Turkish-based ATA Arms has been producing quality firearms for more than 50 years and while the country has quite a few manufacturers, their production has been strictly shotguns with only government-owned armouries able to access rifles. When ATA applied to the Turkish authorities for approval to create a centrefire sporting rifle and was given the green light, it was seen as a milestone not just for the country’s shooting and hunting community but also the worldwide marketplace.
The initial centrefire rifle out of ATA Arms was the Turqua, released in 2017, and it has taken several years for ATA’s Australian importer Nioa to land the Turqua for the local market. Nioa was aware of the rifle several years ago though its original design – specifically the walnut stock dimensions and profile – were ‘ordinary’ with the current crop in their catalogue being far more pleasing on the eye. When the first shipment landed Nioa sent Australian Shooter the Turqua for review in .243 Winchester with walnut stock and blued barrelled action, along with a fine Leupold VX3-HD 4.5-14×40 optic and hunting ammunition from the likes of Federal and Remington.
The cardboard carton proudly declares: ‘The first bolt-action rifle of Turkey’, that rifle supplied with a comprehensive user manual, a couple of decals and hang-tag claiming ‘Sub-MOA’, a three-year warranty and black felt cover/slip for storing the gun in your safe. The rifle has a matte blue barrelled action and handsome walnut stock with overall length of 1138mm and weight of 3.67kg. The review rifle’s in .243 Winchester but is also available in 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester.
The receiver is substantial and milled from a rectangular piece of steel bar-stock with its profile slab-sided even though it’s bevelled, terminating at the top flat which is drilled and tapped to accommodate a one-piece steel Picatinny rail to make scope-mounting a breeze. The front receiver ring has a small gas port on either side which helps divert hot gasses away from the face.
The left of the receiver has the maker’s name, calibre and serial number engraved, with the right side of the front receiver ring having ‘Turqua’ etched into it. Rearwards the receiver extends in a single piece to form a tang to which the trigger unit is attached, the underside of the receiver being flat with the exception of a large recoil lug fastened to the base.
The front action screw anchors directly into the recoil lug while the rear action screw beds into the underside of the receiver just behind the magazine cut-out. The recoil lug mates directly with an aluminium block screwed into the floor of the walnut stock forward of the magazine well, while the rear portion of the receiver bears directly on to the neatly-inletted walnut stock. The free-floating barrel is made from chrome-moly steel, button rifled and 600mm (24”) in length, this barrel profile not your normal sporter and more akin to a #3 or #4 contour (semi-heavy). The .243 Winchester chambering has a one-in-10 rate of twist and is well finished inside and out.
This is another substantial piece of metal at 435 grams and consists of the bolt body (in hard chrome) with three locking lugs at the front of identical diameter permitting a 60-degree bolt throw. Case ejection and extraction is done by a plunger through the bolt face and claw extractor rebated into the edge of the recessed bolt face, immediately adjacent to the plunger. Operation was excellent with all cases, fired and unfired, thrown well clear of the ejection port. The bolt handle is a separate piece fitted to the bolt body and to the rear a steel bolt shroud, matte blued to match the barrelled action, keeps the internal bolt componentry at bay, the bolt easy to disassemble for maintenance.
Trigger, triggerguard and magazine
The trigger unit is a single piece which incorporates the safety mechanism and is attached to the receiver tang. It’s of a single-stage design, fully adjustable from 0.8-1.6kg using a supplied Allen key and the trigger pull adjusting screw can be accessed through the underside of the trigger unit by inserting the Allen key in a hole in the triggerguard. The trigger was set at 1.4kg from the factory and was crisp with only a hint of drag and overtravel, the trigger blade being of aluminium.
The safety catch is of a linear sliding design and runs on a shallow lip milled into the edge of the receiver body just behind the bolt notch. It has three positions – rearwards locking the bolt handle and trigger, middle allowing the bolt to be cycled but still blocking the trigger and forward permitting the rifle to fire. The triggerguard/magazine well is a one-piece polymer unit as are the two supplied detachable box magazines of 3-shot and 5-shot capacity which clipped into place securely. It’s a nice touch by ATA to include two box magazines as the small things often enhance brand image.
The walnut stock is well profiled in a classic American sporter pattern, the finish appearing to be oil and there’s no indication of unsightly cheekpieces or Monte Carlo combs. But this wasn’t always the case as the first Turqua models carried a walnut stock that could only be described as ugly. Nioa told the parent company in Turkey that had to change and the resultant stock is a huge improvement, the ergonomics good with the pistol grip comfortable to hold and fore-end slim. Panels of impressed chequering around the pistol grip and fore-end offer a degree of grip but I’m not a fan of this and on the Turqua it just earns pass marks.
One thing I didn’t like was the ‘ATA Arms’ logo inscribed into the right side of the stock just beneath the ejection port – not necessary and a negative for me. The ATA emblem in the grip cap is fine but that should be it – only chequering should adorn the rest of the walnut stock. The buttstock has a decent sorbothane-style recoil pad with a thin polymer spacer to add a few millimetres to length-of pull if required (length-of-pull was 370mm without the extra spacer). Two QD sling swivel studs are fixed to the stock, one on the underside of the fore-end and one on the toe of the stock.
At the range
What’s evident from the outset is the perceived lack of recoil when firing the .243 Winchester rounds which could be attributed to the overall weight of 4.22kg with the Leupold VX3-HD scope fitted. For a hunting rifle I tend to look at 3-shot groups at 1.5 MOA (roughly 42mm at 100m) or less as being acceptable, even though ATA like many manufacturers give a ‘sub-MOA’ accuracy guarantee. Sub-MOA pledges can probably be achieved in controlled conditions such as underground testing facilities with no environmental factors but, in the real-world, 1.5 MOA from three shots or less in a hunting rifle is acceptable.
What was pleasing in the test rifle in .243 Winchester was it shot all bullet weights well, with group averages ranging from 17mm for the lighter 55-grain varmint load up to 24-35mm for heavier hunting loads using 80-100 grain projectiles. The excellent optic coupled with the semi-heavy barrel and stock dimensions of the Turqua made range time a pleasure and when testing at 100m concluded, I stretched the legs of the .243 Winchester and managed to topple over a few bowling pins out to 300m.
Accuracy testing: ATA Arms Turqua Walnut in .243 Winchester
|Ammunition||Best group (mm)||Worst group (mm)||Average group (mm)*|
|Federal Premium 55gr Nosler Ballistic Tip||12||20||17|
|Remington High Performance Rifle 80gr PSP||18||28||24|
|Federal Fusion 95gr||20||32||27|
|Federal Power-Shok 100gr Jacketed Soft-Point||25||38||34|
|Remington Core-Lokt 100gr PSP||27||42||35|
*Average calculated from five 3-shot groups at 100m
In the field
Several foxes met their end with well-placed shots out to 200m and while the Turqua was comfortable to shoot and makes an ideal hunting/informal target rifle, I feel anything over 4kg ‘scoped’ is too heavy as a stalking option. I carried the Turqua on a morning stalk and with a total weight of 4.2kg did struggle by the end of the walk, something that doesn’t happen with my normal stalking rifles. Some hunters will love the extra weight but the lighter the hunting rifle, the better for me.
The review rifle performed well though I’d like to see ATA offer future models with a shorter 22” barrel on a #2 contour profile for a lighter overall weight purely for stalking (overall weight nearer 3.2kg would make a cracking stalking rifle). The Turqua has an RRP of $1100 but can be found below the $1000 mark by shopping around. More at www.nioa.com.au
Manufacturer: ATA Arms, Turkey
Model: Turqua Walnut
Calibres: .243 Win (tested), 6.5 CM, .308 Win
Receiver: Manually operated bolt-action repeater, three-locking lugs, push-feed with mechanical ejection, matte-blue finish
Scope mounting: One-piece steel Picatinny rail fitted to receiver top
Barrel: Button-rifled, semi-heavy profile, 600mm (24”), free-floated, matte blue finish
Stock: Turkish walnut, American-style sporter profile with sorbothane recoil pad, polymer spacer supplied for LOP adjustment, QD sling swivel studs
Magazines: Polymer detachable box, two supplied (3 and 5-shot)
Trigger: Single-stage, fully adjustable from 0.8-1.6 kg, factory set at 1.4kg
Total Length: 1138mm
RRP: $1100 (approx.) but have been advertised below $1000