To date, you won't find a Nikon riflescope with its reticle on the first-focal plane. But, with a new announcement by Nikon at SHOT Show 2016, they're bringing the versatile second-focal plane reticle placement to several new models of riflescope. This year, Monarch 3 scopes in 3-12x42, 4-6x42 and 4-16x50 will have a first-focal plane option. ProStaff 5 scopes in 3.5-14x40, 3.5-14x50 and 4.5-18x40 will have first-focal plane reticles.
Maybe that's not earth-shattering news to some, but to those who know and love Nikon's Ballistic Drop Compensation, or BDC, reticle system, it's huge. Now you can use the reticle at any magnification and the reticle will tell you how much the bullet will drop at any distance on any magnification.
In the past, when you set up your variable-magnification scope using BDC reticles for drop-compensation, you had to keep it at one magnification level for the reticle to be accurate at varying distances; the old second-focal plane designs limited the usefulness of the reticle.
Imagine long-range hunting for whitetails, and you see a Boone & Crockett buck at 225 yards. With your old Pro Staff 5 2.5-10x40, you'd know that you'd have to put the magnification to, say, 7.5X in order to have the drop-compensating reticle be accurate. But what if you wanted the extra power of the 10X magnification? You'd be on your own.
The reticle would not indicate where the bullet would drop. You would need to keep it at 7.5X for the system to work. That's the way it is with all second-focal plane, also called rear-focal plane, scopes.
Thankfully, Nikon is upping their game in this area. It only makes sense, too. The company has been at the vanguard of drop-compensating reticle designs, as well as online ballistic calculators with their Spot On site (nikonsportoptics.com) and affordable Spot On wind meters.