Best Case Trimmers Reviews & Buying Guides 2020
Are you tired of your brass going to waste? If so, you are not alone. For many gun enthusiasts, finding an effective way to case trim is a must! Case trimming can make you money and streamline your whole process. Every time you fire your gun the brass casing expands ever so slightly and needs to be reshaped in order to be re-used.
Whether you use a hand model or a power trimmer, this tool can make all the difference when you shoot. The question is, how do you know which one to choose? Well, that’s easy with my guide to the best case trimmers. I’ll explain the various types and break down the top ten models, so all you have to do is pick your favorite.
Why You Need a Case Trimmer
For reloading, no tool works better than a case trimmer. It allows you to resize your brass cartridges to your exact specifications, for a perfect fit every time. Brass is quite malleable and fluid, which is why many choose it for their cartridges. The downside to that is after firing off your rounds the cartridges will swell and elongate. To reuse them they need to be reshaped and then they need to be shortened to fit correctly in your pistol or rifle.
Which is where the right trimmer comes in. With the right trimmer you will be able to reuse a variety of different caliber cartridges. Many machines have notches so you can cut to a precise measurement, so the fit will be consistent every time. Also, the right machine will improve the accuracy of your shots.
The key to good accuracy is consistency, and with the right trimmer you can produce the same cartridges round after round, which will greatly improve your accuracy. Plus, trimming is kind to your brass. When each cartridge is the same it makes reloading smoother and cuts down on the chance of a malfunction. Bottom line is the right trimmer can make all the difference in your shooting experience.
Best Case Trimmer Reviews 2020
Now that you understand why you need the best case trimmer for reloading it’s time to look at my top picks! These are ranked in no particular order and each has been thoroughly tested to give you an un-biased, accurate review.
#1) Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Trim
Light, versatile, and simple to use, the Franklin Arsenal Platinum series is one of my top picks. This machine is great for veteran reloaders as well as those new to the scene.
Made of aluminum and steel, the Franklin model is sturdy and durable while staying lightweight and easy to hold. It also has an impressive drivetrain and motor for smooth, consistent cutting and chamfering every time.
With this machine you get everything you need, starting with an adaptable Collet system that can cut down any casings from Remington to Weatherby. This is a shoulder indexing system, for improved precision.
You can set the trimmer to your exact specifications, place the cartridge in the case holder, and the Collet system will take it from there. In a snap it will align and cut the cartridge, for consistent brass time and time again.
In addition, this trimmer sports a dynamic, extra durable HSS cutter, so it can trim cartridge after cartridge without wearing down or dulling. This coupled with an inner chamfer tool guarantees quick, precise brass output every time you use it. And if that wasn’t enough the Franklin has not 1 but 3 different output shafts. There even is a storage space to hold tools not being used as well as collets and bushings.
- This is a multi-faceted unit and can take on a variety of cartridges.
- It’s made to last and can produce a multitude of rounds before it needs to be sharpened.
- It is priced affordably considering all you get from this power case trimmer.
- This model can be a bit loud when you run it when compared to other models.
#) Lyman Universal Trimmer with 9 Pilot Multi-Pack Trims
Compact, inexpensive, and built for seasoned reloaders, the Lyman Universal Trimmer is deceptively complex and can hold its own with the best power trimmers.
This hand trimmer made the list for several reasons, the first being how much control it gives you on your cuts. Featuring adjustments to do coarse and fine trimming, you can shorten your brass to within one thousandth of an inch.
Combine that with an adjusting ring that allows you to turn it to an exact cut and it’s a winning combo. The adjusting ring also gives you the ability to repeat previous cuts without remeasuring. Few machines come close to that fine of a trim allow you to do it so quickly.
There are no shell holders or case collets with this model, so all you have to do is set your brass in one of the 9 trimmer pilots and your ready to go. The trimmer pilots included feature the most popular rifle and pistol calibers to ensure you can use it with almost any pistol or rifle.
In addition to all that the Lyman has a one-of-a-kind Chuckhead, so it works with a large range of cases. That range of adaptability is something you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. And if all that wasn’t enough, with this model there are several ways to increase its capabilities.
You can add a power adapter to produce more cases, up to 250 in an hour! You can also buy additional pilots to fit an even greater range of calibers.
- This is a small and portable unit, so you can move it or take it with you if you need to.
- For a hand-cranked model it is surprisingly accurate, and the simplicity of the set-up makes the work quick.
- It can be adapted in terms of power and calibers, so you can use it for years to come.
- Can be a bit slow and cumbersome, especially when you first use it
#3) Hornady 041224 Lock-N-Load Neck Turn Tool
If you are looking for a hand tool that mimics a power trimmer the Hornady is the tool for you! An ingenious design gives you the control of a hand-held combined with the quickness of an electric trimmer.
This machine is impressive thanks to the use of a drill to power the machine. The build is like other handheld models but instead of using your hand you can turn the machine with any cordless drill you have.
The drill allows for fast cutting without sacrificing precision because you have options when it comes to choosing your detents. Using the nob, you can either use detents at .0005” increments or freehand the detents for unlimited cuts. Every time you trim you can adjust as needed, or simply use the last measurement for greater consistency.
This model comes outfitted with mandrels for four different calibers: 22 Cal., 6mm, 6.5mm, 30 Cal, and there are 2 cutters, one with a 30 and one with a 40-degree shoulder angle. This allows for measured, consistent cuts with each use.
The Hornady has an old-fashioned look to it but thanks to these modern upgrades it can hold its own with many other models on the list. It allows you to easily churn out smooth brass so you can quickly get done.
- It gives you several options when it comes to choosing detents, so you can customize your cuts.
- Using a drill as opposed to hand cranking speeds up the process without increasing the price.
- Compact and fits in any space.
- The one thing that may give you pause is that you need to buy Hornady shells separately. This is an added expense, but a relatively small one that is worth it if you prefer this model.
#4) Squirrel Daddy Deluxe 300 Blackout Case Trimming
Owners of the AR 300 Blackout Gun, or similar models, will want to get their hands on this highly affordable and exact trimming tool. It takes the guesswork out of trimming brass for this model and is super easy to use.
With the Squirrel Daddy, AR 300 users can breathe a sigh of relief and reload over and over, saving them a ton of money. AR ammunition can be pricey, so having this machine will make all the difference. It works with several saws, such as a 2” chop saw, to trim and shape to your specifications.
The key to achieving proper ammunition for this caliber bullet is to have the neck taper and line up perfectly with the bottom half. And this machine makes the process amazingly easy. The jig is designed to fit the tapered portion of the tool.
It holds it firmly in place and prevents it from moving forward, so when you cut down on the back you get a smooth, even cut. On top of that, the depth can be adjusted each time if needed.
The machine is lightweight, but strong, so no worries about it breaking down on you. And there is a plastic guard, so you can operate it safely. The guard can be removed according to your preference.
- One of the more affordable options and can save you money.
- Being able to trim ammunition for the AR 300 and other like size ammo is a real game changer.
- The design of this tool is surprisingly complex and gets the job done more effectively than similar models.
- This machine has limitations, as it only works on a small pool of models.
#5) Frankford Arsenal Universal Precision Case Trimmer
If you are looking for power and exactness in a trimmer the Frankford Arsenal is the way to go. Constructed to last, it is an all-in-one system that can be used manually or with a drill to get consistent cuts across multiple uses.
When it comes to the Franklin Trimmer there is little to complain about. Built with an all-inclusive collet system, you can expertly trim cases from a .17 Remington to a 460 Weatherby Magnum. The HSS cutter is steel constructed so it won’t wear down after repeated usage and more importantly, it will stay consistent in the length and smoothness of it’s cuts.
What really stands out though, is its distinctive design. Unlike other machines, this one does not need specified shell holders or pilots. Instead, the collets index the case shoulders, so once you choose the collet the Frankford does the rest of the work. You can operate it by hand if you prefer; otherwise, you can use any drill press or a half-inch hand drill.
And thanks to the internal depth micrometer, you can cut cleanly to within a fraction of where you need it. You can adjust on the go and with the coupling of the brass shaving ejection port there are no brass shaving clogging to tool. All that is left is a clean, shiny bullet casing. The system comes in a handy case too, so you can take it from work to home and back again.
- The set-up lends itself to helping users easily trim down multiple calibers without adjusting giving it a flexibility other models lack.
- Despite its fluidity it still manages to be meticulous in its cutting results.
- Has an impressive construct; it has depth to it without being bulky.
- Sometimes the ejection port needs a thorough cleaning or shavings can get caught in it, resulting in a rough product.
#6) RCBS Trim Pro-2 .338 Lapua Mag 90366 Case Trimmer Kit
RCBS is the king when it comes to accuracy and this model proves this to be true once again. One of the best reloading case trimmer instruments you will find.
Firm, stable and exact, the RCBS is the epitome of hat a handheld trimming apparatus should be. Fabricated from steel, it is engineered to trim with the ultimate stability. This unit comes with several pilots, each of which is tailored to precisely guide the pilot into the casings and eliminate any wobbling while cutting.
The system also has a spring-loaded holder for the shells, which locks them into place. This removes any chance of movement or warping throughout the process. As a result, you get flawless casings whenever you use it.
Another great thing about this apparatus is that you can shorten to within 0.001 of an inch. With such a miniscule amount to trim to you are sure to have cartridges that fit snugly even after repeated reloading.
Since it is a hand-held you can control the force and smoothness of each trim. Machines can sometimes fluctuate when it comes to accuracy if they are improperly made so this style reduces the chances of that occurring. Last, but not least, this kit comes with pilots for nine different calibers, including .22 and .45.
- You have a lot of control over the cuts and can choose down to a millimeter the length.
- It’s great for novices as it holds the casings securely, so you don’t have to fuss with it for it to cut cleanly
- Even though it is a manual unit it is quick once you get the hang of it.
- It can take s few tries to get into a rhythm, particularly if you are new to reloading. Once you get the hang of it though, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better manual system.
#7) Lyman Power Adapter Trimmers
Do you own the Lyman Universal trimmer and are looking to convert it to a power unit? If you answered yes than this is just what you need. This nifty little system will instantly convert your existing trimmer into a high-end power unit for a fraction of the price.
Sleek and easy to use, this machine will help you transform the Lyman Universal trimmer into an electrical unit without sacrificing clarity and exactness. I was amazed at how simple it was to switch from manual to power with just a minor adjustment.
This model comes with a power adapter shaft to replace the trimmer shaft that is included with the original. It snaps easily into place and once it’s on all you need to do is choose the correct drill to power it. That’s all that’s required to start cutting, and this model can cut upwards of 200 casings an hour.
Even more impressive, the power adapter shaft has its own stop collars and cutter, so you have the option of switching from hand operated to power unit in a snap. This addition gives you a flexibility you won’t have in other units.
For instance, for a quick, miniscule trim you would probably prefer to use it manually as opposed to grabbing a drill. Thanks to this adapter you can now do that in just seconds since it can be used both ways.
- For owners of the Lyman Universal Trimmer this product is a no-brainer as it improves your overall experience.
- Lets you easily switch between power and manual operation, making the whole reloading process easier.
- No-fuss tool that has the precision needed for reliable cuts over time.
- If you do not own the Lyman Universal this unit won’t help you, as it doesn’t work with other models.
#8) Lyman, Brass Smith Case Trimmer
When it comes to fast, pinpoint precision the Lyman Xpress kit is one that is hard to beat. Reloaders everywhere praise it thanks to an internal power source that is low on price but high on design and performance.
Stylish, strong, and made to perform at the highest level, the Lyman Xpress is an all-in-one unit that shortens bottle neck brass casings in record time without losing accuracy, The unit uses bushings that contact to the shoulder of the case, pushing it firmly against the finely honed carbide cutter for unparalleled precision. You don’t need any pilots and can cut an average of 15 cases in just under a minute.
It also has an internal motor and power source, so you don’t need a drill or any other instrument to operate it. Just choose one of the 10 bushings, power up and you are ready to trim. The design of the bushings is impressive as well, as the spring-load action allows a pristine cut with each use.
And to ensure that your trim is exact down to a hair’s breadth, this system has an easy to use adjustment wheel that lets you adapt in increments of .001” for up to 15 increments.
- This is the ultimate machine for bottle neck casings, providing consistent trims day after day and year after year.
- The system is easy to operate, lightweight, and takes up almost no space.
- It also can churn out casings in seconds, speeding up what can be a tiresome process.
- With this machine the drawback is you can’t use it on straight wall cases. It’s made for bottle-neck bullets only
#9) LEE PRECISION Deluxe Power Quick Trim Case Trimmer
The Lee Precision is a revolutionary machine that can trim, chamfer, and deburr in the blink of an eye. Super quick and simple to use, it makes reloading a snap.
With the Lee trimmer cutting brass has never been easier, or more accurate! This tiny gadget will astound you with the neat, smooth casings it produces. One cool feature with this tool is thee click-stop feature, which lets you control in .001” increments how much you cut.
There is also a clip catcher, so the unit will chamfer and debur as well, giving you ridge-free brass with each output.
All you need with this unit is the proper quick trim die, which is sold separately, and you are ready to go. It is a no-fuss contraption that also lets you shorten to increments less than conventional lengths, so you don’t need to repeatedly adjust and trim.
- For a minimal investment, this trimmer is a handy one to have as it fits in your pocket so you can really take with you wherever you go.
- Has impressive accuracy, so you will always produce quality bullets.
- Having to purchase the quick trim die separately is a bit of a hassle and an added expense.
#10) Lyman Products Trim Hand Case Trimmer
Last, but not least on my list is the Lyman E-ZEE trim case. The ultimate in compact versatility, this unit can be used as a hand-held or a power unit, so you can trim fast a precise no matter what you need.
The Lyman E-ZEE comes with a power attachment, so you can switch between manual and power trimming as needed. This model has pre-set lengths, so you do not need to fuss or adjust. Choose the size you need, and you are ready to cut. The E-ZEE will cut down your brass in an instant and without issue.
Easy to assemble, it has a cutter, a lock to keep the device in place, a trim to length pilot, and adapters for manual and power trimming. The lock ensures the unit is stable while in use and prevents rocking and this machine is compatible with a multitude of shellholders. It also works with several different calibers, including .223 and .308.
- Great for anyone who wants quick, clean cuts.
- Operation is straightforward and there are no surprises.
- Simple in design and execution.
- There are pre-set lengths. If you want or need a specific length you may not get it with this unit.
Varieties of Case Trimmers
For those new to reloading, it’s important to know the different types of trimmers. Knowing what’s available can help you figure out what you need and make a smart buying decision. Here is a breakdown for you:
Adjustment-Fixed Trimmer: This style is usually low in price and a simple, economical choice for cutting. These machines have pre-set adjustment notches for a specific caliber, so you are limited to one size.
Shoulder-Index Trimmer: With this type you can turn out a lot of casings in a short amount of time. More importantly they come out accurate and clean. Shoulder-Indexed cutters have multiple adjustment increments, giving you greater flexibility.
Lather Style Trimmer: This is the most popular style and includes the Lyman line and RCBS kits. These machines use a clamp to hold the bullet and churns out exact cuts over and over.
On-Press Case Trimmer: The fastest of all case trimmers, this machine is known for volume more than quality. Turns out decent bullets but it takes up a lot of space and is noisy.
Low-Volume Precision Trimmer: Even though the name says low-volume these gadgets can produce bullets at a fast rate once you get used to it. But I don’t recommend it for novices because set-up is time consuming and you are limited in terms of casing sizes.
Before You Buy: What to Consider
Now that you know the various types, it’s time to consider some key points before you buy your new machine.
- Does it Debur?
When you trim bullets the edges can become rough and pointed and need to be smoothed out. The process of rounding out and smoothing those edges is known as deburring and chamfering. A debur tool quickly takes your bullet from rough to refined.
It can be purchased separately from your trimmer, but many come with one built in, so if you plan to reload regularly you may want to choose a model with one.
- Type of Shell Holder
The style of shell holder is probably the most important factor to consider next to size and accuracy. The shell must be securely in place in order to get a clean, precise cut. If there is any movement the bullet you produce may have ridges or be wavy, which will impact accuracy. Remember, stability equals quality.
Some trimmers have shell holders while others have none and are free-standing. My advice is to avoid any trimmer without a shell holder, as they will not give you the consistency or exactness you need. Look for a model with a holder and a myriad of trimming adjustments to cut bullets of varying sizes.
- What are the Speeds/Accuracy?
Speed and accuracy are 2 big considerations for reloading. If you need to put out a high volume or plan to reload regularly you will want a machine that works quickly. However, you need to do your research because high-volume sometimes means lesser quality.
Depending on the unit you pick you could get bullets that are less than pristine, which will skew how they fit and shoot. Accuracy is a key component, so your best bet is to choose a gadget that is quick and efficient to get the best of both worlds.
- Does it Have Tumblers?
Tumblers are a bonus worth considering, as tumblers will polish and shine your bullets for you. You can buy a brass tumbler and polish your bullets outside your trimmer, but why do that if you don’t have to? Several models of trimmers come with tumblers and polishers constructed inside the unit.
It’s not a deal breaker if yours doesn’t have this feature, but if you find one that does it’s worth considering as it will be cheaper than buying a separate tumbler.
Lastly, you need to look at the price of any machine you are considering and how easy it is to set up and use. Most of these units cost under $150 and are relatively inexpensive. However, there are some that go for as little as $30 and are hard to pass up. Many of these inexpensive models work just fine, but don’t be penny wise and dollar foolish.
In most cases it is worth spending a bit more, as the higher-priced units tend to have more features, improved accuracy and are built to last.
In addition, take a close look at how the model sets up and operates. You want a device that is quick to put together and straightforward in terms of setting adjustments. Time is money and you don’t want to be tinkering with your trimmer when you could be cutting.
Before you buy, looking at what others are asking about these machines may answer some of your own thoughts and questions. Here are some common questions and answers:
Q. Are all trimmers able to be adjusted from manual to power?
A. No. Many models can add an adapter to switch it from handheld to power but not all do so check before you buy if you want to be able to change between the two.
Q. Do you need to debur and chamfer for proper reloading?
A. Yes, chamfering and deburring is a necessary part of reloading, as it makes the bullet sleek and improves accuracy. Either consider a trimmer with one inside the unit or buy a separate tool.
Q. What caliber pilots come with the machine I am thinking of buying?
A. Before you make a purchase you need to know if the device you want can trim various sizes, custom sizes, or is pre-set for one specific size.
Q. Is a trimmer with all the added tools worth the cost?
A. Yes, a model with deburring and polishing will save you money in the long run. You will end up paying more to purchase these machines separately and without them you will produce an inferior bullet, costing you more in the long run.
As you can see from my guide, choosing the best case trimmer is a must for anyone who want to save money and use case reloading. The reloading process is one that will save you money and improve your overall experience, provided you choose the right machine.
There are so many out there that you are guaranteed to find the one that is right for you. All you need is a bit of knowledge (which you now have) and a bit of patience. Take your time, follow my guide and I promise you will not be disappointed!