Not everyone can afford to spend big dollars on an advanced rifle scope with all the latest features. While there are many affordable scopes available, you can often end up disappointed with the performance being lower than the price tag.
While UTG scopes carry an incredibly low price, they still offer reliable performance beyond what would be expected. The BugBuster 3-9x32mm rifle scope is one of the products in their range that is quickly gaining popularity.
So, I decided to take a closer look to see if this is one of the best options available for those on a tight budget in my in-depth UTG BugBuster 3-9x32mm Rifle Scope Review.
About UTG Optics
UTG optics is a brand produced by Leapers, Inc who develops, manufactures, and distributes a wide range of products. These include innovative and technologically advanced hunting and shooting sports items across a wide range of platforms.
The company was founded in 1992 as a garage business with the goal of developing a 4×28 compact scope as their first product. After over two decades of hard work and dedication, the company has grown substantially from humble beginnings.
Leapers UTG headquarters is now located in a 3-building complex in Livonia, Michigan, USA. There are over 150,000-square feet in space which covers in-house product design, development, manufacturing, and distribution.
There is also a UTG Europe distribution center for a “Global Reach with a Local Presence.” This is located just outside Frankfurt in Germany. Additionally, there is the UTG manufacturing center located in China as well as a UTG research and development plus manufacturing center located in Taiwan.
You have a great idea of what the UTG BugBuster is all about, thanks to its unique clear box used for packaging. Once removed from the box, your first impression should be a positive one as the included scope rings come into view.
They are of surprisingly high quality for this level of value and even offer quick detachment as an added bonus. That level of excitement is maintained as you dig further and discover the included sunshade and flip-up lens caps. Let’s hope the scope itself can keep that smile plastered on my face.
There’s no mistaking that this optic feels solid when holding it, thanks to the main body being constructed from aluminum. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of polymer plastics used, but you don’t get that cheap, underwhelmed feeling.
While the fit and finish aren’t as perfect as a much more expensive product, they are well above expectations. Paint is evenly applied, the controls are tactile and intuitive, along with the turrets feeling solid and reliable.
Design and Features
This scope is surprisingly compact, being short for its magnification capabilities. Measuring only 8.11-inches (20.6-centimeters) long, that’s impressive for a magnification power of between 3x and 9x. The scope also only weighs 13.9-ounces (394-grams).
That makes this optic a great option for shorter carbines, or any other rifle set up that only has limited space available. There’s even a generous eye relief of 4.2-inches (10.7-centimeters) for firearms with heavy recoil.
Something you might not always expect from budget optics is a high level of durability. The BugBuster offers properties like being waterproof, shockproof, and also fog proof with nitrogen sealing. Being tough and dependable in all environments is a massive plus.
Mounting the optic is easy with the inclusion of the quick detach scope rings compatible with Picatinny rails. The tube width is 1-inch (25.4-millimeters), meaning finding mounting hardware shouldn’t be too difficult.
A clearer image…
The diameter of the objective lens is 32-millimeters and offers a decent amount of light transmission. Both lenses feature a proprietary coating that results in a slightly green tint being visible across the glass.
Green has been chosen on purpose as it is the most relaxing color for the human eye to distinguish. Viewing images through the scope is both bright and crystal clear, with the lens coating reducing glare and also offering a layer of protection for the glass.
When rotating the zoom ring, the adjustment is smooth and offers decent precision. Between the power settings of 3x and 7x, the image quality is superb. However, once 8 or 9 times magnification is reached, a distinct blur can be noticed.
Targets are still identifiable at maximum magnification power, but you will certainly notice a loss of quality. At this price point, issues like this are almost unavoidable, and taking this into consideration doesn’t detract too much from what else is on offer.
Fingertip adjustable turrets…
Making adjustments to the elevation and windage turrets are easy to rotate with your fingertips. Each click isn’t as pronounced as what a more expensive optic offers but can still be made accurately as long as you’re not wearing gloves and paying attention.
There is a reset to zero feature, which is a welcome inclusion for a budget optic. This often isn’t even included on much more expensive models and makes making adjustments based on distance or wind much more pleasant after being zeroed in.
There are two different versions available when it comes to reticle choice with different illumination and adjustment values. The first is a 0.33 MOA adjustment which offers both red and green illumination colors.
The 0.25 MOA reticle has RGB illumination with an incredible 36 color choices. This is really a bit of a gimmick but is still fun to play around with. Both options, of course, can be switched off with the black reticle remaining by using a mock turret on the left-hand side of the scope.
With the scope mounted to my AR556 Ruger, it was time to hit the range and put it through its paces. Laying in the prone position with my rifle perched atop some sandbags, I placed only eight shots to get the optic zeroed in. Off to a good start.
Being able to adjust the turrets without any tools was pleasing, but I did need to really concentrate on each click being made. You do hear a faint “click” and do gain a muffled tactile response, but it could be easily missed.
What a bright idea…
An illuminated reticle sounds like something pretty advanced for a budget optic, and it is. The reticle itself is a quite standard and simple crosshair featuring multiple holdover dots. This isn’t officially a bullet drop compensator but can provide this function if you are good at making some quick calculations in your head.
With the illumination activated, it is actually rather bright and can be distracting. This is probably due to the fact the entire reticle lights up along with a lack of brightness settings. Luckily using it in the off position provides satisfactory and accurate results.
The optic performed consistently after firing off approximately 400 rounds. This was over distances ranging between 25-yards (22.86-meters) and 400-yards (365-meters). I am pleased to say that the BugBuster kept zero the entire time.
Shooting at 400-yards (365-meters) is actually 70-yards (65-meters) beyond the recommended effective range. Having the holdover dots proved a useful feature allowing for accurate shots after about five rounds of making minor adjustments.
UTG BugBuster 3-9x32mm Rifle Scope Pros & Cons
- Highly affordable optic that still offers reliable performance.
- Mounting hardware, sunshade, and flip-up lens caps included.
- Waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof.
- Finger adjustable turrets with reset to zero.
- Illuminated reticle with an option of RGB featuring 36 colors.
- Compact and lightweight design suitable for carbines.
- Turret adjustments aren’t very tactile and require some concentration.
- Reticle illumination can be very bright and distracting.
- Image begins to blur and lose clarity beyond 8x magnification.
- Lots of polymer plastic pieces used in construction will shorten the overall lifespan.
Looking for a Superb New Scope?
Then check out our reviews of the Best Long Range Scopes under 1000 Dollars, the Best Mil Dot Scopes, the Best Deer Hunting Scopes, the Best AR10 Scopes, as well as the Best Long Range Rifle Scopes you can buy in 2023.
You may also enjoy our reviews of the Best Sniper Scopes, the Best 300 Win Mag Scopes, the Best Rimfire Scopes, the Best 308 Rifles Scopes, the Best Scout Scopes, or the Best 1000 Yard Scopes currently on the market.
It’s easy to be disappointed about some of the minor grievances with the BugBuster. Things like the over-bright illumination and less tactile turret adjustments. But you do have to remind yourself that this is a budget scope.
So that’s a good thing really, because in your mind you’re comparing it with much more expensive products. With your expectations more aligned with where this scope sits in the market, it really does have plenty to offer.
The UTG BugBuster 3-9x32mm rifle scope is undoubtedly one of the best budget scope options currently available for anyone on limited funds.
Happy and safe shooting.