best case trimmer for the money?


March 3, 2010, 03:08 PM
I'm finally getting around to buying a brass trimmer, and I wanted to know what the best make/model is for the money.

My press, dies, and shellholders are all RCBS, but I'll buy whatever brand is the best value.

The only calibers I'll be trimming to start off with is .30cal, but eventually I plan on also reloading for .303british, .223, and probably 7mm and 8mm mauser. I also load for handguns, but haven't worried too much about trimming the brass for any of those.

I have more time than money, so I'm not going to spend a bunch of money on one of the powered units. Most of the manual trimmers seem to have an adapter so that you can power them with a cordless drill anyway, which is something I already own.

So, what brand/model would be best for me?


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March 3, 2010, 03:13 PM
The Redding 2400 is very nice.

Here's some videos (general, rifle, pistol) showing it in use:

I'm also planning a shoot of the Hornady case prep center:

Hope that helps.

March 3, 2010, 03:20 PM
I would not not without my Possum Hollow trimmer for .223.

Forster hand trimmer is my recommendation for all around use, with the RCBS next. The Wilson is the best, but slow, and better than needed for all but the most demanding situations.

March 3, 2010, 03:30 PM
I started with a RCBS trimmer using their "3 way cutters" and found it to be a very good tool. The "3 way" trimmers are expensive, caliber specific but do an incredible job as each case is finished exactly the same. I have since added a power head for the trimmer and like the total package. I would highly recommend the product.

March 3, 2010, 03:35 PM
lee lee lee and a cordless drill

Trim, chamfer, deburr flasholes and polish all in one step without turning a crank or even picking up a pair of calipers.

But do yourself a favor and buy the ball handled cutter.

For cost invested vs results obtained you simply will not match the lee system. Ive found that by using a flex extension, a drill with variable torque setting and the right pair of pliers I can FLY through brass prep spending only seconds on each case

March 3, 2010, 04:41 PM

RCBS with a (LRP & SRP)pilot made out of 1/2" steel... chucked in the collet.

Once set, works faster than a Lee with a drill*. Connected to a small cordless drill, it is as fast as you can put cases off and on the pilot.

It is dead accurate too, because you use the bolt face to brass end dimension, no collet-Rim variance.

* if you use the Lee cutter and pilot in a drill press and use the drill table as the stop, it may be faster or about the same.

Jimmy K

March 3, 2010, 04:48 PM
I like Jim's idea, and may copy it one of these days for my RCBS trimmer. ;)

It would also take the flex part out using a power tool. Pushing hard on the handle trimming is what flexes it a tad. With care is does not flex at all though.

Ain't copyrighted yet, right? :D

I really like the idea for doing revolver brass.

March 3, 2010, 05:38 PM
Jimmy k.

I Really like your idea... As i have never liked the way the old RCBS trimmer held the butt end of a case... there was always a bit variance...
great idea...

March 3, 2010, 06:05 PM
I have used Lee's hand trimmer chucked in a drill with good results. Fast, cheap, simple, precise.... perfect. ;)

March 3, 2010, 06:07 PM

Well if ya gonna it copy, do it right:D ..... make checks out to:

Jimmy K....

turned out of a peice of 1/2" rod ... on my drill press using the side grinder and a file.

Mikee Loxxer
March 3, 2010, 06:25 PM
I like my Gracey case trimmer but it is not inexpensive.

Dave Bone
March 3, 2010, 06:52 PM
I recommend avoiding any trimmer that requires shell holders or plates. For example, the Hornady CamLock is a good machine. I have one. However, only Hornady shell holders will work.

A Lyman, with their patented chuck, will chuck up pretty much any size case. Not that I am recommending it. I have used one, but do not own one.

That's my 2 cents worth.

March 3, 2010, 06:53 PM
I used a Forster for 30 years, then moved to a Giraud. The Giraud is worth every penny.

Can I suggest you get one of the spuds that allow you to power the mini-lathe trimmer with a drill? They are available for most, if not all, of the hand-powered mini-lathes. The case of Carpal-Tunnel avoided will be yours:

One of the RCBS mini lathe trimmer heads trims to length, inside and outside chamfers, all at the same time. Giraud is the only other one that comes with this feature from the factory. This is a savings of a huge amount of irritation:

March 3, 2010, 08:48 PM
+1 Lee Precision -

March 3, 2010, 09:03 PM
The Hornady Cam-Loc has the following advantages:

- the caseholder mechanism (the so-callled cam-loc) is simple and very fast to use, and easy on the fingers. It takes less than a half-turn to release or grip a case.
- the crank handle is big enough that it delays finger cramping.
- the tool's casting is high enough that the crank clears the bench top so you don't bang your knuckles.
- the depth of cut is consistently repeatable, within .001".
- the casting is easy to lube while on the go.
- the supplied steel cutter does not chatter and cuts very well; carbide cutters are an option.
- good quality alum casting and good machining of controls, knobs.

Other things to consider:
- if you reload more than one caliber, keep a properly sized case on hand for each caliber. This will speed up the set-up and caliber changeovers. The tool's so-called 'micrometer' does allow for very fine adjustments, but it does not have a scale to which you can return by dialing-in a setting.

March 3, 2010, 09:24 PM
I use the L.E. Wilson and it is very accurate though somewhat slow to get adjusted. I just got the drill adaptor for it so will see how that works out.

I also have the Possum Hollow but was not impressed. I found it difficult to adjust and it didn't cut as smooth as the Wilson.

March 3, 2010, 09:28 PM
The possum hollow needs power and to be running fairly quickly, but it will cut very smooth that way.

March 3, 2010, 09:33 PM
i second the lee and a cordless drill

March 3, 2010, 09:36 PM
Don't get cheap when it comes to a case trimmer. I would go with any of the better known brands except the Lyman, which for me will not cut the case mouth evenly. I copied JimKirk's idea (Thanks Jim:D) which works very well for me. Personally, I do not like any of the trimmers that require a shell holder. Too many variables.


March 3, 2010, 10:01 PM
Any number of trimmers will do some nice work, find something in your price range and go for it.

I've been very pleased with the RCBS Power unit and 3 Way cutter head.....beautiful trimmed cases.

March 3, 2010, 10:49 PM
Lee cutter and lock stud is tough to beat. But Krochus is right, get the cutter with the wooden handball. I started to get tired of the shell slipping out of the lock stud, so I just graduated up to the Lyman. Once I got the hang of it, it works very well.

But, for the $, Lee can't be beat.

March 3, 2010, 10:53 PM
NOTHING beats the Giraud trimmer... I can do 20 cases in a minute.

March 3, 2010, 11:23 PM
NOTHING beats the Giraud trimmer... I can do 20 cases in a minute.

I'm sure it's nice (I'd like one) but the OP stated he didn't want to spend a lot of money.

March 3, 2010, 11:29 PM
+1 for the L.E. Wilson, a very simple, robust, accurate, easy to use and low priced trimmer. No collets or neck pilots, just a shell holder for each family of base cartridges. e.g. 243win, 260rem, 7mm-08, 308win, 338fed and 358win all use the same holder.

Sinclair sells some really nice accessories for it that are pretty expensive, and not at all necessary. They are nice though!


March 4, 2010, 01:46 PM
+2 for the Wilson. Somewhat slower than others, but the most accurate and repeatable trimmer I've used in 40 years of handloading.

March 4, 2010, 02:47 PM
+3 for L.E. Wilson

Needs shellholders for the different calibers, but absolutely reliable and repeatable.

One thing if you do get a Wilson, OIL IT! OIL IT Quickly!

Very well made of high grade machine steel. When I got it, I did not realize just how quickly that high grade steel would start to rust in a humid environment. I wipe mine down after every use with some gun oil and put it in a ziplock bag with some of the rust inhibitor chips.


March 4, 2010, 06:44 PM
"lee lee lee and a cordless drill"

Ditto. And they are very precise. I have two hand lathe type case trimmers, rarely use them anymore. I bought my first Lee a year ago, just to try one because it was so inexpensive. Have bought two more length studs and intend to get several others soon.

The Wilson is very good and not too costly for its type, IF you only use one or two case holders anyway. But, it would cost me an arm and a leg! And they don't even make a holder for one of my cartridges.

March 5, 2010, 01:41 PM
Thanks for the all the replies, although there were so many different ones that it didn't really narrow it down a whole lot.

Right now I'm leaning towards the lee or lyman though.

March 5, 2010, 05:41 PM
I f You want to go good for inexpensive get the lee setup for one caliber. Its not too expensive and you will see that I works great. I own a Forester. a RCBS and a Hornaday. I use the Hornaday for those times that only need 20 or less trims. When I do 500 or 1K the Lee in a $50.00 drill press is the only way to go. Setup is about one minute and the same every time. Also note that the Lee Factory Crimp is made to go with that trim length:cool:

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