ATA Arms is a Turkish gunmaker based in Istanbul. The company was founded in 1955 as a family-owned business and today makes bolt-action rifles, semi-auto shotguns, over/under shotguns, pumpguns and even air guns. The products are sold worldwide. In the US, Foxtrot, LLC, in Elbridge, New York, handles the O/Us and kindly supplied us with a test gun.
With the advent of modern CNC machinery, Turkish guns have come a long way. It’s really just the amount of handwork, metal choices and designs that separate shotgun makers now. Since the Turkish coin of the realm is the Turkish Lira and most of Europe uses the more expensive Euro, Turkish workers come at a lower price. Designs are something else, but many of the best proven shotgun designs, particularly in O/Us and side-by-sides, long have been out of patent and are available for production by anyone.
Our ATA test gun is the Elegant Sideplate Game Gun in 28" 12 gauge. It retails for $1,175. Foxtrot carries ATA SP Game Guns in seven models, ranging from a plain black unengraved version for $875 to a hand-engraved sideplated Deluxe model for $2,950. Our sample is in the middle. The guns are all identical mechanically and come in 12 gauge with 28" or 30" barrels. A 20-gauge is expected in 2021.
When you look at the action, the first word that comes to mind is “Beretta.” Like the 680 series, it is a triggerplate with the top tang integral with the steel action and the trigger a separate piece. The trigger is removable by a gunsmith on this SP field gun, but the triggers on the SP Trap and Sporting guns are hand-detachable. The lockup is pure Beretta, with its U-shaped locking latch pins engaging holes on either side of the monoblock midway up. Hinging is via the same replaceable trunnions on the receiver’s inside front engaging cut-outs on the sides of the monoblock. It also has the same ejector cocking rods running out the bottom of the receiver. I compared it carefully to a Beretta 680 Essential action exterior, and you really can’t see any difference. It looks exactly the same.
The inside of the action does differ. It has the same basic layout as the Beretta, with the hammers pivoting on the triggerplate and driven by low-mounted horizontal springs, but the ATA’s sears are suspended from the top strap, whereas the Beretta’s are mounted on the triggerplate. The ATA’s interior is a bit busier, too, perhaps because the ATA’s trigger is mechanical, not inertial. The trigger will drop the hammer each time it is pulled and does not need recoil from the first shot to set the second sear. In addition to the trigger being mechanical, as a safety feature it is set up so that the hammers can’t be dropped unless the opening lever is fully closed.
Trigger pulls on our gun were 6¾ pounds on both the top and bottom barrels. The trigger is fixed and not adjustable for length of pull. There was a very slight amount of take-up, and then the trigger pull broke crisply with minimal overtravel. While these pulls might seem a bit heavy for a target gun, they are within the safe range for a field gun where the shooter has less control over his environment and falls are possible. Also, since the gun was new, pull weights often slacken over time. It is interesting to note that the SP Sporter models, designed for clay shooting, come with removable triggers that are adjustable for trigger-pull weights. The SP Game Guns lack these features.
The one-piece safety/barrel selector is more Browning than Beretta in that pushing it fore and aft operates the safety, while barrel selection is made by moving the safety laterally when the safety is in the “safe” position. Barrel selection cannot be changed with the safety in “fire” position. The safety automatically engages when the gun is opened. For a field gun, this is considered a safety feature. The ATA Sporter model safeties do not automatically engage.
The exterior of the Elegant’s steel action is a matte silver gray with detachable decorative sideplates. The entire action is fully engraved in a shallow tight scroll pattern mechanically applied. The actions of the other six SP Game Guns range from plain black or silver with no sideplates to engraved silver actions with and without sideplates.
The O/U barrels are also reminiscent of Beretta. The auto ejectors built into the monoblock are exactly the same as on the Beretta 680. Our gun’s chrome-lined bores measured .724" bottom and .728" tapering to .725" at the muzzle on top. The forcing cones in front of the 3" chambers were quite short at ½".
Five flush-mounted chokes come with the gun. They are Cylinder, at .000" constriction; Improved Cylinder, at .005"; Modified, at .019"; Improved Modified, at .032"; and Full, at .039". The IC choke is a touch more open than usual, but the others are very close to normal. The chokes are 2" long with a ½" parallel section after the constriction. The C, IC and M chokes are OK’d for steel shot. The chokes appear identical in every way to Beretta Mobile chokes and easily were swapped in and out of a 680 barrel. The choke wrench is a little clumsy but adequate.
Make & Model: ATA Elegant Sideplate Game Gun
Action: Break-action over/under
Finish: Matte-silver engraved sideplated receiver, blued barrels
Barrel length: 28"
Weight: 7 pounds 6 ounces
Chokes: Five screw-in flush chokes
Stock: Pistol grip, wood buttplate
Accessories: Chokes, wrench, manual, two-year warranty
Price as tested: $1,175
The exteriors of the barrels were a flawless gloss blue. All the solder seams appeared correct. There are no side ribs on the rear halves of the barrels. The side ribs on the front are solid from the front of the forend to the muzzles. The vented top rib is an untapered ¼" wide, setting low on the barrel as is appropriate on a field gun. There is a single front red plastic “inchworm” bead at the muzzle but no useless center bead.
The stock on our gun was for a right-handed shooter, but left-handed stocks are available. My Shotgun Combo Gauge showed the dimensions to be 145⁄8" length of pull, 15⁄32" drop at comb and 23⁄8" drop at heel. The drops at comb and heel are a touch higher than the generic 1½" and 2¼" heights and will well suit those with thinner faces and longer necks. Pitch was the usual 4°. There were slight amounts of cast-off and toe-out. Stock thickness was normal. The pistol grip is full size with no palm swell and not as relaxed as on many other field guns.
The forend is moderately slender with a Schnabel beak and a finger groove along each side of the top. It is quite comfortable. Unlike on Berettas and Brownings, it is held in place by an Anson pushbutton at the front (versus a Deeley latch in the center).
The wood is Turkish walnut, and ours had some figure but was not outstanding. It was about what one would expect for the price. That said, the forend did have considerably more pattern than the buttstock. Checkering was done mechanically in a sensible conservative pattern designed to provide a good grip yet not dominate the overall looks of the gun. The low-gloss finish did not fully fill the wood grain, much like on many European guns. The buttplate was thin checkered wood designed not to snag when being raised against a field jacket.
As fits the price, the ATA Elegant Sideplate Game Gun comes in a plain cardboard box. Inside, the stock and barrels are in velvet sleeves, and a small plastic box houses the chokes and choke wrench. The thin manual covers only the basics of gun assembly and disassembly and includes helpful schematics showing all the interior gun parts. The warranty is for two years.
When handling the gun, I at first noticed the weight of 7 pounds 6 ounces. This is a touch heavy for a 12-gauge for active field carry. The weight is a little more noticeable, because a good bit of it is forward in the barrels, with the balance point about one inch in front of the hinge. The 30" barrels would make it even more noticeable. Still, this is not a disabling balance, and guns that are slightly heavy up front do swing smoothly on the longer shots for which the 12 gauge is so well suited.
Shooting the gun produced no surprises. Everything worked as it should. The mechanical trigger always set the second sear, even with very light reloads. Ejectors threw the empties about 10 feet. The gun was easy to break down and reassemble. The screw chokes were flush, so they had to be tightened with a wrench, but that ensured that they would stay put. Thanks to the gun’s extra weight, recoil was moderate, and the wooden buttplate was no problem at all.
While heavier than I would like for hill-and-dale, all-day carry, the ATA SP Elegant Sideplate Game Gun would be very nice for stand-and-deliver shooting at doves, pheasants and even waterfowl. The gun is reliable, attractive and most definitely priced right when compared to comparable Berettas and Brownings. It will be a very interesting gun in 20 gauge.
For more information, contact ATA Arms.