First vs Second Focal Plane

We get a lot of questions about scopes at Utah Airguns. One of the most common questions we hear is whether you want a First or Second Focal Plane scope when shooting an airgun.

Most the decision comes down to personal preference but in order to help you make an educated choice, we’ve broken down what each reticle offers and the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Second Focal Plane

The most common reticle design is a Second Focal Plane (SFP). Sometimes referred to as Rear Focal Plane. What this means is that the reticle is placed BEHIND, or closer to your face than, the magnification adjustment. Because of this placement, when you change your magnification and zoom into your target, the reticle stays the same size. An example of this is the Hawke Sidewinder.

You’re reticle will always be clearly visible because its not changing sizes when adjusting your magnification, thus making it easy to always get on target.

The disadvantage is that if you have trajectory markings on your reticle design, those markings, or hold over values, are only going to be accurate on whichever magnification setting the gun was sighted in at. Most of the time this is done on full power.

It’s really not as scary as it sounds. Most people keep their scope fully powered anyway so you’re not going to run into problems. Just remember, you need to be at full power in order for those trajectory markings, or hold over values, to be 100% accurate.

First Focal Plane

The First Focal Plane (FFP), sometimes referred to Front Focal Plane, is when the reticle is placed IN FRONT of, or further from your face than, the magnification setting. An example of this is the Athlon Helos BTR.

What this does is now when you change your magnification settings, your target and your reticle both change sizes simultaneously. Now those trajectory markings, or hold over values, are accurate no matter what magnification setting you’re on.

The disadvantage of a FFP is that sometimes if you’re zoomed all the way out, those finer details of the reticle will be harder to see. If you have a hard time seeing small details, maybe choosing a SFP scope would be a better choice. 

Both FFP and SFP are great options for different situations. Take a look through our scope options and let us help you find the best scope for you.