Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light .223 pump action review

First impression: Southern Cross Taipan Light pump-action .223


The SCSA Taipan is a modern, Australian-made pump-action rifle in .223 that shoots better than previous pumps, feel beautifully balanced, is an exceptional pest-control weapon and sells for around $2100 to anyone with a Cat B licence.

I’ve had one for a week so far and have already been impressed by its overall performance and functionality, which includes the ability to shoot five-shot groups in the 1-2 MOA range all day with a variety of ammunition, most of which shoots to pretty much the same point of impact. 

The quick-pointing, quick-shooting Taipan pump-action is an excellent pest-control weapon

Made by Southern Cross Small Arms and distributed by OSA Australia, about 400 are being made every month and OSA says there’s a lot of interest from overseas markets — even from the US.

The Taipan takes a number of cues from the AR rifle platform but is in no way comparable with a semi-auto firearm, being manually operated via the moving forend grip and having trigger and bolt-locking designs that do not allow for ‘slam firing’ with the trigger held back.

The key advantage it has over a bolt-action rifle is that the action can be cycled without releasing either hand’s grip from the rifle nor dropping it from your shoulder, so quicker, more natural follow-up shots are possible. 

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light .223 pump action review
The safety lever is operated by your thumb. Pistol grip feels very good in your hand

HOW IT WORKS

The forend grip is bolted to an action bar that slides back and forth above the barrel, its rear end attached to the bolt carrier in the receiver. 

When you click one of the two standard-issue 10-round magazines into the rifle and push the forend pump handle forward to chamber a round, the action bar drags the bolt carrier forward until it contacts the rear of the chamber.

As the carrier does so, it rotates the bolt into battery inside a small extension threaded over to the rear of the barrel. The bolt’s seven locking lugs slot into the extension’s cutouts, and the extension is the crucial structural link between bolt and receiver. 

At this point, the rifle is cocked and locked closed. If you want to open it to eject the live round, simply push down the small unlocking lever on the right side of the receiver and pull back the pump. 

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light .223 pump action review
The pump-action handle on the forend is a good size and shape for confident control

The Taipan cannot fire until the whole show is locked and closed. 

To fire, squeeze the trigger and it releases an internal hammer which strikes the firing pin. After the hammer falls and the round is fired, the action unlocks.

You can now pull back on the pump to open the action; the action bar pulls the bolt carrier back with it. A 6mm-wide claw extractor pulls the spent case out of the chamber and a strong plunger-type ejector throws it well clear. 

You’re ready to go again … unless you’ve emptied the magazine, in which case the action won’t close until a full magazine is inserted.

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light .223 pump action review
The Taipan has a stainless barrel that seems to hold accuracy well over a number of shots

A rotating safety switch, operated by your right thumb, blocks the trigger when activated. The action can be cycled with the safety on. 

At the upper rear of the receiver, a cross-bar allows you to lock the action open, preventing accidental chambering of a round. 

OTHER FEATURES

The Taipan’s aluminium-alloy bodywork ensures the stainless-steel, sporter-weight barrel is completely free floating. The trigger group is housed in the lower half of the receiver and the bolt carrier slides in the upper half. The two halves bolt together, and the forend guard bolts to the lower. 

The butt is also a bolt-on, as is the pistol grip. 

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light .223 pump action review
The Taipan comes with a pair of Magpul double-stack 10-round magazines

A full-length Piccatinny rail allows attachment of a huge range of optics, and the forend has M-LOK slots. 

The magazines are by Magpul with polymer bodies and nice, firm springs. They double-stack their 10-round quota and so are relatively compact.

The magazine release, in AR fashion, is a handy button positioned exactly where your right index finger can reach it without effort. 

IN USE

Accuracy testing using seven different loads of factory .223 Rem ammunition produced very good five-shot groups mostly in the 1.0-2.0 MOA range, though two loads wouldn’t group with this rifle.

A pretty typical five-shot group from the Taipan, albeit at the smaller end of the scale. This was shot with Sierra Prairie Enemy 55gr factory ammo, but we got good results with many other loads including the more solid OSA Game King soft points

Many of the groups featured three or more shots touching each other, so with some fine tuning this should be a very accurate rifle. 

That’s more than we’d ever have expected from earlier pump-actions like the Remington 7615 and, considering the quick, shorter-range work a pump-action thrives on, it’s more accuracy than the rifle probably needs. 

It’s a very comfortable rifle to hold and aim, too, though if you’ve never had experience with firearms shaped like this it may take a little getting used to. 

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light .223 pump action review
The butt has an adjustable cheek piece. Length of pull can be adjusted using spacers

The pistol grip is nicely angled and well sized, while the wide, rounded forend grip feels spot on and moves more smoothly than you expect it to.

The cheekpiece can be raised to bring your eye in line with your optic, though with standard rings I didn’t need to make any adjustments. 

Spacers allow alterations of the length of pull.

The trigger is the rifle’s ergonomic weakness, feeling heavy (we’re yet to measure it) with a fair bit of creep. It’s not adjustable. We’ll look into it further before saying more, though. 

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light .223 pump action review
Magazine release is handily located above the front of the trigger guard where your finger finds it easily

The pump-action rifle has functioned flawlessly through over 100 rounds so far and appears to be settling in with use, too. 

Off the bench, the Taipan’s centre-focussed balance and slick-moving pump make successive shots easy to manage quickly and accurately. 

We’ve done limited hunting so far with the Taipan but will report back soon after Easter when we’ve been out a bit more. 

 

 

 


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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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