case trimmer: Which one to get?

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Michael R.

Jul 6, 2011
the people's republic of illinois
i put this thread in the rifle forum because i figure some people reload. i was wondering which brand of case trimmer would be the best, specifically rcbs or lyman case trimmers. also is an electric or manual trimmer better?
I use two trimmers. Both are manual. If there is a lot of metal to be removed on a batch of brass, I use my Forster, which is similar to the brands you mentioned. Like a miniature lathe, and, even manually will make short work of the job without wearing the operator out. If I just need to square up the case mouth, the little hand-held Lee works fine. This also doubles as a case length gauge, trimming to minimum OAL for the intended case. They are inexpensive and work like a charm. I use this one each time I load a cartridge, part of the prep operation. A little time consuming, but you know you'll never have an over max case as it rims to min. OAL each time. No adjustment is provided. On the Forster, you can adjust from max to min or anywhere in between. These two have been all I've ever needed.
I've found the Lee to be the fastest and easiest to use. They make a shell holder that chucks up to a cordless drill. You can trim a bunch of brass in a hurry for very little expense.
I use the RCBS model with flat shell holders. Collet shell holders are ok if all case heads are the same size but this is not true for mixed brass which will cause different case lengths after trimming. I added the power unit to it and now trimming is no longer a dreaded chore.
A mod will move this to the reloading forum but how many do you intend to do at a time? What are you going to use the ammo for? Do you want to turn the OD? Do you intent to debur ID and OD as part of the process?
None of the above, at least not for accuracy and precision.

Nothing really beats the Wilson case trimmers. They're also fairly fast to use. You need a specific shell holder for each case taper, but that's relatively easy to deal with.

You can find 'em at, and I also have a slightly used one that I'll consider parting with.
Arthritis causes my hands to HURT when doing repetitive motions.
I use a Lyman Power Trimmer.
I think it's a bit slower than doing it manually, but it's a LOT easier on my hands.

I wish I could find a REASONABLY priced power trimmer, where you just put the case in & it automatically feeds to the stop point.
I use the Lyman Universal trimmer and I've been very satisfied so far. It's a manual one, but it really takes next to no effort. I also like the fact that it doesn't require shell holders, but has a chuck that fits all standard cartridges.
I just got the Lee and the lenght gauge does not seem to sit flush with the cutter part. Does your sit flush or is it raised for a reason?

I am so cheap all I have is the Lee set up with the ball handled cutter. I lack an electric drill, so the case holder goes in a socket screwdriver to hold it, and I do all the rest. I can do about 50 in a day, then my hands are 100% done. One of these days I'll get a drill from the pawnshop. :)
The lee is fine if you aren't going to do large qualities. If u want to trim more than a couple hundred it gets to be a PITA IMO.

I moved to the RCBS trim pro with a drill hooked to it. It's more money for sure but worth it if you intend on doing a lot of trimming.
I'm using the Lee trimmers with good results so far. If you have a drill you can connect the trimmer and boost up production. If not using yours hands seems to work just find and they are cheap so there is low start-up cost. I when this route and if I liked the results may spend the money on something else that's a bit quicker.
I also like Forster. Recently updated my 40 year old Forster with a 3-way cutters that trim, deburr, and chamfer, in one motion.

Forster's collet is accurate and easy on arthritic hands.

The tool is easy to powerize and mod as well, keeping the manual accuracy.

Here's my modded version.
Hey guys not to steal this thread but does anyone know if this is seated right.

I tryed this one and another one but the both stop at the same place.
Any help would be great.
It needs to be all the way touching the cutter teeth. The threads on mine were a little ruff and took a little more torque than they should have, but it threaded on ok. I hope these pictures are clear enough for you to see (If I get them to post!). I have been quite happy with mine so far.


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Thanks that helped I'm going to call Lee tomorrow and see if they will send me a new cutter. I tried to clean the threads and reinstall the sizer but it still will not sit flush.
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