Best Case Prep Center – 2021 Buyer’s Guide

Case preparation centers make life much easier than it used to be in the strictly manual days and, believe us, that’s a good thing. Using an excellent case preparation tool minimizes the amount of time spent in the otherwise arduous preparation process. Therefore, it maximizes your free time, a win-win situation. Here we’ll cover the best case prep center to meet your needs.

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  • Reasonably priced for tight budgets with a solid build quality
  • Unit has own power source with strong variable speed motor
  • Trims cases with impressive speed and accuracy
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  • A quiet unit built of durable materials
  • Cuts crimp, uniforms, and cleans the primer pocket
  • Compact unit that fits just about anywhere
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  • Best value for the money
  • Quick and easy prepping at low cost
  • Can generally be used for extended periods of time while producing consistent results
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  • Best Portability
  • Very quiet unit when operated at length
  • Powerful and produces great results
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  • Best Comprehensive
  • Has good weight that stays in place on a workbench
  • Functions well as an all-in-one for most reloaders’ needs
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How Does A Case Prep Center Work?

Preparing brass for reloading to ensure consistent shot placement without undesirable pressure signs is what the right case prep center is all about. Bullets must be able to chamber without any issues and have accurate shot placement.

Case prep center work varies depending on whether you’re reloading rifle brass or pistol brass, but either way, it’s a long process. It involves sorting brass (by different calibers and head stamps), de-priming and cleaning primer pockets (only necessary if precise ammo is needed), and swaging or reaming primer pockets (after de-priming brass and removing primer pocket crimps).

The process also involves cleaning, sizing, and trimming brass, plus lubrication, chamfering, and deburring the case mouth.

What Should I Look For When Buying a Case Prep Center?

When buying a case prep center, it’s essential to consider a balance between quality (most important) and affordability. Here are some top features:

Manual or Electric?

Whether you need a manual case prep center or an electric one depends on the amount you need to process. If the amount is low, a manual option may be better, but electric is almost always better for lengthy processing. 

Available Tools and Attachments

The more tools and attachments you get in a case prep center, the better. Even if you don’t need them all now, you may in the future. Key tools are those that clean brass, size it, chamfer/deburr, and lubricate, among other things.

Convenience

Making sure a case prep center is simple and easy to use avoids process problems down the road.

Size

Whatever case prep center you choose should only fill the amount of space you have free at home or in the shop. 

Weight

Case prep centers should be as lightweight as you need or can afford. This will benefit you whenever it has to be moved and saves shipping costs, too.

Maintenance and Build Quality

Be on the lookout for products that are easy-to-maintain and have excellent build quality. Difficult to maintain machines will cause years of unwanted drudgery while high-quality products will endure regular use.

Review of the Best Case Prep Centers

The following is a list of some of the best case prep centers on the market. Read through them carefully and decide which best suits your needs before purchasing. We’ve done most of the heavy lifting for you.

Not sure where to start? We’ve highlighted some of the best case prep centers below: 

 
 

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

The build quality is impressive for the price point and the case trimmer is easy-to-use and set up. This unit can churn out a decent production level of cases quite quickly and efficiently.

You can improve the precision by adjusting the spring washer behind the bushing when setting depth. Manual effort is required to push the case into the feed port.

Why It Stands Out to Us

This is an excellent trimmer for small batches that produces accurate results for most people’s needs. It’s a quick-producing unit that sets up fast and easily and the dial for setting cutting depth is accurate and easily changed.

Some users did not need to deburr or chamfer their cases with the right adjustments. Minor adjustments can turn this powerful little device into a very accurate tool for most enthusiasts.

This moderately priced unit churns out a consistent product once buyers learn the ins and outs. It comes with a clear set of instructions for producing optimal results.  

Bottom Line

The Lyman Case Prep Xpress is a top runner in the case prep center marketplace. Its accuracy is respectable and consistent over time, and the unit’s construction is solid. Plus, you can adjust the settings to meet your needs.

 
 

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

The product is well-built and produces quick, accurate, and consistent results for a majority of users. Case preparation is not much of a chore, and with a few adjustments, you can dial the settings in with tremendous precision. Has a reliable motor for long hours of case prep use and wear.

Why It Stands Out to Us

This case prep center is reasonably-priced and fills the needs of most case reloaders out there. It comes with a solid Amazon warranty when purchased through an authorized reseller if buyers encounter any product issues.

This powerful little unit can produce bulk product in quickly. Most users found the reloading process a breeze. It’s a considerable bump up from using hand-held tools to complete the same process. Much easier on the hands too.

Additionally, this single unit makes short work of deburring, chamfering, cleaning and removing crimps.

Bottom Line

The RCBS 90375 Trim Mate Case Prep Center is a powerful and durable unit that produces a high level of finished product that is both consistent and suited to most reloaders’ intentions. It’s durable and compact making for an overall convenient experience for the user.

 
 

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report 

This case prep center is able to handle most tasks for reloaders who don’t process thousands at a time. The motor is powerful enough to handle medium-duty jobs and offers an enviable level of precision and quality. The build materials are durable and motor noise is negligible for most indoor/ outdoor settings.

Why It Stands Out to Us

This prep center is an excellent device for prepping brass, chamfering and many other everyday reloader tasks. It’s light on its feet and can put out an adequate amount of product to satisfy most reloaders. It is without question a vast improvement over manual methods for cleaning primer pockets and chewing through brass (among other standard tasks) that are otherwise challenging for DIY reloaders.

The materials feel solid and the unit doesn’t hop around on the bench like others tend to do. All in all, this is a great mid-level unit that is a grade above manual prepping processes.

Bottom Line

The excellent functionality of the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Prep Center is one of the primary benefits of this highly capable device. The powerful motor never lets you down, and the quality materials make it a formidable machine for producing excellent results for many years.

 
 

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

In general buyers appreciated the sturdy exterior build quality and simplicity of use. The quietness and small size of the device make it exceptionally portable and versatile. Some buyers expressed concern about the nylon parts in the unit which may not last as long as expected.

Why It Stands Out to Us

The Hornady Lock-N-Load Case Prep Trio is a sound alternative to manual reloading. It packs a lot of power into a relatively compact space and does everything a good case prep center should.

You can use it almost anywhere with consistent results related to chamfering, deburring, and brushing. It also capably handles additional tasks with extra tools and accessories.

The device far surpasses the chore of manual prep work and serves the needs of the average reloader better than adequately. It’s an outperformer in terms of overall case prep and, for that reason alone, it’s worth a look.

Bottom Line

This product is an excellent alternative to manual case prep work as it speeds up production time considerably. It offers a lot in a small package and is constructed of solid external materials. It’s small size plays to the heartstrings of many reloaders.

 
 

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers of this all-inclusive device praise its multiple functions and capabilities. It can do everything you need and more in one package. It isn’t a compact device but it has more than enough tools to perform all the necessary tasks. Some buyers claim it isn’t the best performer in all areas but it does cover a wide range of jobs anyway.

Why It Stands Out to Us

The Hornady Lock-N-Load Case Prep Center is one of the few devices that encompasses all the needs of most buyers in a single device. It addresses everything you need by using your workspace efficiently. It also produces excellent products once you tweak the settings to suit your needs and preferences.

It’s heavier than some of the other products on this list, of course. But it performs just as well (or better) while staying in place on a workbench. This unit alone avoids having different case prep center tools and accessories laying around for various purposes.

Bottom Line

This case prep center is a good option for anyone seeking an all-in-one option that is well-designed and ready to process large batches for lengthy time periods. There’s no need to keep adding options or collecting additional tools when everything is already in one place!

Benefits of Investing in a Quality Case Prep Center

The most significant advantage of buying a case prep center is to avoid doing everything manually with hand tools alone. This not only saves time but allows buyers to produce a better and more consistent product. This, in turn, will enable reloaders to get better results from their firearms, whatever purpose they use them for.

The list we’ve covered contains a set of products that will satisfy even the most discriminating buyer. The only question now is which one is right for you? And this, of course, depends on your individual needs and purposes. 

Make sure whatever device you choose has everything you need before you buy. It should be the right size and weight for your space and skill level. It should have the exact tools you need to complete the reloading process you imagine. Also consider the daily, weekly or monthly amount of processing you’ll undergo in order to obtain the exact numbers you want.

Selecting the right tools is never easy but we’ve taken a lot of the difficulty out of it by presenting you with a wide range of options for different needs. In just a short span of time and a bit of research, you’ll have the exact unit you’re looking for without any fuss.

How to Use a Case Prep Center

Using a case prep center involves a series of essential steps that should be performed in order.

1. Sort Cases

Different calibers, condition qualities and head stamps should all be considered when sorting and separating cases unless new ammo is purchased.

2. De-prime and Clean Primer Pockets

This step makes for more accurate and reliable shooting.

3. Swagging/ Reaming Primer Pockets

A good case prep center saves a lot of time in the process.

4. Cleaning Brass

This step removes the buildup of carbon and can be performed with a tumbler or ultrasonic cleaner.

5. Lubrication

Reloading lubricant is necessary for rifle brass but not carbide pistol dies.

6. Sizing Rifle Brass

Measure the length of brass and decide whether it needs to be trimmed.

7. Trimming Rifle Brass

You must keep the bullets within saami specs, or they may not chamber well.

8. Chamfering and Deburring

Necessary if you trim your bullets so they chamber properly.

Conclusion

The best advice anyone can give with regard to case prep centers is to first determine what your individual needs are and what ends you’re trying to achieve with your ammo. The last step is to find the right device that fulfills all or most of those requirements in advance of purchase. Good luck!

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox writes on a variety of topics ranging from reloading ammunition to gun cleaning. He has been featured on various publications like thetruthaboutguns, Sofrep & many more. Joseph is also the founder of Gunloading, where he reviews different types of reloading & firearm products available on the market.