This leading Turkish gun maker adds another new model to its clay shooting stable. Richard Atkins reports.
Turkish gunmakers have clearly made considerable progress in the UK over recent years. The guns now coming out of Turkish factories are increasingly more refined and attuned to the UK market.
ATA has been pro-active in producing new models with features attractive to various market sectors. As we see here, the clay target market is one ATA has put considerable thought and effort into in order to bring attractive, efficient and well-priced guns to the UK market.
ATA has a huge manufacturing capacity, with state-of-the-art CNC machining centres and a strong R&D capability. With their broad range of guns, which includes semi-automatic and O/U shotguns, their progress over the past five years has been remarkable.
At a time when some established makers struggle and some have closed (such as Lanber and Laurona), ATA has gone from strength to strength. They also manufacture shotguns for some famous names, like Wetherby, who do not put their name to just any guns.
An essential ingredient to the success of any new brand in the UK is having strong representation. ATA are now imported, distributed and retailed by Sportsman Gun Centre (recently voted retailer of the year).
This has seen ATA’s profile significantly raised, with regular major advertising and keen pricing. Having been impressed by the first ATA SP Sporter I reviewed around four years ago, I was intrigued to see how the new Supersport would compare.
The ATS SP immediately shows its resemblance to a long-established and much-loved brand and model, the Beretta 686. Although the ATA SP adopts the same design format for their barrel-to-receiver hinge arrangement and lock-up, the action is not the same.
The ATA SP barrels fit to the receiver, and pivot upon two trunnions set into either side of the forward receiver via mating recesses machined into the breech monobloc.
They are locked to the receiver with two round, tapered locking pins that emerge from the standing breech. These pins locate into tapered holes in the end face of the breech monobloc.
Also following the Beretta design, the barrel-locking wedges are of trapezoidal form, being machined as part of the monobloc, with mating recesses in either side of the receiver side walls.
This is an extremely neat and cost-effective method of achieving barrel-to-receiver hinging and locking. It has also proven remarkably robust for all its apparent simplicity. All in all it’s an admirable demonstration of the principle that good design need not be overly complex.
The result of this hinge and locking arrangement achieves a feature that made the 680 series famous and which other makers seek to emulate: the lower profile receiver/action.
A significant proportion of shooters express a preference for this over the taller profile of guns based upon the original Browning design. (Note that Browning introduced their B725 models which offers their customers the choice of the lower profile of the B725 or the ‘traditional’ taller profile B525 models.)
Barrels and receiver
The new ATA Supersport barrels are now given a matte black finish, while the earlier guns had a gloss, black hard chrome finish. The gloss finish proved very robust, and the matte hopefully will too.
The receiver is also matte finished, and provides a practical and pleasing appearance. Profiled side bolsters give a 44mm wide receiver and add a little more weight between the hands for fine balance, as well as stiffening the receiver.
The receiver has no engraving, just some radial grooves to break up the plain bolsters and ‘SUPERSPORT’ engraved on each side wall. I quite like simplicity in a clay gun, especially one at a modest price; it means there’s more left in the production budget to attend to more important functional matters. As we shall see, this budget has been wisely spent.
The monobloc barrels are well made and assembled, and I was pleased to note that they are bored to ‘standard’ dimensions with the bottom barrel proof marked at 18.3mm and the top 18.4mm.
Minor differences such as this are of no concern, and not particularly unusual. ATA PR information mentions extended forcing cone length. Visual inspection didn’t look so different to the earlier models, so I measured with a bore gauge.
This revealed them to be 20mm, so barely 5mm longer than before. This is considerably less than the lengthened cones commonly seen today. Personally, this suits me, as performance is likely to be similar with either plastic or fibre wad cartridges; all the more important with the purge against plastic today.
The muzzles are flared to accept Beretta Mobil choke tubes designed for standard size bores. Flared muzzles will accept choke tube threads without the walls being thickened over a greater length, which helps keep barrel weight down for improved balance. Barrels weighed 1.48kg, which is comparable with guns costing much more that the ATA.
The Supersport comes with two types of choke tubes, two extended type with bright finish in ¼ Choke and Half Choke, with both suitable for use with steel shot, plus three standard flush fitting choke tubes; one Skeet plus ¾ and Full Choke (the latter two not for steel shot).
Extended chokes are easier to change quickly, but the flush chokes performed perfectly satisfactorily. I imagine additional extended chokes may be offered separately, but there are plenty of after-market Mobil chokes available in any case. Barrel tubes are bored straight and internally well polished. Chambers and bores are chrome plated to ease cleaning and aid corrosion resistance.
Top and slide ribs
Two differences from the earlier SP Sporter are the top and side ribs. The new barrel set has ventilated side ribs running from the muzzle to just under the front of the fore-end, while the previous model had only a short section joining the muzzles.
The top rib is now 2mm wider, at 10mm width. It has a similar cross-hatched ‘file-finish’ top surface, which gives a good anti-glare sighting plane. A small, red, LPA optic fibre front bead is fitted; there is no central bead.
The action departs from the Beretta design to follow the well-established Browning format where the tumblers hinge from the trigger plate with the sears suspended from the top tang.
Removing the stock to examine the action internals shows parts to be very well made, precision machined and nicely blacked. All parts are well fitted and operate positively, and the action stands comparison with more expensive options.
The mechanically reset single selective trigger functioned faultlessly, and the trigger pulls were reasonable. At 4¾ and 5¼ pounds release weights they proved lighter than the previous model I reviewed.
Release weight could also be easily lightened if desired, as sears and bents are simple for a gunsmith to gain access to adjust. The mechanism incorporates a disconnector to prevent firing if the barrels are not correctly locked.
Superb stock with adjustable comb
We have become accustomed to Turkish guns having a grade of walnut somewhat above what you might expect for guns at any given price point; this ATA is no exception.
The Turkish walnut really helps them stand out. The review gun’s wood exhibited is smoothly rubbed down with tight grain and a nice amount of figure. Being oil finished, it can easily be kept looking good and indeed, over time, further enhanced with regular light application of a good stock oil.
The stock and fore-end are well thought out. I like the hand-filling feel of the modified beaver-tail style. A little shorter than some, it is long enough and the slight ‘roach-belly’ form with deep finger grooves at its top edges, gives a comfortable, hand filling and secure hold for easy, positive pointing.
The stock features a ‘competition’ style close radius pistol grip and right-hand palm swell that proved perfectly placed for me. This helped the ATA sit comfortably in my hand, enhanced by a slightly flared grip base.
The ample but not overly large grip circumference provided an ideal finger position on the (fixed) trigger. This produced a comfortable and consistent hold position. There is some free movement before the trigger engages the sears, and I chose to take up with light pressure as I prepared for each shot.
The Supersport model reviewed has an adjustable comb for just £100 more than the fixed stock model: much less than having one added later. This is a quality arrangement; simple but strong, and easy to adjust.
Using an Allen key and some washers (both supplied), it takes moments to slip off the comb, set the height using the washers and the cast by adjusting the position of the two steel support pillars to achieve the basic eye-to-rib alignment and view along the rib that you prefer.
It is then worth checking the Point of Impact is central and the pattern height as you prefer (typically 60 per cent/40 per cent or thereabouts for Sporting clays) and fine tuning if required.
The stock is enhanced with an excellent improved sporting butt pad. This has a firm rubber rounded top segment inset above a softer main section. This combination permits a smooth, snag-free gun mount that sits comfortably and securely on the shoulder.
A competent Sporter
The new ATA SP Supersport is a positive development from the original SP Sporter. It is refreshing to find the changes are genuine upgrades: nothing radical, but it now has a 10mm wide ‘sporter’ rib, and the action internals have been refined to enhance trigger pulls, consistency and reliability.
I settled in quickly with the Supersport, which is always a sign of a gun that helps the shooter gain confidence. Hitting 10 ex-10 on my first sporting stand told me the comb setting I had hurriedly made was not too far off.
The easy pointing, good balance (just ahead of the hinge point) and nice handling provided by the stock and fore-end configuration kept things going well, and a pleasing 46 ex-50 was the result (all four lost targets on one stand that I misread).
The ATA Supersport is a competently executed sporter; priced to fall within the ‘entry-level’ sector, it could take a new to clay shooter quite some way before they felt the need to spend more.
The Supersport’s combination of desirable features, decent build quality, and a retail price around that of a well-used ‘big name’ gun explains why this ATA is proving to be a very attractive option. Take a close look and handle one; I think you may be pleasantly surprised.