As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post contains links to products that I may receive compensation from at no additional cost to you. Learn more

The 5 Best Case Trimmers for the Money – Reloading Case Trimmers Reviewed

Best Case Trimmers for ReloadingIf you’re into reloading your own ammo, it makes a lot of sense that you’re now looking for the best case trimmer you can use.

Reloading your own ammunition starts with reusing fired bullet cases, and these bullet cases unsurprisingly gets damaged over time whenever you fire them. that’s why you first have to prepare the cases properly before you start using the reloading press on them.

Cases can get roughened or dented, and they may grow longer. After all, you’re causing a small explosion when you fire a bullet from these cases.

Since these cases can eventually stretch, you will need the best case trimmer to cut them back down to their proper length.

But which is the best of the case trimmers? That’s what this guide is all about.

Top 5 Case Trimmers Comparison Chart

Here’s a quick look at the key features of each case trimmer:

Case Trimmer Power Source Caliber Range Cutter Material View on Amazon
Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Trim and Prep System Built-in Motor .17 Remington up to the .460 Weatherby. High speed steel Check Price
Hornady Cam Lock Trimmer 050140 Manual Up to 50-cal Ultra-hard tool steel Check Price
RCBS Trim Pro-2 .338 Lapua Mag 90366 Manual .22 to .45 cal Steel Check Price
Lyman, Brass Smith Case Trim Xpress Case Trimmer Variable-speed motor .17 Rem to .325 WSM (but can buy extra bushings) Carbide Check Price
Little Crow Gunworks World’s Finest Trimmer Electric drill Specific caliber only Steel Check Price

Best Picks for Case Trimmers

You actually have a lot of options when it comes to case trimmers. However, they’re not all good.

But we did the work for you and compiled this list of case trimmers that are all good. What’s best for you, though, will depend on your need and preferences.

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Trim and Prep System

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

If the name of the item didn’t clue you in yet, this isn’t just a simple case trimmer. It’s designed to trim cases and do many other tasks involved in preparing cases for reloading.

This is actually a kit, which means you get a lot of accessories for all these different tasks. Your kit comes with the following:

  • 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

Most of these tools are meant for use after you’ve done the trimming. Then you have 3 extra stations on which to set the tools, so that you can do case prep tasks like chamfering and deburring the cases.

But let’s focus first on the trimming function, since that’s probably the function that you really want.

This will work on cases ranging from the .17 Remington up to the .460 Weatherby. If you’re looking for the best case trimmer for 223, this may be what you’re looking for.

First of all, this comes with a heavy-duty motor and drive train. This is the motor that will be powering the trimming and all the other tasks.

Trimming the brass won’t actually take all that long. The entire process can go quickly, especially with practice.

This comes with a case holder, which you can set up so that it will trim the brass to the exact length you want (down to the smallest fraction of an inch).

Once you’re done adjusting the case holder, you can just put in the brass into the case holder. The collet will then align the case squarely with the super-hard, high-speed cutter.

As the cutter comes into contact with the case mouth, the cutter trims the brass. The job is done when the case shoulder stops on an internal bushing.

It’s super-easy to use for trimming, but it’s more than just the best electric case trimmer. This is your 1-stop purchase for case prep before you use your reloading press.

Pros
  • It’s not just a trimmer—it’s also a prep center
  • It works for a wide range of calibers
  • You have a super-hard cutter to work with
  • Can trim consistent to within 0.002 to 0.0005 of an inch
  • The entire trimming process is easy
  • It’s extremely durable
  • There’s a built-in storage box for the extra collets, tools, and bushings
Cons
  • It’s expensive, especially if you’re just looking for a case trimmer
  • The other functions may not be as simple to use for newbies

Hornady Cam Lock Trimmer 050140

Features
  • ACCURATELY RESTORES fired cases to the correct length
  • MICRO ADJUST CUTTER allows . 001" changes without moving the case
  • REPLACEABLE CUTTING HEAD is made of ultra-hard tool steel
  • USE ONLY STANDARD HORNADY shell holders and pilots
  • INCLUDES 7 of the most popular pilot sizes: 22 cal, 6mm, 270 cal, 7mm, 30 cal, 38 cal and 45 cal.

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

Now this is a US-made trimmer that really gets the job done. This is just a trimmer, and it’s a great tool if you already have a case prep center but it can’t do the trimming for you.

Its design is terrific, and it will restore previously fired cases to the proper length. The thickness of the rim of the cartridge won’t matter.

First, you have 4 screw holes here. That lets you fix the case trimmer to your bench to hold it securely.

When you set the case in, the lever secures the case in its place. The spindle lock can accommodate cases of various sizes, and it can even deal with 50-cal cases.

With this purchase, you already have 10 pilots to accommodate the most popular calibers. This may be the best case trimmer for pistol brass, as the pilot caliber sizes include the 22 cal, 6mm, 270 cal, 7mm, 30 cal, 38 cal and the 45 cal.

This uses its special Cam-Lock that lets you make adjustments easily on the shell holders. Just make sure you use only Hornady shell holders (and pilots), as it may not work as well with other brands.

The adjustable locknuts also allow you to make adjustments in increments of 0.001 of an inch. You won’t even have to move the case to do this.

The cutting head is also made of super-hard steel. It’s also replaceable, so you can just get a new cutting head once you’ve used it to trim thousands of cases and it has become dull.

Just remember that you have to buy the Hornady shell holder first for your brass, and you’re in business.

Pros
  • It offers amazing length consistency (with 0.001-inch variance)
  • You can adjust lengths without moving the case
  • It’s quiet, so you can watch TV while using this
  • The cutting head is tough with a large diameter
  • The cutting head is also replaceable
  • It can handle case lengths up to the length of a 50-cal.
Cons
  • It needs a base to work well
  • You have to trim cases manually
  • It’s not meant for speedy work
  • You have to buy Hornady shell holders

RCBS Trim Pro-2 .338 Lapua Mag 90366

Features
  • Made of the highest quality materials
  • Hunting reloading case trim tools
  • Another quality Bushnell product
  • Improved spring-loaded universal shell holder securely locks case and cutter
  • Works with standard pilots

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

RCBS is another respected brand in the reloading community, so it’s not really a surprise that it also offers a candidate for the best case trimmer for reloading.

This works with standard pilots, and it already comes with pilots for the following calibers: .22, .24, .25, .27, .28, .30, .35, .44 and .45. These pilots have all been tapered so the pilot glides smoothly into the mouth of the case.

The universal shell holder is spring-loaded, and this locks the case in squarely in alignment with the cutter. This design also keeps the case from wobbling when you’re trimming it down to its proper length.

Once you’ve set the case in, you can set the length down to 0.001 of an inch. The initial setup for a specific case size does take a few minutes to get the right length.

But when you’re done with the setup for the caliber length, using this to cut a hundred or so cases (of the same caliber) will be super-easy. You get the same exact cut with the same length each time.

As it’s made of die-cast metal, it’s quite durable. You also have a moderately powerful motor here, with enough torque and rpm to do the job.

It’s also easy enough to use, with its dependable cutting handle and extended lever. You may find this the best manual case trimmer for you.

Pros
  • It’s very easy to use
  • It uses a universal shell holder
  • The handle works smoothly
  • It’s extremely durable
  • You get consistent case lengths
  • It comes with pilots for popular calibers
Cons
  • You don’t have the pilot for 40 cal
  • It has to be mounted first

Lyman, Brass Smith Case Trim Xpress Case Trimmer

Sale
Features
  • Lyman’S Case Trim Xpress Gives Rifle Reloaders The Speed And Accuracy That They Have Been Looking For When Trimming Cases.
  • The Unit Has Its Own Power Source, And A Strong Variable Speed Motor, So There Is No Need To Use Power Drills Or Purchase Separate Motors.
  • By Using Bushings That Contact On The Shoulder Of Bottle Neck Type Cases, The Case Trim Xpress Will Quickly And Cleanly Trim Your Brass By Simply Pushing The Case Against The Long-Lasting Carbide Cutter.
  • The Trimmer Comes With 10 Bushings Designed To Fit Most Popular Bottleneck Rifle Cases

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

This case trimmer doesn’t use pilots, but instead comes with 10 bushings designed for the most common bottleneck rifle cases. Quite a few folks consider this the best rifle case trimmer.

If the bushings don’t accommodate your caliber, then just buy the right bushing. With the right bushing, this can be the best case trimmer for 6.5 Creedmoor.

The bushings allow you to just push the case against the cutter, since it indexes on the shoulder of the case. You need a finger (usually the thumb) to push the case in, and that may be tiring for some folks.

These bushings are also spring-loaded, so that trimming the cases can be smooth and easy. You can even trim up to 15 cases per minute with enough practice, since each case needs only a few seconds each.

The adjustment wheel allows for easy case length adjustments as well. You can dial in the length you want, down to increments of 0.001 of an inch.

As for the consistency of the length, it’s terrific. The variance is at 0.002 of an inch at the most, and that’s not bad at all.

The variable-speed motor is quite reliable, and it doesn’t really make a lot of noise. This may be one of the best power case trimmer models around.

The compact housing doesn’t take a lot of space on your reloading bench.

The cutter is also made of tough carbide, and it’s even more durable and long-lasting than steel. It’s also replaceable, and so you won’t have to buy a whole new case trimmer if and when it ever gets dull.

Pros
  • It’s quite compact
  • It’s easy to dial in the right length
  • The lengths are consistent, with very tiny variance
  • It’s not noisy at all
  • You can trim cases quickly
  • You just need to change the bushings for a different caliber
Cons
  • You’ll need to mount this on your reloading bench
  • Your thumb can get tired after a while

Little Crow Gunworks World’s Finest Trimmer

Features
  • Works with a cordless or electric drill
  • Trims at least 10 cases per minute
  • Does not use pilots, the case is supported by the shoulder and case body

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

The name of the model does seem presumptuous and arrogant, isn’t it?

But then it really is that good, so much so that the LCG brand became famous just because of this trimmer. A lot of folks consider this the best case trimmer for the money, if you’re only using it for a single caliber.

This is a tiny thing, because it’s meant to be attached to your electric (or cordless) drill. Once that’s done, all you need to do is to insert the case and it trims the case.

It’s very much like a pencil sharpener, as it’s so easy to use. You don’t even have to make any length adjustments, because each specific model is meant for a particular caliber.

The case is supported by the case by the case body and the shoulder, and you’ll know when it’s done trimming. This is why it doesn’t need pilots.

It uses high-speed cutters and a sealed set of ball bearings to really give you a smooth cut. In most cases, the inner edge of the case mouth will be smooth enough that you only need a very slight chamfer for it.

The variance is also minimal, usually at plus or minus 0.02 of an inch. For most newbies and for those who just want usable cases for practice shooting, that’s good enough.

That may be too much of a variance for those who want the lengths to remain consistent within a thousandth of an inch, however.

Pros
  • It’s easy and simple to use
  • You can trim about 10 cases per minute
  • The cutter can last for about 4,000 to 5,000 trimmed cases
  • It doesn’t need space on your workbench
Cons
  • You need an electric drill for this
  • You have to buy another one for a different caliber
  • The consistency may not be enough for some people

What is the Best Case Trimmer?

What’s best for you isn’t necessarily the best for others. It’s always an individual preference, although we can generalize.

It does have to be easy to use. Complicated setups are annoying, and it’s even more tedious if it takes too long to trim a single case. It has to be easy, so that you can trim even a hundred cases without taking an entire day to finish the job.

The cases must then also end up with the same length. There may be a bit of variance, but it shouldn’t be more than a tiny fraction of an inch.

When you have cases with different lengths, then you won’t be able to get consistent performance out of them.

Finally, the best case trimmer should work for a long while. The cutter head may dull after a time, but is should be replaceable instead of having to buy a whole case trimmer as a replacement.

Different Types of Case Trimmers

Case trimmer come in several different designs. In fact, each model may have unique features, so that one model will be different from another.

Still, you can group case trimmers to several general categories:

Lathe Trimmers

This is the simplest type, which makes it great for newbies. The design offers a clamp to hold the case and then the cutter for the trimming.

Fixed-Adjustable Trimmer

This is what you get when you’re only dealing with a single caliber. It works only for a particular caliber, so you need to buy another one of these if you have to work on another caliber.

If you’re a 1-gun owner, this is what you get as it’s very affordable.

On-Press Trimmer

As the name indicates, you generally use this with your reloading press. You’ll need a full-length resizing die to get this to work.

With this type, you can do high-volume case trimming in a very short time. Case trimmers of this type can deburr the cases as well.

Precision Trimmers

This uses a stand, and it has a more complicated setup. It’s rather annoying to use, especially when you want to change calibers.

Though it’s mainly for low-volume case trimming, you generally get a more consistently precise cut length with these machines.

Shoulder-Indexing Trimmer

This type uses the shoulder of the case as the stop. This type can be very easy to use, as it functions very much like a pencil sharpener.

Trimmer for Electric Drill

This is a case trimmer that you use with an electric drill. The drill provides the power for cutting the case to the right length.

Benefits of Owning a Case Trimmers

Benefits of Owning a Case TrimmersReloading your own ammo starts with reusing your spent bullet cases. But sometimes these cases can get deformed and elongated over time, and so you’ll have to trim then to reuse them.

You certainly will have a very rough time trimming cases manually, without a machine that’s specifically meant for trimming cases.

Faster Work

With the case trimmer, you can then do the job much more efficiently. You can do it faster, so that you can finish your cases to get them ready for reloading.

Cost Savings

Because you’re able to reuse casings, you can then save money as you won’t have to buy new ones. In fact, saving money is one of the main advantages of the whole reloading idea.

More Accurate Rounds

Some shooters aren’t satisfied with factory-grade rounds. To have match-grade rounds with greater accuracy, they want to reload the ammo themselves.

These trimmers can then cut the brass extremely precisely, with very little variation with the lengths. This then gives you brass with consistent lengths, meaning they can then end up with tighter groupings on the shooting range.

Things to Consider Before Buying Case Trimmers

How do you know which case trimmer is best for you? When you’re reading case trimmer reviews, focus your attention to the following factors:

Power Source of Case Trimmers

Some of these case trimmers are manual models, which means you need to turn a handle yourself to trim the cases.

But others may need a reloading press, or an electric drill. This is okay when you already have these accessories.

You can also get a case trimmer with its own built-in motor, which is convenient (though it adds to the cost).

Size of Case Trimmers

It’s okay if the case trimmer is large, if you mean to use it only in your dedicated reloading space at home. But you’ll need something smaller if you want a portable model, or if you don’t have a large work bench.

Caliber Compatibility of Case Trimmers

Caliber Compatibility of a Case TrimmersIf you’re working with different calibers, then then the best reloading case trimmer for you should work for all your cases. That means you want a machine with different bushings or pilots to accommodate your case calibers.

It would be nice if these bushings or pilots are already part of the purchase. If a caliber isn’t part of the pilots or bushings, then they should be at least available as a separate purchase.

If you’re only working on a single caliber, then you can go with a case trimmer meant for only a single caliber.

Ease of Use

Mostly, this is about the setup and the case length adjustment. The setup for the best brass case trimmer should be simple and easy, because if it’s too complicated then you might make a mistake setting it up.

Adjusting the case length should also be simple. Some models have dials, though others may need a master-sized cartridge to set the length.

Efficiency of Case Trimmers

How many cases can you trim inside a minute? Manual models may need a lot of time, but others may let you trim 10 to 15 cases per minute.

Variance of Case Trimmers

You want your case lengths to be consistent. Some who only need ammo for practice may be satisfied with variance in the hundredths of an inch. But if you’re into match-grade rounds, you may want the variance to be in the thousandths of an inch.

Cutter Durability of Case Trimmers

First of all, you may want to go with a replaceable cutter head, so you won’t have to buy a brand-new case trimmer when the cutter gets dull. Go with a carbide cutter if possible, though any kind of hard steel will do.

How to Use a Case Trimmer

Each type of case trimmer will have a different set of instructions on how to use it properly. In fact, even different models of the same type of case trimmer may have different operational steps.

Still, in most cases the steps can be generalized:

Assembly

Lots of case trimmers first need to be assembled. Make sure you do this right, by consulting the manual carefully.

Better yet, use a demo video on YouTube to assemble your particular case trimmer. That way, you’re sure that you assemble it properly.

Setup

First you have to set up the machine, and that will be different for each model. Some may have to be mounted on a bench or used with a press.

Some of these case trimmers just need to be plugged in an electrical outlet. In some cases, you may have to attach it to a drill.

Setting the Length

Again, the precise procedure for this may be different depending on the model. You may be able to adjust the length manually, or you may need to use a master sized cartridge to set the right length.

You may even have to change the entire setup of the trimmer to accommodate a new caliber.

Inserting and Cutting the Case

Before you do any trimming, it’s advisable that you wear some form of eye protection. Lots of case trimmers can cause the shavings to fly off in various directions.

You then insert the case into the trimmer, and the cutter and case should be squarely aligned. You may have to hold the case in place with your finger.

Then you just power the trimmer and it will trim to the right length. It should then stop when you have the right length.

Top Case Trimmer Brands

Most, but not all the top brands for case trimmers are longtime names in the reloading industry.

Frankford Arsenal

This is a famous brand in the reloading industry, and it offers a wide range of items that reloaders need. Its origins start in the 19th century, and it has managed to thrive even now.

Frankford Arsenal manufactures a wide range of case preparation tools. Aside from case trimmers, they also make hand deprimers, case neck lubricators, primer pocket swagers, and entire case prep centers.

Hornady

This US brand was founded in 1949, and since then they’ve been offering lots of different products in the ammunition and reloading industries. It’s a family-owned business, which makes the brand highly determined to live to its ideals.

RCBS

This brand is also another old US name in the reloading industry, as it was established in California in 1943. It’s now part of a group of companies associated with military weaponry.

Lyman

With its roots starting in the early 1800s, this is maybe the oldest brand in the reloading community. Its reloading manual is now in its 50th edition, compared to the relative newness of the Hornady manual which is still in its 10th edition.

It still continues to offer various types of reloading tools and accessories, and it still sets the benchmark for quality in the industry.

Little Crow Gunworks

Unlike the other brands, LCG is extremely new is as it was only founded in 2007. They made their mark on the industry with its innovative case trimmer, which they released in 2010.

The other brands are reloading brands, but LCG is primarily known as a case trimmer brand. The fact that they had the balls to call their product as the “World’s Finest Trimmer” says a lot about their focus.

 

Final Verdict

If you don’t have any sort of case prep tool at all, then you really should go with a prep center that offers a case trimming function. That means you should consider the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Trim and Prep System, since you can also chamfer and deburr the case after trimming with the same machine.

If you already have a case prep center but you don’t have trimmer, then just go with the Lyman Brass Smith Case Trim Xpress Case Trimmer. It’s easy to use, offers very little variance, and you even get the carbide cutter.

Of course, you may just decide for a manual model as your best case trimmer, and that’s up to you!

FAQs

Do you have to trim every case?

No, you don’t. You only need to do this if the case has stretched.

Some people don’t trim pistol cartridges. Why not?

That’s because lots of pistol cases tend to maintain their lengths, even after firing. In fact, in some cases they may even shrink after every load cycle.

How often should you trim cases?

That depends on the caliber, as loads that are at the lower end of the pressure range don’t really cause the case to lengthen. But when you’re at the top end of the pressure range, you tend to need to trim cases more frequently.

What’s “head separation”?

That’s when the web section of the case becomes too thin, so that the case head separates from the body. You ought to discard the case when this happens, as you won’t be able to reuse it.

The 4 Best Case Prep Centers Reviews: Prepping Cartridges for ReloadingThe 4 Best Case Prep Centers Reviews: Prepping Cartridges for Reloading
The 5 Best Reloading Dies for the MoneyThe 5 Best Reloading Dies for the Money
The 2 Best .410 Reloading Press for the moneyThe 2 Best .410 Reloading Press for the money

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.