Southern Cross Small Arms TSP H rifle chassis

Review: Southern Cross TSP H chassis system


The Southern Cross Small Arms TSP H chassis is an aftermarket stock system designed for hunting but still with an eye to Precision Rifle competition and plain old accurate shooting over longer ranges, and it provides modern styling, ergonomics and adaptability.

All you’ve got to do is provide the barrelled action and you’re well on your way to building a unique hunting or competition rifle. 

Southern Cross Small Arms TSP H rifle chassis
The Souther Cross TSP H chassis fitted with the Howa 1500 Carbon barrelled action as we tested it

Already Southern Cross Small Arms (SCSA) is making the TSP H for the Howa 1500 and Weatherby Vanguard in long and short actions, as well as the Tikka T3x short action. Soon the long-action Tikka chassis will be available, followed by Remington 700s and Lithgows. 

It’s the second Australian-made chassis SCSA has designed and put on the market from its NSW factory, joining the more tactical TSP X, and while it has a few similarities to the X, the H takes a quite different approach in a number of ways. 

“As it is the Hunter series, we understand the need for an easy to carry rifle that still has features to suit the modern hunter,” Damir Lukic, director of SCSA, said.

“We aimed for the TSP H to be nimble and lightweight but still retain functionality.”

Given that the TSP H is touted as the lightweight of the two, we figured we’d continue the light/precise theme by inserting the new carbon-fibre barrelled version of the Howa 1500 as a testbed. Ol’ mate Cruz of Shots & Shadows fame had one we could nick. 

Southern Cross Small Arms TSP H rifle chassis
The major components of the TSP H chassis

The TSP H differs from the TSP X by having its main chassis inlet and fore-end as one piece, and the fore-end is shorter. This saves weight.

The H also differs in using an AR-style thread-on butt; the chassis is compatible with virtually any AR-type buffer-tube buttstocks, allowing custom options. It’s lighter than the aluminium butt on the TSP X chassis.

However, the TSP H still has the same kind of bolt-in trigger guard incorporating the excellent magazine release, and it comes with the same AR-style pistol grip. 

The chassis, butt, guard and grip together weigh a credibly light 1.4kg — more than a typical sporter stock but less than your average metallic chassis. The Howa carbon-barrelled action weighs 2.1kg, and once we’d added a polymer magazine the bare rifle came to 3.6kg, a very respectable figure for something as solid as this. 

Southern Cross Small Arms TSP H rifle chassis
Bedding surfaces are precisely matched to the action and give excellent support

The chassis is machined to very precise tolerances and makes perfect contact with the action in four places: at the rear action screw; just behind the magazine well; and in two places just behind the front action screw. 

The front screw threads into the recoil lug that’s an integral part of the Howa’s flat-bottomed steel receiver.

When the action is screwed down to the correct torque in the chassis, the bedding is incredibly solid, and the 6061-T6 aluminium that the TSP H is made from ensures plenty of strength to keep it that way.

Even the Howa’s fat carbon barrel has plenty of room to free-float in the 35mm wide fore-end; any of the other barrel options will easily do the same. 

Southern Cross Small Arms TSP H rifle chassis
Southern Cross Small Arms supplies a multi-adjustable Luth-AR butt for its hunting chassis

The butt, sourced from Luth-AR in the USA, is fitted with a flared cheek piece that can be not only raised for a better fit but moved fore and aft to ensure it’s in the right place for good contact and head alignment. 

Length of pull can be adjusted to roughly 310, 235, 340, 355 or 375mm by pulling down on a spring-loaded locking pin and sliding the butt along its mounting tube (except in NSW where it is pinned because such adjustments are illegal, whether or not it might reduce LOP to less than the legal minimum).

The butt also includes a rail underneath for mounting rear rests; a forward-facing hook to more solidly settle you into a sandbag; and a hole on either side to accept a cup for a quick-detach sling swivel stud. 

The fore-end has M-Lok slots on the bottom and sides as well as an ARCA rail cut into the bottom, giving you a choice of mounting options for bipods and other accessories. If you opt to attach a bipod or tripod on an ARCA mount, the sling swivel stud acts as a stop to prevent it sliding off the front if you get over exuberant when adjusting it. 

Southern Cross Small Arms TSP H rifle chassis
The chassis is very comfortable to shoot with and suits bipod use nicely

There’s also a barricade stop built into the rear of the fore-end, just ahead of the magazine, with grooves cut into it for extra traction on whatever you’re leaning against.

There is so much in this chassis to ensure accurate shooting that you’ve got little excuse to miss. From the ultra-sound bedding to the various ways you can anchor into a rest, plus the adjustability, it is made to keep you on target. 

I knew from past shooting that the Howa Carbon Elevate in its standard-issue stock shot very well, making me confident it would let the Southern Cross chassis demonstrate its potential. 

From sandbags on a bench at 100m, the Howa/TSP H combo shot sub-MOA groups with monotonous regularly, and a number of the groups were one-hole clusters. 

Swapping to the Magpul bipod on the bench, there was only the smallest growth in group size along with a little less consistency, as you’d expect. 

Southern Cross Small Arms TSP H rifle chassis
The chassis complements the accuracy of whatever action you choose. The top group, however, showed signs that the rest we were using for that group wasn’t providing consistent support. The bottom group was from a heavy bag

The chassis did not get on with either the Ridgeline Steady Rest or Caldwell Lead Sled, though. Both resulted in inconsistency due to a lack of repeatable support for the rifle. It is something I’ve learnt to watch for when using recoil-reducing gun rests; they work great most of the time but not for everything. 

And that’s a lesson for anyone using a chassis like this: the type of rest you use can have quite an impact on accuracy, so if you’re not getting the consistent, small groups you expect, try changing to another support.

In the field, the barricade stop was very handy when resting the rifle on timber, yard rails and the like. Using your shoulder to push the rifle firmly against a branch gives you a very steady shot, and the serrations machined into the stop give it useful traction.

Southern Cross Small Arms TSP H rifle chassis
The TSP H chassis has a handy barricade stop built into it. Note too the M-Lok slots and ARCA rail dovetail

I did not have the chance to try the TSP H on a tripod but I can’t see it being a problem. The centre of balance is just behind the barrel, meaning the weight will overhang the back if you attach the tripod to the fore-end, but a reasonably solid tripod should cope with it. 

Scoped up for field use, this rifle weighed 4.5kg, so while it’s not the kind of thing you’d happily hold up for offhand shooting for minutes at a time, it’s easy to hold steady. With its pistol grip and flat fore-end it’s very different from a sporter yet still comfortable to shoulder and shoot offhand.

With that weight and those ergonomics, shooting from the knee or when sitting poses no more challenge than you’d face with anything.   

The best way to treat this Howa-equipped TSP H rig when hunting, though, is to sit and wait. It’s light enough to carry in to a likely spot before you set up with whatever rest you’ve chosen, then watch and wait. 

If this Howa combo is any indication, you’ll be able to sit well away from your target area, where movement and wind won’t betray you, and make clean long-distance shots at a trophy deer, crop-raiding pigs, whistled foxes or whatever. 

Southern Cross Small Arms TSP H rifle chassis
You can comfortably shoot offhand using the TSP-H, which is on the lighter side when it comes to metallic chassis

Depending on the brand of action you fit to your TSP H chassis, you’ve got so many other options, such as a short barrel to suit a rifle you’ll use from a car.

Whichever way you go, the Southern Cross TSP-H chassis gives you a solid basis for it. The chassis is well made, good quality and well priced. 

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Construction: Machined from 6061-T6 aluminium
  • Finish: Black Cerakote
  • Butt: Loth-AR MBA (AR-compatible)
  • Grip: Overmoulded AR-style
  • Magazine: AICS-compatible, not supplied
  • Magazine release: pivoting lever in trigger guard, ambidextrous
  • Weight: 1.4kg (chassis as supplied)
  • Length of pull: Adjustable 340, 355, 370mm
  • Cheek piece: adjustable for height and fore/aft
  • Sling points: Removable stud at front; Q/D cup holes at rear
  • Accessory mounts: 9x M-Lok slots, ARCA rail
  • Compatibility: Howa/Weatherby long and short actions; Tikka T3x short action. In future: Tikka long action, Remington 700, Lithgow LA102
  • Price: Around $400 (2024)
  • Manufacturer: Southern Cross Small Arms  
  • Distributor: OSA Australia

 

 

 


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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.

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