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FFP VS SFP – Know The Difference

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The location of a reticle in an ocular assembly of a scope is a vital part of the accuracy and ease you get when using a scope. The two positions where a scope’s reticle can be placed inside the assembly is at the first focal plane (FFP) and the second focal plane (SFP).

When shooters want to add a scope to their collection, one of the first things they start to consider is the reticle position, leading to the now famous comparison; FFP Vs SFP. This comparison has become a keenly contested one, with shooters being for or against the option of using either of them. Before you pitch your tent in any of the camps, it will be best you get the complete picture about these reticle scope positions, including where they are best suited so that you can make an informed decision.

Some people prefer the first focal plane scope, while the others will say the second focal plane scope is the best thing after steak. One thing remains, many people are confused or at least not convinced on the best scope type to use for their peculiar needs. This confusion has led many shooters to try and sometimes stick with the wrong option, which leads to decreased accuracy and much more.



What this article seeks to achieve is a clear distinction between first focal plane scopes and second focal plane scopes. And then establish which of them will best suit your needs.

What is the First Focal Plane (FFP)?

What is the First Focal Plane (FFP)

A first focal plane scope, or FFP as it is fondly called, is a scope with its reticle placed in the first focal plane. The reticle is placed close to the ocular lens and produces reticle sizes that change as the magnification is adjusted. The lower the magnification, the smaller the reticle size and vice versa.

First focal plane scopes are relatively new, only becoming available around ten years ago. Many shooters are not comfortable using this type of scope, so the learning curve is still high. It is, however, best suited to long-range shooting since the reticle size moves following the magnification currently in use. Bear in mind that this is what it appears to do while it is actually staying the same regarding the magnification. What this means is that the hold point will remain the same across any magnification used.

What is the Second Focal Plane (SFP)?

What is the Second Focal Plane (SFP)?

The second focal plane, or SFP as it is fondly called, is a scope with its reticle placed in the second focal plane. While the reticle for an FFP scope is mounted farther away, close to the ocular lens, the reticle of an SFP scope is mounted closer to the eye box. This is why the reticle appears to be the same size no matter the magnification used.

Second focal plane scopes are mainstays in the industry, with the majority of scopes SFPs. This means you must have seen or used an SFP scope if you’re conversant with scopes. It makes its usage easy since many people are already familiar with its working principles.

Difference Between FFP and SFP

Difference Between SFP and FFP

Now that you’ve known what SFP and FFP scopes are and what they stand for, we can dive deeper by seeing how they differ from each other. This will make it clearer and help you decide which you should settle on.

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Reticle Position

The position of the reticle in a scope is the determinant of it all. It is what makes an SFP differ from an FFP scope. The reticle of an FFP scope is placed farther away from the eyepiece. It is set close to the ocular lens while the reticle of an SFP scope is placed closer. It is placed close to the eye box.

Reticle Size

The first after effect of the reticle position that you’ll notice when you look through the scope is the size of the reticle on the target. The size of the reticle of an FFP scope appears to change as you adjust the magnification. You’ll notice that the reticle’s size increases as you move towards the highest power level of the scope and vice versa.

The reticle size of an SFP scope, on the other hand, appears to remain the same across any magnification.

Popularity and Ease of Adoption

Typically the more popular a scope is, the easier it is to find materials, including videos and articles. It’ll also be more accessible because many people would already know how it works since they may have used it at one point in time.

It is estimated that over 85% of all the scopes in the world are SFP scopes. This shows how popular they are as they have been in existence since reticle positions became a thing in scopes. Many shooters who’ve had a previous encounter with a scope may have seen or used an SFP scope. It is also relatively easy to find materials on the SFP scope since it is so popular.

FFP scopes, on the other hand, have only been in existence for just over ten years now, with many casual shooters yet to see an FFP scope before. While FFP scopes are not the most popular in the market right now, they are fast gaining prominence among shooters in various fields as their advantages become clearer.

Best Distance

When it comes to shooting, distance is an essential factor to consider as distance can affect your shots’ effectiveness and ease. So what is the best shooting distance for the different reticle positions?

Because of the position of the reticle in front of the magnification lenses and erector assembly, it is easy to see a more precise image since the reticle increases as you increase the magnification. This is why an FFP scope is excellent for long-distance shooting. Also, because the crosshairs are visible at higher magnifications, you can quickly and accurately aim and hit your target at these distances.

For an SFP scope, the crosshairs remain the same across all magnification levels, so it is easily noticeable and accurate at lower magnifications. This makes it great for average to short-distance shooting like hunting and home defense. You can use an SFP scope for long-distance shooting and still get the maximum accuracy from it, but only if you’ll use the highest magnification power.

Also Read: 5 Best Scopes For 7mm Rem Mag in 2022


The scope price is just as important as anything else because no matter the specifications and advantages a scope brings, if it is not affordable or if it is not seen as a great deal by potential buyers, it’ll not be used. So how do these two scopes differ from each other in terms of their prices?

An FFP scope is typically the more expensive option and is seen as a high-end scope associated with other high-end rifles. The price of this scope is associated with the not so common parts of the FFP scope seeing that it is still new.

An SFP scope, on the other hand, is quite affordable since they are easier to produce with easily accessible parts.

Which is Best for Me?

Have you ever been so confused about which of the scopes to buy? Or maybe you’re among the few who don’t even care about them as long as they can shoot, not minding if it is hindering their aiming? Getting the proper scope for you is vital. Before we go any further, you have to understand that none of the two scopes is terrible; they are just built differently with different markets in mind. To know if you fall into any of the markets for either SFP or FFP scope, you have to do some thinking. Don’t worry; it won’t require much.

You first have to consider the things that matter most to you, the distance you shoot at, your budget, among other things. Knowing this will make your decision so much easier.

FFP scopes are best for long-range shooting; SFP scopes are great when taking mid to short-range distances. FFP scopes are pretty expensive and may be out of reach if you’re on a budget; SFP scopes, on the other hand, are easily affordable to many.


As you have seen, the difference between SFP and FFP is clear, and even though many people neglect their differences, they can significantly impact the quality of your shots. This article has finally rest this contentious topic and made it easy for you to select the best scope for your needs.

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About Author

James Towndrow, a NRA-certified Firearms Instructor. During a career of 18 years had won several shooting competition including major leagues. Taking all those experience down the road, is now a successful Shooting Instructor in Texas, US.