At a Glance: The Best Case Trimmers on the Market Today
Comparison of The Best Case Trimmers on the Market Today
Our Top Pick
|Lyman Brass Smith Case Trim Xpress Case Trimmer||
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Our Top Pick
|Sinclair/L.E. Wilson Stainless Ultimate Trimmer||
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|Sinclair/L.E. Wilson Stainless Micrometer Trimmer With Stand||
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Any serious shooter who wants to try their hand at reloading will need a case trimmer. The reason for this is that when you fire a round, the explosion causes the brass case to elongate. You’ll need to cut off the excess brass before you can use the case again.
Best Case Trimmers to Buy Right Now
As you’d imagine, not all case trimmers were created equally. While most case trimmers aren’t that expensive, it’s worth knowing which type you need for your specific reloading needs. Here we compare the 8 best case trimmers on the market right now, so you can make an easier purchasing decision.
Sinclair/L.E. Wilson – Ultimate Trimmer & Platform Kit
One of the best in the industry, the Ultimate Trimmer & Platform Kit from Sinclair/L.E. Wilson is a solid addition to any reloading bench. The price tag isn’t for the faint-hearted, but then, you get what you pay for, and in this case, that’s incredible consistency in case length and fine-tuned micro-adjustments in trimming. It supports a wide variety of calibers from .22 Hornet to .416 Rigby.
This case trimmer is made to last a lifetime, using high-quality materials and avoiding the use of any collets or other degradable parts that could negatively influence the trimming results over time. The case is held by the body taper, which means that it never moves and you’re able to get incredible accuracy in case trimmings. That’s something that is unique to this trimmer.
The Sinclair Micrometer Head allows you to make adjustments in 0.001″ increments and you can vary this within a 2″ range. You also get the Sinclair mounting stand with a shark fin clamp, which makes trimming easier and is also built with the best materials around. Not only that, but it also allows you to trim cases without having to put up with much noise, which means the better half isn’t going to be complaining.
Finally, there’s the platform that is also included in this kit. This was designed based on customer feedback and it allows you to hold up to nine cases, while also featuring a tapping block to knock your cases out of the holder. It’s a handy add-on.
- Incredible consistency
- Micro adjustments to case length
- Solid construction – built to last forever
- Supports various calibers
- Can trim pistol cases
- Doesn’t make much noise
- Holds your case in place very firmly
- Includes shark fin clamps
- Platform included
Sinclair/L.E. Wilson Stainless Ultimate Trimmer
The Sinclair/L.E. Wilson Ultimate Trimmer is so good that we’re mentioning it twice – but not without a difference. This version of the Ultimate Trimmer is made of stainless steel, offering an even better finish than the original version. It also doesn’t include the platform, so you can get it for cheaper than you would if you’d purchased the Ultimate Trimmer & Platform Kit.
It comes with all the same features as the non-stainless version, including the micrometer adjuster in 0.001″ increments and the incredible body taper holder that ensures incredible accuracy in trimming every time.
All of this is packed into a machine that is built using high-quality stainless steel so it’ll always look incredible, even after decades of use. If you want something sturdy, reliable, and you’re willing to pay a little extra to have it look the part, as well, then this is the case trimmer for you.
Note that while this version of the Ultimate Trimmer doesn’t include the platform, it does still include the unique Sinclair stand with shark fin clamp.
- Incredible consistency
- The very best stainless steel
- Will look great for a long time
- Various calibers supported
- Can trim pistol cases
- Stand with shark fin clamp included
- Micrometer adjustments
- Case held by body taper
- Doesn’t include platform
Sinclair/L.E. Wilson Stainless Micrometer Trimmer With Stand
Utilizing some of their finest technology, Sinclair is at it again with the Stainless Micrometer Trimmer. This stainless steel case trimmer allows you to get in on the company’s incredible technology for a slightly cheaper cost, while still keeping the micrometer adjuster that can fine-tune your case length in 0.001″ increments.
The Stainless Micrometer Trimmer uses the same mechanism as Sinclair’s Ultimate Trimmer to hold the case by the body taper and it doesn’t use any pilots, ensuring that the case doesn’t move and that its accuracy is maintained over many years.
You also get the Sinclair Stand with a shark fin clamp, which allows you to quickly switch out cases in the case holder and trim them faster. Basically, it means you’ll get more cases trimmed in less time and you won’t have to mess around while doing it.
The case holder sits in perfect alignment with the cutter and adjustment mechanism, which is what gives you such a consistent result every time. If you want a top-quality case trimmer, then the Sinclair/L.E. Stainless Micrometer Trimmer With Stand is another solid choice.
- Stainless steel construction is built to last
- Consistently accurate trimmings
- Micrometer adjustments
- Comes with stand with shark fin clamp
- Easy to set up and use
- Cheaper than the top-dog Sinclair Ultimate Trimmer
- Supports a variety of calibers
- Can trim pistol cases
- Still expensive
- Not much cheaper than the Sinclair/L.E. Ultimate Trimmer, which is slightly better
Lyman Brass Smith Case Trim Xpress
For the shooter who wants to strike the perfect balance between speed and accuracy, the Lyman Brass Smith Case Trim Xpress is certainly worth consideration. This case trimmer uses an automated process to trim down your cases. When you push the case into the trimmer, it keeps going until its shoulder meets with a shoulder bushing, then the case is trimmed with a carbide cutter.
The Lyman Smith Case Trim Xpress comes with 10 bushings included, which fit most rifle calibers used today. If you find that it doesn’t come with the bushing you need, then you can always buy the aftermarket bushing separately for a reasonable price.
The Trim Xpress can trim up to 15 cases per minute and can be fine-tuned to measure in increments of .001″. While many case trimmers sacrifice the accuracy of the cut for a quicker production process, the Lyman Case Trim Xpress actually manages to pull off consistently great work even when completing large volumes.
Furthermore, this case trimmer is compact enough that it won’t take up much space on your bench and it operates smoothly, guaranteeing minimal ‘chatter’ when trimming.
- Quick, automated process
- Still accurate
- Uses a carbide cutter
- Comes with 10 free bushings
- Other bushings can be purchased to fit various calibers
- No pilots needed
- Compact and chatter-free
- Easy to use
- Not going to be quite as accurate as a manual case trimmer
Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Trim and Prep System
The Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Trim and Prep System is a fantastic shoulder-indexing trimmer that is ideally suited for powering through large reloading sessions. It has an adjustable bushing and collet system that indexes the case from the shoulder, allowing for fine-tuned trimmings. It also means that you don’t need any shell plate to use this trimmer.
You can only use cases that have shoulders with this case trimmer, but it works with everything from .17 Remington to .460 Weatherby. Just put the case shoulder into the bushing and let the Ultra-Hard HSS Cutters get to work on sizing down your brass. The cutters are designed to stay sharp even after trimming down thousands of cases.
The Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Trimmer also features a VLD Inside Chamfering tool which allows you to get a smooth finish on all your rounds. There is also a chamfering tool outside the trimmer, as well as tools to clean both large and small primer pockets. This will ensure that your cases are factory-clean when you begin the reloading process, which, in turn, makes for more accurate completed rounds.
The trimmer also has a built-in storage box, which is something you don’t tend to see on competing products. You can use it in a variety of positions and angles, giving you more flexibility, plus the feet on the trimmer are fitted with good grip to ensure that it doesn’t move around during use.
- Solid construction
- Cutters stay sharp for thousands of rounds
- Supports most shouldered cases
- Makes trimmer and chamfering very quick
- Don’t need shell plates
- Can’t trim shoulderless cases
- Not going to be quite as accurate as a simpler case trimmer
Sinclair/L.E. Wilson Stainless Micro Trimmer and Platform Kit
Sinclair means great quality and this full kit will be all you need to get on with trimming cases quickly and accurately at fine-tuned increments. The Sinclair/L.E. Wilson Stainless Micro Trimmer and Platform Kit comes in at a similar price range to other top-of-the-range case trimmers and includes a sturdy platform that you can use to hold cases and a tapping block for knocking them out of their position.
This edition of the Mirco Trimmer and Platform Kit features excellent accuracy and consistency, with a micrometer built into the stop bearing that allows you to adjust your case length in .001 increments, in line with the top industry standard.
Built using high-quality stainless steel, this is a case trimmer for the serious shooter who wants to have something reliable and long-lasting on their reloading bench. If you’re a pistol reloader, then this is an ideal platform for you to be using. Some of the other entries in this list don’t support pistol ammo, so it’s important to find a reliable option that does.
- Excellent construction
- Trims cases with speed and precision
- Micrometer with .001 adjustment capability
- Includes a high-quality platform to hold cases
- Supports a variety of calibers
- Can trim pistol cases
Lyman Universal Carbide Case Trimmer
If you’re not looking to invest your kid’s college fund into making cartridges, then the Lyman Universal Carbide Case Trimmer is an affordable solution that still gets the job done with precision and consistency. The big selling points here are the carbide cutters and the Universal Chuckerhead that will support pretty much any caliber you pack into it.
The Universal Carbide Case Trimmer has a simple cast iron design that is built to last for years to come. The design means that you don’t need any collets or shell holders and can support anything from .17 caliber all the way to .458 caliber.
You’ll need to purchase Lyman pilots to change caliber, but it’s worth noting that the case trimmer comes with nine pilots for some of the most popular calibers included (22, 24, 27, 28/7mm, 30, 9mm, 35 (38/357), 44, and 45A).
While this is a simpler design than some of the other case trimmers mentioned here, a serious reloader can still punch their way through a high volume of cases using this trimmer. It’s also compact enough that it’ll fit nicely on any bench.
If you’re someone who prefers simpler, more fool-proof reloading equipment, say, the kind of person who prefers a single-stage press, then it’s likely that you’ll prefer the Universal Carbide Case Trimmer. In short, it does exactly what it says on the label and it doesn’t try to show off in the meantime.
- Built to last
- Carbide cutter
- Universal Chuckerhead supports most calibers
- Nine pilots included
- Very easy to set up and use
- Very reliable results
- Won’t power through high-volume reloading as well as some of the others on this list
Lee Precision Deluxe Quick Trim Case Trimmer
No article about reloading gear would be complete without the presence of Lee Precision. Known for their affordable and reliable solutions to reloading, Lee Precision won’t win you any awards, but they’ll get the job done and they won’t break the bank in the process.
The Lee Precision Deluxe Quick Trim Case Trimmer is an extremely affordable way to trim cases. You’ll need a single-stage reloading press to use it, but once it’s installed, all you need to do is jack the case up into the trimmer, having set the measurement that you want to trim it, and begin. It’s quick, easy, and uses the leverage given by your reloading press for support.
The quick trim dies are sold separately, so if you’re using a variety of calibers then you’ll need to buy more than one.
Though this is a simple trimmer, it still allows you to make micro-adjustments in .001 increments to get the exact case length that you desire. The Deluxe Quick Trim also chamfers the inside and outside of your brass at the same time as it cuts it, meaning you’re left with a smooth and reliable result.
This is one of the best case trimmers to get if you’re a beginner to reloading, and, given that it’s also great for high-volume trimming, more advanced reloaders will also appreciate this simple and effective trimming solution.
- Extremely easy to use
- Works with your single-stage reloading press
- Can support high-volume trimming
- Built to last
- Can measure in .001 increments
- Chamfers case
- Includes a chip catcher to prevent mess
- No special gizmos
- Quick trim dies sold separately
What is a case trimmer?
A case trimmer is exactly what it says it is: It’s a machine that trims the brass on your cases. You can pick up spent cases at the range and then take them home to reload them, but they likely will have expanded or elongated when fired. The case trimmer allows you to cut the elongated brass of the cases back down to the right size so that you can reload new rounds out of them.
Why do you need a case trimmer?
Consider how much money you’ve spent on ammunition over your entire shooting career. Consider how much you could have saved if you’d made your own rounds instead, or recycled the ones you shot more often.
For most serious shooters, reloading your own ammo is no foreign concept. If you don’t reload your own ammo, then now’s the time to start – and you’ll need a case trimmer to do it effectively. If you are reloading your own ammo and you’re not trimming your cases, then my man, you’re doing it all wrong. You’re not going to be able to reload properly without a case trimmer.
Types of case trimmers
There are five types of case trimmers. Knowing which one is best for which purpose will help you out a lot when you’re making your purchasing decision. Some are better suited for high-volume reloading, while others will be preferred by low-volume beginners who are looking for a cheap price tag and an easy-to-use mechanism.
Perhaps the simplest of all the types, and the most ideally suited for beginners – the lathe case trimmer features a clamp to hold your case and a cutter to get the work done. You simply clamp your round in place, then extend the cutter on the opposite side to cut the brass. This is a simple mechanism that can be adjusted to make fine-tuned or larger cuts.
You can work very quickly on a lathe trimmer, all though, like all things in life, slow and steady will ultimately produce a superior end result.
Next up, we have the fixed-adjustable case trimmer. These are generally the cheapest case trimmers and are ideal if you’re just reloading one caliber. Their major weakness is hinted at in their name: their fixed-adjustment means that you can’t change calibers. If you’re looking to reload more than one caliber, then you’ll need to buy a second case trimmer to do that. This makes the fixed-adjustable case trimmer a poor choice for most shooters.
If you’re the kind of shooter who wants to go Rambo in the range, then being able to reload large quantities of rounds in the fastest time possible is essential. For this, we recommend an on-press trimmer. On-press trimmers are much larger and more complex than the aforementioned trimmers, but they come with the advantage of being utter workhorses.
One thing to consider is that you’ll usually need a full-length resizing die to be able to work with an on-press trimmer. For the serious shooter, that shouldn’t be an issue. You can usually deburr your cases with this machine as well.
Low-volume precision trimmers
While the low-volume part might put some people off, you should be aware that this trimmer can still produce a lot of trimmed brass in a relatively short time. The setup is a little more convenient than a lathe trimmer in that it features a useful stand. That being said, the device is more difficult to set up and it’s a bit of a pain when you want to switch calibers. It’s more of a device for someone mechanically minded, or someone with a lot of reloading experience.
Last but certainly not least, we have the shoulder-indexing trimmer. These are great for high-volume case trimming while being less complicated than their main competitor for speed: the on-press trimmer. It’s easy to adjust the shoulder-indexing case trimmer, which gives you a lot more flexibility when fine-tuning your brass. That being said, it’s actually quite difficult to change the case length, so that’s one area where variety doesn’t seem to come into play.
Things to consider when buying a case trimmer
You want to make sure that you’re getting the best case trimmer for your money, as well as one that is suited to your specific needs. If you’re a hunter with one rifle who wants to carry 20 rounds in the bush and only spend an hour reloading, then you’ll be looking for something different from the guy who has an AR-15, two handguns, and wants to spend his entire weekend popping off targets down at the range.
There are some advantages to buying more complex (read: expensive) case trimmers over simpler lathe-type trimmers. That being said, you might not need these extra features. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Chamfering and deburring
This is the process of smoothing down the sharp edges and angling them to hug the bullet when it’s fed into the case. It’s an essential process if you want to guarantee accuracy in your completed rounds.
While you can buy these tools separately to your case trimmer, it is certainly worth noting that many of them will come with built-in chamfering and deburring tools. This can save you time in the reloading process, as well as money on having to buy new tools.
If you’re going to be reloading more than one caliber, then it’s essential that you can change or adjust the shell holder in your case trimmer. The shell holder clamps your round in place and stops it from moving around, and while most trimmers allow you to adjust it or install a new one for a different caliber, some (fixed-adjustable trimmers) won’t allow you to do this.
If you’re a serious reloader, then you should ensure that your case trimmer can support different calibers.
Ease of use
You want a case trimmer that’s easy to use otherwise you’re inevitably going to get frustrated when working with it. A case trimmer that’s easy to set up and work with will save you time and stress.
While the initial use of the trimmer might be straightforward, you should consider how quick and easy it’ll be to change or adjust the shell plate. This could turn out to become an irritation if you don’t do your homework.
Tumblers and polishers
While many assume that tumbling and polishing your rounds isn’t a necessary step, you should consider that ensuring there isn’t any debris inside them will give you more accuracy when they’re fired. Also, who doesn’t want their finished rounds to look all shiny?!
Most case trimmers won’t come with this feature as standard, but some do. It’s a great way to add that delicate finishing touch to your rounds and make them look like they’ve just come off the factory line.
Finally, you want a case trimmer that gets through cases like a cheetah chasing a gazelle. Most people will be reloading a lot of bullets, otherwise, they’d likely just skip the effort and buy their rounds from the store.
You want a case trimmer that can trim down a lot of brass in a short amount of time while also not compromising on the quality of the work in the process. Generally speaking, the cheaper and simpler case trimmers are much slower to use than the more expensive on-press variants.
How does a case trimmer work?
In the simplest possible terms, a case trimmer works by holding your brass case in place and then using a trimmer to cut off any excess length. This returns your case to its original size and allows you to reuse it.
Of course, there is a lot more to it than just this, depending on what type of case trimmer you’re using. While a simple lathe-type case trimmer does pretty much exactly what is mentioned above, a more complex on-press trimmer is doing many more functions at once.
Some case trimmers are on-press, while others are more manual. This will affect how you use it. You can actually replace the handle of a manual case trimmer with a drill and this will automate the process, a wise way to upgrade your case trimmer without spending a dime.
If you’re new to reloading, then you should opt for a simpler case trimmer to get a more thorough understanding of the basic mechanics involved. Then, once you’re more experienced, upgrade to an automatic one if you feel that you need the extra volume.
How to use a case trimmer
To use your case trimmer, you’ll first need to set it up. How to do this varies depending on the type of case trimmer you’re using and the brand that you’re using. We don’t want to cut corners, but given that there are so many varieties out there, we do recommend that you follow the instructions that come with your specific case trimmer. YouTube video tutorials are also a great way to further understand the setting up process.
Once your case trimmer is set up, you’ll need to place the case into the shell holder and then pull the lever to begin the trimming process. You might be surprised by just how quickly a case gets trimmed.
In the event that you’re using an automatic case trimmer, the process is quite similar, just with more speed and efficiency.
Start by trimming one case down to size so that you can use it as a template for the others. Once you get going, you’ll find that the process really is easy as can be.
Conclusion and final verdict
Overall, the Sinclair/L.E. Wilson Ultimate Trimmer & Platform Kit gets my vote as being the best case trimmer to buy today. The sturdy construction and useful platform that this kit offers guarantee a lifetime of convenient use, while the reliable and consistent results produced from it will improve your accuracy when shooting.
Furthermore, the ability to support a wide variety of calibers, including pistol cases, makes this a more desirable trimmer. While it has a heavy price tag, for the serious shooter, this won’t likely come as much of an obstacle.
For the beginner shooter/reloader, I’d sooner recommend that you purchase the Lee Precision Deluxe Quick Trim Casse Trimmer as you’ll likely only be shooting with one caliber and you’ll want something affordable and simple to use. The Lee product ticks those boxes and leverages your single-stage reloading press for more convenience and ease-of-use.
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