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

A test of FFP versus SFP scopes: Part Three

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
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The results so far
  • Things done wrong
  • Mounted the scope
  • The test
  • 10 shots 6X
  • 10 shots 12X
  • The verdict
  • Summary

Okay, guys — this one has been a long time coming. We are testing whether there is any truth in what some people believe — that the point of impact shifts when the magnification of a variable second focal plane (SFP) scope is changed, while it remains the same when the magnification of a variable first focal plane (FFP) scope is changed.

Today we will mount the Meopta 3-15X50 RD MeoSport second focal plane (SFP) scope on BB’s Goldie to run the low-power and high-power test again, to see whether the point of impact changes as the power changes. We are doing that because in the previous test of the SFP scope some mistakes were made.

The results so far

So far the FFP scope grouped in two different locations. That’s what  everyone said the SFP scopes would do. The SFP scope also grouped in two locations but I want to rerun the SFP test because of several things I did wrong in the first test.

Things done wrong

The first thing I did wrong was adjust the power of the scope for every shot. As you recall I ran the scope at 6 power and at 12 power so both the Meopta SFP and the Integrix FFP could be tested equally. Reader pacoinohio, who suggested this test, had suggested running the scopes at 2 power and 12 power, but the reticle in the FFP scope was too small to see at 2 power. So I ran both scopes at 6X and 12X. However adjusting the scope with every shot was unnecessary and a waste of time. So this time I will shoot all 10 shots at 6X and all 10 at 12X. 

The center of the group shot at 6 power was higher than the center of the group shot at the 12 power. The amount of separation for both the FFP and the SFP scopes was almost exactly the same, with the FFP scope separating very slightly more. That result was the opposite of what people said to expect.

The second thing I did wrong was PROBABLY shooting the test with the Meopta scope with the wrong pellet. I was supposed to use JSB Jumbo Monster Redesigned pellets, but the ones I found on my desk after the first test were JSB Jumbo Monsters. I don’t know for certain that I used those pellets in the test, but there is a good chance I used them and not the ones I used for the Integrix test.

The third thing I did wrong was the placement of the scope on the rifle. Both the Meopta and Integrix scopes are EXTREMELY particular how far the eyepiece is away from the shooter’s eye. Too far from the eye and you get a dark ring around the target. I got that with the Meopta, so I was more careful when I mounted the Integrix to get it right. I also put a folded cloth on Goldie’s raised cheekpiece when I shot with the Integrix, just for better eye positioning, and I want to do that for the Meopta, as well.

Mounted the scope

I took the Integrix scope off Goldie and mounted the Meopta scope, and this time the eye relief was right. The installation was straightforward and no problems were encountered. Then I sighted in the new scope. It took 4 shots to get on target at 25 yards and I shot three more pellets to confirm the rifle was grouping.

The test

The test was shot off a sandbag rest at 25 yards. I illuminated the reticle which is just a center dot. I shot one group of 10 pellets at each power setting of the scope. The goal of the test is to see whether there is a difference in the point of impact of groups fired at different power levels.

Hunting Guide

10 shots 6X

After sight-in I shot 10 shots at 6 power. They made a 25-yard group that measures 0.46-inches between centers. It’s larger than I would like to see, but it’s not bad for 25 yards.

6-power group
With the Meopta scope set on 6 power Goldie put 10 JSB Monster Redesigned pellets into this 0.46-inch group at 25 yards.

10 shots 12X

Now I increased the magnification to 12 power and shot a second group of 10. This group measures 0.382-inches between the centers of the two shots farthest apart. It’s 0.078-inches smaller than the first group. It would even be smaller if the last shot had not strayed to the right.

12-power group
When the magnification was set to 12 power Goldie put 10 JSB Monster Redesigned pellets into 0.382-inches at 25 yards.

I think it was just easier to see the target at 12 power, which is why the group shot with the higher magnification is smaller. But are the groups in the same place?

The verdict

With the scope set up correctly there isn’t much difference in where the centers of the two groups are. I measure the center of the 12-power group at 0.121-inches (3.07mm) lower than the center of the 6-power group. But that is just my best guess where the centers of the two groups are.

group centers
My best guess shows the 12-power group on the right 0.121-inches below the 6-power group.

It was interesting that in all tests the 12-power groups were always smaller than the 6-power groups.


From the little testing I’ve done it seems that the difference in point of impact when variable powers are changed is just an urban legend. If there is any truth to this, my testing indicated the groups shift the least with second focal plane scopes. But as I said, I don’t think there is really much of a difference.

My guess is that those who believe there is a difference will want more testing done at longer distances. As for me, I prefer to shoot a second focal plane scope because the reticle remains the same size at all magnifications.

If these results are not satisfactory, I suggest that anyone who wants more proof conduct tests on their own and report the results to us in a guest blog.

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.

41 thoughts on “A test of FFP versus SFP scopes: Part Three”

  1. So is the “moral of the story” that SFP scopes are more accurate when changing magnification or is it that Meopta scopes are more accurate when changing magnification? Or a little of both?


    PS. If you could convince Meopta to make a 8-16X SFP scope with a Christmas tree reticle or similar HFT friendly reticle for under $600. I bet half of all HFT shooters would buy one!

  2. BB,
    Your data shows that with good scopes made today, the point of impact change is minimal.
    45 years ago, I did have some bad experiences with a budget 3-7X variable scope.
    On my Sheridan, there was a notable shift between 3X and 7X in the point of impact.
    Moving the same scope to my newly acquired (but used) Ruger 10/22 yielded the same results:
    at 20 yards, sighted in dead on at 3X, moving to 7X moved the point of impact up an inch and 2 inches to the right.
    (As I recall, it was a Bushnell scope with a 1″ tube.)
    I got rid of the scope; I also got rid of the 10/22; it was a jam-a-matic!
    (In fairness to Ruger, it was obvious that the preivous owner had done some amateur gunsmithing on it!)
    But your report here gives me hope.
    My previous experience with my first-ever variable scope left me “tainted” on their usefulness.
    When I shot Field Target, I had a 3-18X scope that was always left on 18X.
    For hunting rifles, I always bought the best fixed power scope I could afford (Leupold).
    For air rifles, I favored the fixed 6X BugBusters.
    The last time I tried to find one and couldn’t, I bought a 2-7X Hawke for my Dragonfly Mark II.
    Due to my paranoia, I just leave it on 7X.
    (And, I hate to admit it, but I’ve never even tried it on any other power.)
    Yet now the results of your testing may alleviate my paranoia.
    That one scope I had all those decades ago could have just been a lemon. 😉
    Blessings to you,

    • Dave,

      Funny thing is, even since I was a real young whipper snapper, I have left the power alone on all my variable power scopes. I guess it is supply and demand, but almost nobody makes a fixed power scope anymore, even though they are cheaper to make.

      Another thing that is really funny is unless you are someone who uses a scope like a FT shooter, most people leave their scope powers alone after a bit.

      • RidgeRunner, yes, my mistrust runs deep, yet BB has given me food for thought here. 🙂
        Still, I wish there were more fixed power scopes being made.
        For hunting, a good fixed 4X or 6X scope is all most people need.
        My longest shot at big game was a measured 165 yards; I brought down a large boar with a .308, one shot.
        And the scope was a Leupold…only 4X, fixed. 😉

        • Dave,

          I have flipped deer at over 250 yards with a .223 equipped with a Tasco 3-9X, which by the way I never shot on any lower power. For airguns, I prefer a much lower power, most especially in the woods. A small, low, fixed power scope is the cat’s meow for airguns. If you are shooting at less than fifty yards, what do you need a ten pound, 2-60X scope for? I guess if you are using a cart to transport your air rifle from shooting station to shooting station at a FT event, it might be useful.

          It doesn’t make much sense to me, but…

      • P.S.
        BB’s hard data points out that my mistrust of variable scopes based on a decades-old one-off experience is unwarranted; that scope was likely a lemon; and had I been older and more experienced, I would have called the manufacturer, and they’d likely have replaced it.
        As this report shows, scope technology has come a long way in the last 45 years. While I do have a preference for fixed power scopes for common tasks (like hunting and plinking), I recognize that even a 6X fixed scope is not going to cut it for someone doing long-range bench rest competition, LOL! 🙂

        • If I had one of those two to three grand air rifles and was trying to compete against those other folks with two to three grand air rifles, I might buy one of those two to three grand scopes to put on top of it.

          • One day, at the Field Target sight in range, I was shooting next to a guy with a .22 PCP. It was all stainless steel, with a black and gray laminated wood stock. He was hitting 1/4″ spinners at 50 yards with dull regularity. When I asked about his rifle, he said it was custom-built for him, to the tune of $5000;
            he added that he had the same amount invested in scope and mounts…WAY to rich for my blood!!! #_#

      • RR,
        I am a FT shooter, Hunter Class piston. My scope stays at 16X, except for standing and kneeling. Then it is 8X.
        No need for anything else.
        When I hunt, I change my 3-9X scope all the time. If the quarry is 40-45 yards, 9X. If the quarry is 10-30, 6 or 5X.


        • I’m the same. When walking to the deer stand or still-hunting / stalking, my 3-9x scope is on 3x. Once I’m in the stand, the scope goes to 6 or more for longer shots. Neither I nor the deer noticed any issues with change of point of impact.

          But you switching from 8 to 16x makes this series especially applicable.

        • I don’t FT. The largest power scope I used on any firearm was a fixed Weaver 12X for open field shooting. In the woods I used a 2.5X or a dot sight. Where I live, you would be doing good to be able to see one hundred yards in the woods.

    • I also bought a 10/22 for a great price. Came with two barrels and two stocks but the previous owner had done some amateur gunsmithing. First time I took it out, on the third round, it went full auto on me. One of the guys in my 25 yard Bullseye league was/is a gunsmith and took it in and fixed it to where the trigger rivals a Marauder’s (but with 2 lb minimum pressure). He charged me $10 which I complained that he couldn’t pay the electric bill he spent on fixing that rifle. I miss those guys back in NJ.

      Fred formerly of the Demokratik Peeples Republik of NJ now happily in GA

      • Fred of the DPRoNJ:

        Your snide comment about NJ tickled me. My late in-laws lived for several years in NJ when my F-in-L was in his last employment as a troubleshooter for an NYC firm whose boss he had known and worked WITH after WW2 and college graduation. I learned that one couldn’t buy pellets, much less and air gun in the Republik.

        Funny how Gil managed to come up with a Crosman .22 pumper and a supply of spitzer point pellets! He became the scourge of the ground hog (a.ka. whistle pigs) population in his suburban community where they lived and bored holes in the place with impunity. None of the neighbors seemed to mind his shots from the second floor windows or his sniping in their yards from places of concealment! Never a complaint to the KGB of NJ ever!

        Gil also was a chemical engineer by education and profession, and he, somehow, knew the formula and process for Mustard Gass for ‘hog’ burrows. There were no Geneva Convention complaints, ever.

        Mysteriously, the ‘hog’ population went into a serious decline in those parts. People who had sunny yards suddenly began to have sweet corn again in late summer. Gardens produced human veggies again. People where quite content with the mysterious disappearance of the ‘hogs’ in the neighborhood despite it being in the DPRoNJ.

        We finally had to move them to Ohio as there was no family still alive in the greater NYC area when crises occurred. When we got them here to Ohio, we helped them settle in and helped them with their needs. Funny thing though is that the Crosman pumper was completely used up! In fact, after they passed on and are interred at the Ohio Veterans Home here in Sandusky, and we remodeled their home and moved in (it was the wife’s share of the estate along with other proceeds), I brought my air arsenal to the place, installed a basement range and kept the family tradition alive of eliminating a LOT of pest animals in our immediate surrounds. While the Crosman was gone, its siblings in the arms locker took up the challenge of the family tradition.

        Just don’t tell your local NJ commissar.!

        • Hysterical. Yeah, after 1962 when the National Firearms Act passed, NJ revised it’s own laws. Airguns/rifles were firearms. Sure, you could buy an air rifle but it was the same procedure as buying a firearm – you needed a FID card. For pistols, you needed a purchase permit as if you were buying a Springfield Armory Range Commander (.45 ACP target pistol for the rest of you). While NJ law allows their citizens to dispatch vermin that are destroying property (think crows eating corn crops), there are also laws against discharging firearms within town/city. I never wanted to test that conflict in laws.

          I had to thin out the squirrel herd up there a number of times and did it just like your father-in-law. I still chuckle at the possibility of one of my liberal neighbors seeing me in the back yard with a scoped rifle and calling out SWAT. Down here, my neighbors exhort me to come over and solve their squirrel and chipmunk populations. I wish I had moved here 20 years ago.

          Stay well and shoot straight!

          • Fred, I think I mentioned to you, that friends from NJ visited me in Florida; my friend, Dave, really liked shooting my Crosman 357; hence, after he left, I boxed it up and shipped it to him; he was not happy!
            Dave: “Man, what are you doing?!? You sent me a FIREARM through the mail!!!”
            me: “It’s just a CO2 pistol.”
            Dave: “Here in New Jersey, CO2 pistols are considered to be firearms.”
            me: “That’s asinine.”
            LOL! Just my opinion. 😉

      • Wonder if the firing pin on that 10/22 got stuck – that apparently happens to the Russian SKS semiauto rifle if you dry-fire it. Must have been an extra-fun 10/22 briefly, but the ATF would take a very dim view of that. FM’s ’68 10/22 is a keeper – self-gifted for his 18th birthday. It was bundled with a 1″ Bushnell scope which worked well enough. Of course, the eyes also worked better then.

  3. Ruger 1022 firearm.
    Just my two cents worth but I have found the best 22LR ammo for the 1022 or any other 22 is Remington. And of course, it usually cost more.

    Good info BB. Peace of mind for all my scopes. Well, the better ones anyway.

    • Bob M,

      What is really funny is IMMHO, yeah right, I would choose CCI, Aquilla or Wolf over Remington. I would also go with the slow stuff. The fast stuff was not around when the .22LR rifles were designed. Have they changed the twist rate?

      The fastest is usually not the most accurate. That has been my experience with firearms, airguns and archery.

    • Bob M,

      That’s funny because on this side of the pond bulk pack Remington is the cheapest .22lr available.

      At my local gunstore I can get a pack of 500 40gr Thunderbolts for the equivalent of $45.34 or a pack of 525 38gr Golden Bullets for the same price.

      That’s very good value compared to the current price of premium airgun pellets. A tin of 500 8.44gr JSB Exact Diabolos costs the equivalent of $12.06 in that same store.

      A quick calculation reveals I’m paying the equivalent of almost 12 bucks more for the same weight of lead in the JSBs as in one pack of Thunderbolts (20,000 grains). And with the latter I’m also getting the brass, powder, primer and wax.

      Methinks either the JSBs are overpriced or the Remingtons are a bargain.

      • Bob R, I am going to try some of their new production, but let’s just say there’s a reason most rimfire shooters try to stay away from Remington bulk pack. CCI Standard Velocity by the brick is becoming my preference.

        • OhioPlinker,

          I have found Remington Golden Bullets to be very accurate and reliable in my Norinco JW15A (Brno Model 1/CZ 452 clone).

          CCI Standard Velocity is excellent in all of my guns, except a Savage Mark II FV-SR, in which at least one case in five fails to eject.

          I’ve found Thunderbolts to be perfectly fine plinking ammo, as long as one is willing to clean the barrels a bit more often.

      • I always look at it by price per shot. I am finally seeing prices on the cheaper .22 ammo dipping below 10 cents per cartridge. The premium .177 and .22 pellets I watch are that much or slightly more. Still, liking my H&N Excite Econ II at a penny or so per shot. BBs are way cheaper still per shot!

    • Bob M,
      I was young and dumb; I should have brought my rifle to Ruger for restoration.
      A few years later, I bought a .22LR Ruger Mark I from my boss, who warned me the safety “had issues.”
      Yes, with the pistol on safe, if you pulled hard on the trigger, the gun would still fire.
      When I called Ruger about it, they were like, “Bring it in! Please bring it in right away!”
      (At the time, they were in Southport, and I passed their factory every day on my way to work.)
      I stopped in a few days later, and they fixed my pistol while I waited (just a few minutes) in the lobby.
      Note that I was the fifth owner of this pistol; they did not care; they, rightly, fixed it…good on them. 🙂
      Blessings to you,

  4. BB,

    How about a Part Four? Try out some more affordable scopes. I am aware that most FFP scopes are right pricey, but many good quality SFP scopes are not that bad and the price of some decent FFP scopes is starting to come down.

    Hey, most of my scopes are under $200. I am not going to buy a Meopta or an Integrex. I do not see the advantage of such. Almost all of my shooting is at fifty yards or less.

    • I’ve never heard that ffp or sfp will change the poi of the crosshairs. What I’ve always heard is the reticle measurements of a sfp scope will change, making the reticle useless for measuring unless you have corrected for the magnification. So is the test here testing the wrong thing?

      • Edw,

        Well, the change in the POI is what many have said on this and other blogs, so that is what has been tested. What you say may be true, but as you say, that was not tested.


        • Tom,
          I think a great test would be zeroing both scopes at 25, then shooting at 35, or even 10. That should show off how the magnification works effectively when the reticle changes size, but measurement remains the same, vs changing rhe measurement size.

          • Edw,

            On the SFP scopes, the measurements do indeed change. I you read the instructions (WHAT! Real men do not do that!) you will see most of these are true at 10X. The issue with some cheap and some of the older variable power scopes is a shift in POI. That is something that is not so much common these days.

            Now, BB did do this test with a couple of brand spanking new, top-of-the-line scopes.

  5. “If only…”

    New airgunners, you may not realized (or hopefully, you do) just how blessed you are to have this blog to go to in which you can read all these reports on every aspect of the airgun world.

    If only I had access to such a treasured resource, decades ago, before I started my journey into the wonderful world of airguns, I would have saved myself a lot of grief and heartache (not to mention headaches! =>).

    Thank God for this blog, and here’s hoping He leaves BB around for many more years. 🙂

  6. Can’t help but chuckle about the comments about rimfire ammo.

    The parallel between airguns and rimfires when it comes to ammo is shockingly similar (for handloaders of centerfires this is also true). I’ve had the same model airguns and the same model of rimfires that GREATLY preferred different ammo even after cleaning their barrels.

    My lesson was, never assume always test and set your prejudices for ammo aside. It’s tough for me. Male ego is an ugly thing at times.

    • “The parallel between airguns and rimfires when it comes to ammo is shockingly similar”
      kevin, you said it, man!
      I’ve been shocked by high grade pellets that wouldn’t shoot worth a hoot in certain airguns.
      (Although, I must admit that JSBs seem good in most of my airguns.)
      Ditto for rimfires. 😉

  7. I always thought different points of impact between first focal plane and second focal plane Scopes was when you started using mil dots at longer ranges, not when using the crosshairs.

    • J. Miller,

      I don’t quite understand. The crosshairs and mil dot reticles should always have the same points of impact. If the crosshairs separate when the magnification is changed, the mil dots should too.


      • Maybe I misunderstanding your test. But what I’m saying is, if you use your first holdover point( SFP scope) and take one shot on low magnification, and then take a second shot on high magnification, you should notice quite a difference in impact. Also the difference becomes greater as you use the second and third hold over points at greater distances. First focal plane scopes will not change impact points when used at different magnifications

        • J. miller,

          It doesn’t matter whether you aim with the mil dot or the center of the reticle (crosshairs). What I am saying is low and high magnification makes little or no difference in the impact point.


          • J, Miller,

            Okay, I think you are saying that the angle between the mil dots increases and decreases as the magnification changes with an SFP scope. Is that correct? If so, what difference does it make if I only aim with the crosshair? I thought that was the question we were looking into. — that the point of aim changes with the SFP scope when the magnification changes, but not with the FFP scope.

            At any rate I have discovered that the reduction in size of the reticle in a FFP scope is a deal-breaker. I would not use such a scope on anything but high power, because I need to see the reticle.


  8. RG,

    I have used Excite Econ in .177 and found it very good. Haven’t seen Excite Econ II, but will keep an eye out for it.

    I picked up a couple of tins of H&N Sport in .22 for a good price recently, but haven’t had a chance to try it yet.

    Yep, BBs are cheap if fired out of a Red Ryder, but not so much if using CO2. Maybe it’s time for a price-point BB PCP.

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