ATA SP Elegant
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- Last updated: 14/10/2019
ATA have certainly made their mark on the British market, with their range of modestly priced over and under and semi-auto 12-bores and semi auto 20-bores.
I do sometimes wonder if they will become a victim of their own success, as trying to get a test gun at times is difficult, as supply is only just keeping up with demand; no doubt the importer and distributer Sportsman Gun Centre must be very pleased with their decision to introduce ATA to the market.
The downside, for me, is that it is not always possible to get a test gun for review, as they simply do not have a spare to send out, fortunately one of my clients wanted to purchase an SP Elegant, which gave me the opportunity to have one in for review prior to it being collected.
ATA are well known for the quality of the woodwork that they put on their guns, but this one has ridiculously high-grade walnut. Or, to put it another way; if it were on a shot gun costing around two thousand pounds, you would feel you had done rather well and, rightly, be quite smug! To have wood of this quality on a sub- £1000 gun is extraordinary.
The Elegant comes with a choice of 28- or 30-inch blued barrels, the test gun having the former as that was what the client requested, although for the main, I prefer 30-inch tubes nowadays. This is a multichoke, being supplies with five chokes from full down to cylinder; full and three quarter are not suitable for steel, but the other three chokes are. As you would expect, they come in their own box with the choke key and each one is stamped to say if it is ok for use with steel shot or not.
The Elegant has 3-inch or 76mm chambers in new money, so more than able to accommodate more hefty cartridges should you need to be using them. The top rib is 8mm wide with a chequered finish and ends with a highly visible red bead. The mid rib does not run the entire length of the barrel stack, which helps reduce weight but does have a bearing on balance. In the hands, it feels pretty good, the point of it being on the hinge pin, but the gun does feel slightly muzzle heavy; however, I did not find this to have a noticeably negative effect on gun mount.
Overall length is 45½-inches and length of pull is 14½-inches, there is a single trigger and auto safety which, as we would expect, allows barrel selection. The safety is positive in moving into either position with an audible click and the trigger pull felt consistent from shot to shot, breaking with no surprises, creep or seeming too heavy. Overall, the wood to metal fit is good and well finished. The barrels are blued and the action, side plate and top lever are all in brushed silver. The engraving is of a sort of scroll pattern, but I should say is laser cut and does look very basic, however this is only noticeable when close up.
Whereas, the quality and grain of the wood is hard not to notice at distance. Considering the price range this shotgun falls into, it does seem a little harsh to be critical of the engraving on this model but to me probably a simple plain brushed finish would look better. Chequering on the forend and palm swell is, as ever, of the traditional diamond cut, with the diamonds being of a larger size but in no way too sharp or feeling uncomfortable. Certainly, for those with large hands like me, the combination of large diamonds and not too finer forend will feel very comfortable and all in keeping with each other.
The forend release catch is on the end, so does not interfere with your supporting hand, for those that like to shoot with the forefinger pointing out straight towards the muzzle. The stock is finished off with a wooden butt plate that is screwed in position, so making it easy to tailor length of pull as required, but if the stock needs to be made longer matching another piece of wood to it will take some expertise. If I owned one of these ATAs with walnut of this quality, I would try to bring out the grain of the wood a little more with careful oiling.
Even before I added a slip-on extension, this shotgun came to the shoulder well, no mean feat considering that it is one-inch too short and still handled very well. With the extension on, it really does point exceptionally naturally at what you are shooting. After only having fired a handful of shots, I felt the half-length middle barrel joining rib, which makes the Elegant a fraction lighter is definitely the correct call. There is plenty of substance to the gun to make firing even heavier loads quite manageable, without the extra few ounces that the extra steel would have provided.
Unfortunately for me, the client was very keen to collect this gun, so I did not have as much time shooting it as I would have liked! However, all the cartridges fired felt comfortable in the shoulder and I observed no undue muzzle flip or slow acquisition of second targets, or, as I often find, needing to get a second shot at the original target. I used loads from 21- to 36-grams and any of those fired from 30 and lighter were unnoticeable. The heavier 32s to 36s were definitely noticeable, but not uncomfortably, so I expect the 30-inch barrelled model to handle them better than this 28-inch did. The empties ejected well, with no problems, regardless of brass length and the only trouble I had was finding some of them in the undergrowth.
All in, this is yet another cracking shotgun from ATA and represents very good value for money, the only downside I can see is the laser-cut engraving; however, considering the wood and solid build, all for £799, I feel we can let them off that.
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