First focal plane (FFP) refers to the placement of the reticle in a rifle scope. In an FFP optic, the reticle is in the front part of the optical system, near the objective lens. The reticle’s size changes with the scope’s magnification. This allows for accurate range estimation at any setting.
Let’s take a look at the history of FFP optics, who makes them now, examples of current optics, pros & cons, FFP vs SFP, and price ranges.
The History of First Focal Plane Optics
The history of FFP optics began in WWII. Military snipers started using telescopic sights to engage long-range targets. To improve range estimation accuracy, military optics manufacturers experimented with different reticle placements. They eventually settled on FFP design.
During WWII, the use of scopes on military rifles became widespread. They allowed snipers to engage targets at longer ranges with greater accuracy. However, early telescopic sights had a challenge. The reticle remained a constant size, regardless of the magnification setting.
This made it difficult to accurately estimate the range to the target. The size of the target would change with the magnification, but the size of the reticle would not.
Military optics manufacturers began experimenting with different reticle placements. One solution was to place the reticle in the front part of the system, near the objective lens. This caused the reticle’s size to change with the target’s size at any magnification.
Easier range estimation and better aiming accuracy were the result.
Boom. First focal plane optics were born.
These new optics helped snipers adjust their aim faster. The holdover points on the reticle were now more accurate. This allowed wind and bullet drop compensation at longer distances.
Military snipers made the FFP design popular. It soon became the standard for long-range shooting.
FFP Optics are still popular with military, tactical shooters, hunters and competitive shooters.
Who Makes First Focal Plane Scopes?
There are several manufacturers of first focal plane (FFP) optics, including:
Many different companies design and manufacture FFP optics. These companies offer products ranging from low-cost, affordable optics to high-end, precision optics.
Designing and making these optics is a difficult and skilled process. It requires expertise in a range of fields including optics, engineering, and manufacturing.
FFP optics manufacturers design the housing and lens system to precise tolerances.
This aligns the reticle in the optical system. Reticle designers consider reticle visibility at different magnification levels. They also consider how the reticle’s placement affects its appearance and use. A well designed reticle provides accurate and useful information to the shooter.
Once the entire optic design is complete, then the manufacturing process can start. This usually includes machining, assembling, and checking the quality of the optic. Each controlled step makes sure the final product meets high standards. This process takes a long time and requires a lot of work. This is why FFP optics are often more expensive than SFP optics.
Designing and making FFP optics requires skill, knowledge, and precision manufacturing. This leads to optics that provide accurate range estimation at any magnification setting.
Examples of First Focal Plane Scopes
Some examples of first focal plane (FFP) optics include
Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25×50 FFP rifle scope
Trijicon AccuPower 1-8×28 FFP rifle scope
Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 FFP rifle scope
These are just a few examples of FFP optics available on the market. There are many other manufacturers and models of FFP optics available, each with its own unique features and capabilities.
Pros & Cons of FFP Optics
Pros of FFP optics:
Reticle size changes with magnification, allowing accurate range estimation at any setting
Holdover points on the reticle help compensate for bullet drop at longer distances
Reticle stays the same size relative to the target, making it easier to make quick adjustments to aim
FFP optics allow for the use of ranging reticles, which can be used to estimate the range to the target
Cons of FFP optics:
Reticle can appear distorted at low magnification settings, making it difficult to see or use
FFP optics are often more expensive than second focal plane (SFP) optics
The reticle can appear cluttered or busy at high magnification settings, making it difficult to use
The reticle may be difficult to see in low light conditions, especially at low magnification settings.
First Focal Plane (FFP) vs Second Focal Plane (SFP)
First focal plane (FFP) optics and second focal plane (SFP) optics are two different types of rifle scopes. Each has its own unique features and capabilities.
Reticle & Crosshairs Comparison
One key difference between FFP and SFP optics is the placement of the reticle, or crosshairs.
FFP optics place the reticle in the front part of the optical system, near the objective lens. This allows the reticle to change size with magnification, as we’ve already discussed.
SFP optics place the reticle in the rear part of the optical system, near the eyepiece. Reticle size stays the same, regardless of magnification settings.
Holdover Points Comparison
Another difference between FFP and SFP optics is the use of holdover points on the reticle. In an FFP optic, the reticle can be designed with holdover points, which can be used to compensate for bullet drop at longer distances. Because the reticle size changes with the magnification, the holdover points will remain accurate at any magnification setting. In an SFP optic, the reticle does not change size, so holdover points are not as useful.
Additionally, FFP optics are often more expensive than SFP optics, as the manufacturing process is more complex. This can be a consideration when choosing between FFP and SFP optics.
What’s the price range of First Focal Plane Scopes?
The price range of first focal plane (FFP) optics can vary widely, depending on the quality and features of the optic. Budget-friendly FFP optics can be found for under $100, while high-end, precision optics can cost $3,000 and up.
One factor that can affect the price of FFP optics is the manufacturer. Some of the top gun scope manufacturers, such as Vortex, Trijicon, and Nightforce, offer a range of FFP optics at different price points. These companies generally produce high-quality optics, but their top-of-the-line models can be quite expensive.
Another factor that can affect the price of FFP optics is the quality of the lens and housing. Higher-quality optics will typically use high-grade lenses and precision-machined housings, which can add to the cost of the optic. Additionally, features like illuminated reticles and variable magnification can also affect the price.
Overall, the price range of FFP optics can vary widely, from budget-friendly options to high-end, precision optics. When shopping for an FFP optic, it is important to consider the intended use and the specific features and capabilities of the optic, as well as the price.