Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light .223 pump action review

Review: Southern Cross Taipan Light pump-action .223


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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’m 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

Designed and made by Southern Cross Small Arms (SCSA) 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.

SCSA director, designer and engineer Damir Lukic says the motivation being the Taipan was to create an Australian rifle that would be available nation-wide and be affordable. He worked with the licensing authorities in each state and territory, and only Tasmania has rejected it as a Cat B firearm; WA refused the Taipan at first but, after an appeal, SCSA got it through.

Built on Southern Cross’s TSP-X chassis, 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.

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light
The Taipan broken down into major components: upper receiver and barrel (with scope attached); barrel shroud; breech block; action bar; butt and lower receiver still attached to each other; pistol grip (the three scales of the pump handle are not shown)

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. 

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

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light
The bolt head locks into a collar attached to the barrel
Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light
Two views of the breech block, showing the bolt in the unlocked (left) and locked (right) positions

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.

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. 

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

OTHER FEATURES

Damir Lukic says 98% of the machining of the Taipan is done in-house at SCSA in a factory that is well set up to do as much of the manufacturing as possible. As of now (April 2023), SCSA has just set up its own Cerakoting facility and a robotic setup is on it way from the US to take the finishing another step further.

The Taipan’s aluminium-alloy chassis ensures the stainless-steel, sporter-weight barrel is completely free floating. After tapering quickly from the receiver, it is just 16.5mm diameter down to the threaded muzzle.

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 Picatinny rail allows attachment of a huge range of optics, the forend has M-LOK slots for accessories and there are four Q/D sling-swivel slots in the chassis. 

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. 

ACCURACY

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. 

AMMUNITIONBULLETSMALLEST GROUP (MM)LARGEST GROUP (MOAAVERAGE GROUP (MOA)
American Eagle50gn JHP1.82.42.1
Australian Outback BlitzKing55gn PT0.91.81.4
Federal Power-Shok55gn SP1.21.81.6
Fiocchi 55gn EPN0.91.61.2
PMC Bronze Hunting55gn PSP1.32.01.7
OSA GameKing55gn SP0.81.81.5
Sierra Prairie Enemy BT55gn PT0.81.61.4
Tikka55gn SP1.01.51.2
Winchester Ballistic Silvertip55gn PT0.91.61.5
Accuracy is the average of 3 x 5-shot groups fired from bags at 100m range

This rifle didn’t do so well with the lighter 50gn hollow-points. Unfortunately, heavier loads were not available to us when we needed them, but with the 1:8 twist of the barrel we’d expect good results from bullets up to at least 69gn weight and likely more.

The Taipan will take both .223 Remington and 5.56x54mm NATO ammunition, though we only focussed on .223 Rem.

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

HANDLING

The Taipan weighs 3.2kg bare and is a very comfortable rifle to hold and aim, though if you’ve never had experience with firearms shaped like this it may take a little getting used to. 

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 alteration of the length of pull from 355m to 370mm.

The trigger is the rifle’s ergonomic weakness, letting off at a weighty 3kg with a fair bit of creep. It’s not adjustable.  

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 functioned flawlessly through several hundreds rounds during testing and felt smoother in cycling as time went one.  

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

From the very first time I took shots at running game, the Taipan swung beautifully and was instinctive to shoot. I made four hits from four shots at goats bolting across me about 50m away.

Sets shots at a distant were easy when I had a good rest and plenty of time, but the heavy trigger with its long creep made it harder to be accurate when trying to be quick.

I used it with both a red dot sight and a 3-9×40, both of which suited the Taipan’s use. Unless I were taking regular shots beyond 100m I’d probably settle for the both-eyes-open intuitive aiming of the red dot to make best use of the Taipan’s speed.

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light
Versatile and handy, the Taipan is a fantastic rifle for dealing with ferals

In it role as a quick-shooting pest-control rifle, the Taipan was great.

It is bound to succeed here in Australia, not just because it’s the only mass-produced and readily available pump-action rifle you can get these days, but because it’s more accurate than the older breed of pumps, it is built to high quality levels, it has clever features you want in such a rifle, and it is affordable for most shooters.

SPECS

  • Manufacturer: Southern Cross Small Arms, NSW, Australia
  • Type: Pump-action centrefire
  • Calibre: .223 Wylde (.223 Remington and 5.56×54 NATO)
  • Barrel: 42cm (16.5”) stainless steel, 1:8 twist, threaded muzzle
  • Stock: Aluminium
  • Sights: None; full-length Picatinny rail
  • Magazine capacity: 10rd detachable box
  • Safety: 2-position, trigger block
  • Trigger pull weight: 3.0kg
  • Overall length: 890mm
  • Length of pull: 355-370mm 
  • Weight (bare): 3.2kg
  • Price: Around $2100 (2023)
  • 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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