When it comes to trimming, we all know it’s kind of a love and hate situation. There are many questions you need to answer before you get yourself a case trimmer. You need to know the volume of blasting ammo, the volume precision, the costs… and so on.
Trimming is all about a square case mouth and consistent length. Ideally, the case length should be kept less than the maximum or the case mouth might press against the chamber and hold the bullet too tightly, giving too much pressure.
Many factory chambers are cut long and when you crimp with a standard die, a consistent trim length gives a consistent crimp. Keep in mind that the length consistency doesn’t have to go up to the max and the more improve this consistency, the more accuracy you get.
Square mouths give regular release, make the bullet entry better during seating and a good say on accuracy just as well.
Most common trimmers are consistent enough for plinking, casual competition or hunting. The more precision you want, the more consistency you’d want in length and square shape.
What’s the story with the case trimmers
The market gives you various types of trimmers, that differ in complexity and price, going from simple trim dies to motorized trimmers. There are good sides and down sides to each type, of course.
The most basic type is the trim dies. The trim dies are a little more than a sizing die. Any part of the case mouth that goes above the top of the trim dies may be taken with a few strokes of a file. The top surface of the die is a hardened area and the file cannot break the die. When you’re done with trimming, the case mouth has to be chamfered and deburred before a future loading. These trim dies are low priced and very easy to use.
The trim dies address to one specific cartridge so they are not versatile enough. If you’re a hand loader with one or two cartridges, that doesn’t do much shooting, trim dies are a low cost method to keep cases at minimum length.
Obviously enough, trim dies are for most popular standard cartridges and a custom wildcat would need a specially made trim dies. You can’t adjust the headspace without changing the case length and this defeats the mean of the die. For a large chamber, you need to work the brass more than you’d normally want. If this happens, you might need another type of trimmer.
The lathe type trimmer might be the most popular case trimmers today. They look like a small lathe and the case head is hold tightly in place by a collet. The mouth is centered on the mandrel and the case is fed into a cutter. Best bass prep station may be adjusted exactly to the desired length and locked to trim all cases to the same length. You may trim any case by changing the collet and mandrel, readjusting the stops to control trim length. There is no risk for the headspace to be damaged with this type of trimmer.
But, to stay on the safe side, it’s better to stop any now and then and check if the trim length has changed or not.
You may find lathe type trimmers from most manufacturers in a manual or motorized version. Best brass trimmers may be used as a base for many other tools used in case preparation work. Some trimmers may clean primer pockets, inside neck ream, square case heads or outside neck turn,
If you’re a hand loader that uses a big diversity of cartridges, the lathe type trimmer is the most versatile and cost effective trimmer that you may get.
If none of these types suits your needs, you can always go with a high volume motorized unit. This type trims large numbers of cases in a short amount of time. The case gets trimmer by a carbide cutter operated by an electric motor, placed above the die. You may also adjust individually the headspace and trim length. As different cartridges require different dies, these trimmers are also limited to standard calibers.
All in all, …
Your likes, your needs and, in fairness, your abilities and time have the final word when you’re getting a case trimmer. You know best how often, how much you hunt/shoot and, therefore, which trimmer is the perfect choice for you.
Top 5 Case Trimmer Reviews
When you want to save yourself some money and a lot of manual operations, get yourself the RCBS Universal Case Prep Center. Quick and easy to operate, the RCBS Universal Case Prep center comes with many features and here are the best ones:
- You get case trim accessories and trim tools with the RCBS Case Prep Center
- The case trimmer has an efficient ambidextrous design
- The 24-VDC motor is powerful and reliable
- The RCBS case trimmer addresses to case diameters from .250 to .625 inch and lengths from .720 inch to 3.375 inches
- The RCBS case trimmer features micrometer adjustment for quick and accurate cuts
- The shell holder carrier assembly helps you adjust trim length as it makes it easy and fast
- The RCBS unit comes with large and small primer pocket brushes, chamfer and deburring tools and alignment gauge
- The unit comes with caliber pilots od 22, 24, 24, 27, 28, 30, 35, 44 and 45
- You may buy additional accessories for the unit
- The RCBS lets you deburr, chamfer and clean the primer pocket of one case, while trimming another
- You may harness the motor’s power by adjusting the output shaft’s RPM
- You may hand-free trim thanks to the spring-loaded feed system
- A single lever may load and unload cases and then remove them from the cutter
- The unit is well thought out
- You don’t need case holders with the RCBS unit
- The cutter head is fixed
- The case holder is universal
- The RCBS unit comes with a two-year limited warranty
There are some minor issues related to the RCBS, but they are not deal breakers. Here are our cons:
- The instruction need to be a bit clearer than that
- The unit could use a carbide cutter head for more accuracy
All in all, the RCBS is an efficient, universal case trimmer that gets you through so much of the various trimming operations.
Efficient and for heavy duty, the Hornady Lock N Load Case Prep Center gives you precision and speed when doing your case trimming. Along with these main features, there are some other things that count as pros:
- The Hornady trims cases from ¾” to 3 ¼”
- The unit combines case prep tools and powerful trimming
- The case trimmer features power chamfer/deburr tool
- The unit comes with large and small primer pocket cleaners
- The Hornady features five popular neck brush sizes
- The case trimmer is micro adjustable to 1/1000”
- The Hornady uses standard Hornady shell holders
- There are Hornady cam-lock case trimmer pilots
- The included pilots are 22, 6 mm, .270, 7mm, .30, .38 and .45 caliber
- You may buy more accessories: primer pocket reamers, primer pocket uniformed, flash hole deburring tool
- The Hornady has a vertical design of power trimmer
- The horizontal design of case prep tools holds case shavings from falling into cases
- The case discharge is easy
- The unit features no less than 7 units
- The unit is easy to setup
- There are no signs of rusting even after a while
- The motor is strong and quiet at the same time
- The unit is easy to adjust and has a good built
- There are six tool adjustment points
- The cutter is replaceable
Some things need to be improved so here are our cons:
- The unit comes with no crimp remover
- The unit could be faster than it is
- The trim is not always clean
But, all in all, the Hornady still manages to be a reliable and efficient case trimmer.
Giving you precision and efficiency and short work times, the RCBS Trim Pro Power Trim Kit 120 comes with a strong motor but may be operated manually as well. Here are its strong points:
- The low RPM motor gives plenty of toque
- The spring-fed cutter is easy and precise
- There’s no need of pushing or feeding pressure
- Your hands remain free for deburring
- The positive locking handle makes it safe to use the unit
- The integral power switch helps you easily and securely operate the case trimmer
- The unit comes with shell holders 2,3,4 and 10
- The pilot calibers are .22, .24, .25, .27, .28, .30, .35, .44, .45
- The trimmer comes with spring-loaded lever shell holder which gives a clean, fast cut
- The unit is very easy to operate and you only need to release the motor into the trim position
- The motor shuts off the second you pull the motor back into the unload/load position
- You may order more pilots
- The unit is of great quality and long lasting
- There are specific shell holders but they hold securely
- The trimmer gives great case length
As for the cons, we need to mention that the accompanied selection could be more useful, but this is not a deal breaker.
Saving you a lot of time and money, there comes the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Trim and Prep Center System. There are many good things to mention about this case trimmer station so here are our pros:
- The Frankford adjustable collet system works with all cases from .17 Remington to .460 Weatherby (but cases need to have a shoulder)
- The Frankford Platinum indexes cases in the shoulder for more speed and accuracy
- You don’t need shell holders when you use the Frankford Arsenal Case Trim
- It’s easy and fast to trim and chamfer cases
- The 3 output shafts take all case trimming accessories with 8-32 threads
- The Ultra-Hard HSS cutters remain sharp for many rounds of trimming
- The Frankford Arsenal is a heavy duty case trimmer
- The motor is very strong
- The motor is long lasting, just as the drivetrain
- The Frankford Arsenal is not loud, considering its powerful motor
- You only need to insert brass into the case holder, after adjusting the case holder
- A collet aligns the case squarely with the hi-speed cutter
- There are three collets and six bushings (that come along with the Frankford Arsenal) in any shouldered case
- You may operate up to three additional tools at the same time
- The chamfer tools and primer pocket cleaners are included
- The cutters and chamfer tools are made of high quality hardened steel
- The built in storage box holds spare collets, bushings and tools
- The kit consists 6 different sized case shoulder bushings, 2 different sized primer pocket cleaners, deburr tool, chamfer tool and 3 different sized case body collets
- The Frankford is easy to set up
- The engineering on the case trimmer is great
- The adjustable foot is angled at a good work position
As for the parts we didn’t like that much, here are the cons:
- The trimming needs to be improved as it’s not the most accurate
- The price is not that low
- You need to buy some other tools for it
Apart from these cons, we have no serious reason not to consider the Frankford Arsenal to be a good, heavy duty case trimmer.
A very popular case trimmer is the Lyman Universal Case Trimmer with Carbide Cutter and 9 Pilot Multi-Pack. Versatile and reliable, the Lyman has many good features and here’s our pros:
- The Lyman Case Trimmer is for your basic needs
- The trimmer comes with carbide cutter head for volume reloaders
- It’s easy to setup the Lyman Case trimmer
- The trimmer works well
- Even though it’s heavy enough, you may mount the Lyman as it features 4 mounting holes
- The case trimmer gives accurate results
- The carbide cutter cuts the brass easily
- The Lyman doesn’t take much space on your working area
- The Lyman Case trimmer comes with pilots
- You don’t need collets
- The universal chuck head handles any case from .17 to .458 caliber
- The cutter head has a fine grain and very sharp cutting edge
- The Carbide head hold its edge longer, which makes the trimmer great for volume reloaders
- The Lyman Case trimmer comes with 9 of the most popular pilots
- You don’t need to buy shell holders
- You may it with care kit as well to deburr, chamfer, ream primer holes
- The cartridge casing is held securely
There are some things that count as cons and we need to mention them:
- It might get difficult to get the exact sizing
- You need a powder tool adapter
- After 100 rounds, your hands might get tired and… you might want a motorized case trimmer
As it’s versatile, easy to use and set up, the Lyman case trimmer is an efficient brass trimmer, at a low price.
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