The Maven B.1 binocular is one of the best binoculars available today. Better yet, the Maven B Series uses premium Japanese components that are assembled by Maven in the United States.
To get us a closer look, Maven sent Man Makes Fire a review unit. This is what we learned:
Maven B.1 Binocular Review
The Maven B.1 10×42 binoculars are something special. First, the Maven B.1 series is built with very high quality glass that delivers a superior optical experience. Second, the overall build quality is outstanding. But there is something more to the Maven B.1, and that is how it all comes together:
The Maven B.1 10×42 binocular is a thing of beauty that delivers beauty. It is impossible not to appreciate.
As for me, I tend to have a utilitarian view of binoculars. I appreciate when they do their job and when they make a difference in a hunting situation. And I appreciate good glass and binos that don’t fail under adverse conditions. But for the elk, deer and turkey hunting I do — and for the hunting that most hunters do, even big game hunters out west — any good 10×42 binocular will handle 90% of what 90% of hunters truly need. Including me.
But once you actually use great optics in the field, it’s hard to go back to anything mediocre. I think this is particularly important as your eyes start to age. Sure, older hunters are more likely to have a bigger hunting budget, but their experience when using great optics might be significantly better than that of younger hunters with younger eyes. Maybe. I’m not an optometrist; I’m just a guy who pays attention and is getting older. That extra, higher-end 10% performance boost is starting to gain much greater meaning for me.
Meanwhile, I’ll say it again. There is something special about the gray and orange Maven B.1 binoculars. The color scheme indicates a high level of design acumen that is immediately backed up by the superior fit and finish. Once you hold them, look through them, and adjust the silky smooth focus wheel to deliver your first tack-sharp view, there’s a great chance you’re going to be surprised.
The B.1s are super clear, super crisp, and deliver an outstanding overall image, particularly in low light.
When I handed the Maven B.1 review unit to my hunting buddy and he looked through them, the first thing he said was the first thing I said: “Wow.” After several hunts in varying conditions, the Maven B.1 10×42 binocular has lived up to the initial wow factor.
Let’s get into a bit more detail.
The Maven B.1 binoculars really shine in low-light situations. I can’t say they are significantly better than the most expensive German-made binoculars, but compared to a few other 10×42 sets I had on hand in the $300-500 price range, there was a noticeable boost in low-light performance, along with noticeably better optical clarity and color. My impression is that they would compete very well with industry-leading binos that cost twice as much as the Mavens — if you’re able to get side-by-side comparisons done in a variety of conditions.
Compared to a similarly priced set of 12×50 binos made in Eastern Europe, the Maven 10×42 B.1 binoculars seemed to have slightly more chromatic aberration vs the 12×50 comparison binocular. Interestingly, despite the very similar exit pupil and outstanding glass and construction in both sets of binoculars, the Maven B.1 seemed crisper and delivered better — or at least, more pleasing — overall color to my eyes. In addition, they seem slightly brighter even though the exit pupil calculations are similar: 4.2 vs 4.17. (A point .03 difference in exit pupil shouldn’t, when taken alone, be noticeable to a guy like me, so the Maven B.1s likely have slightly better glass, coatings, or construction.)
Chromatic aberrations can often be seen as a purplish hue you can see around objects in high-contrast situations at higher magnification levels. It happens when different wavelengths of color don’t converge at exactly the same spot after passing through a lens. There is a lot of give and take in how manufacturers design binoculars, so they might optimize one image factor in favor of another.
To test for chromatic aberrations, you can look through binoculars at a U.S. Air Force black-and-white test chart with a bunch of varying black lines on a white background . . . or you can find a high-contrast subject in the sky. Sometimes if you look at a dark part of a tree against a bright sky, you can see some colorfringing, which is a form of chromatic aberration.
I’ve found that a dark cedar power line pole can do the trick because they have a consistent stark contrast against a light sky. Try it at home and maybe you’ll see some color fringing in your own binos.
All that said, I found the Maven color fringing effect to be smaller than all the inexpensive binos I had on hand. More to the point, the image of the power pole was so good, I found myself examining the weathered cracks in the pole as well as a bird that was sitting on it rather than the slight edge hue I was trying to look for.
Maven is a relatively new and small Wyoming-based optics manufacturer. To compete in a crowded field, the company decided to create a direct-to-consumer sales model. It lets them avoid negotiating with retailers over price points, stock levels, and dealing with distribution. Better yet, it lets Maven offer excellent consumer pricing that still results a reasonable profit margin.
This means you can only buy Maven optics through Maven directly . . . but the company has just now slightly tweaked this model. Maven is selling some of its optics line through Amazon. This means that Amazon holds some Maven optics in stock then sells and ships them on behalf of Maven. Obviously there is a business relationship between Amazon and Maven, but the key for consumers is that the Maven supply chain is still protected by Maven and that customers can benefit from Amazon Prime’s fast and free shipping when they want that.
Still, Maven has been around for several years and has developed a loyal following, no doubt due to the excellent product and customer experience.
Maven B.1 10×42 Specifications
Maven B.1 10×42 Binocular
5″ x 6.2″ x 2.1″
Field of View
341 feet @ 1,000 yards
Fully multi-coated lenses
Twist-up and removable for cleaning
Basically, the Maven B.1 10×42 Binocular uses excellent fully-multicoated Japanese glass with a Schmidt-Pechan roof-prism design. The frame is a durable magnesium, with a slightly tactile armor coating. The insides are nitrogen purged and waterproof and fogproof. The weight is within the average weight range for quality 10×42 binos.
If you’re considering higher-end binoculars, you might run into some questions around the roof prism construction, specifically Schmidt Pechan vs Abbe Koenig — and Maven uses both types of prisms in its B-Series Binoculars.
The short story is this: A Schmidt Pechan design lets you build a shorter, more compact binocular while Abbe Koenig tends to be longer. Abbe Koenig designs are harder to manufacture but tend to deliver a small percentage gain in light transmission. Because of this, they tend to be used in binoculars with larger objective lenses that are intended to maximize low-light viewing.
The downsides to a large Abbe Koenig design is the usually increased size, weight and cost.
If you’re not hunting in wide-open areas, but you do have critical hunting opportunities at dawn and dusk on the sharp edges of legal shooting light, consider going with the 8×42 B.1 option. You’ll get a low-light boost of brightness that might help you avoid more expensive Abbe Koenig roof prism binoculars. How? The increased exit pupil calculation that comes with the 8×42 form factor can help with low-light viewing at closer distances.
Unconditional Lifetime Warranty
The Maven warranty competes with the very best optics warranties in the business: If a Maven ever breaks for any reason, even if you run over it with your pickup, you can return it to Maven for a replacement. That is a huge peace of mind for anyone spending money on great gear.
But it gets better. Maven says that Maven will stand behind a Maven as long as it bears their name. This means that if your Maven binoculars fail your son or daughter in 30 years, Maven will repair or replace them. Gotta love that.
Maven’s Customization Program
Maven has a customization program. For an additional charge, you can customize the body color with a camo pattern. In addition, you can customize the color of the neck strap rings, focus wheel, ocular lens rings, tripod/hinge cap, and labeling. And then you can even have the bino engraved with up to 30 characters. So cool.
The Maven Demo Program
Because you can’t get hands-on experience with a Maven in retail stores, Maven has a handy demo program. Basically, you order a demo unit with your credit card and you’re not charged for two weeks — giving you time to test it out. You can keep the demo unit for a 5% discount or send it back, minus a standard shipping charge. Considering the time and effort and fuel it costs to drive to some retail outlets where you can demo a product, the shipping charge shouldn’t be a hardship.
One note: The Maven B.1 ships in a high-quality box. You get standard rubber lens covers and a good neck strap, which I don’t care about because I use a bino chest pack for access and protection. What you don’t get is a stout protective case — you get a thick cloth bag. Again, this is not an issue for me because I hunt with a bino chest pack. (And I’d rather save a few bucks than pay for a fancy case I would never use.)
Maven Gift Cards
If you’re looking for a hunting binocular as a gift for a hunter — or even a riflescope — you can buy a Maven Gift Card to fit your budget. A gift card will let your hunter choose the binocular power and form factor that best fits their hunting landscape — and lets them potentially customize their binoculars.
Maven B.1 10×42 Review: The Verdict
I’m not going to tell you that a German-made Swarovski, Zeiss, or Leica binocular might not be technically better than the Maven B.1 binos. And I’m not going to tell you that one brand of pickup truck is better than another — because every person has slightly different needs, priorities, and appreciations. What I can tell you is that the value of the Maven B.1 binocular is fantastic. I can also tell you there is something about the B.1 10×42 binoculars that makes a guy like me appreciate them and want to use them. It’ll be a sad day when we ship the Man Makes Fire review unit back to Maven.
Part of my appreciation might be that the overall balance and ergonomics fit my hands and face better than many other binoculars. In fact, the Maven B.1 binoculars have a wide range of adjustability. Even so, there is no doubt that the Maven B.1 10×42 binoculars are simply outstanding. They are a big step up from very good entry-level+ binoculars, and they compete with binoculars that cost quite a bit more. In addition, they are assembled in America. For the vast majority of hunters looking to upgrade their optics, the price-to-value ratio will be hard to beat, and the outstanding unconditional lifetime warranty offers peace-of-mind for decades to come. Very highly recommended.