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If 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 2023
- NightForce ATACR 5-25X56 F1 - Best for Competition
- Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25X56 - Best for Long Range
- Maven RS.4 5-30x56 FFP - Best Under $2000
- Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25X50 FFP EBR-2C MRAD – Best FFP Scope Under $1500
- Maven RS.1 2.5-15X44 – Best FFP Scope for Hunting
- Athlon Ares BTR 4.5-27X50 – Best FFP Scope Under $1000
- Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24X50 – Best FFP Scope Under $500
- Athlon Argos BTR 6-24X50 – Best FFP Scope for the Money
- Primary Arms 4-14X44 – Best Cheap FFP Scope
Our 9 Top FFP Scopes
|NightForce ATACR||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold Mark 5HD||CHECK PRICE|
|Maven RS.4||CHECK PRICE|
|Vortex Viper PST Gen II||CHECK PRICE|
|Maven RS.1||CHECK PRICE|
|Athlon Ares BTR||CHECK PRICE|
|Vortex Diamondback Tactical||CHECK PRICE|
|Athlon Argos BTR||CHECK PRICE|
|Primary Arms 4-14X44||CHECK PRICE|
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 - Best for Competition
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.
- FFP reticle
- MOAR reticle
- Digillum illumination
- Wide MOA adjustments
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 - Best for Long Range
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.
- 35 mm tube
- Zero Lock dial
- 1/10th MIL clicks
- Wide adjustment travel
- High power with throw lever
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.
3. Maven RS.4 5-30x56 FFP - Best Under $2000
Not only does the RS.4 bring a quality FFP reticle to competition shooting, but it brings with it a price point that is worthy of praise.
- MOA & MIL FFP reticles
- Dual illumination
- 5-30x magnification
- ED Japanese glass
- 34mm tube
- Overkill for hunting
Worthy of praise? You got it. Comparing it to other scopes with the same specs, it offers a lot more. The RS.4 has Japanese ED glass and components and is assembled in Japan.
That glass proves to be important because it offers unparalleled quality throughout the entire power range especially so at max power. This is a must-have feature for those in PRS matches and long-range, precision shooting.
It comes with extras such as dual illumination (red/green), glass-etched reticle, zero stop, and exposed turrets. It’s overkill just for hunting with, but it’s your prerogative.
You’ll get max accuracy as it tracks excellently proven through my field testing. Turrets are superbly crisp and tactile. The CFR-MIL reticle holds the balance between being clear and visible to not overcrowding the field of view.
In comparison with scopes at a similar price point, the RS.4 has a leg-up or two in quality which brings more to the table in value. If there’s an FFP scope you want for long-range use, get on board the Maven bandwagon.
4. Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25X50 FFP EBR-2C MRAD - Best FFP Scope Under $1500
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.
- FFP/glass-etched reticle
- Illuminated reticle
- 30 mm one-piece tube
- Zero stop
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. Maven RS.1 2.5-15X44 - Best FFP Scope for Hunting
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.
- FFP reticle
- 30 mm tube
- Long-range scope
- 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.
6. Athlon Ares BTR 4.5-27X50 - Best FFP Scope Under $1000
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 4.5-27x50.
- FFP reticle
- Glass-etched reticle
- Illuminated reticle
- Zero stop
- 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.
7. Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24X50 - Best FFP Scope Under $500
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.
- FFP reticle
- Glass-etched reticle
- High power
- 30 mm tube
- 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.
8. Athlon Argos BTR 6-24X50 - Best FFP Scope for the Money
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.
- FFP reticle
- Glass-etched reticle
- Argon gas
- 30 mm tube
- 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!
9. Primary Arms 4-14X44 FFP Mil-Dot - Best Cheap FFP Scope
Overall, with all the different reticles Primary Arms generates, the simple mil dot has been a long-lasting option. The SLx rifle scope is well established in the market and is one of the most affordable FFP scopes under $300.
- Mil dot reticle
- 30mm tube
- Exposed turret
- Side focus
- Soft windage turret
With the Primary Arms SLx, it seems the windage turret has a little bit of play and doesn’t quite seem as tactile as the elevation turret. However, elevation tracks true and are tactile enough for most target shooters even out to 500 yards.
With a 30mm tube, you have 17.5 mils in elevation and windage travel. Turret adjustments are in 0.1 mil clicks. The elevation turret is exposed and can be reset to your zero. The reticle is a simple, non-illuminated mil-dot reticle with 1 mil dot increments. Crosshair posts are nice and thick for easy visibility in various terrains.
Surprisingly, there haven’t been many complaints, if at all, about reticle visibility at low 4x power. When you’re in the higher ranges, it’s not obnoxiously large either. There is a good portion of the posts visible to draw the eye but crosshair subtension remains thin at 0.088 mils and dots at 0.25 mils.
With its magnification range above 10x, it features a side focus and a fast focus eyepiece for maximum reticle sharpness for your vision. Further specs include eye relief of 3.22-3.14” that is comfortable for most people especially with an AR-15, but the 23.9oz weight seems to be an issue for some buyers. In total, the Primary Arms SLx is a budget buy given its low price point to acquire a FFP scope. It’s hard to ask for more than this for under $300.
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.
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.
|Scope||Price Range||Standout Features|
|Nightforce ATACR||Over $3000||34 mm tube, wide 120 MOA elevation and 80 MOA windage adjustment travel, MOAR reticle.|
|Leupold Mark 5HD||Under $2800||35 mm tube, 1/10th MIL clicks, wide adjustment travel and Zero Lock dial.|
|Maven RS.4||Under $2000||34 mm tube, MOA & MIL reticles, dual illumination, ED Japanese glass.|
|Vortex Viper PST Gen II||Under $1500||30 mm tube, Zero stop, 20 MIL adjustment travel, XD glass elements.|
|Maven RS.1||Under $1500||Lightweight, 70 MOA windage and 100 MOA of elevation travel, Japanese glass.|
|Athon Ares BTR||Under $1000||24 MIL elevation and windage adjustment travel, HD glass, Zero stop.|
|Vortex Diamondback Tactical||Under $500||65 MOA in adjustment travel, XD glass elements, no Zero stop.|
|Athlon Argos BTR||Under $500||Illuminated reticle, 60 MOA/18 MIL adjustment travel, Argon-purged gas chamber for weatherproofing.|
|Primary Arms SLx||Under $300||Mil-dot reticle, Zero Reset, Side Focus, 30 mm tube, 1/10th MIL clicks, 3-year warranty|
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?
|Nightforce ATACR||38 oz||Competition, Military, Law Enforcement|
|Leupold Mark 5HD||30 oz||Extreme Long-Range, Competition, Low Light Use|
|Maven RS.4||35.4 oz||Long-Range PRS Matches, Precision Shooting|
|Vortex Viper PST Gen II||31.2 oz||Competition|
|Maven RS.1||24.5 oz||Hunting, Long-Range Shooting|
|Athon Ares BTR||27.3 oz||Tactical|
|Vortex Diamondback Tactical||24.6 oz||Hunting, Tactical|
|Athlon Argos BTR||29.6 oz||Range Use, Competition|
|Primary Arms SLx||24 oz||Range Use, Hunting, Mid-Range|
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.
|Scope||Magnification||Objective Lens Diameter||Tube Diameter|
|Nightforce ATACR||5-25x||56 mm||34 mm|
|Leupold Mark 5HD||5-25x||56 mm||35 mm|
|Maven RS.4||5-30x||56 mm||34 mm|
|Vortex Viper PST Gen II||5-25x||50 mm||30 mm|
|Maven RS.1||2.5-15x||44 mm||30 mm|
|Athon Ares BTR||4.5-27x||50 mm||30 mm|
|Vortex Diamondback Tactical||6-24x||50 mm||30 mm|
|Athlon Argos BTR||6-24x||50 mm||30 mm|
|Primary Arms SLx||4-14x||44 mm||30 mm|
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.
|Nightforce ATACR||DigIllum MOAR||Red/Green||Glass-Etched|
|Leupold Mark 5HD||Tremor 3||Red||Glass-Etched|
|Vortex Viper PST Gen II||MRAD||Red||Glass-Etched|
|Maven RS.1||SHR or MOA||Non-Illuminated||Glass-Etched|
|Athon Ares BTR||IR MIL||Red||Glass-Etched|
|Vortex Diamondback Tactical||EBR-2C MOA||Non-Illuminated||Glass-Etched|
|Athlon Argos BTR||APMR IR MIL||Red||Glass-Etched|
|Primary Arms SLx||Mil-Dot||Non-Illuminated||Wire|
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!
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