case trimmer opinions desired


April 10, 2007, 10:05 PM
I'm hoping to buy my first case trimmer in May or June and am starting to figure out which one to go with. So far I'm impressed with the Hornady trimmer - it's height to prevent knuckle smackage looks appealing.

What should I be thinking about for case trimmers?

Would you be willing to share your opinions on case trimmers?


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April 10, 2007, 11:04 PM
Since I started loading in '65 I've seen and used several trimmers. Perhaps the "best" was a Wilson in that it was quite repeatable and cut the mouths absolutely square.

Those trimmers with stepped, "draw-in" type collets are pretty much all the same. The finished lengths are somewhat dependant on the diameter of the individual case rims. Not all are the same diameter and lengths vary accordingly.

I suggest avoiding any case trimmer using standard shell holders to secure the cases in place. They all index off the forward face of the case rims so finished lengths will vary by however much the rim thicknesses vary.

A "Handloader's Digest" back in the late 60s or early 70s gave a good report on the new, at that time, Lyman "Universal" trimmer. I took that advice and mine has worked great for me.

The Lyman's "Universal" name comes from the fact it has a universal case holder system, no case collets required. And it comes with nine caliber pilots as part of the basic package. That universal case holder draws the case head back firmly against a steel stud so finished case lengths are consistant. It has a good (but un-calibrated) coarse/fine length adjustment nut on the cutter shaft, works as good or better than any other brand.

Lyman has several accessories that make their trimmer more versatal than any other I know of; an outside neck turner, primer pocket cleaners and uniformer and GI crimp remover, a champher/deburr tool, etc. Over all, it is a pretty good system for sporter rifles. It's not up to bench rest competition standards but neither are any of the trimmers available from our standard handloading tool makers.

You will also require a decent machinist's caliper for measuring lengths. An inexpensive 6" stainless steel dial caliper from Harbor Freight Tools costs maybe $16-18 when on sale, and they frequently are. I think all of the common reloader calipers are from the same Chinese factory regardless of the brand stamped on them, Lyman, RCBS, Hornady, Midway, etc. so why pay more?

April 11, 2007, 12:02 AM
I agree with Ranger who pointed out some very noteworthy features. I like the Hornady also, but again, Ranger makes a very good point about the use of shellholders, the Lyman has an advantage here. Another feature of the Lyman is that you can add an adapter for use with a drill/driver to speed production when needed, so long as you don't get carried away with it. I use a Ryobi combination drill/driver that has a clutch as an example, when I do a batch of handgun cases.;)

April 11, 2007, 08:54 AM
The Wilson is the best. The Forster is next. I like my RCBS OK, but you have to be carefull how hard to push turning the handle as it will flex a bit.:)

An inexpensive 6" stainless steel dial caliper from Harbor Freight Tools costs maybe $16-18 when on sale, and they frequently are
Yep, just bought a nice easy to read digital from HF for $17.

April 11, 2007, 09:14 AM
lee makes specific caliber trimmers for $5 if you only will be loading a couple different calibers. they can be spun by hand or a slow-speed drill if your doing 100's of rounds at a time. you put the case in the shellholder and spin the cutter (by hand or drill) and the blades can't cut beyond the pre-set length.

April 11, 2007, 09:18 AM
Get the Wilson. It's very affordable and cuts absoutely square. If you get the Lee, you will end up spending all the money you saved on Advil.:cuss:

If your really want a nice, fast power trimmer, the Giurad is pretty slick!

The Bushmaster
April 11, 2007, 09:42 AM
I have the RCBS trimmer and have been very happy with it. Walkalong is correct that you have to develope a touch. It will flex if you push too hard, but a light touch gets me the same cut from case to case.:) I'm not sure if this isn't a problem with most of the manual lathe trimmers...

April 11, 2007, 09:45 AM
Low Volume: Wilson

High Volume: Giraud



April 11, 2007, 12:10 PM
I like the Possum Hollow trimmer (Sinclair International catalog). Cost is on the order of $20. A lot easier on the hands than the Lee trimmer and it will also take a chamfer/debur tool.

I refuse to trim cases by hand. There's just no reason to put yourself through that kind of misery. If it's not turned by a motor, it's not worth buying IMO.

April 11, 2007, 01:28 PM
I have already invested in a nice, previously enjoyed Mitotoyu 6" digital caliper - but thank you for suggesting that I acquire such a measuring tool. I also seem to have forgotten the first rule when asking for equipment opinions - mentioning the budget. My budget is ~ $100 US.

Another question - are all of the brands of case trimmers mutually proprietary in regards to case holders, cutterheads and accessory bits (such as primer pocket reamers / cleaners? Or do certain brands accept other branded accessories, etc?


April 11, 2007, 01:52 PM
mostly proprietary :)

April 13, 2007, 03:53 PM
After my local gun shop told me about how he uses his drill press to hold and run the Lee single caliber case trimmer I went with this system. If I don't like it I'll save up for one of the lathe-type setups.

Thanks for all the replies!

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