UTG Bug Buster Scope: Reviewed And Compared

Whether shopping for a new scope or looking for a replacement, finding the right optics for your rifle can undoubtedly be a challenge. A lot of brands. A lot of options. A lot of choices. Not only that but you want to ensure the scope you purchase is worth the money and ends up a being a smart long-term investment.

One scope in particular that has become increasingly popular is the UTG BugBuster. Made by Michigan based Leapers Inc., the BugBuster line has several different variations and our review today will focus on the most widely used of these, the UTG 3-9x32 1” Compact BugBuster.

First, let's get a feel for what you get with your purchase and the general specs.

What’s in the Box?


UTG 3-9X32 1" BugBuster Scope, AO, RGB Mil-dot, QD Rings
  • BEWARE OF COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS SHIPPED DIRECTLY FROM CHINA
  • 1 Inch Tube with Emerald Coating for Maximum Light Transmission, Premium Zero Lockable & Resettable Turrets with 1/4 MOA Per Click Adjustment
  • Range Estimating Mil-dot Reticle for Optimal Aiming and Shooting Performance, Adjustable Objective from 3 Yards to Infinity
  • Red/Green Dual Illumination for Versatile Applications, Large Field of View and Most Accommodating Eye Relief for Optimum Critical CQB Mission
  • Complete with 2" Sunshade, High Quality Flip-open Lens Caps and Quick-detachable Rings

The UTG BugBuster comes with everything you need for an optics upgrade except the rifle itself. Along with the scope, your accessories include two flip-open lens caps, a 2” sunshade, and a pair of detachable rings.

The rings are an excellent inclusion, made with a heavy grade metal and able to fit Picatinny and Weaver rails. You also get a couple of batteries for the reticle.

Construction

Unlike some other compact scopes, the UTG BugBuster has a solid, but not overly weighty feel to it. Built on Leapers’ True Strength Platform, the scope’s construction includes a single piece aluminum central tube and a system called the Smart Spherical Structure or SSS.

What the SSS achieves are control over the primary outer tube and the inner cylinder. This interaction between the two tubes helps to ensure the windage and elevation adjustments remain accurate and the scope itself holds up over long-term use.

The True Strength Platform is something we’ve seen in Leaper optics for some time now, and they do perform very well and holding up regardless of the punishing extremes they might face.

Beyond that, the accessories are also durable and well-made. The flip-open lens caps are a high-grade plastic that won’t rip away. The 2” screw-in sunshade is aluminum, just like the scope, which helps to make it a seamless extension.

As we mentioned, the included ring mounts are sturdy. Constructed of steel, the two mounts wrap nicely around the scope and sit with a very low profile. They are compatible with Picatinny and Weaver rails and are easy to attach and secure with quick detach lever locks.

Overall, the UTG BugBuster has a very sound build. It has a heft that provides confidence it will stand up to whatever elements you may toss at it. Additionally, that soundness comes without it adding any excess weight to your rifle.

In fact, we were most impressed that it blends well and makes itself a continuous part of your firearm instead of just an add-on accessory.

Installation

close-up photo of an automatic rifle with scope being used on a snowy environment

The installation of the BugBuster is a breeze. As we noted, it comes with two rings that are compatible with Picatinny or Weaver rails. While the stock rings are serviceable, well built, and will do the job they're intended for; the scope does allow a lot of flexibility with its mounting capabilities.

If you prefer you can utilize a ring set with a riser to allow yourself a bit more functionality such as the addition of a reflex sight or laser.

Turrets

Before we get into the performance of the scope optics, let’s touch on what controls those visual tools, the knobs or turrets. The BugBuster has three main targeting knobs: Windage and Elevation adjustments and an RGB (Red, Green, Blue, which we’ll touch on in a bit) reticle illumination rheostat. The turrets lock in place but can be reset.

The turrets are well designed and offer firm, and to some degree rigid, adjustment feedback. Some would think this a bit of a minus, but we like that the knobs are tight right out of the box. Even with some force, you don’t feel they will snap off. With regular use, they should loosen up and become even more responsive.

Ultimately, no real surprises as most of what you get here are fairly standard. However, we do like the firm feedback the knobs give during adjustments, as well as how well they set into place. Overall, we would consider this a slight step up from similar sights.

Optical Performance

a soldier looking through the scope attached to the firearm

Construction and appearance are great, but what’s the point of a good looking scope if it's a challenge to operate. Thankfully the nitrogen filled sighting tool hits is high point with the actual optics.

The features in this regard are plentiful: generous eye relief, RGB illumination, a wide FOV (Field of View), parallax-free viewing, and an impressive mil-dot reticle. Let’s take a closer look at these individually.

Eye Relief

The scope eye relief runs from three to four inches which fall within the industry norms. This ensures the BugBuster will fit within a wide range of uses and for varying skill levels, keeping your brow out of harm's way regardless of the nature of your shoot. Both the beginner and more seasoned hunter can utilize it with little difficulty.

RGB Illumination

First developed almost 15 years ago, we’ve always found the red and green illumination of the reticle a fantastic feature on UTG scopes. Significantly improving the versatility of the BugBuster for use in almost any type of weather or lighting condition, this alone makes this optic a good buy for more extreme excursions.

The side knob control further enhances the RGB tool as it makes adjustment incredibly easy and much less awkward than the old school eyepiece positioned rheostat.

Field of View

The field of view at 100 yards runs from close to 38 feet at 3x magnification down to 14 feet at 9x. While the latter is relatively standard, the 38 feet FOV does provide almost three more yards than other scopes in this product range.

Parallax Free View

a man standing on a hill while holding up this gun and aiming at his target

Speaking of excellent viewing angles, the BugBuster has an adjustable objective to provide you with a parallax-free view from as few as three yards up to infinity (essentially beyond 200 to 250 yards). Like some of the other features on this scope, this addition is something you tend to find on your higher end models, so it's a nice inclusion here.

Mil-Dot Reticle

Much like the RGB illumination, the mil-dot reticle is another long-standing innovation from UTG, which ultimately was adopted industry-wide. For the BugBuster, they utilize UTG’s Tactical Range Estimating mil-dot reticle. Lining up the reticle clearly shows you the superiority of the BugBuster versus other scopes with its mil-dot array.

Most scopes have between a four and six mil-dot reticle.  These dots span out in the sight, up, down and left, right. This array provides from nine up to 15 total points of targeting, respectively, across windage and elevation aims (note: the three additional points come from the reticle origin point and the two inside edges of the outer duplexes).

The BugBuster blows these away with a nine mil-dot reticle. That means aiming with both windage and elevation you’ll have up to 21 targeting points, when including the origin point and inner edges of the outside duplex for each line. To ensure you calculate the measurements correctly, the BugBuster comes with a range estimating card.  

Performance in Variable
Conditions

As part of the design and build process, the BugBuster scope is made to withstand numerous conditions and the bumps and dings that come with the outdoors. With shockproof engineering, the scope is tested on airguns and recoil heavy elephant rifles.

While our tests did not reach the extremes of the latter, the sight tool will perform well in normal hunting conditions.

As far as weatherproofing, this scope does carry out its functions will little issue when inclement conditions rule the day. The scope performs like a champ in rain and snow and even cuts through the reduced visibility of light to moderate fog.

One minor concern is that based on the design of the turrets, we don’t recommend submerging the scope in water for any length of time.

How Does the UTG Bug
Buster Rate Against
Other Scopes?

As we’ve seen, the UTG BugBuster is an excellent, multiple purpose scope. But are there others in the particular segment that might rate equal or potentially higher? Let’s take a look at three other similar sighting tools to see if there’s a better buy available.

​vs. Nikon 8496 P-223

Nikon 8496 P-223 3x32 Hunting Scope, Matte BDC
  • Waterproof 3x magnification Adjustment graduation: 1/2"

If you’re looking for a step up from the UTG BugBuster, the Nikon P-223 is a pricier though less versatile option to consider. The first factor separating the two scopes is the Nikon’s multi-coated optics, which provides 98 percent light transmission and brightness in variable light conditions.

The second big difference is Nikon’s carbine reticle. With the P-223 you get a 200-yard crosshair and 400 and 600-yard hashes. This is clearly a scope for high-level hunters and does not offer the multi-purpose range of the BugBuster. From an aesthetic standpoint, we do like the UTG more and feel its a better piece of equipment.

​vs. UTG 3-12x44 30mm
Compact Scope

UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings
  • 30-millimeter SWAT 3-12X44 IE tactical range estimating scope with mil-dot, full 36-color EZ Tap reticle
  • 30-Millimeter tube built on True Strength Platform: sealed and nitrogen filled, shockproof, fog-proof, and rain-proof
  • Best in class multi emerald coated lenses; integrated angled front sunshade complete with flip-open lens caps
  • Special circuit and housing design for uninterrupted illumination even under heavy recoil
  • Premium zero locking and zero resetting target turrets with most consistent and precise adjustment; lifetime warratny

When looking at UTG scopes, they offer a lot of the same baseline constructs, aluminum casing, sealed and nitrogen filled tube, and similar guarantees against regular use amongst the elements.

However, even though the mil-dot spread is the same with a total of 36, the 3-12x44, which is part of UTG’s Accushot line, replaces the RGB illumination with an Illumination Enhancing 36-color EZ tap toggle. This means that you can customize the view to suit your eye.

For some, especially beginner or novice hunters, this may not be a huge concern, but the customization will unquestionably appeal to more seasoned shooters who want a stronger personal experience. Beyond that, the tube of the 3-12x44 is a 30mm, which for some is a preferred size as it allows for more windage and elevation adjustments.

​vs. UTG 3-12x44 30mm
Compact Scope

UTG 4-16X44 30mm Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, w/ Rings
  • 30mm Tube with Best in Class Emerald Lens Coatings to Achieve Maximum Light Transmission for Best Clarity, Built on True Strength Platform, Completely Sealed and Nitrogen Filled, Shockproof, Fogproof and Rainproof
  • 4X to 16X Power with Quick Power Selector Ring Perfect for Target Acquisition and Zooming In, 1-Click Technology for Quick Access to Your Favorite Color and Brightness in Reticle
  • Field of View @ 100 yards: 24.4 feet - 6.8 feet. Innovative EZ-TAP Illumination Enhancing (IE) System with Red/Green in Dual-Color Mode and 36 Colors in Multi-Color Mode to Accommodate All Weather/Light Conditions
  • Premium Zero Lockable and Zero Resettable Target Turrets with Most Consistent and Precise 1/4 MOA per Click Adjustment, Side Wheel Adjustable Turret (SWAT) for Parallax Adjustment - From 10 Yards to Infinity
  • Mil-dot Range Estimating Reticle with Built-in Integral Sunshade for Most Optimal Aiming and Shooting Performance, Complete with UTG Max Strength Twist Lock Picatinny/Weaver Rings and High Quality Flip-open Lens Caps

If you’re getting the sense that UTG has a particular segment of the market cornered, its because they do. Solidly built with a close attention to detail, regardless of your price range, there’s a good chance you can find a UTG to your liking. The 4-16x44 is no different.

Although we still appreciate the BugBusters fluidity across different user groups, the 4-16x44 is the upgrade to consider once you’re ready to make a switch. It’s 30mm tube, versus the 1” BugBuster, makes the 4-16x44 a more versatile tool.

It also falls within the Accushot line and offers a parallax-free view that starts at nine yards instead of three. Overall, this is probably the best scope mentioned here, but as we said the BugBuster is an excellent all-around option to work with first before investing in the 4-16x44 as your next level up.  

Final Recommendation

product photo of UTG BugBuster Scope

As we noted at the start of this article, finding the right scope can be a challenging endeavor. A lot of options exist that in turn mean you have to figure out the right combination for you and your rifle. It’s hard to find a scope versatile enough to meet multiple needs without breaking the bank.

To put it bluntly, we are big fans of UTG’s 3-9x32 1” BugBuster scope. It’s a compact and solidly built sighting tool that would look good atop any hunter’s rifle. The simplicity of the overall scope certainly appeals to a wide range of users, and that’s perhaps one of the key benefits of this scope versus others in its class.

As we mentioned in the install section, you even have some flexibility to enhance the scope with a couple of add-ons. It’s just that kind of scope. A beginner or novice will like the ease of use. A far more experienced hunter, for their part, can find an advantage with the no-frills setup and general operation.

Ultimately, the BugBuster scope lets you focus on your passion. While we understand it may not be for everyone, there’s a lot to be said for not having to fuss too much over a tool aimed at helping you better enjoy your leisure time. The UTG 3-9x32 1” Bugbuster scope allows you to do just that.