- I. Introduction
- II. Pros of Second Focal Plane (SFP) Scopes
- III. Cons of Second Focal Plane (SFP) Scopes
- IV. Exploring SFP Scopes
- V. Factors to Consider When Choosing Second Focal Plane (SFP) Scopes
- VI. Tips for Using Second Focal Plane (SFP) Scopes Effectively
- VII. Conclusion
- FAQs about Second Focal Plane (SFP) Scopes
When it comes to precision shooting, having the right equipment is essential. One crucial piece of gear that every shooter should consider is the scope. Scopes come in various designs and configurations, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of second focal plane (SFP) scopes, a popular choice among shooters. Understanding the features and limitations of SFP scopes can help you make an informed decision and improve your shooting experience.
A. Definition of Second Focal Plane (SFP) Scopes
Before diving into the pros and cons of SFP scopes, let’s define what they are. In a second focal plane scope, the reticle remains the same size, regardless of the magnification level. This means that as you increase or decrease the magnification, the reticle stays in the same position within the scope. The focal plane for the reticle is located behind the magnification lenses.
B. Importance of Understanding the Pros and Cons of SFP Scopes
As a shooter, it’s crucial to understand the pros and cons of the equipment you use. By understanding the benefits and limitations of SFP scopes, you can determine if they align with your shooting style and requirements. Making an informed decision will ultimately contribute to your accuracy, confidence, and overall shooting performance.
II. Pros of Second Focal Plane (SFP) Scopes
A. Clear Reticle at All Magnification Levels
One of the significant advantages of SFP scopes is that the reticle remains clear and consistent at all magnification levels. Since the reticle is located in the second focal plane, it does not change size when you adjust the magnification. This ensures that your aiming point remains visible and precise, regardless of the zoom level. Whether you’re shooting at close range or engaging targets at long distances, the reticle’s clarity allows for quick and accurate target acquisition.
B. Consistent Bullet Drop Compensation
Another benefit of SFP scopes is their consistent bullet drop compensation. The reticle’s markings, such as holdover points or range estimations, remain accurate regardless of the magnification setting. This means that once you’ve zeroed your scope and determined the corresponding reticle markings for various distances, you can rely on them consistently. With SFP scopes, you don’t need to recalculate or adjust your holdovers every time you change the magnification, saving you valuable time and effort during critical shooting situations.
C. Suitable for Long-Range Shooting
SFP scopes are well-suited for long-range shooting applications. Their clear reticle and consistent bullet drop compensation make them reliable tools for engaging targets at extended distances. Whether you’re a competitive shooter or an avid hunter, the ability to maintain accuracy and precision at long ranges is crucial. SFP scopes provide the necessary features to help you make accurate shots with confidence, even at challenging distances.
III. Cons of Second Focal Plane (SFP) Scopes
A. Limited Ranging Capabilities
One limitation of SFP scopes is their limited ranging capabilities. Unlike first focal plane (FFP) scopes, where the reticle subtensions change with magnification, SFP scopes have fixed subtensions that correspond to a specific magnification level, usually the highest power setting. This means that the subtensions may not accurately represent target size or distance when you change the magnification. Shooters who rely heavily on precise ranging may find this limitation restrictive.
B. Less Effective for Quick Target Acquisition
SFP scopes may be less effective for quick target acquisition, especially when compared to low-magnification settings on FFP scopes. Since the reticle size remains constant regardless of the magnification level, it can become relatively smaller at higher zoom levels. This can make it more challenging to acquire targets quickly, especially in dynamic shooting scenarios or when engaging multiple targets. Shooters who prioritize speed and agility in their shooting may prefer scopes that offer larger, more visible reticles at lower magnification levels.
C. More Complex Reticle Design
The design of reticles in SFP scopes can be more complex compared to their FFP counterparts. Due to the fixed subtensions, reticles in SFP scopes may feature multiple holdover points, range estimation marks, or other features to accommodate different magnification levels. This complexity can sometimes make the reticle crowded or cluttered, potentially affecting target visibility and aim. Shooters should carefully evaluate the reticle design and ensure that it suits their specific shooting requirements.
IV. Exploring SFP Scopes
A. Features and Specifications
When considering SFP scopes, it’s essential to examine their features and specifications. Look for scopes that offer high-quality optics, durable construction, and precise adjustments. Consider factors such as the magnification range, reticle type, and the availability of illuminated options. Additionally, pay attention to the overall build quality, including the materials used and the scope’s resistance to environmental factors.
B. Popular SFP Scope Brands
Several reputable brands specialize in manufacturing SFP scopes. These brands have established themselves as leaders in the industry, known for their quality and reliability. Some popular SFP scope brands include Vortex Optics, Leupold, Nikon, Nightforce, and Burris. Researching these brands and their specific models can help you narrow down your options and choose a scope that meets your requirements.
C. Choosing the Right SFP Scope for Your Needs
When selecting an SFP scope, consider your shooting preferences, intended applications, and budget. Determine the magnification range that aligns with your shooting requirements and the reticle design that suits your shooting style. If possible, try to handle different scopes in person or read reviews from trusted sources to gauge their performance and user satisfaction. By carefully evaluating your needs and comparing available options, you can select the right SFP scope that enhances your shooting experience.
V. Factors to Consider When Choosing Second Focal Plane (SFP) Scopes
Selecting the right second focal plane (SFP) scope involves considering several crucial factors that align with your shooting needs and preferences. To ensure you make an informed decision, take the following aspects into account:
A. Intended Use and Shooting Style
Before purchasing an SFP scope, define your primary shooting applications and style. Are you an avid hunter seeking a scope for long-range shots or a competitive shooter participating in precision shooting competitions? Different shooting disciplines may demand specific features from the scope, such as reticle designs tailored for holdover adjustments or quick target acquisition. Understanding your intended use and shooting style will help you narrow down the scope options that best suit your requirements.
B. Magnification Range Requirements
Consider the magnification range you need for your shooting activities. SFP scopes come in various magnification options, and choosing the appropriate range is critical. If you primarily engage targets at longer distances, a scope with higher magnification levels may be ideal. Conversely, if you frequently switch between short and long-range shooting, consider a versatile scope with a wide magnification range. Remember, the reticle’s accuracy in SFP scopes is specific to a designated magnification level, so choose a range that aligns with your most frequent shooting distances.
C. Budget Considerations
Like any significant purchase, budget plays a crucial role in selecting an SFP scope. Set a budget range that allows you to explore scopes with the features you desire without exceeding your financial limits. While SFP scopes generally tend to be more affordable than their FFP counterparts, premium models with advanced features may come with a higher price tag. Balancing your budget with the desired features will help you find a scope that offers optimal performance without breaking the bank.
VI. Tips for Using Second Focal Plane (SFP) Scopes Effectively
To make the most out of your second focal plane (SFP) scope and maximize its capabilities, here are some valuable tips to consider:
A. Adjusting for Magnification Changes
One of the key aspects to keep in mind when using an SFP scope is that the reticle’s subtensions remain constant regardless of the magnification setting. This means that the holdover and windage marks on the reticle are calibrated for a specific magnification level, typically the highest or a predetermined setting.
To adjust for changes in magnification, you need to be aware that the subtensions will no longer be accurate. When using a different magnification setting, you should refer to the reticle’s manual or documentation provided by the manufacturer to understand how the subtensions correspond to holdover and windage corrections at that specific magnification.
By familiarizing yourself with the subtensions at various magnification levels, you can compensate for the discrepancy and ensure accurate shot placement.
B. Understanding Holdover and Windage Corrections
Holdover and windage corrections are crucial elements in long-range shooting and can greatly affect accuracy. With an SFP scope, it’s essential to remember that the reticle’s subtensions are calibrated for a particular magnification level.
When making holdover adjustments, be sure to calculate the appropriate correction based on the specific magnification setting you are using. This calculation will ensure that your shots are on target, accounting for bullet drop over different distances.
Similarly, when compensating for windage, be aware that the reticle’s subtensions will remain accurate only at the designated magnification level. Adjusting for windage at other magnifications will require taking into account the differences in subtension size.
By understanding and applying the necessary holdover and windage corrections specific to your chosen magnification level, you can achieve precise and consistent shot placement.
C. Making Use of the Reticle’s Subtensions
SFP scopes often feature reticles with multiple subtensions, such as hash marks or dots. These subtensions provide additional reference points for holdover, windage, and range estimation.
To make the most of these subtensions, familiarize yourself with their corresponding values at the calibrated magnification level. Understand the distance or adjustments represented by each subtension mark on the reticle. This knowledge will allow you to quickly and accurately adjust your aim based on the target’s distance, wind conditions, and other relevant factors.
Regular practice and range time using the subtensions will help you develop confidence and proficiency in utilizing them effectively. Experiment with different scenarios and engage targets at various distances to become comfortable with the subtensions’ functionality.
Remember to consult the scope’s user manual or manufacturer’s documentation for detailed information on the subtensions and their intended use.
In conclusion, second focal plane (SFP) scopes offer several advantages and considerations for shooters. Let’s summarize the pros and cons of SFP scopes and provide final considerations and recommendations.
A. Summary of Second Focal Plane Scopes
SFP scopes provide clear reticles at all magnification levels, ensuring that the aiming point remains consistent regardless of the zoom setting. This feature is beneficial for shooters who require precise shot placement. Additionally, SFP scopes offer consistent bullet drop compensation, allowing for accurate holdover adjustments.
These scopes are suitable for long-range shooting, where precise holdover and windage corrections are crucial. The affordability of SFP scopes compared to first focal plane (FFP) scopes makes them accessible to a wide range of shooters.
However, SFP scopes have some limitations. Their ranging capabilities are limited, meaning the subtensions on the reticle are accurate only at a specific magnification level. This can require adjustments when using different zoom settings. SFP scopes are also less effective for quick target acquisition due to the reticle subtensions remaining constant regardless of magnification changes. Additionally, the reticle designs in SFP scopes can be more complex, requiring shooters to familiarize themselves with the subtensions and their values.
B. Final Considerations and Recommendations
When considering second focal plane (SFP) scopes, it’s crucial to evaluate your shooting needs and preferences. Understand the intended use and shooting style to determine if an SFP scope aligns with your requirements. Consider the magnification range you need for your activities and choose a scope that offers the appropriate zoom capabilities.
Budget considerations are important as well. Set a budget range that allows you to explore SFP scopes with the desired features without overspending. It’s advisable to research and choose reputable brands known for their quality and reliability.
To use SFP scopes effectively, follow the tips mentioned earlier in this article. Adjust for magnification changes, understand holdover and windage corrections specific to the magnification level, and make use of the reticle’s subtensions for accurate shot placement.
In summary, second focal plane (SFP) scopes can be valuable tools for shooters looking for clear reticles and consistent bullet drop compensation. While they have their limitations, understanding these pros and cons will help you make an informed decision when selecting an SFP scope that best suits your shooting needs.
Remember to research and explore different options, consult with experienced shooters or professionals, and consider the factors mentioned throughout this article. With careful consideration and proper use, an SFP scope can enhance your shooting experience and contribute to accurate and successful shots.
FAQs about Second Focal Plane (SFP) Scopes
Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Second Focal Plane scopes along with their respective answers:
Q: What are Second Focal Plane scopes?
A: Second Focal Plane (SFP) scopes are optical devices used in firearms to provide aiming points for shooters. The reticle in an SFP scope remains the same size regardless of the magnification setting, making it a popular choice for long-range shooting.
Q: How do Second Focal Plane scopes work?
A: Second Focal Plane scopes work by placing the reticle in the rear part of the scope, closer to the shooter’s eye. As the shooter adjusts the magnification level, the target image changes in size, but the reticle remains the same size. This ensures that the reticle’s subtensions, such as holdover and windage marks, stay accurate at a specific magnification.
Q: What are the pros and cons of Second Focal Plane scopes?
A: The pros of Second Focal Plane scopes include clear reticles at all magnification levels, consistent bullet drop compensation, and suitability for long-range shooting. However, they have limitations such as limited ranging capabilities, reduced effectiveness for quick target acquisition, and more complex reticle designs.
Q: Can Second Focal Plane scopes adjust for different magnifications?
A: Yes, Second Focal Plane scopes can adjust for different magnifications. However, it’s important to note that the reticle’s subtensions are calibrated for a specific magnification level. Adjustments must be made to compensate for changes in magnification, ensuring accurate holdover and windage corrections.
Q: Are there any limitations when using Second Focal Plane scopes?
A: Yes, there are limitations when using Second Focal Plane scopes. The subtensions on the reticle remain accurate only at the designated magnification level. This means that adjustments are required when using different zoom settings. Additionally, Second Focal Plane scopes may be less effective for quick target acquisition due to the constant size of the reticle.
Q: What is the difference between First Focal Plane and Second Focal Plane scopes?
A: The main difference between First Focal Plane (FFP) and Second Focal Plane (SFP) scopes is the placement of the reticle. In FFP scopes, the reticle size changes with the magnification level, allowing the subtensions to remain accurate at all zoom settings. In SFP scopes, the reticle remains the same size, resulting in subtensions that are accurate only at a specific magnification.
Q: Which applications benefit from Second Focal Plane scopes?
A: Second Focal Plane scopes are particularly beneficial for long-range shooting applications where precise holdover and windage corrections are essential. They are commonly used by target shooters, precision rifle shooters, and hunters engaging targets at extended distances.
Q: What features should I look for in SFP scopes?
A: When choosing an SFP scope, consider factors such as magnification range, reticle type and design, turret adjustments, durability, and optical quality. Additionally, look for scopes from reputable brands known for their reliability and quality craftsmanship.
Q: Which brands offer reliable SFP scopes?
A: There are several reputable brands that offer reliable Second Focal Plane scopes, including but not limited to Leupold, Vortex Optics, Nightforce, Bushnell, and Nikon. It’s recommended to research and read reviews to find the scope that best suits your specific needs and preferences.
Q: How can I effectively use a Second Focal Plane scope’s reticle for holdover and windage corrections?
A: To effectively use a Second Focal Plane scope’s reticle for holdover and windage corrections, it’s important to understand the subtensions and their values at the designated magnification level. Make sure to adjust for changes in magnification by referring to the scope’s user manual or consulting with experienced shooters. Practice and familiarity with the subtensions will help you make accurate holdover and windage adjustments.
L.P Brezny has been writing and reviewing product as well as how to projects for the past 50 years. He has authored four books on shooting with three on long range, and one covering shotgunning. With 26 years on a metro police department as a street officer and the rank of SGT / training L.P. has covered all the bases regarding weapons and street survival. During the early years in non-toxic shotshell ammunition development L.P. designed the first successful measurement system for recording the speed of shot shell payloads down range. He was responsible for getting actual shotshell velocities printed on factory load boxes. Over the years he has developed and markets MetroGun System TM, and sells his designed ammunition for subsonic sound suppressed shotgun shooting. Current L.P. resides in the South Dakota Black Hills and spends a good deal of time working through many types of ammunition both in the field on warm targets. With ultra long range being a current specialty L.P. shots for test and accuracy at ranges as great as one or more miles on the wide open Dakota grasslands.