ATA Venza Fonex
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- Last updated: 17/09/2023
I have always liked semi-auto shotguns, as they are much more my thing. They are practical and designed for real-world, field usage. However, not all semis are the same. You have the high-end Benelli and Beretta shotguns, as well as the Browning Maxus, but not everyone can afford one.
This is where ATA from Turkey comes in, and they have had great success with their Venza model, distributed by the Sportsman Gun Centre. It’s a gas-operated semi available in options such as walnut, laminate, and synthetic. On test is the faux wood version, called the Fonex. I have tested the 12-gauge synthetic before, so I opted for the 20-gauge, and what a lovely surprise it turned out to be.
For around £500, its overall fit, finish, and specification will really appeal to a lot of prospective semi-auto buyers. Let’s see how it works.
It’s a light semi and being a 20-gauge, it is very slim and slender, making it a super-fast shouldering and handling shotgun to boot. Weighing in at 6lbs 12oz, it’s no effort to carry and hold, plus the recoil was surprisingly light, too. The 28” barrel and overall length of 48” gives a good blend of pointability and natural swing through the target.
The construction of the stock shows a moulded, two-piece shell made from a tough polymer. It’s quite dense and thus has a nice solid/non-flexible feel to it. The length of pull (LOP) is 14”, so a nice length and not too short. Pleasingly, it can be increased with the 5mm spacer and longer screws provided.
You also get a set of four cast and comb adjustment wedges that fit between the stock and the action. These are handy, as you will see that some of the ammo tested produced a pattern that was biased to the left-hand side. You will also find a deep, black rubber recoil pad inset into the butt section, plus some black, stippled, rubber inserts on the pistol grip. The cheekpiece also shows a smooth, black, rubber insert for comfort.
The overall stock has the addition of a soft touch feel, which does pick up dust and shed skin cells quite easily. To be fair, they all do, but it definitely adds to the overall grip available on the Fonex, especially with the long, slim, forend that only has a small, rubber grip area.
The pièce de resistance is the faux walnut finish, which is where the Fonex gets its name. Love it or hate it, it gives a very striking contrast to the blacked metal areas. For those that like wood but don’t want the extra weight or upkeep of a walnut stock, the ‘fake’ look works just fine. I have no problem with it, as you know it’s not walnut.
Keeping with the lightweight and fast handling theme, the action is aluminium and wears a nice satin, anodized black finish. Sadly, there are no scope mounting dovetails.
You have a rust-free polymer trigger guard, and the whole trigger assembly can be popped out for cleaning by knocking out just one pin. The trigger on this Fonex broke at 4lbs 12oz, which is not bad at all, allowing for an easy second or third shot.
ATA fits a reversible, triangular-shaped cross-bolt safety that’s located in the guard, behind the trigger. Another nice addition is the mag cut-off lever that lets you quickly switch cartridge types out in the field. Finally, a square-shaped bolt release button sits conveniently to the right of the action.
As with all ATA semi-autos, the level of workmanship is far better than most Turkish guns, as the bolt travel, release, and overall operation, feel smooth and precise. The bolt features a curved handle, which is a tad small, and shows a nice, non-reflective blued finish, which is better than glaring polished steel! The bolt face shows a single claw extractor and there is an ejector spur embedded into the action wall.
ATA has focused a lot of its attention on the gas operating system and uses its ‘Gas Pressure Control System’ (GPCS). This means that light or high-pressure loads are equalised and only the correct amount of propellant gas is utilised for safe operation. See the reliability test later, it works well.
When using a maximum load, the gas is vented from the barrel and into the gas piston, as usual. Then, the gas is vented away via small holes in the front of the barrel securing nut, which helps reduce recoil and barrel flip. If you switch to a lighter target load, then all the available gases are utilised to operate the bolt.
This 20-gauge version came with a 28” barrel that’s chambered for 3” cartridges and is high-pressure-proofed for steel loads. The forcing cone area is a standard length, and the bore internals were very well-finished and smooth, cleaning up easily after use.
The gun comes with a set of 5x flush-fit chokes, including Skeet, Improved Cylinder, Modified (limit of steel shot), Improved Modified, and Full.
Sighting-wise, the rib has a good reflection-reducing serrated finish and is a mid-sized 7mm rib, so it does not obscure too much of the sighted target. There is a single, red dayglo element up at the muzzle to focus the aim. The barrel has a tough, smooth, matte, blued steel finish that compliments the wood finish.
We fitted the ½ choke for the pattern board at 30 yards and proceeded to test a variety of 20-gauge ammunition.
I conducted a reliability test first, as it’s always interesting to see what weight or payload size a semi will reliably function with. I actually shot nine different shot sizes/weights, as reliability for a second or third shot is what a semi is all about. I favour lighter loads and was pleased to see that the Pro Twenty cartridges (24-gram / No. 7.5) cycled 100%. However, the slower Super Competition Hushpower loads from Gamebore (30-grams / No. 5) did have trouble fully cycling, as did the Hull Subsonic loads (23-grams / No. 7.5). It is worth mentioning, however, that semis are always tight when new and will certainly loosen up a bit over time, allowing them to function with those pesky stragglers.
First up were the Hull Driven Grouse cartridges (Fibre Wad / 25-gram / No. 6). We had a total of 199 pellet strikes that were distributed with a slightly low bias to the point of aim. The distribution between the outer and inner sectors was nearly identical, with 99 and 100 pellets respectively. This load is a great all-rounder and is very easy on the shoulder, too.
The Ultimate Twenty cartridges (28-grams / No. 5.5) worked well in the Fonex, producing superb, even patterns with great distribution across the 30” pattern board. There were 116 outer hits and 103 inner strikes. I would use them for any rough shooting, walked-up game, and even squirrels in the wood.
Eley VIP (Fibre Wad / No. 6) cartridges always perform well, and we had a dense pattern. However, there was a left-hand bias, which is where the shims mentioned earlier come into play. The total number of pellets to hit the board was 252, so not bad. There were 119 inner hits and 133 outer strikes, so good for most game to be honest.
Finally, mine and my son’s favourite; the good old Pro Twentys (24-grams / No. 7.5). These fine cartridges produced superbly even and dense patterns that were bang on target. There were 286 strikes in total, with 110 appearing in the inner 15” and 176 around the periphery. These cartridges are great for clays, vermin, walked-up game, rough shooting, and simulated game, too.
What’s not to like? The gun costs a Monkey to buy, it’s reliable, its recoil is light, it handles great, and it shot some very impressive patterns. For those that would like a 20-gauge semi for clays or some rough shooting, the Venza Fonex might just be the ticket.