First Focal Plane vs Second Focal Plane Scope

When choosing a rifle scope today, there are more reticle options than ever before. And one concept that you need to understand when choosing a rifle scope is the focal plane. Reticles are in multiple focal plane designs and today, we will explain the first focal plane vs second focal plane scope for you. So, let’s have a closer look at the features, pros, and cons of the first focal plane vs second focal plane scope reticles.

Rear/Second Focal Plane

The most common reticle design that you will see in most traditional hunting rifle scopes is the rear focal plane or second focal plane design. And what that means is the reticle is literally placed behind the magnification adjustment.

Now, when it is placed behind it that means when you change the magnification, you grow the size of your target or you shrink the size of your target then your reticle size never changes. It always stays the same size.

The benefit of that is your reticle is always very visible, no matter what magnification setting you are on. It is really easy to get on target because you can see the reticle very clearly.

The disadvantage is that if you happened to have trajectory compensation in your reticle design, those subtensions, those holdover values are only going to be accurate at one magnification setting which is usually high power.

That’s why when you are out shooting deer and you know you come up on a deer, you always wanna crank it on high power to make sure that holdover marks are right.

That’s not a big deal, there are a lot of people who hunt that way and it is great. This is something that you have to remember that you need to be on high power for those holdover marks to be 100 percent accurate.

Front/First Focal Plane

Now, the front focal plane or first focal plane design does the opposite. The reticle is placed in front of the magnification adjustment.

So now, when you grow or shrink your magnification, not only your target size gets bigger or smaller but also your reticle size gets bigger or smaller in the same exact way.

So the benefit of that is those trajectory compensation marks are now accurate at any magnification. That’s great. If you are on a low power setting and you wanna take a shot really fast and quickly.

you still know that the 200 or 300-yard holdover mark is still accurate and you don’t need to crank it up on high power to know that you are gonna be dead on.

The disadvantage of the front focal plane scope can sometimes be that as it changes the magnification, some of those fine marks in the reticle can really get hard to see.

If you have any issues with your eyes in picking the fine details then maybe the first focal plane is not for you.

The first focal plane scope is used a lot in competitive situations because it’s really great to have that flexibility and that dead on aiming at any magnification and at any range.

It is used more in hunting scenarios because it just gives you the extra added confidence that you need for long range hunting.

A few final words about the first focal plane vs second focal plane scope

Hope this article will help you in understanding the first focal plane vs second focal plane scope. We have tried our best to keep it simple so that you can easily understand the difference between these two types of reticles.

If you think that any of your suggestions will help us in making this article about the first focal plane vs second focal plane scope more understandable then please let us know.