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Illuminated FFP

24 Oct 2020
@ 08:05 am (GMT)

Scott Struif

In the LR Shooting book, Nathan advises against analog ranging generally, because it’s impossible to know the dimensions of a particular animal, even though the average dimensions of its species may be known. However, in the FFP vs. SFP section, he seems to say, if you want to try it, there’s no big advantage to FFP because a reference chart can be used with a SFP scope at lower power (such as those supplied by Sightron). (I hope that, rather than giving away too much of the book’s substance to those who haven’t purchased it, I’m giving them a taste of what’s in store for them if they buy it. Besides, my question is unrelated to analog ranging, anyway.) In Nathan’s book, an advantage reticle hash marks may provide is to allow you to avoid dialing to maximum elevation, which can possibly stress the scope’s internal mechanism. Now to my question: Vortex runs a podcast series they call “Vortex Nation.” I’m not recommending it, but there’s one podcast entitled “How to choose the right scope.” In it, 3 young Vortex salesmen caution against buying their FFP scopes for general hunting use, even their illuminated models. The reason? At low power the reticle disappears, particularly against a dark background. With an illuminated model, you’re left with the equivalent of a red dot sight, they say. I appreciated their candor, and frankly wondered if their aim was to boost sales of their low-end scopes, which probably constitutes their highest sales margins. Their podcast is more long-winded than this post. They didn’t even mention eye-relief as an issue. My objective is reticle granularity, or fineness, relative to the target. This applies more to shooting paper than game, but is still applicable. So, for example, with a SFP scope, as the magnification increases, the granularity of the reticle increases, because the target gets bigger and the reticle stays the same. Conversely, with a fine FFP reticle, the granularity at low power is theoretically better, because the reticle shrinks with the target. The kicker is, can you see the reticle, particularly in low-light against a dark background? In that scenario, is the equivalent of a red-dot an advantage, or is it better to have a bold reticle that’s still visible? I understand there is no perfect, do-it-all scope for all applications. My question is, is the extra cost of an illuminated FFP scope worth it for general hunting, including close-in woods hunting?

Replies

24 Oct 2020
@ 08:43 am (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Illuminated FFP
I meant to add, ignore glass quality, objective lens size, and tracking accuracy. They obviously make a huge difference, but even cheap, 40mm glass at low power can have good light-gathering abilities.
24 Oct 2020
@ 09:19 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Illuminated FFP
Hi Scott, yes thats the trouble. When speaking to the head sheds at Sightron, they stated that the only way to really get FFP to work in low light at the current reticle thickness, is to use illumination. Their concern is that if they make the reticles thicker, customers will complain. My concern is that the customer is not always right and that illumination is just one more thing to go wrong. Its nice to have it as an extra option, not the only option.

The following is an edited cut and paste from an earlier thread in which a hunter asked about FFP vs SFP vs various reticles among the Sightron optics:

Prior to writing the books (and while writing them), the tech was still developing to some extent. Sightron were at that time producing a very reliable scope which had an MOA turret but with a mil dot reticle (siiiss624x50lrmd).

A mil dot reticle has never been accurate for ranging game, it simply is not ethical if we are to ensure a fast clean kill on varying game species under varying conditions. The tactical crowd love this stuff, hence why we have this reticle. But for hunting, it has its limitations. In any case, the original reticle was heavy and being that my clients and readers span a wide age group, the heavy reticle had proven effective in low light. The dots could simply be used for wind holds. I still recommend this base model if clients have ongoing eyesight issues. The reticle is heavy enough for bush work but fine enough for true LR shooting. The turrets also come with caps on this model, very useful for those not used to having to check turrets (bumps) and especially as we get older and are trying to learn an entirely new subject. It is easy to forget to check the turrets periodically.

This scope then became available with an exposed CM turret, making it a true mil mil system.

Nowadays we have the MOA reticles from Sightron. The SIII 6-24x50 LRMOA-2 is quite effective. This is a SFP model but has illumination as an option.

FFP is a catch 22 really, the less we practice (whether soldier of civilian), the more we may need FFP to prevent annoying field mistakes- but the trade off is the major possibility of losing the reticle in poor light. That's a big trade off and time lost switching on illumination may not save the day.

SFP stays course. And here is the kicker, lets say that it is just on dusk, sun is over the ridge and setting but 5 minutes light remaining. The scope can no longer operate at 24 power at the ridge we were hoping to encounter game on (regardless of brand). So we are forced to dial back and work the closer ground. In the space of a few minutes, we are down to 600 yards, then down to 300 yards and so forth. Now at 600 yards, if we cannot visualize the wind in feet, then we simply don't know our subject well enough. Without this understanding, any opportunity will soon be missed. You should have manual drop charts because if you switch to your stupid phone on now, the light will screw up your eyesight. Your chart should have wind shown in feet, not just Mils or MOA (see shooting book). There is also not much point trying to hold over, you should be using the dials then thinking of the wind in inches or feet (or metres if thats your thing). In other words, either you know how to make a shot or you don't. No FFP reticle is going to save you if you do not have fast field solutions or the basic math in hand. At 300 yards, there should be no need to use anything because the trajectory should be well and truly memorized and the rifle should have been set 3" high at 100 yards (7.5cm at 100m), not zeroed at 100.

Regarding turret types, now that we have good MOA turrets with MOA reticles and good milrad turrets with milrad reticles, it is simply a matter of what you get used to. If anything, MOA is slightly finer in click graduation. Just remember, most of these 'pros' pushing FFP and fine mil reticles are still in their mid 20's. Wait another 20 years and they will be full circle like me, back to being a beginner again wondering how I missed XYZ factors after all these years.

There is a big difference between making a 1600 yard gong shot during the day and actually making a successful 500 to 700 yard kill shot at dusk. Most of these guys don't realize that the best place to mount their phone for tactical use is fair up their butts and that FFP is about as useful under these conditions as their lava lamp bubble levels.

My personal preference is MOA MOA but I need to remain practiced with the mil mil scopes due to my occupation.

FFP can be useful, a very good idea, but not at the expense of other factors. Illumination is also useful but not as a first line strategy.

Beyond reticle considerations in low light / low zoom, choose the system that suits you.

Above all, understand that there is a big difference between hitting and killing. I teach killing, the two require vastly different mindsets and this may conflict with other information you might read elsewhere and also the kit you choose.


24 Oct 2020
@ 11:25 am (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Illuminated FFP
Thanks. Another addition to the what-could-possibly-go-wrong list of whipping out a phone . . . blinding yourself at dusk! If one had an illuminated scope, perhaps switching it on, switching from red to green, adjusting illumination intensity (possibly impairing your night vision in the process) . . . should all be added to the list of extraneous movements and time-lost (assuming the electronics are working). Sounds like illumination is a must for FFP. Still, it could be handy for SFP, assuming the reticle is the same as it would be without the illumination option, in case the electronics fail.
24 Oct 2020
@ 02:19 pm (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: Illuminated FFP
And this is why the world of shooting should pay attention here. Not on some blow-hard bubba video that uses a quadra-pod with rope on a muzzle-braked, mercury filled .223.
 

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