Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan X

Review: Southern Cross Taipan X pump and straight-pull rifle


Made in Australia, the Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan X is both pump-action and straight-pull, a quick-handling Cat B rifle that’s brilliant for feral pest control as well as general hunting. 

It is a greatly improved designed compared with the Taipan Lite, which it supersedes, and is unlike anything on gun-shop racks in this country. 

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan X
The Taipan’s shortness and speed, matched with a low-magnification variable scope like this Nikko Stirling Octa 1-8×24, are hard to beat for close-range hunting and pest control

To create the X model, SCSA added a spring return to close the action and the functionality of a straight-pull action, as well as a few detail changes. The new features elevate an already great rifle to another level.

The return spring closely the action firmly on its own, making it quicker and smoother to cycle the action so the process of repeat-shooting the Taipan X is a more natural, flowing process. 

It helps you maintain a sight picture better and get onto the next target more rapidly. 

The new straight-pull handle screws into the left side of the bolt carrier, giving you the option of pulling it or the pump handle to cycle the action. 

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan X
The new return spring wraps around the barrel, sandwiched between the pump assembly and a cup washer bearing against the barrel flare

Why both pump and straight-pull? To suit different shooting positions, basically. 

The pump is the most natural way to go when standing, kneeling or sitting, but the straight-pull is far better when prone using a bipod or, sometimes, when shooting out of a vehicle. 

Note, though, that the pump handle always moves when you use the straight-pull, which merely means that if you rest the pump on a support you must lift the rifle to use the straight-pull.

Fitting the straight-pull handle, though, is optional. The handle has a freely rotating shroud with sharply stippled gripping surface; your grasp never slips.

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan X
The left side of the receiver includes an easily used safety lever that turns 90 degrees. Note the straight trigger blade and the new straight-pull cocking handle

The Taipan is built around an aluminium chassis milled from billet in Southern Cross’s factory near Campbelltown, NSW. 

Lothar Walther barrels and a few other components are bought in and the rifles are assembled and finished in the SCSA factory, then proof tested and readied for public sale.  

The chassis has four main parts: upper and lower receivers, butt and fore-end. The barrel is held into the lower receiver along with a hardened extension that the bolt locks into. 

The bolt head, extension and barrel form the critical structure that contains the pressure when a round if fired, with no great load on the chassis. 

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan X
Looking down into the upper receiver, you can see the rear section of the action bar, which mates to the top of the bolt carrier (below). The angled slot in the top of the carrier cams the bolt into battery in the barrel extension

The bolt rides in a steel carrier, which is turn is moved by your working of the pump or straight-pull handle. A cam between bolt and carrier rotates bolt in and out of battery in the barrel extension, where its seven locking lugs create a secure union. 

The trigger releases a hammer that drives the firing pin forward. The trigger is a single-stage unit with a straight blade. Non-adjustable, it is set at a fairly heavy 2.5kg but let-off is crisp enough. 

The safety is a thumb-operated lever rotating 90 degrees, again in AR fashion, and it’s very intuitive to use. 

On the other side of the receiver, your trigger finger can equally easily operate the magazine release button. 

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan X
The magazine release is within reach of your trigger finger on the right of the rifle. Note the nylon case deflector now fitted behind the ejection port

The butt has an adjustable cheek piece that can be raised to better align your eye with your scope. Length of pull can be increased from 340mm by using the three 5mm spacers that come with the Taipan X. 

The Taipan feels completely different from a sporter rifle, of course, but it is very comfortable and conducive to accurate offhand shooting. 

Like all pump-actions, the need to hold the handle dictates the positioning of your fore-arm but the short action means you’re not stretching way out to reach it. 

Virtually any kind of optic can be fitted because the Taipan has a full-length Picatinny rail from the back of the receiver to the tip of the fore-end. 

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan X
The the seven-lug bolt head protruding from its carrier. It includes a plunger ejector and M16-type extractor claw

The Nikko-Stirling Octa 1-8×24 on our test gun seemed perfect, its magnification range suiting close-in, rapid shooting with a wide field of view and extending to precise longer shots. The large, illuminated centre dot is perfect for fast target acquisition. 

For other accessories, there are M-LOK slots in front of the pump-action handle, as well as a threaded muzzle.    

SCSA supplies the Taipan X with two 10-round Magpul PMAG magazines. These polymer, double-stacking units are strong, simple to fill and reliable.

The Taipan X has a 42cm (16.5”) stainless barrel which tapers quickly to a light 16.5mm diameter. 

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan X
The Taipan comes with two 10-round magazines that double-stack and easily filled. The magazine her his propped on its protective cover

It’s actually chambered to .223 Wylde, another way of saying it will handle both .223 Rem and 5.56×45 NATO cartridges, and it has a nice quick 1:8 twist to help stabilise longer and heavier bullets than just 55gn. 

The Taipan X demonstrated good and consistent accuracy from a bench with the seven different factory loads I tried. 

There were plenty of five-shot groups either side of the 1 MOA mark and nothing went larger than 2 MOA. A few 10-shot strings didn’t appreciably increase group size as the barrel got hotter.

That sort of accuracy in a package as easy to point, aim and shoot as the Taipan X is a recipe for successful hunting. 

With feral goats rampant here, I took it out to cull some. The first encounter was with a mob of 10 and after 11 shots they were all dead; one needed a follow-up to ensure a quick death. All the shots were taken at ever-increasing range from 30m to 120m. Every shot, except the one that required a follow-up, was a chest shot. 

The way the Taipan seems to become an extension of your body when you’re shooting like this is impressive. Looking at the results, I’m sure my shot placement was better than usual.

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan X
The Taipan is comfortable to hold and shoot, without a long reach to the pump handle

The appearance of the Taipan X divides opinion in Australia. It’s a pity, because this rifle is not really much different from the Remington 7600 and 7615 pump-actions that were staples of our market until recently. Like them, it is Cat B in most jurisdictions, although Tasmania has found reason to prohibit it. 

The Taipan X is what you might call a modern sporting rifle in the Australian mould and it works well on any game and feral animals that the .223 cartridge is suitable for. 

It’s an improvement on the first model in quality, finish and design. 

Most of all, the Taipan X is a practical, affordable rifle that’s quick and handy without complication.

Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan X

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Manufacturer: Southern Cross Small Arms, NSW, Australia
  • Type: Pump-action and straight-pull with spring return
  • Calibre: .223 Wylde (.223 Rem & 5.56×45 NATO)
  • Barrel: 42cm (16.5”), 1:8” twist, stainless steel, threaded muzzle
  • Chassis: Aluminium alloy, finished in Cerakote
  • Trigger: single-stage, non-adjustable, 2.5kg release
  • Safety: 2-position
  • Magazine: 2 x 10-round detachable Magpul PMAG
  • Length: 875mm
  • Weight: 3.3kg
  • Length of pull: Adjustable from 340mm upwards with 5mm spacers (5 supplied)
  • Comb: Adjustable
  • Other features: AR15 type grip; full-length Picatinny rail; M-LOK slots; QD sling attachment points; case deflector
  • RRP: $1850
  • Distributor: OSA Australia

Special thanks to our local gun shop, Mudgee Firearms, for facilitating this test and all with a large variety of well-priced ammo.

 

 

 


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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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