I got started in precision rifle shooting when it was common logic that if you paid less than $50 for scope rings you shouldn’t expect to get much out of them. Thankfully, modern machining processes have improved to the point where that’s becoming less and less the case. Now I strongly advocate that you should buy the best equipment that you can afford but I also realize that in the real world we’re often working with tight budgets. Back in the spring, I found myself in this situation while looking for a set of rings that could live on a shelf until I needed them for rifle or scope reviews. I was trying to keep my spending to under $100 and that’s when I more or less stumbled across the UTG Pro POI rings while cruising the interwebs.
I know what a lot of you are probably thinking at this moment. The UTG brand is likely to elicit some pretty negative connotations about this product’s quality and origin. Don’t let that fool you though, the UTG Pro line is designed, manufactured, and assembled in Michigan and I can tell you that the quality is pretty amazing for the price.
Design and Construction
The first thing that I noticed about the rings is the surprising level of fit and finish. The ring caps have a slightly domed top with very clean lines that flow down perfectly to where it meets the main ring body. The sides of the ring caps and the edges of the main body have a radius so there are no sharp or uneven edges, lending to its good looks.
Both the main body and ring caps are made from 6061-T6 aluminum, a material that’s commonly used to make scope mounts because it is lightweight and strong. Lower quality aluminum rings will often have a keeper that’s made from the same material as the main body. On the Pro rings, this keeper is actually made from 4605 steel so there is steel on steel contact when you tighten down the cross bolt.
When fully tightened, the cross bolt and keeper sit almost flush with the main body of the scope rings. All of the fasteners also use the same T-25 bit so only one tool is needed to tighten everything down instead of having to switch between different bits.
The UTG Pro rings also have an integral recoil lug on the bottom of the ring to engage the rail slot and the cross-bolt threads directly into the main body.
Instead of using a Type-II anodized finish that is normally found on less expensive rings and bases, the Pro rings use a Type-III hard anodizing. Type-III hard anodizing penetrates deeper into the aluminum to create a very durable, abrasion-resistant finish. Type III anodizing is used throughout the firearms world on AR-15 receivers, tactical handguards, weapon lights, and optics. The matte black finish is very consistent and matched up well with the anodized finish on my Nightforce and Vortex scopes.
At the time of this writing, I’ve used these rings extensively on review rifles but before I ever dropped my scope into them I had to make sure they weren’t going to do more harm than good. To check this I attached both rings to the integral rail of a Performance Center TCR22 that I was reviewing. This ensured there would be a minimal amount of runout in the base that could affect the ring’s alignment. When I torqued the ring caps down to 18 in/lbs on my Wheeler alignment bars, the conical ends were lined up perfectly. This told me they were machined concentrically like a quality set of rings should be and they wouldn’t otherwise damage my scope.
The wide footprint of the rings provides plenty of clamping force to keep the scope in place under recoil. Out of the hundreds of rounds fired, miles of getting bounced around in vehicles, and use on multiple rifles, if the scope was going to come loose I feel it would have by now. The smooth anodized finish and fine machining also contributed to the lack of any ring marks when I did finally take my Vortex scope out of the rings for examination. A quick wipe down with a rag and you would be hard-pressed to tell if the scope was ever mounted up at all.
The only downside that I can find with the rings is that they aren’t available in as low a height as some of its contemporaries. However, with so many rifles now coming with adjustable cheek rests and the easy availability of an aftermarket cheek riser I don’t see it as much of an issue.
The heights of the scope rings listed above are measured from the top of the Picatinny rail to the centerline of the scope when mounted. The height ranges should work out with most long-range rifle and optic combinations that are currently popular.
I’m not so foolhardy as to say that these rings are as good as the sets of Nightforce and Badger Ordnance rings that I have on my other optics. That being said, they are pretty good in most respects and they fulfilled their role very well. If you ignore the UTG branding for a moment, I believe you’ll see these rings for what they are, a quality piece of Made in the USA hardware that’s a very good value. As much as I‘d like to have Nightforce and Badger Ordnance gear on all of my optics, like a lot of people I simply can’t afford that. The UTG Pro rings offer a lot of bang for the buck for the shooting community at large.