For the veterans with many years of experience in reloading used cartridges, a good case trimmer is a secret to getting the cartridges going and functioning optimally. For the newbies in the business who are heading towards the path to finding the right way, the case trimmer will become a good friend. 

With the endless availability of trimmers on the market, from the powered to the manual ones and so on, knowing what the best case trimmer is or should be can be very tasking. To help reduce that confusion and the troubles and woes of getting it wrong, we have here a piece dedicated to highlighting the best of the best when it comes to a case trimmer alongside other things you might need to know.

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The Top 5 Most Powerful Case Trimmers Reviewed 2021

1. Lee Precision Cutter and Lock Stud

Simple, efficient, and above all, cost-effective with a whole lot to spare. These are some of the words that boldly define the Lee Precision Cutter and Lock Stud. This model is the definition of simplicity embedded with functionality in a single composition. 

The entire Lee kit features a cutter and lock stud, and although these are vital components, it still requires the purchase and functionality of a case length gauge and a shell holder to function completely. 

With an ultimate purpose of making the cases shorter, this product is a great choice for low-volume trimming. Also, it functions well on brass cases known to be less than .475 inches in diameter which can be easily powered by anything from a manual drill to a powered one like a power drill for a faster process. 

Although it is quite incomplete without other components, it is a cheaper and more functional alternative, easy to use, store, and carry around while providing precise trimming for your cases.  

Pros

  • Cheap and affordable product
  • It can be coupled with a manual or powered trimmer
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Effective for short case trimming

Cons

  • Requires other parts to fully function
  • Does not feature any length adjustment

Takeway

The Lee Precision Cutter and Lock stud is one of the best trimmers for reloading, particularly for those on a budget. Designed with a simple outlook with a strong functionality gauge, it is an ideal product for beginners who are just starting and a great backup choice for experts in cases of emergency.

2. Frankford Arsenal Universal Precision Case Trimmer

In the category of powerful and highly functional trimmers, the name Frankford Arsenal always rings a bell. While there are many great products from the manufacturer, one of the many worthy of note is the Frankford Arsenal Universal Precision Case Trimmer. 

Aptly designed for optimum precision, as the name implies, the product includes universal collet system indexes on case shoulders for more consistent and precise case trimming at every use, allowing it to be compatible with all shouldered cases from a .17 Remington to a .460 Weatherby Magnum. Not to forget the built-in micrometer with one-thousandth increments for even more precise measurement. 

Asides from this ingenious inclusion, the Universal Precision case trimmer allows for easy attachment to a 1.5-inch hand drill or drill press for easier functionality. 

For components, the Universal Precision cutter comes with an ultra-hard HSS cutter, a brass shaving ejection port, and also a dual bearing system that permits the outer housing to float in use. 

Pros

  • Designed for optimum precision and consistency
  • Features a universal caliber compatibility
  • It can be attached to an electric power source for faster functionality
  • Durable make with durable materials
  • Includes a dual bearing system

 Cons

  • The cutter is not as strong and durable as expected
  • Set up is a bit challenging

Takeway

As a universal trimmer, the Frankford Arsenal Universal precision case trimmer is the perfect choice for high-volume trimmers who require something durable and fast with incredible precision qualities as they work. As the name implies, the model is designed to be a universal precision trimmer for every and any case size in an easy, accurate, and fast manner.

3. Lyman Universal Trimmer

For those in the game who are very familiar with the name Lyman, there is always the assurance of quality without so much as a hitch. While the name in itself commands a high level of respect, the product assurance constantly adds to that unending respect at every turn. 

The Lyman Universal trimmer is the dream cutter with the capacity to be fitted with a power adapter for a higher volume trimming of close to 250 cases per hour. With a trimming range from 0.17 to 0.485 calibers, it offers great caliber compatibility with its multi-purpose range. Plus, it doesn’t require case collets or shell holders to function, unlike many models. 

On the plus side, the Lyman Universal trimmer includes 9 of the most popular trimmer pilots designed for rifles and pistol calibers like the 22, 24, 27, 28, 30, 35, 44, 45 calibers, and 9mm. All these for easy and fast trimming.  

The model design allows for precision with coarse and fine adjustments designed up to one-thousandth of an inch. You have the adjusting ring for an approximate setting and easy repetition for other cases, making your work faster and your cases more precise for use. 

Pros

  • Sturdy design
  • Easy setup and usage
  • Offers a wide trim range and 9 trimmer pilots
  • Could function manually or with an electric powering
  • Does not require case collets or shell holders

Cons

  • The power adapter is not a part of the kit

Takeway

Based on popularity alone, any Lyman product is known to be a fine product. Still, the Lyman Universal trimmer is true to its name as a universal trimmer with a wide trimming range, and additional 9 pilots added. Also, considering its capacity to be bi-powered, it is perfect for use at any time and in any condition.

4. Lyman Reloading Universal Trimmer with Power Adapter

Once again, Lyman brings to all shooting enthusiasts a product that is efficient and powerful, with all the right components, and of course highly functional with a bit of icing on top as being more advanced than its predecessor, the Lyman Universal trimmer.

As one of the best power case trimmers on the market, the Lyman Reloading Universal Trimmer is one of a kind model designed to make all functionalities easier and faster as it combines the Lyman’s Power Adapter with the Lyman Universal Trimmer in a reloaded and more powerful version as the name implies. 

The Lyman Reloading Universal trimmer is an aluminum and steel-made product that allows it to not only last longer but also function optimally; plus, it comes with the patented Lyman universal Chuckhead system, which makes switching from any caliber from .17 to .458 and 9 of the most popular trimmer pilots. 

With the integration of the systems, the model is much more efficient, allowing users to easily switch from a manual mode to an electrical and much faster functionality by pairing the trimmer up with a power screwdriver or a standard electric hand drill.  

Pros

  • The durable material construction of aluminum and steel
  • Converts the original universal trimmer to power trimming
  • An effective model for trimming both shaft and drill
  • Includes useful components for better functionality
  • Faster trimming process

Cons

  • A bit tedious to operate

Takeway

As an alternative to the already very functional universal trimmer, the Lyman Reloading Universal trimmer makes the entire process easier and faster for its users, offering a capacity to trim over 250 cases an hour. It is an optimal choice for any hunting enthusiast requiring a little more speed when handling a larger volume of case trims especially. This trimmer makes it even better with its extra cutter shaft and carbide bit.

5. Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Case Trim

Frankford Arsenal has been in the line of manufacturing products with relations to gun maintenance and gunsmithing tools for a very long time. Over time, the company has designed countless models, each better than the last, with the sole aim of providing the best case trimmer in a single package for its consumers. 

This drive from Frankford Arsenal is quite visible in the super complete Platinum series case that includes a deburring tool, a chamfer tool, 6 different sized cases for shoulder bushings, 3 separate sized cases for body collets, and 2 other sized primer pocket cleaners, all designed to improve the capacity and functionality of the case trimmer. 

Frankford Arsenal Platinum series is a heavy-construction model with its case made from premium-grade aluminum and steel construction which, of course, ensures durability. Considering the cutters, there is assured durability, most especially for users who often work with high-volume trimming, as the cutter design is suitable for long-term usage. 

In addition to that, the entire set makes case trimming an easy activity with its output shafts that are compatible with various shouldered cases from .17 Remington to .460 Weatherby, serving perfectly as a pistol or rifle case trimmer. The model also features trimmer index cases on the shoulder for added speed and precision. 

Plus, the entire process is electrically run with a durable, heavy-duty motor and drivetrain, making the entire prepping and trimming process easier and faster to accomplish. And not to forget the built-in storage box designed to hold in extra tools and secure all cases and components in an organized manner.

Pros

  • High-quality construction casing
  • Powered by a strong motor
  • Offers precision and consistency in every trim
  • A great choice for high-volume trimming
  • Features durable HSS cutters

Cons

  • Not easy to operate for beginners
  • Operating it can be quite tasking

Takeway

Want durability, high-level efficiency, speed, and accuracy all in one single unit, then the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series case trim and prep system is the best shot. Designed not only to trim but also to prep your rounds, it takes away a whole lot of stress and reduces the processes users have to go through when trimming a case. Considering its other functionalities and components, trimming cases with this is going to be a breeze.

Buying Guide 

Power source 

When considering the purchase of a case cutter, you must consider its powering mechanism. A case trimmer can either be manual or powered by some form of electrical engineering.

Manual trimmers on their part are operated manually, often designed with the hand crank that requires manual forces to turn the cutter in itself, hence the name. Manual trimmers are great choices for individuals who are just starting as well as those who handle and trim a lesser number of rounds as the entire process is known to be tedious and hard. Nonetheless, the manual trimmer is much cheaper, of course, considering the simplicity in its functionality and its straightforward usage. 

On the other hand, the powered trimmer requires a power outlet and or features an electric motor to function. Powered trimmers are excellent for the masters in gun usage who handle and trim a larger number of rounds as the trimming exercise is long and tasking and require something that will make it faster to do. The powered ones are often more expensive than their manual counterparts but are, of course, faster. 

Types of trimmers 

Just as there are power source types, there are also types of case cutters that primarily fall under the two power source categories. These are:

  • On-press trimmer – This is used with a reloading press, check case trimmers for reloading, which allows it to be faster, making it a great choice for high-volume case trimming and case deburring too within a short time frame.
  • Lathe trimmer – A perfect choice for amateurs in the shooting business as its design is easy to maneuver with a clamp and cutter for the trimming.
  • Electric drill trimmer – This type functions with an electric drill which provides the power to cut the cases to any desired length. 
  • Fixed-adjustable trimmer – Quite affordable, it is most suitable for single caliber work as it only works for a fixed and particular caliber. It is a great choice for a one-gun owner. 
  • Shoulder-indexing trimmer – Functioning very much like a pencil sharpener, this type of trimmer utilizes the shoulder of the case as the stop while trimming the case. 
  • Precision trimmer – Perfect for the low-volume casing, the precision trimmer is, like the name implies, much more precise with its cutting. Although it uses a stand and features more complicated setups, it is highly efficient and best for the masters in the business. 

Knowing how each one works and the basis of their functionality will guide you on how to better choose the one most suitable for you. 

Cutter material 

Another pertinent factor to consider when choosing the case cutter is the cutter material as there are different ones available and also the ease of replacement of the cutter. 

You could have a steel cutter or a high-speed steel cutter which is much more efficient for the job and a great choice for low-volume cutting. There is also the carbide cutter made from a very hard material that remains sharp for a longer period and works perfectly for high-volume cutting. Take note that although you could use a brass case trimmer for brass, a better choice would be a high-speed steel cutter as brass isn’t very hard to cut. 

Also, keep in mind that it is much easier and more cost-effective to replace the cutter instead of replacing the entire trimmer set. 

Overall quality 

Asides from the cutter material being quality, you also need the entire material to be of quality construction for durability sake. It is well known that high-quality models are always associated with higher prices, but even when on a budget, you can get a fair, sturdy, and durable model without breaking the bank. 

To be sure that your cutter is of good quality, a little research on the name of the manufacturer, manufacturing history, and best reviews on the trimmer will help and guide you when making the right trimmer choice. 

Caliber compatibility 

Another point to consider is compatibility. For a one-gun user, this is not much of a problem as there is a trimmer available for a single caliber trimming without stress. But for individuals with multiple guns who work with high-volume trimming of various calibers, it is best to get a trimmer that will work with all caliber types like a reloading trimmer. 

It is advisable to carefully consider this before purchasing a trimmer as this could cost you more later on. 

Ease of use 

Just as the functionality is easy, the setup should be easy too to avoid cases of inaccurate trimming and further problems. Most trimmers are easy to set up and use with easy case length adjustment alongside features that make the entire process easier. 

Knowing that the functionality would affect the accuracy of the trimming going for an easy-to-operate trimmer is a great choice. Look out for models that are straightforward in operation, that feature dials and instructions to guide you on the best, easiest and fastest way to trim your cases. 

Price 

Your budget matters a lot when it comes to acquiring a good trimmer. The good news is that there is a functional case trimmer for every pocket size, and while the level and grade of functionality may differ based on pricing, there is still no doubt that these trimmers are as useful as they can be. 

Going through many best trimmer reviews, you will find out that the higher-priced products often feature more components with more functions while the lower-priced or mid-range ones are good enough to perform the primary function of trimming. Before you get your trimmer, consider the functions you wish to see and utilize in your trimmer; consider things like compatibility so that your purchase will be a one-time investment that will keep you for a long while. 

FAQs 

What is the best trimmer for cases? 

Because there are many names out there when it comes to case trimming, names like Frankford Arsenal, Lyman, RCBS, Hornady, and others, each one is known to manufacture unique models of trimmers and other related products with a specific target audience. 

To fix the best trimmer in the market, it all depends on what you need and what works best for you from the many popular manufactured models available. 

Why should a case be trimmed? 

While case trimming isn’t entirely compulsory, there are various reasons why gun users and lovers trim cases. Some of these reasons include improved and increased accuracy as a case trimmer helps to shape and trim the case in the best way possible to allow for more accuracy over time. 

Other reasons include cost-saving from having to buy new rounds of ammo every time, as well as prolonging the life of your rifle as it reduces malfunctions to the barest minimum by feeding the rifle the same size of ammo at every reloads. 

How often should the cases be trimmed? 

The major reason for trimming a case is due to it expanding after several firings. While some calibers take longer to expand and the case lengthens, particularly the lower calibers hence, they do not need to be trimmed often; the higher calibers expand faster and require to be trimmed more frequently. 

Must all cases be trimmed? 

No, you only trim cases that have been expanded or stretched after firing. If your casing doesn’t show any signs of these, then you do not need to trim it before a reload. 

Final Thoughts 

As a gun lover and sportsman in the gun business, knowing how to care for your ammo is a vital part of shooting, and to ensure that your rounds are ever accurate, consistent, and great for the job, the best case trimmer comes into play. 

Knowing now just how vital a trimmer is to the entire functionality of any round, having the most powerful and most functional of them all will go a long way in making your love for guns much deeper than before. If this truly speaks to your heart as an amateur shooter or a master, then you should be heading to pick up your very own case trimmer now.