Whether you’re an experienced hunter with years of experience or a beginner just getting into the exciting world of shooting long-range targets, you will find that owning a quality rifle scope is a necessity when it comes to performing your best under rigorous environmental conditions.
In this short article, we take a look at the best first focal planes rifle scopes in the market to see which ones would be the most suited for your needs.
I’ve included scopes that I’ve personally tried and tested, as well as making a detailed review of scopes that I found online. You can rest assured that the scopes on this list deliver excellent value for the price, so you can get one of these without worrying about paying a high price for something that’s overpriced.
But before we get into all of that, let’s first familiarize ourselves with the first focal scopes. Let’s get started, shall we?
What are the first focal plane scopes?
A first focal plane riflescope is simply a scope that has a reticle in front of the magnifying assembly.
This can be pretty confusing for you, so what it means is that the reticle varies with changing magnifications. This will cause the crosshairs to grow bigger in size as you increase the magnification, and the converse is also true.
Why you would want to have this on your scope is because it helps you get precise elevation and windage adjustments so you are not missing any precious targets.
There is also a disadvantage, however. A first focal plane scope is excellent if you’ve got ample daylight but if the evening is approaching soon and you are running out of light, it can be hard to see crosshairs.
If you are confused between a first focal plane scope and one that has a second focal plane, you can go for the one that suits your needs. If you are going to be hunting mostly during the day when light is ample, go for a first focal plane rifle scope. If you think you will need to shoot in dim conditions, a second focal plane scope can be an excellent scope.
Best First Focal Plane scopes under 500$
If you want a rifle scope with a good 30mm objective lens that’s neither too heavy nor too bulky, the Bushnell Engage rifle scope will be the perfect scope for you.
What I love about this riflescope is that it’s a great budget alternative to a lot of the fancy scopes out there that cost a ton.
You get a magnification of 4x to 16x which is pretty ideal for most uses. I absolutely love the matte finish on this. The scope shines both in performance and aesthetics which is a great thing.
You get a 44mm lens which is pretty wide and gather a lot of light. It’s ideal for shooting at both mid-range and long-range distances which is great.
You also get easily adjustable turrets that are really convenient to use as well as fantastic windage and elevation knobs that will let you easily refine your adjustments.
If you are looking for a budget scope that can handle shooting for long strenuous hours, the Bushnell first focal plane riflescope is a super intuitive choice that will make you fall in love with long-distance shooting all over again.
The Optics Helos BTR by Athlon is a fantastic rifle scope that also features an illuminated reticle. It’s at the top of the list because it’s got an amazing value for the price.
Athlon is a premium brand and everybody who has ever gotten their hands wet in the world of shooting has definitely heard of it once.
The Athlon riflescope offers a magnification range of 6x to 24x which is versatile enough for all kinds of applications. You also get a protective lens surface on the outside so your lenses are spotless after you’re done with the day.
The BTR on the riflescope model name simply means Bright Reticle which I particularly love. I’m a huge fan of illuminated reticles and it’s a great value.
Speaking of the glass on this, I can vouch for this! I’ve used this for a while, and this rifle scope is not only built well but also has a side focus for fixing parallax.
Like most premium scopes that are built to be rainproof and fog proof, the Athlon scope is also weatherproofed by Argon purging.
There is also fair eye relief on this which can be a good thing for you if you need to wear glasses.
What I like the most about this riflescope is that it’s built out of solid aircraft-grade Aluminium which makes it very sturdy and lightweight (in theory). The scope is also shockproof thanks to the Aluminium body.
The glass on this is fully multi-coated which is great to have, as it means that the image will be very bright and glare-free.
You get maximum transmission and windage and elevation adjustments which is always super nice to have.
If there’s one thing about this that bugs me, it’s got to be the weight. It’s quite heavy for a first focal plane scope. If you can overlook that, it’s a fantastic budget scope that offers impeccable value for any hunter or beginner trying to learn the craft.
In the second place, we have the BDC 4.5-18x which is a fantastic long-range shooting scope with excellent light transmission.
What I like the most about the Nikon Prostaff rifle scope is that it features a sunshade as well as quick zero caps. You also get spring-loaded and instant zero-reset turrets which are pretty amazing.
Speaking of the glass quality, the Nikon Prostaff scope features a multi-coated lens with maximum light transmission. It’s pretty bright and clear during the day but honestly, average during low-light conditions.
I also like the versatile magnification range of 4.5x to 18x which is pretty good for an average hunter. One of the things that I really like about this is the fact that you can shoot targets pretty rapidly thanks to the fast-focus eyepiece.
I think the objective lens on this is not as wide as those on the Vortex Viper models, so it won’t be as bright as the other scope models.
Overall, the Prostaff scope is a great budget scope for anybody looking for a reliable rifle scope that’s durable. You also get a lifetime warranty so that’s great!
How to choose the best Riflescope for your rifle
There are many things that you should keep in mind when choosing a rifle scope for your rifle. I go through these things here.
What separates a premium scope from a cheap crappy scope is the quality of the build. Cheap scopes tend to have cheap materials but quality scopes have expensive materials like Aluminium and high-grade rubber that not only add durability to the frame but also add an aesthetic appeal.
If you are going to be using rifles outdoors, which you most certainly are- you absolutely need a scope that’s fully rainproof and fog proof. The insides of the scope are filled with Nitrogen and Argon. You also get O-ring seals that do a fantastic job at keeping the dust and dirt out of the scopes.
If there’s a single thing that matters the most to a hunter, it’s the magnification range on a scope. You could get a 1-8x scope that costs over a grand, but it would be pretty much useless for shooting targets at a long distance.
I find that in most situations, you don’t need to go beyond 14x magnification levels.
Glass and light transmission
It should come as no surprise to you that the glass on a scope should be pretty high quality as well. It should be fully multi-coated, scratch-resistant, as well as anti-glare.
Having the BDC feature will also help as it offers an adjustment on the bullet drop.
Light transmission is also a feature that will help you tremendously. If you’ve got a scope with maximum light transmission, it will most certainly be brighter than one that has poor transmission.
Choosing between a first focal plane scope and a second focal plane can be very tricky, especially if you’re a beginner.
If you’ve got a first focal plane reticle, it just means that it will change its size to suit your magnification levels. The takeaway is, to get a second focal plane scope if you are going to be hunting across long distances.
You can also use the first focal plane scope if you are experienced at estimating hash marks and adjustments.
If you can, you should always get a scope that has a warranty.
It comes in super handy when it comes to actually repair your scope in case it gets damaged. Most rifle scopes don’t offer a Lifetime Warranty. So, if you come across some scope that offers a Lifetime Warranty as the Vortex does- you should consider it for purchase.
From the list, we can see that a budget scope under 500$ can offer plenty of value. Sticking to big names like Athlon, Vortex, Bushnell, Leupold, etc. is also a great idea.
Just go through our checklist before getting a scope and you should be good to go! I hope that my guide has helped you narrow down your purchase.
What magnification range should I look at as a beginner?
As a beginner, it’s a great idea to look in the range of 8x to 10x. It should be good for most mid-range to long-range shooting.
Should you go for fixed or variable scopes?
If you need more value and a more durable scope, getting a fixed scope is a much better choice than getting a variable scope. But if you would like to work with variable magnification ranges, a variable magnification rifle scope would be the way to go.
Does the size of the objective lens matter?
Nope, it mostly doesn’t. If you go cheap on the scopes, then the size of objective lenses might matter.