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Education / Training UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 AO rifle scope: Part 2

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 AO rifle scope: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 right
The 3-9x Bug Buster packs a lot of performance into a small package.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 left
Bug Buster left side.

Today, I’ll tell you how the latest 3-9X32 UTG Bug Buster scope works in action. As you know, this scope was mounted on the Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup rifle that I tested for you yesterday. While shooting it, I had the opportunity to examine the performance of this latest Bug Buster scope in great detail, so now I can report on that, as well.

A world of improvement
The last Bug Buster scope I used before this one was a fixed 6x scope that’s now many years old. This new Bug Buster is very advanced from that one, though there are some things that haven’t changed.

Variable power
The first and most obvious improvement is variable power. Of course, Bug Busters have had variable power for many years, but I think this was my first chance to really use one. In the old days, we were just thrilled to have a fixed 4x. It was the ability to focus down to just 9 feet that was the big sales feature of the Bug Buster, and we didn’t expect much more than that. But variable power is usually better, since it gives you the opportunity to choose where to set the magnification. That being said, I cranked this scope to 9x and left it there. I doubt there are many reasons for me to ever use the lower power settings.

Field of view
The Bug Buster has a field of view slightly larger than a scope of normal length with the same specifications. But in my experience, the exit pupil is more critical on the Bug Buster. In other words, your eye has to be in exactly the right spot or you can’t see the image. That was how the scope acted in the test of the 3D bullpup, but I don’t know if it was the odd hold I had to use with that rifle or not.

The whole reason I’m testing this scope is because of the new, finer crosshairs. I guess the small groups I got in the test attest to the fact that these lines are thinner and thus better able to parse the bull closer. I don’t know of a more dramatic way of demonstrating it to you unless you look through the scope yourself.

And, of course, the thin inner crosshair lines have mil-dots running in both directions. So, you can estimate range if you read and apply the data in the handbook that comes with the scope.

I was concerned that because I’m colorblind, the illuminated crosshairs would be of limited use to me, but that isn’t the case. While many of the colors do look alike at the lower power levels, I can see differences in all the colors at the maximum intensity. The 2-button system takes some learning, but turning on and off are both simple commands, so there’s no danger of running down the battery. And there’s a timed shutoff, on top of everything. I don’t think I would use the illumination most of the time, but it’s there if you need it, and the battery will keep a long time if not in use.

On the highest power illumination, the inside of the scope tube gets illuminated some, as well as the reticle lines. Of course, the proper way to use this feature in the field is to run the lowest illumination that you can see, so this really isn’t a problem.

Eyepiece adjustment
My shooting buddy, Otho, has eyes that cannot see through most scopes clearly even with corrective lenses. But all the Leapers models have a very extended eyepiece adjustment that suits him fine. When I sight through his scopes, I have to make gross adjustments to keep from seeing double reticle lines. Only the Leapers scopes have enough adjustment so that both of us can use the same scope.

Lockable reticle adjustments and adjustable zero
Back in the bad old days, we would adjust our reticles until they were perfect and then never let anyone near our guns. I’ve had people grab one of my airguns off my tables at a show and start twisting both adjustment knobs with abandon. When I asked them what they were trying to do, they said they didn’t know — they just wanted to see how the knobs felt!

Well, the Bug Buster’s knobs are locked in place with collars that screw down tight after adjustments have been completed. That gives me time to snatch my rifle back from someone before they can screw up my scope setting.

The scales on both adjustment knobs can be loosened and repositioned so your sight-in is shown as the zero point on each scale. Then, if you have to adjust the knob in the future, you always know where to return.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 retical locking collars
Below the scale of each adjustment knob is a thin collar that can be turned down to lock that knob from turning. This protects your scope adjustment. You can also loosen the small Allen screw on top of each cap and slip the scales to keep the settings as your zero point.

Flip-up scope caps not useful
The Bug Buster comes with flip-up scope caps that I find less than useful — especially on the objective lens. Since the AO requires the objective lens to twist, the flip-up cap is never in the right position and will just get in the way. I take both scope caps off when using this scope because I can’t be bothered with them. If the AO were a sidewheel, then flip-ups would make a lot more sense to me.

The Bug Buster is a compact scope. As such, the scope tube sections where the scope rings attach are very short. So the rings have to move to where the scope needs them to be, because there isn’t a lot of extra scope tube on either side of each ring. A one-piece mount is all but impossible to use, as the location of the rings would only line up with the scope tube by coincidence.

Many airguns do not permit a scope to be mounted far enough to the rear for the eye-relief to work with a short scope like this. You have to consider that when mounting a Bug Buster or any compact scope. If the gun has a scope stop plate or vertical stop hole located far forward, it probably will not work with a Bug Buster. But if the top of the gun is wide open, like on the Rainstorm 3D bullpup, then it’s what you want.

Overall evaluation
The new 3-9X32 AO Bug Buster is the best one of the entire line. It offers more flexibility, yet comes in the same compact package as all the other Bug Busters. It meets a specific need in the scope world, yet still provides enough flexibility to work on many airguns.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

22 thoughts on “UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 AO rifle scope: Part 2”

  1. B.B.,

    Good news about the thinner reticles. Wish Leapers would offer the scope without illuminated reticles.

    Think you’re selling this scope short when you say, “If the gun has a scope stop plate or vertical stop hole located far forward, it probably will not work with a Bug Buster.” The BKL (and others) cantilevered mounts don’t need a vertical stop pin hole and can move the bugbuster rearward to accomodate the short eye relief of the bugbuster. With cantilevered mounts the bugbuster can be mounted on most (all?) airguns.


  2. I have older bug buster on my Crosman 1377 and love it. I do recommend a steel breech kit when using on a 1377. It’s a nice set up for bird hunting or for dispatching rats, mice, and unwanted birds on farm sites. I’m always greeted by barn cats everywhere I go now. Also, fun for shooting indoors on a rainy day. It’s compact and light…a very versatile scope.

  3. NCStar makes a quick detach one piece cantilever that has adjustable distance between rings. It might take some hunting around, but you can usually find something that will work.

    My next scope will probably be a low power Bug Buster for my sproinger, then this one for my TSS.

    The next step for Leapers should be side parallax adjustment for these things. I would definitely snatch up a couple of those.

  4. BB, are you saying that this new Bug Buster the best of the Bug Buster line or the best of the Leapers line?

    I was glad to read what Rob said about the eye relief being very long. I was using a scope with nice optics the other day but the eye relief was so tight that it was not fun to use.

    David Enoch

  5. Can you shed any light on what generation are any of the UTG or Leapers scopes? I know that earlier this year I got the RGB version of this scope, but I typically only see “new generation” printed on the box, etc. I haven’t seen 5th or 6th generation anywhere on the pkg.

    Any idea if this reticle is the same on the RGB version as on your IE version?

    Do you think if the same reticle was used in various scopes, would it appear to be thicker or thinner (all using the same magnification) if either the tube, the front objective or the overall length were larger/smaller or wouldn’t that make a difference?

    • John,

      Sometimes a company doesn’t want its customers to know which generation a product belongs to, or sometimes they make changes that don’t quite add up to a complete generational change. So they waffle or just don’t publish the information.

      I am not sure, but I think your reticle is probably the same size as the one I’m testing. The only way to know for sure would be to compare the two scopes.


  6. B.B.

    I have the older 6x Bug Buster as well and really like the size on smaller spring guns but my biggest complaint is that the image is not in focus across the entire field of view. I have seen pincushion distortion or barrel distortion on some wide angle optics but the Bug Buster is blurry if the image is off center. Has that been corrected on this new scope.

  7. My 6X Bug Buster, bought on B.B.’s recommendation, was everything advertised and it sits on my IZH61. Variable power on the new model is nice, but the big appeal of the old model was how it could focus at such short distances as 3 yards–critical for my shooting range. I’m guessing the new model has at least this same capability. The flip-up lens covers aren’t real useful for me (although I guess they provide extra protection for the lenses) but what if you put them back on after you get the variably objective adjusted? This doesn’t change that much in most shooting sessions.

    Edith, not to worry. No way do my comments begin to comprehend what goes on in Pacific Rim!!! And much as I like it, I can’t say that plot is one of the movie’s strong points.

    BG_Farmer, interesting that you should mention trigger squeeze. I had quite a shooting session last night. Reasoning analogically, how about this. WHEREAS the mind can’t really concentrate on more than one thing at a time. AND since you concentrate on the sights more than the target and the front sight more than the rear sight. COULD it be that you actually should be concentrating more on the trigger squeeze than the sights? Much as I was trying to allow for play in the wobble area, the sights were the focus of my attention, and the trigger squeeze was kind of along for the ride. The other night I somehow fell into focusing on a steady inexorable trigger squeeze. My wobble area was actually not any bigger than before, but the trigger was much more consistent than the stopping and starting that I had been doing. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it felt great. Steady and unstoppable just like the giant robots in Pacific Rim. I think we might be onto something here, but if so that would mean that all the millions of people concentrating so hard on their sights are on the wrong track…


    • Matt,
      I think you’ve got the right idea, but I hesitate to demote the sights as they are the key feedback into the control loop, so to speak. Everything you do should be for the purpose of and judged as to how effectively it keeps the sights aligned and on target — where they are aimed when the projectile leaves the barrel (plus a margin of followthrough for uncertainty) is 99% of what determines where the projectile is going! Otherwise, I think you are on the right track with the trigger pull you describe — just do it consistently and make sure the gun is pointed at what you want to hit all the way through the shot. You can modify your pull or grip, or a number of other things, but judge the effect by looking through the sights. Sorry, it sounds really simple, but it isn’t :)!

      That said, I saw a shooter hit targets while looking away (after aiming) — obviously a trick, but a testament to consistent hold, pull, etc.

      • BG_Farmer,

        Actually, it’s not a trick. What that shooter did was perfected his natural point of aim (NPA), along with associated muscle memory. Top world class shooters (rifle and pistol) have been known to clean targets while blind-folded or in the dark. The late, great, multi-Olympic Gold winner in 3-position, Malcolm Cooper, from the UK was known to clean the kneeling position indoors with the lights turned off after he found his NPA.

        That’s why finding one’s NPA is so critical. ALL top shooters first find their NPA before firing a shot. One trick for verifying that you’ve actually found it is by following through, and waiting to see your sight picture after the gun settles from its recoil. No one gets there without a lot of practice. BUT, having specific goals such as this are keys to getting the most out of one’s practice.

        I think that shooting with your eyes closed (after finding your NPA) is a great way of testing how good you are at finding your NPA. Of course, you want to do it in a safe environment and with a large enough target.


          • BG_Farmer,

            Yes, I understand. It would seem like a trick to most people, which is why I thought it was worth pointing out the “secret”. Of course, as with trigger control, finding one’s NPA takes a lot of practice. In the case of pistol shooting, it also helps to do some very specific exercises to strengthen one’s hands, wrists, shoulders, and whatever other muscles are required to hold the gun out consistently.

            Again, knowing what to target (i.e., goals) makes practice more effective. Most people don’t see target shooting as an athletic sport, but it is. Top shooters are in surprisingly good shape, even if it isn’t obvious. The better your cardiovascular condition, the less your pulse becomes a factor. The stronger your legs, the better your stamina and steadiness. The stronger your hands, wrists, and shoulders, the easier it is to grip and hold a pistol up, and especially over the course of a long match.

            We can do more to improve upon our shooting abilities through exercise than we can by buying stuff.


  8. There is a great one piece scope for the bugbuster that costs only $15. It is a Leapers Accushot 1-Pc Bi-directional Offset Mount w/1″ Rings and it works great for bringing the scope back a little bit towards the stock.

  9. This is interesting to me since I am getting ready for an all new airgun build. I’m looking at a Drozd Blackbird since I can get one in Michigan now. They changed the rules again without telling anybody. I’m looking at turning it into a 2000 rounds per minute 900 fps compressed air gobbling monster bb gun. So I have a feeling that I need some really good optics on something like that. (What can I say? I like performance power and accuracy.)

    • Which rule?

      Since it is a BB (.177) gun with unrifled barrel, it should have been exempt from the “handgun registration” condition. That leaves either the full-auto criteria, or a silencer condition.

      • It’s the length rule. It used to be 30 inches and below with rifled barrel pyramyd air couldn’t ship. Then it went to 28 and below they couldn’t ship with rifled barrel. Now it’s 26 inches and below with rifled barrel they can’t ship. The Drozd bb guns have rifled barrels so I have to watch the length requirement. The Drozd Blackbird is 28 inches and has a rifled barrel for some reason I don’t understand, so I better hurry and snag one before the length requirement changes again. I watch these requirements carefully and have missed out on some guns I wanted because of this legal nonsense.

        • It’s RIFLED? {blink}{blink}

          I’d have expected it to be the silencer that blocks shipment — unless some other recent ruling clarified that law. I speak of the one a few years back where the AG decreed that the federal transfer fee/papers for silencers sufficed as a license, rather than the catch-22 of “silencer must be licensed; state does not issue licenses”. But since airguns are not similarly controlled by the fed, a silenced (shrouded) airgun wouldn’t pass the state restriction.

          • The specs state it is a rifled barrel. The silencer is a silencer in looks only. It does nothing to muffle the sound of the gun. So that doesn’t count as anything but decoration covering a longer barrel. The issues I have here in michigan is I have trouble getting anything shorter than 26 inches with a rifled barrel or anything that has a shrouded barrel that affects the report of the gun. I can get something with a shrouded barrel but I have to get it shipped to an FFL dealer. That requires one willing to deal with air rifles. I know of one that will do it but it’s a rough trip for me to get there since I ride an electric bike and I use half my battery charge to get there. So I have to REALLY want that gun to go order one. As a rule if I want something with a shrouded barrel I shroud it myself. That or I buy it used which i really do not like to do.

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