Gear, Parts and Accessories

The Best Tactical Sight for Under $50

Recently, I had a chance to look at the Leapers UTG Gen 4 Red/Green Dot Sight. A friend at the range recently purchased a used Smith & Wesson Performance Center .44 Magnum Hunter revolver and the sight was mounted on it. A sub $50 sight on a $1250 magnum? This was a test I had to experience. After all, if the UTG sight could survive the abuse from a .44 mag., imagine how safe it would be atop an AR-15.

Leapers UTG 1×30 Tactical Dot Sight

Key Features

  • Quick-aim electronic dot sight with red and green dual illumination
  • 38mm tube
  • Emerald lens coating for maximum brightness and clarity
  • Coin-adjustable windage and elevation knobs with 1/2 MOA per click increments
  • Allen wrench required to unlock adjustment feature
  • 4.0 MOA Dot
  • Adjustable brightness settings
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Includes Weaver mounting deck
  • Flip-open lens caps
Black, compact red and green dot sight with flip-up lens caps made by Leapers UTG
The first thing you are likely to notice when looking through the optic is the intensity of the dot and the clarity of the glass—impressive for an optic in this price range.

The sight body has an integral Weaver rail mount. The cross bolts are both full diameter and are spaced to match standard Picatinny rails. The front and rear lens caps are interchangeable. They are spring loaded and open easily with a slight push.

The clamp bar is also spring loaded. This allows it to remain open when installing the sight, which makes mounting a breeze.  The thumbscrews are also staked to avoid unscrewing them and dropping or losing small parts. This is a great feature and worthy of note for those who would consider an extra sight or two for the shelf or SHTF kit.

Once the aluminum turret covers are removed, you’ll notice the adjustment knobs feature setscrews. The setscrew allows you to lock the turret at your desired zero. This is ideal for guns with enhanced recoil, but also an awesome feature for a truck gun that may be banged around or for someone depending on a constant zero in a bug-out situation.

The shooter can set the illuminated dot to either red or green. UTG has designed the unit with five different illumination intensities for each color. The adjustment has appropriate markings to indicate the settings.

One look and you will notice that the dot is rather bright, even for old eyes. We were standing in the shade under a canopy, but in the bright sun, the variable settings came into play. However, I would image the norm would be to leave the unit on its lowest setting for general use—a smart design for maximum battery efficiency.

The UTG Gen 4 red/green dot sight runs on two CR2032 batteries. The battery is common and cheap, making it ideal for the regular shooter or prepper. The cover is easily removed with a coin and features a rubber O-ring to seal the compartment from the elements.

The first thing you are likely to notice when looking through the optic is the intensity of the dot and the clarity of the glass—impressive for an optic in this price range.

At the range, zeroing the sight was a standard task without any surprises. The sight proved intuitive and at reasonable distances, putting the dot on the target with proper trigger manipulation scored acceptable combat hits (center of man) with ease. For target shooting or a hunting scenario, more care would be necessary to center the dot in the sight and to avoid parallax issues. This provides accuracy at longer ranges and Close Quarters Battle (CQB) accuracy when necessary.

The dot is 4 MOA. This is likely a bit bigger than you may be used to in an optic. For precision target shooting this may be an issue. Having used concentric circles for aiming in target archery for years, I adjusted easily.

For the new shooter or anyone demanding quality on a shoestring budget, UTG’s Gen 4 red/green dot sight is unbeatable. Either way, for $34.97 it is such a great deal that everyone should have at least one for backup or just to keep on the shelf for those times when you a need a scope quick.Click Here to Start Shopping Online at Cheaper Than Dirt


 Magnification: 1.00X Tube Diameter: 38mm Objective Diameter: 30mm Field of View @ 100 yards: 16.5 feet Eye Relief: Flexible Exit Pupil: 25.0mm Click Adjustment @100 yards: 0.5-inch Length: 95mm Weight: 7.4 ounces Batteries: Two CR2032 3V

Have you had a chance to shoot using the Leapers’ UTG 1×30 Tactical Dot Sight? Give us your impression in the comment section.

[dave] [price]

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (22)

  1. Good olÔÇÖ iron sights may do an okay job, but they can hardly do what a sight does. For anyone who owns a gun and does the shooting and target practicing, nothing beats a red dot sight. These tiny things are every shooters best bet to hit the bulls-eye each time.

  2. To turn it on or off you simply need to twist the color selector to any number one thru 5. A single notch from either R or G to number one or five will activate the red or green dot. Takes a second.

  3. UTG products are actually surprisingly good quality. I used a UTG tac vest for 2 of my 2 1/2 years in Iraq, and found it actually to be superior to the Blackhawk vest I was issued by one employer for 6 months.

    In general, I find UTG products to be very good quality for the price. Of course, it isn’t an Eotech, but then it’s about $400 cheaper too.

  4. What about battery life? I assume you leave this turned off until ready to use? I would like to have something like this for a home defense shotgun, but I wouldn’t want to have to fiddle around trying to turn it on in the middle of the night if the bad guys are breaking in. I guess batteries would run down pretty quickly if you left it turned on.

    1. I have dot sights on several of our HD guns, and i leave them all off until needed. With a little practice, it becomes muscle memory to turn it on to the lower brightness setting for use in a dark hallway.

    2. I think you’d have to step up to the next level to get auto shut-off. My Lucid HD7 (Gen 1) has a two hour shut off rated at 1000 hrs/AAA battery @ $200 range. And it has that 4 reticle option. Vortex Strikefire @ $200 has a 12 hour shut off on CR2 battery with just a dot reticle. None of my Leapers/UTG has that circuitry. But for the price, once again . . . keep extra batteries. Advanced circuitry, pay more.

  5. i had the Leapers’ UTG 1×30 Red Dot now for 3 years and have on my A15. Cannot say enough about the quality, durability, UTG Customer Service and ease of use with this product! Quickly can acquire my target. I shoot a 12″ x 12″ steel plate at 300yrds and can easily ding it 7 out of 10 times. Have shot out to 400yrds at video shows, but eyes strain a bit at that yardage to pick up target. At 200yds, scope can keep a nice 6 inch group w/ quality 223/556 ammo! Scope holds zero all day long once sighted in. W/o a doubt, the best value out there today in red dot scopes. Hinge cover broke off rear cover, called UTG, they sent not 1 but 4 replacement rear covers w/in a few days!

  6. I have an AK47 7.62x39mm and I have a riser under the scope so I can shoot with either the red/green dot or the iron sights. The key is to make sure the screws are tight on the rail before and after you shoot. If they are loose it will create a problem. If you tighten them down real good they generally will hold very well. Have never shot a 308 with that scope so that would be my advice to you.

  7. I am the owner of a Cetme Sporter .308 made by Century arms, I have read articles about the weapon, problems with the mounting system causing too much pressure when clamped to the upper interfering with the bolt travel. Heavy recoil of the weapon causing the clamp to move. I am not sure if the type of sight is what is needed. The price sounds good and the reviews sound good as well. Your advice would be welcome. My eye sight is not what it use to be. Thank for any assistance.

    1. James,

      I do not know anything about the Cetme other than having seen a picture. But I use red dot sights exclusively, principally because of my eyesight. I can just about read a news paper laying on the floor while standing upright but I cannot see the reticule on a scope that has magnification without glasses, which messes up aiming somewhat. No problem with the red dot. Do not need glasses and can see the target just fine. If you have “old eyes”, let me encourage you to try the red dot sight. Works great for me.

  8. I have had one on my 870 tactical for three years now. It has held up great. Never needs adjustment. For the price I love it.

  9. I picked up one of these about a year ago for my M4, and I have to say, everybody that sees it just assumes it’s some sort of fairly pricey optic. This thing seems heavy duty in its construction, functions very well, and even has a “cool factor” in its appearance on the rifle (lol). I did not set mine up on any kind or risers, so some might find mine to be “too low”, ergonomically, but I intentionally wanted to keep the entire rig very lean, very slick for certain thick environments and heavy terrain. The only (at least at this point) slightly negative observation I’d have is that even at low power there is a bit of a “star burst” aura around the red dot, particularly at night, which could hamper overall sight picture under those conditions. But I believe some extra nighttime practice with it might overcome some of this tendency.
    OVERALL: nicest, toughest-made, inexpensive electronic optic I’ve worked with. Not perfect, but for the price it’s a “no brainer”.

  10. Loved this tip for affordable optic; wish that CTD would have had a good stock of the item, as it is not available when I click to shop, and not available for backorder…so I wait for an email of availability…?
    Next time might want to wait before you promote a great product that you can’t sell me.
    Thanks for all y’all do though, keep up the good work.

    1. RockinRule,

      We had a good stock when the article was published! We will see about getting more or a substitute soon. ~Dave Dolbee

  11. I don’t know who the owners of Leapers/UTG atre, but I gotta’ hand it to them. I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve bought from them, and its surprising how many different items they manufacture and put out on the market. Hell, I’ve got tactical vests, sling adapters, scopes, red-dots, just o name a few. Nice thing about them is they seem to be an exception to the old rub “Ya’ get what ya’ pay for” as I’ve never had a gripe about anything I’ve bought made by them. I wish they made a damned 4-wheel drive truck

  12. I use the UTG sites on my ar15, ak47, sks and mini 14 and they are spot on.
    I am a believer that you do not have to pay big bucks to get good quality items.
    Most of my rifles were around $600 and all shoot very well.

  13. Some years ago, I suffered a change in my eye sight. We hunted as a family and we had one son who was allergic to the additives in most store bought meats. Of course, he was a meat eater of the first order. Deer and elk hunting assumed an almost religious proportion to get his year’s meat. We hunted as a family and developed a nearly sure fire tactic. We hunted primarily black tail deer in western Oregon. Terribly brushy, and thick, often very steep and always wet. Since there were 6 hunters, we had 6 tags to fill and often we had “hair tags” (any sex), sometimes in addition to our regular tags.
    Our standard tactic was for me to drop off our sons (5 of them) on an upper logging road and for me to drive to a lower choke point area on another, lower road. I would set up there and the boys would drive down hill through the draws and canyons. On any given day in our preferred areas, it was almost always a sure thing. Often the harvest on a Saturday might be 2 or even three deer. That worked fine for some years as I killed whatever they drove out of the canyons, without fail. Usually the deer were moving at a somewhat leisurely walk and it made the shooting as they crossed the lower road, generally between 100 and 200 yards no particularly big deal.
    My rifle of choice was a Browning BAR 30-06 with a Bausch & Lomb Balvar 8A 2&1/2 to 8 power variable scope with a tapered cross hair and all the adjustments in the bases of the scope. However, as my eyes changed, a terrible thing happened. I started to miss the deer. That was bad from my point of view. It was terrible from my sons point of view. They had been beating Oregon grape, blackberry tangles and very wet and steep terrain, scrambling often from one incredibly wet slippery log to another. It was one thing to arrive at the road, wet, cold and miserable with a deer or two on the ground. It was quite another to arrive at the lower road, wet, cold and miserable to learn I had missed everything they drove out. Of course, I was not far with the truck and the thermoses of hot coffee and hot chocolate my wife had prepared. The boys were upset as any teenagers can be. Interrupted sleep on Friday night, cold and miserably wet Saturday hike through chest high berry brush and nothing to show for it.
    I consulted with a good friend who was a full time commercial pilot and part time gun smith and competitive shooter. Red dot sights were just coming into fashion for competitive shooters. He fitted my rifle with a Tasco PDP II 5MOA red dot, zero magnification sight. I sighted it in for dead on at 200 yards with my favorite load.
    The first time out, I dropped 3 deer driven to me, two does and a yearling forked horn buck. All was once again right in the world.
    I have hunted with that or a similar arrangement for at least 30 years now and have no problems with it whatsoever, except for one mentioned below. I have killed blacktail and mule deer, elk and moose with that sight or similar ones. The only problem was in dim light, shooting near the end of the day at a moose under a tree canopy. The dot, even on the lowest setting of illumination, flared and made accurate shooting difficult. My solution was to mount Warn quick detachable bases and use my red dot sight during the bright daylight and a low power Leupold scope in the very early morning and late afternoon. I could interchange the two with no change in zero. I sewed a case that looped on to my belt out of saddle skirting leather that would hold either sight.
    Some hunters felt that I was at a disadvantage, not having the benefit of magnification available. I disagreed. I had shot with a Navy team, shooting both a .30 M1 and an M1 NATO (7.62X51mm). We routinely shot out to 600 yards with open sights and would hold a decent group prone at 600 yards. We even shot out to 1,000 yards when shooting “rattle battle” with the Army. No magnification and and 8 or 9 inch group was pretty common at 600 yards by most of the shooters, some better.
    I have shot deer at well over 200 yards and an elk at well over 300 yards with my red dot sights. Magnification, for me, precludes my ability to shoot with both eyes open. I can’t hit S— on running game unless I can have both eyes open and no magnification. Then, I can do right well, as my sons and several friends can attest.
    On the issue of recoil, my M77 Ruger in .338 Win Mag wears a red dot and has taken several moose and several elk. I sight in every year and hunt with the same 250 gr bullet commercial load and the rifle will rattle your teeth. However, the red dot sight is just fine after years of service.
    I can now afford more exotic and fantastic sights. But, my arrangement works and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  14. I picked one up back in 2011 for use on my daughter’s Colt M4 (AR-22). Based on the price I assumed it was only good for light duty, which is why I’ve only ever tried it on her .22. However, based on this article it is good to know it can be placed on higher powered weaponry should the need arise.

    I can’t speak to this sight’s durability given my daughter is rather easy on this rifle. She uses our other assorted 5.56’s to run drills of abuse on instead.

    This past year I threw a 7x flip-to-side magnifier behind this Leaper’s sight and was surprised to find they function quite well together. However, I am still trying to convince my daughter this combo can effectively replace her scope.

    As stated, I purchased my daughter’s in 2011 but don’t see any difference in the one from this article. Just curious as to what changes have occurred to warrant 4 “Gen” versions. There does not appear to be any markings anywhere to distinguish which “Gen” version I have anyway.

    Overall nice dot sight for the price.

    1. Finding quite a bit of satisfaction with some of the higher end UTC optic products led me to read this since I am looking for a larger diameter red dot for use on a twelve gage Vepr auto feeding shotgun and an alternative for a magnified tube on an M1A.
      Any application is going to be separated from picatinny slots by a quick-release mount
      One of my other Leapers products has locking screws that allow for a return to zero function that would be particularly nice in a situation where swapping the red dot between arms was occurring.
      I think I’ll buy one for no other reason than comparison to a few other candidates out there like some by Leatherwood, and the much pricier Sig-Tac version of a popular almost-ACOG that I’ve seen. .

    2. G, I’m a paper & steel recreational shooter. Not wanting to spend the big bucks on the Leupolds, ACOGs, Aimpoints, I had previously purchased some of Leapers/UTG accessories like mounts, rails, etc. I also own a Vortex Strikefire and a Lucid HD7 red dot. I run everything up to a Marlin 30-30 as far as rifles. Turning 60 next birthday, iron sights for me are a thing of the past. Then I decided to try the product reviewed as well some of their 3-9 scopes for longer ranges. Now I’m never going to be shooting over 200 yds. with my gear and I haven’t owned the Leapers products for 20 years, but with the price point/quality of all of their products, I can replace any of my scopes/red dots three or four times over. I reluctantly slapped on one of their Bug Buster series (3-9) on my Marlin 336 30-30, and had it zeroed in 4-5 shots and it hasn’t budged. My 12ga is a CQG defensive 18.5″ barrel but if I hunted ducks with a longer barrel, I wouldn’t hesitate giving the Leapers products a try. They sure don’t feel like a budget throwaway but there sure are priced like it.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Discover more from The Shooter's Log

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading