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Which cartridge case trimming tool is best???

This is a discussion on Which cartridge case trimming tool is best??? within the Ammunition forums, part of the M14 M1A Forum category; I am looking to purchase a brass trimming tool for making handloads. I have been using the Lee trimmer, chucking it into a drill and ...

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Old July 20th, 2009, 06:49 AM   #1
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Which cartridge case trimming tool is best???

I am looking to purchase a brass trimming tool for making handloads. I have been using the Lee trimmer, chucking it into a drill and trimming the cases to SAAMI specs. This is getting a bit too laborious and inconsistent for my tastes.

Could you give me your thoughts on which trimmers are best and what you use for trimming .308 Win, .30-06, and .223 Rem military cases. I need something better than my current setup.


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Old July 20th, 2009, 07:03 AM   #2
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look into the Dillion trimmer. It's spendy, but with right set up you can really process some mil brass.

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Old July 20th, 2009, 07:07 AM   #3
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Thumbs up

I used a hand crank Lyman trimmer, used it for years, then got the power attachment and used it for more years.
I just got a Girraud last week and couldn't be happier.
It trimms and chamfers inside and out, so it's easily 10x faster and the chamfers are more consistent.
I highly recomend it.



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Old July 20th, 2009, 07:55 AM   #4
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I have used a Forester for many years that was passed on to me from my Father. It has zero issues.

5 years ago, I bought a Lyman so I could do 45-70 because the old Foresters could not handle that rim size. It is the first Lyman product I am unhappy with. Too much play between the shaft and the housing. I am seriously considering an electric trimmer like the Dillon or Girraud for .308 and .223.

The Forester still works great for low volume hunting loads.
Another avid reloader here at work is very happy with his RCBS.

Best regards

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Old July 20th, 2009, 09:06 AM   #5
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I have yet to find a "quick" trimmer. I have used the Dillon, Lyman, Forrester and Lee. For a small job of 20-30 cases I revert back to the way you are doing it with the Lee. Only advice I can give is to buy several of the wood ball cutters for this approach and rotate them from small cases hornet, 204 / 224 and on up the scale to 30 cal and larger after you do 500 to 1000 per cutter to compensate for cutter wear. The Lake City and mil spec brass will dull them quicker - same advice to rotate your cutters for power trimmers also. Dillion is pretty fast for big jobs but you need to do it in a location where you can deal with the brass shavings that seem to fly everywhere - if you attach the vacum then you have to deal with the noise of it and the trimmer. RCBS X dies have helped me cut down on the need to resize so often.

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Old July 20th, 2009, 11:04 AM   #6
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+A on the Giraud. Well worth the money if you are going to do a lot of trimming and have the extra cash. If you have shooting buddies who also reload, you may want to see if they're interested in chipping in on the cost. I bought a Giraud with .308 and .223 adapters, along with a spare cutter. I don't shoot .223's, but my shooting buddies do. They have reloading tools I don't have, so it's a win-win for all of us.

I had a Wilson trimmer and after a year, bought the adapter for a power drill. That helped, but it was still slow going and sore on the hands.

The Giraud is sweet to use. It cuts off the shoulder, not overall length, so there is some variation on length but not enough to make a difference. Plus in chamfers at the same time, which is an additional time saver.

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Old July 20th, 2009, 11:53 AM   #7
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I looked at the Giraud recently when I had the same problem. I went with the Dillon for a couple of reasons. First, Giraud was 8-weeks out.

But primarily, the Dillon is able to mount in the press which gives me a huge advantage, as the press in question is a Dillon XL650 with automatic casefeeder.

All I do is pull the handle. I don't have to mess with the cases. The casefeeder puts them in the press, they cycle around to the trimmer in station 4, and then are ejected into a bin. Put a universal decapping die in station 1, and you get that done at the same time, too. Or you can put your sizing die in station 1 and the die gets sized twice, decapped during the first one and trimmed during the second one, though now it actually hardly touches the brass this time. I've been doing this and haven't noticed any ill effects.

Cases are ready to load with no deburring necessary. While I've no doubt I would have liked the Giraud, I'm quite happy I did it this way.

I have an RCBS lube die on order. My intention is to use a universal decapping die in station 1, the lube die in station 2, and the sizer/trimmer in station 4. Does anyone have experience with the RCBS lube die to know if it works well?

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Old July 20th, 2009, 11:59 AM   #8
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I bought the three way cutting head from RCBS and put it on my RCBS trimmer.

+1 on RCBS X-dies. They will greatly reduce or remove the need to trim your fired brass.

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Old July 20th, 2009, 11:59 AM   #9
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Does the Dillon trimmer size the case at the same time as it trimms?
If so, is there a special die you must use?

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Old July 20th, 2009, 12:20 PM   #10
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My first was the Forster- nice unit but my hands would cramp up doing a pile of cases and I'd get different trim lengths due to differing collet draw.

I switched to an RCBS Trim Pro manual crank. The casing goes in a slot and is held against a fixed flat. Pretty good setup, but the cutter head seems to dull easily. Also I think it's a bit out of square.

Also tried the possum hollow for .30-06. I never got the knack of this thing. Case lengths all over the place and the blade seemed to dull quickly on my LC cases.

Might up grade to a Wilson with a carbide cutter.......or maybe a Giraud some day..... unless someone makes a better mousetrap and a more manageable price.

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Old July 20th, 2009, 12:24 PM   #11
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Thumbs up Possum Hollow

I have a Possum Hollow trimmer in both .308 and .223 and it works great. The trimmer is cheap only $20 per caliber and if you buy the power tool adapter for an additional $20 it can't be beat for $40. The trimmer works off the shoulder of the case and not the overall length like the Lee. Just chuck the power tool adapter into a hand drill and add the trimmer and you hold the base of the case and press by hand into the cutter so you never have to screw a case in and out like on the lee. I still use the lee zip trim with a lyman case tool the de-burs and chamfers in one spin.


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Old July 20th, 2009, 12:41 PM   #12
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add to your Lee

They make a 3-Jaw Chuck for zip trim and a Lee Cutter with Ball Grip,,you chuck up the 3 jaw chuck in your drill and it holds the brass,,then you insert the standard Lee cutter,,execp it is a wooden ball that is about 2 1/2 in that is real easy to hold and trim the brass,,about 2 seconds , then you use your cricket to de-burr,,when inserting the brass into
the 3 jaw chuck,,it requires little effort and requires a small
rotation to engage and dis-engauge,,I have a RCBS electric
trimmer with 3 way head,,it works good for one gauge but is hard to change calibers,,I like the Lee set-up better !!!

PS the cost of these part's is 16.97,,forgot Lee case spinner stud required ,,it's cost is included-2.49

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Old July 20th, 2009, 01:10 PM   #13
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polygunner and Going Deaf 100% +A on the Giraud. If you can swing the $$ its the fastest trimmer on the planet. I had to wait six weeks on mine but I'm glad I hung in there because I actually look foward to trimming now!

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Old July 20th, 2009, 05:20 PM   #14
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Giraud is hell on fingertips

Maybe its just that I have a desk (well, bench) job now, or maybe it's true what the doctors say about skin getting thinner as one gets older, but the Giraud is really hard on my fingertips.

I once did 4000 .223 cases in an evening on a Giraud. Recently I did 2000 .308 in a couple hours. If I did that on my old Forster, it would take a week and I'd have a repetitive motion injury.

Changing calibers on the Giraud is really quick between .308, .30'06, 7.5 Swiss and .303, just change the shell holder. If you have a .223 cutter head, it still takes little time to switch to that caliber, changing the shell holder and cutter head.

Setting or reSetting a cutter head would take some time.


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Old July 20th, 2009, 09:56 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by polygunner View Post
Does the Dillon trimmer size the case at the same time as it trimms?
If so, is there a special die you must use?
Sorry, I wasn't very clear, was I? Yes, the Dillon is a sizer and trimmer at the same time. Now that I've actually used it as I described, I'm really glad I went this way.

I always use the casefeeder and progressive press to just feed and size all my cases before I inspect and process them further anyway, so to feed, decap, and size/trim all in one pass of the press is the best way I can think of to do it.

I don't know how the Giraud can be the "fastest." Yeah, it's fast, sure, for grabbing a case, and manually twisting it into a power trimmer.

If you're really good with one, you MIGHT be able to keep up with my casefed Dillon for speed of the trimming operation, and if you count sizing the cases at the same time, then there's no comparison.

However, there is set-up time involved, of course. I only use it for my high-volume stuff. All my other stuff is done with a manual RCBS.

You need a Dillon size/trim die for each caliber, but the trimmer motor is the same (except for 7.62x39mm which requires a separate package deal). The trimmer motor is $220 and each size/trim die is $43-$51.

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