Dealer Tip: Front Focal Plane Versus Rear Focal Plane

The whole “front focal plane” thing is sort of a newish feature that some older retailers might not know a whole lot about. It came out of the tactical community and was a feature typically offered on military and law enforcement SWAT optics.

Here Burris is offering the feature on a hunting scope as some other manufacturers have done relatively recently. I could see retailers needing to be able to sell it as a positive feature to their hunting customers, particularly to those most familiar with traditional optics.

On a front focal plane (first focal plane) reticle, the size of the reticle appears to increase with the increase in magnification.

Front Focal Plane Points

  • This can be seen as beneficial for those who like a fine crosshair. The same amount of the target is covered across the range of magnification.
  • Range estimation can be done on any magnification.
  • A BDC reticle will work across the entire range of magnification.
  • The reticle doesn’t tend to perform as well in low light conditions on the lowest settings.

On a rear focal plane reticle (second focal plane), the size of the reticle stays the same no matter what the magnification setting of the scope.

Rear Focal Plane Points

  • Generally performs better under low light conditions.
  • If you have a reticle that allows for range estimation, they generally only work on the highest magnification setting.
  • A BDC reticle will only work on one magnification setting — once again, usually the highest setting.
Charles is the editor for 248 Shooter a midwest based gun news and gear review site as well as Online Content Director for On Target Magazine. He is an avid student taking classes from top tier trainers around the country. Charles shares his love for training as well as experience and opinions on some of the most talked about gear and products used by competitive shooters, military, leo and civilians.