How To Use A Second Focal Plane Scope

Are you new to using a second focal plane scope? If so, you may be feeling overwhelmed with all the technical jargon and settings. But fear not! In this article, we will guide you through the process of using a second focal plane scope effectively and efficiently.

For those unfamiliar, a second focal plane scope is a popular choice among hunters and shooters due to its versatility and ease of use. However, without the proper knowledge and understanding, it can be challenging to make the most out of this valuable tool.

Whether you are a seasoned shooter or just starting out, learning how to use a second focal plane scope can greatly enhance your shooting accuracy and overall experience. By mastering the various features and techniques, you can maximize the potential of your scope and take your shooting skills to the next level. So, let’s dive in and explore the proper ways to utilize a second focal plane scope.

Understanding the Basics

Before diving into the specifics of using an SFP scope, it’s essential to understand the difference between an FFP scope and an SFP scope. In an FFP scope, the reticle size changes with the magnification level, while in an SFP scope, the reticle remains the same size. The benefit of using an SFP scope is that the reticle’s subtensions remain accurate and consistent throughout the magnification range.

To utilize an SFP scope effectively, it’s crucial to understand how the reticle works. The reticle serves as a reference point to help aim accurately. It usually consists of hash marks or dots that indicate specific distances or holds for bullet drop compensation (BDC). However, since the reticle remains the same size in an SFP scope, the holds and markings won’t change with the zoom level.

Determining the magnification range of the scope is also essential before using it in the field. Different SFP scopes have varying magnification capabilities, typically ranging from 3x to 20x or more. Knowing the magnification range will help you make accurate adjustments for different shooting scenarios.

How does a Second Focal Plane Scope work?

The SFP scope works by placing the reticle in front of the magnification elements within the scope. As the shooter increases or decreases the magnification, the reticle remains the same size while the target image changes. This design allows for a consistent aiming point regardless of the magnification level.

Zeroing the Scope

Zeroing the scope is a crucial step in ensuring accurate shots. Zeroing refers to aligning the reticle with the point of impact at a specific distance. The most common distance for zeroing is 100 yards, but it can vary depending on the individual’s preference and the shooting application.

To zero an SFP scope, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  • Set up a stable shooting platform and position the target at the desired zeroing distance.
  • Fire a group of shots, aiming at the center of the target.
  • Analyze the group’s placement and adjust the windage and elevation settings accordingly.
  • Make incremental adjustments until the shots consistently hit the center of the target.
  • Confirm the zero by firing additional shots to ensure consistency.

Adjusting windage refers to moving the reticle horizontally to compensate for shots drifting left or right. Elevation adjustments, on the other hand, involve moving the reticle vertically to compensate for bullet drop at different distances. Understanding how to make these adjustments accurately is crucial for achieving precise shots in the field.

Using the parallax adjustment on a Second Focal Plane Scope

Some Second Focal Plane scopes come with a parallax adjustment feature. Parallax occurs when the reticle appears to move relative to the target when the shooter moves their head or eye position. To use the parallax adjustment effectively:

  • Set the parallax adjustment to the appropriate distance based on the target’s range.
  • Keep your eye centered in the scope to minimize parallax and ensure accurate aiming.

Making Adjustments for Range and Wind

To use an SFP scope effectively in different shooting scenarios, it’s important to know how to make adjustments for range and windage. When shooting at different distances, holdover adjustments must be made to compensate for bullet drop.

To determine the correct holdover for different distances, follow these steps:

  • Estimate the distance to the target.
  • Refer to the reticle’s markings for holdover indications based on the estimated distance.
  • Aim using the appropriate holdover marking while keeping the target centered.

Making windage adjustments involves estimating the wind speed and direction and calculating the required holdoff. By turning the windage knob in the correct direction, shooters can compensate for the wind drift and maintain accuracy.

Practicing these adjustments in real-life shooting scenarios is crucial for developing proficiency and ensuring accurate shots in the field.

Cleaning and Maintaining a Second Focal Plane Scope

To ensure optimal performance and longevity of your second focal plane scope, regular cleaning and maintenance are essential.

Use lens cleaning solutions specifically designed for optics and a soft microfiber cloth to clean the lenses. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that may scratch or damage the lens coatings.

Regularly inspect the scope for any signs of damage or wear. Keep the scope protected when not in use, preferably in a padded case. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for any specific cleaning and maintenance recommendations.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When using an SFP scope, there are certain common mistakes that shooters should avoid to ensure accuracy and optimal performance.

  • Overcompensating for bullet drop: It’s important to understand the reticle’s holdover markings and not overcompensate for bullet drop at different distances. Practice and field testing will help develop a better understanding of the reticle’s accuracy.
  • Neglecting to adjust for windage properly: Failure to account for wind drift can result in missed shots. Understanding windage holdoff and making accurate windage adjustments are crucial for compensating for wind drift.
  • Failing to properly zero the scope: Zeroing the scope is essential for accurate shots. Neglecting to zero the scope or zeroing it incorrectly will result in inaccurate aim and missed shots.

By avoiding these common mistakes and following the proper procedures, shooters can maximize the potential of their SFP scope and achieve accurate shots consistently.

Tips for shooting with a Second Focal Plane Scope

Here are some additional tips for shooting with a Second Focal Plane scope:

  • Practice regularly to become familiar with the reticle and its subtensions.
  • Use a stable shooting position to minimize shooter-induced errors.
  • Pay attention to proper trigger control and breathing techniques.
  • Learn and understand the ballistics of your ammunition to make accurate shots at various distances.
  • Invest in high-quality ammunition for consistent performance.

Tips and tricks for using a SFP scope

To further enhance your shooting experience with a SFP scope, here are some valuable tips and tricks:

  • Practice proper shooting fundamentals to ensure consistency in your technique.
  • Familiarize yourself with the SFP scope’s reticle and subtensions before heading to the field.
  • Use a stable shooting platform, such as a bipod or sandbag, to minimize human error.
  • Experiment with different magnification settings and holdover points to find the optimal configuration for your needs.
  • Regularly clean and maintain your SFP scope to prolong its lifespan and ensure reliable performance.


Using a second focal plane (SFP) scope effectively requires an understanding of its basic principles, proper zeroing techniques, and adjustments for range and wind. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article and avoiding common mistakes, shooters can improve their accuracy and achieve consistent shot placement in the field.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

Are SFP scopes suitable for long-range shooting?

Yes, SFP scopes are suitable for long-range shooting due to their ability to maintain accurate holdover points at all magnification settings.

Do I need to re-zero my SFP scope when changing magnification levels?

No, the reticle remains the same size regardless of the magnification level in an SFP scope. This means that the zeroing remains consistent regardless of the zoom setting.

Can I use a SFP scope in low-light conditions?

Yes, many SFP scopes are designed with features such as illuminated reticles or low-light performance enhancements that allow for clear sighting in low-light conditions.

Can I use an SFP scope in low-light conditions?

Yes, SFP scopes are typically designed with multi-coated lenses that provide better light transmission, allowing for better visibility in low-light conditions. However, it’s important to choose the right scope with appropriate light-gathering capabilities for optimal performance.

Can an SFP scope be used with both centerfire and rimfire rifles?

Yes, SFP scopes can be used with both centerfire and rimfire rifles. However, it’s important to choose the appropriate scope based on the specific caliber and shooting application to ensure optimal performance.

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