Taipan rifle


Daniel O’Dea hails the new improved Taipan rifle

The Southern Cross Small Arms Taipan Light, a compact, magazine-fed pump-action rifle chambered in .223 Wylde (.223 Remington), was highly anticipated when released not that long ago at the end of 2022. Just in time for Christmas, keen Australian shooters lined up to get behind this all Aussie-built rifle which offered modern MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle) styling and ergonomics but didn’t go so far as to draw the ire of draconian appearance laws present in some states including New South Wales. And it was quite reasonably priced.

The rifle in general was well received but the launch of this completely new design didn’t come without a few teething problems, notably a small batch had the cam pins fail while some had issues with the bolt catch. I noted when reviewing the rifle at launch the Cerakote finish on my early example was showing premature wear, unusually so for an otherwise tough and long-lasting finish.

Even then, at time of writing SCSA had already acted decisively, investing in new Cerakote spray booths and bringing the application in-house as was some of the other small component manufacturing. There was additional investment in machinery and staff, all to further guarantee quality control and remove the possibility of any repeat instances of some of the minor issues experienced in early production.

Not resting on their laurels and rather than sitting back as the new rifle rolled out, SCSA were already busy at work with continued research and development, now aided by a growing customer base ever happy to provide feedback. This is why, not even 12 months after that launch, I found myself at SCSA headquarters with director Damir Lukic to pick up a new and improved version of the Taipan – the Taipan X – and no that doesn’t mean Elon Musk has taken over the company for all you former Twitter users.

At first glance the Taipan X doesn’t look all that different to the Light, though the changes are not insignificant as the X is no longer just a pump-action but a straight-pull rifle too. This has been achieved by spring-assisting the pump slide so that on release it’ll drive forward under its own momentum. That means positive spring pressure always defaults the action to the closed position and if you pull the pump slide back and release, it’ll fly forward and chamber a round from the magazine.

The addition of a machined slot to the left of the receiver allows for inclusion of a bolt handle which screws directly into the side of the bolt carrier, meaning the rifle can now be cycled as a straight-pull, independent of the pump actuation. The pump handle and operation rod are still captive to the bolt so the pump assembly does still move, only now it can be done from the side charging handle rather than the pump slide, making the new X somewhat more versatile to use.

An added benefit of the new spring-assisted system is to make the previous side-mounted bolt release lever obsolete. On the Taipan Light this release was effectively there to stop the bolt falling out of battery or the action opening unintendedly. This lever had to be depressed to open the action without firing the rifle and is now replaced by the positive forward spring pressure of the new system.

Ironically the rifle’s bolt-stop button at the rear of the receiver now actually serves a purpose. On the Taipan Light I found this feature a solution to an issue which didn’t exist. Sold as the answer to the chances of accidental bolt closure should someone choose to bounce around the back of a ute or on a bike with full magazine and open action, I found the whole premise quite ridiculous. Mind you, someone that silly is probably unlikely to activate it in the first place.

Sarcasm suggests a secondary purpose would be to accidently bump against something or otherwise activate unintentionally to stop you cycling the rifle when needed, not something which happened to me personally but of which antidotal evidence exists. But now this feature actually serves a genuine propose, that being to lock the bolt back under the spring pressure to retain the chamber in the open position, be that for clearing or cleaning the rifle. A new positive spin on its existence so hooray for the Taipan bolt stop.

Another small but beneficial improvement is the addition of a polymer case deflector at the rear of the ejection port. On the Taipan Light, cases would strike the face of the receiver just rearward of the ejection port on the way out, potentially marking the Cerakote finish. This new deflector not only protects the finish but redirects ejected cases forward and away from the shooter’s face. I’ve never tried shooting a Taipan off the left shoulder but perhaps a welcome addition for lefties too, in preventing an unwanted mouth full of brass.

These improvements aside the only other changes I could detect were an upgraded pistol grip from the standard black plastic mil spec A2 to a more ergonomic rubberized version incorporating the SCSA logo (nice touch), and the various receiver screw and bolt heads are now blackened rather than stainless in appearance.

When running the Taipan X through its paces the tangible benefits of these improvements quickly become evident. With a forward-mounted bipod and in the prone position, using the straight-pull function completely changes the loading dynamics from a cumbersome movement (operating a pump slide from prone) to a fast and efficient motion. To further take advantage of this style of shooting, SCSA will be offering an ACRA adapter mount which uses the two forward handguard bolt holes for attachment just forward of the magazine housing, an excellent solution for tripod use if desired.

The Taipan X is otherwise unchanged, using the same 420mm (16.5”) stainless steel button-rifled barrel with a 1:8 twist, threaded muzzle (½ x 28 TPI) and .223 Wylde chambering safely allowing the use of both 5.56 NATO loadings as well as all commercial .223 Remington offerings (the receiver is stamped for both).

Unfortunately the trigger remains unchanged too – heavy, creepy and basically unredeemable and is a benchrester’s nightmare, though to be fair par for the course with this style of hammer-fall trigger where fiddling with sear engagement etc can result in all kinds of potential disaster. This type of trigger system is generally nonadjustable and heavy by design for safety reasons. In the field and for practical shooting it’s not going to bother you but if you’re target shooting off a bench you might hope for better. From experience the trigger will wear-in to a degree over time and improve slightly, though if impatient there are ways to expedite this covered in my original article.

Like its predecessor the gun produces very good practical accuracy for this style of rifle, in my experience being in the 1-1.5 MOA range with most ammo types. Ergonomics are excellent with MSR-type fire controls, adjustability for length of pull and cheek weld with the stock and plenty of ‘rail estate’. This comes via both the continuous top rail for optics mounting and multiple forward M-lok slots for accessory fitment, while clever little bonuses like the machined QD sling cups top-off a well thought out package. For a detailed overview and recap of the shared Taipan features, check out my previous article in the March 2023 edition Australian Shooter or visit the SCSA website.


Rifle: SCSA Taipan X
Action: Spring-assisted pump action/straight-pull
Trigger: Single-stage
Calibre: .223 Wylde (.223 Remington/5.56 NATO)
Capacity: 10-round (two Magpul supplied)
Barrel: 16.5” (420mm)
Twist rate: 1:8
Weight: 3.2kg
Muzzle: Threaded ½ x 28
Sights: 565mm Picatinny rail for optics mounting
Stock: Alloy (TSP X)
Overall length: 890mm
Length of pull: 305mm (adjustable via spacers supplied)
RRP: About $1899

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