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A Fast, Easy Way to Trim Rifle Cases

Copyright 2020 – Stephen Redgwell

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Power attachment and manual crank

All of us have a preferred method of trimming cases. Here's something that will make it easier and faster to do.

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There is no doubt that case trimming is a pain in the butt. There are a couple of things you can do to lessen the misery.   The first thing is to evaluate your loads! If they are at or near max, do you really need the speed? Whether you target shoot or hunt, backing off a grain or so will really help. It puts less stress on your cases, and reduces stretch at the same time.

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Ye Olde Lee Trimmer

Depending on the cartridge, backing off by one grain will reduce internal pressure by 4000 to 7000 PSI.  Velocity may drop by 100 fps, but it will make a positive difference in case life. Your brass will appreciate it!
 
The second thing is to find a good trimmer. If you’re like me, you have tried a number of them – both manual and power driven. I have several, including an older Lee trimmer that uses a case holder with a cartridge specific pilot (308 Win, 223 Rem, etc.) that attaches to the cutter. It slides into the case, ensuring that the brass is only shortened to the minimum trim length and no more.
 
When I first got my first trimmer back in the 1970s, I turned each case by hand. That quickly became tedious, so I added a Zip Trim. These are still made, but I didn’t like the idea of pulling the cord to spin the case. As a result, I bought a drill attachment. But even using the drill, I still had to tighten and loosen the ring of the case holder, as part of the operation.
 
Later, I bought a Lyman Universal Case Trimmer – with the add on Power Pack. I even have a Redding trimmer sitting on the shelf. Both the Lyman and Redding trimmers are nice units, but for me, they have their shortcomings. With these, installing and removing the cases was awkward. Like my original Lee trimmer, the cases are tightened into a case holder to prevent them from falling out.

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Zip Trim

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Lyman Unicersal Trimmer with Power Pack

When I’m testing loads, I use a small batch of 25 to 50 cases.  When I am pushing bullets at maximum pressure, the brass elongates and needs trimming.  I don’t want to set up my Lyman for a few pieces of brass.

Still, trimming is time consuming – even if you only have to do as few as 50 cases. With some tools, it’s hard on the fingers too.

So, that brings me to here.  A couple of years ago, I bought a Lee Quick Trim.  I bought the manual model that uses a crank handle to turn the cutter.  Like my original trimmer, it didn’t take long to purchase a power attachment.  The power is provided by a small, 4 volt cordless screwdriver with a lithium ion battery.  That’s cheap and easy.

I have done 100 cases in one sitting and the battery lasted for them all. 

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Compact and easy to use!

To eliminate the need to tighten each case into a chuck before trimming - and loosening it after - Lee came up with the idea to use an inexpensive die which screws into your press. The case is raised into the die, just like your are resizing or seating a bullet, but the top of the die is where the cutter blade goes.  A few rotations of the blade trims the case to the correct length.

There is an adjustment ring on the cutter blade assembly so that you can set how much brass will be removed from the case neck.

You can feel the brass being removed.  With a little practice, you’ll know when the cutting action is done.  You simply lower the press ram, remove your case and you’re ready for the next one.  No cramped, sore fingers or tightening and loosening a chuck.

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Black, knurled knob adjusts the amount of trim

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As a welcome bonus, it chamfers the inside and outside of the case neck as it trims, making a separate chamfer tool unnecessary.

Some people might ask how it works when doing large amounts of unprocessed cases.  I cannot tell you that, but I suppose if I was doing 500 or more in one sitting, I would probably have a second cordless screwdriver at the ready.

My opinion?  This is the best trimmer I’ve found for doing 100 cases or less.  Most people fall into that category.  Since I don’t bother doing any more than that in one sitting, I can say that the Quick Trim works as advertised. It’s fast,  very easy on the hands and eliminates the need to chamfer the inside and outside of the case mouth as a separate step.

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