Best FFP Scope for the Money (First Focal Plane Riflescopes Under $300, $500, $1000 & $1500)

Last Updated on

First Focal Plane Rifle ScopesIf the sound of ringing steel from a distance is a sound you live for, an FFP reticle might be for you.

If you’ve caught the highly contagious long-range shooting bug, an FFP reticle might be for you.

If you want usable holdovers throughout your entire magnification range, an FFP reticle might be for you.

We think you get the point.  We’ll find any and every excuse to legitimize pulling the trigger on buying an FFP rifle scope.

But, is FFP really what you need?  Could SFP scopes do you one better out in the hunt?  By the way, what does FFP and SFP mean?

We’ll answer your reticle questions here and guide you towards the best scope to mount your rig!

 

QUICK LIST: Best First Focal Plane Scopes in 2019

  1. NightForce ATACR 5-25X56 F1
  2. Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25X56
  3. Maven RS.1 2.5-15X44Best FFP Scope for Hunting
  4. Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25X50 FFP EBR-2C MRADBest FFP Scope Under $1500
  5. Athlon Ares BTR 4.5-27X50 Best FFP Scope Under $1000
  6. Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24X50 Best FFP Scope Under $500
  7. Athlon Argos BTR 6-24X50Best FFP Scope for the Money
  8. Primary Arms 4-14X44Best Cheap FFP Scope

 

Our 8 Top FFP Scopes

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
tt-table__imageNightForce ATACR
  • Magnification: 5-25X 56mm
  • Reticle: F1 DigIllum Illuminated MOAR
  • Price Range: Over $3000
VIEW ON AMAZON
tt-table__imageLeupold Mark 5HD
  • Magnification: 5-25X 56mm
  • Reticle: Tremor 3
  • Price Range: Over $2000
VIEW ON AMAZON
tt-table__imageMaven RS.1 2.5-15X44
  • Magnification: 2.5-15X 44mm
  • Reticle: SHR
  • Price Range: Under $1500
VIEW ON AMAZON
tt-table__imageVortex Viper PST Gen II
  • Magnification: 5-25X 50mm
  • Reticle: Illuminated EBR-2C MRAD
  • Price Range: Under $1000
VIEW ON AMAZON
tt-table__imageAthlon Ares BTR 4.5-27X50
  • Magnification: 4.5-27X 50mm
  • Reticle: Illuminated APLR3 MIL
  • Price Range: Under $1000
VIEW ON AMAZON
tt-table__imageVortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24X50
  • Magnification: 6-24X 50mm
  • Reticle: EBR-2C MOA
  • Price Range: Under $500
VIEW ON AMAZON
tt-table__imageAthlon Argos BTR 6-24X50
  • Magnification: 6-24X 50mm
  • Reticle: ATMR FFP IR MOA
  • Price Range: Under $400
VIEW ON AMAZON
tt-table__imagePrimary Arms 4-14X44
  • Magnification: 4-14X 44mm
  • Reticle: ACSS HUD DMR .308
  • Price Range: Under $300
VIEW ON AMAZON

 

It’s not as difficult as you may think to wrap your head around FFP scopes.  First off, FFP stands for First Focal Plane or Front Focal Plane.  It simply means the reticle assembly is physically located in front of the magnifying assembly in the rifle scope.

What does this mean for you?  The reticle will change in size as you change magnification.  Crosshairs will increase in size as you crank up the power.  Conversely, crosshairs will decrease in size as you lower the power range.

Pros and cons of this reticle preference?  You can holdoff for elevation and wind at any power range since your crosshair marks will be usable as subtension consistently remains unchanged.

The downside?  If you’re in thick brush or it’s rapidly approaching lowlight hours where you need to sit in lower magnification ranges, cross hairs can be difficult to see as they may be too thin and small.  Sometimes an FFP reticle can be too thick and can cover too much of a target at high magnification.

When it comes to comparing this system with SFP (second focal plane) or Rear Focal Plane reticles, it’s a matter of preference.  Neither one is inherently better than the other, although, some shooters may swear by one system for their purposes.  For an explanation on the differences between the two, check out our Reticle Guide here.

Now, let’s take a nose dive into the best front focal plane scopes that made our lineup!

 

FFP Scope Reviews

1

NightForce ATACR 5-25X56 F1

Nightforce Optics 5-25x56 ATACR ZeroStop Riflescope, Matte Black with F1...
5 Reviews
Nightforce Optics 5-25x56 ATACR ZeroStop Riflescope, Matte Black with F1...
  • Internal Adjustments: Elev- 89MOA/26 MIL, Wind-60MOA/ 18MIL
  • Tube Diameter: 34mm
  • Eye Relief: 3.54 inch
  • Mounting Length (inches/mm): 6.3/160
  • Weight (ounce/gram): 30/850

Yes, we know the ATACR series of scopes is beyond expensive, but that hasn’t stopped fanatics and professional shooters from owning one, or two.  What loyalists love about the brand is that they’re extremists.  Maybe that’s what attracts you.  Perhaps you can relate.  When you want extreme accuracy at extreme long ranges with extreme quality and features on your shooting rig, NightForce is the only brand for you.

PROS:
  • FFP reticle
  • MOAR reticle
  • Digillum illumination
  • Wide MOA adjustments
  • ZeroStop

CONS:
  • Price

The ATACR scope is heavy.  It’s 38 ounces total and adding that to your setup will quickly tack on the poundage.  While this scope can easily take out varmints, big game, and predators from distances that just might be controversial to some, you’ll find it better suited for prone position shooting for competition and/or military/law enforcement use.

Tactical features include an FFP illuminated reticle with the MOAR style crosshairs.  Its strategic design extends to the thick 34 mm tube body that provides an extremely wide 120 MOA elevation and 80 MOA windage adjustment travel.

The ZeroStop, PTL (Power Throw Lever), high power, and extremely large aperture all adds to its prowess out in the field.  It’s no wonder ATACR scopes are used by the U.S. military.  It’s no wonder ATACR scopes are expensive, no detail left overlooked, and no expense spared.  It’s no wonder NightForce stands at the top.

 

2

Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25X56

Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56mm Riflescope
5 Reviews
Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56mm Riflescope
  • Leopold Model #171775 - Mark 5HD 5-25x56mm with Front Focal Tremor 3 reticle and Matte finish
  • 100% Waterproof, fog proof, & shockproof
  • M5C3 Turrets - Low Profile 1/10 Mil per click dials provide 30 Mils of adjustment in 3 revolutions (Visual and tactile revolution indicators ensure you don't get lost in...
  • Front Focal Plane (FFP) - The reticle magnifies along with the image, so you can estimate range at all magnification settings
  • Twilight Max HD Light Management system - Adds up to 30 minutes of shooting light, best in class glare reduction, and edge to edge HD lens clarity

The Mark 5HD is one of Leupold’s serious beasts of a machine.  It’s not cheap nor is it for the faint of heart shooter.  With approximately 35 MILS of long-ranging elevation travel, a huge 35 mm main tube, and an FFP reticle, it’s a shooter’s complete scope to hit steel at ranges once unachievable.

PROS:
  • 35 mm tube
  • Zero Lock dial
  • 1/10th MIL clicks
  • Wide adjustment travel
  • High power with throw lever

CONS:
  • Price

With a quick overview of its specs, it’s a heavy scope that’s meant to be set up for those extreme long-range shots.  Hitting steel at 1000 yards plus is nothing for this long-ranging machine.

It’s also obvious that with a setup like this, this scope is not a cheap optic.  Having a reticle in the FFP is only one contribution to its expensive price tag as high-end scopes often come with high-end features that the Mark 5 obviously has.

It’s been Punisher Tested to withstand the harshest of recoil you can dish out.  Leupold says it’s good enough to survive past 5,000 rounds worth of recoil 3x that of a .308.  As you would expect for a scope made to be this durable, it’s completely waterproof and fogproof.

With a 35 mm main tube body, you have a roomy erector tube to allow up to 34.9 MILS of elevation travel to pound steel from distances you didn’t dare imagine before.  With up to 25x power, you can crank it up and use the Tremor 3 by Horus reticle to get dead-on.

The Zero Lock dial, throw lever. 5:1 zoom ratio, and 0.1 mil clicks just add to the premium design and high-performing setup of the Leupold scope.

Read Full Review

 

 

3

Maven RS.1 2.5-15X44 – Best FFP Scope for Hunting

Maven RS.1 2.5-15 x 44 mm Hunting Rifle Scope SHR Reticle FFP
  • We're focused on performance, so you can focus on your passion. Our passion is great glass - so when it came time to design RS Series rifle scopes we knew they had to be...
  • With a broad magnification range, top-level optical performance, and accessories like a protective objective lens filter, the RS.1 can top any gun in your safe, and maybe...
  • Built to top the most accurate rifles in the world and designed to compete with premium scopes costing much more, RS Series rifle scopes bring unmatched value to a true...

The RS.1 combines the high-end features of a premium rifle scope and a tactical rig to make it suitable for hunters in the field or shooters getting into the long-range game.  As hunters are quickly adopting the techniques that snipers and prone shooters use to hit steel or combatants at extreme long distances, manufacturers like Maven are incorporating first focal plane reticles in hunting rigs to offer the best of both worlds.

PROS:
  • Price
  • FFP reticle
  • Lightweight
  • 30 mm tube
  • Long-range scope

CONS:
  • No illumination option

The RS.1 is a rifle scope that every shooter, tactical or hunter, can get behind.  It has the right number of features and quality that far outweighs its price providing value to the cost-conscious buyer.

It might not have as extreme high power, adjustment travel, or tube body size as some other high-end FFP scopes in our lineup, but it sure has the ideal specs for a hunter and shooter who has some distance to travel on foot.

With its max of 15x magnification, 30 mm tube, and 100 MOA of elevation travel, it’s still a very attractive and impressive scope, and it all helps to keep weight down.  That’s a big factor to consider when scopes that get bigger with more power often add another 2 lbs plus to your rifle.

The SHR (Simplified Holdover Reticle) reticle is in the FFP that is easy to incorporate and see at all magnification levels.  How would we know?  We got our hands on one to physically test out in the field.

While we didn’t find a need to have an illuminated reticle, it would be nice to have the option.  But, if that’s the only complaint we have (if you can call that a complaint), you know it’s a buy we highly recommend.  We will go so far as to say, for the price, it’s the best money you’ll ever spend if you want quality and performance for the field without breaking a financial sweat.

Read Field Test

 

 

4

Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25X50 FFP EBR-2C MRAD – Best FFP Scope Under $1500

Sale
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25x50 FFP Riflescope EBR-2C MRAD
106 Reviews
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25x50 FFP Riflescope EBR-2C MRAD
  • The Viper PST Gen II takes incredible performance and rock solid tactical features to new heights. The 5-25x50 first focal plane riflescope is incredibly versatile and...
  • Shooters who dial their turrets for bullet drop and wind compensation will appreciate the laser etched turrets, adjustable parallax and the RZR zero stop. A fiber optic...
  • The reticle offers shooters highly functional, intuitive, and detailed hold points, yet remains uncluttered for optimal viewing and features 10 intensity levels with...

What rifle scope offers both sniper precision and user ease that’s good enough for both the professional and the enthusiastic civilian?  The Viper PST Gen II scope.  This is one tacti-cool rig that any shooter would be proud to be seen with.  Show up the guys in the next shoot with your FFP rifle scope that’ll be sure to impress.

PROS:
  • Price
  • FFP/glass-etched reticle
  • Illuminated reticle
  • 30 mm one-piece tube
  • Zero stop

CONS:
  • Heavy

It might be whopper of a scope to mount, but when you consider the high-end features that tack on weight, we think you’re willing to let its 2 pounds slide.  Besides, who are you kidding?  This scope is going on a rig where you’re in a prone position and a bipod is holding you steady anyway.

You’ll need that steadiness a bipod can provide when you have extreme 5-25x power to get up and personal with.  The FFP reticle is going to increase in size as you crank up the power, and you’ll need to pay attention to the glass-etched, illuminated MRAD reticle if you’re serious about taking advantage of accurate holdover points.

With the RZR zero stop system, 30 mm tube, and 20 MILS in adjustment travel, it falls right in line with other high-end FFP scopes for the money.  Adding to its value is the additional technology Vortex puts into the glass and image quality.  XD elements ensure you have HD quality to view everything within the field of view with optimum color fidelity and sharp resolution and contrast.

Vortex knows shooters.  Vortex knows optics.  With a background like that, there’s a scope that fits every shooter’s needs, including yours.  This Viper might be on the more expensive end, but what do you expect when you get the best?

 

5

Athlon Ares BTR 4.5-27X50 – Best FFP Scope Under $1000

Sale
Athlon Optics , Ares BTR , Riflescope , 4.5-27 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30mm...
19 Reviews
Athlon Optics , Ares BTR , Riflescope , 4.5-27 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30mm...
  • First focal plane reticle stays valid at all power settings allowing you to fully utilize the specially designed reticle that shrinks or grows along with your target as...
  • HD glass gives you the utmost contrast, light transmission, and the sharpest image
  • Precision zero Stop System the System allows you to lock down your zero position and Dial back to it with a sharp and precise Stop right at your zero mark even you are...

Athlon is a welcome brand to many shooters who need high quality without being ripped off in the process.  They’ve been embraced by shooters and hunters who appreciate the price slashings on their rifle scopes but still come out the other end with more features than they know what to do with.  One such scope is the Ares BTR 4.5-27×50.

PROS:
  • Price
  • FFP reticle
  • Glass-etched reticle
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Zero stop

CONS:
  • Mushy turrets

All we see when we look over the Ares is dollar signs.  What we hear is “ka-ching, ka-ching.”  Surprisingly, our eyes and ears deceive us.  For under 1000, this FFP scope is sporting premium features that we’re unable to find anywhere else.

Just look at its front focal plane reticle that’s glass-etched in place.  It also has an illuminated center grid to provide fast target acquisition during low light or when the reticle is in the lower power range.  To have these three features in a scope is a recipe for multiple dollar signs, and yet, the Ares still comes in under budget for its value.

The Athlon scope even has a zero stop that gets you back to your original zero with a mere twist in micro seconds.  Let us set the record straight – you don’t see this feature at this price point, ever!  It’s a high-end feature that’s hard to come by.

It also has a 30 mm tube body that gives a generous 24 MIL in both elevation and windage adjustment travel, however, clicks aren’t as crisp as users would like.  It has an exterior XPL coating to protect the glass from all the nasties from being out in the field.  HD glass means it has some special extra-low dispersion elements to help eliminate chromatic aberration and enhance color fidelity and resolution.

All this fancy talk means you’re strutting away with savings in your pocket and more than you bargained for on your scope.  When you’re trying to save a buck without compromising on quality, Athlon gets it done.

 

6

Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24X50 – Best FFP Scope Under $500

Sale
Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50 First Focal Plane Riflescopes -...
83 Reviews
Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50 First Focal Plane Riflescopes -...
  • The Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane 6-24x50 stands at the intersection of precision and value, delivering an impressive array of features and performance.
  • Extra-low dispersion glass and fully multi-coated lenses transmit a crisp, bright sight picture. The first focal plane, glass-etched reticle keep subtensions accurate...
  • The precision-glide erector system uses premium components in the zoom lens to ensure smooth magnification changes under the harshest conditions.

Every hunter is familiar with Vortex and especially their Diamondback line of optics.  To cater to the high demand of shooters who want long-range features in a convenient-to-hunt-with scope, the Diamondback Tactical fits the bill.  Set it up for prone position, long-range shooting, or take your long-shots to the hunt and extend your effective range.  Now, that’s Diamondback ruggedness and tactical performance combined.

PROS:
  • Price
  • FFP reticle
  • Glass-etched reticle
  • High power
  • 30 mm tube

CONS:
  • No zero stop

It’s almost ridiculous how affordable this scope is.  Diamondback products are known to be the economical choice with tons of value, but the Diamondback Tactical FFP scope is where the buck stops.  It’s difficult to ever justify spending more on your rig when you can complete it with a high-power, long-ranging scope with high-end features to boot for under 500 bucks.

Not only is the EBR-2C MOA reticle with organized hashmarks in the front focal plane, it has also been glass-etched.  This is a tactical feature that hunters appreciate for its unbreakable ruggedness.

The 30 mm tube body allows up to 65 MOA in adjustment travel and pushing past 1000 yards with the easy to see FFP reticle puts you in the long-range game of things.  This wouldn’t mean much if it wasn’t for the XD elements and HD glass quality you get with this scope.

Even though it doesn’t have a zero stop, it’s not something we’ll complain about when it has literally everything else a scope more than twice its price has.  There’s nothing to nit-pick about here.  If you want FFP for a steal of a price, you’re lucky Vortex has the scope to fit the bill.

 

7

Athlon Argos BTR 6-24X50 – Best FFP Scope for the Money

Athlon Optics , Argos BTR , Riflescope , 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30 mm...
58 Reviews
Athlon Optics , Argos BTR , Riflescope , 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30 mm...
  • First focal plane reticle stays valid at all power settings allowing you to fully utilize the specially designed reticle that shrinks or grows along with your target as...
  • Advanced Fully Multi-Coated lenses gives you better light transmission to bring optimum brightness and true color across the entire light spectrum.
  • Reticle etched on the glass that provides excellent backing support for complex reticle design and offers great durability and much higher shock resistance to recoil

When you’re stuck with a tight budget you might think your options are limited.  While there are tons of cheap optics available within your price range, finding the gems within the junk is the trick to a good buy and making the most out of your budget.  This is when we proudly introduce the Athlon Argos that is equipped to get you ready for precision shooting at the range or in competition.

PROS:
  • Price
  • FFP reticle
  • Glass-etched reticle
  • Argon gas
  • 30 mm tube

CONS:
  • No zero stop

The Argos might just be the solution optic to your shopping dilemma.  You’re on a hunt for a bargain but you’re not going to compromise on specific features you need to get out further and practice holding over.  The feature you need is an FFP reticle.

To find a front focal plane reticle for a really low cost is almost impossible.  We say almost because the Argos does it.  Not only is the APMR in the FFP, it’s also illuminated and glass-etched!  This is practically unheard of for under 500 bucks.

The 30 mm tube body gives up to 60 MOA/18 MIL adjustment travel to get you pumping off rounds at further distances.  An Argon-purged gas chamber is a luxury feature that outdoes nitrogen gas when weatherproofing and sealing your scope.

Extreme high power and a side focus give you the ability to see further with more detail and focus at any range.  High quality coatings such as the Wide Band Fully Multicoated and Xtra Protective Coatings explain why image quality is as crystal clear as it can get.

As is typical for many FFP scopes in the affordable end of the price range, it lacks a zero stop.  A zero stop is also a feature that is considered a premium add-on, so it’s no surprise that you’re not getting it here.  The cost savings must be seen somewhere, right?  Not a bad compromise considering everything else you’re walking away with on the Argos!

 

8

Primary Arms 4-14X44 – Best Cheap FFP Scope

Primary Arms Silver Series 4-14x44 FFP Rifle Scope with Illuminated ACSS HUD DMR...
167 Reviews
Primary Arms Silver Series 4-14x44 FFP Rifle Scope with Illuminated ACSS HUD DMR...
  • ACSS HUD DMR .308 reticle tuned specifically for .308 loads features moving target leads, wind leads, ranging and bullet-drop out to 1,000 yards
  • First focal plane (FFP) reticle stays true at all 4-14x levels of magnification
  • 6 illumination settings powered by a common CR2032 battery have an "off" notch between each setting

It’s hard for us to believe there’s even a rifle scope in this price range with a first focal plane reticle as an option.  You might not believe it until you check it out for yourself.  The Primary Arms 4-14×44 scope is supposed to stun – in quality, features, and in price.  Well, we can say it worked.

PROS:
  • Price
  • 30 mm tube
  • FFP reticle
  • Illuminated reticle
  • .308 reticle

CONS:
  • Build issues

For a scope that only costs a couple hundred bucks, there’s going to be some random quality control complaints here and there.  The most common complaint is the scope being unable to hold zero.  While this is always concerning, the scope is covered with a 3-year warranty, and if it’s not holding zero with your .308 rifle, it’s defective – definitely covered.

With that out of the way, let’s focus on what the scope has been proven to provide.  Its ACSS HUD DMR .308 reticle is specifically designed for .308 loads which is a long-time hunting caliber.  Use the reticle at any magnification and know your holdovers are reliable since it has an FFP reticle.  Guess what?  It’s illuminated too.  This will help with target acquisition when hunting in low light or in shaded glades and timber.

Since it’s only a 4-14x scope, you know weight isn’t going to be bad at all – 24 ounces.  You’ll also have plenty of adjustment range with a 30 mm tube that offers 17.4 MIL in both elevation and windage travel.

The Primary Arms scope is simple.  Long-range, hunting, and reticle versatility is its specialty.  It’s that simple.  Get on the band wagon for the price or expect to spend a heck of a lot more.

 

What to Look for in a First Focal Plane Scope

Choosing a scope based on the FFP reticle alone is a mistake.  It’s only one feature of a scope that enables you to get the job done.  You must look at other features that would be appropriate for your type of shooting.

Size/weight, brand, build quality, adjustments, and low light features should all be considerations throughout your buying process.

But, to help you narrow down what qualities you want at the top end of your priorities when it comes to FFP reticles, here’s what you need to keep in mind.

 

Budget:

FFP reticles are a high-end feature on premium scopes.  It’s unusual to find it in entry-level models.  To justify a generous budget for an FFP scope, you should also look for other features and overall quality that will support your shooting requirements.

 

Activity:

FFP reticles aren’t inherently better than SFP reticles.  There’s a time and place for either type of reticle in the hunt or in the tactical world.  Keep in mind your style of shooting or hunting when deciding which type would be best for your needs.  Will you be sitting and using a bi/tripod?  Are you scouting where you need light weights and compactness as a priority?

 

Magnification:

Mid to high power ranges are typical in FFP scopes.  You can see more of the crosshairs to determine accurate holdover and wind-drift points during any stage of the power range.  However, at low power, it’s difficult to see crosshairs as they may be too small and thin.  FFP scopes with high power are best suited for those shooting long-range distances.

 

Illuminated Reticles:

This feature isn’t a given as illumination is an optional feature on scopes.  It’s a preference, and scopes on the more expensive end will offer reticle illumination.  However, illumination isn’t a determinant of reticle quality, its assembly, or accuracy.

 

Glass-etched VS Wire Reticles:

This has less to do with FFP and SFP-specific designs, but it’s worth knowing more about here.  Many FFP reticles are laser-etched onto glass further adding to the expensive costs of a scope.  Glass-etched reticles are still largely a tactical feature, but like FFP reticles, they’re being adopted into high-end hunting scopes too.

 

FFP Reticles Could Take You to the Next Level!

Are you interested in learning how to mil targets or estimate distances using your reticle?  It’s much easier to do this when you can actually see the marks and dots on your crosshairs.  This will require an FFP reticle to really take advantage of ballistic data.

If you’re intrigued, you may want to muse over our Reticle Guide and then mosey over to our MIL Vs MOA discussion.  If you’re going to pull the trigger on a high-end FFP scope, you may as well become an expert in maximizing your reticle!

Next - Long Range Rifle ScopesBack to - Deer Hunting Rifle Scopes