Best First Focal Plane (FFP) Scopes

What are the best FFP rifle scopes?

Are you a fan of long-range shooting? Are you constantly putting your targets out further and further?

If so, then you need to start thinking about first focal plane (FFP) rife scopes. These scopes are fantastic optics for long-range rifle enthusiasts, and they’ve become far more popular in recent years. 

There are a lot of options out there when it comes to FFP scopes.

As the popularity of long-range shooting (generally over 500 yards) has increased, so has the need for optics that enable shooters to get on target at greater and greater ranges. The explosion in quality lens technology in recent years has lead to a tremendous number of these scopes hitting the market – which can make choosing the right option a little daunting.

There are, however, plenty of great options out there – and we have pulled together a list of the best FFP scopes for the money.

Quick List: Our Picks for the Best FFP Scopes

  1. Best Overall: Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II
  2. Best Value: Sniper ZT
  3. Most Affordable: Monstrum G2
  4. Best Build Quality: Leupold VX-3i LRP
  5. Easiest to Use: Athlon Optics Ares BTR
  6.  

Our Top Pick (Best Overall):

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 2-10x32 FFP Riflescope EBR-4 MRAD
  • The Viper PST Gen II takes incredible performance and rock solid tactical features to new heights....
  • Shooters who dial their turrets for bullet drop and wind compensation will appreciate the laser...
  • The reticle offers shooters highly functional, intuitive, and detailed hold points, yet remains...

Vortex Optics’ claim to fame is its VIP warranty. No matter what happens, if your optics fail, the company will fix or replace your scope. That’s good peace of mind, and just one of the things that makes Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II FFP scope one of the best out there. 

2 reticle options – MOA and MRAD

Vortex offers the Viper PST with two different reticle options. You can get a MOA version or a MRAD version. The choice is up to you, and it comes down to personal preference. Both reticles illuminate red.

Useful zero stops

Our testers found the RZR Zero Stop feature of the Viper to be excellent. This feature lets you set the turret so it cannot be dialed so low that you can’t see the reticle. This is helpful if you have any eyesight issues. 

One thing that our testers weren’t crazy about was the eye relief of the Viper. Some reported they would have like to see the eye relief be a little longer.

This, again, is a personal preference issue. Some shooters like the be a little closer, while others prefer more distance between their eye and the scope. For the 2-10×32 version of the Viper eye relief is listed as 3.2 inches according to Vortex, which should be good for many shooters. 

Pros

  • Good for short and long-range shooting
  • Laser-etched turrets
  • Detailed holdover points
  • Low dispersion glass lenses

Cons

  • Could use longer eye relief
  • Illumination of reticle could be brighter
  • Only two reticle options

Best Value:

Sniper ZT5-27x50 FFP Scope Side Parallax Adjustment Glass Etched Reticle Red Green Illuminated with...
  • Hunting rifle scope providing crystal clear targeting at 5-27x magnification, with a 50mm objective...
  • Glass-etched/First focal plane(FFP) reticle. Reticle illumination in both red and green with...
  • Capped reset turrets are finger adjustable with 1/4 MOA clicks that can be reset to zero after...

A good middle of the road price point scope is the Sniper ZT. This scope maker’s name might not be as well known as Vortex or some of the other options here, but the product is very good for the price. 

Variable reticle illumination

The scope features a glass etched reticle with illumination in both red or green. Having this variability is nice, and lets you choose the setting that best fits your lighting conditions.

The illumination is also variable, so you can choose from a variety of settings to further dial in your preferences. The reticle itself offers plenty of holdovers for most shooters.

The capped turrets offer 30 MOA to either side of optical center. Sniper has a special design for its turrets that allows you to lock them in place when you get them where you need them, which should help this scope hold zero better than other options.

Our testers found this scope to be an excellent value for the money, but it’s not the least expensive option showcased here.

The mount isn’t particularly nice though

One major gripe about this particular scope is the mount. It is not as robust as our testers would have liked to see, so we would suggest upgrading it at some point, especially if you’re doing any kind of backcountry hunting where your gear can take a true beating.

If you’re just going to the range, then the mount may be just fine.

Pros

  • Good for long distances
  • Reticle illumination in both red and green
  • Illumination brightness variability

Cons

  • The included scope mount isn’t super sturdy
  • Lacks some of the features of high-dollar options
  • Only one reticle option

Most Affordable:

Monstrum G2 6-24x50 First Focal Plane FFP Rifle Scope with Illuminated Rangefinder Reticle and...
  • High precision tactical rifle scope with 6-24x magnification, a 50mm objective lens, and an eye...
  • Functionally designed first focal plane rangefinder reticle, with easy-to-read ranging information...
  • Equipped with an adjustable objective lens - or AO - that allows for sharper focus of the target...

The Monstrum Tactical G2 is another fantastic option if you’re looking for a scope that’s an excellent value.

For even less money than the Sniper ZT, you get a front focal plane scope that honestly offers features and construction on par with might higher-dollar scopes. 

A higher magnification option

The scope offers 6-24×50 magnification, which is more than enough for most shooters. Our testers came in a little skeptical of the scope due to its low price but found the glass, reticle, and turrets to all be of high quality for the price.

There is some slack in the turrets adjustment, which isn’t great, but it is to be expected at this price point. 

Eye relief on this scope is also quite good at 4.5 inches. The illumination on this scope is both in red and green and there are multiple brightness intensities.

Flaws worth noting

One thing that our testers didn’t like was the fact that the scope rings were higher than expected. This can be a problem depending on your mounting configuration and accessory set-up. 

You can certainly swap the rings for lower-profile options to get the scope positioned to you needs, and at this price point it’s not a shocking shortcoming, but worth noting if you’re super budget focused. Also, our testers did note that this scope may not hold up as well as more proven brands over time due to the general build quality.

Our testers reported no problems, but it’s unclear how much time you’ll need to spend re-calibrating the zero on the Monstrum over time. Overall, this is a lot of bang for your buck.

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Attached lens caps 
  • Good eye relief

Cons

  • Scope rings can put it up too high
  • Questionable as to how long it will last

Best Build Quality:

Leupold VX-3i LRP 8.5-25x50mm Side Focus Riflescope
  • Model #172347 - VX-3i LRP 8.5-25x50mm Side Focus with Front Focal TMR reticle and Matte finish
  • 100% Waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof.
  • Long Range Precision (LRP) Target Adjustments - An easy-to-grab dial with three revolutions of...

Leupold is one of those names in the optics world that almost every shooter knows and respects. The company makes excellent products and the VX-3i LRP (Long Range Precision) is no exception.

This FFP scope gives shooters top-quality materials, build quality, and premium features at a fair price. 

Compact, high quality, & easy-to-use

The VX-3i LRP is compact and easy to use. It’ll fit on just about any rifle easily and it has build quality that will blow many other offerings out of the water.

Everything from the matte black finish to the turrets is engineered with the shooter in mind. 

The precision you happily pay more for

When it comes to actually shooting with the scope, the turrets work well and have a precision not found in less-expensive models. Leupold offers six different reticle choices.

You can have a T-MOA, TMR, CCH, Impact-29 MOA, Impact-32 MOA, and an Impact-60 MOA. Magnification range on the scope is 6.5-20×50.

The scope is waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof, and our testers experience with Leupold products made it clear that this scope will withstand the beating of a multi-day backwoods hunt with ease. 

The Leupold is one of the more expensive FFP scopes showcased here. Its price is justified due to the fact that its quality is so high.

While you can certainly buy more expensive FFP scopes, there’s little chance you’ll actually need the incremental features of a more expensive option. The Leupold is a proven product. 

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Compact overall size
  • Plenty of reticle choices

Cons

  • No illumination
  • One of the more expensive options here

Easiest to Use:

Athlon Optics Ares BTR Riflescope 4.5-27 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30mm Tube APLR3 MIL Reticle...
  • BUNDLE INCLUDES: Athlon Optics Ares BTR 4.5-27x50 Riflescope (APLR3 FFP IR MIL Reticle) and Hawke...
  • FULLY MULTICOATED OPTICS: Fully multicoated optics effectively reduce reflected light and increases...
  • XPL Coating: XPL coating gives you an extra protection on the exterior lenses from dirt, oil and...

A new player in the shooting optics industry, Athlon Optics offers some excellent products that are winning customers that would normally turn to names like Leupold. The Athlon Optics Ares BTR is a great option for anyone who wants an alternative to Leupold or Vortex. 

Excellent glass clarity

The scope offers high definition glass that our testers found to have excellent clarity.

There’s also precision zero stop, an XPL coating on the exterior to protect it, and you can get either a MOA reticle or a Mil option. 

Incredibly easy to mount and set-up

Our testers found the scope to be very easy to mount and sight in. It proved to be an accurate scope throughout testing at the range and in the backwoods – and appears as though it would hold up extremely well over time, whether or not you’re using it for hunting or range shooting.

Of all the scopes showcased here, the Athlon was the easiest to get sighted in and to use. 

Flaws are minor but worth noting

One flaw that stands out about this scope is that it does not come with lens covers or covers. You’ll have to buy those separately. Athlon doesn’t include these with the scope, and our testers found this to be a pain point given the price. 

Pros

  • Smaller frame than some competitors
  • Excellent glass clarity
  • Stable sight picture
  • Very easy to use and set up

Cons

  • No lens caps or covers
  • Only two reticle options

What is a first focal plane (FFP) scope?

Focal plane reticles inside rifle scopes are physical things. In many modern scopes, the reticle is often actually etched or attached to the glass lenses.

The way the reticle is attached to the glass is less important than the placement of FFP reticles inside the tube of the scope, especially for a high magnification or long ranging scope. 

Reticle magnification

In an FFP scope, the reticle must be placed in front of the magnification lens – making it closer to the objective lens (the lens which transmits light to the eyepiece).

This allows for the reticle itself to be magnified as you adjust the magnification on a variable scope.

By doing this you have a reticle that maintains its relationship to the target no matter the magnification range, parallax adjustment, or light conditions.

This makes accounting for things like bullet drop or wind interference over long distances much easier.

If you’re shooting over 500 yards (and definitely 800 yards) failing to take windage and bullet-drop into account will only result in inaccurate holds, missed shots, and failed hunting trips.

When shooting long-range targets, the details matter, and having a first focal plane rifle scope helps you get the details right. 

FFP vs SFP Scopes

The alternative to an FFP scope, a second focal plane scope (SFP) places the reticle closer to the shooter’s eye and on the near side of the magnification. This means SFP scope reticles are a fixed size – they will not adjust as you dial up or down the magnification. This can lead to significant increases in target coverage at higher magnifications, leading to imprecise holds. Plus they simply make it harder to see the target at distance. 

What to look for in an FFP rifle scope

When shopping for a first focal plane rifle scope, there are a few things you need to consider.

Start with price

FFP scopes can get shockingly expensive. With the popularity of these scopes, you don’t need to aim for something that costs as much as a new riding lawnmower to get a high-quality scope. Often scopes in the middle price range will have the right mix of quality and cost. 

Of course, this means you’ll still spend hundreds of dollars on a scope – but probably not thousands of dollars.

There’s an old shooter adage that essentially says you should spend as much on the optics as you did on the gun. So if you have a $300 rifle, you should spend about that much on a scope. A $3,000 scope on a $300 gun will never realize it’s true potential, so use this as a friendly rule and you’ll always get about the right mix of scope features for your firearm. 

Components

Other things to think about are the actual components of the scope itself. Look for a scope that has high-quality materials and features. Things like aircraft grade aluminum, an illuminated reticle, a sealed housing, and plenty of holdovers on the reticle or a mil-dot reticle can be indicators of a good product. 

Application  & Use

Also, you should think about how you’re going to use the product. Are you going to be doing a lot of range shooting or competitive shooting? If so, you should keep that in mind when buying a scope. A good range scope can very different from one made for hunting – and often considerably cheaper.

Conclusion

If we had to choose only one scope from this list, it would be the Vortex Optics Viper PST. That scope provided the best set of features and the best build quality for the money.

While any of the scopes on this list will serve most shooters well, there’s no denying that Vortex Optics Viper PST is the best front focal plane scope that you can buy.

It will work for hunters and it will work for long-distance range shooting or competition shooting.

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