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Air Guns A test of FFP versus SFP scopes: Part Two

A test of FFP versus SFP scopes: Part Two

BBs Goldie
BB’s Goldie is a golden Cerakoted Avenger. It’s one of my most accurate air rifles, so I chose it for this test.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • The premise
  • Cheek weld fixed
  • The test
  • Integrix at 6X
  • Integrix at 12X
  • Something interesting
  • Hold your horses
  • The answer?
  • Summary

Today we take our second look at whether a first focal plane (FFP) scope holds its point of impact (POI) when the magnification is changed, and a second focal plane (SFP) scope allows the POI to move. As you learned in Part 1, I have to repeat that test because of how it was conducted — adjusting the scope magnification for every shot.

The premise

Many people believe that when you change the magnification of an SFP scope the point of impact also changes. They believe that the same does not hold for an FFP scope. We are testing that premise with a Meopta 3-15X50 RD MeoSport SFP set at 6 power and at 12 power and shooting two ten-shot groups at 25 yards. Then the test is run with the Integrix FFP scope, also set and 6 and 12 power. And both scopes are mounted on BB’s Goldie.

Cheek weld fixed

I reported a problem with my cheek weld in Part 1 and that was fixed this time with several folds of heavy cloth over Goldie’s comb. My face came to the same place every time and the Integrix is so precise that I would have known if it had not. That’s another reason to repeat the test with the Meopta scope.

The test

Today we test the Integrix scope. I mounted it on BB’s Goldie and sighted it in. I got the elevation where I wanted, but the Integrix ran out of left adjustment before the pellet was on the bull at 25 yards. Since the pellets went to the same general place with each shot, I left it that way for today. If I test the Integrix with Goldie again I will have to rectify this.

I used illumination on the scope to see the aim point at the lower 6X power, because the size of the reticle of an FFP scope decreases as the magnification decreases. Even at full illumination the center of the reticle was difficult to see at 6 power. But I did see it clearly enough on every shot and there were no called pulls.

I shot with the rifle rested on a sandbag. I shot ten-shot groups of JSB Jumbo Monster Redesigned pellets, and when I picked up the can of pellets from my desk I noticed they were not the Redesigned pellets. They were just JSB Jumbo Monster pellets. I can’t say for certain that these were the pellets I used when testing with the Meopta scope, but since I have to run that test again, I figured no problem. I did use JSB Jumbo Monster Redesigned pellets today.

Integrix at 6X

The first pellet hit the paper low and to the right of the bull at which I was aiming. When pellet number two went into the same hole I figured everything was working fine. 

At 25 yards ten pellets went into a group that measures 0.565-inches between centers. It’s larger than I would like for my Goldie that in the past has put 10 of the same Jumbo Monster Redesigned pellets into 0.154-inches at the same distance. When the Meopta was set at 6 power Goldie put ten into 0.795-inches with 9 in 0.431-inches at the same 25 yards. But again, that could have been with a different pellet.

I will say that not switching magnification with each shot (read Part 1) made this test much easier. I did not have to put on my glasses to see the magnification when adjusting it for every shot, and I was able to settle in better.

Integrix 6 power
With the Integrix scope set on 6 power Goldie put 10 JSB Jumbo Monster Redesigned pellets into 0.565-inches at 25 yards.

There is a single pellet hole at the lower right side of this group. If that hole was not there the group would have been closer to 0.37-inches between centers. But that shot was not a called pull. Every shot was fired with the scope perfectly centered on the aim point.

Hunting Guide

Integrix at 12X

Now I adjusted the magnification to 12 power and shot another ten-shot group. This time ten pellets went into 0.396-inches at 25 yards. I do think this group is smaller than the 6X group simply because it was easier to aim with the scope set at this power. I could see the illuminated center of the reticle much easier. That reticle-changing-size-with-the-power thing is disconcerting.

Integrix 12 power
With the Integrix set at 12 power Goldie put ten JSB Monster Redesigned pellets into a 0.396-inch group at 25 yards.

Something interesting

As I looked at both groups I noticed a couple things. First, I saw that the center of the 12X group is about 0.206-inches (5.23mm) below the center of the 6X group. That is nearly identical to what happened in the SFP scope test, but until I test that scope again we can’t say anything for certain. And also — look at the centers of both groups, left to right compared to the center of the bull that was their aim point. The 6X group center is 1.253-inches (31.84mm) to the right of its aim point and the center of the 12X group is 1.486-inches (37.73mm) to the right of its aim point. I kept the target from the first test and I note there is a smaller left-right difference in the centers of both groups, but since that test has to be run again I’ll not say what it is.

Integrix both groups
The 12-power group center is about 0.206-inches below the center of the 6-power group. And it is also about 0.233-inches further to the right.

Hold your horses

Let’s not make any pronouncements just yet. This is just one test and, while the center of the 12-power group is lower than the center of the 6-power group, we don’t know very much more. It is fair to say that this outcome wasn’t expected. And, looking at how tight those groups are, it is also fair to say that Goldie shot where she wanted to. Unlike the previous test, there wasn’t a problem of cheek weld today. That makes me confident that we are getting good data.

The answer?

We don’t know yet whether a FFP scope shoots to the same place when the magnification is changed and that an SFP scope doesn’t. It appears that the FFP scope premise of the group center not moving with magnification changes may be incorrect, but more testing is needed.

Summary

I think we can put today’s test results in the can. That makes me very interested to see what happens next time when I switch to the Meopta scope and:

1 – I use the correct pellet.
2 – The cheek weld is consistent, and
3 – I shoot each entire group at a single magnification.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

35 thoughts on “A test of FFP versus SFP scopes: Part Two”

  1. B.B.,

    In:
    Something Interesting
    The photograph caption reads:
    The 12-power group center is about (1.253-inches)

    I believe that needs to be corrected to read: 0.206-inches

    below the center of the 6-power group. And it is also about 0.233-inches further to the right.

    shootski

      • B.B.,

        Too bad the DFW area doesn’t have the Canadian “Wildfire” Smoke you could have said, “Smoke got in my eyes.”

        I think this is an argument for buying the best scope you can afford to put on precise shooting rifles. I think this could be a great revenue stream for PA to look into. They could easily set up an optical test bench and charge for Optical System Testing providing a Test Result Report and/or Calibration for some appropriate amount.
        I use the comparison fixture to do comparison performance testing of new scopes or scopes that i suspect are failing to correctly track, to hold zero or return to zero. This is the place that a 1913 MIL-SPEC PICATINNY rail(s) is such a better way to go! I used to have gunsmiths or armourers true the receiver and receiver mounts to the bore but that can cost way more than having the manufacturer/builder do it; SIG did just that on their SSG ASP20 during fabrication…but the air gunners Showed No Love: da, DA, da.. da.. da.. da! (Apologies to America’s, Horse With No Name!)
        Shooting targets is certainly the way many folks do rudimentary checks but in my opinion there are too many effectors outside of the scope(s) proper for it to be in any way conclusive.

        (The meaning of EFFECTOR is one/thing that causes or brings about something.)

        Anecdotally my experience has shown that higher prices typically bring better scope optical and mechanical performance. There is no such thing as perfection only performance within Documented Requirements/Specifications, said the DT&E guy to the OT&E guy…over and over and over…. Lol!

        shootski

  2. B.B.

    I’m perplexed as to why the Integrix ran out of windage adjustment?
    I wish you would have used holdover/”windage” to get more centered on the bullseye. I wonder if the results would be the same whether you hold dead center, or used holdover/under. It may be less accurate, but it is more real world experience.

    -Yogi

    • Yogi,

      The whole purpose of this test is to see how POI is affected when power is adjusted. This requires a precise aimpoint.

      In the “real world” you would have to remove and/or adjust the scope mounting to bring POI to zero. Otherwise it is a WAG to where you are shooting.

      • RR,

        Please explain why zero hash marks down and zero hash marks left or right is a more precise aimpoint than 2 hash marks down and three to the right? If that is the case, your reticle is no good! The hash marks are there for a reason, use them!

        -Y

  3. BB,

    Most interesting. So far, your testing seems to support my not changing the power of my scopes from where I zero them.

    Once you have completed this test, another scope test you can try is the “box” test utilizing the sindage and elevation adjustments. Most good quality scopes will return to zero.

    Since you are not using a Wilkins Pellet Pouch to keep THE pellet with your Goldie, you should probably put some tape on the top of that pellet tin to insure you use that pellet for the test of the Meopta scope.

    This test is also an argument for the adjustable scope rings. 😉

    • RidgeRunner,

      You might could say that!
      I couldn’t possibly!

      I think this is a matter of shooter expectations and ability to see the Cost : Benefit of going cheap on Optics and mounting systems.
      The manufacturers mostly want to cut costs to meet the cheap price points demanded by the buyers.
      Certainly price does not always equal performance and failures do occur but there is some truth in: You get what you pay for.

      shootski

  4. BB,

    Why do you find that FFP reticle-changing-size-with-the-power thing disconcerting?

    I’ve only examined a FFP scope once, but figured immediately that the hash marks subtending a fixed size regardless of the magnification setting is a huge advantage over variable power SFP scopes when it comes to holdovers – no need for doing calculations in the heat of the moment.

    That same FFP scope I looked at (a Meopta) had a wonderful Christmas tree reticle, which I can well imagine is great for aiming at distance in windy conditions – just fire a few shots at the target, note where on the reticle tree the pellets impact, then move that point of the reticle tree onto the target and hey presto, next shot is a bullseye!

  5. Like RR I don’t change the magnification on my scopes. Plinking, pesting, hunting scopes are set to minimum; target scopes to maximum. For the plinking airguns I do my initial sight-in at max power but recheck at the working magnification.

    When testing POI shift I shoot 6 targets, 5 shots per target and alternate between magnifications each time I switch to the next target. When changing the magnification I’ll shift the zoom adjustment from min to max a couple of times and shoot a few pellets to let the scope settle to the new setting.

    I use graph paper (a quad-pad) when checking for POI shift on scopes as the deltas are easier to see.

    I do the POI shift test and the Box test more out of curiosity than anything else as I don’t change magnification during normal use, I’m more concerned to see if adjusting the parallax affects the POI.

    Hank

    • Tom,

      Above Hank/Vana2 commented, “I use graph paper (a quad-pad) when checking for POI shift on scopes.”

      That’s an excellent idea. You could load a bit of graphed paper into a copier/scanner and print out a sheet or two of targets on it for this kind of testing. The groups would have graph lines, eliminating the need to draw arrows and also providing horizontal lines. A

      If those lines distract your eye while you shoot, you instead could reverse the process and shoot a target page and then copy it onto the graph paper. If it were necessary, it would be a simple matter to pencil trace the outlines of the groups.

      Michael

      • Michael,

        There are commercial Sight in Targets in various sizes and dimensions that do exactly that and come in pads of 100 or boxes of 1,000 and don’t require buying a calibrated printer.
        I find that way CHEAPER!

        shootski

  6. After reading this I was compelled to find out more, and after some googling I found this from 2015 where BB found the Sidewinder also shifts POI with zoom.
    /blog/2015/09/poi-shift-when-changing-the-scopes-power/
    As it’s a nice day here in the UK (although a little windy) I thought I’d do my own test. What’s probably my best scope, a Weaver 3-12×44, was roughly 3/8 of an inch lower at 12x at 20 yards.
    I also tried my Vector Cerato 3-9×32 and couldn’t see any discernable difference. This is probably my cheapest zoom scope, although the rifle it’s on (PR900) doesn’t group as well as the Reximex Regime (Apex) that the Weaver is on. Both scopes are SFP.

    • Ade C,

      I’m glad for the nice day in the UK. Here in the U.S. roughly one third of the country, the eastern third, is afflicted with a smoky haze (or in some locations a downright pea soup blanket) from the enormous Canadian wildfires. Not only might that affect traget shooting, but it also causes near-instant eye and respiratory irritation.

      Below is a photo of the Manhattan skyline yesterday. You can just barely make out the buildings.

      Michael

  7. BB,

    Although it is too early to draw any conclusion regarding POI shift in FFP and SFP scopes, it seems prudent the opinion of several readers regarding not touching the magnification once zeroed in. In my view, a precise rifle should be zeroed at maximum magnification. If there is a need to lower the zoom power – like hunting in dense cover – a small shift in POI should be less critical.

    What I did check with my PB rifles back when I was a hunter is that the scope zero returned to its original position after going from high to low and back. This type of mechanical consistency is important to me because this is the only adjustment that I did in the field.

    What I personally do not understand – and I admit to be in the minority here – is what is gained by running the box test. Admittedly, it checks for the mechanical quality of the scope and that could be useful to the manufacturer but not so much for a shooter. On the other hand, no one I know adjusts the knobs before a shot. Except in Hollywood, that is.

    Henry

    • Henry_TX,

      If I have time i dial my turrets.
      Most often Elevation because i have done my PreComps (D.O.P.E.) but if i can get a good Wind Solution in a “steady” wind i will also dial windage.
      So now you know of at least one shooter who does need the confidence good (enough) result box testing brings.
      I’m not in Hollywood!

      shootski

      • Point well taken Shootski, and no argument from me.

        Personally, I think is better to use the reticle (in high magnification so FFP or SSP doesn’t matter) to compensate for elevation and wind drift. That said, the only time I did it was in the practice range up to 400 yards. I wanted to be prepared just in case, but the reality was that where I was hunting in Texas the distances where generally between 80 and 125 yards. My dream of a mule deer hunt never materialized.

        Henry

        • Henry_TX,

          I can see it in that Texas hunting environment.
          I would probably use my DAQ LA .58 Pistol at those ranges with a prismatic 3X red/green BD scope.
          I hope you get to somehow do your Mule Deer hunt!
          They are so different in the stalk compared to other North American deer; i think that is why so many are hunted at long(er) ranges by most.
          I studied up on them and found the Lewis and Clark Journals to have some wonderful information on stalking and taking them at shorter ranges.

          shootski

    • Bob,

      Interesting but the link is not working, Pyramyd AIR has a look at this over here, /cspc
      Kinda strange but look at it for what it is and respond as needed.

      Mike

      • Mike
        Evidently P/A is on top of this.
        I got a link from an Airsoft company and was able to read the new rules in its entirety from a link on that page to petition against the changes. A link on a link. I guess I messes it up.

        Basically, as I interpret it, they now want the entire Airsoft gun made in a bright color. However, the wording also mentions, “Look alike” and “Replicas”. It exempts BB, Pellet and Paintball guns … for now, but vague wording may lead to the rules covering them in the future, depending on interpretations of the new law. Kinda like they do with the 2nd Amendment.

        • Yes Bob,

          It does seem to be the same old call is this and that but the bottom line is banning anything that shoots in small enough steps that they can get away with.

          Mike

    • Bob M,

      Yup! The CSPC what a wonderful organization!

      ”keeping the Public SAFE!
      CPSC does this by:

      Issuing and enforcing mandatory standards or banning consumer products if no feasible standard would adequately protect the public;”
      NOTICE this is from a bulleted list on their About Us page. I thought each bullet was a stand alone statement in good Style or good English…i think this is open ended ‘mercan Liberal speak letting us know they can add another thought to their Mission Statement any old time they or Brandon want too….

      Makes me feel all Patriotic about our wonderful government commissions! Hopefully we can wrest control from their devious illiberal hands!

      My Dad always said when, town folk say nothing when they come for the folks across town, then down the road a piece, then say nothing again when they come for the next door neighbors, you know you are living under a totalitarian regime that is winning.
      The CPSC is coming for our Airsoft neighbors….

      shootski

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