First focal plane scopes (FFP) have taken the optics and shooting world by storm. Hunters and tactical shooters alike all agree on one thing; if you shoot long distances, you should be using an FFP scope.
Seems pretty straightforward, right? That’s because it is straightforward, nothing sinister about it. In FFP scopes, the reticle unit is placed in front of the magnification unit. FFP Scopes are a type of scope where the reticle will continue to change as you change the magnification of the scope. This means, at 2x the reticle and crosshairs will be smaller but will grow bigger at 20x magnification. Now you know what an FFP scope is, you may be wondering how this can help your shooting and why you should care about the best FFP scopes.
Because the reticle continues to match any change in magnification, you can use this scope type at higher magnification while still getting clear and crisp images. This is why long-range shooters enjoy using FFP scopes.
Let us dive in to see the best FFP scopes around, what makes them attractive, and the drawbacks they may have. There’ll also be a buyer’s guide section to help you understand what to look out for when selecting an FFL scope.
At a Glance: Our top picks for best FFP Scopes
- Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56mm – Our top pick
- Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical FFP 4-16x44mm
- Nightforce SHV 4-14x50mm F1
- Primary Arms SLX 4-14x44mm FFP Rifle Scope – Our budget pick
- Monstrum Tactical 3-9x40mm FFP Rifle Scope
- Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24x50mm FFP Rifle Scope
Table of Contents
6 Best FFP Scopes
First focal plane scopes were not so popular until recently when their users exploded. What this explosion in users also caused was many more manufacturers making FFP scopes. Then it got even more confusing for the users to make a decision. What we have done here is to make it easier for you by doing the groundwork and testing to compile this list.
|Leupold Mark||• Good eye relief|
• Tremor 3 reticle
• Extremely durable
|Vortex Optics Diamondback||• Affordable|
• Multi-coated lens
• Magnification range of 4-16x
|Nightforce SHV||• Zero set feature attached|
• Multi-coated lens
• Magnification range of 4-14x
|Primary Arms||• Magnification range of 4-14x|
• Wide objective lens of 44mm
• Affordable scope
|Monstrum Tactical||• One-piece body |
• Multi-coated lenses
• Magnification range of 3-9x
|Athlon Optics Argos||• Magnification range of 6-24x|
• Wide objective lens of 50mm
• Durable scope
1. Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56mm
Leupold Mark 5HD is the top FFP scope on my list with a powerful design and usage. This scope is made to withstand the harshest of recoils. In fact, the manufacturer claims this scope will withstand up to 5000 rounds of recoils of 3 times the pressure from a .308 cartridge. Awesome level of durability, which is backed with a fog proof and waterproof body. The tube is filled with a blend of inert gas to keep it fog proof and ensure you keep getting clear pictures.
Its magnification range is from 5x to 25x with an accompanying 56mm wide objective lens wide enough for the necessary light to enter the scope and provide clear pictures. The scope also comes with a wide 35mm tube. This tube allows you to use the available 35 MILS of elevation travel available. You may also be wondering if you can use the maximum magnification of 25x effectively. This scope uses the Tremor 3 by Horus reticle, which enhances your accuracy even at longer distances.
As you can see, this scope is packed with features, both main features and features that enable the main features to perform better. It is no surprise this scope doesn’t come cheap. It is a high-end scope that is justified by the effectiveness it brings.
There’s also the Leupold only Twilight Max HD Light Management System that optimizes illumination of your scope by reducing glare by up to 90%, giving you longer usage time. Think about a battery saver.
Its turrets are graded in 0.1 MIL per click. It also has a good eye relief of 3.82-3.58.
- Magnification range of 5-25x
- Wide objective lens of 56mm
- Wide tube diameter of 35mm
- Twilight Max HD Light management system for light optimization
- Good eye relief
- Tremor 3 reticle
- Extremely durable
- Waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof
2. Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical FFP 4-16x44mm
Coming in at a close second on our list is this Diamondback scope from vortex optics. Used extensively by hunters and tactical shooters, further helped by its unbelievable price, its popularity is only going to keep growing.
First focal plane scopes are generally more expensive than their SFP counterparts, but vortex produced a quality FFP scope at an amazing bargain. How was it able to do this? Well, it stripped the “extra” features while focusing only on what is absolutely necessary. This means that you have an effective scope, but you may find in other high-end FFP scopes without the fancy little features.
It comes with a magnification range of 4-16x and a matching 44mm objective lens size. It sits at a good range to provide good light entry while also keeping the scope compact.
The optical quality of the diamondback scope is great as its lenses are multi-coated, and it comes with an extra-low dispersion glass that promotes good light transmission within the tube.
It is fitted with a glass-etched EBR-2C reticle. I particularly like its single-piece body that keeps it durable and makes it easier to move around. Its fast focus eyepiece will also reduce the aiming time and help you shoot faster without losing effectiveness. Vortex diamondback FFP scope also comes with elevated finger-adjustable turrets.
- Magnification range of 4-16x
- Objective lens of 44mm
- Extra-low dispersion glass
- Fast focus eyepiece
- Glass-etched EBR-2C reticle
- Multi-coated lens
- Basic features
- Occasional blurry images
3. Nightforce SHV 4-14x50mm F1
Nightforce is an optics brand that produces elite scopes for shooters. Its scopes are hardly affordable, but that changed with this SHV scope, which is even more surprising, seeing that this scope is the only FFP scope in Nightforce’s SHV group.
This scope covers a wide range of shooters as it is great for shooting small moving targets, bigger games, and also stationary tactical shooting or target practice. If you’re looking for a multi-purpose scope that’ll serve you across multiple objectives, this Nightforce SHV scope maybe just it for you.
At 4-14x magnification, it may not have a maximum power rating as some of them already listed FFP scopes, but this doesn’t stop it from producing good image quality at longer ranges. It is helped by its extra-wide 50mm objective lens that provides the entry point for the light needed to keep images clear even in poor light conditions. Its lenses are also multi-coated for better light transmission, which helps the image quality too.
It has a zero set feature that locks in your windage zero and allows you to make quick adjustments for a shot and switch back to your initial zero with a click of a button. Awesome, right? You can also make elevation adjustments to your shot. The third turret is a 25yard parallax adjustment turret which further enhances the accuracy of your shots.
The scope uses a Nightforce-only MOA reticle which may make it difficult to use at first. You will need a learning period to get a hold of it.
- Magnification range of 4-14x
- Wide objective lens of 50mm
- 25-yard parallax adjustment available
- Zero set feature attached
- Multi-coated lens
- Needs a learning period
4. Primary Arms SLX 4-14x44mm FFP Rifle Scope
This is our top pick for affordability. This scope is one of the most affordable FFP scope available, and you may be thinking it is far inferior to its counterparts. You’ll be surprised at what this Primary Arms SLX scope can do. Well, think no more as I’ll show you why it deserved a place on my list.
It comes with a magnification range of 4-14x and has a 44mm objective lens to allow light into the tube for clear and crisp images. It has a variety of reticle options for you to choose from, which is great for a scope at this budget.
Primary Arms SLX is rugged and can be used in varying weather conditions, unlike some other scopes that may be clogged or blocked when used in extreme conditions like during rainfall. Its rugged nature stems from the solid construction materials used to produce it and additional protection. Its turrets are also finger-adjustable which means you do not need a tool to make adjustments. Speed is important in shooting, and finger-adjustable knobs save you a lot of time.
It has a 30mm tube that allows 17.4MIL adjustments in both elevation and windage. It also comes with a 3-year warranty.
All these for an affordable price. This is why this FFP scope is sitting on this list with more expensive FFP scope options. Its reticle is also illuminated, which will help with low-light shooting.
If you’re on a shoestring budget but still want to enjoy a great FFP scope, the Primary Arms SLX scope will do you good. The scope is, however, not night vision compatible.
- Magnification range of 4-14x
- Wide objective lens of 44mm
- Affordable scope
- Multiple reticle options
- Can be used in varying weather and temperature conditions
- Finger adjustable turrets
- 3-year warranty
- Not night vision compatible
- Build issues
5. Monstrum Tactical 3-9x40mm FFP Rifle Scope
Monstrum tactical 3-9×40 rifle scope is a high precision FFP scope with magnification engaging from 3-9x, which is not so powerful but gets the job done. Its 40mm objective lens may not be the widest but fits attached to a maximum power of 9. It makes wonder happen. The light getting in is more than enough to give you clear images at the highest magnification level.
It has an ultra wideband coating and multiple coated lenses that help it produce even better images for you at whatever magnification level. It can be used during the rain as it has fog proof technology and is waterproof. It is a one-piece tube made from aluminum which makes it rugged enough to withstand high recoil from your rifle. There is a 3-inch sunshade that covers the lenses and ensures the glares from the sun do not obstruct your aiming.
With eye relief as wide as 4-4.5 inches, your eyes are protected even with heavy recoil. You’ll enjoy the rangefinder feature attached that helps you calculate the range without having to do it manually.
The reticle it uses is an illuminated bullet drop compensator. It has a parallax adjustment knob attached to its side for extra accuracy.
- Magnification range of 3-9x
- Objective lens of 40mm
- Parallel adjustment knob available
- Wide eye relief of 4-4.5 inches
- Rangefinder feature attached
- fog proof technology and water guard
- One-piece body
- Multi-coated lenses
- Low magnification power
6. Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24x50mm FFP Rifle Scope
It has a magnification range of 6-24x and an accompanying 50mm objective lens size for light intake into the tube to help with image quality. The high power level of this scope makes it ideal for long-distance shooting.
This Athlon optics is affordable and effective. It has elevation, windage, and parallax adjustments available. This increases the accuracy you can get from this scope. Its lenses are multi-coated and coupled with its wide objective lens, you’ll be getting clear images even at higher magnifications. There is also brightness adjustment available so you can adjust the brightness depending on the light condition for an even accurate shot.
Its adjustments may need some improvement as users complain it is difficult to use.
Its reticle is glass-etched for extra support. This is a very durable scope as the lenses come with lens covers. The tube is argon-purged to prevent fog from forming inside and keep it thermally stable to be used in any temperature condition. It is also made from 6061T6 aircraft-grade aluminum for a durable body able to withstand recoil pressure.
It has a 30mm tube that allows 18 MIL adjustment for longer shots. There are wideband coatings and multi-coatings on its lenses so it can continue to produce crisp images no matter the condition. This scope does not have a zero stop feature which is important but considered a high-end feature, and considering the price of this scope, not having this feature can be overlooked.
- Magnification range of 6-24x
- Wide objective lens of 50mm
- Durable scope
- Waterproof and fog proof
- Glass-etched reticle
- Parallax adjustments available
- No zero stop feature
- Adjustments need improvement
Buying Guide for FFP Scope
Before you buy any FFP scope, consider these factors and crosscheck them against any scope you’re looking to purchase. This will give you a good reference point and help you make better buying decisions. Here are my top factors to consider before buying an FFL scope:
- Your Needs
You see, FFP scopes are not particularly better than SFP scopes. They all have their strong points and best use cases. The only time you’ll get to fully enjoy the advantages of using an FFP scope is if you’re using it to its strength.
Consider what you’ll be using the scope for, the time of the day you’ll normally be shooting, the distance you’ll be shooting from, and the type of shooting. All these will guide you to know if an FFP scope is right for you.
Next, consider the magnification of the scope and referencing the distance you’ll be shooting from and the capability of your rifle. If you’ll be shooting extremely long distances and already have a matching long-distance rifle, you’ll be needing an FFP scope with high enough power.
Generally, FFP reticles are for long-distance shooting, so you’ll find more scopes with higher magnifications.
Hunting takes place outdoors and most times, in the harshest of conditions. It can be under the rain, the scorching heat, and glare from the sun, or even dusty terrains. Even more so when it comes to FFP scopes that are expensive, you do want to be changing a 3000 dollar scope every season, do you?
This is why durability is key. Why you need to consider the durability of the FFP scope before buying. Check the materials it is made of. Check how it is sealed to prevent water from entering and fog from forming inside the tube. Argon-purged tubes are generally more effective than nitrogen-purged tubes.
As earlier mentioned, FFP scopes are generally more expensive than SFP scopes, so you want to consider your budget. Even though most scopes in this category are in the higher price spectrum, you’ll still find a good number of budget FFP scopes to choose from.
- Objective Lens
The objective lens size is important for FFP scopes because they are generally long-distance scopes with high magnification ranges. This means it needs a wide enough objective lens if you’ll get clear and crisp images.
Check the objective lens against the highest power level. The higher the magnification level, the wider the objective lens you need.
After all is said and done, the onus rests on you to make the right FFP decision. Luckily, you have everything you need right in this article to select the best FFP scope for your needs.