Best First Focal Plane (FFP) Scopes: Top 4 Picks Reviewed

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By Dennis Howard •  13 min read

With all the new models in the lineup, choosing a long-range rifle scope for your new rifle can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming.  The choice often comes down to purchasing a first focal plane scope or one with the second focal plane reticle.  In this article, I intend to focus on the best first focal plane scopes.

First focal plane scopes offer several advantages to long-range shooters, including:

What does First Focal Plane and Second Focal Plane Mean?

Simply put, the first focal plane and second focal plane relate to the reticle’s placement in the scope.  First focal plane scopes have the reticle near the front of the scope.  Second focal plane scopes locate the reticle at the rear of the scope.

The major difference between a second focal plane scope and the first focal plane scope is how the reticle behaves when the magnification is changed.  As you increase the magnification in a first focal plane scope, the reticle grows in the same proportion as the magnification.  In effect, the holdover and windage marks on the reticle maintain the same distance proportions as the target.

Second focal plane riflescopes do not allow this kind of change.  No matter the magnification used, the reticle remains the same size.  To the shooter, this means that the holdover and windage marks on the reticle are only accurate at a fixed magnification.


What Should You Look for in a First Focal Plane Scope?

What to look for in a first focal plane scope depends on your intentions in large measure. The two most common reasons shooters opt for first focal plane scopes are competing in precision shooting matches or engaging in long-range hunting.  There are some differences in the needs of each choice.

Precision Shooting – Pinpoint Accuracy on the Range

Choosing a scope for precision match shooting may, in some respects, be easier than finding the right first focal plane scope for long-range hunting.  Consider some of the factors that precision shooters should consider.

Long-Range Hunting – One Shot on Target

Long-range hunters usually don’t deal with distances to target greater than 1200 yards.  The goal is not tight groupings on a target.  The ethical goal in long-range hunting is one shot and one clean kill.  Considering the other factors that can affect this type of shooting puts some special conditions on the scopes chosen for these tasks. 


Best Choices for First Focal Plane Scopes

The scopes below are my choices for the best first focal plane scopes. I have tried to pick a range of scopes useful for either precision shooting or long-range hunting.  I have included budget-friendly options as well as my picks for the ultimate choice in each category.  

The Ultimate First Focal Plane Scope – Leupold 5HD 5-25×56 MOA 

You don’t get any better than Leupold scopes.  Military and law enforcement long-range shooters agree and Leupold scopes remain a top choice among these professional marksmen.  For many years, the Leupold Mark 4 series of scopes have been used by military and law enforcement snipers.  Leupold has introduced the Mark 5 series of scopes that builds on the Mark 4 reputation.

Leupold 5HD

The Mark 5HD scope is available with a variety of magnification and reticle options.  I have chosen the Mark 5 series with a magnification range of 5 to 25 power.  This scope from Leupold features a 56mm objective lends and my recommendation for long-range shooting with this scope is the PR1-MOA reticle.

For precision shooting and long-range hunting, the Leupold 5HD scope will stand you in good stead.  On the technical side, the specifications on the Leupold 5HD scope are impressive.

Leupold is notable for the features, quality of construction, and crystal clear optics.  Among the Leupold features that come standard with the Leupold 5HD scope include:

Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56mm Riflescope
  • Leupold Model #176449 - Mark 5HD 5-25x56mm with Illume, Front Focal PR-1 MOA reticle and Matte...
  • 100% Waterproof, fog proof, shockproof, and backed by Leupold' s lifetime

Last update on 2022-08-09 at 15:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Whether you are a competitive precision shooter or a devoted long-range hunter, if you want the best possible optics mounted on your rifle, the Leupold Mark 5HD scopes should be at the top of your list.  

The Best First Focal Plane Scope for Most Shooters – Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 5-25×56 FFP

Most of us can’t justify or afford a premium scope such as the Leupold 5HD.  However, that doesn’t mean we have to settle for sub-par performance and quality in a long-range rifle scope.  Vortex Optics offers a line of scopes that offer optical quality and construction durability that rivals scopes that can cost two times as much.

My pick for a mid-price long-range riflescope is the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 5-25×56 first focal plane scope.  For the money, the Vortex Strike Eagle is the best value on the market today for long-range shooting enthusiasts.  

Vortex Optics doesn’t skimp on quality or features in their scopes.  The technical data on the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle scope rivals its more expensive competitors.

Vortex Optics is also competitive with much more expensive scopes in the features department.  Considering the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle scopes’ relatively low cost, the features make the price even better.

In addition to all these features and specifications, Vortex Optics makes sure that you are ready for the range or field by including a host of accessories with each scope.

The Vortex Optics Strike Eagle scopes are, in my opinion, the best balance of features, quality, and price to be found on the market.  For most long-range shooters, the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle scopes will meet every need you will encounter, whether on the range or in the field.

Runner-up Best First Focal Plane Scope for Most Shooters – Primary Arms GLx 4-16×50 FFP Rifle Scope

Primary Arms has a growing reputation among shooters for the Primary Arms optics line’s quality and value.  This reputation is especially true in the Primary Arms long-range optics.  The Primary Arms GLx scope is almost a neck and neck competitor in my book with the Vortex Strike Eagle.

Primary Arms GLx scope

The Primary Arms GLx 4-16×50 FFP scope ranks just under the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle on my list of go-to optics for the average long-range shooter.  These scopes are feature-packed and the quality of design and manufacture is as good as it gets in this range of scopes. 

Specification wise, the Primary Arms optics rank with scopes costing many dollars more.

Primary Arms competes favorably with other optics manufacturers in features as well.

Primary Arms GLx 4-16x50FFP Rifle Scope - Illuminated ACSS-HUD-DMR-308
  • First Focal Plane ACSS HUD DMR 308 reticle
  • AutoLive illuminated reticle - motion sensing reticle illumination

Last update on 2022-08-09 at 12:32 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Don’t be fooled by the price you may find for the Primary Arms GLx scope.  The quality and clarity of the optics are above standard and the quality of construction will have the GLx scope in service for many years.  

Best Budget First Focal Plane Rifle Scope – Monstrum G3 6-24×50 FFP Rifle Scope

For anyone who is just getting into the long-range shooting game, investing hundreds or thousands of dollars in a rifle scope may not be a practical situation.  If you want to dabble in long-range shooting, investing a few hundred dollars in a riflescope may be a good way to judge if you want to go further in the sport.

Monstrum G3 scope

Monstrum is a relatively new company in the rifle optics market.  However, since the introduction of their first scopes, they have gained a reputation for providing quality optics at budget prices. The Monstrum products offer good quality at a price that allows almost any shooter to add a long-range scope to their rifle.

The specification on the Monstrum scopes is technically as good as any on the market.  However, don’t expect that quality of construction to rival a Leupold.  

Don’t expect fewer features in the Monstrum G3 scope than you would find in other, more expensive, long-range scopes.

Monstrum G3 6-24x50 First Focal Plane FFP Rifle Scope with Illuminated MOA...
  • High performance tactical rifle scope with 6-24x magnification for mid to long distance shooting out...
  • Functionally designed first focal plane MOA reticle, with easy-to-read ranging information that...

Last update on 2022-08-09 at 12:32 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Don’t be misled.  There is a difference between the Monstrum F# rifle scope and the Vortex Strike Eagle.  However, for casual or first-time long-range shooters, the differences are negligible and not noticeable for the inexperienced.  As a scope choice for shooters who want to experiment with long-range shooting, the Monstrum G3 scope is an excellent choice.


My Overall Choice of Long-Range First Focal Plane Scopes

I tend to stick to the price/features comparison when I choose my rifle scopes.  My requirements are not as intense as some competitive long-range shooters and I have long ago stepped back from attempting 1500 yard plus shots on big game.  

My overall choice of the best first focal plane scope is the Vortex Strick Eagle.  In truth, the combination of rifle and scope that I use can perform much better than my skills allow.  The Vortex Strick Eagle is a high-quality optic that offers exceptional operation and service.  


First Focal Plane Scopes – Finding What Works for You

The best first focal plane long-range scope for any shooter is the one that best meets the shooter’s needs on the range or in the field.   Finding the scope that meets those needs and fits within the budget restraints can be challenging.

I hope that the information I have provided in this article gives you some idea of selecting the best first focal plane optic for your needs and shooting choices.  Taking the time to study and compare the offerings on the market is the key to finding the first focal plane scope that is the right fit for you.

If you found this article helpful, please leave a comment below.  Your experiences, thoughts, and input are valuable to helping every shooter who is part of our community.  Good shooting!

Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here.