Spotting scopes range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re paying for. This is especially true if you’re navigating a less-than-ideal hunting budget. For workaday hunters, no purchase is a small purchase. Maven’s direct-to-consumer business model (which I’ve touted in other reviews) allows the brand to offer optics at a lower price than its competitors.
The CS.1A, which runs around $800, is no exception. This 65mm spotter offers good glass (especially at this price range), smooth controls, and a midsize footprint that will suit a range of hunts and budgets. Whether you’re looking for an entry-level spotter or you’re sticking tight to a budget, you’ll get plenty of mileage from the CS.1A.
In short: The Maven CS.1A is a versatile spotting scope that outperforms its price tag and size.
- Weight 40.4 oz.
- Length 11.4 in.
- Frame Magnesium/aluminum
- Objective lens 65mm
- Magnification 15-45x
- Mount Tripod
- Eyepiece Adjustable
- Excellent for the money
- Versatile midsize spotter
- Direct-to-consumer price
- Lifetime warranty
- Clarity drops near max magnification
Maven CS.1A: Review
Testing the Maven CS.1A
I spent several summer scouting sessions glassing behind the CS.1A to assess the controls, optical quality, and its overall ergonomics. The CS.1A performed well in each of these categories, making it a steal for the sub-$1,000 price tag. While $800 is no small investment, those of us on tight budgets will feel like we got our money’s worth.
Controls on the Maven CS.1A move with grace and ease, feeling both tactile and smooth. The adjustable eyepiece allows you to position it at different angles for viewing, and the twist-up eyecup offers plenty of adjustments for magnification and eye relief. While glassing, I noticed that using these controls felt intuitive, and they didn’t stray.
The center focus wheel also turns smoothly and without any grit, but won’t stray if lightly bumped. While the glass on the CS.1A is good, the controls are impressive and play a huge role in making this spotting scope a bargain.
Overall, I think the glass for the CS.1A aligns with its price range. It offers crisp edge-to-edge viewing in normal conditions. It also does an admirable job dispersing light when you’re forced to glass into the sun.
However, the optical quality drops in low light conditions and near its max range (45x). Deer and deer-shaped targets became fuzzy in both low lighting and at 65x. The edges also became a bit blurry in low light settings. Though, most spotters, even those that cost twice as much, will blur near their max ranges, so that is to be expected. Still, the sight picture in the CS.1A during normal conditions looks delicious, and there weren’t any glaring chromatic aberrations.
When it comes to price, size, and applicability, the CS.1A hits the sweet spot. The 65mm objective is a versatile size that should feel at home on either side of the Mississippi. It’s not large by industry standards, but it still won’t feel like a brick if you’re worried about counting ounces in the backcountry — as long as you’re tactful about your tripod choice. The CS.1A also includes a tripod mount, though it could be a little more substantial.
The magnesium/aluminum frame helps cut down the CS.1A’s weight, and it provides a rugged outer shell that’s made for in-the-field rigors.
What the Maven CS.1A Does Best
Versatility and decent glass make the Maven CS.1A a bargain at $800. The 15-45x fits a ton of different hunting scenarios, and the do-it-all hunter could use this for everything from whitetails in farm land to elk in the backcountry. It has more than enough reach to spot a buck in the back of a beanfield but won’t eat up space in your hunting pack come elk season.
Where the Maven CS.1A Can Improve
Though budget-friendly, the CS.1A’s performance at max magnification isn’t surprising. Objects near its max range, especially at long distances, become blurry, and counting points goes out the window. However, most spotting scopes that run less than a few grand do this, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
If you need to maximize your budget, you’ll be quite pleased with this goldilocks spotter. Maven’s direct-to-consumer business model makes the CS.1A quietly surprising and more than capable for the workaday hunter. I’m a firm believer in affordable, versatile hunting gear, and this spotting scope earns its keep.