FFP vs. SFP: Know the Difference

Video what is ffp scope

Outdoor enthusiasts that enjoy activities like shooting and hunting know that there’s more to their equipment than just gun choice. Choosing the proper optic to pair with your gun is an important step in gathering all the necessary equipment for your next outing. During the decision process, one common debate we come across is choosing between FFP vs. SFP scopes. Before we dive into the difference between FFP scopes and SFP scopes, let’s cover the basics of scopes as a whole.

Understanding Scopes

Choosing the right optic for our individual needs all comes down to our activity of choice. For instance, take spectator sports viewing. These activities require us to move our point of view in different directions in order to keep up with the activities in front of us. In cases such as these, a nice set of binoculars would be our best choice in optics.

Now, for the professional target shooter or hunter, the preferred optic device would be a top-quality riflescope. Riflescopes allow us to attach the scope directly to our gun. This helps us to optimize our viewing capabilities, especially at long distances, all while keeping our hands open and available to operate our gun.

Riflescopes come in many different sizes, shapes, and qualities, so it’s essential to understand the differences available to us as no two riflescopes are the same and each outdoor activity requires specific equipment to get the job done.

Types of Riflescopes

There are many different types of riflescopes that are currently on the market. While there are some that are considered rather standard, each one presents its own unique qualities that attract professional and amateur hunters and shooters. Some of the most common riflescopes include:

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●Hash Reticle – These reticles are often preferred amongst hunters and long-distance shooters because they help create a more precise shot thanks to the ability to take into consideration the approximate range of your target.

●Bullet Drop Compensating (BDC) Reticles – BDC reticles take bullet trajectory into consideration. While this seems like a rather high-end option, reticles being manufactured today have some sort of BDC reticle integrated into them.

●Illuminated Reticles – These scopes are just what they sound like, illuminated. They allow us to better see our scope’s crosshairs in lower lighting situations. They come in both high-end and budget-friendly options, so we have to take our time researching different models to see which will best suit our needs.

Understanding the Difference Between FFP Vs. SFP Scopes

When it comes time to understand the difference between FFP vs. SFP scopes, it’s essential to cover some basic information. What differentiates these two devices is the positioning of the reticle in the assembly, which we will cover below.

First Focal Plane (FFP) Scopes

For a first focal plane (FFP) scope, the reticle is placed towards the front of the erector tube assembly, which is located in the back portion of the actual scope. One common misconception is that the reticle is placed in the front of the scope, when it’s placed in between the erector tube assembly and magnification lenses. This would place it towards the middle of the scope, not the front.

Since the reticle is placed in the front of the magnification lenses and erector assembly, it allows us to look through the device and grow the reticle size in the same exact relation as the image being viewed. This not only allows us to bring our target into a clearer view but allows us to see the crosshairs of our reticle better since they will increase and decrease in size simultaneously with the target.

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Many hunters and long-range shooters prefer FFP scopes because the subtensions are accurate across all magnification settings. That said, here are a few other pros of using a FFP scope:

●The crosshairs are easily visible at higher magnifications

●The subtension remains constant across all magnification settings


One of the most significant issues with FFP scopes is the fact that they aren’t that great in poor lighting conditions. It’s also worth noting that at low magnification, and when the target is smaller, the reticle can be difficult to use properly.

●Price if often higher as they are typically associated with higher-end scopes

●The reticle can be considered pretty small when being used at low power

●Difficult to see in low light at low power

Second Focal Plane (SFP) Scopes

Second focal plane (SFP) scopes aren’t all that different than FFP scopes, besides the fact that the reticle is behind the magnification lenses on the erector tube assembly. It is located in between the eyepiece/erector tube assembly. What makes this different from the FFP scope is the fact that the crosshairs of the reticle will remain the same size through the lens, no matter the magnification setting you’re on.


While FFP scopes are a favorite among many outdoor enthusiasts, SFP scopes are more commonly seen in the average riflescope. Some common pros of the second focal plane scope include:

●Easily visible crosshairs across all magnification settings and no change in crosshair size, making it easier to see, especially for those using these scopes for hunting

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●Easier to use in lower magnification settings

●Cheaper since they are easier to produce


While these are more commonly seen amongst outdoor enthusiasts, they do come with their downsides as well. Some of which include:

●Altering subtensions makes them accurate only at predetermined magnification levels

●Not always reliable for variable long-range shooting

Bushnell Has the Tactical Gear You’re Looking For

Knowing the different types of scopes available, as well as the difference between FFP vs. SFP scopes, is essential for all outdoor fanatics, especially when their passions involve hunting or professional shooting. We’ve outlined the pros and cons of both first focal plane scopes and second focal plane scopes for you above, however if you still have questions, then feel free to contact our team today by calling (800) 423-3537.

No matter which scope you prefer, Bushnell has a scope designed with you and your outdoor needs in mind. With over 70+ years of experience, the Bushnell team has the knowledge to help you find the gear you need for your outdoor activity of choice.

Looking for a new scope to add to your equipment? Then make sure to check out our selection of Elite Tactical scopes today!

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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 >>