Reloading is a rewarding and money-saving hobby, but it requires the right tools. The same features that make brass cases easily reloadable also require that they be maintained and modified from time to time. Each time a round is fired, the brass stretches and expands a bit from the pressure of firing. Over time, the piece will elongate and require trimming back down to the proper size. Low-pressure rounds rarely, if ever need trimmed, while high pressure rounds will need trimmed more often. Eventually a piece of brass stretches out so much it can no longer be reloaded, but until that time, you will need to continue trimming it back down to size.
This of course means you need a case trimmer, and that’s where we come in. Here are, in our humble opinion, the 4 best case trimmers for the money (though, admittedly, there are tons more online):
Frankford Arsenal Case Trim and Prep System
This by far is the best case trimmer I’ve seen. It does almost everything except whistle Dixie, and there may be an add-on unit for that. This trimmer will trim and chamber any cartridge with a shoulder from .17 Remington to .460 Weatherby, which means pretty much anything you might have running around (if you need to trim the 20mm cannon shells from your M61 Vulcan, we can’t help you). Obviously this isn’t suitable for straight walled cases like commonly found in pistols and some rifle cartridges, but it will make short work of most any other shell. This all electric unit requires no special shell holders, and makes case trimming and chamfering a breeze.
Lyman Universal Trimmer
Sometimes the best case trimmer is the basic case trimmer. The Lyman universal trimmer will trim any case up to .458. Using standard shell holders and one of a wide range of available pilots, this will handle almost any rifle or pistol case. Coarse and fine adjustment allows you to quickly dial in and set the trimming length. Combine with an optional power adapter:
With this power adapter, you can then trim up to 250 cases per hour. For a highly adaptable and fundamentally basic case trimmer, look no further than the Lyman Universal Trimmer.
Lee Deluxe Quick Trim
This is a nifty little case trimmer, and the best case trimmer if you are only trimming a couple of different calibers regularly. Designed to work with a special die fitted in a reloading press, like most Lee products, the Quick Trim is elegant in its simplicity and single minded function. Granted it’s not as versatile as other trimmers, but for the reloader who is only doing a couple of calibers or wants a higher degree of precise trimming, this is the way to go. Even paired with a couple of trimming dies, the Quick Trim is often cheaper than a dedicated case trimmer, and doesn’t require yet another tool mounted on the reloading bench to clutter things up. A worthwhile investment for the minimalist reloader, and one of the best case trimmers for the money period.
Hornady Camlock Case Trimmer
Probably the best case trimmer if you are looking for a manual trimmer that can be bolted down to the bench, the Hornady Camlock is an easy to use, reliable and precise trimmer. Uses standard Hornady shell holders and pilots, it will work on most any rifle or handgun round. Designed for ease of use and comfort, its advanced design ensures easy case trimming from one to a thousand cases in a sitting. Perfect for operators of Hornady presses or those who simply want a high quality manual case trimmer.
Case Trimming Is Important
Physics dictate that sooner or later you will have to trim your brass. The pressure from each load fired will eventually stretch brass beyond its maximum length and have to be cut back down in order to ensure a safe, functional load. The most common case trimmers simply use common shell holders as used in reloading. You’ll likely have these already for rounds you are reloading so this simplifies matters from the start. All case trimmers are adjustable so that you can cut the brass to a desired length. They will use different pilots to cut and chamfer the proper neck size, and you probably will need several if you reload for more than one caliber. Most case trimmers have a manual crank. Simply adjust for length, insert the brass, and crank away. While efficient, it is also slow and irritating if you have to trim a lot of brass. However, powered adapters and even powered case trimmers are available.
The most important part of choosing the best case trimmer is determining your needs. If you don’t reload for more than one or two rounds, and only process a handful of cases, something as basic as the Lee Quick Trim may do the job, but is not at all suitable for processing large volumes of cases or for multiple rounds. On the flip side, if you process high volumes of rifle cases, the Franford Arsenal case trim and prep system is the way to go, but it won’t process handgun rounds. For all around universal work, I’d run with a Lyman trimmer and consider adding a power upgrade to it in order to speed up the processing time. The Lyman will process pretty much anything outside of .50 BMG or probably some other obscure round that three people in the world shoot, which means for nearly all purposes they are ideal. If you run a Hornady press, the most logical thing to do would be to buy a Hornady case trimmer and get a power adapter for it.
Selecting the best case trimmer for the money doesn’t need to be hard, it is simply a matter of matching your budget with your needs and your existing equipment. Making the right investment now will save you money, time, and hassle further down the road. The cost for this equipment is low, and there is no real reason to skimp on price, particularly since reloading will save you so much money in the long run. No matter if you run with a simple trimmer, or a electric powered whiz bang do it all unit, you’ll get maximum use out of your brass and ensure optimal accuracy out of your guns.