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The 4 Best Case Prep Centers Reviews: Prepping Cartridges for Reloading

Best Case Prep CentersIf you’re into reloading your own ammo, you’ll certainly appreciate the need for the best case prep centers. These are the tools that can do a number of functions to prepare the casings you have for your reloading press.

These tools can do various tasks, such as trimming, chamfering, and deburring the casings. They also clean the prime pockets, and may even remove military crimps.

A case prep center is much more convenient, compared to having a set of manual tools for each task.

But no all case prep centers are the same, and some are definitely better than others. Now you have a guide to help you pick the very best.

Top 4 Case Prep Centers: Comparison Chart

Here’s a handy overview to see what’s in store for you:

Case Prep Center Number of stations Functions With pan? View on Amazon
Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case 3 (aside from trimming)
  • Trim
  • Chamfer
  • Deburr
  • Clean prime pocket
None Check Price
Lyman Case Prep Xpress 115V 7810220 5
  • Chamfer
  • Deburr
  • Clean prime pocket
  • Removes military crimps
Yes Check Price
RCBS 90375 Trim Mate Case Prep Center 5
  • Chamfer
  • Deburr
  • Clean prime pocket
  • Removes military crimps
  • Deburrs flash hole
None Check Price
Hornady 050012 Lock-N-Load Case Prep Center 6
  • Trim
  • Chamfer
  • Deburr
  • Clean prime pocket
Yes Check Price

Best Picks for Case Prep Centers

If you’re looking for case prep centers that will suit your needs, you’re likely to find the most suitable one among our list of top choices.

Check out our recommended case prep centers to find out about their capabilities.

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case

Sale
Features
  • Ease of use: Trimmer indexes cases on the shoulder for speed and precision
  • Versatility: Adjustable Collet System works with all shouldered cases from .17 Remington to .460 Weatherby
  • Durable: The HSS cutters stay sharp for thousands of rounds to make trimming quick and easy and the heavy-duty motor and drivetrain are optimized for durability and performance
  • Be prepared: Built-in storage box holds extra tools and keeps everything ready and organized
  • Includes: Inside chamfer tool, deburr tool, large and small primer pocket cleaning tools and a trimmer with 3 collets and 6 shoulder bushings

Last update on 2020-10-29 /  Affiliate Links (#ad)  / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Trim and Prep Center, and buying this gets you an entire kit.

The kit includes:

  • A deburr tool
  • A chamfer tool
  • 3 case body collets in different sizes
  • 6 case shoulder bushings in different sizes
  • 2 primer pocket cleaners in different sizes

With the 3 collets and 6 bushings, you can deal with any shouldered case. These cases range from the .17 Remington up to the .460 Weatherby.

If these aren’t enough, you even have the option of getting the expansion kit. But for most folks, that won’t be necessary.

The case prep center lets you trim and chamfer cases in no time, and you can trim the brass to the exact length you want. These cutters are super-sharp, and they stay sharp even after trimming thousands of rounds.

You can also operate 3 other tools with the cutter at the same time, and you don’t even need shell holders for any of the tasks. With the primer pocket cleaners and the inside and outside chamfer tools, you can prepare the cases fully.

The quality of the prep center is terrific, as it’s made with steel and aluminum for durability. The motor is meant for heavy duty, and the same goes for the drivetrain.

You even have a handy storage box built in to hold your extra bushings and collets, along with the tools you’re not currently using.

The 3 output shafts have 8-32 threads, letting them take in all case trimming accessories. The inside chamfering tool reduces the hassles of loading, and minimizes any potential damage to the bullets.

Pros
  • Trimming and case prepping become so much easier
  • Adjustable collets allow for wide range of calibers
  • Extremely durable
  • No need for readjustments when used
  • Consistently trims to the specified length (plus or minus 0.002 inches)
  • Runs fairly quiet
Cons
  • You must read the instructions first
  • There’s no handy way of capturing the trimmed brass

Lyman Case Prep Xpress 115V 7810220

Features
  • The fastest way to prep brass cases for the reloading process
  • Powered by a quiet high torque motor
  • Perform all necessary case prep tasks with one machine
  • Includes all necessary case prep tools including: outside debar tool, primer pocket cleaners and reamers, primer pocket uniformed, and inside VLD debar tool

Last update on 2020-10-29 /  Affiliate Links (#ad)  / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Yep, it’s another kit as well, since this also comes with the accessories you need. These are:

  • Inside deburr (VLD) tool
  • Outside deburr tool
  • Large and small primer pocket uniformer
  • Large and small primer pocket reamer
  • Large and small primer pocket cleaner
  • Case neck brushes (25, 30, 38 & 45 caliber)
  • Case neck lube (mica)
  • Removable brass shavings dump pan
  • Clean-up brush

As you can see, there’s a reason Lyman refers to this kit as an all-exclusive system. You have all the accessories you need, along with a single machine using a high-torque yet quiet motor.

This comes with 5 stations for 5 tools. With these tools, you’re able to do a lot of case preparation tasks much more quickly.

You can use the outside deburr tool to deburr the outside mouth of the case, giving you a smooth and even finish. This tool fits cases ranging from .17 to .45 caliber.

The primer pocket cleaner works well for taking out the foul bits from primer pockets, while the reamers take out the military crimps and rough metal edges from the primer pocket.

The uniformer gives you consistent primer depth, with a preset stop collar that complies with SAMMI standards. You use the small pocket uniformer for both pistol and rifle cases, but the larger one is just for rifle cases only.

This lets you slip in your bullets easily, and you also avoid damaging your bullets because of the sharp edges on the neck of the cartridge case

Pros
  • Has lots of accessories
  • Offers lots of power yet it’s still quiet
  • Its very easy to use
  • Saves lots of time
  • Great for precision loads
Cons
  • Over time, debris may accumulate in the lower housing
  • An adapter for a cutting head would have been nice (though you can buy that separately)

RCBS 90375 Trim Mate Case Prep Center

Features
  • Made of The highest quality materials
  • Includes large and small primer pocket brushes, inside chamfering and outside deburring tools, medium and small case neck brushes and a packet of dry case neck lub
  • Five gear-driven rotating heads
  • Five gear-driven rotating heads
  • Case prep and trimming at the same time

Last update on 2020-10-29 /  Affiliate Links (#ad)  / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

When you read the ads for the RCBS 90375, you’re promised that preparing your cases with this will be five times faster and easier. The folks at RCBS aren’t really joking, since this has 5 rotating heads to help you do the work much more easily.

With these heads, you can then do 5 case prep tasks much more easily

  • Chamfering
  • Deburring
  • Cleaning the primer pocket
  • Removing the military crimp
  • Deburring the flash hole

This doesn’t have the trimmer, but then you can get this to work well with the Trim Pro Power Case Trimmer. That should let you prepare and trim your cases at once.

This is also a kit, and your accessories include a packet of dry case neck lube, case neck brushes (small and medium), outside deburring tool, inside chamfering tool, and the small and large primer pocket brushes.

The motor is quite powerful, but luckily, it’s not as noisy as you may have feared. It still makes some noise, though, so you may not want to use it while watching TV unless you turn up the volume.

The typical RCBS case prep center review raves about this tool, and it’s easy to see why.

Pros
  • Powerful but quiet motor
  • 5 heads
  • Lots of accessories
  • Easy to use
  • Cuts down on case prep time
Cons
  • Trimmer is a separate purchase

Hornady 050012 Lock-N-Load Case Prep Center

Features
  • Removable trays are easy to Detach and provide ample collection space for shavings
  • Innovative design keeps shavings in the catch trays and out of cases
  • Rugged housing and a powerful motor will give years of dependable service

Last update on 2020-10-29 /  Affiliate Links (#ad)  / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This list won’t be complete without mentioning the Hornady brand, since this brand seems to manufacture just about every type of reloading gear. This Lock-N-Load case prep center goes nicely with the other Lock-N-Load reloading equipment.

Your purchase also offers the accessories you’ll need:

  • Chamfer and deburr tools
  • Large and small primer pocket cleaners
  • 6 popular neck brush sizes (22 cal, 25 cal/6mm, 270 cal/6.5mm/7mm, 30 cal, 35 cal and 45 cal)
  • Pilots (in same calibers)
  • Shell holders 1, 2, 5, 16, and 35

You can use these tools at once, and arrange them in the way you see fit.

You can really complete the set by getting the optional tools. These include the reamer and uniformer for the primer pocket, the flash hole deburr tool, and extra neck brushes.

With this, you can trim cases ranging ¾ of an inch to 3¼ inches. You can really get the exact trimming length you want, since you can adjust it down to 0.001 of an inch.

It’s easy enough to use, with the handle offering a comfy grip with nice leverage. You also have removable catch trays for the metal shavings, and these trays are easy enough to detach.

The powerful motor will last a long while, and the rugged housing ensures years of use. Just make sure you only use this with Hornady shell holders and trimmer pilots.

Most people love this tool, but as more than one Hornady case prep center review has noted, you need to get those optional tools to really complete the kit.

Pros
  • 6 stations
  • Can trim small and large cases
  • You can adjust the trimmer down to 0.001 of an inch
  • Powerful motor with nice handle
  • Rugged housing
  • Keeps things neat with trays for shavings
Cons
  • Shell holders and trimmer pilots have to come from Hornady too
  • The reamer and uniformer for the primer pocket, and the flash hole deburr tool, aren’t part of the deal

 

What is the Best Case Prep Center?

A case prep center is a great tool for preparing the cases properly so that they’re ready for reloading. The best prep case center is that tool that lets you do that in the most efficient manner with the least problems.

That means it has to have the accessories you need, and you find it easy to use. If it saves you a lot of time and trouble, then you know it’s excellent.

How Does Case Prep Centers Work?

How Does Case Prep Centers Work

Each model comes with its own design, so you need to read the manual for the model you have to know precisely how it works.

However, each one of the case prep centers on our list has very similar features.

They all have motors, so that you can keep yourself from doing the various case prep tasks manually. You basically just have to turn the handle every time you want to perform a task.

This means you don’t have to exert that much effort for tasks like trimming, chamfering, and deburring the cases. You can use the center to clean the primer pocket and remove the military crimp.

These tasks the case prep center can do depend on the accessories you have.

Then you also have stations on the case prep center, with each station used for a specific task. You can just transfer the case from one station to another to prepare it properly.

Doing this saves you a lot of time, which allows you to finish preparing a lot more cases per session. You shorten the overall time you spend on the whole reloading process.

Advantages of Owning a Case Prep Center

Of course, you don’t have to buy a case prep center. You can prepare cases for reloading entirely by hand, using manual tools for each task.

But then doing things by hand will help you realize the benefits of having a case prep center:

You Save a Lot of Time

That’s one definite advantage. Using various case prep tools to manually do the case prep work will take you much longer.

You have to understand that preparing cases isn’t a quick, 1-step process. You first have to sort the brass, set them to the right size, clean them, and maybe even lubricate them.

Everything goes much faster with the case prep center, because it’s designed to do all these tasks mire efficiently.

You Save a Lot of Effort

It’s not just quicker, but it’s easier for you as well. When you have to deal with several hundreds of cases prior to reloading, it sure is a pain.

Sometimes it’s even literally painful, with resulting blisters and cramping doing all the case preparation tasks by hand. Using the case prep center will eliminate the pain.

You Make Sure the Bullets are Safe and Reliable

Without proper case preparation, you may end up with improperly loaded rounds that may not be safe. Accidents that involve gunpowder and bullets can be very serious!

By using a reloading case prep station that prepares cases more efficiently, you can then make sure that your reloaded rounds will chamber into your firearms properly.

Bullets May Be More Accurate

Sometimes reloaders don’t just reload their ammo to minimize expenses. Sometimes they reload so that they end up with reloaded ammo that are more accurate than factory-made rounds.

But you won’t have reliably accurate rounds if you can’t prepare your cases properly. If the cases aren’t cleaned and sized right, then your bullets may not go into the spots you’re aiming at when you fire.

Things to Consider Before Buying Case Prep Centers

How do you know which case prep center is best for you? What you have to do is to read the product spec sheets and customer case prep station reviews to have a clear idea of what each case prep center can do for you.

When you read each case prep centers review, make sure you pay attention to the following factors:

Brand of Case Prep Centers

Insisting on premium brands is one way to ensure you get a high-quality case prep center.

Accessories of Case Prep Centers

Check out what tools you get with the unit. The accessories will tell you just what case prep tasks you can do with the case prep center.

It’s best if you get all the accessories you need with the kit, so you can be sure that the components all work together nicely.

The accessories you get will determine which types of caliber cases you can work on. It’s best if your accessories work on the calibers you normally use.

Cost of Case Prep Centers

Most of these brands don’t really overcharge, so you may as well pay the price for the quality they offer.

However, if the tools you need aren’t part of the original kit, you may end up paying more when you buy those tools separately.

End Results

You should get consistently good results with your prep centers. If you’re trimming cases, for example, they should all be in the same length.

The tools should be easy to install on the stations. Take into account the number of stations, as you’d want to get as many as you can.

Check what tasks you can do. Some tasks, such as trimming the cases, may require a separate machine.

Customers can be very objective when they describe just how good the cases end up with once they use the case prep center on them. Check out their comments on how easy it is to use the tool, and how much time they save.

Durability of Case Prep Centers

You need a dependable motor as well as sturdy materials for the housing.

How to Use a Case Prep Center

How to Use a Case Prep CenterAs we’ve mentioned before, the exact steps for using a case prep center depends greatly on the model you got. But the basics are very similar, regardless of the model.

Unpack and Setup

First, open your package and then make sure you have all the accessories that are supposed to come with the purchase.

Once you’ve verified that everything’s present, take the unit out of the box and place it on a smooth flat surface.

Then take some time to read all the manuals, to make sure you’re not missing a step. It’s best if you have these manuals ready to consult at any time.

Installing the Tools

Your unit will normally have several stations (maybe 5 or 6), in which you can install the case prep tools that come with the unit.

Normally, all you need to do is to thread the tools into the stations.

Inside Deburr Tool

This should cut a 22-degree chamfer (or something similar) on the case to let you enter the bullet into the cartridge more easily. This should only take a few seconds, and you shouldn’t take too long as you may thin and weaken the neck.

Outside Deburr Tool

Like the inside deburr tool, you only need a few seconds on this station and you can’t cut the brass too much.

This tool is for taking out the excess brass from your trimmed cases, so you end up with a nice and even finish for the outside case mouth.

Primer Pocket Uniformer

This will give you primer pockets cut to a uniform depth. It also squares the seating surface for the anvil of the primer.

This tool should already be set to proper specs, so there’s no adjustment needed.

To use this, start with an empty (no primer) case and insert the primer pocket. The case should be aligned with the uniformer.

Apply light pressure as you hold the case over the uniformer. Hold the case over the cutter, which will then remove material from the case until the head of the case touches the stop collar of the uniformer.

Take out the shavings, and you’re good for this tool.

Primer Pocket Reamer

This will take out rough metal edges and military crimps. You need only a few seconds to get this done, just by holding the case square against the reamer.

Neck Brushes

Neck BrushesEach one cleans the case neck of a particular caliber.

Top Case Prep Center Brands

The top brands are those that have proven themselves in the reloading community, by providing high quality reloading tools that get the job done.

When it comes to case prep centers, the very best option is to stick with a known brand. That gives you the best chances that you’ll get a tool that actually works as intended, and that it works for a very long time.

The brands you should consider include the following:

Frankford Arsenal

This is an old brand, with its roots starting way back in the 19th century. Today, it manufactures a wide range of products needed by reloaders, and it’s an honored brand in the reloading community.

Aside from case prep centers, the brand also manufacturers case trimmers, primer pocket swagers, case neck lubricators, hand deprimers, case trimmers, and other case preparation tools.

Lyman

The Lyman brand is perhaps the older name in reloading. The fact that this US brand still survives and remains a highly regarded brand proves that it has continued to manufacture high quality reloading tools all these years, ever since the company’s found in the early 1800s.

RCBS

This is another old US brand in the reloading industry. It was founded in California, back in 1943 in the middle of WWII. Today, it’s a part of a group of companies that still deal with military weaponry, while the RCBS brand itself is one of the most honored names in the reloading community.

Part of its popularity is that RCBS fans can offer suggestions and product ideas to the company through its website.

Hornady

This is another US brand, and it was founded in 1949. It’s actually a family-owned business, as its current boss is the son of the founder.

Hornady manufacturers a wide range of products associated with the reloading and ammunition industries. Aside from bullets, it also produces highly regarded reloading presses, accessories, and a widely touted reloading manual.

Who Makes the Best Case Prep Centers?

This is a question that’s actually hotly debated in the reloader community. You won’t have to look to long in various forums before you stumble on discussions about this topic, with debates like RCBS vs Lyman case prep center always raging.

What does seem apparent is that you have to limit yourself with the more famous brands.

That’s crucial, because the unknown brands offer unknown quality. Why take the risk getting a substandard case prep center when you don’t have to?

It’s obvious that the best case prep stations only come from the more iconic brands, since these brands have already established a reputation for consistently terrific reloading tools. They’re less likely to offer a dud, because they don’t really want to mar their pristine reputations in the reloading community.

So, stick with brands lie Lyman, RCBS, Hornady, and Frankford Arsenal. These brands have devoted fans precisely because you know you get premium-quality reloading tools from them.

Final Verdict

It’s really up to you to pick the best case prep center for you. But if your still unsure, you may want to check out the Lyman Case Prep Xpress 115V 7810220.

This is a complete kit with a wide range of tools, and all you need is a cutting head for trimming to really get it going. It will save you a lot of time, and it’s super-easy to use.

The results are fantastic, and they’re great for match-grade rounds. Once you start using this to prep your cases, your reloading sessions will be much more efficient.

Still, it’s just one of the best case prep centers on our list. Any one of them can really get the job done more efficiently!

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