Why spend hundreds of dollars on fresh ammunition when you can reload used brass cases from the comfort of your home?
If you have the right tools, you can easily reload ammo for every caliber. And with proper maintenance, you can reload the brass cases as many times as you like.
Each time you shoot a round, the brass casing expands because of the pressure. Due to this, most bottleneck cases will increase in length over time. Consequently, you will need to trim the case to make sure it has the right measurements before you reload it again.
Herein, a good case trimmer can restore a cartridge to its original state. But how do you know which is the best trimmer for you?
Well, we made a list of the best case trimmer & a buying guide to help you take this decision.
Top 5 Case Trimmer Comparison Table
Our Best Pick
Best For Budget
Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Trim and Prep System with Hardened High Speed Steel Chamfer Debur Tool and Primer Pocket Scrapers with Trimmer
Lyman Universal Trimmer with 9 Pilot Multi-Pack Trims .17 Cal to .458 Cal
Hornady 050140 Cam Lock Case Trimmer
RCBS 90366 Trim Pro-2 Kit with Spring Loaded Shell Holder
This is one of the most popular case trimmer on the market. It is simple to use, and perfect for beginners or experienced loaders.
It is not caliber specific & also has the ability to chamfer & clean all at the same time.
It is stable, and it can be used in a variety of positions – thanks to the non-skid feet.
This model includes 3 collets and 5 bushings that can accommodate cases from 0.17 Rem to 0.460 Wby.
It also comes with a deburring tool, a chamfer, and a primer-pocket cleaner. All these tools can be screwed on top of the case for easier access when working on the trimmer.
Both the cutter and the chamfer are made of hardened steel. Because of this, you can be sure that you will have reliable and long-lasting tools to work with. Plus, you can hold any extra components and tools in the built-in storage that comes with the trimmer.
My only complaint so far, is the way the trimming case holder is designed, when setup for .300BLK, there’s not much case sticking out to grasp.
The primer pocket crimp cutter is not included with the trimmer. But Frankford Arsenal has an expansion kit available for those of you that need this specific tool. The kit also has a primer pocket cleaner for big and small primers.
The chamfer and the cutter are made of hardened steel
This trimmer has all the basic things you need to start trimming. It works perfectly with every case that is under 0.458 caliber. This means that it can easily trim almost any pistol and rifle case without using expensive collets.
It comes with 9 pilots and standard shell holders. If you need to manually set the length, you can easily dial the required measure as well.
The package includes the carbide and standard cutting heads. Both are easy to remove, making the changing process fast and easy.
Since it is a universal manual trimmer, once you set the desired length of the case, the process is simple.
If you want a faster process, you could attach a power adapter connected to a hand drill. This will significantly increase the speed of the cutter.
This model does not work as many other universal trimmers, so it can be hard to get used to it.
The approach they took when designing this model is clearly different from others in the market. Also, it is heavier than other trimmers. One of the most common issues user have encountered is that the adjustment plate starts to wear into the aluminum.
2 cutting heads in the package; carbide, and standard
It is easy to use once you set the desired length of the case
The cartridge is securely held
It is different from other models, so you may take time to get used to it
This case trimmer is durable, precise but most importantly, it is easy to use. It is the ideal product for those of you that need a manual trimmer.
The Hornady Camlock can be bolted to your workbench for extra stability. Also, this model can work with almost any caliber.
It has several additional features such as a cam-lock trimmer and pre-set case lengths to ensure consistency whenever you work with this model.
The cam-lock makes sure the case is tightly secured on the shell holder. Additionally, this feature makes the removal of the case an easier task.
This unit also has a taller frame, so you can have more space to work with. The ergonomic handle facilitates the trimming since you will possibly work for hours on the trimmer.
It uses all the standard shell holders from Hornady as well, so it is perfect if you are working with a Hornady reloading press.
The cutter head and the spindle are adjustable, but many users claim that the threads on the adjustments are too coarse. Also, the adjustment nut can be hard to loosen, and because of this, it is a little frustrating to change calibers.
It is stable and comfortable to use
The cutter head and the spindle are adjustable
Comes with a cam-lock to lock the case on the shell holder
You can only use Hornady shell holders
Adjustments on the spindle and the head cutter can be too coarse, leading to inexact measurements
This trimmer has been designed to be as precise as possible. It has a spring-loaded shell holder that makes the reloading process much easier than it usually is. This device locks the case when it is aligned with the pilot and the cutter.
It comes with a small manual, but the trimmer is so easy to use you don’t need any instructions. It is written in the manual that if you want better results, it is recommended that you mount it on a workbench.
The bushes can be adjusted at .00” micrometer markings. With the correct configuration, you will get the same length in every case you trim. Plus, it takes only a minute or two to get the correct length for a specific caliber.
The kit also has nine of the most common pilots of the different calibers you might work with. But you may need to but additional pilots if you are working with unusual case size. The unit can hold all of this pilots in it as well.
Although it is made from quality materials and it works perfectly, you can find products with the same quality at a lower price. There are alternatives that may be faster than the Trim-Pro. Also, users have noted that some bolts get loose from the vibration.
It is one of the most precise trimmers on the market
The spring-loaded shell holder secures the case for an easier trimming
It comes with 9 pilots for the most common calibers
Users have experienced problems with some of the bolts on the unit
This one is appraised as one of the best low budget trimmers on the market. It is easy to install out of the box, the manual with detailed instructions makes it a breeze.
Plus, it is one of the fastest trimmers since you attach a drill to it. This also lets you adjust the speed for a faster or a slower cutting speed.
There is a huge difference when using a hand-crank and using the power adapter.
Although the crank is ergonomic, your hands will begin to cramp after a few hundred rounds.
The hand-crank is perfect if you are working with a few rounds, but if you need a bigger output, the power adapter will be the right choice. And, with the Lyman Power Adapter, you can trim more than 205 rounds effortlessly.
Keep in mind that you should oil the shaft every 10 or 20 cases. If the shaft is not properly oiled, you may begin to experience problems when trimming.
Additionally, the shaft comes with a cutter with stop collars, so it is easier to change between the crank and the drill.
Easy to install, and it comes with detailed instructions
It is a low budget trimmer
You can quickly change between crank mode and adapter mode
The shaft is durable and easily replaceable
The hand crank can feel uncomfortable after a while
Things to consider before buying the brass Trimmer
If you are new to reloading and trimming, you should go for a model that is not complicated to use. When working with brass, you need to be precise. Because of this, the trimmer must be stable on the workbench. Generally, the best models can be fastened for increased stability.
Simplicity in Use
Some trimmers require many adjustments before you can actually work with it. Adjusting the trimmer for every size can become tedious after a while. Because of that, some models have preset configurations for certain calibers. This will save you a great amount of time if you are working with many sizes.
How Accurate is the Case Trimmer?
This is what most users tend to look in the case trimmer possible. When working with high calibers, even the smallest mistake can end in a great disaster. As we mentioned earlier, the trimmer has to be stable. A wobbly trimmer can lead to deformities or burrs in the case.
A cleaner cut can also help with accuracy. Because of this, you need to be aware of how aggressive the cutter is with the case. The faster the cutter goes, the cleaner is the cut. This way you can make sure there are fewer deformities and irregularities after trimming.
Additionally, you want the trimmer to leave a square case mouth. Having a square case mouth leads to consistent and improved release. Also, it will be easier to set the bullet in the case. If the mouth is too small, the bullet will be tighter in the case, decreasing accuracy.
Extra Features Count
You should always check if the trimmer has some accessories included. There are many useful tools that can make the trimming process easier for you. Such as; some models come with a deburrer or smoother. (Deburrer is used to remove burrs from the inside and outside of the cartridge)
Some case trimmers are equipped with polishers or cleaners. These cleaners may extend the usage time of your brass cases. They remove any dirt or debris that may be inside the chamber. A cleaner chamber helps in accuracy and precision when firing the bullet.
Bear in mind that in some cases, more features is not equal to an easier trimming. You want to be fast and efficient since in most cases you will have to work with several cases at a time. Herein, multiple features can be overwhelming for some users, increasing complexity instead.
Besides, if you don’t know what these extra features are for, you will just be wasting your money.
How Versatile is the Shell Holder?
You probably won’t use the trimmer for only one caliber, right? Consequently, you may want a shell holder that can hold many cartridges of various calibers. A versatile trimmer will also have the specific measurements you need for each type of caliber.
Also, you have to make sure; it is not difficult to remove a case from the trimmer. This way, you will be able to load more cartridges into the trimmer in less time.
Some models exert more pressure on the case during the process and removing the shell from the holder may even require additional tools.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
Can I still use a deformed case?
You can still trim the case if it fits in the holder. There are many tools that you can use to fix these cases, but if the case is beyond repair, you shouldn’t fire it.
Do I have to trim every case?
You don’t have to trim every single one of them as long as they are the right length. Over time bottleneck cases will grow in length due to the pressure they go through. If this happens, you will have to trim them.
On the other hand, straight-wall cases will shorten after many uses. If they are too short, you won’t be able to reload them anymore.
How do I set up the trimmer the first time I use it?
The setup varies with the model. You can find many tutorials on the internet on how to setup each case trimmer. Also, most trimmers should come with a manual to guide you in each step. If you still don’t understand how the set up should be done, get in contact with the manufacturer.
What should I do if the case is too big for the case holder?
There are many answers as to why the case is not fitting in the case holder. You should make sure that you are using the right case holder.
Sometimes used cases have different measures than new cases. If this is the case, you may need to adjust the opening on the holder by yourself.
Or, the case may be smaller than it is supposed to be. So, you could get in contact with the manufacturer for further instructions on what to for this problem.
Wrapping Up, the Ultimate Winner
Every single case trimmer we reviewed has its pros and cons. Taking this in account, many of the trimmers we reviewed may not be the ones you are looking for. But after we unveiled all of these, we found a trimmer to recommend, regardless of budget and experience. It is the Frankford Arsenal Platinum series case trimmer.
This may be the definitive winner of this contest, and there are many reasons why.
It is a real torque monster, doesn’t slow down the least while trimming. Takes about 4 seconds to trim to length, chamfer inside, chamfer outside and clean primer pocket. Trim consistency of about .0005 inch.
You won’t regret this decision since this case trimmer is easy to use, once you get the hang of it.
So, this was all for today on the best case trimmers belt. Hopefully, it won’t be a headache for you to approach with the buying decision anymore! Let us know which one you picked in the end so we can improve our perspectives to provide you more unbiased and Ux bases reviews. Ta-da!
Joseph Fox is a 45 years old blogger & passionate hunter from United states. He is also a firearm enthusiastic & likes to share his experience with you. He has a teaching background & now works as an author of Gunloading.com.