How to Trim Cases Without a Case Trimmer?

You are here because you are on a budget but still looking to shoot accurately. So how to trim cases without a case trimmer? 

The short answer to that is you can’t.

I have tried multiple processes of trimming without a case trimmer when I was thinking of writing this article. And you will be amazed how far I went to find a way out.

Of course, we only need to trim rifle cases because the neck expands when the gun powder rapidly burns inside the brass case, increasing the overall case length. And if left untrimmed, it may become difficult to chamber rounds, also it may jam your firearm.

Usually, you will need to trim about 0.001″ of brass cases, which is 1/7th the thickness of normal human hair. Basically impossible to visually inspect so you will need a slide caliper. 

But how do you cut with so much precision with normal tools? Enter the realm of ideas!

Sand Paper

Rub the case neck repeatedly on the sandpaper. 


  1. Slanted case mouth – this is because your hands will never be on a perfect level. and slanted case mouth does not put equal pressure on the projectile.
  2. Trimmed too much – I ended up trimming more than I required. There was a point I measured the case after each run on the sandpaper. There were times when I got perfect length but the case mouth was not flat or had fractured slightly. Not to mention the time it took me to all this.
  3. Uneven case mouth – this is the worst situation. Sandpaper is prone to wear & tear after repeated usage. The initial wear & tear are not visible to the naked eye. Which results in uneven rubbing – resulting in non-uniform case length.

After trying this method on 25 brass cases and losing layers of skin on my fingertips. I concluded it was not a viable option.

Wet Stone 1000/6000 grit

I began by first rubbing it on the 1000 grit and for a finer finish on the 6000 grit but the results were somewhat similar to sandpaper

I mostly had slanted case mouths but very few uneven case mouths. But I achieved success with this method and got 6 brass cases to the length I needed but for that, I only used the 6000 grit wet stone. The rest of the 19 cases ended up with slanted case mouths.

The worst thing about this method is the time requirements. each case took me more than 4 minutes and I had to reload 1000s. Not a viable solution!

how to trim cases without a cases trimmer?

Grinder Machine

The results were the worst of all the other methods I have tried. But if I can afford a grinder I can at least afford the cheapest case trimmer.

I actually hurt my fingers trying to hold the cases in position when cutting the brass case.

What am I thinking?

After trying all these stupid methods I think it’s easier to buy Lee Quick Trim Case Trimmer. But you will need caliber specific die for this brass case trimmer. 

But the best way to trim brass cases is using a reliable case trimmer. And your firearm will thank you for that.

I’m sorry to disappoint you but there is actually no method to finely trim cases without a case trimmer. And I suggest buying a case trimmer for your cases because eventually, the case trimmer will pay off its price by properly resuing your brass cases and more tightly packed shooting grooves.

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