Best First Focal Plane Scopes

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Vortex Optics Viper PST Scope

Extremely functional and reliable.

  • Build Quality: 4.7/5
  • Optics: 4.8/5
  • Battery: 3/5

Best on a Budget

Primary Arms SLX 4-16X44mm FFP Rifle Scope

Gets the job done at an affordable price.

  • Build Quality: 4.6/5
  • Optics: 4.5/5
  • Battery: 5/5

Best for Precision Shooting

Athlon Optics Argos

Highly durable and offers a wide range of focus adjustment.

  • Build Quality: 4.4/5
  • Optics: 4.6/5
  • Battery: 5/5

First focal plane scopes are best for quick-paced high-stress shooting scenarios with widely varying engagement ranges. With a first focal plane scope, the reticle changes in size with magnification relative to the target, so the sub-tension remains constant on every magnification setting. This allows you to use the correct holdover point when taking long-distance shots and estimate range efficiently no matter the magnification.

A Quick Comparison of the Best First Focal Plane Scopes

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II First Focal Plane Riflescopes
Primary Arms SLX 4-16X44mm FFP Rifle Scope - Illuminated...
Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane...
NIGHTFORCE SHV 4-14x50mm F1 30mm Tube ZeroSet Parallax Adjustable...
Leupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18x44mm Riflescope
Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50 First Focal Plane...
Model
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II First Focal Plane Riflescopes
Primary Arms SLX 4-16X44mm FFP Rifle Scope - Illuminated...
Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane...
NIGHTFORCE SHV 4-14x50mm F1 30mm Tube ZeroSet Parallax Adjustable...
Leupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18x44mm Riflescope
Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50 First Focal Plane...
MSRP
-
$274.99
-
$1,290.00
$1,910.99
$349.99
Optics
Fully multi-coated lenses
Fully multi-coated lenses
Fully Multi-Coated lenses
Fully Multi-Coated lenses
Leupold’s Professional-Grade Optical System
Fully multi-coated lenses
Weight
26.3 Ounces
25.4 Ounces
29.6 oz
2.6 Pounds
26 oz
24.6 oz
Material
Aluminum
Aluminum
Aircraft-grade aluminum
Aluminum
Aluminum
Aircraft-Grade Aluminum
Dimensions
6 x 6 x 22 inches
16.45 x 4.1 x 3.9 inches
17 x 5 x 4 inches
17.8 x 5 x 4.4 inches
14 x 3 x 2.75 inches
19.33 x 4.02 x 3.66 inches
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II First Focal Plane Riflescopes
Model
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II First Focal Plane Riflescopes
MSRP
-
Optics
Fully multi-coated lenses
Weight
26.3 Ounces
Material
Aluminum
Dimensions
6 x 6 x 22 inches
More Info
Primary Arms SLX 4-16X44mm FFP Rifle Scope - Illuminated...
Model
Primary Arms SLX 4-16X44mm FFP Rifle Scope - Illuminated...
MSRP
$274.99
Optics
Fully multi-coated lenses
Weight
25.4 Ounces
Material
Aluminum
Dimensions
16.45 x 4.1 x 3.9 inches
More Info
Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane...
Model
Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane...
MSRP
-
Optics
Fully Multi-Coated lenses
Weight
29.6 oz
Material
Aircraft-grade aluminum
Dimensions
17 x 5 x 4 inches
More Info
NIGHTFORCE SHV 4-14x50mm F1 30mm Tube ZeroSet Parallax Adjustable...
Model
NIGHTFORCE SHV 4-14x50mm F1 30mm Tube ZeroSet Parallax Adjustable...
MSRP
$1,290.00
Optics
Fully Multi-Coated lenses
Weight
2.6 Pounds
Material
Aluminum
Dimensions
17.8 x 5 x 4.4 inches
More Info
Leupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18x44mm Riflescope
Model
Leupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18x44mm Riflescope
MSRP
$1,910.99
Optics
Leupold’s Professional-Grade Optical System
Weight
26 oz
Material
Aluminum
Dimensions
14 x 3 x 2.75 inches
More Info
Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50 First Focal Plane...
Model
Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50 First Focal Plane...
MSRP
$349.99
Optics
Fully multi-coated lenses
Weight
24.6 oz
Material
Aircraft-Grade Aluminum
Dimensions
19.33 x 4.02 x 3.66 inches
More Info

Features to Consider in the Best First Focal Plane Scopes

CategoryVortex Optics Viper PSTPrimary Arms SLX 4-16X44mmAthlon Optics ArgosNightForce SHV 4-14x50mmLeupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18x44mmVortex Optics DiamondbackCategory Average
Overall Score2.923.83.63.243.282.463.22
Ergonomics1.11.41.11.11.41.51.27
Build Quality4.74.64.44.54.534.28
Optics4.84.54.64.64.534.33
Battery3555534.33
Value13.52.9111.81.87

Optics 

Decide on your riflescope’s magnification first. Since you’re looking for a first focal plane scope, you’ll most likely be using it for competitions (such as 3-gun competitions) or long-range precision shooting. A scope with adjustable parallax is also a big plus for shooting long distances.

If you’re regularly engaging targets at a wide variety of ranges, get a scope with variable magnification so you can use it for close-range and long-range shooting. 

How do we rate it?

High marks go to scopes that offer excellent low-light performance and the ability to maintain a sharp, bright image under various conditions.

Value

Price plays an important role in a consumer’s decision-making process. Like what we always tell our readers, if you’ve got money set aside for your shooting gear, splurging on premium brands is best since you’ll likely keep and use it for a lifetime. But if your budget is limited, there are also a lot of budget-friendly but reliable scopes to choose from, such as the Primary Arms SLX FFP scope below.

How do we rate it?

A high rating in value means the scope offers the best blend of quality and features for its price point, striking that sweet balance between cost and functionality. Think of it as the difference between a deal and a steal.

Build Quality

A scope’s quality is defined by its material and construction. Get a scope that’s been impact-tested so it can survive heavy use. We also suggest choosing a scope made of aircraft-grade aluminum or its equivalent to survive drops and bumps, as well as stay dry in rain and snow. Above all, clear glass, precise adjustments, and a rock-solid point of aim are critical.

How do we rate it?

Is it waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof? A high rating in this category means your scope is the tank of the optics world—reliable, tough, and ready for anything Mother Nature throws at it.

Application

shooting Vortex Strike Eagle with PSA 223 Wylde upper

First focal plane scopes are perfect for long-range shooting. They are very effective in firing rapid and precise follow-up shots. Plus you can easily spot misses and impacts for corrections.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics refers to how well the scope fits you and your shooting style. Can you make all the adjustments easily? Does the scope feel like an extension of your eye when you’re lining up a shot? If the answer is “Yeah, kinda like how my hand fits into a bag of chips,” then you’re on the right track.

How do we rate it?

Is the scope’s weight balanced, or does it make your rifle feel like you’re lugging around a medieval weapon? A top-rated scope in ergonomics should feel intuitive like it’s an extension of yourself rather than an awkward appendage.

Battery

If your scope has any electronic components, like an illuminated reticle, then battery life is your new best friend. There’s nothing worse than getting ready for the perfect shot only to find your reticle as dark as your chances of hitting the target without it. Long battery life is a must. You should also have easy access to replace batteries and shouldn’t have to think about it much until you need it.

How do we rate it?

We give lower scores to scopes that require battery changes more often than you change your socks. High ratings go to models with efficient power usage and long-lasting battery life, ensuring you’re always ready for the shot, day or night.

6 Best First Focal Plane Scopes

Best Overall: Vortex Optics Viper PST

CategoryVortex Optics Viper PSTCategory Average
Ergonomics1.11.27
Build Quality4.74.28
Optics4.84.33
Battery34.33
Value11.87

Score: 2.92/5

The Vortex Viper PST II takes pride in its exposed laser-etched turrets that offer easier drop and wind compensation adjustments. Plus, it has a fiber optic rotation indicator for more precise turret position tracking. 

This scope is equipped with an EBR-7C MOA reticle, a reticle that’s designed to optimize long-distance shooting opportunities by efficient range determination, moving target leads, and windage corrections. Also expect adjustable parallax and the zero stop guarantees that you can keep track of your turret position with ease.

Pros

  • Illuminated reticle 
  • Lifetime warranty 
  • Low-glare matte finish
  • Adjustable parallax 

Cons

  • Not much eye relief
  • Heaviest pick (31.2 oz)

What Customers Say

It does everything it’s supposed to. Very nice reticle and sight picture. If anything goes wrong you can’t beat the Vortex guarantee.

Joe

Shooting match grade 6.5 creedmoor rounds 147 grain. I was able to get back to back hits on a 12 inch target at 850 yards. I have not been to a range offering the distance required to question this capabilities of this scope. Based on its performance so far – I would recommend it to anyone wanting to reach out past 500 yards.

Charlie

Best Budget: Primary Arms SLX 4-16X44mm FFP Rifle Scope

CategoryPrimary Arms SLX 4-16X44mmCategory Average
Ergonomics1.41.27
Build Quality4.64.28
Optics4.54.33
Battery54.33
Value3.51.87

Score: 3.8/5

The Primary Arms SLX FFP riflescope guarantees smaller and more consistent groups despite its affordable price. Its controls, features, and performance are almost similar to its pricier rivals. It comes with an ACSS HUD DMR 308 reticle that offers moving target holds out to 600 yards, plus ranging, bullet drop, and wind holds out to 1,000 yards. This Primary Arms SLX scope is calibrated for the .308 Winchester and is compatible with some .223 Rem loads.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightest pick (25.6 oz)
  • Easy to use
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Could be shorter

What Customers Say

Great Primary Arms ACSS. Clear glass, excellent features and rugged build quality. Lightweight, and great features.

Stan in KS

I like the reticle design,very easy to use.The 300 yard line was spot on.I expect it to be the same at 600 yards. I just wished it could be 2-3 inches shorter.

Manuel D.

Best for Precision Shooting: Athlon Optics Argos

CategoryAthlon Optics ArgosCategory Average
Ergonomics1.11.27
Build Quality4.44.28
Optics4.64.33
Battery54.33
Value2.91.87

Score: 3.6/5

We recommend the Athlon Optics Argos Riflescope if you want a scope that will let you hit targets consistently up to 1,000 yards. This scope will let you estimate target ranges easily at any magnification, most especially if you know your target’s size. It’s also very easy to zero and holds zero well. Plus it provides accurate elevation and windage adjustments.

With the Athlon Argos riflescope, images at high magnification don’t get blurry at high magnification settings, unlike other low-priced scopes.

Pros

  • Compact design
  • Affordable
  • Shockproof and fog proof
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Illuminated reticle

Cons

  • It’s heavy (30.3 oz)
  • Illumination is not bright enough for daylight use

What Customers Say

“First off the box it came in is really nice and sturdy. Not just cheap cardboard that I’ve seen on my other scopes. Really nice clarity. FFP is a nice touch at this price point especially. Turrets don’t lock, but they are resettable. One turret has really nice definitive clicks. The other is not quite as nice but I’ve seen a lot worse. They seem to track up and down left and right and not lose zero. Illumination is nice but not bright enough for daytime use even on max. Doesn’t bother me. Reticle is very crisp. Tons of focus adjustment if needed. Flip caps work nice and they fit really snug on the scope tube. I ordered a sunshade separately for mine and the cap fit that perfectly as well. I’m using UTG 6-screw rings. I’m running this on a 338winmag 700 Remington. No issues so far. Athlon customer service assured me if i manage to break the scope due to recoil, it would still be covered under warranty. Great product. Awesome price. And lifetime warranty. I’m happy with it”

JDubya

“Purchased this scope for the FFP feature at a very competitive price. I have this on a PCP air rifle for pest control, and the combination is deadly. The parallax is dead on as far as range goes. The glass is very good. For those complaining about the glass, I guess you’re used to $2K super optics. Frankly, I can’t tell the difference in most instances. Eye relief is not too shallow, which I really appreciate. My only complaint is the weight, but I knew that when I purchased it. I’m generally bench or sticks rested when using this rifle, so it is not much of an issue. All in all, a great scope for hunting/pesting if you are using different magnifications as various ranges.”

Michael

Best Premium Option: NightForce SHV 4-14x50mm F1 Illuminated Scope

CategoryNightForce SHV 4-14x50mmCategory Average
Ergonomics1.11.27
Build Quality4.54.28
Optics4.64.33
Battery54.33
Value11.87

Score: 3.24/5

You will never regret spending extra with our next pick because everything you’re looking for in a rifle scope, the NightForce SHV 4-14x50mm F1 Illuminated Hunting Scope will deliver – fantastic illumination, outstanding durability, and top-tier performance.

The glass in this rifle scope is one of its remarkable features as it offers exceptional clarity no matter the weather. That plus its first focal plane performance and its wide magnification range, you can’t go wrong with the Nightforce SHV illuminated hunting scope.

Pros

  • Easy return to zero
  • Comes with MOAR or MIL-R reticle
  • Fast focus eyepiece design

Cons

  • It’s very expensive
  • Heavy (30 oz)

What Customers Say

Great scope. If you have ever wondered why NF is so hyped, this is a great way to find out. You do get what you pay for with these.

James Murray

I own top tier optics. Swarovski, Schmitt and Bender, this NightForce is well worth the money, I’m using mine for prairie dogs and predators on a 224 valkerie. Very happy.

Liz Powell

Leupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18x44mm M5C3 FFP Riflescope

CategoryLeupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18x44mmCategory Average
Ergonomics1.41.27
Build Quality4.54.28
Optics4.54.33
Battery54.33
Value11.87

Score: 3.28/5

This Leupold rifle scope is equipped with a reticle that works perfectly with its dusk-to-dawn gathering feature. Its reticle utilizes hash marks instead of dots for improved ranging and holdover precision. As expected, the glass quality is top notch and the dials offer firm, audible clicks. It’s also 20 ounces lighter than other riflescopes in the same class.

Pros

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Great tracking
  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof
  • Illuminated reticle

Cons

  • Short eye relief (3.5 inches)
  • Heavy (26 oz)

What Customers Say

I love the CCH reticle. I had no experience with it prior to purchasing this one. But, for hunting applications it is great! The holds are excellent for moving targets. It is a super tough scope that is crazy light in weight. Glass is clear, bright and I love it. Mounting it on a 6.5 Creedmoor from 2A Armament for my go to Elk gun for this upcoming hunting season.

Kyle Sweet

Scope was easy to set up used the Vortex matched 35mm rings 35mm 0.95″ height., Vortex 35 mm bubble level. After bore scope and had a three shot zero, easiest ever. This combination was great from the get go, was breaking in the barrel and was shooting through the same hole after the zero. Was able walk 1″ horizontally and vertically with the elevation and windage adjustment, tracking was dead-on. The scope is light at about 26 oz, not too long. The reticle is not busy and is functional. The optics are very clear as you would expect. I will look at another Mark V in the future.

James

Vortex Optics Diamondback First Focal Plane Riflescope

CategoryVortex Optics DiamondbackCategory Average
Ergonomics1.51.27
Build Quality34.28
Optics34.33
Battery34.33
Value1.81.87

Score: 2.46/5

The Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescope delivers incredible precision at long distances. We love the Vortex Diamondback for long precision shooting because its side parallax knob and exposed tactical turrets make adjustments hassle-free. 

It also guarantees smooth magnification changes even in the worst weather, so it’s a great hunting companion. If you’re looking for a scope that gets the job done but doesn’t break the bank, the Vortex Optics Diamondback won’t disappoint. Plus, Vortex’s lifetime warranty has really set the bar in the industry.

Pros

  • Fast-focus eyepiece
  • Extra-low dispersion glass
  • Shock-proof, waterproof, and fog-proof 
  • Second lightest pick (24.6 oz)

Cons

  • No parallax adjustments past 300 yards
  • No illumination

What Customers Say

“Very good scope for the money. Love the warranty and so far it’s very accurate for my skill level. Sighting my 6.5 hells canyon in I could clearly see my groups and while at max zoom short-range objects can get a bit out of focus it’s still full stars for me.”

Cryptos

“Beautiful piece of glass. Most are intimidated by 6-24 but it is such a good range of zoom. The parallax settings were spot on and the reticle is very eye-friendly. Not too long for most rifles even with sunshade. The eye relief is more than adequate to prevent scope bite. Very happy there is finally a high-quality FFP scope out there at a budget rifle price point.”

Mark M.

FAQs

Is a first focal plane scope better?

If you’ll be shooting at extremely long distances and you want precision, then yes, a first focal plane scope is better.

If you’re interested in second focal plane scopes, here’s where you can find out which is better between a first focal plane vs second focal plane scope.

Do military snipers use FFP or SFP?

Since military snipers’ jobs entail shooting precision over long distances, they usually use first focal plane scopes (FFPs).

What is the best FFP scope with an illuminated reticle?

The best FFP scope with an illuminated reticle is the Vortex Viper PST Gen II because of its rock-solid features and combat-proven performance.

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Last update on 2024-07-15 / Images from Amazon Product API