TFB Review: The Maven S.3 - A More Flexible Way To Do Spotting Scopes

Luke C.
by Luke C.

Spotting scopes are really handy tools for a variety of shooting disciplines. Whether you’re carrying one along for better target identification, or just trying to get a read on where your shots are going on long-distance targets, spotting scopes can help you and a friend fill in the missing important visual data for the next shot. Maven Optics makes their optics all over the world, including the United States. Their S series of optics including the Maven S.3 that we’re talking about today are assembled in San Diego, California from Japanese components and then shipped to the company’s headquarters in Lander, Wyoming for their final quality control inspection. What makes them a more budget-friendly brand is their “direct to consumer” business model which cuts out the retailer and therefore a significant portion of the added costs of sales. Today we’ll be checking out what I think is one of the more flexible options in the Maven spotting scope lineup - the Maven S.3A interchangeable lens spotting scope.

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TFB Review: The Maven S.3 - A More Flexible Way To Do Spotting Scopes

“The S.3 builds upon the excellence of our original premium S Series spotting scope glass and performance and takes it to the next level in both size and form factor. The S.3, featuring a more compact design and a detachable eyepiece, offers an excellent balance between portability and performance. Positioned between our full-sized S.1 and the popular ultra-compact S.2, the S.3 20-40x67mm provides a high-powered solution across a wide range of magnification levels with a smaller objective lens.


  • Premium Model
  • Size: 4.2 in. (Zoom); 2.9 in (Reticle)
  • Weight: 12.9 oz (Zoom); 8.3 oz (Reticle)
  • Fully Multi-Coated Lenses
  • Exceptionally Clear, Bright, High Contrast Image
  • Excellent Color Fidelity
  • Waterproof and Fog Proof
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Direct to Consumer / No Retail Markup”

The Maven S.3 is both compact and large at the same time. While the length of the spotting scope is quite short for its objective size, the objective lens itself is a nice high-quality 67mm fluorite glass lens. While I had initially expected this optic to weigh close to 5 lbs because of the lens size, the aluminum, polymer, and magnesium construction keeps the whole rig fairly lightweight at 3.75 lbs (60oz).

While there is the option to pick a more expensive and non-reticle 20-40 zoom lens, I opted to go with the fixed 24mm reticle lens to complement my variable magnification Maven CS.1 15-45 spotting scope. Both spotting scopes do their respective jobs well but the much more expensive Maven S.3 has the major advantage of being an all-in-one solution. If you need variable magnification, you can spend a couple hundred dollars on the zoom lens, and swap them out very quickly.

Glass Quality and Features

When comparing this to my maven CS.1 spotting scope, there is a world of difference. The high-quality Japanese glass combined with the massive 67mm objective lens gives you a very good crisp image full of contrast. This really helps when spotting hits on paper targets for a friend, or when you’re just trying to get some high-quality photos of critters in the woods. I look through so many different “budget” optics that sometimes I forget what good glass looks like - the Maven S.3 and the 24mm ocular lens are a perfect example of what I’d call “good glass.”

One of the most important qualities for me in a good spotting scope is the ease and smoothness at which I can focus the lens. The large heavily knurled focus wheel on the S.3 allows you to quickly, effortlessly and smoothly get focused in, and this focus can be further refined using the attached eyepiece.


Both the MOA and MIL versions of the S.3 reticles feature a wide range of subtensions for both windage and hold-over elevation. The S.3’s reticles do not feature hold-under subtensions and the main advantage of this is that it makes it much easier to keep an eye on the trace of your bullet as it travels to the target, giving you some indication of its behavior and what to do to for subsequent shots. An additional benefit of this reticle design is that it can double as a good observation area if you’re not needing to use the reticle for ranging and spotting information.

Lens Swaps

The lens swapping feature is fairly straightforward if you’ve ever operated any sort of DSLR camera or a modern telescope with swappable eyepieces. Both the eyepiece and the spotting scope body feature red dots indicating where the two pieces should line up. A quick 1/3rd turn clockwise sets the detachable lens in place, then a counter-clockwise rotation until a click will lock your eyepiece in place. While this is certainly a handy feature, be aware that the major drawback of this system is that it’s not resistant to fog on the eyepiece - similar to how your DSLR lenses or telescope eyepieces will fog up when going from a cool dry place to a warm humid palace. All that being said, the S.3 is still waterproof, you’ll just have to make sure you dry everything off well before you start using it again.

Other Features

The Maven S.3 features an included ARCA-compatible tripod mount, this mount also features 1/4-20 UNC threads for screw-type attachment to tripods and other mounting rigs. The integrated ARCA mount is a fairly large piece on the S3 and makes up a fair portion of the body of the spotting scope. This is because you can loosen a small thumbscrew on the right-hand side of the optic and then rotate the body of the spotting scope into several different positions. This allows you to use the spotting scope from a wider variety of angles even with the angled eyepiece (straight eyepiece models are also available).

The S.3 also includes an integrated sun shade which comes in handy in those situations where the sun is shining almost directly into the optic - the sunshade will simply allow you to use the optic in case your shooting lane at the range happens to be facing towards the sun when you go to sight in your rifle.

Final Thoughts

The Maven S.3 is one of the more expensive spotting scopes I’ve had the opportunity of reviewing totaling out at $1,600 as configured in this review. The variant featuring the fixed 24x magnification reticle makes sense for me this summer as I’m going to be doing a lot of 100-yard zeroing and grouping. Having a fixed magnification spotting scope will give you and your spotter a more comfortable time when sitting behind an optic for repeated strings of slow fire. If you’re only interested in having the clearest image possible, and being able to adjust your field of view for targets at various distances, the zoom lens would be the more logical choice but would run you an additional $200. If you want everything then you can simply just purchase whatever lens you’re missing directly from Maven for between $300-$500. For comparison, the very compact but very expensive Leupold Mark 4 12-40x60 spotting scope is $2,800 but has a pretty unforgiving eye box when compared to the maven S.3’s 24mm fixed lens.

So while the Maven S.3 isn’t a true “budget” option, it’s probably one of the better fixed-magnification spotting scopes in its class and I think it would be perfect for the avid bench rest shooter, or just for the man who loves putting groups on paper. The addition of the zoom lens turns the S.3 into a whole different animal and one that I think would be worthy of investing in if your shooting habits are quite broad like mine!

Maven S.3A Spotting Scope

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Luke C.
Luke C.

Reloader SCSA Competitor Certified Pilot Currently able to pass himself off as the second cousin twice removed of Joe Flanigan. Instagram:

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