I know a reloader who doesn’t trim the length of his rifle cases. He shoots bolt action rifles, doesn’t crimp, shoots only mild to mid-pressure loads, and throws away his cases on the 4th or 5th load. He shoots iron sights only and he doesn’t shoot much. And for him, that works just fine.
For every other reloader out there, case length trimming for your bottleneck rifle cases is an absolute must, and it’s something to pay attention to. Lyman’s new Brass Smith Case Trim Xpress is a great piece of equipment that helps you get that done well, and with a quickness.
For those of you who don’t know what case length trimming is, it’s pretty much right there in the name. When we fire and when we reshape our brass cases in a sizing die, those cases stretch in length.
Because of how sizing dies work, the shape of cases, and the shape of chambers, the vast majority of that extra length remains at the neck, the opening at the top of the case that holds the bullet.
If that neck is too long, all sorts of problems occur. First, and especially in an autoloader like an AR-15 rifle, a neck that is too long will lead to issue with the round consistently chambering. That is both a reliability and a safety concern.
If the case is to be crimped onto a bullet — and for some cartridge and rifle combinations that is an absolute necessity — cases must be of exactly the same length or the location of the crimp will be changed. This will have a significant effect on accuracy between shots, and it could also have real safety concerns.
Finally, case length will have a real and noticeable effect on accuracy between shots. Cases of unequal length put unequal pressures on the bullet as it’s held by the case, therefore they release differently when fired. Remember, we are constantly seeking consistency, and case neck length is definitely a place where consistency is critical.
You can achieve that length a bunch of different ways, but the basic process is essentially the same. Size the brass, measure the length, cut new length, measure to verify, and then clean up the edges.
I’ve always used the old fashioned, super-slow manual method of cutting the cases down while they’re held with a case-specific cartridge holder. This process is not only time-consuming since I can do about two cases a minute, but it means I have to purchase a case holder for each parent case, at about $12 to $15 a piece.
Lyman’s new Brass Smith Case Trim Xpress, on the other hand, requires no case holder, no additional accessories, and cuts cases as fast as 15 per minute. This is one of those rare cases (pun intended) where a little bit of technology produces a product just as good as anything that’s done by hand, only a whole lot faster.
The trimmer itself comes with 10 different bushings that handle most common calibers, but there are a few not in the list. Folks reloading 7.62×39, 6.5 Grendel, .375 H&H Magnum, or .338 Lapua magnum would have to purchase additional bushings. Fortunately, they’re only $9.95 on the Lyman website.
Unlike many other options, no additional drill is needed to run the Case Trim Xpress. It’s all right there in a single two-pound self-contained unit that takes up very little bench space.
That two pounds isn’t heavy, but it’s heavy enough that if you don’t want to permanently mount it to your bench, you can use it unsecured without the cutting mechanism moving around during operation. There is no pilot required, and a single carbide bit does all the cutting.
Set-up of the Case Trim Xpress takes all of about 45 seconds, maybe a minute if you count plugging it in. Always read the directions, but this is about as straight forward as it gets.
There’s a little clear plastic cover over the cutting housing that drops the shavings straight down. You’ll want to put a piece of paper or a small tray under there to catch the shavings, otherwise they’ll get everywhere with a quickness.
The Case Trim Xpress comes with a slick adjustment knob that allows you to dial the depth of the cut down in .001″ increments. After the initial set-up, the user just dials in the desired amount of cut and presses the case into the cutter.
Note that there aren’t individual numbers, just hash marks, each representing .001″ of adjustment. You’ll have to count out each of these marks to get you to the right amount of cut.
There are a few things I know I can trust in the world. Water will be wet. Texas will be hot. And my Browne and Sharpe calipers will read true. I used them to measure the amount of brass the Lyman cutter said it was cutting vs. what it actually cut. It turns out there really is truth in advertising. If you tell the Case Trim Xpress to cut .001″, it cuts .001″.
There’s a spring providing back pressure on the bushing while you hold a case in, and there’s no need to press on the case very hard. It doesn’t really matter if you do, other than you’ll have to deal with some chattering if you have a lot to take off.
Even then, it will even out in just a second. If you gently press the sized case into the trimmer, it will index off the shoulder and provide a consistent length cut every single time, and do it in no time.
The cut itself comes out square and smooth. I would still recommend using a case chamfering tool and to bevel the edges.
The Case Trim Xpress is a great piece of equipment. It’s small, but just heavy enough. It cuts a neat, precise neck. It saves a fantastic amount of time compared to manual methods. It’s self-contained and requires no hand drill or external motors.
I have a lot of Lyman tools and for good reason. Lyman’s done a great job, again, with the Case Trim Xpress.
Specifications: Lyman Brass Smith Case Trim Xpress
Overall * * * * *
Not cheap, but considering you don’t need a drill for it like many other models, it’s a good value. The features, quality of manufacture, and most importantly, results are all top notch.