Maven B Series Review
The Maven B series binoculars offer premium optic performance at a reasonable price point
I became familiar with the original Maven 10X42 B.1 binocular when they were introduced years ago, and found the B.1 to be a durable binocular with better-than-expected optics at the $1000 price point. To see how the new B.6 and B 1.2 compared, I tested them through the duration of Montana’s elk seasons for this Maven B series review, and I found them to once again outperform their price points.
Recently, Maven added the B.6 and B1.2 to their binocular line. They offer the B.6 in 10X50 and 12X50 at $1,050 at $1,100, respectively, direct from their website. The redesigned B1.2 replaces the original B.1 in the lineup in traditional configurations of 8X42 and 10×42 and price points of $950 and $1000. For an additional charge, Maven optics will customize the B.6 and B1.2 with armor in popular camouflage patterns, and custom colors for accents on the barrels, oculars, and focus knobs.
Maven B.6 and B1.2 Specs and Features
The B.6 and B1.2 share design elements. Both feature full rubber armoring over a sturdy and light magnesium frame and use three-position, twist-up eyecups that can be removed for easy cleaning. Also, the eyecups collapse and allow those with glasses the full field of view in both models. The focus wheels are sharply knurled aluminum and provide a highly engaged, almost biting feel with bare fingers and confident purchase with gloves. Both focus knobs are buttery smooth and provide easy one finger operation. The diopter adjustment doesn’t lock, but it stays firmly in place at the user’s desired setting. Both have a center hinge threaded for 1/4-20 accessories like tripod adapters. A neat feature with many Maven optics is the objective barrels are threaded, so you can add an appropriate lens filter for extra protection or a polarizer for glassing into water. Both models have smooth, cylindrical barrels without thumb indents, which provides a comfortable, confident grip, even one handed. Despite the size and length differences between the 12X50 B.6 and 10X42 B1.2, the shared design elements make for a similar ergonomic feel and operation for both models.
The B.6 and B1.2 come with the standard rubber objective covers, rubber ocular cover, soft microfiber bag/case, and a padded neoprene strap that has side-release buckles for quick detachment. If you’re like me and you already have a preferred chest harness, you’ll probably leave these in the box.
Testing the Maven B Series in the Field
I received the Maven B.6 12x50s just in time for a backcountry archery elk hunt in Montana. While binos probably aren’t the first piece of gear one requires for an archery elk hunt, the 12×50 proved extremely useful for this hunt, because I spent a lot of time near the treeline glassing from highpoints for elk that were unusually (and unfortunately) quiet for that week of the season.
Having the reach of a sharp 12x binocular was helped in these situations. I used the B.6 mounted on a tripod to make the most of that extra magnification. At nearly two miles, I was able to pick out elk filtering through timber just under the treeline and even some mountain goats above them. Center resolution was excellent, but the edges were a little soft. Occasionally, I could see straight lines bend near the edge of the field from pincushion distortion, but this wasn’t much of a problem while hunting, and it eliminated any rolling ball effect while panning. The color bias fell on the warm side, showing a preference for yellows and oranges. Color fringing from chromatic aberration was slightly present in the center of the image and increased noticeably at the edge.
Towards dusk, the B.6 admirably extended the amount of time I could peer into the shadows of opposing hillsides looking for the tan rumps of elk moving to feed at night. Low light performance was excellent, if not almost comparable to the $3000-and-up Euro competitors.
I still hadn’t punched my Montana Elk Tag when the General Season rolled around, so I traded my bow and Maven B.6 for my rifle and the Maven B1.2. I spent much of the season searching for bulls on horseback, and the new, compact Maven B1.2 fit my medium sized hands well. The small size also kept it away from the saddle horn while I dodged branches on the trail, but this size reduction didn’t adversely affect the optical performance. In fact, the B1.2 improved on the B.1 in just about every regard. The B1.2 provides a very neutral, bright, sharp image with a wide sweet spot. I spent hours picking apart distant clearcuts, bottoms, and meadows. Chromatic aberration control was better than average at this price point and competitive with models costing much more, which makes these some of the best binoculars for the money. When I peered into snowy, burnt timber, some minor color fringing was visible at the very edge of the field, but the center was blissfully sharp and aberration free. Overall, the wide, bright, and sharp B1.2 image provided a pleasant viewing experience in the Montana elk woods.
What The Maven B.6 Does Worst
I did find a few places where the B.6 and B1.2 could improve. Color Fringing from chromatic aberration occurred in the B.6, which reduces the apparent sharpness and contrast in some conditions. The ergonomics of the basic round barrel design is fine, but some competitors have sculpted barrels that feel better in the hand.
There is little to complain about in the optical performance of the B1.2. There is a small amount of visible color fringing at the very edge of the field, but this is offset by the wide field of view. There are pros and cons to the ergonomics as well. The extremely short barrel design is convenient, but users with big hands may run out of real estate, especially if they leave a tripod mounting stud/adapter in place for general use. Unlike the deep objective of the B.6, the B1.2 is quite shallow and provides less shade and a higher risk of damage to the objective lenses.
What The Maven B.6 and B1.2 Do Best
The list of strong points for the B.6 and B1.2 is long and varied. Maven’s quality is sufficient to inspire confident use under the challenging conditions of backcountry hunting. The ability to easily mount both models on a tripod is a real advantage for long, stationary glassing sessions. This is especially true when you need to steady the view on the higher magnification 12×50 B.6. Good oleophobic exterior coatings and the removable eyecups made cleaning a breeze after the hunt. Great ergonomics and smooth, positive focus knobs make these binos a joy to hold, too.
Optically, the 12X50 B.6 is at its best in low light with crisp, apparent brightness. It has a sharp centerfield, wide-for-the-class field of view, and excellent depth of field for a 12x binocular. The deep recess of the threaded objective acts like a sunshade and protects the objective lenses from damage.
The B1.2 has a ridiculously wide field of view. This proved beneficial when I glassed a group of small bulls 1,500 yards across a canyon and noticed a bigger bull further down the ridge near the edge of the binocular’s field of view. That bull wouldn’t have been in the field of view with most 10X42s. The image is also impressively sharp and free of aberrations for most of the field of view. Great low-light performance and glare control round out what the B1.2 does best.
Final Thoughts on the Maven B Series
Maven continues to give hunters fairly-priced, high-performance options for hard hunting. These Maven binoculars are built tough, have the features hunters want, and optics that perform above their price tags.
The B.6 provides hunters a well-built, high-performance 12X50 binocular at a reasonable price. While the optics aren’t perfect, the 12-power image is still pretty good, and shows a lot of long-distance detail.
The Maven B1.2 is the standout star of these two new models. Maven managed to subtract bulk and add performance without increasing the price from the original B.1. Hunters will have to look into the $3,000 range for binoculars that perform better than the new Maven B series.