Okay, I've read as much as I can about the topic but I still have a few questions, thought I would ask here, (its kind of good I've been so hesitant to buy a scope because the scope fund is building!)
I understand the SFP, thats what I have been using forever.
But except for the ranging qualities of a FFP, what are the other benefits, its said that at too low a a magnification the the reticle is hard to see, crank it up, the the reticle becomes too large at long range?
I'm just a bit confused on why they are helpful at long range then? I saw one pic online of a target at 1500 yds with a FFP zoomed to 16X, the reticle was covering a 24" square box, why would I want one of these?? (Thats a loaded question!)
They come in all sizes, but most tactical FFP reticles are much smaller than that. The IOR 3-18 has one of the thicker (still very easy to see at low power!) and its lines are only 6" wide at 1500 yds. Not a good choice for varmints at that range, but for any big game/tactical use I can think of it's fine. Better than fine, actually. No steel practice target I use at those ranges is going to be anywhere near that small.
But they do come in all sizes, some better for some uses others better for others. You just need to pick out the correct one for your application.
To answer your question, FFP isn't that big a deal if you don't use the reticle for anything. If all you do is aim with its center any ol' duplex is all you need. If you use it for other things, pretty much for anything else FFP offers some advantages. The biggest advantages of FFP for my use is for windage hold off and quick elevation hold over/under being accurate on all powers.
I much prefer holding windage and some summer days there's just too much mirage to want to use the highest power (not really a big problem for 10X or less scopes). You can dial to 1/2 power so the math you need to do for the hold offs is simple enough but I don't like that nearly as much as it simply being correct. Also, you may want to just dial down a little and not have to go 1/2 way and the math/accuracy can get really messy.
Or when you're hunting in low light there might not be enough light left for the highest power (especially with really high power scopes). Plenty enough light left to make the shot, just not at high power.
I'm a more of a still hunting/spot and stalk type hunter than a sit and watch guy so when I'm walking around the scope sure as heck isn't on its highest power. You never know when somethings going to jump out in front of you. If I need to make a shot quickly (which obviously won't be at too extreme a range but may be "long") it's really nice to be able to simply hold and shoot and not worry about what power the scope is on. If you need to mess with the power ring before you can do that you might as well just dial elevation instead.
There are some subjective/personal preference issues as well. Since other brands/reticle designs won't necessarily be the same, know mine are based primarily on using similar scopes with similar reticles--IOR's with the MP-8; two SFP and one with the SH FFP MP-8. I can tell you even without all the advantages above I would still like the FFP the best. It's just so much easier to see, quicker to get on--at all power levels. Not just because of the thickness of the lines, the reticle stays darker, blacker, has better contrast with the target. It just jumps out at you better, even on low power where the lines are no longer thick. If I'm trying to shoot golf balls at 1000 yds on a nice sunny day, the SFP's are the better choice. That's not the type of shooting that concerns me though.
Those are just my opinions. Obviously not everybody agrees. But like you, I've been using SFP scopes (often cussing their nature) for eons. After getting a taste of FFP done well, I'll never go back.
SFPs are more precise IMO.
Ive looked through Swarovski FFPs which have fantastic glass, but there is no way I could use such a scope for GH hunting. The reticle becomes too big, and any shooting with it would be pure sloppy.
Nothing wrong with SFP scopes and laser ranging. Calculate your adjustments, dial it in, and hold off for wind.
SFPs are more precise IMO. Ive looked through Swarovski FFPs which have fantastic glass, but there is no way I could use such a scope for GH hunting. The reticle becomes too big, and any shooting with it would be pure sloppy.
Swaro makes great glass but they aren't exactly known for their long range precision tactical scopes. You might want to get some experience with some others before making such broad generalizations. If your shooting is "sloppy" even on GH's with, say, a GenII XR for example, it sure as hell isn't the scope's fault.
FFp with an adequate reticle is useful, not just for ranging (which in any case is difficult to do accurately at long ranges), but especially for holdover and windage holdings... and to calculate distance from one point to another in angles instead of in linear measurement units. For example, you can back up your buddy (or yourself) shooting his rifle and if he misses, you can estimate a correction based on the units the reticle uses.. i.e. buddy you are 1/2 off to the right, instead of trying to guess if he is off by 1 yard or 0,75 yds.
Now some FFP reticles are too thick for LRH, but there are also thin ones like the P4fine in the SB scopes, that cover 0,35 cm at 100 m. That´s 3,5 cm at 1.000 m ( 1,6 inches at 1091 yds approx),