Thursday, December 05, 2013

Trying out the new Lee case trimmer

For those not familiar with reloading fired cases, some background:
There are minimum and maximum lengths set for cartridge cases.  And cases tend to stretch when fired.  Depending on cartridge, how heavy or light a load, how tight the chamber is and sometimes the phase of the moon, they stretch a little or a lot.  One too short may not hold the bullet properly, one too long can jam into the chamber and cause problems like high pressure.  So you have to check them and trim them when needed.

Lee recently brought out a new case trimmer setup consisting of a trimmer(standard or deluxe version) and trim dies.  The dies fit into your press and hold the case, the trimmer fits down from the top to do the cutting.  The standard version cuts to length; the deluxe includes a self-adjusting deburring piece that removes burrs from the inside and outside of the case mouth(something you have to do, especially if loading cast bullets).  Dad bought a set and loaned it to me to try out.

Here's the die for .30-06 and the trimmer(which fits all the dies)
 You can see the deburring part sticking down from the trimmer.  Also, that knurled piece on the trimmer shaft is a spacer to be removed for trimming cases shorter than 1.25".

Here's the trimmer inside the die
 and installed on the press

I found seven .30-06 cases that needed trimming and resized them.  You insert one in the case holder and raise the ram.  The case enters the die and, when all the way up, you'll see the trimmer rise a bit.
 It's spring loaded, so you press down and turn the crank
and it trims and deburrs.  Pretty straightforward.

I measured all seven after trimming.  The minimum/maximum for this case is 2.84-2.94"; the five commercial cases were right at 2.88", the two military 2.86"(why the difference, no idea).  That's well within the specs for the case.  And you can adjust the trimmer to cut shorter if need be.  The case mouths were smooth, and nicely chamfered by the deburring part.

Further notes
The cutter comes with a tray that fits on the shellholder to catch chips; I'd suggest using it.
I use a Lyman 'M' die to expand the necks/case mouths on some cartridges so as to load cast bullets*.  Cases that had been expanded this way didn't want to fit all the way into the die, those resized with the standard expander in the resizing die, no problem.
The knob on the cutter was a bit stiff in rotation, might loosen a bit with time or might be able to adjust it.

I'll want to try it out further, but so far looks good.  Trimmed consistently and smoothly.

*With jacketed bullets in rifles, the jacket is tough enough that you just set the bullet in place in the case mouth and the seating die presses it in.  With cast bullets you have to bell the case mouth so that the corner won't shave lead off the bullet.  Handgun die sets come with a die for the purpose, most rifle dies you have to get it separately.


Critter said...

i like my Dillon case trimmer and RCBS case prep station. they use a lot of electric motors, but then, I'm lazy. :)

Chad said...

Perfect! Just ordered a set to get some 308 done. Now I just need some Varget!