Do Snipers Use First or Second Focal Plane: Sniper Preferences

When it comes to precision shooting, snipers demand the utmost accuracy and consistency from their scopes. One critical decision that snipers face is whether to opt for a first focal plane (FFP) or a second focal plane (SFP) reticle. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and the choice often depends on the specific needs and preferences of the sniper. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between FFP and SFP scopes, shedding light on which one snipers tend to prefer and why.

Understanding the Basics

Before delving into sniper preferences, let’s briefly explain the fundamental differences between FFP and SFP scopes. These differences center around the position of the reticle within the scope’s optics. In an FFP scope, the reticle is located in the first focal plane, meaning it changes in size as the magnification level is adjusted. In contrast, an SFP scope has its reticle in the second focal plane, so the reticle’s size remains constant regardless of magnification.

The Case for the First Focal Plane

FFP scopes have several advantages that appeal to snipers. One of the most significant benefits is the reticle’s subtensions remain consistent at all magnification levels. This means that any mil-dot or MOA markings on the reticle can be used for range estimation, holdovers, and windage corrections at any magnification setting. For snipers engaged in rapidly changing situations or unknown distance shooting scenarios, this versatility is invaluable.

Another advantage of FFP scopes is their simplicity. Snipers can focus solely on the reticle and its markings without needing to consider the magnification level. This simplicity can be crucial in high-pressure situations where quick and accurate target acquisition is essential.

The Appeal of Second Focal Plane

While FFP scopes have their merits, SFP scopes also find favor among some snipers. One of the primary reasons for this preference is the simplicity of the reticle. In an SFP scope, the reticle remains the same size, making it less cluttered and easier to read at lower magnifications. This clarity can be advantageous when identifying targets at longer ranges or in low-light conditions.

Additionally, SFP scopes often come with a more extensive field of view at lower magnifications, which can be beneficial in close-quarter or dynamic shooting scenarios. The reticle’s constant size can also make it easier to engage moving targets at various distances without needing to make adjustments.

Sniper Preferences

Sniper preferences regarding FFP vs. SFP scopes can vary significantly based on their training, experience, and the specific missions they undertake. Some snipers prefer the versatility and consistency of FFP scopes, appreciating the ability to make precise calculations regardless of magnification. Others opt for SFP scopes, valuing the simplicity, clarity, and ease of use, particularly in situations where quick target identification is paramount.

Ultimately, the choice between FFP and SFP scopes is a matter of personal preference and mission requirements. Snipers often undergo extensive training with their chosen scope type to maximize their effectiveness in various scenarios. It’s crucial to consider the specific needs of the mission, the range at which engagements are expected, and the shooter’s proficiency with their selected scope.


In the world of sniping, precision, and accuracy are non-negotiable. Whether snipers prefer first focal plane (FFP) or second focal plane (SFP) scopes, the decision ultimately depends on their individual requirements and comfort levels. Both types of scopes have their advantages and drawbacks, and snipers train rigorously to harness the full potential of their chosen optics. The key to successful sniping lies not only in the equipment, but also in the skill, experience, and adaptability of the sniper using it.