What is a pilot?


Ignition Override
May 23, 2010, 08:44 PM
A reloading website stated that for trimming, you only need a 1) cutter, 2) lock stud, 3) case length gauge and 4) shellholder.
These Lee items from Midway have instructions which say "...Insert pilot into case...".

Apparently, a pilot is needed, but the reloading website never mentioned this.
I just received these other four parts (described above).

I've reloaded about 300 rounds (many three times or more), only for my Prvi .303 (LE), and half of the empty cases now exceed the 2.22 max. length.

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May 23, 2010, 09:17 PM
A "Pilot" is used with a lyman trimmer, fits into the case mouth. Lee's "pilot" would be the case length gauge, is my guess.

May 23, 2010, 09:46 PM
Here is a pic of a common pilot for many trimmers. Dunno about the Lee either.

May 23, 2010, 09:56 PM
The "pilot" is a round metal mandrel that's a slip-fit into the fired case mouth, to prevent it from deflecting while the case is trimmed,

What is "L.E."?

Ignition Override
May 23, 2010, 10:05 PM
Thanks guys. My question was premature.
The hand trimmer seems to work well as several turns reduce the case lengths to under 2.22".

ambidextrous1: I tend to say LE instead of Lee-Enfield. The #4 and both #5 Jungle Carbines are my favorites.

Savage .22, LE #4, #5, Yugo Mauser, SKS, Mini 30. Very late-bloomer.

May 23, 2010, 10:26 PM
Hey Walkalong, Great job with that camera. 1 photo is worth a 1000 words.

May 24, 2010, 01:01 PM

Lee hand Trimmer:

Upper left item is a lock stud. Upper right item is a cutter.

Middle item is a pilot shaft and pilot pin. Bottom item is the shellholder.

Jimmy K

May 25, 2010, 06:59 PM
Question for Jimmy K -

Do you screw the pilot into the cutter all the way? I picked on of these up today for about $8 w a 30/30 pilot and shell holder; I understand the concept - the pilot prevents the cutter from cutting any deeper than the pin will penetrate. Mine however, will only thread in but so far, leaving approximately 1 thread still showing ahead of the cutter head... is this correct placement for this cutter + pilot?


May 25, 2010, 07:28 PM
The pilot major diameter will hit the cutter teeth. Scew in all the way. I see no threads on mine. You might have to clean out the threads.

May 25, 2010, 07:30 PM
Copy that! Thanks!


May 25, 2010, 08:30 PM
I have several calibers in this type tool some do not thread all the way in, some do. None, however leave an entire thread showing. +1 on checking the threads for blockage. If you're going to chuck this into a power tool use a high torque low speed one like a cordless screwdriver, rather than a drill. High speeds can cause annealing of the case mouth. While the case is chucked into the tool/screwdriver a little brasso on a polishing cloth can remove stuborn tarnish.

May 25, 2010, 11:44 PM
As the others have said, screw the shaft all the way up to the cutter, tight. The pilot shaft and pin length controls the case OAL. If you use this cutter in a power tool, watch for deformation of the pin end, any change to the end changes the case OAL. I believe it was RC that noted this after using his in a drill press, with the flat surface of the drill table as the flat stud surface. I also noticed the same after trying mine in a drill press too, with the press you can exert a lot more force than by hand, this force deforms the pin rather fast. Watch for the change.

This is one of Lee's best products!

Jimmy K

May 25, 2010, 11:52 PM
Pilot = A truck stop with not near enough parking spaces most of the time, terrible hot dogs, good coffee, bad service, smelly bathrooms, and outrageously expensive prices on cheap RoadPro (made in China) junk...the best part is, there are plenty of them.

I know, I know...wrong kind of pilot, but thats the first thing that came to mind when I saw this.

May 26, 2010, 01:15 AM
This is one of Lee's best products!

I thought a Pilot is the person who flies the plane? :confused:

As for the Lee trimmers, I have used them before. Comparing the cost of all other trimmers, nothing beats the Lee system. I have to wonder though, why doesn't Lee put a flash hole duburring device on their pilots? That way, you could get two jobs done with one twist.

May 26, 2010, 04:36 PM

You would be trying to hold two "different" dimensions to the same pilot. IT just would not work well because of various web thickness of different cases.

If you want a good flash hole debur/chamfer tool, look at the K&M tool, it happens to be the best of those tools.

Jimmy K

May 26, 2010, 04:47 PM
Do you screw the pilot into the cutter all the way?The Lee trimmer I use for .223 in my lathe developed loose or worn threads in the pilot after a few hundred rounds had been trimmed.

That made it cut progressivly shorter and shorter until I finally caught it.

I used red Lock-Tight on the pin threads and adjusted it for proper 1.750" Trim-Too length before the Lock-Tight set up.

No more problems and it hasen't changed in several thousand cases.


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