When I first heard of Maven Optics with their direct to consumer approach, the cliche image of a shady character on the street corner selling “Rolex” watches out of his trench coat instantly came to mind. (Raspy voice) “Psst, hey you. Looking for a scope?”. Upon further reflection, I realized in our current era of globalization and internet sales, the direct to consumer structure can really work. However, I remained skeptical. I knew with the direct to consumer model the company could provide more scope to the end user for the same amount of money since the price didn’t get marked up each time it changed hands from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer. I knew Maven could do this but would they with their RS1?
The RS1, or Rifle Scope 1, was designed as a high-performance hunting scope. Its feature set lends itself well to this application. The close focusing parallax and wide zoom range are both things I wish I had had while living in Southeast Alaska hunting Sitka Blacktail. I realized quickly a fixed 10x on top of a 7mm rem mag was not the appropriate setup for this brushy country. Once, I had to take a shot at 15 yards where I all I could see was a brown fur that was a slightly lighter shade than the tree bark around it. I made a successful headshot, but it was much less than ideal. After that experience, I switched to a 45-70 with a red dot on top. This was better in the brushy bear country, but it limited me when I got up into the alpine area. Had I been using the RS1 I could have set the zoom down at 2.5x and the parallax at 25 yards for the dense areas and cranked it up to 15x and dialed out any parallax error for the longer shots encountered above treeline.
The ability to focus down to 10 yards also makes this scope suitable for another application, rimfire rifles. Now I hear some of you balking, “I can buy a rimfire scope that works just fine for under $100.” That may be true in most cases, but in the emerging field of rimfire competition matches like the NRL 22, which is a blast, targets can be as small as ¼ inch, meaning those with superior glass will definitely have a competitive advantage. I have been using this scope on a TC-R 22 for the past few weeks and the combination has been a tack driver, literally. I shot out the staples holding my target up at 30 yards. This setup is a perfect example of the doctrine I subscribe to of spending more money on your scope than your rifle. “If you can’t see it you can’t hit it.”
Features and Specs:
Straight from Maven’s website (https://shop.mavenbuilt.com/collections/stock-optics/products/rs-1): The new RS.1 features a generous 2.5X – 15X zoom and a first focal plane reticle, meaning your holdovers are accurate at the lowest power, the highest power…and everywhere in between. In simple terms, this means whether you choose our proprietary MOA-1 Reticle or our SHR (Simplified Holdover Reticle), you won’t need separate calculations depending on power. We use ED glass for true color rendering and maximum light transmission through a 44mm objective lens, and we offer some of the best eye relief in the business. On the outside, we have capped MOA turrets with 0.25 MOA per click, a precise side parallax adjustment, and buttery smooth zoom adjustments. The durable anodizing resists wear, and the precision-milled adjustments are easy to grab with gloves on those cold late-season mornings. With a broad magnification range, top-level optical performance, and accessories like a protective objective lens filter, the RS.1 can top any gun in your safe, and maybe even give you an excuse to buy a few more.
For the full spec sheet visit https://shop.mavenbuilt.com/collections/stock-optics/products/rs-1
As soon as I got the RS1 in hand I started playing with the knobs. It may seem a little superficial to start the evaluation of a scope with how the adjustments feel, kind of like judging a book by its cover. Let me tell you something though, when I am in the grocery store and see a book cover with a young man whose shirt is half unbuttoned and his long hair blowing in the wind I know that is not the book for me. The same goes for scopes with mushy clicks, clicks that land between hash marks, or clicks that sound and feel significantly different in one direction versus the other. I have yet to come across a scope that felt and sounded good, but completely failed to perform, so while it is not the determining factor of a scopes quality it is usually a telling one. In the case of the RS1, the clicks were audible, tactile and consistent with each click landing on a hash mark. Later testing, both with a live-fire box text as well as the scope tracking base from Targets USA, showed this scope to track 100% correct to 30 MOA.
I am not a fan of “calibrated” or “ballistic” reticles simply because those calibrations are usually only correct with one load at one set of atmospheric conditions. Same goes for ballistic turrets. With that in mind, I chose to review the MOA reticle version of the RS1 from Maven. The reticle is set in the first focal plane meaning the subtensions in the reticle are correct across the entire zoom range. At 15x the subtensions are very usable and easy to identify. I commend Maven for including wind hold offs. Another design feature I enjoyed was the crosshaired diamonds at 10, 20 and 30 MOA. These allowed me to use the center of the diamond as an aiming point vs just covering the target as a typical mildot would. Even though the space between the hashes is correct at 2.5x it is not usable since the reduced zoom causes the reticle to appear very far away. Maven has done a good job working around this issue though. They have used 2 MOA wide portions for a heavy duplex style at the 3,6 and 9 o’clock positions, which gives a similar picture to the popular German #4 reticle. These thick bars do a very good job at drawing the eye to the center of the sight picture and allowing for quick well aimed off hand shots. The last thing I appreciate about this reticle configuration is it leaves the top half of the reticle clear for scanning and target identification, while still providing me with all of the hold-over/off capabilities I look for in the bottom half.
Performance in the Field:
Performance on collimator or a bench top tracking tester is one thing but it is something else completely to use a scope in the field, so instead of the looking at the USAF resolution test chart, I started looking at leaves, pine needles and dull grey steel targets partially obscured by foliage. After many hours of viewing over numerous days, I can say with confidence this scope provides optical quality rivaling its more expensive competitors. In the durability department, I have no question this scope is well made. It vibrated in the car for over 1000 miles, rode in a few different backpacks and may have even bumped a tree or two, but through all of that, it never lost its zero.
Choosing a scope is a little like choosing a vehicle. You first need to take an objective look at what you are trying to do with it, then what features will help you reach that goal. Finally, look at your budget and see who has an offering with said features within your price range. With both scopes and cars, consumers can be tremendously brand loyal. I know more than one hunter that will only go out with a gold ring on his scope, and that is fine, but for those that are willing to look at something new, here is my take on what the RS1 has to offer.
The scope itself isn’t bringing anything revolutionary or “game-changing” to the market, no Bluetooth connectivity, no onboard range finding or ballistic solving capabilities, just a solid well thought out hunting oriented scope with very good glass and coatings, high-quality components and a good reticle at a reasonable price. What Maven as a company is doing different, however, is eliminating markups from the wholesaler to the dealer and the dealer to the consumer and putting some of that money back into the scope itself. How much of that money goes back into the scope and how good a value is it? Well, that is for you to determine, and fortunately, you can. Maven, knowing it is important to let people actually see, feel and try a product have set up a 2-week demo program (https://shop.mavenbuilt.com/collections/demo-units) in which you can see for yourself if their optics are right for you.