. So a 10mm Auto round exits the barrel with kinetic energy equal to the energy required for linear vertical displacement of 550 pounds through a one foot distance, while a .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) round exiting the barrel has energy equal to the amount required to displace 500 pounds over the same one foot distance. As a rule of thumb, when it comes to hunting, muzzle energy is what many hunters look at when deciding on what caliber of firearm / ammunition to select. Generally speaking, the higher the muzzle energy, the higher the stopping power. Again, the above is for comparative information purposes only, and you should consult the exact ballistics for the particular 10mm Auto or .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) cartridge you're looking at purchasing. [Buy 10mm Auto Ammo] [Buy .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) Ammo] Please click the above links to take a look at all of the 10mm Auto and .45 Colt (LC Long Colt) ammo we have in stock and ready to ship, and let us know any parting thoughts in the comment section below.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>