M14 Forum banner

Major Scope Question (New Buyer)

3041 15
I've been reading, studying, pondering: on getting a scope for my .308 rifle.

I want a mil dot reticle on it, . . . to use mainly for hunting, . . . but it will also be my SHTF long range piece.

My big question:

Why would one buy a scope where the reticle is focused on the front focal plane, . . . ??

VS:

Why would one buy a scope where the reticle is focused on the second focal plane, . . . ??

And pardon me if my terminology is not perfect, . . . I know the difference is that the reticle stays constant size on the second focal plane, . . . but stays in proportional size to the target when it is on the front focal plane.

I just don't understand the reasoning of why buy one verses buying the other, . . . would seriously like some expert advice on this.

May God bless,
Dwight
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
16,422 Posts
In the 2nd focal plane, you can only use the reticle to estimate distance on one power setting. If the reticle is on 1st focal plane you can estimate distance on any power setting. Some shooters want that feature.

Other shooters do not like the idea of the reticle getting small when you use a low power setting. They prefer the reticle remain constant. These folks tend to shoot at known distances.

I've used both. They each have pros and cons.
 

· In the gilded halls of Valhala
Joined
·
13,869 Posts
I hear people say you cant use 2nd focal plane for range estimation at all power levels while sort of true take this example.

Redfield battle zone

Has a moa version of the tmr reticle.


Hash marks are 2 moa at 9x

So that means to me you turn the dial by half (between 4x and 5x. Now ticks are 1moa

Dial it back to 3 and you just over .5 moa


So as you can see theres no black and white 2nd or 1st is better.

First choose your units.

Moa
Or mil
In most cases make sure knobs match reticle(this is worth paying extra for though the above mentioned scope is inexpensive and offers simple knobs and reticle.


Next decide clarity requirements.

Chinese-phillipine-japanese-german
$ $$ $$$ $$$$

Aim sports-redfield-nightforce-schmidt bender

As far as focal plane you have to judge the whole scope and all of its features.

The bushnell ar optics 1-4 ffp is an atrocity

Compare the way the reticle looks at all power ranges on that scope to the swfa 1-6 ss ffp. The swfa executes the reticle sizes expertly where bushnell gives you a turd samwich.

Keep in mind there are scope brands that have glass from one or more makers.

IF YOU HAVE money look at swfa brand which can offer the combinations of any features at a fair price.


Dont settle for units you dont want just because you can save 100$ on better glass.

There may be a point where a good deal makes this a trade off worth considering but for most sale prices its not worth going .mil just for price if you never use mil.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,393 Posts
Dresden nailed it, if you understand the math, you can use a SFP scope to range at other power settings although you will probably never need to. Just look at how many Nightforce and Leupold scopes are SFP; lots of people buy them. Also, SWFA has got it right with the FFP 1-6, I have one and it is outstanding. However, on many FFP scopes, the reticle is so small at low power settings it's unusable.

To get an ideas about how you can use different reticles, google "impact data book" and look at the different reticles they make data books for. You can pretty much use any SFP scope at any power setting for holdovers once you create a data sheet for that power setting. I use iStrelok ballistics program, that has every reticle you would ever want already loaded, to create data sheets at different power settings for what ever custom or factory load. What you will find is a certain power setting that works best for a certain load with a SFP scope. In IStrelok there is a reticle view where you can vary the power of the scope by swiping you finger and you can see the difference it makes on the reticle tick marks as far as their range value goes at different power settings. On a FFP scope this is constant, it does not vary.

BTW, Euorooptic has NF 2.5-10x42 Zerostop MRAD scopes that are never been mounted demos for $1350!! That's a $1940 scope normally.

Good luck!
 

· Registered
Joined
·
568 Posts
I bought a Primary Arms 4-14. Has the FFP, is mil-mil and is very solid. They go for $229 and Dimitri stands behind them 100%. I am very happy with it. Sure, I have Leupolds on all my other rifles but I can see no difference in optical quality. Being as I am now retired and on a fixed income I have come to learn cheaper can be better. Or at least as good.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dwight55

· Registered
Joined
·
78 Posts
In my opinion, FFP is more important for holdover than ranging. While ranging exercises if thru the scope can be fun, everybody busts out the Terrapin when they have to range for real.

I know my 200-300-400-500 dope is 0.5-1.5-2.5-3.5...

If I'm scanning for a short range piece of steel (<600), im usually doing it low zoom. If that 500 yarder comes into view and I want to hit it ... it's ideal my holdover is 3.5 mil regardless of zoom. Done. Yes the math is simple on a SFP scope, but the point of practical shooting is ... guess what? Keep your eye on and engage the target. Not take your head off to see you're at 10x on your 25x SFP, take the time to dial to 12.5x, divide your 3.5 holdover by two, go back, find the target and shoot. But I'm a shooter who doesn't dial my elevation turret unless its past 500-600.

Same principle applies to wind calls.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
3,163 Posts
Here's an excellent article written in the subject by a military/LE rep at Nightforce.

With the United States engaged in the Global War on Terror for over a decade, there has been an increased demand for front focal plane optics by Law Enforcement. This growing trend is a direct result of lessons learned by our military and the frequent collaboration with Law Enforcement in training events and conferences. Since the question of which optical platform is best for Law Enforcement use is a frequent one, we’d like to provide you with some information that will help you make the right choice for your application. The intent of this document is to educate you on the differences, as well as the pros and cons of both for use in the Law Enforcement role.
Let’s begin with proper explanations of each.

First Focal Plane Reticle: A First Focal Plane reticle gets its name due to the position of its placement in the erector tube assembly; in the front portion directly adjacent to the adjustment turret mechanism, which is why it is also referred to as a Front Focal Plane reticle. It is in front of the magnification element of the riflescope; hence the reticle gets magnified throughout the magnification range.

Due to the location of the reticle in the erector tube, the reticle is able to remain in proportion to the target as the magnification is increased or decreased. This means that visually, the reticle will decrease in size as the magnification is decreased, and increase in size with the target as the magnification is increased. Due to this capability, the reticle’s subtensions remain true on all magnification settings.

Second Focal Plane Reticle: A Second Focal Plane reticle gets its name due to the position of its placement in the erector tube assembly; in the rear portion near the power zoom ring that is used to adjust the magnification of the riflescope. This is why it is also referred to as a Rear Focal Plane reticle. It is behind the magnification element of the riflescope; hence the reticle does not get magnified throughout the magnification range.

Due to the location of the reticle in the erector tube, the reticle will remain constant in proportion to the target as the magnification is increased or decreased. This means that visually, the reticle will remain the same size, but the target will appear to get larger or smaller when the magnification is increased or decreased. Due to this, the subtensions of the reticle can only be true at one magnification setting.

The one aspect that both riflescopes have in common is that they magnify the image of the target, and allow you to adjust Point of Impact (POI) to your Point of Aim (POA). The differences are in how the reticle works. How the reticle works can affect operational integration.

While both Law Enforcement and the Military work in dynamic environments, one tends to work in a fairly permissive environment where the aggressor is clearly defined in a relatively short target engagement area. The other usually works in an environment that is non-permissive; the aggressors aren’t clearly defined at all and the target engagement area is as far as line-of-sight will allow.

Due to most Americans being law abiding citizens with a generally positive view of Law Enforcement, the Law Enforcement Sniper almost universally operates in a permissive environment and the aggressor(s) is clearly defined. More often than not, the LE Sniper is reactionary to a specific location – often a building or a house with barricaded suspects. Their primary role is to observe and provide intelligence to the Incident Command Center as negotiations take place or an entry team assembles. The static positions often mean dealing with a target or targets at a known distance at ranges that are usually inside of 100yds.

The military sniper on the other hand, is almost always located in non-permissive environments where the aggressors may or may not be clearly defined. If not on active patrols, they are usually in overwatch positions to engage a target or multiple targets of opportunity. Sometimes the distances are known, sometimes they are not. More often than not, the Military Sniper is dealing with multiple threat targets at varying distances from 0 meters or yards to in excess of 1000 meters or yards. By the very nature of operating in such a vast potential engagement window and dealing with multiple targets at varying distances, it tends to be a more dynamic and changing environment than the Law Enforcement environment.

Typically the best hide for the LE Sniper tends to be somewhere rather close to the structure/threat due to the environment. The closer distances allow them to be more precise in their shots and keep innocent people between the suspect and sniper to an absolute minimum. These distances are often within 100yds, but can be 50yds or less. Granted, while a Sniper in a more rural setting will have different options, the distances still tend to be closer for the same reasons the urban sniper deals with.

In situations that mandate that you are so close to your threat, it is often imperative to turn the magnification down to a setting that gives you maximum field of view in order to observe without panning or scanning. If you were to turn the magnification down to the minimum setting on a FFP scope, then the reticle becomes very thin and difficult to see. If/when a threat were to present itself and a quick shot were required, it very well may be necessary to have to turn the magnification up to a point where the reticle is visible against the target. An illuminated reticle can sometimes help alleviate this problem but most reticles are not daytime visible. This would only become a benefit if the situation were occurring in a limited to no light situation, and having your reticle illuminated without a Killflash or Anti Reflection Device(ARD) can possibly give away your position as it can be viewed by a skilled forward observer. A lot of things affect how well you can see your reticle; shadows, varying light, target color, target background, viewing through glass, differing vegetation, sun position, reflections, etc. all have an impact on how you see your reticle against your target. This is where the SFP reticle riflescopes become a benefit to the LE Sniper. The reticle remains constant in size throughout the magnification range. The shot usually requires a POA/POI hold or something so close that it can be judged by a feature hold on the target. The subtensions on the reticle may not be correct, but given the distances of the engagement and the nature of the environment, it becomes a non-issue and can be satisfied by dialing your proper zero for your given range if needed. Ranging with your reticle, windage holds for wind and moving targets are also rather limited in the LE Role to where they are very common in the Military Role.

One common theme between the two professions is the use of forward mounted Night Vision Devices (NVD’s) like the UNS and MUNS. The use of NVD’s can limit the use of the optic on maximum magnification. Most clip-on NVD’s are optimized for use in the 6 - 10x magnification range. This could be said that it is a benefit to utilize a front focal plane scope and I will agree, but with proper knowledge of how a second focal plane scope reticle subtends at different magnifications, it becomes a non-issue. It is also not an issue if utilization of the subtended holds aren’t necessary.

In conclusion, the second focal plane riflescope still very much has its place for the Law Enforcement role while the opposite is found to be true for the Military Role. It is imperative when your agency is selecting the equipment needed for its mission, that it select the equipment that will benefit the team in accomplishing their mission – and not hinder it. When selecting your optics, make sure that you look at all sides of the equation to determine what will work best for you.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
205 Posts
John does a great job discussing this,

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl9pGz8J-OE&feature=youtu.be[/ame]

I just picked up a Mark 4 with a SFP TMR reticle with the justification that I'm not the brightest tool in the shed and keeping things simple works best for me. I'm ashamed to admit I've left the optic on a different magnification setting then where the reticle is true (12x on my Bushnell Elite Tacti-cool) and spent a good amount of time, ammo, and self loathing trying to figure out why I couldn't hit anything.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
5,153 Posts
Well since you didn't say budget and you said mainly hunting + mildot I'd say get a nightforce 2.5-10x32. Lots of people use them for hunting. Should be able to find a used one on sniper's hide for say 1200 bucks. Leupold M3 is another I have had 3 of them now. One went tee tees up but the others have been fine. It is lightweight, mildot, 1MOA click BDC elevation knob which lines up fairly well with match 168 and 175 loads. Not as good as the nightforce but more reasonably priced on the used market, I haven't paid more than 650 for one ever.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,393 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
205 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
In the 2nd focal plane, you can only use the reticle to estimate distance on one power setting. If the reticle is on 1st focal plane you can estimate distance on any power setting. Some shooters want that feature.

Other shooters do not like the idea of the reticle getting small when you use a low power setting. They prefer the reticle remain constant. These folks tend to shoot at known distances.

I've used both. They each have pros and cons.
This is the best succinct explanation I've heard yet of the 1st and 2nd focal debate.

I prefer 2nd focal on bolt action hyper-accurate rifles as the crosshairs are always finer since they don't need to shrink and grow and still be visible at all the magnification levels. The slower, but ultimately more precise nature of 2nd focal appeals to that objective. Want to hit a 10" plate at 1200 yards? a very thin crosshair will help.

1st focal is vastly preferable for fast and dynamic (magpul-ism! Gasp!) rifles that need to switch from 50 yards to 800 yards, then 300 yards on a man size target in a matter of seconds, and all the holds remain true. The less precise reticle isn't a hindrance when hitting man size targets to a 308's max effective (800m) range. Semi Auto rifles are great for this type of scope, they were tailor made for speedy sniper applications. Woulda killed for a 1st focal version of my 3.5-10x Mk4 on the 110.

My TRG buddy had a 5-25x S&B PMII with 1st focal, and wanted a thicker reticle on the big .338 Lapua Magnum! He had a tough time keeping up with my 300wm on small targets at range, and couldn't make the connection that a less precise aiming point might be to blame!

YMMV, but that's the best application I can come up with for the two technologies.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
3,163 Posts
You can easily range at any power with an SFP, just not as easy as with an FFP. It adds one additional step to your equation.

Say you have a 6-24x scope with a mil reticle that is set to range at 14x from the factory, and you want to range on 24x, here's what ya do:

Range as you normally would. Take the mil reading and divide it by 1.71. Then factor the new mil reading into the standard formula.

1.71 is obtained by dividing 24x by 14x: 24 / 14 = 1.71. You divide the power you want to range with by the pre-set ranging power.

You can use this method for any power on your scope, i.e., if you want to range on 20x: 20 / 14 = 1.43

So, you have a known target size of 20". You range and get a reading of 2.225 mils. Your formula when ranging at 14x would be:

(Size target in inches X 27.778) / mils = distance in yards

(20 x 27.778) / 2.225 = 250 yards

If you were ranging at 24x, take your mil reading of 2.225 and divide by 1.71: 2.225 / 1.71 = 1.3 is your new mil reading.

The formula would be: (20 x 27.778) / 1.3 = 427 yards

Easy thing to do is to go ahead and figure out the adjustments ahead of time and right 'em down. For an SFP scope set to range at 14x, they are:

15x: 1.07
16x: 1.14
17x: 1.21
18x: 1.29
19x: 1.36
20x: 1.43
21x: 1.5
22x: 1.57
23x: 1.64
24x: 1.71
 

· Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Definitely easy to range with SFP, I really like the method above. I used 3 magnification settings with the second focal plane scopes I used, max, medium (7x at w/ the 56130) and minimum. The Leupold optics I used are correct at max magnification, so 14x would be where 1 Mil = 1 Mil in the reticle. At the range, I would place an object at 100m, and measure it carefully with the reticle at max (correct) power.

Then turn the magnification down carefully until the object measure twice what it did at max, and you've located the actual middle. Mark the power ring with a pencil so you can easily go back. I shot 20x scopes at measured 10x medium magnification more than 20x almost always.

Now, the lowest power if easy, just bottom out the power ring. If you've got a classic lupy 3x zoom ratio, the minimum will be exactly 14 divided by 3, or 4.5.

Heres the fun part, at the medium setting, just remember that each mil marking is now measuring two mils, so a 1/2 Mil wind hold will simply be 1 whole Mil at middle power. When range estimating with the reticle, measure at the middle or low magnification, and run the formula listed by the previous poster, and the divide by 2 (med) or 3 (low).

Another tool for your toolbox, it's worked for me for many years. Shoot straight!
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top