AR15 Scopes: First And Second Focal Plane Explained

Project ar15 Nov 19, 2023
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AR15 Scope First and Second Focal Plane

Navigating Optics: First Focal Plane vs. Second Focal Plane LPVOs



In the realm of precision shooting and tactical optics, the choice between a first focal plane (FFP) and second focal plane (SFP) low power variable optic (LPVO) is a decision that can significantly impact your shooting experience. Both have their merits, catering to different preferences and shooting styles. Let's delve into the intricacies of FFP and SFP LPVOs and explore the reasons you might choose one over the other.


What's the Difference Between First and Second Focal Plane Scopes?


The primary distinction between FFP and SFP LPVOs lies in the placement of the reticle in relation to the magnification system. In an FFP optic, the reticle size changes proportionally with the magnification level, ensuring that the sub-tensions remain constant across all power settings. Conversely, in an SFP optic, the reticle stays the same size regardless of magnification, meaning the sub-tensions are accurate only at a specific magnification setting.


Precision at Any Magnification


The standout advantage of FFP optics is the consistent subtension values at all magnification levels. This consistency allows shooters to make precise distance and windage estimations regardless of the zoom setting, a crucial factor in dynamic shooting scenarios where quick adjustments are paramount. For those engaging targets at varying distances without time for meticulous adjustments, an FFP LPVO is a versatile choice.


Second Focal Plane Takes the Edge in Speed and Clarity


On the flip side, SFP optics have their own set of advantages. The reticle in an SFP optic remains constant in size, resulting in a cleaner sight picture and faster target acquisition, especially at low magnifications. This makes SFP LPVOs ideal for close-quarters engagements and situations where rapid transitions between targets are crucial. The fixed reticle size can also be less distracting for some shooters, enhancing overall clarity.


How Do I Decide Between A First Focal Plane LPVO and A Second Focal Plane LPVO?


The decision between FFP and SFP LPVOs ultimately depends on the shooter's intended use. For long-range precision shooters or those engaged in competitions demanding precision at various distances, an FFP optic might be the preferred choice. On the other hand, if speed and versatility in close to mid-range scenarios are crucial, an SFP optic could provide a more intuitive and rapid shooting experience.


Considerations Beyond Magnification


While the FFP vs. SFP debate often centers on reticle subtensions and magnification, other factors should influence your decision. Consider factors such as cost, weight, and personal preferences in reticle style. Additionally, assess the intended application of your optic – whether it be for competition, hunting, or tactical use – to ensure that your choice aligns with the demands of your shooting environment.



In the ever-evolving world of optics, the choice between FFP and SFP LPVOs adds an additional layer of complexity to the decision-making process. Whether you prioritize precision at any magnification or the speed of target acquisition, understanding the nuances between FFP and SFP optics is key to making an informed decision. As with any gear selection, it's essential to match your optic to your specific shooting needs, ensuring that your chosen LPVO becomes a seamless extension of your capabilities on the field.