Rifle Setups Changing
Getting a new hunting rifle isn’t what it used to be. Walking in the local sporting goods store and walking out the door with a new rifle, optics, and bullets for the hunt feels uncool. Now it seems everything we need and want has to be custom. Our rifles aren’t bought, they’re built. The bullets we shoot are custom hand loaded for the specific gun and more specialty calibers continue to surface in the rifle market. As confusing as putting together a solid hunting rifle seems, it’s also very exciting and with so many options rifles can fit our very specific needs. Once you get that rifle and jump on Vortex Optics website to top it off with a scope you’ll notice that purchasing a riflescope isn’t quite what it used to be either.
This Ain’t Grandads Riflescope
Optics do things now that our grandads, and even dads, could only dream of. If you’ve shopped around for a new riflescope recently then you’ve likely encountered the acronyms “FFP” and “SFP” on variable power scopes. These acronyms stand for First Focal Plane (also sometimes called Front Focal Plane) and Second Focal Plane. Those focal planes are in reference to where the reticle (crosshairs) exists in the scope. In its simplicity the reticle is closer to the magnification end of the scope in the SFP scopes and the reticle is further forward in the tube for FFP scopes. If this focal plane talk sounds kind of complicated let’s break it down here at its most simplistic roots.
SFP: Second Focal Plane
This is the standard most of us grew up with and is the focal plane where the reticle is closest to the magnification end of the scope. The reticle always looks the same no matter the magnification your at (see diagram below). The reticle at 3X looks the same as the reticle at 20X or simply put the reticle remains the same size through the range of magnifications for that scope. Because of this scopes equipped with Mil or MOA subtensions are only accurate at the highest magnification and you have to do a little math at lower magnifications (there are a few exceptions).
FFP: First Focal Plane
FFP scopes are kind of the new kids on the block when it comes to hunting. They’ve been around for a while but mostly popular among tactical and long range shooters. Now these FFP scopes are catching on in the hunting world as our equipment is getting us further downrange. The key point with FFP scopes is that the reticle appears to grow and shrink with magnification or in other words it adjusts to the magnification (see diagram below). Also important is that the Mil or MOA scale is constant throughout the range of magnifications and not just at the highest magnification.
We understand there’s more fine details when you really start dissecting first and second focal planes but the intention of this article is to give folks the basics when first considering focal plane options. Knowing which one you want really is a matter of preference. Most major manufacturers have scopes now with both focal plane options. Vortex Optics offers several models like the Razor or Viper series in both SFP and FFP. Does one kill big bucks deader than the other….nope. Is one focal plane over another going to make you a better shooter…nope. Practice, practice, and more practice is what will make you a better shooter, close and long range, not the scope. With practice comes an understanding of your equipment and knowing what it can and can’t do and how to put those details into a shot downrange is what makes you a consistent shooter.
Still a little confused, here is a video our Partners at Vortex Optics did that gives a good visual representation of both focal planes.