Looking for your next case prep fix? Or just want to get some reloading done at peak speed, that too with high precision? Fear not dear readers, we have got your back. We have reviewed some of the best case trimmers for reloading, currently available in the market, and sifted them into this brief but comprehensive article.
Here, we have taken several factors into account whilst prepping this review.
Looking into a case trimmer for the very first time? Or perhaps you’re a seasoned trimming expert? We have considered it all.
So, sit back, give the article a light read, and have a good one!
5 Best Case Trimmers for the Money: Comparison
So what makes the best trimmers? Several factors including but not limited to durability, reliability, ease of use, etc. Using these factors as criteria helped us narrow down the trimmers, which will be well worth your time.
1. Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Trim and Prep System
- Casing constructed of premium grade aluminum and steel
- A heavy-duty motor
- Durable cutters
- Incredible versatility in a single unit
- The unit is a must for those who prioritize precision and speed
- It can be slightly tedious to operate
- Beginners will require a manual in order to operate this
First up, we have the crowd-favorite contender for the best case trimmer for pistol brass, the Arsenal platinum series from Frankford. A heavy-duty motor cased in a premium-grade aluminum and steel construction, the Frankford Arsenal case trim and prep system will see to your every case prep needs.
A little on the expensive end of the scale, but we have nothing but a glowing recommendation for this. Trimming is the hardest stage of case prep, and this unit just crunches through all the trimming you can possibly throw at it.
The feature that got to us the most was its built-in storage box. Not using those brushings and tools? Simply stow them in the storage box. It does absolute wonders when it comes to organizing your workbench. The chamfering tool with VLD comes as standard. These help prevent damage to the bullet and reduces reload times.
Also, the unit is composed of three output shafts that are compatible with various accessories, ranging from 8 threads to up to 32. The cutting tools are very sharp, and we hope they will take the brunt of long usage periods. We do not need any shell holders with this unit, and thus, the chamfering is done effortlessly.
More points to productivity as you can utilize all of the tools all at once. To anyone who has to trim through sizeable orders with every session, we highly recommend this case prep station.
Now, if we had to nitpick, it would be that the trim brass gets everywhere. There are no measures in place to prevent them from doing so. You would need to improvise on that account. Seriously though, we would say that this is one of the best case neck trimmers available in the market.
Offering massive tweaking potential and easy adjustments, the Arsenal is a time-saving elite and should be in your purchase list.
2. Lyman Universal Trimmer with 9 Pilot Multi-Pack
- Easy to set up and use
- No shell holder needed
- A wide trim range
- You have the option to trim manually or electrically
- The power adapter is sold separately
A universal trimmer boasting a trim range from 0.17 to up to 0.485 calibers, the universal trimmer from Lyman eliminates any and all needs for collets, shell holders too, and you end up saving valuable time and money in the process.
Brilliantly designed, the unit allows you to simply hook it up to a nearby power outlet and get trimming. Or, you can also opt for manual trimming. By our estimates, you should be able to trim through at least 250 cases in an hour if you opt for electrical power.
The unit is one of the easiest ones to simply set up and start using. Also, the consistency is on the money, and the clamping magazine is a wonder to use.
Coarse and fine adjustments can be made without a hitch. The adjustments can be as precise to one-thousandth of an inch. The dial adjuster makes it an absolute breeze to set the necessary adjustments. They include 9 pilot adjustments as part of the set, which are rated for 22mm, 9mm, 0.45, 0.357, and 5 other rarer round calibers.
Also, the chuck head is an absolutely solid addition. This just makes it so easy to use the product, making the process of dialing in your adjustments an absolute breeze. The dialing in of the adjustments are more precise this way.
Moreover, the handle is of adequate length and is quite sturdy. You will be comfortable using it for much longer sessions if you choose to trim the manual route. The main thing you should note down is the power adapter. It is sold separately, but we do recommend getting it as it makes casting so much easier.
Compatibility with a wide spectrum of pistol and rifle ammo makes this unit an absolute no brainer for use in your shop.
3. Hornady Cam-Lock Trimmer 050140
- A very heavy-duty construction
- Very consistent and accurate
- Top-notch levels of trimming
- Ergonomic handle
- Need to buy an extra shell holder
Constructed of high-grade steel, the 050140 cam lock trimmer from Hornady is an absolutely fantastic trimmer, boasting top-notch levels of trimming with every case and also trimmer is hardy enough to last you quite a while.
It is constructed with stability in mind, so you can trim away without fear of losing control while operating the hand crank. The centerfold is manufactured to provide a solid trim finish. Clearly, this was designed with the help of a case prep user on board.
Want even more stability? Simply screw it in place or clamp it on to your workbench, and you will experience more stability, and you wind the handle. Now the handle itself is designed with ergonomics in mind. It does not matter if you are left-handed or right-handed. You can wind the handle without a hitch.
And the handle mechanism is balanced quite perfectly. This makes it suitable for prolonged use cases, and we did not run into any discomfort from the handle or from the consequent action of the trimmer.
The shell holder is available so that it can pull the case on to the bar. But it will do so without indexing off the case rim. This leads to a very consistent and accurate trim.
A secure cam lock is included, making it much easier to lock or unlock with cam with a just a touch. This locking mechanism offers superior control over the management of the case lengths and locking them in place, resulting in zero variations.
Seven different pilots measuring from 6mm to 45 calibers come included in the box. You can use this trimmer across different calibers, and the manufacturer’s site claims compatibility with up to 50 different calibers.
The 050140 from Hornady satisfies the need for heavy-duty construction while being very consistent and accurate.
4. RCBS Trim Pro-2 90366
- Several pilots come included in the box
- Durable build quality should withstand the brunt of time
- Fairly easy to maintain and operate
- It is compatible with a host of regular, standardized pilots
- The case and cutter is tightly secured
- The shell design will take some getting used to
- The bottom bolts could be a little tighter
RCBS is pretty much a household name when it comes to case trimming and prep centers, and for a good reason. They have an absolutely outstanding line of solid reloading units, and the ones we are featuring in this article is no exception.
The fastest case trimmer on our list, the 90366 from RCBS, comes with a shell holder that is spring-loaded. This, coupled with the adequately sized handle, not only makes the trimming process blisteringly quick but also securely holds the shell in place. Thus, you do not need a separate shell holder.
This makes this unit ideal for use with all forms of standardized pilots. The manufacturer included nine of these standardized pilots in the box. And the operating handle is ergonomically designed and is balanced quite nicely. It is sturdily made, composed of high-grade steel.
But there is a price we must pay for this durability. This unit is priced a little higher than the rest of the competition. Even so, we highly recommend this because this unit will last you years with proper usage.
Moreover, the unit comes with high torque, low RPM motor that absolutely excels at trimming away any case that you might throw at it. The trimming results are very accurate, and the power switch built right in is a very nice addition.
Mounting is easy as cake. Screw it in or make use of clamps, both works, and offers increased levels of stability and accuracy. You can operate this unit regardless of your experience level while offering a solid value in terms of durability and thus placing it firmly on our list of the best case trimmers for the money.
This product from RCBS offers high returns in terms of value with an improved design, which accepts a host of different calibers and durable construction
5. LEE PRECISION 90670
- Easy to use and no mounting needed
- An absolutely brilliant product for the price
- Precise trimming with every case
- You can use either hand to operate this thing
- Can be used for just a couple of different calibers
Looking for something simple? The 90670 from Lee has got you covered. An absolute steal for the price, these units are designed for those who only trim through a handful of different calibers at a time. The unit is a very good representative of Lee’s product line, designed to work with a special die fitted in the reloading press.
Its number one selling factor is that it is super easy to use. Turn the crank, and you have a quick and easy case trim with a decent level of precision. It does not require an in-depth review from our side to tell you what a great product this is.
The unit is completely handheld, meaning that you do not have to place or mount it on some other solid surface in other to operate it. All that is needed of us is to place the cartridge inside the tool and proceed to turn the handle.
Also, it is designed with ergonomics in mind so you can operate it regardless of whether you are left-handed or right-handed. With a simple turn, you have a trimmed case, in literally a few seconds. This system is press mounted. Hence, it does not make use of a collet. Therefore, they are not included in the package.
This would have been an even banger of a product if the adjustment ring were made of metal instead of plastic. But considering that you can deburr and trim all at once with a drill trimmer, more than makes up for it.
Before starting out, we recommend fully lubricating the unit with graphite powder. This aids in keeping the brass shavings out of the chamber, keeping it nice and clean and free from potential jams and lodges.
An absolute solid trimmer for those looking to start out trimming, the Lee PRECISION 90670 will not disappoint on any front.
What Does a Case Trimmer Do?
A case trimmer helps us to reuse used cases by trimming them. This gives us quite the opportunity to save some money in the process and create rounds which are (yup, no kidding) much more accurate than the ammo we would buy from a store.
This is because the rounds are trimmed by hand, whereas store-bought ones are mass-produced. Hand making something makes it much more accurate and desirable as more time and effort goes into it.
We do not need to trim every used case, but rather, the trimming should be done at regular intervals. When we say regular, we mean every two or three times that we reload. That will be more than enough.
How Does a Case Trimmer Work?
Now, not all case trimmers are made the same way, and as such, they do not all operate the same way. But there are a handful of general guidelines we could follow that can be applied to most trimmers.
- Begin by mounting the trimmer into our workbench. We say workbench, but really, you can mount it anywhere where it is convenient for you to work on by using clamps, reloading presses, or even directly screwing on the unit. Make sure that the unit is kept somewhere stable.
- Load the empty case into the case holder and see that it is completely flushed.
- Move the cutter shaft until the cutter just touches the mouth of the case.
- Turn the cutter, by twisting the knob, until you have reached our desired trimming.
- The process is complete when the bushings and the guide are in obvious contact.
- Remove the finished case and then proceed to chamfer or deburr it.
On that note, do remember to lubricate the trimmer regularly to ensure peak performance. We recommend lubricating the trimmer every 300 rounds, and at the very least, the lower the intervals between lubricating, the better. Be sure to check and fine-tune the adjustments every now and then.
Types of Case Trimmer
The following are the most bought variants of case trimmers. There are more, of course, but we will be talking about the most common types of trimmers for the sake of simplicity and keeping it concise.
- Lathe Type Trimmer or System
This is actually the most common type of trimmer. On one side, you have the trimmer cutter, and on the other end, you have the rim clamped on to the holder. These are all adjustable and allows us to trim, deburr, and chamfer all at once.
- On Press Trimming
These types of trimmers are faster and are basically all in ones as they are capable of trimming, chamfering, deburring, and handling cases. The sizing die is also the trimming die, so when you size the case, you end up trimming it all at once. Check out some of the reloading dies in this article.
- Low Volume Precision
These trimmers are for those amongst us who would not change calibers all that often. In order to change the calibers, we acquire a new case holder and simply reset the trimming.
- High Volume Precision
These trimmers are fairly easy to work with. We place our case in the trimmer, and the unit trims it sort of like a pencil sharpener. These tend to be shoulder indexing trim systems.
Choosing a Case Trimmer – Things to Consider
So what are the things to look out for when thinking about sourcing a case trimmer? If you ask us, we narrowed it down to five key factors, aspects, or whatever you would like to name them. They are:
- The Material of the Cutter
This should be the first factor that comes to mind when we are considering a trimmer. Most cutters are composed of steel. Pretty basic, but hey, it gets the job done. What you should be on the lookout for are the brass cutters. Those are the ones that you do not want.
Brass as a metal is a whole lot more malleable than steel. They do not last anywhere near as long as steel cutter, especially if you are planning on carrying out high volume workloads. For such workloads, we would recommend high strength carbide cutters.
Cutter material plays a significant role in brass case life.
- Electric vs. Manual
Should you opt for an electric or manual case trimmer? It all sums up to the volume of your workload. For bigger workloads, it simply would not do to have a manual case trimmer. Fatigue is a very real problem.
Another factor could be the level of difficulty. Electric trimmers are much easier to operate. Manually cranking the lever for every single casing is going to take its toll on efficiency. Simply put, you will trim through more rounds using an electric trimmer than you would a manual trimmer.
- The Durability of the Trimmer
The trimmer needs to be durable. We are essentially grinding metal against metal, so it would not do to invest in a replacement trimmer every now and then. We need the unit to hold up to the test of time, and of course, handle the workload with ease.
- The Included Accessories
Now in the case of accessories with other tools or products, we end up treating them as freebies. That cannot be applied in the case of case trimmers. In fact, accessories can make or break a case trimmer.
Therefore, it is in our best interest to look into case trimmers that include accessories that we want and need. Do not opt for accessories that you will end up not using at all in the future. Always follow specific demands, you can always upgrade them down the line.
Now we come to a very important factor: the pricing. This is entirely dependent on the factors we have stated above. For example, higher quality product commands a higher price bracket position. Increasing the number of accessories increases the premium the product demands.
To us, the users, the pricing can make or break the purchase decision. So our advice is, pay only for the tools you need, no more, no less. You want something that would work without any issues. Therefore, if you have the opportunity to invest a little extra on a higher quality product, you should do so.
Best Case Trimmer Brands
When you are looking to acquire a trimmer or a case prep station for yourself, it really helps a lot to know the brands and what they have to offer.
Hornady started out in the 1940s, with Joyce Hornady and began by producing bullets that were affordable and dependable. They have come quite the way from their first bullet, a 30 cal spire point, to case trimmers and other accessories.
Lyman is a household name for prep centers that are strong, versatile, and do-it-all. The units from Lyman are powerful enough to make quick work of your brass prep needs.
They are a manufacturer with their headquarters and plant-based in the US, producing units that are highly versatile and are compatible with a whole range of calibers. And they only use the highest quality materials in their products, firmly standing by the motto: made for Americans, by Americans.
A manufacturer of multi-adjustment and highly convenient prep centers and trimmers, they know it all when it comes to your ammo needs. They are distinguished, even amongst other manufacturers, for the full range of accessories they manufacture for their solutions.
A company with over 50 years of distinguished history in the ammunition and accessories business, Lee makes some of the most innovative trimmers and case prep centers in the business.
We cannot end this without an honorable mention. And as for our honorable mention, we have the Wilson case trimmer.
What Is the Best Case Trimmer for Reloading?
Many manufacturers claim that they make the best trimmers and other mambo jumbos. It is up to us, the reviewers, and you, the users, to determine which is actually the best in the business. We do this by considering several factors, such as usability, durability, etc.
If it were up to us, the best trimmer would be the Frankford Arsenal Platinum case prep system(On Amazon) simply because it is built very well and is very versatile. It is perfect for those looking for speed and precision.
So, there you have our reviews of the best case trimmer for reloading with precision. We have taken into special consideration several factors that helped sift them down into this list. We hope this article instilled some idea about trimmers. Happy trimming!