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Vic Harker is impressed with this Turkish shotgun from ATA, which performed well and offers great value for money
Over recent decades, we have seen manufacturers of fine shotguns moving their production around the globe in search of a competitive price/quality equation that allows guns to be built in larger volume. The Browning/Miroku partnership is an example of the West meeting the East and enabling a famous European maker to continue to offer their products at a viable price.
In contrast to this kind of arrangement, ATA Arms, established in Turkey, have achieved a price/quality equation that allows them to manufacture and offer their products in the European market without recourse to an intermediary. The ATA model SP Deluxe Sideplate over-and-under is an example of this.
There is no element of originality in the design of the ATA Sideplate. Twin rods running through the action body that locate with hammers which are cocked when the gun is opened is a system that is fundamental to most double-barrel guns of this type. This is not a criticism; rather, it is to the manufacturer’s credit that they have incorporated the best possible design available.
Likewise, the spring-loaded hammers situated side by side make for the most efficient and direct mechanical function possible, and a fast lock time is also achieved.
As to decoration, an acanthus leaf engraving covers the entire action body, and while the gun’s price tag dictates this could not have been executed by hand, it’s very attractive nonetheless.
In terms of configuration and dimensions, the stock on my sample ATA was excellent, accepting no stock can fit everyone. As to this, an adjustable comb is available, which goes a long way to achieving just that.
What constitutes the best kind of Sporter gun is nowadays very much open to debate. As for me, the ATA is very close to my ideal. In my view, the Sporter should be significantly heavier than a game gun but sufficiently well balanced to be useful on live quarry if required.
This is not to say I don’t applaud the man using a pair of Best English guns, but for the many who shoot both clays and game, a gun that can be used for both is now required. This is where the kind of gun the ATA SP Deluxe Sideplate represents comes into its own. Tipping the scales at 7lb 11oz, it’s light enough to be carried all day and at the same time is comfortable to shoot the type of cartridges the higher and wider bird demands.
As to a recoil pad, this is substituted with a carefully shaped piece of walnut which can be easily detached to access the stock bolt. Length of pull is 145/8”, drop at heel 25/8”, and drop at comb 13/8”. An adjustable comb for height and cast is available.
The 76cm /30” barrels have a matt black finish and a 10mm rib, and weighed 1.465kg/3lb 2½oz with the flush-fitting, detachable chokes in situ. In an age when the shotgun rib can be high, low, tapered or ramped, the ATA’s line of sight has that invaluable quality of being unobtrusive. Flat and 10mm parallel from the breech ends to the barrel muzzles, it leaves the master eye to concentrate on the target. The fore-end fastening incorporates the spring-loaded Anson rod design frequently used in game guns, but this reliable system is equally suitable for a Sporter.
The fore-end wood is shaped to a Schnabel design, together with finger grooves that provide a comfortable and natural hold. As with the stock, the fore-end wood is carved from a close-grained piece of walnut, which has been carefully finished to show its figuring to its best advantage.
I am writing my shooting impressions of the ATA SP Deluxe a few days after I took the gun to the North Oxfordshire Shooting School because I wanted to ponder on my first impressions of this gun, and having done so, here they are.
In terms of balance, handling characteristics and mechanical function, the gun is outstanding. That I had to tape a comb raiser to the stock is simply due to my facial characteristics, and I would emphasise the ATA SP is available with a stock adjustable for both comb height and cast.
As to mechanical design, there is nothing about the gun that is original, but most importantly mechanical function in every department is excellent. As to handling characteristics, the gun’s all-up weight is 7lb 11oz/3.51kg and point of balance is a fraction in front of the barrels’ pivot point. Nothing very original there, but in practice everything about the gun comes together to create as user-friendly a gun as you can find.
Despite the number of different types of shotgun available, there is still room for guns of genuine quality in terms of good original design and high standards of manufacture. The ATA SP Deluxe Sideplate certainly fits into this category and I expect to hear a lot more of this new high-quality over-and-under.
Model: ATA SP Deluxe Sideplate
Bore: 12 bore
Barrel Length: 30”/76cm
Chamber Length: 3”
Chokes: Hand Detachable: Full/IM/M/IC/SK
Stock: Pistol Grip
Weight: 7lbs 11oz/3.510KG
Suggested Retail: £1,495 inc VAT
UK Distributor: The Sportsman Gun Centre. Telephone: 01392 354854
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