10 Factors to Look Out for When Choosing a Case Trimmer

Need a case trimmer but not sure which to buy? Keep reading to get the best value for your credit as we describe how and which factors are important and which situations are best suited for you. Experience over the past years has taught me these 9 factors when choosing a Case Trimmer.

  1. The accuracy of the trim to the nearest 0.001 inches.
  2. The time required for each trimming.
  3. Can the cases be changes with ease for successive trimming?
  4. How is the cut — clean or rough?
  5. Other available functions with the case trimmer.
  6. Types of brass Caliber cases the trimmer can accept.
  7. The number of trim jobs the blade can perform before sharpening or changing the blade.
  8. Portability of the case trimmer.
  9. How easy it is to set up the case trimmer for precision trimming.
  10. Budget

Whether buying a new trimmer or upgrading to a better trimmer, following these factors in choosing a case trimmer will clarify the situation and the needs. But not all factors have equal importance some factors can be ignored for other must-have qualities. Continue to know which is which.

While on this topic, If you are considering to buy a new case trimmer, you must read my other article having a detailed review on 8 case trimmers, to help you choose the perfect case trimmer for the value.

While reading through these 9 factors do keep in mind that all persons are unique and the importance level of each factor may vary depending on the situation and person. Even then some factors will are like pillar factors and will not deviate much from their importance level no matter the situation or reloader. I will try to elaborate on how these mentioned factors matter in choosing a case trimmer and their importance level.

1. Accuracy of the trim.

We use the case trimmer to increase the accuracy of the rounds. Accuracy is a vital point that needs to be considered when choosing a case trimmer. If the case length is higher than the tolerance level, then the gun has a higher chance to get jammed during firing rounds and if the case is too short then it may deform the firing chamber. 

Digital Slide caliper

Each case trimmer has a tolerance level — the precision and fine adjustments, which the trimmer can accommodate. The tolerance is the result of setting the collet, bushing, blade & human error. Even after the perfect fit and much practice the trim length can vary slightly. 

To summarize, the trimmer with a hard stop will have less tolerance than the trimmer with a spring bushing. Because the hand gets tired and the applied pressure on the case gradually differs decreasing round precision.

2. Budget

Case trimmers can range from $26 to $2000 plus. Most manual case trimmers will cost around $150, with some the option to change to a motorized case trimmer. While most motorized case trimmer has a variety of ranges of price. With higher price comes higher accuracy and extra functions.

3. Time required for each trimming.

If you are an occasional shooter and have a few brass cases that need trimming, then this factor is not that important. But, if you are a regular shooter and have a bunch of cases to trim then the time required can stack up.

Some manual trimmer is shipped with a hand crank but can be upgraded with a power adapter and drill press. Or, you can get a motorized trimmer right from the start, though it will increase the cost. 

If cost is not a major issue then our suggestion is to get a motorized case trimmer. RCBS, Hornady, Lee Precision, Frankford Arsenal, and others all make motorized case trimmers.

4. Can the cases be changed with ease?

Here we consider the time required to change the trimmed case to the next untrimmed case and how simple it is. Changing cases with ease and faster changing is preferred. But if it is just a few cases, then this factor can partially be ignored but can’t say the same when there are lots of cases to be trimmed.

5. Is the cut clean?

When trimming the cases, we prefer a clean straight cut, to better sit the projectile. And higher RPM (Rotation per Minute) of the trimmer will result in a clean trim. Hence, through experience, I learned to avoid a slower RPM case trimmer. This factor is meant trimmers that come with a built-in motor.

6. Other available functions besides trimming.

Some case trimmers have other additional features. A case prep station, containing Chamfer, Deburr, Primer Pocket Cleaner, neck cleaner, and storage compartment. Some extra functions are always welcomed and the quality of the function must be always considered. But these extra functions are a bonus and can not beat a trimmer that has a better accuracy but no functions.

7. The types of caliber cases it can trim.

There are many types of calibers for many types of pistols & rifles in the market, all the way from .172 to .50, and not all of them can be trimmed with one brass case trimmer. Knowing which calibers you want to trim, will make selecting a case trimmer easier. To know more about the ammo types you can visit the Wikipedia page here

8. Blade lifetime.

A case trimmer’s blade is an item that requires regular maintenance and changing when the trimming quality decreases. Depending on how aggressively you trim the brass cases a blade’s longevity can vary. It also varies from brand to brand and sometimes model to model. But you can expect one blade to last from 850 to 900 trims before it needs some sharpening.

But complications come when you need to change the blade. Some trimmers need blades particularly from the same manufacturer others can accept from a range of manufacturers. And in times of need (unless well-prepared), you may have a hard time finding that specific brand blade you are looking for.

We recommend choosing high-quality materials for the blade (carbide cutter), as it will increase the quality of the trim and blade’s lifetime.

9. Portability of the case trimmer.

Portability of the case trimmer is another minor factor, but even then a compact and lightweight case trimmer that holds all its equipment is more attractive and easy to handle than a large unit that you need to dedicate table space for it.

10. How easy it is to set up the case trimmer for precision trimming.

There are trimmers you can set up in 1-2 minutes and there are trimmers you will need more than 5 minutes just for the setup. This factor shines when you have a few different types of cases to trim and one case trimmer. But this point is the least important in my opinion but if you want to motivate your friend to get in this similar business. You definitely don’t want him to wait 5 or more minutes just for the setup.

In short in choosing a case trimmer?

In short, we condensed the article’s 9 factors to consider when choosing a case trimmer are described in this article with their importance level and their needs. It does not take a genius to find out the key factors, But to make selecting a case trimmer easier, below is the table with the 9 factors in descending order of importance.

Sl. No.Things to ConsiderLevel of importance
1Accuracy of the Trim10/10
2The range of Cases the trimmer accepts9/10
4Blade’s Lifetime7/10
5Time for successive case trimming7/10
6RPM of the Blade5.5/10
7Other Function of the Case Trimmer4/10
8Portability of the case trimmer4/10
9Setup time of the case trimmer.2/10

There is one more factor in choosing a case trimmer but I did not mention it till now in this article not because it’s the least important factor but simply because it does not fall in general discussion. It is whether the blade’s rotating motor comes along with the brass case trimmer or needs to be bought separately. If it needs to bought separately additional costs must be accounted for.

If you already own hardware tools, chances are you possess a drill as well, and having a drill can reduce the stress on your wrist for hand-crank trimmers, and the price of the case trimmer significantly.

But it will cost you time to mount the case trimmer to the drill. And always make sure if your case trimmer can handle the speed of the drill

After reading this article, I hope you gained the value of your time invested in this article and will be able to choose from a variety of case trimmer according to your unique requirements. To make choosing a case trimmer easier I have reviewed in detail the famous case trimmers and compared them in another article here.

If you want to know more about the components and how to use a case trimmer, I suggest reading this article “How to use a Case Trimmer”.

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