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L.E. Wilson or Foster Case Trimmer?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by ferggie, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. ferggie

    ferggie Well-Known Member

    I am looking at the Foster Case Trimmer but keep looking back at the Wilson. Is it worth the money to buy the Wilson?
    Is there different Trimmer I should consider and why?
    I wil be using this initially only for S&W 460 mag cases.
  2. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    I tried the Wilson, and it cuts, beautifully. Doesn't leave much burr. I suppose it's pretty accurate, too. But it doesn't work for me. Even for bottle neck cases, it's slow and tedious. For straight walled cartridges like you're talking, it's even worse cuz of the shell holder. You have to shove a pin in/out of the side of the shellholder.

    Lee cutters always cut the case mouth perfectly symmetrical. Same reason you put the wood in the lathe and spin it, instead of your cutting tool. And with a drill and Zip trim chuck, they can be fast. Really, really fast. I haven't used the Wilson since getting a Zip trim chuck and drill adapter. AFAIC, the only upgrade from the LEE is a system with a 3-way cutter to do the trimming and chamfering all in one.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
  3. lightman

    lightman Well-Known Member

    The Wilson is a nice tool, and I would buy another after owning one, but I have never used it on straight wall cases. If you buy the one that Sinclair has that is all tricked out, its nice, but pricey. The Lee tool works ok too, I just wish someone would make a carbide cutter for it. I've never used the Forster, but trimmers that use collets can have issues with consistency. I doubt if you'll see any difference on target. The Wilson uses a different concept than the others, but once I got used to it, I found it to be equally fast. You can get set-up with a Lee for about $10 or so for the first caliber. Hope this helps, Lightman
  4. DM~

    DM~ Well-Known Member

    I've had several different trimmers over the years, but i like the Forster trimmers best.

    They have about everything you would need to trim, ream, nect turn ect... It's a quality product that will last you the rest of your life.

  5. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

    I have the rcbs, the lee, the Wilson, the Forster, and the real trick is to not trim.

    Lately for wild cats and stuff, I trim on the lathe, when i am turning the neck.

    But if you have to trim, [and I try to avoid it] the Forster is faster and the Wilson is nicer. Both are a lot better than the RCBS trim pro manual... yuck.
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    The Wilson is superb, but slow. The Forster is really nice, and can be fairly fast with power. I use a drill on mine. The RCBS is nice, and can be used by hand or under power, just like the Forster. The Possum Hollow trimmer does a very good job, although case length will not be quite as consistent. It is seriously fast chucked up in a lathe. I use all of these.

    How precise do you need to be, and how much time do you have.
  7. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    I cannot comment on the Forster.

    I have a Wilson with the Sinclair micrometer adjuster. It makes adjusting the trimmer easy and quick. I made a block with a hole in it for the case holder and use a rod and 4 oz hammer to knock the case out of the holder. Then tap the base of the new case to set it the holder. i have trouble wrapping a freshly machined case mouth on a board to dislodge the case from the case holder.

    Also, I have Sinclair's shark's tail clamp. Makes clamping quick.

    With my accessories and still turning the cutter manually, I find the Wilson trimmer to be about as fast as using the Lee with Lee's case stud and shell holder.

    I have never tried a straight walled case on the Wilson although I have one or two case holders. I am sure speed will slow down with the more complex case holders.

    I have had a Little Crow Gun Works WFT trimmer for a long time but finally got around to using it. I am pleased. The next step is to try the WFT in the lathe.

    But, I do not think the WFT design will do straight walled cases.
  8. GW Staar

    GW Staar Well-Known Member

    Lots of people swear by the Wilson's accuracy, but it is slow.

    My Forster has been in use for more than 40 years. It's very accurate as well, and I was perfectly happy with it until I bought a progressive. Then it became too slow...not as slow as a Wilson but still a noticeable bottleneck when reloading on a progressive.

    Forster is the only lathe trimmer company, besides RCBS, who offers a three-way cutter option where you trim, deburr, and chamfer in the same instant.....and a drill adapter as well. So I upgraded mine and the bottleneck went away.


    You don't have to mount it vertically like I did...but why not? Let gravity make the job easier. No stress on the hands either.
  9. 119er

    119er Well-Known Member

    I use the whole tricked out Wilson set-up from Sinclair. For straight wall cases use the Q-type caseholder. I have done 1000 .223 but it was not fun. It is great for accuracy and repeatability and I like the case holder system. It is fine for doing smaller batches but I'm looking for something else to do my large volume trimming with. The Giraud trimmer or Dillon Rapid Trim would be great, but I'll have to wait a while for that.
  10. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    I have used several trimmers over the years but when I tried a Forster Trimmer at a friends house I was sold. I bought one right a way and I'm happy I did. It's easy to use and extremely accurate. I like the fact Forster has additional cutting tools for their little lath too. (neck reamer, outside neck turning, primer pocket cleaner, ect.)

    The Wilson might be just as good but I have never used one so I can't say, sorry...
  11. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    I'm sure your setup is relatively fast. With a drill, even faster. But if you get a Zip trim chuck and drill spindle and learn how to use it, I'm thinking it's fairly similar. So I agree, they are similar in speed, on the surface.

    If you include the time for separately chamfering on the Wilson, I pretty sure that makes all the difference; the speed comparison falls apart. Even if you chamfer on a lathe, you still have to handle the cases a second time. Also, the Lee method takes seconds to setup and put away. And a caliber change is 10 seconds to swap the guide, or you can buy a dedicated cutter for each caliber and still be saving bank compared to a Wilson.

    And it's easier to insert/remove the cases from the Zip. The major annoyance for me with the Wilson was the case holder. Having to turn it one way to tap cases out, and then turning it another to drop out the case, then turning it again to insert cases, then turning it back around to tap/tighten the case to make sure it doesn't spin instead of getting cut, this all takes a lot of movement that was tiring on my wrist... but that's another hill of beans. Sounds like your rod and hammer is a good idea!

    I've seen some vids of very fast Wilson setups with Sinclar clamps and drill, but there's not really a good one for the Lee with a drill. Next time I prep 223, I'll try to remember to roll some film. I used to seriously wonder when I heard people claim they would trim all their brass with a Lee, because it was faster than sorting out and trimming just the ones that needed it. But after figuring out the deal, I'm getting closer to being on the same page. There a bit of an art to it, but it's surpringly effortless, once you get it down.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  12. thump_rrr

    thump_rrr Well-Known Member

    You seem to think that the Lee setup is unbeatable.
    I started with the Lee setup in a mini lathe myself and never thought of using anything else for low volume work.
    My Lee would cut within +/- .0005 every time.
    One day I was trimming some Lapua .308 brass and noticed that instead of 2.005 the lengths all varied between 2.005-1.998.
    It appears that the end of the trim stud must have not been properly hardened and began to wear away.
    The Lapua brass was worth 10 times what the Lee setup was so I decided I needed to go with a better setup.
    Since then I went with the LE Wilson Sinclair set up with all available options.
    For large volume trimming I use the Dillon RT 1200 on my progressive press which has a case feeder.
  13. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    Here are some pix of my Wilson set up. I find the crank is easier to use than some sort of power. It is too cumbersome to have a heavy drill motor hung off the end of the trimmer, and yes, I have the power adapter and have tried it. I find a couple spins of the cutter is all that it is needed. I will admit that my hand gets tired when doing lots of cases (I formed 1500 300 BLK cases last summer and did it numerous sessions due to the final trimming of the cases).

    I do not have to turn the Wilson case holder over. I keep the rod in my left hand at all time. I chamfer and debur the case before removing it from the case holder.

    i have not used Lee's zip trim. I did try their quick chuck and did not find it holding the case as reliable as the case stud and shell holder. What slows me down with the case stud and shell holder is that it is difficult to tighten by hand sometimes. I have a wrench on hand to snug up the shell holder if necessary. I use a battery screw driver with the Lee as I find a drill motor too cumbersome to use.

    I have not tried using a drill press with the Lee trimmer as some THR members use. My drill press is in another shop and I have been too lazy to pack up the cases and move them to the other shop for trimming.

    After trimming all those 300 BLK cases, I find the Wilson really is as quick as the way I trim with the Lee and less aggravating because I do not use the case stud and shell holder. I normally do not trim anywhere near this volume at one time. i usually only trim 20 or 30 at the most as I process fired cases shortly after shooting and I only trim the cases that are over length. The cases then get stored for a future reloading session. I do not wait until I have a boat load of cases to prepare them for reloading.

    What works for me does not work for everyone and that is fine. I like to see what others are doing and frequently get new ideas.

    i frequently have already tried the alternate method, or a permutation of it. Sometimes it does not float my boat.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  14. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    I use the L.E. Wilson trimmer with the power attachment bought from Sinclair. Hooked up with my cordless drill, it speeds things up considerably.

  15. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    If the end of the pin were wearing, that would make the cutting pin completely flattened/squared on the end, with the radius removed?

    My cutter guides are very hard. I know from chucking one up in a drill and sanding it down to accept unexpanded thick-necked cases; it took a very, very long time. It was akin to enlarging the neck of a rifle sizing die; I've done that, too. I'm afraid everytime I drop it, the pin win break off, but I've yet to break one.

    The more common problem stems from the fact the guide rests on the edge of the cutting teeth. Over time, it can turn in deeper and dull a portion of the blade. I was, in fact, waiting to see if this would to happen to my 223 guide, because I wanted it to cut shorter. But through a couple thousand rounds, it never did move any; every brass was the same length. So I torqued it hard with vice grips to shorten it to 1.745 on purpose. And that's where it still cuts to this day. I read that Locktite or a permanent adhesive can be used to lock the guide, if your guide doesn't stay where you want it.

    Not unbeatable. It has limitations. But if it's set up right (and you aren't unlucky enough to get one with a soft pin?), it's completely accurate/repeatable, and I predict when used just so, as I will show, you will agree it is fast and easy as anything until you spring for relatively expensive-per-caliber 3 way cutter systems.

    Cfull, I like your solution for the Wilson case holder flip-a-ma-jig dance! Very nice.
    I haven't tried it, either. And my drill press is right next to my bench. Since you can't power chamfer at the same time on a drill press, I don't see it's worth the bother... esp having to setup your drill press height each time if you cut down your cutter guide. Or having to advance the drill press head so far an amount for each case, if you use the standard guide for your stop depth.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012

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